It’s spring cleaning time, a time of the year I like to give all of my website a good polish to make sure that they’re performing at top condition to rank well in the SERPs regardless of the content I’ve got on them. This also makes for the perfect opportunity to share with you how to rank without any content considerations. Note that I’m not saying you can rank without content. Actually let me go one step further and just say YOU CAN’T RANK WITHOUT CONTENT. And even if you could, what would be the point, winning an award for receiving the least targeted traffic of all time? But I digress.
No, today we’re going to talk about everything you need to consider to get your website to rank well, but we’re going to focus on the half which is NOT content related. These are all of the things which it’s easy to get lazy or sloppy with when we’ve devoted all of our time to keyword research and understanding our audience or coming up with a great title which demands clicks.
So let’s go down the list now of non-content related SEO must-haves for any website which will help you with how to rank without any content.
How to Rank (Without Any Content)
Quick Site Load Time
You’re going to quickly pick up on an ongoing theme here which is search engines like to reward websites which provide the best user experiences with better rankings. All content being equal, it’s these x-factors which can put your website ahead of the competition.
One such factor is how quickly your site loads. When you visit your own website, do you notice that it takes a couple of seconds or more to load up in full, or is it instant?
For more information on this, refer to my article on how to improve website load time for tips like making use of caching your content, content delivery networks, clean code, and using a reliable host to get your website to load more quickly. Search engines compare load times of website against benchmarks and other sites competing for the same keywords. When you consider it’s a ranking factor and not just a nice feature for your visitors, it becomes all the more important to make sure you’re load speed is with the best of them.
SSL stands for secure sockets layer and is a technology designed to create a secure connection for users to submit data to your website. This is a must have for ecommerce websites and is strongly encouraged for websites which allow visitors to submit any kind of data such as an email signup form.
Regardless of whether or not your website falls into these categories, the trademark “green padlock” or similar security assurance display in most browsers gives visitors peace of mind. This in turn provides that better user experience I just referenced. If you’re still not convinced, Google has gone on record as saying it’s going to affect website rankings moving forward.
So the tl;dr summation is that if you have SSL, it will help your rankings. If you don’t, it can and likely will hurt your rankings. To learn more, refer to my article on how to get the website padlock on your site which includes everything you need to know about SSL.
Keeping Your Site Updated
While updating your website with fresh content regularly will help you rank better, this article is again how to rank without content. But keeping your website up to date doesn’t just mean distributing new content, it also means keeping any software which makes your site work up to date.
This includes executing any content management system or plugin updates as they become available. The older a version of anything becomes, the more susceptible to attacks which is one of the reasons developers stay on top of keeping their software up to date.
Dead Pages/Crawl Errors
There are lots of plugins and ways to check if your website contains or links to broken/dead pages. Search engines hate to send users to websites with lots of crawl errors like this, so keep that in mind and do a website content audit (hint: see how to do a website content audit) a couple of times a year to make sure that your site doesn’t have any embarrassing dead ends on or off site.
Submitting a site map to search engines shows helps them crawl your website more efficiently. You shouldn’t have anything to hide, so submit away. You can include this as part of your robots.txt file (while we’re at it, make sure you specify any pages you don’t want crawled in your robots.txt file) and this provides search engines with a handy road map to checking your site.
Having a mobile friendly website is critical in this day and age when most people do their browsing on phones or tablets. The further we get into the mobile age, the more difficult it will be to rank well if your site isn’t mobile friendly. Is your website mobile friendly?
Listening To Google Search Console
Google won’t divulge the workings of their search algorithms, but they will help you provide a better user experience by way of the search console.
The search console can tell you A LOT about your website. I covered how to use Google Search Console in far greater depth in the past, but I’ll mention a few of the SEO and other benefits which the search console offers:
- Get a quick overview of any issues in general harming your website’s organic rankings in Google (and likely other search engines).
- See any crawl issues/dead links featured on your website so you can fix them.
- Mobile usability issues for mobile users (which is increasingly becoming more affecting in rankings as more users browse via mobile devices).
- Any security issues Google believes your site may have fallen victim to.
- Which search terms are bringing you the most traffic so that you can better optimize your content to take full advantage of this as well as possibly rank even better for that term.
They’ll let you know when they find something wrong with your site (including most everything I’ve covered so far), and the fact that it’s coming straight from the horse’s mouth itself lets you know it’s having an effect on your ranking.
A few possibilities would be crawl errors you have a CMS update like I just mentioned (handy, right?) and help you check your site to see if it’s been compromised at any point as you can’t expect good rankings if someone is using your site for malicious purposes.
And again, seeing which terms you’re ranking well for and are bringing you traffic is great for better optimizing those pages to ensure that you continue to rank well for them, if not improve your spot.
Basically getting a clean bill of health from the Google search console for your website is a very strong signal that your site is in good shape for all things ranking which aren’t content related. As such it’s a good idea to check back in with the search console on a regular basis to make sure you’re on top of anything as it comes up.
Keep these tips in mind and you’ll find it much easier to rank for the keywords you’re targeting, even if your website doesn’t lend itself to churning out regular articles or updates.