If your business uses a website, you have most likely done a little bit of homework on search engine optimization or have at least heard of it. Search engine optimization, or SEO, revolves around increasing the quality and quantity of traffic to your website through organic search results. Organic search results are any unpaid results that a search engine such as Google or Bing return. So how do these search engines determine what results to give and in what order to place them? Let us take a look at five major factors that search engines uses to determine your placement in organic search results.
People search for information that is current and relevant and search engines need to be able to find and produce this information. That is why search engines are constantly scanning the internet for new and interesting content. When new content is found, it is indexed and will be able to be returned in search results. If your site is rarely updated and your content is old, search engines will not have a reason to index your site very often. Even if you have quality content, old content may not be ranked as high as new content. If you have an article on FHA loans from 2015 on your site, your article may be missing crucial information from the past five years. Search engines will recognize this and return more relevant results. By updating your site with new content, search engines will index your site more frequently, which is a signal that you are providing updated and current information on your site. This in turn will improve your ranking drastically.
One common mistake that is made by many people when creating content is excluding location information. Search engines can determine where you are located, but you may want to target various surrounding areas and cities. Using location information in keyword phrases will let search engines know not only what product or service you offer, but the areas you are targeting as well. This extra bit of information will not only help your organic SEO rankings, but your local SEO rankings as well.
Traffic to Your Website
Website traffic is a straightforward ranking factor, and one of the most important. In most cases, the more visitors you have on your site, the better the ranking will be. A study by SEMrush showed that direct traffic had the most significant impact on page rank. Search engines recognize that sites with the most traffic are offering something that visitors need. This is why it is extremely important to always be updating and improving your content. Quality content increases direct traffic to your site. It is also important to keep visitors on your site. If you are receiving a lot of traffic, but those visitors are immediately leaving, you may not be providing quality content that these visitors are after. This is referred to as having a high bounce-rate which brings us to our next ranking factor.
Length of Stay
Search engines track the amount of time visitors spend on a particular page or website. If one website has an average length of stay of two minutes, and a competing website has an average length of stay of 20 seconds, there is clearly a difference in the quality of the website in the eyes of a search engine. When someone visits a website has a short average length of stay, or immediately leaves (high bounce-rate), red flags go up. The content may not be related to their search, or the website may offer a poor user experience. Whatever the reason may be, search engines view these sites as low-quality sites.
When visitors spend more time on a website, they are having a better experience and likely finding the content that they were looking for. These are the websites that search engines want to deliver to their users. If search results return a lit of websites that offer a poor user experience, people will simply switch to different search engines.
Number of Page Views
The number of page views that a website gets goes hand in hand with length of time that is spent on a website. If a person views multiple pages on a website, they are likely spending more time there than someone who visits one page and leaves the site. This is another indicator that a site visitor is having a positive user experience and they are exploring the site for more information.
An increased number of page views might mean people are landing on a page expecting to find certain information that is not there. They may end up clicking to a few different pages looking for it before eventually leaving without finding that information. This is why factors such as length of stay and traffic are also considered. If page views are up but length of stay is very low, this could be a negative sign. Higher page views coupled with a longer length of stay are positive indicators.
When you search for products and services, you have most likely seen results that include a star ranking. These star rankings are based on reviews of those products and services. Sites such as Google, Facebook, and Yelp allow users to leave reviews and select a star rating, normally from 1 to 5. This collection of star ratings across various sites can be compiled into a social rank. Social rank can be used by search engines to determine if you are operating a reputable business. If your business receives a lot of positive reviews across many of these sites, you will have a much better social rank than a business that does not generate reviews or has poor reviews.
Search engines want to connect people with reputable businesses that provide quality products and services. If you provide the same information and services on your website as a competitor, but they have a 2 star average across these sites, while you have a 5 star rating, search engines will want to connect visitors with you. You will likely provide a better overall experience than your competitor. Social rank is why it is vital to always be asking customers for positive reviews. Many people will only go out of their way to leave negative reviews when they have a bad experience. Those who have a good experience tend not to leave reviews but are happy to give one if asked. Stay on top of generating positive reviews and your social rank will improve.
These five factors are only a few of the hundreds of ranking factors that search engines use but are some of the most important. Focus on providing your site visitors with quality content and a positive user experience. Stay on top of creating new content as often as you can manage and remember to always be actively asking for positive reviews from customer that have had a great experience with you. If you can do this, you will be well on your way to a much higher organic SEO ranking.