Search Engines do not rank results based on a lucky draw.
They are a program; their ranking structure and SERP (Search Engine Result Page) positioning are based on a robust construction of codes. And every code is designed with the motive of helping the community.
For years, SEO professionals are trying to understand a search engine’s algorithm; they are trying to understand how Google (leading Search Engine) determines the ranking of a website.
And to some extent, they have identified some of the major ranking factors -there are more than 200 ranking factors- that can help your website dominate the top SERP position.
But before you explore those ranking factors, you must know
How does a search engine work?
Every search engine has an advanced algorithm that works differently from the other. However, each algorithm is aimed at delivering relevant results to the user’s query and rank them in the SERPs from most relevant to least relevant.
But before ranking a website, search engines need to create a database of every site that has a solution to the user’s query. And this part of the process is done by the Search Engine Crawler.
A Search Engine Crawler (also called the Spider) crawls over sites, scans the factors based on which search engine ranks a website, and index them in the search engine’s database. The main job of the Spider is to Crawl and index web pages for the search engines based on the user’s query.
Apart from that, the Spider can decide whether to index your site or not depending on the authenticity of the ranking factors.
The Search Engine Ranking Factors To Determine SERP Position
In order to make your website search engine friendly, you need to optimize it with relevant keywords etc. On-page optimization is an essential part of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). When the Spider crawls over your domain, it scans every on-page factor that is necessary for indexing and ranking.
Here’s a list of on-page factors that your site should optimize to get indexed and ranked:
Author’s note: Keyword Research is crucial for On-page and Off-page optimization. So, before you move forward with optimizing for the ranking factors, you should conduct keyword research and create a database of all related keywords.
The title of a page is a short string of words that briefly explain the motive of your whole page. The title is listed in the search results.
Here is an example of the Title Tag code:
One particular page should have one title only, more than one and you will experience a fluctuation in your rankings.
There are up to 6 heading tag fonts -from H1 to H6- available for the website owners to use on their site.
There can only be one H1 tag and multiple H2 to H6 tags on a whole website. It is because the H1 tag describes the main heading of a page whereas the other tags are basically subparts of it.
The Spider goes through every H1 tag to understand the context of your content, so you need to keep every Heading tag optimized.
When a user goes through the search results, he/she gets an idea about a certain page’s content with the help of the title. However, to gain extra knowledge about the site’s content, he/she goes through a short description called the meta description.
An excessive amount of textual data is bound to leave a negative impression on the audience. Therefore, you need to include images in your content and when you do, you also have to give them separate ALT tags to drive more traffic. Alt tags are alternative texts that are visible to the audience when an image does not load due to a slow internet connection.
An example of the alt tag code:
The Crawler crawls your URL as well. So, you should include relevant keywords in the URL and convert it from Dynamic to Static because Static URLs have more scope of ranking higher due to their readability.
Example of a Dynamic URL:
Example of a Static URL:
When you create XML Sitemaps of your domain, it becomes easier for the Crawler to index the pages included in the sitemaps and rank them.
Every On-page and Off-page factor has to be optimized with the relevant keywords but only a specific amount of times. If you fill the content with keywords, it will get the Google Penalty (de-indexing and de-ranking). Therefore, when you are placing the keywords, you should maintain the keyword density to around 1.25 to 1.5 percent.
The content on your site should be motivated towards helping the community. The title, the heading, the meta description should make it clear to the searcher about what he/she is going to find after opening your page. When your content resolves the searcher’s query quickly by presenting them with accurate and detailed data, the search engine decides to rank your site above the ones which do not.
After you have created the content, you should internally link it with other relevant content pieces on your site. When you hyperlink them in your content, the crawler follows and indexes them.
Plus, internal linking helps the audience navigate through your website conveniently.
Google has requested every HTTP domain to convert to HTTPS because it is a secure protocol. Every information provided to an HTTPS running site is encrypted and cannot be read, unlike a server that is hosted on HTTP.
Majority of the searches performed on Google are from mobile devices; hence, Google has started ranking mobile-optimized sites higher in the SERPs than those sites which are not.
If your website loads slowly, then that will result in an increased bounce rate. People will visit your site and move on to your competitors looking for quick solutions. When you have a high bounce rate, search engines rank you lower in the SERPs.
The optimization process that drives traffic to your website with help from the sources outside of your domain is known as Off-page optimization.
Quality Link Building
The main motive of Off-page optimization is quality link building. When there are huge numbers of quality inbound links driving traffic to your website, the search engine crawler considers your domain as a credible source of information. Therefore, ranks your site higher in the SERPs.
However, when more spammy links from domains that are not in your niche lead to your domain, then your rankings are pushed down.
There are several ways to drive quality inbound links to your domain:
Forum Posting & Blog Commenting
You can link your domain or sub-domains in your forum answers and blog commenting. Although, you still have to be more about helping the community rather than helping yourself in driving traffic.
Building your social media presence is still a widely popular way of driving traffic to your domain and interacting with your audience. You can engage your social media audience by sharing your site’s content on the platform.
The most popular way to link building is through Guest Posting. Websites approach other sites in their niche through emails etc. and request to write a post on their blog as guest authors. On getting the opportunity, they include links of their domain in the guest posts. Hence, generating backlinks and driving traffic to their domain.
This list does not include all the ranking factors but every major one that can influence a site’s rankings.
Furthermore, you have to remember that relevancy is of utmost importance. You cannot link one website with another or one piece of content with the other without them being relevant to each other.
Plus, you need to keep the keyword placement organic and relevant (again). Otherwise, your rankings will experience a downfall.
After reading this article, do more ranking factors come to your mind?
Let me know about them in the comment section below, I will be happy to extend the list.
Sahil is the CEO and Founder of Rankwatch – a platform, which helps companies and brands stay ahead with their SEO efforts in the ever growing internet landscape. Sahil likes making creative products that can help in the automation of mundane tasks and he can spend endless nights implementing new technologies and ideas. You can connect with him and the Rankwatch team on Facebook or Twitter.
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