SEO Factors to Unlock Search Engine Ranking
By : Alexandra L Watson -
Why Does SEO Matter?
Search engines exist to find and return content results that are personalized to the searcher, with the right type of content for that particular search (including images, maps, shopping results, news, and more). Search engines grade websites according to secret SEO factors to determine which content will get search engine ranking for each query that is made. According to recent research, a full 75% of all global searches are conducted on Google (90% of all mobile searches), with other services such as Yahoo, Bing, and Baidu averaging only 5-10% market share apiece. Google handles over a TRILLION searches per year! Today’s consumer has become accustomed to searching online for everything- from driving directions, to school research, to trending news, to product information, to personalized advice queries like “Should I take out a loan?”.
Search Results Vary By Device and User
Google reports that as much as 75% of smartphone owners turn to search FIRST to address their immediate needs. More than half of all global search traffic is now from mobile devices, and search engine results may vary on a mobile device versus on a desktop for the same search (due to space constraints, location-based data, as well as differences in the search algorithm). There may be dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of possible results that could be returned for any given search.
Search Results Are A Competition
The more popular the search terms, the stiffer the competition to be chosen for one of the coveted “organic” (unpaid) search engine result spots. Studies consistently show that the first page of search results gets at minimum 75% of the total estimated organic clicks, which means searchers are not likely to move beyond the 2nd page of results for any given search. It’s an ongoing and real-time competition for quality and relevance to be in the first ten (or less) results at the top of the search results page. Why should you care? Because people who are searching and broadcasting their intent to find information won’t buy from you if they can’t find your business!
SEO efforts are vital in a cluttered website landscape to properly index your site and enable content to appear in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is primarily about creating fresh and original content that addresses the problems, needs, and wants of your target audience. You may not make page one on every search term on your list, but SEO efforts will guarantee that those who find your site will have a good user experience and find quality content that is relevant to their initial search. To put this in survival guide terms, the key idea is that you MUST set up trail markers and signal flares through SEO to draw some attention to your presence online. Without those, you’re just gambling that people will stumble across your site amidst a very crowded landscape. As a small business or startup, you need all the assistance you can get to make your site highly visible, valuable, and shareable!
What Determines Search Engine Ranking?
Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) position is determined by complex algorithms that grade website navigation and content to deliver the best results available to match each user’s search query. What does that mean? When a user types in a search query into their browser, complex formulas are triggered behind the scenes to instantaneously determine the order of the results that are presented. Google doesn’t publish their exact formula for SEO success. But we know that the overall strength of a site is determined by a few key SEO grading factors that assess site content (in microseconds!). In my own words, I use the following formula to express these key secret SEO factors that can unlock search engine ranking:
(Relevance x Reputation) + Recency = Ranking Result TM
SEO Factors: “Relevance”
Relevance is, in essence, the correlation of your site’s content to the exact keywords and terms in a user’s search queries. The more closely your site copy, paid ads, and/or landing page code matches the user’s exact search terms, the more likely your site is to be ranked highly in the result pages for that particular search query. This is why SEO efforts often include long lists of keywords that begin with a category or theme but narrow down to the individual product type and all its variable options. Specificity matters, because if a searcher is looking for “women’s spring dresses” then simply returning all results about “clothing” isn’t a close enough match. But results aren’t simply based on relevance. There is likely a lot of competition for most keywords and phrases that a user may search, so potentially relevant matches are filtered further for quality and timeliness.
SEO Factors: “Reputation”
Your online reputation magnifies your relevance. Google and other search engines must return high quality results in order to keep their audience. So, they grade your reputation online by markers like online reviews, ratings, social followings, and the number and quality of inbound links to your site from other places online. The result of these reputation factors is often referred to as a site’s domain authority. For any given relevant keyword match, the site with a higher reputation will rank higher because its reputation is an indicator of quality content.
SEO Factors: “Recency”
Finally, your site content is judged by its recency. Search engines prioritize fresh content over older results to avoid returning outdated results! There may be exceptions for older content results in a specialized niche without much competition or for a seminal, highly referenced result on a given topic. But in general, updates should be made on a frequent and ongoing basis to website content because it impacts organic search results. And that doesn’t mean just shuffling things into a slightly different order to give an appearance of change- it’s adding new website pages, products, or information (like blog posts or news items) that substantively update your site.
Unlocking Search Engine Ranking
Evidence of these SEO factors: relevance, reputation, and recency within your website determine if and when your site appears in organic (unpaid) search results. So, when we talk about “optimizing” a website, what we’re doing is making changes in content and/or coding to give your site the best chance to rank highly by: earning traffic from search and other sources by proper indexing, building trust with your target audience, and being worthy of inbound links, reviews, and shares from across the web. That’s what search engine ranking, and therefore SEO, is all about.
For more information and instruction on creating or implementing a marketing plan suited to your unique business needs, contact us at Digital Measured for a consultation.