Search engine page ranking factors you must not ignore!

Who doesn't want their website to have a good page ranking in search results? But how? A site's position is decided by the search engine, reading each page and using ranking factors to score them. A site with a high ranking has relevant content and strong domain authority. Spiders & penguins & bears! Oh my! Treat them right and you can't lose...

by Meg - 22.01.2016

Introduce your website to search engines

Search engines have spiders that crawl the Internet looking for content to fill their databases.

  • A site map leads a search engine round your website.
  • Register your website with Google Webmaster Tools so Google can contact you about issues such as malware. You can also geo-target your website to a particular country, and if you want to migrate your site to a new domain, this is where you tell Google.

Google algorithm & ranking factors

When a user types in a search, the search engine hunts for relevant content. Reading content for their eyes only and content visible to users. The algorithm scores using hundreds of secret ranking factors. No worries, the biggies have been unmasked by SEO experts. The importance of the factors fluctuates intentionally to deter manipulation of Google’s index.

Domain authority (DA) is a critical ranking factor. DA is the amount of power a working domain name has based on its age, popularity, and size. Get this right and you'll increase your chances of a high page ranking.

  • Age proves a website has longevity. If the domain name has been well maintained and it's generated more traffic, search engines see it as a trusted source.
  • Popularity is to do with the number and quality of inbound links. They're proof that a site has relevant information that's worth sharing.
  • Size is everything when it comes to websites. A high volume of pages with quality content equals more inbound links.

Domain authority is a ranking factor that includes different aspects of website optimisation. Get it right and you’re on your way to a better page ranking…

Website content

  • Relevant, unique content is essential - search engines read and understand it. If users find irrelevant content, they’ll bounce. Google monitors customer engagement. A high bounce rate is bad.
  • Search queries are where keywords originate. Search engines looks for the best match, so these words have to appear in your content. Use the primary keyword in the first 100-150 words. Repeat only if it works naturally. Sprinkle some variations too, verb tenses, singular, plural, etc.
  • Keep it fresh! Updated content is more relevant so will score higher.

URLs

URLs should include your domain name plus text relating to the specific page. Although Google has stated that the new domains won’t get preferential treatment, you’ll have a keyword before and after the dot. Keywords in URLs bring more clicks. A healthy click-through is a good ranking factor.

Avoid baffling URLs - www.fakecompany.com/title?/32?645(8)?/. Lose parameters, numbers, and symbols. Search engine spiders won’t have a clue what the page is about and ranking will be delayed or even ignored. It’s not going to help users either.

Title tags

The clickable link that’s shown in search results if the search used one of the keywords.  Each web page has to have a unique title tag.

Google search - page ranking

Meta descriptions

The meta description is only visible to users in search results. It’s the snippet of text under the URL that describes the page content. Well written and it will increase click-through from users. Each page should have a unique description of about 140 characters, including the primary keyword.

Alt tags

The hidden title of an image that includes the primary keyword. It's used by people with visual impairments, and appears in place of an image if they're turned off. Search engines are bad at recognising the content of videos or images so these tags are important.

H1 headers

The main heading on each web page. You need one title tag and H1 per page, aim for less than 60 characters or you risk cropping. Include the page’s primary keyword once in each, near the beginning.

Inbound links

Yes quantity is scored but it’s the quality that’s primary. A quality inbound link or backlink, has relevance and authority. It comes from a popular page that contains its own quality backlinks. Google will read the page content that contains the link to your site, and check that it’s relevant to your content.

Cross links/anchor text

Cross or internal linking between pages gives users all they need on one site. Happy visitors don’t bounce!

When a spider crawls your website, it’ll follow the navigational structure. Using internal links to explore, it's looking for a well-constructed website that’s easy and useful to visitors. Don't forget to include your keyword in the link text.

Social media increases site and brand visibility

It’s all about reputation. Your social popularity feeds your SEO. If users share your content, Google has a sign that your site is valued. Social media also brings links to your website – bonus!

Keep users happy and search engines will follow

These are the most important ranking factors. Their weight fluctuates, but rich and relevant content is always going to be number one. Remember the panda and penguin? Google algorithms that you have to keep happy…

  • Panda identifies websites with poor quality, duplicated, and plagiarised content, then reduces their ranking.
  • Penguin penalises websites using Black Hat SEO techniques to increase backlinks.

Build a website providing a great user experience. If your website has confusing or misleading content, is hard to navigate, and full of dodgy links – users will bounce. If users stay, read your content, follow your links, buy your products, and share on social media – search engines will take this as a vote of confidence. Ranking will happen!

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