Search engine ranking: that almost mystical process by which Google figures out how to rank your site amidst the thousands of others that have the same purpose, the same keywords, and the same customer base.
You know that your search ranking determines how likely customers are to see your site and how much they’ll trust the information on it. So what’s the formula for how to rank on Google? There are three search factors that have the greatest impact on your Google rankings.
The Top 3 Search Ranking Factors
The most recent report from Google is that none of these three factors has more importance than the others. Each of the three factors plays a part in the greater algorithm that is used to determine search engine ranking and place your page where it will be seen by the people who need to see it according to the keywords you’ve chosen to highlight.
That means that rather than taking these factors in numeric order, it should be assumed that they are of equal importance.
Factor #1: Links
It’s not enough to simply build high-quality content based around your chosen keywords. You need to build links to that content from high-quality sources that Google already knows it can trust. The more links there are back to your content, the higher you will rank with those critical keywords. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as simply getting links back to your website from wherever you can get them. There are a number of factors that go into the link-building process.
Link text or anchor text: This is the text that links back to your website. Google assumes that these words do a pretty good job of describing the content they link to, so it takes them into consideration in your search results.
Popularity of the page: If you’re linking back from a reputable page that Google recognizes as having global popularity, you get more link credit than if you get a link back from a page that ranks fairly low in overall popularity.
Variety of sources: 100 links from 100 different sources are going to get you a lot more credit in Google’s algorithm than 100 links from a single source. One source who absolutely loves your page and considers it a credible resource is great. Dozens of sources that think that your page is a credible resource will help build your credibility.
When you realize how important link-building is, it can be tempting to start spamming popular pages with links back to your site. Unfortunately, spam tends to have a more negative effect than a positive one. Instead, look for natural ways to build links back to your site: guest posting on other blogs in your industry, becoming a reputable name that people naturally turn to for information, and building shareable links that people are excited to share through social media, among other tactics.
A Note About “Nofollow”
Many sites that don’t have control over the content and links published to them have chosen to distance themselves from Google’s algorithm by adding a “nofollow” option to the code. This tactic is invisible to the user, but it does let Google know that the page isn’t supporting the link or citing it as a credible resource. Sites that use this method won’t build your credibility, making them less useful for your link-building purposes.
Factor #2: RankBrain
RankBrain is Google’s artificial intelligence: the intelligence behind the scenes that does the “thinking” that goes along with the average user’s searches. It’s able to bring up pages with information related to your search without requiring you to use exact search terms. For example, RankBrain might understand that if you’re searching for information about SEO, you are most likely interested in articles that discuss how to best choose the keywords that are relevant to your business.
RankBrain is the latest incarnation of a technology that has been growing for quite some time. Initially, Google learned to determine, for example, that “keyword” and “keywords” are the same thing. Over time, it has evolved into a system that is able to understand not only the specific search terms that have been used and their plural forms, but also words that are synonyms to those terms or words that are associated with them.
This system has a number of key impacts on users. It means that your site can successfully appear in search engine rankings for terms that you haven’t deliberately optimized, especially if those terms are directly related to the ones that you’ve used or they have a relatively low incidence of use across the internet.
RankBrain is described as being used as a refinement tool for searches. It can translate a poorly worded query into one that it’s more comfortable answering because of greater user data. It’s a great tool that continues to reward users’ excellent content. Unfortunately, even workers at Google don’t understand exactly how RankBrain works. They just know that it has gradually increased in importance until it’s become one of the three most important factors in determining your search engine ranking.
Just a year ago, RankBrain only impacted about 15 percent of searches; now, it’s used in the majority of them. It’s intended to learn, grow, and continue to refine its capabilities until it becomes true narrow artificial intelligence.
Factor #3: Content
Ultimately, your search engine ranking is going to come to down to quality content. Links are built back, not to random websites that happen to have the right keywords, but to websites that have quality content that the user can rely on. While even the experts at Google might not know exactly how RankBrain works, they do know that it was designed from the beginning to reward quality content. If you aren’t producing quality content for your website on a regular basis, your search engine ranking and Google’s recognition of your efforts is gradually decreasing. (!!!)
Building quality content relies on a variety of factors: First, you want to produce content that appeals to different users. This includes infographics, webinars, and blog posts as well as videos, which are currently one of the most popular forms of content marketing. You want content that speaks to every stage of the buyer’s journey. While keywords are important and help to build your status, those keywords need to occur naturally within the content, which should be designed specifically to appeal to users, answer their questions, and solve their problems.
This trio of factors—creating quality content, building links back to your webpage, and increasing your status with RankBrain—is the ultimate formula for search engine success. Here at BlogMutt, our primary focus is on helping you build the quality content library that will allow your search engine ranking to rise. We have an established team of writers with experiences in a variety of industries standing by to produce the content that will make a difference for your website.