Top 5 Search Ranking Factors and How to Improve Them

Cracking search engine algorithms is both the holy grail and the windmill chase of search engine optimization. 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.

SEO Is Dead — 5 Rules for Winning in the New World of Search

Improving your page-level keyword and content-based features is easy. Make sure the primary keyword for each page is featured in your page title, h1 header, your meta title and meta description. You can also use keywords in image tags when appropriate. Again, don’t overdo the keyword usage, or the algorithms could perceive your site as spam.

4. Page-Level Keyword-Agnostic Features

As stated above, the nuts and bolts of optimization are only slightly more important than the actual quality of the content. Page-level keyword-agnostic features are all about actual content quality. If you populate your website with poorly written content or generic information — or, worse, content ripped from another webpage — then you’ll almost certainly lose out to higher-quality competitors.

To improve this factor, you need to consider everything that makes content valuable. It should be well-written and of decent length. It should be as unique as possible, conveying what makes your business stand out. Make your content more clearly informative with graphs, lists and charts. Good content is also easy to read — this means making sure your webpages load quickly and are compatible with mobile devices.

5. Engagement and Traffic/Query Data

In addition to evaluating links, keywords and other technical elements, search engine algorithms also try to determine what people actually think of your website. Does your placement in the search results attract a high click-through rate? When people land on your website, do they read your content and click around, or do they immediately hit their “back” buttons and return to the search results? Turns out, the algorithms consider these signals to gain a more human interpretation of your website’s value.

Improve on this factor by making your website as relevant and compelling as possible. Content quality is a huge driver of user engagement — try using video, images, charts, graphs and even interactive calculators. Placing related links below your main content can cause visitors to click around rather than click back. Lastly, make sure your website is logically structured, and make sure it works on both desktop and mobile devices.


Forget about having an answer key for the search engine algorithms. Even if you had one for today, it might become worthless tomorrow. Fortunately, there’s enough available data to draw safe conclusions about how the search engines rank websites and webpages. If you’re new to search engine optimization, the best you can do – the best anyone can do, really — is keep up with the latest data and improve your site accordingly.

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Author: Phil Frost

Phil is Founder and COO of Main Street ROI. Phil leads the company’s operations and is primary creator of Main Street ROI’s marketing training programs. He is an expert in search engine marketing, website analytics, and sales funnel optimization. Phil’s marketing thought leadership has been published on,,, and many other major business media outlets.

Phil earned his Master of Engineering Management degree from Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business and his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering degrees from Dartmouth College. While attending Dartmouth, Phil started every game on the varsity football team as the defensive safety.

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