Technical SEO Ranking Signals

For the next series of questions, we asked technical SEOs about ranking signals and which ones they felt were most influential.

In your experience, how influential are the following on-page SEO signals in improving organic search traffic?

In terms of on-page SEO signals, page titles scored pretty high in terms of their influence on organic search traffic. Page headings and ALT text also scored relatively high, followed by META descriptions.

What the experts think…

86% of technical SEOs are unaware that meta descriptions are not a direct ranking factor it seems?

Interesting that image ALT text is still regarded as such an influencer.

In your experience, how influential are the following navigation and Schema signals in improving organic search traffic?

Our respondents rated site-wide navigation and internal links very highly when it came to improving organic search traffic. In fact, out of all respondents, no one said that site-wide navigation had zero influence and only 1% said that internal links have zero influence.

What the experts think…

I'm so happy to see that SEOs realize the importance of internal links. From my experience, optimizing internal linking and anchor text goes a long way (and luckily, it's not always relying on the dev resources).

Not surprised with this at all!

In your experience, how influential are the following content and URL signals in improving organic search traffic?

When it comes to content and URL-related signals, respondents typically agreed that quality and uniqueness of content were important, although slightly fewer people felt that uniqueness was important compared to quality. URLs being readable and including target keywords scored slightly lower overall.

What the experts think…

I would have thought URLs would have scored lower overall, I would consider this more a 'best practice' than something I would do to increase traffic.

In your experience, how influential are the following user-related signals in improving organic search traffic?

For user-related signals, the ones deemed most influential by our respondents were mobile responsiveness, site speed, and user experience. Accessibility and security scored slightly lower with most respondents saying that they had some influence, but not a high level.

Did Google’s formal announcements surrounding Core Web Vitals influence your priority level at all?

Next, we wanted to understand whether the formal announcements and notices given by Google regarding Core Web Vitals made a difference to how much it was prioritised by SEOs. 68% of respondents said that yes, these announcements made CWV more of a priority to them.

What the experts think…

More than the formal announcement from Google, the chatter that gets created in SEO community is the biggest driving force for this result. The early analysis after the CWV rollout indicates that it has very little impact on the ranking. Google also confirmed that it is not going to create a disruptive change.

Personally I found that it became more of a priority for myself and client contacts, but less so for dev and product teams who just wanted to push things out. There's a definite need for further education around this for clients - have been doing it for mine, and know others who have as well, but even then it's difficult to prove how much of an impact these things have if they don't implement fixes.

To what extent does Google influence prioritising your technical SEO roadmap with formal announcements of upcoming changes e.g. Core Web Vitals/Site Speed/Mobile indexing?

Following on from this, we asked respondents about how announcements from Google influence their technical SEO roadmap. Just over half (54%) said that it affected things a little whilst 41% said it affected things a lot. Only 5% said that it didn’t affect things at all.

What the experts think…

I would agree with the findings. Unless something has an immediate impact, then it's worth putting them to the side and progressing with your roadmap, especially if it has the client's/team's KPIs in mind.

Google announcements are very helpful to get reinforcements on current priorities, but they don't drive them.

This is particularly interesting because I imagine we were all doing the same thing of 'riding the wave' of interest that CWV gave us. Suddenly people are asking about which SEO recommendations are related to this and why they've been sat in the dev queue for 3 months haha.