De-mystifying Search Engine Rankings

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How are websites ranked in Search Engine results and what determines your website's rank or position?

One of the most common questions clients ask is how to raise their website in search engine rankings. But before asking how to do something, we first should explore what a search engine is and how it works! 

Hannah Raeside

Office Manager, Pod Creative

Here are a few reminders about
making a successful post:

  • Make sure your content is relevant.
  • Make sure you have a good Featured Image.
  • Make sure your post has a strong, engaging title.
  • Make sure you have an Excerpt.
  • Categorize your post.
  • Choose or create appropriate tags.
  • Check if you can link anything in the text.

myths about search engines

Let’s dispel a few myths and clear up some misconceptions.

1. First off, you can’t hack the algorithm. Years ago there was a practice of putting white words on a white background on a page of your website to try and make it more searchable. This no longer works and trying to hack Google’s algorithm will get your site penalized by the search engine’s algorithm. The algorithms’ ‘spiders’ that crawl your website will recognize the attempt at circumventing the search engine algorithm and penalize your site by lowering it in the rankings. Your site can even be bumped to the second page or further in the search results depending on the severity of the penalization.

2. Secondly, search engine rankings are determined by an algorithm, not a person or a company. Employees of Google are not laughing maliciously as they lower your site in the search engine rankings. There is no human involvement, it is all code and bots. The code and bots check every line of text, every picture, every inch of your website, and report back the data to search engines. 

We've said it before and we will say it again! Your website needs content.

 Regular, relevant, media-rich content is the lifeblood of your site.

But what is content? Content is blog posts, updates, press releases, you name it! If your site is about your martial arts studio, blog about martial arts! Forms, dojo etiquette, ninjas, and so on. Even tips and tricks for the beginner student. Make posts about new services, clients, and events you’ve gone to. Include video tutorials or footage of a match…

What is a search engine rank?

To put it simply, a search engine rank is a physical rank your website receives from a search engine. Let’s jump into an example to explain this better. 

If you type in “Web Development, Courtenay” into your search engine, what do you see? Most likely you will see 5+ ads on Google, then 3 Google My Business profiles underneath a Google Map, then the actual listing of websites. The ranking refers to the order in which your website is shown! 

Every website wants to be first on the list, and yes first is a great place to be, but first isn’t the be all end all. 

Pay extra attention to this part

The more people who come to your website and the longer they spend on your website directly relates to your website’s search engine ranking.

The algorithm(s) rank websites based on both traffic and length of stay. Websites that have visitors that spend more time on their sites are seen as authorities in their field and therefore of higher relevance. The goal is to produce content that engages your visitors for 90 seconds or more.

What determines your rank? 

The number of visitors. The search engine algorithm attributes high numbers of visitors to a higher rank in a search engine. According to the algorithm, if lots of people are visiting your site, then your site must have valuable information that others are accessing on a regular basis. However, a high number of visitors alone will not raise your search engine ranking.

The length of time visitors stay. This is an important factor in both a site’s overall health, and its ranking on a search engine. You’ve probably heard the term ‘bounce rate’ before and maybe brushed it off, but you really shouldn’t. Bounce rate refers to the number of visitors who are accessing your site and then immediately (within 5 seconds or less) exiting the page. If the search engine algorithm finds the website’s bounce rate is too high it will actually penalize the website in the rankings by lowering. To the algorithm, a high bounce rate means people are going to a site and then immediately leaving because the information they wanted to access was not what they wanted. Often times high bounce rates are attributed with “clickbait” items. The search engine algorithms are looking for websites that have relevant, high-quality information where visitors are staying for longer periods of time. For instance, Google’s search engine records what is considered a permanent visit at the 2-minute mark. After two minutes the algorithm records the visit as permanent because the visitor is staying on your site. You want to keep visitors on your site for as long as possible by engaging them with your content! A great way to increase visitors’ length of stay is by adding Youtube Videos to your site! 

The amount of linking.   Using hyperlinks, interlinks, and backlinks adds validity to your website. Interlinking is a fantastic way to keep people engaged and on your website.

Hyperlinks are links that when clicked on, will take the user to another post, either on your website or to another website. Backlinking is similar to hyperlinking but with one distinct difference. It refers to specifically linking to other websites, and having those websites link back to your website.

wrapping this all up

There are many factors that contribute to a websites Search Engine Ranking, but the good news is you can influence these factors! A high number of visitors who stay over 90 seconds on your site will raise your site in the ranking. How do you influence your ranking? By creating content that is relevant to your website/business! Content is the life-blood of a search engine and is critical for visitors to find your site. Think about it for a second, how does someone find your site? Maybe they are familiar with your company and search for your site. But what about when they have no idea who you are? Through the content you post! The more quality content you post the more ways for someone to find you!

So get out there and produce content to entice readers!

Do you want to know more or implement this strategy on your website?

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