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How Does Google Rank Websites?

Business owners and marketers the world over are trying to figure out how to get their websites to rank better in Google. But it’s important to think about why and how Google ranks websites.

Those websites that appear on the first page for a search query are those that Google considers to be the most important, relevant and ultimately useful to the searcher, for a specific query.

Google determine where to rank websites within its index by implementing an algorithmic model which reviews well over two hundred ranking factors.

Google doesn’t tell website owners exactly how they rank web pages and that’s seen a whole technical marketing discipline grow up. SEO consultants use their experience, research and testing in order to determine which of the 200+ factors will have the most impact in helping a website to rank.

Different SEO consultants focus on different metrics and methodologies in order to achieve SEO success, however, we would suggest the following factors are the most important:

  • Use of keywords on the page
  • Site link architecture
  • Page structure
  • Mobile friendly design
  • Site speed
  • Time on site
  • Backlink portfolio
  • Brand value
  • Content creation & distribution
  • History in Google

When Google first launched the algorithm was the thing that made them different from other search engines. It was their secret sauce that enabled them to beat off all those other search engines. Back then, the basis for their algorithm was PageRank – which weighted the links a website received and those it passed on.

These days Google’s algorithm has been updated and expanded to include a large number of ranking factors, all of which Google adapts over time. Whilst there is some manual ‘quality reviews’ the overall process of ranking websites is carried out by a series of mathematical models.

If you want to make your website rank at the top of Google that you need to ensure that Google’s algorithm considers your website to have the best score in regards to all of the ranking factors. And just because you rank at position 1 one day doesn’t mean that you always will. GrowTraffic ranked at position 1 for freelance SEO consultant for over 3 years however it now ranks a lot lower for this term, but ranks well for others. Things can and should change in Google.

The main factor that’s constant is the comparison. So if there were no other websites focused on the keywords you wanted to rank for, you would rank at the top. If there were a handful of websites you would have a better chance of ranking. The more websites you’re competing with to rank the more Google will have to compare your website to others and the more the different ranking factors will have an effect.

You’ve also got to consider how your competitors are changing Google’s assessment of their website. A small tweak to a site’s layout could dramatically improve their overall SEO. I recently implemented a small change on a page template that made 35,000 more pages start to rank. Most of the competitors would hardly know that change had been made unless they closely monitored the activity on the website. However, many of those competitors may have lost slipped a place in the rankings for tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of keywords.

Of course, it’s not just about adjusting the content on a page, or creating a content strategy to drive up the relevancy of a website, generating new backlinks to a website can also be a way to rapidly increase the ranking of a site.

This growth in rankings is going to be based on how much page authority and domain authority a website already has and how the new backlink(s) add to that authority. I’ve known one quality backlink from a relevant website drive the rankings of a site from the bottom of page 4 all the way to position one.

If you’re talking to an SEO consultant who thinks they can guarantee a page one or position one ranking I’d be very sceptical. I’d be cautious because there is the very reality of being penalised. Take it from someone who has been penalised and who has repaired the Google penalties other people have faced: it’s not fun and is very damaging.

Whilst acknowledging that no SEO consultant can guarantee they can get you to the top of Google, most can tell you what kind of methodology they’ll implement and how they think it will help your website in Google.

At GrowTraffic we back up onsite technical SEO with a content marketing approach. This delivers a tangible output for clients and a sustainable strategy and ensures links are generated in a more organic manner by being driven by the genuine quality of the content.

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