Search Engine Ranking Factor FAQs
Here are the most commons search engine ranking factor questions and answers that we get asked about.
What are the most effective SEO strategies? +
Four of the most effective SEO strategies are keyword research and placement, producing high-quality content, structuring your site architecture well, and building natural backlinks. Keyword research and placement refers to determining what search terms are most used by your target audience and including them on your landing pages, particularly in important positions like page titles and headers. Producing high-quality content refers to creating page content that meets the standards set out in Google’s webmaster guidelines. This includes hosting content that is accurate and useful to searchers while avoiding spammy practices intended to deceive them. Structuring your site architecture refers to having clear, easy-to-use navigation and internal links. This assists Google’s crawler in indexing your pages and makes for a better user experience for customers. Finally, building natural backlinks refers to developing legitimate links to your site from other high-quality sites. Backlinks are an important ranking factor for Google’s algorithm.
What is the single most effective SEO strategy? +
There is no single most effective SEO strategy. While different sources might emphasize different specific tactics, it is widely agreed that SEO is a holistic process that requires work in multiple different areas. Having highly searchable keywords is meaningless if your content is useless or irrelevant to your target audience; even the highest-quality content will fail to be discovered if it has no backlinks pointing towards it; no amount of backlinks will help a site if it is delisted from Google for violating their webmaster guidelines, and so forth. No single magic bullet can guarantee SEO success; rather, one must pursue many different strategies and improve in many different areas in order to build the best overall site.
How does SEO work? +
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It works by designing your site’s structure and content to meet the criteria Google’s search algorithm uses when determining how high-quality a site is, and therefore how highly to place it in the search results delivered to users. Important ranking factors include keyword placement, natural backlinks, mobile-friendliness, loading speed, usefulness of content, and avoiding forbidden practices that can result in Google imposing penalties.
How do you get more backlinks? +
Methods for acquiring backlinks include developing linkable assets, applying to resource pages, broken link building, skyscraper link building, and being a source for reporters. Developing linkable assets means creating high-quality pages that will naturally attract backlinks and then promoting them to relevant publications. Applying to resource pages means submitting your site to curated lists of high-quality links relevant to your industry. Broken link building means finding pages about subjects relevant to your business which have broken links and contacting their site owners offering to let them redirect the links from the now-missing page to a page offering similar content on your own site. Skyscraper link building refers to finding successful content, creating similar but even better content on your own site, and then promoting that page to those who linked to the original content. Finally, reporters often include a links to sources that provide them with information for news pieces, which can be a valuable source of high-authority backlinks from widely-viewed pages. Websites like HARO (Help a Reporter Out) display queries from journalists looking for authoritative sources to help them with research on articles; look for a journalist writing an article related to your type of business and provide the information they request.
Where do I go to learn SEO? +
There are a number of online courses that you can learn SEO from, some of which offer formal certifications or industry-recognized qualifications. These include Google Analytics Academy, a free online course offered by Google; HubSpot Academy, a hub that offers a choice of free courses which vary from comprehensive certification programs to quick practical courses; LinkedIn Learning, which offers courses by industry experts, some of which come with certificates or badges that can be shown to potential employers on that site; Wordtracker Academy, which offers specialist guides on seven different aspects of SEO; Moz, which offers three different types of courses on various topics and of various difficulties, including ones which grant valid certifications upon completion; and SEMRush, which offers lessons in the form e-books, webinars, and podcasts which are free to registered SEMRush users.
How do you search for keywords on a website? +
To search for keywords on a website, you can use Google’s site search function. To perform a site search, type “site:” in Google’s search bar followed by the website’s domain, then the keywords you wish to search for. Site search will cause Google to look at only pages on that specific domain; for further specificity, enclosing the keywords in quotation marks will cause Google to search only for exact word-for-word matches. This will show all pages on the site on which the keywords appear. To look for all occurrences of a keyword on one specific page, open the page in HTML by right-clicking on a blank part of the page and selecting “View page source”, then hold Ctrl+F (Windows) or Command+F (Mac) and type the keyword you are looking for. This will highlight each occurrence of the word in the page’s source code, as well as displaying a counter of how many times the word appears on the page overall and arrows allowing you to jump between occurrences.
How does YouTube rank videos?+
YouTube ranks its videos based on several factors including relevant keywords, user engagement, tagging, categorization, and hash tagging. Relevant keywords refers to terms relevant to a user’s search which are included in the video’s title and description; the better a match to the terms the user is searching for, the more highly it will rank. Engagement refers to how long viewers watch your video; people watching it all the way through indicates to YouTube that they find it useful and it is a good result to display to searchers, while people immediately abandoning it indicates that it is not what they were looking for and should not be ranked as highly. Tagging refers to how the video is tagged; such tags not only inform users what the video is about, but also helps YouTube’s algorithm understand the content and context of the video. While good tags can boost a video’s visibility, irrelevant or inaccurate ones can result in it being penalized. Categorization refers to choosing a category for a video so YouTube can group it with similar content; this influences which playlists and recommendations it ends up in. Hash tagging refers to using hashtags in a video’s description to increase its discoverability. However, including an excessive number of hashtags in a video may get it flagged as spam.
How do I get my website to rank higher in Google? +
To get your website to rank higher in Google, a number of different SEO strategies can be employed, and these different approaches should all be pursued in combination for best results. First, you should ensure that there are no immediate severe issues like manual penalties or delisting; these can be checked through tools like Google Safe Browsing and Google Search Console. If nothing requires fixing, then SEO involves improving your site in a number of areas: content quality, technical SEO, and offsite SEO. Content quality involves the material posted on your site: ensuring that it is original rather than copied from elsewhere, valuable and relevant to your visitors, and contains your targeted keywords. Technical SEO involves ensuring that your site is functioning properly: that your pages load quickly and are accessible from different platforms including mobile devices, that your navigation links are functional and not broken, and that Google’s crawlers aren’t blocked by your robots.txt file. Offsite SEO involves acquiring natural backlinks from other high-authority sites relevant to your industry and obtaining positive reviews from customers.
Are negative keywords applicable to SEO? +
Negative keywords are keywords that prevent an add from being triggered. Unlike positive keywords, which trigger your site to be delivered to a searcher when they match the users query, negative keywords cause your site to not be delivered to searches which include those keywords. For instance, if you are selling Apple computer products, adding “fruit” as a negative keyword to your ads will prevent them from being delivered to searchers looking for the food rather than the electronics brand. The reason you may wish to do this when paying for Google Ads is that you are charged for clicks, meaning that every result delivered by mistake to a searcher it’s not relevant to costs you money. The use of negative keywords in SEO for organic search results is a more difficult matter, as you can include positive keywords in your content, but there is no way to make a list of negative keywords. The most you can do is to deliberately avoid including any phrases you deem to be negative keywords in the content on your site. The impact of this is much less significant than it is for paid advertisements, as you do not pay a cost for mistaken organic clicks, but it may improve certain metrics like conversion rate by reducing the amount of mistaken traffic to your site.
What is blacklist SEO attack? +
A blacklist SEO attack is when a malicious actor hacks a website to subvert it for their own ends. This might involve phishing to collect personal information such as passwords or bank account details from visitors, or installing malware on the computers of visitors, or redirecting visitors to their own websites. In order to protect users, Google places warnings on such compromised pages, advising visitors not to proceed. You can check whether your website’s URL has been blacklisted using such Google Safe Browsing. If it has, you can request Google restore it by re-securing it and removing any malware (either yourself or with the help of a professional service) and then submitting your website for reassessment on Google Search Console. This is often talked about but there haven't been too many instances where an attack has been successful.
How do we increase Google organic search traffic? +
You can increase Google organic search traffic to your site by following good SEO practices. Here are five basic SEO tips. One, have a strategy to generate natural backlinks from high-quality, high-authority sites relevant to your industry. (Do not pay for links, as this is a spammy practice that is penalized by Google). Two, create unique and original website content. Sites hosting unique content are more likely considered high-quality by Google than ones which simply recycle material that is readily available elsewhere. (Of course, it should also be useful and relevant to your users). Three, make sure your site is mobile-friendly. As mobile devices are responsible for an increasing number of searches, Google is increasingly prioritizing it as a ranking factor. Mobile-friendliness includes such factors as having responsive design to display on different screen sizes and loading quickly even for less-powerful computers. Four, include relevant keywords in your content to optimize it for search. Including long-tail keywords in your content can target more specific queries, while placing keywords in important positions like titles elevates their importance. Five, make sure your site is secured by an SSL certificate. Security is a Google ranking factor, with https sites ranking higher than http ones. Beyond these five tips, further information on how to improve your website to meet Google’s standards can be found in Google’s webmaster guidelines.
How many clicks should I be getting from organic search? +
Typically, the amount of clicks one should be receiving from organic search is measured not in terms of absolute number of clicks, but rather in click-through rate (CTR): the percentage of people who see your site in the search results that click on it. The average organic CTR for any business is 2%. What is considered a “good” CTR varies depending on the source; some say that anything above 3% is good, while others advise aiming for ranges like 4-6% or 6-7%. This can vary by industry; for instance, sites in the customer service industry generally have a higher average CTR than sites in the legal industry, so two sites with the same CTR might actually be performing above and below average with regards to their respective industries. And, of course, how many specific clicks a CTR translates into will depend on how many impressions a page is getting; a widely-seen page with a low CTR can be getting more clicks than a a rarely-seen page with a high CTR. As such, how many clicks you should be getting depends on a wide variety of different factors including your industry and the type of SEO strategy you are pursuing.
What is offsite SEO? +
Offsite SEO factors are anything that contributes to how your website is ranked by Google that is not hosted on your website itself. This includes the number of backlinks pointed to your site by other websites, the authority and relevance of the sites hosting those backlinks, and reviews of your company or product written by customers.
What are the best offsite SEO strategies? +
The best offsite SEO strategies are building organic backlinks and encouraging positive customer reviews. Backlinks from popular, relevant, and high-authority sites pass PageRank to your site, increasing its importance in the eyes of Google’s algorithm. The higher the status and authority of the linking page, the greater the benefit to your site. However, such backlinks must be built and acquired naturally; paying for backlinks is against Google’s webmaster guidelines and may result in your site being penalized. Likewise, numerous and largely positive reviews from customers will be seen a sign of business quality and raise your site’s significance for the algorithm, but bribing customers to leave positive reviews or generating fake reviews are against Google’s rules.
What are stop words? +
In SEO, stop words are words that are so common that they have traditionally been ignored by search engines for the purpose of saving space and time when processing large amounts of data during crawling or indexing pages. Some examples include “the”, “is”, “at”, “which”, and “on”. This could cause problems when searching for phrases consisting entirely of stop words, such as the band “The Who” or Shakespeare’s line “to be or not to be”. However, due to advances in machine learning and natural language processing, stop words no longer pose as much of a problem to modern search engines, and Google’s John Mueller has stated that site owners should write naturally without worrying about stop words.
Does the level of confidence between the geography of the user and the page matter for SEO? +
"Yes, the level of confidence between the geography of the user and the page can matter for SEO, as search engines like Google aim to provide users with the most relevant and useful search results based on their location. This is called local SEO, and it has become increasingly important as more people use location-based searches. Some factors that influence local SEO include: Localized content: Creating content that is relevant to users in a specific geographic area can improve your local SEO. This can include mentioning local landmarks, events, or news. Google My Business (GMB) listing: Claiming and optimizing your GMB listing can help improve your visibility in local search results. Make sure to include accurate and up-to-date information, such as your business address, phone number, and hours of operation. Online reviews: Encourage customers to leave reviews on platforms like Google Maps or Yelp, as this can help improve your local search rankings. Local backlinks: Acquiring backlinks from other local websites can help signal to search engines that your content is relevant to users in that area. Schema markup: Implementing structured data markup, such as LocalBusiness schema, can help search engines understand your business's location and other details. While the geography of the user and the page does matter for SEO, it is essential to strike a balance between localized content and broader, more general content to ensure your website appeals to both local and non-local users."
Does continuous time spent on site matter? +
Yes, the user-averaged active continuous time spent by a user (in seconds) on host pages after clicking on a query from a search engine
Do user interactions on a page matter? +
The average number of active actions (clicks, keystrokes) for users when the user is continuously on the host pages after clicking on a request from a search engine (the factor depends on the pair (request,domAttr)).
Do the number of visits to a site that are not from links matter? +
Yes, percentage of visits to the site not by links (typed by hand or from bookmarks)
What happens if I get a burst of clicks from search in a short period of time? +
URL feature computed from rapid clicks spy_log counters with decay of 3 days, URL feature computed from rapid clicks spy_log counters with decay of 14 days