Direct and Indirect Ranking Signals and SEO

Should SEOs Care Only About Direct Ranking Signals Or Indirect Ones Too?

A very common confusion for SEOs is whether to focus only on direct ranking signals for a website or to consider the indirect ones too. People think that if they can’t really influence the indirect signals, why should they even bother to think about it? Here, in this article, you will realize how important it is to broaden your perspective and consider both direct and indirect ranking signals to have a better search engine optimization strategy.

Direct and indirect ranking signals and SEO

Direct and indirect ranking signals and SEO

What are direct ranking signals?

Direct ranking signals are those that are very obvious, and can be tested and observed. They are those that Google talks about publically and are consistent in Google’s ranking algorithm. Here are some of them –

  • Links – When you earn lots of genuine and relevant new links that point to your page, your ranking goes up. So, links are direct ranking signals.
  • Keywords – You have excellent content about a particular topic but, you aren’t using the words that people are actually looking for. How are you going to rank? Find out what people are typing in the search bar that can lead them to your content and include those targeted keywords in your content to attract the users. This will increase your ranking. So, keywords are direct ranking signals.
  • Loading time – Your page has a loading time of 8 to 10 seconds. You make quite some significant changes that reduce your page loading time to only 2 to 3 seconds. This has Google considering your ranking position and may take you up a step or maybe even a few steps higher. So, your page loading time is a direct ranking signal.

What are indirect ranking signals?

Indirect ranking is when you do something unaware that you are performing actions that may lead to gaining a higher rank for your website on SERPs. Take a look at some examples.

  • Photo/video uploads – You have plain text on your page. You get a relevant photo or video and upload it on your page. This starts interesting your readers, who then start sharing the same. This adds to the users’ time on your page and improves your conversion rate. All of this leads you to higher ranking.
  • Building relationships with influencers – You go to a conference where you meet some new people. One of them, who is a well-known blogger is influenced by you and writes about you and links to your website, due to which your website starts ranking better.
  • Social signals – Someone is inspired by you and likes the products/services you have to offer. He tweets and shares your blogs with his friends and social network. You get more shares and more likes, which suddenly make you very famous. Your fame leads your website to rank higher.

You see how these features affect ranking signals. But, Google never told you that photo uploads or building relationships with influencers or tweets are considered while ranking your page. But, these elements do affect the way Google sees your website. So, these are indirect ranking signals.

Should one focus only on direct ranking signals or indirect ones too?

Direct ranking signals are definitely effective but, they do not leave indirect ones behind. Although indirect ranking features do take a lot of time to influence Google but, they can also have powerful impacts in rankings. You will start ranking higher only when Google starts noticing the positive changes. Changing one small feature will slowly start changing how things circulate and change your position over the Web.

So, instead of sticking to the philosophy that “so and so directly impacts SEO and so I should work on it” and “so and so doesn’t directly impact SEO so, it isn’t my job”, you should take charge of all the direct and indirect elements that can affect your ranking like user experience, engagement, branding, building relationships, and much more. You can have a great search engine optimization strategy if you understand how indirect features impact the direct things. Remember that at times, indirect elements can be more powerful than direct factors.


About Karen Jain

Karen Jain is the SEO Consultant for Jain Technosoft, a company which provides website design & development services in Bangalore, India. With years of rich experience in website design & SEO industry, Karen’s expertise include quality customer service and other marketing strategy which is related to business
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