Top Search Engine Ranking Factors – What The Search Engine Want

We are often asked “How do search engines work?” so we thought we should provide a quick outline of the key factors we believe Google, Yahoo and Bing have built into their search and data algorithms.

A Search Engine Rankings algorithm is simply lines and lines of code that have a series of criteria by which they can rate a particular page for a particular keyword phrase. On a broad scale there are three major elements in determining whether your web pages will be highly ranked for particular keyword phrases:

  • Technical infrastructure – can all your pages be easily found and can the code that writes them be clearly understood and indexed
  • Page content – does your on-page (what visitors can see) and off-page (behind the scenes coding such as your <title> tag) content present unique material that is presented in a way that Search Engines like
  • Incoming links – does your link profile present a balanced quality and quantity of links that are on theme, relevant and with appropriate anchor text within the links

Based on our own research sites we also know that the following more specific search engine rankings factors influence how a Search Engine ranks each page.

Keyword Weighting:

  • Keywords in the <title> tag
  • Keywords in <h1, h2, h3 etc> tags
  • Keywords actually appearing on the page
  • Keywords in links pointing to the page from within your site
  • Keywords in domain name or in page file name

URL Weighting:

  • History of URL being active
  • Age since registered
  • Weighting or page rank of links pointing to the URL
  • Overall theme of URL using incoming and outgoing links
  • Historical use of URL
  • Links pattern profile to URL

Page Weighting:

  • History of page being active
  • Age since page created
  • Weighting or page rank of links pointing to the page
  • Overall theme of page using incoming and outgoing links
  • Links pattern profile to page – internal and external/deep links

Inbound Link Weighting:

  • Age of links
  • Quality of domains sending links
  • Quality of pages sending links
  • Anchor text of incoming links
  • Link quantity versus quality ratio
  • Theme or relevance of pages linking in

User Data Weighting:

  • The “bounce” rate – visitors hitting the Back button
  • Historical click through rate from search engine results page
  • Time visitors spend on each page
  • Search requests for actual URL
  • Historical visits and returns by visitors

Clearly there are other search engine rankings factors within each Search Engine algorithm and each algorithm is not only complex but must also deliver results extremely quickly. We are also of the opinion that the weighting of each component above varies with the competitiveness of the keyword phrase being targeted.

Some of the above Search Engine algorithm factors are directly within your control such as placing your keywords in the <title> tag and appropriately within the on page text. Others are more difficult to manage and control such as “bounce” rate and return visit ratios, but they are indeed manageable.

But if you want to increase website traffic and grow your online revenues via organic SEO then you need to try to match the Search Engine Rankings “secret sauce” as closely as you can.

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