The questions that need answering in your quest to understand the various intricacies of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) haven’t really changed over the past few years. The people responsible for SEO are still primarily concerned about the things that can take their pages or websites to the very top or as close to the top as possible. Their main objective is to try and understand exactly how search engines determine a page’s rank in its natural listings. So you shouldn’t be surprised to see an entire post dedicated to Ranking Factors in this Search Engine Optimization Guide.
What are ranking factors?
Before we start bombarding you with the most important ranking factors, it is important for you to understand what they really mean for your website. SEO Ranking Factors simply refers to a humongous list of factors or aspects that are used to determine a particular website’s rank for natural search listings. Although websites are subjected to hundreds of ranking factors, as an SEO beginner, you can easily make do with the top 30 – 40 ranking factors. Not all factors are equally important. Taking care of some is a must while you can easily ignore others.
The science behind ranking
A website’s position in the organic search results of a search engine is usually determined by a number of factors that are created to offer end-users with the most accurate, helpful and reliable search results. Therefore, a website’s position in the natural search results shall simply result out of how a search engine algorithm combines the different ranking factors for the website in question. The results are bound to change over time since algorithms are known to undergo daily changes and updates. The science behind ranking can be quite complicated.
In the simplest of terms, the indexing procedure of a particular search engine creates an index for each page that contains particular words which are used in queries. However, the indexing procedure doesn’t sort the page for relevance. This is actually done in real time. The relevance offered to a site depends on the various positive ranking factors that algorithms subject every website too. And ultimately, this is why ranking factors are so important for any website.
Most important on-page ranking factors
This section of the Search Engine Optimization Guide puts forth some of the top on-page ranking factors that can have a huge impact on the search visibility of your website.
1. Keywords in title tag
The title meta tag is extremely important for a search engine. The tag should give an accurate description of the content contained within the website. The search engine uses this description to display the title for search results. Ideally, place the keyword at the start of the title tag.
2. Keyword in description tag
Meta description is another thing that is very important for any page. It is crucial for gaining user clicks from search engine results and also for making the website more visible. Try adding keywords in the meta description to make it more relevant for the searcher as well as the search engine.
3. Keywords in a pages copy
There was a time when stuffing a page with keywords was all you needed to do in order to get your page detected by crawlers. That’s simply not how it works anymore. Adding keywords in your content still counts. But the way you place them has drastically changed over the past few years.
4. Length of the content
Most searchers prefer for something more than simple and basic information. To help searchers satiate their appetite for something extra, search engines look for informative and authoritative content and rank them at the very top. Therefore, it always makes sense to create longer and more useful content for your web page.
5. Duplicate content
Having duplicate content or similar content on your website can actually end up hurting your website more than you can imagine. Make sure that you write original content on each page of your website.
6. Image Optimization
It isn’t just text that can be optimized for SEO. You can also optimize your images by entering the right descriptions in their caption, description, and alt text fields.
7. Inbound Links
Creating links between your pages allows you to pass their strength in between them and make themselves more relevant for your ranking as well as the searcher.
8. Outbound Links
Linking your site to authoritative websites gives search engines a trust signal. However, too many outbound links can also detriment the overall PageRank of your website, thereby hurting its visibility. The idea is to use these links in moderation.
Most important website ranking factors
This section of the SEO Guide introduces you to some of the top website ranking factors that you need to be aware of.
The sitemap allows a search engine to index the various pages on your website. It is an ideal way of telling the search engine what pages your site consists of.
2. Responsive website
Having a responsive website means that your website can be easily be accessed by users from all sorts of devices, irrespective of whether they use their mobile devices or their computers to access your website. And considering internet searching is dramatically moving towards mobile devices, it is essential to have responsive websites nowadays.
Most important off-page ranking factors
This section of the Search Engine Optimization Guide introduces some of the main off-page ranking factors that play a role in the overall rank of your website.
1. Number of linking domains
The number of domains that you have linked to your website is considered to be one of the major ranking factors for your site.
2. PageRank of the linking page
Not all pages are equal in their rank. If your link appears on pages that have a higher PageRank, you can actually enjoy a better ranking factor when compared to links that appear on pages with a lower PageRank.
3. Diversity of link types
The different types of links that you manage to build for your website also plays a huge role in website rank. Too many links of the same type might make your site look like spam and impact its rankings negatively.
Most important domain ranking factors
This section of the SEO Guide brings forward a few domain ranking factors that you need to keep track of. Some domain signals aren’t as important as they used to be in the past, but there are still a number of things you need to pay attention to.
1. Domain registration length
Search engines place a great deal of importance on domains that have been registered for more than one year, as they come across as trustworthy.
2. Domain History
There are cases when you’re not the first person to whom the domain was registered. If the domain has been penalized in the past, it can affect the current rankings as well.
3. Country extension
If you want your website to cater to a particular geographical location, it always helps to create domains that have country specific TLDs. For example, a .co.uk would help your website to become more visible in the UK.
Key Do’s and Don’ts
There are a number of things that you need to be aware of while deciding on the right journey for your website. This section of the Search Engine Optimization Guide helps you acquaint yourself with some of the main do’s and don’ts that you should be following when it comes to ranking factors.
1. Plan with your proposition and not with ranking factors
Always place the goals and objectives of your business on top. Irrespective of how important ranking factors are for your website, you cannot include them in the planning phase.
2. Focus on the basics and get them right
One of the biggest problems faced by website owners is that they try to do too many things at the same time. We would like to recommend you to focus on your basics and make sure that you get them right before venturing on to more sophisticated tactics.
3. Focus on the content
Content has become extremely important for any website. Ever since search engine algorithms changed, the first and foremost priority is to ensure that the content on your website is unique, informative, interesting and helpful. Poorly written and uninspiring content will simply end up getting penalized by search engines and neither will it make waves on social media because your visitors simply won’t share it with their peers.
4. Concentrate on building links
Link building might seem to be old fashioned, but it is integral to the success of your website. The idea is to earn links and shares from websites that have a high page rank.
5. Update content regularly
People are always searching for fresh content and search engines are always on the look out for websites that keep updating their content and offering their visitors with something new and interesting each time they visit.