Kristina Green
Aug 30, 2016 | 7 min read

What cycling, surfing, and your site’s SEO have in common? The goal – to reach the top. In the first case, the top of the sport’s Olympus, in the second – the SERPs. As the rating of the country at the Olympic Games depends on the results of athletes in various disciplines as well as its performance on a number of factors affect the position of the site.

So, what “training” will help the site to become the champion of search engines?


1st place — site speed

According to MOZ, 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.

But it doesn’t mean that you can rest assured that you’ll keep the remaining 60% engaged.

Recently, Financial Times team conducted an experiment that showed a clear connection between users engagement and page speed. According to them, the depth of viewings drops to 11% at 5 seconds delay, and to 7.5% at 3 seconds delay. The number of articles read by each user also increased – by 4.9% for a 1-second delay, and by 7.2% for 3 seconds.

Search engines reported that pages with good load rate get higher positions. So this factor deserves the first place.

Goal:  optimize your site speed to reach 2 seconds mark (for 47% of users it’s the normal rate).

2nd place – frequency of content updates

The team victory in the relay race depends on how often the relay baton is changing hands.

Changes are important in SEO too – when you change, update, add new materials, pages or blocks of text, the search engine recalculates the rankings. In other words, you get more chances to improve positions in SERP.

Goal: Update your website at least once a week (according to eMarketer 10% of owners of  small businesses’ do that).

3rd place – domain registration term

Athletes with huge experience in international competitions theoretically have more chances to win. Similar situation in SEO-Olympic games. According to the SerpIQ study over 93% of websites ranking top 1 have domains registered for over one year.

Goal: Register domain for more than a year ahead


1st place — the number of referring authoritative domains

To win in football you should score as many goals as you can into the other team’s net. It is a simple task, but a challenge for many players. Therefore, the coach picks up the best players from different FCs to the national team.

The same situation in SEO — backlinks will move your site to the top only when they’re placed on different authoritative domains.

Backlinko research confirms the importance of inbound links and names it as the main ranking factor.

Goal: try to get links from different authoritative domains to increase the value of your site to the search engines.

2nd place – the number of social references

Fans’ support greatly affects the mood and the results of athletes. Social support is also important for rankings. People share only useful and interesting content in social media – what could be more revealing for search engines? In addition, social networks have become a key tool for local SEO (local businesses search).

Goal: work hard with social media to become search engine’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

3rd place – behavioral factors

It seems that the influence of behavioral factors on the site’s positions is increasing in a geometric sequence. Backlinko study showed that low bounce rate was associated with higher Google rankings. Of course, keeping everyone who comes to your site, – high and even unrealistic goal. Use “doping” to achieve it – quality content that engages users. So (without penalties!) this factor gets the 3rd place.


1st place – a short URL

The shorter distance between boxers, the more accurate each kick. By the same logic, the search engines perceive URLs: a short URL leads to an exact answer to your inquiry.

Goal: Use 5-words URL. According to Matt Cutts, everything after that, “[Google] algorithms typically will just weight those words less and just not give you as much credit”.

2nd place – an exact keyword in title tag

From the beginning, the page title was an important element of SEO, because it gives people and search engines an overview of your page’s overall topic. But Google moved to semantic search, and it‘s not necessary to see the exact keyword in the title, to understand the page topic.

3rd place – Schema markup

Target archery has the most recognizable format for all athletes. They shoot at a traditional yellow, red, blue, black and white target that scores 10 for the inner ring and one for the outdoor ring. The Schema markup has the same meaning — it gives search engines a better understanding of what your content means. But does it mean that your site will be shown to more people? And whether long-term “friendship” with the target archery ensures that you never miss? Will it help you in a case of rain or wind?

According to Backlinko study websites with structured data occupies 13 or 14 rank in Google. In other words, structured information on the site is important but still loses to other factors. Therefore – the honorable 3rd place.


1st place – strong content

In the early days of SEO, Google would determine a page’s topic by looking strictly at the keywords that appeared on the page. Today, thanks to Hummingbird algorithm, Google no longer needs such guidelines. Therefore, it is necessary to focus not on convincing the search engine bots that you give the correct content, but on the fact that it fully responds to the user’s query.

But it’s like weightlifting, you know, someone always will set the higher bar. Previously it was useful content, today pictures beat the records, but video treads upon the heels of it. Snapchat, Periscope, YouTube are gaining more and more users, and Google team is working on the introduction of video advertising on the search results page. According to forecasts, video becomes an important tool for SEO by 2019.

Goal: Create content with 1890 words on average. And at least one image, according to Backlinko.

2nd place – strong brand

A strong brand for SEO is the same as strong state support for the Olympic team. Investing a lot of resources in training and motivation of athletes the country increases their chance to achieve great results.

Brand name and affinity boosts search engine optimization in three critical ways:

– It drives direct traffic.

– Google indirectly includes it in the algorithm.

– It draws links better than non-branded content.

Therefore, it is critically important steps to high positions.

3rd place – strong defense

Safety first – in sports, as well as in SEO. So, Google has repeatedly called HTTPS «ranking signal” and encouraged webmasters to switch the protocol to protected. Backlinko study confirms the connection between the HTTP and high positions in SERPs. However, it is a bit risky — you can lose traffic when switching to HTTPS. So, SE Ranking have audited the 150,000 sites and saw that less than 10% use https.

We analyzed the influential, in our point of view, ranking factors. But it doesn’t mean that the other are not important for optimization. At least, they bring extra points and raise your reputation in search engine’s eyes.

Images Source: CL Terry

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