Ranking factors

Google has stated that it uses more than 200 factors or signals within its search ranking algorithms. These include positive ranking factors that help boost position and negative factors or filters which are used to remove search engine spam from the index where SEO companies have used unethical approaches such as automatically creating links to mislead the Google algorithms. The two most important factors for good ranking positions in all main search engines are:

Matching between web page copy and the key phrases searched

The main factors to optimise on are keyword density, keyword formatting, keywords in anchor text and the document metadata including page title tags. The SEO process to improve results in this area is know as on-page optimisation.

Links into the page (inbound or backlinks)

Google counts each link to a page from another page or another site as a vote for this page. So pages and sites with more external links from other sites will be ranked more highly. The quality of the links is also important, so if links are from a site with good reputation and relevant context for the keyphrase, then this is more valuable. Internal links are also assessed in a similar way. The processes to improve this aspect of SEO are external link building and internal link architecture. With growing importance of sharing links through social media the search engines now use the number of social mentions to a page and across a site to determine ranking positions. The implications of this are that if companies can get influencers with a larger influence to recommend their content or offers though social networks this can have the dual effect of reaching more people through social graph and improving rankings.

Ongoing search optimisation

The ever-changing nature of search environment means that there is no magic bullet in SEO. It is not a one-size fits-all discipline, and it never ends. You have to work hard to find the right blend of targeted keywords for your particular business operating within your particular market at the current point in time. You have to optimise your pages based on those keywords, and deliver compelling, high-impact content. You have to attract incoming links.

Then you have to measure, monitor and refine continuously, tweaking and turning your optimisation efforts based on changing conditions in the marketplace, the search engines and your customers. Take your foot off the gas, and that high ranking you’ve worked so hard to achieve will gradually (and sometimes not so gradually) start to slip away.

Optimisation is a dynamic and iterative process. And if you want sustained results it needs to be ongoing.

Adapted from

Chaffey, D. and Ellis-Chadwick, F., 2012. Digital marketing: strategy, implementation and practice (Vol. 5). Harlow: Pearson.

Ryan, D., 2016. Understanding digital marketing: marketing strategies for engaging the digital generation. Kogan Page Publishers.

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