Search engines can make or break a website. The more often your blog appears in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), the more likely you are to get more traffic. However, the position in which your blog appears is also critical.
To give you an idea of just how important search engine ranking is, the first five results for any given Google search get around 67% of all clicks. If you’re not among those results, you’re basically picking up scraps of traffic.
In this article, I’m going to talk about how search engines, and Google in particular, determine ranking. Then we’ll talk about five key factors that can impact your blog’s position in the search engines. Let’s get to it!
What Are Search Engine Rankings (And Why Are They So Important)?
These days, you can Google pretty much anything and get hundreds of search results. Unless you’re looking for something fairly obscure, you probably never make it past the first page of results. In fact, the three top-ranking results in SERPs get a disproportionate amount of attention.
In some cases, your blog’s content might be better, but search engines can’t figure that out instantly. To determine search rankings, Google relies on a complex algorithm that weighs over 200 unique signals.
When we talk about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) we’re referring to all the small and big tasks you have to carry through on if you want to:
- Get your blog’s pages to show in the SERPs in the first place.
- Make sure your content rises through the rankings, hopefully to the top.
It’s important to understand each page on your blog will come up during different searches. Each search has its unique ranking so what you want to do is focus on getting as many of your pages to the top of the results.
The more thorough, engaging, and well-optimized your content is, the easier that becomes. If you’re just starting a new blog, don’t despair – you can get search engines to love you, but it’s going to take a little time.
4 Factors That Affect Your Website’s Ranking
As I mentioned before, Google takes over 200 signals into account when deciding the rankings for each search. It would take a book to cover them all, so let’s focus on the five most important criteria, starting with keywords.
1. Keyword Optimization
When you look something up using a search engine, you do so with a keyword. For example, if you want to find the perfect carbonara recipe, you might look for “best carbonara recipe” and that would be your keyword:
The way Google knows those pages contain carbonara recipes is through keywords and metadata (which we’ll talk about in a minute). If you open any of those recipes, you’ll find that exact keyword and variations of it.
Here’s the thing, though – you can’t just fill a blog page up with keywords and call it a day. That’s keyword stuffing and search engines are savvy to it. Proper keyword use covers the following:
- Using keywords naturally throughout each page
- Including variations throughout your content
- Using your primary keywords as part of the page title and subheadings
Every page can have primary and secondary keywords, depending on their importance. We published a full guide of how to use keywords correctly a while ago, so check it out.
2. On-Page Optimization
On-page optimization covers the use of metadata that search engines rely on to determine how your pages show up in the results. Metadata includes elements such as:
- Page titles
- Meta descriptions
- Alt text for your images
- Structured markup
To put it another way, metadata is a collection of elements that only takes a few minutes to optimize for each page. For any blog post you publish, you want to use a title that includes your primary keyword, add a meta description, tags, and include alt text for each image.
In every case, those elements need to provide users with more information about what the page contains. Search engines see that data and they like it!
3. Inbound and Outbound Links
We’ve talked about inbound links or backlinks extensively in the past. They’re links from other pages to yours and search engines see those elements as a vote of confidence.
If you’re going to link to another website from your blog, chances are it’s a source you trust or content you want your visitors to see. That’s precisely how search engines interpret it and the more quality backlinks you have, the more ‘authority’ you get.
Building backlinks takes effort, though. At the same time, you want to make sure you’re adding plenty of internal links within your pages. In a blog post like this, for example, you’ll notice I’ve added plenty of links to supporting articles from our archives.
The goal of internal links is to help visitors navigate within your website by establishing logical connections. Proper internal linking can also increase the time readers spend on your site, which is another signal search engines take into account.
4. Page Speed and Mobile Friendliness
Everyone hates a slow website. If a page takes too long to load, you’re likely to get annoyed and look elsewhere for the content you want. The faster the internet becomes, the less patience we have for poor performance.
Ideally, your website should load in under three seconds at the most. If you’re well below that line, then all the more power to you:
If you’re using WordPress, there are plenty of ways you can cut down on loading times. On that same page, it’s essential your blog looks good on mobile devices:
Most people interact with the web through mobile devices these days. That means if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you risk alienating a significant portion of your readers.
Once more, if you’re using WordPress, then creating a mobile-friendly blog is simple. Your choice of theme will play a large part in how responsive your blog is, so make sure you pick one that looks great on mobile devices.
If anyone tells you they know exactly how search ranking algorithms work, they’re lying through their teeth. We have a pretty good idea of most of the factors that Google takes into account, though. That means if you focus on optimizing key aspects of your blog, you can maximize your chances of rising through the ranks.
Here are the four key ranking factors you should be paying attention to if you’re running a blog:
- Keyword optimization
- On-page optimization
- Inbound and outbound links
- Page speed and mobile friendliness
Do you have any questions about how search engines rank your blog? Let’s go over them in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.