In order to give direction to trainee SEOs and professionals new to the area, I wanted to write a simple but concise summary of what search engines use to determine their rankings. I will try to not go into too much details about techniques of Internet Marketing, just the basic framework in order to outline the role of SEO to any newcomer.
In simple terms, SEO is about making your website (or your client’s) visible on the internet, and especially on search engine result pages, as it’s often the first place people go they go when they are looking for businesses.
The aim is to ‘Pull’ anyone searching almost anything related to your business to your site, as opposed to traditional marketing and advertising techniques where you push your advertisement onto a consumer.
You’ll feel at the top of the world when you get #1 on Google! via flickr
In order to understand how you get to the top of the Google results list, you have to understand the how Google itself searches and ranks pages. The search engine uses a range of techniques in order to classify the billions of web pages that are online into a coherent list of results. However, it is good to note at this point that the algorithm’s exact formula or equation is secret, so don’t bother doing a Google search for it!
First of all, the results reflect the keywords you have entered. This is achieved by scanning all the pages that are online and finding the ones that contain the keywords you typed. This ensures that the information you are looking for will be contained within the billion pages presented to you in the results page. In order to find the most relevant page for your search, Google then classifies these pages in terms of quality. The best pages will appear at the top of the result list.
The quality of any given page relies on a number factors, some of them quite straightforward & obvivous, some of them more enigmatic. I will however give a rough explanation of how quality scores are determined.
Typically the factors can be split in two ways. Relevance & Reputation.
Search engines determine how relevant your pages is by looking how the keywords the searcher used are featured on your page. Have you used them in your title tags sending a clear signal to Google that’s what the page is about? Are they used anywhere else on the page like in the headings (or H1) on the page? How often are they used and are there other related words on the page?
Furthermore, the ranking of a page also depends on the amount of people that are linking towards your website. Google understands that if you have a million people linking to your page, it must be interesting and therefore very highly regarded. But it’s not only quantity of people linking to you affects the final ranking result, it’s the quality: a link from the BBC will definitely be worth much more than one from www.SquidTv.net. (Real link, check it out!)
Part of your repuation can also be related to the trust-worthy-ness and age of your domain name. Because Government & University websites have often been online for years and aren’t available to the general public; they tend to be seen as more authoritative sources which are known to be reliable for information (unlike a generic dot com sites like the website http://www.buyanessay.com).
As websites are improving their relevance, reputation is becoming more important. In order to be a good SEO, you should have some marketing and IT skills, but I believe PR skills are also very important as SEO also consists of promoting your brand to other businesses and making them point towards you. If you can’t PR well enough, you will not be able to get those oh-so-important links. However, at SiteVisibility we cannot stress enought that SEOs are better at Social Media Marketing than PRs will ever be.
See you next time for more SEO training.