There are currently over 1.7 billion websites online and that number is growing at a rate so fast that while you are reading this, we may be closer to 2 billion websites. Although not all of them are active and not all of them rank in search engines, it still gives you a pretty good idea of the competition a website owner has to deal with every day. When there are so many websites out there, how can Google sort out which ones are worth a high rank in the search results page. The answer you hear most often has to do with SEO (search engine optimization), which just about sums up every possible way of preparing your website, in order for it to become more relevant for search engines.
So how do we do that? How do I rank higher on search results? What do I need to do on my website in terms of SEO?
Well, the first thing to do if you’re just starting out is to manage your expectations. There is no perfect recipe for SEO. If there would be one, everyone would apply it and we would be back to where we started, with all websites equal. It’s not reasonable to expect a few tricks and keywords to jumpstart your website’s ranking immediately. SEO is much more than that and it also has to do with long-term, constant work on quality content that is actually useful to customers. If users are happy, search engines will also be happy. We sometimes see websites that have done no SEO (or, rather, who have done no intentional SEO) rank very high, regardless. That is usually because users find them to be relevant.
Moreover, the exact algorithm Google uses for the rankings is not 100% disclosed to the public. If it would be, website owners would try to manipulate it for their own interests. But we do know that the algorithm is so advanced that it can easily understand what a website is about and how it works by quickly crawling its’ content.
Some of the most important ranking factors for Google
Domain related SEO factors
Some key aspects of SEO start as early as when you register a domain.
- domain age and registration length – we know that the age of a domain can make a difference in ranking websites. If a website has been functional at the same web address for many years, it is more reliable than a website that works on a new domain. Therefore, Google and other search engines will tend to rank it higher. Furthermore, there is data suggesting that the date when a domain validity expires also has a bit to do with rankings. A website on a domain that expires within the year is not as reliable, in Google’s eyes, as one that has been purchased for the next 10 years
- keywords in the domain and the EMD update – having one or more keywords in the domain name can help a lot, but if you have a poor website (thin content and low UX) and a domain name that Is too explicit (one that does keyword stuffing, like buyrodeohatsnewandused.com), the result may be the opposite of what you want. This type of situation is called EMD (exact match domain) and it can actually decrease your rank
- country domains – if you are reaching out to an audience that is not international, it makes sense to use a domain assigned to the country that you are addressing
Backlinks and domain authority related SEO factors
Some of the most important ranking factors are related to domain authority and backlinks. In other words, if your website is popular and gets quoted often by other websites, this hugely impacts the rankings.
- Number of referring domains
- Quality of referring domains – it’s also important who is doing the backlinking to your website. Is it a website with high domain authority? Is it a website with content that is relevant for your type of activity and content? Does it come from an aged domain? If the answer to these questions is “yes”, you will get a ranking boost. If not, it may even be the opposite. For example, if you have a clothing online store, you stand to gain a lot from backlinks coming from high profile fashion bloggers or official websites of the designers you’re selling. You gain less (you may even lose ranking positions) when the referring domains are spammy registries with all kinds of content, like in the case of the so-called “link farms”
- Anchor text – while anchor text on its own does not hold as much weight as it used to, it is relevant for Google to see that the link is coming from content that is a bit more than a simple listing. Google will look at the content surrounding that link and will appreciate it if it finds relevant keywords that make a connection between your website and the one linking to you
There are plenty of more SEO factors to talk about so make sure you keep reading our posts for the sequels. In the meantime, if you need digital marketing services, including SEO, contact Akby and we will be happy to help.