Cracking search engine ranking algorithms is both the holy grail and the windmill chase of search engine optimization. If the algorithms behind Google, Bing and other search providers were revealed, then optimizing any website for a top page ranking would be easy. But these algorithms are fiercely guarded secrets that constantly evolve. Just when absolute clarity seems within reach, the search for answers begins anew.
That said, we’re far from clueless about how these algorithms work. In 2015, the marketing company Moz conducted a survey to find the most important factors in search engine rankings. More than 150 search marketers contributed, offering opinions on more than 90 possible ranking factors. Moz also partnered with other data companies to examine correlations between websites and webpages with higher search positions.
The survey’s findings don’t tell us exactly how search engines work, but they definitely shed light on key elements of SEO. Here we’ll review the survey’s top five search ranking factors and how you can improve these factors on your website.
1. Domain-Level Link Features
Domain-level link features encompass the quantity and quality of links to your website that help to establish its authority in your field of expertise. The more inbound links you have from other quality sources, the more your site is viewed as a trusted authority that’s worthy of a higher page rank.
Building a network of links to your website has always been a critical element of SEO. It’s not difficult, but it takes time. Start by asking customers and business partners to link to your site from their websites, blogs and social media pages. You can also start a blog yourself; eventually, your interesting and helpful content is likely to be shared. In addition to registering your site with Yelp and other business directories, you can also leave comments on relevant forums or do something special to get noticed by the local media. All of these things can help you earn links that can boost how your website is perceived by search engines.
2. Page-Level Link Features
Page-level link features are the same as domain-level link features, only this references the volume and quality of links that point to specific pages of your website. You can improve this factor just as you would with domain-level link features, by slowly building up a network of inbound links from other reputable sites.
One page-specific link feature to keep in mind is the phrase used in the hyperlinks, also known as anchor text. When possible, hyperlink a few important keywords on your webpage to relevant pages deeper within your site, which helps to establish authority for those keywords. Don’t hyperlink more than a few keywords, though, because that’s a red flag for Google that you’re gaming the algorithms and it could result in a penalty.
3. Page-Level Keyword & Content-Based Features
From the search engine algorithm’s perspective, the nuts and bolts of your content is slightly more important than the content itself. Yes, you want each of your webpages to be unique and compelling, but you also want each page to be properly optimized. The most important keywords for each webpage should echo through your content, headers, images and meta tags. Otherwise, the search algorithms may deem your pages as poor sources of information.