Understanding Your SERP Rankings

Posted on April 23, 2020 • Written by Ben Smith
Understanding Your SERP Rankings

When a user enters a search query, search engines use complex algorithms to determine which web page most closely matches their search terms. An SEO specialist’s job is to understand what search terms users may enter to find a certain webpage. Then, specialists must interpret the algorithm’s preference and ensure that the website adheres to search engine’s standards, while also maintaining a positive user experience. It’s a complex field, with a multitude of factors to consider.  If you’re not sure why your site shows up at a certain position on a search engine results page (SERP), take a look at some of the main categories that may be affecting your website’s rankings.

Informed Content Building

Despite Google’s ever changing algorithm, content creation is still SEO 101. The more relevant a page’s content is to a given term, the higher chance you have at ranking for those terms. If your site’s keywords are lacking, conduct keyword mapping for all pages on your site. Then, build content with those keywords at the center of the content’s theme. Be sure to write in a way that naturally includes your target keywords in the headers and general copy, rather than blatantly inserting them wherever possible. Having a strong keyword strategy and seamlessly incorporating them into the copy is a prime way to help ensure your site will do better for ranking for that term

Meta Data

Page titles give users and search engines a description of the page’s content. To raise your site’s ranking, you’ll need to tailor page titles to each page’s main keyword topic. This helps search engines understand what’s on the page, and entices users to learn more by clicking on your site in the SERPs.  

While meta descriptions don’t directly affect a site’s ranking, they do influence click-through-rate (CTR). If a page has a high CTR and lots of traffic, search engines will likely improve rankings for that page. To gain these benefits include meta descriptions that incorporate the main topic of the page and have a strong call-to-action.


Schema Markup is a coded way to tell search engines what the content on your page means, and gives you more control than if the search engine interprets the content by itself. It also increases the chances for web pages to appear as rich snippets on search results, which boosts your page to the top of the SERPs and increases the overall chances of a site’s click-through-rate.  

Mobile Optimization

Google has been rolling out mobile-first indexing since 2018, which means webpages are ranked based off of the mobile version, regardless of what device a user is currently using.  Quality content, responsive designs, and mobile page speed are all key to maintaining and improving rankings for your site.

Mobile Page Speed

Page speed, a signal used by Google’s algorithm to rank pages, calculates the “time to first byte” (how long it takes for the browser to receive the first byte of information from the web server). A slow page speed indicates to search engines that the user experience may be negative, therefore influencing negative rankings for that webpage. Page speed is crucial to user experience, and pages with longer load time have higher bounce rates and lower time-spent-on-page averages. The faster the page, the better the rankings and conversions. Utilize tools such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights and GTMetrix to determine the state of your page speed.

Internal Links

Internal links are links on your website that point to different URLs within the site. Internal links in the main navigation, call-out buttons/banners, and within the actual content all help users and search engines better navigate and crawl the site.  For search engines, the more internal links from various pages point to a particular page, the more authority is passed on to that particular page. If search engines perceive that a page has high authority, that page will be considered more important and rank higher.  

It’s important that both users and search engines can easily find all pages within your site. Make sure your most important pages are linked throughout the site to continually improve the authority of any given page.Additionally, make sure none of your internal links are broken. Broken internal links not only cause a negative user experience, but it can stop search engines from crawling the rest of the site, causing indexing issues in general for the site.


A sitemap xml page tells search engines what pages exist within the site. It’s important to keep an updated sitemap because an outdated version could make it difficult for search engines to find and properly index pages that weren’t included in the sitemap.

Domain Authority

Authority score determines how trustworthy a domain is to search engines. Authority score is scaled from 1 to 100 (100 being the highest authority). Various elements are combined to determine this figure, such as the number of quality domains linking to the site and the longevity of the domain. Since you can’t change the age of a URL, you should develop quality domain backlinks to positively influence your authority score.  

Enabling Crawling For All Pages

This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s something that could be easily missed if any elements in the backend of the site are telling search engines to not index the site. Sometimes this may be left within the robots.txt file, or a robots meta tag within the site.  Whether you’re launching a brand new site, a single page within the site, or are seeing any indexing issues, double-triple-quadruple check if a disallow command exists within the robots.txt file or if a noindex meta robots tag is on the site.

Local Optimization

Local businesses’ organic traffic and conversions are heavily affected by whether or not they have optimized Google My Business or Bing Places listings. These listings inform both users and search engines about important business information like your name, address, phone, hours of operations, overall reviews of the business, and more. Keeping these updated are key to keeping positive local organic rankings.  Additionally, keeping accurate and consistent NAP (name, address, phone) across all directories connected to the site allows search engines to confirm whether your local business is relevant to nearby users and can positively impact your local rankings.

SEO is an ever-evolving entity that needs constant maintenance, research, and updates. If you’re having issues with your rankings, or are looking for opportunities to improve your standings on search engines, reach out to us. We’ll help you review these key areas to see where your website stands and craft a custom, innovative SEO strategy to help your site top the rankings.  

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Ben Smith

Written by Ben Smith

Ben Smith is a Researcher at Fruition, specializing in Google's Algorithm changes. Ben is a graduate of the University of Denver’s Mathematics program, and he enjoys learning about Google’s search algorithm updates. He's a vital asset of the Fruition team, and he one day hopes to publish a book. In his free time, you can find Ben enjoying the outdoors of Colorado.

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