It’s no secret that where a website ranks in the search engines directly affects the amount of traffic it receives. According to a somewhat dated but still relevant study by the online advertising firm Chitka, websites in first Google rank received 32.5% traffic share, whereas websites listed just a few ranks down in the fifth position received just 6.1% traffic share. That’s a pretty substantial difference, attesting to the importance of maintaining a high search ranking.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Now for the million-dollar question: how do I obtain a higher search ranking for my website? Google has yet to reveal the exact formula it uses to rank websites. Shocker right? If it did, marketers wouldn’t have to spend their time trying to manipulate search results to boost their rankings. However, we know that Google uses an advanced algorithm that’s constantly being updated and tweaked on a regular basis. This algorithm is designed to look for certain signals to determine where and how to rank websites.
The term “search engine optimization” is used to describe the act of optimizing a website so it ranks higher in the search engines for one or more specific keywords. Because Google has yet to reveal its search ranking algorithm – not entirely, at least – there’s no magic formula when it comes to SEO. With that said, there are proven strategies that can encourage higher rankings.
There are two forms of SEO, one of which is on-site SEO. As the name suggests, this constitutes any action taking place directly on the website itself with the intention of achieving a higher search ranking. Some common on-site SEO strategies include the use of relevant and unique page titles, publishing high-quality content, reducing load times, ensuring content is published in a single location and not multiple areas, and performing routine maintenance to ensure all software is up to date.
The second form of SEO, off-site SEO, involves any action taken off the website to achieve a higher search ranking. An example of off-site SEO is building backlinks, which is known to be a prime ranking signal used by Google, Bing and Yahoo. Backlinks are viewed as a symbol of authority, so it only makes sense for search engines to rank websites higher if they contain a significant number of backlinks.
Keep in mind, however, that quantity isn’t the only thing you should consider when building backlinks. Search engines place a greater emphasis on quality over quantity, meaning a website with a handful of high-quality backlinks will likely rank higher than a website with hundreds or even thousands of low-quality backlinks.
This is really just the basics of search engine optimization. In order to achieve a top search ranking for your target keyword, you’ll need to dive into the more technical aspects of SEO – but that’s something we’ll save for another blog post!
In the meantime, you can check out our technical seo audit checklist and run a free seo check on your site, just click here.