Search engines have become the dominant force when users require information fast. Without the likes of Google, Bing, or AOL, we would be presented with millions of internet pages to trawl through. Using search engine services subconsciously, many of us do not consider what goes on “behind the scenes”. If you are a business owner looking to drive online success, understanding how and why search engines feature your web page(s) is vital.
THE POWER OF SEARCH ENGINES
When referring to search engines, the leader of the pack is Google. With an average market share of 74.54% and 3.5 billion daily searches, Google will be significant for the success of your marketing strategy, and therefore your business as a whole. That’s not to say the other search engines don’t count.
By adhering to the factors that drive successful click-through rates on Google, many of which focus on the quality of your site and the content published, improvements in traffic and reach can be made across all search engines.
Search engines operate just as your business does. They value satisfied customers who return because they found what they wanted when using that service. Google generates the most relevant search results for a chosen keyword, which must also be in an order that users find useful. To achieve this, search engines have a strict framework in place that determines what denotes a relevant or popular website.
BEHIND THE SCENES OF GOOGLE
Having already alluded to the framework that drives successful and high-ranking search returns on Google, what is this framework actually comprised of? Starting with the bad news, Google uses a sophisticated algorithm calculating 200 different factors when deciding where a page should be ranked. Rank first, and you’ll appear on the very first page of Google, at the top of the list. The value of appearing within the top ten ranked sites for a keyword on Google is immense. A study conducted by Internet Marketing Ninja found 71.9% of click-through rates (CTR) occurred on the first returned search page. A small spike in CTRs appeared for sites featured at the top of page two; otherwise, the figures were less than 1% the further down the sites appeared.
To make matters worse, the ranking is based purely on those 200 factors—no human intervention. The position that the search engine allocates you is your ranking; it can go up or down based on your adherence to the algorithm requirements, but cannot be manipulated by asking Google to increase your position manually. Knowing we are at the mercy of a complicated scientific calculation may sound daunting, but there is good news. Several crucial steps can be undertaken to improve the ranking of your website.
FRONT PAGE RANKING DRIVES BUSINESS
With such an overwhelming frequency of CTRs on the front page, enticing new customers is achieved by gaining a 1–10 position. Both mobile and desktop searches show declines in CTRs around 25% between the 1st and 5th position. The closer to the top your web page is, the more traffic you’ll receive. Google also favours direct page clicks and backlinks from other sites. When reputable websites link out to your articles or posts, this can help to increase traffic and perhaps even credibility in Google’s eyes. The more internet traffic your posts receive, the more Google views that content as relevant to user search queries. The cycle of success and remaining on top can be broken though; regular, consistent content is required to keep your site “relevant”.
It would be impossible to have a website optimised to hit all 200 requirements, and therefore beat the system to achieve a number 1 position every time. The algorithm is a continually developing mathematical formula. However, statistics from SEMrush point to several ways you can increase the authority of your web pages and become prioritised, gaining a higher ranking. Time on site, pages per session, and content length were all considered more important to Google than adding a keyword to bodies of text, titles, or meta titles.
IMPROVE YOUR RANKING
Google loves content, but not just any content. Well-structured, unique articles with organic keyword positioning are seen as far superior to a mass of plagiarised or unpolished content. The same thing goes for video content and other forms of media. Shoehorning keywords into your website’s content can actually be detrimental for your ranking.
Including internal and external links in your written content also contributes to better page rank and popularity. External links to valid sources and internal links to other content or your products/services can be a huge ally in the SEO process. Relevant or topical content can be hard to quantify; however, any striving business will have an understanding of the market they operate in. Providing comprehensive content on the subjects that matter to your client base is favoured by Google over simple keyword manipulation. Easy-to-read sentences, clear titles, images, and link building all help to provide an experience customers will want to come back for.