What is Ranking?
SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” In simple terms, it means the process of improving your site to increase its visibility for relevant searches. The better visibility your pages have in search results, the more likely you are to garner attention and attract prospective and existing customers to your business. Ranking refers to your website’s position in the search engine results page. Google ranks web pages based on the number and quality of inbound links — other websites that link to yours – and on some other factors. Let’s look at a few!
1. Site Structure
The better your site structure, the better your chance of ranking higher in the search engines. Every website has some “structure.” It might be a rigorous and streamlined structure, or it may be a disorganized jumble of pages. If you are intentional and careful with your site structure, you will create a site that achieves search excellence. A good site structure means great user experience.
When you take away the colors, fonts, graphics, images, and white space, good site design is really about a great structure.
Search engines like Google don’t automatically know what content you have on your website, or how your pages connect to one another. They use automated Web crawlers – scripts that try all the links on your pages and record what seems to work. As they learn a website’s structure, their goal is to index the content, so they can show it in search results. The better your site structure, the easier the crawlers can access and index the content.
A website that ranks well in search engines – and one that users find friendly and helpful – is hierarchal in organization. That is, it offers a few main categories – say, Products, Tech Support, Contact Us – and then under each major category are more specific links, becoming more specific or granular as the user keeps clicking, until he easily finds what he came for.
That also means that the page’s Uniform Resource Locator (URL), its address on the Web, tells a reader exactly what it is. If your page’s address is something like mystore.com/prooducts/hardware/lawn-mowers/Black+Decker/EdgeMax-20in-120v, then even the address of your page has been recruited as a salesman; now it helps communicate to users and to Google. Your URLs will reflect the forethought that goes into optimizing your site structure.
2. Page Speed
You don’t want to wait while a Web page s l o w l y appears on your screen. Neither does a search engine. Page speed is one of the primary SEO ranking factors. And since 2018, Google has also taken into account the page speed on mobile devices as well as PCs, so website developers should consider smart devices. There are a lot of websites that now receive more visitors from phones and mobile devices than from desktop computer users.
3. Mobile Responsiveness
But besides how quickly your page displays, your customers want your website to work on their phone. And so do search engines: Google implements a mobile-first index, which means that search results are drawn first from mobile-optimized pages. If you haven’t visited your site from your phone lately, then have a look and ask yourself:
- Does the site fit and resize in an attractive and usable way on the device?
- Are fonts large enough to read easily on the small screen?
- How easy is it to find and navigate your menus and pages?
- Are advertisements placed appropriately, or do they hide your content?
4. Content Length
On a product page, or when you have something short and important to say, then by all means keep it short and simple. But websites that have unique, engaging, relevant content, and a higher word count tend to rank higher than others.
The reason is simple: A short post is usually of value to you, while content that your reader wants to digest, save and print and act on, is more often going to be longer because it has substance. Readers return to read blogs or websites that consistently post genuinely helpful and interesting content. Longer writing is correlated with loyal readers. There is no hard and fast rule on the length of an article. But posts over 1,000 words in length tend to perform better in search engine result pages.
Are you an expert on your industry? Do you have helpful or funny stories from your experience? Do you have a customer or supplier who could write a piece for your site? Is there a common error your customers make, or something you wish everyone knew? Then you have some compelling, engaging content to share, and it could make your website a destination for loyal readers.
5. Domain Age and Authority
Data about the top-ranked websites on Google suggests that older websites often rank more highly than newer websites. Older sites have been optimized over time – and they’ve earned trust and inbound links.
Finally, your Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score that predicts how likely a website is to rank on search engine result pages. It consists of SEO signals like inbound links and social media impressions. Generally speaking, sites with a very large number of high-quality external links (such as Wikipedia or Google) are at the top end of the Domain Authority scale, while small businesses and websites with fewer inbound links may have a much lower DA score.
Improving your Domain Authority requires research, time, and experience. To boost your website’s engagement and Domain Authority, there’s really only one way to do it — you will need to attract and engage a loyal audience by creating high-quality content. Compelling, authoritative content will also attract the most organic backlinks from other websites in your industry.