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Finally – How Google Ranks Your Website

2011 Search ranking factors from SEOmozHere’s some real data that may help many business owners and website designers to figure out why their websites seldom show up on page one of a search. This is analytical research, not some hype from an SEO scammer.

Every two years, SEOmoz publishes a Search Engine Ranking Factors report, in which it surveys the top SEO minds in the industry, and asks them to rank the different elements that go into search ranking algorithms, from most important to least.

For the first time, SEOmoz also performed primary research this year by conducting 10,271 searches on Google and analyzing specific features of the ranking sites to see which elements correlated to higher rankings. NOTE: Findings show correlation, not necessarily causation.

Details of the report are on the SEOmoz website, but below is a summary.

NEWSFLASH – Your New WebSite Does Not Inherently Attract Traffic

A new website does not magically get traffic or a high search page result, even if your design is great, content is amazing and keywords seem fine. These ‘on-site’ factors are under 30% of the formula to a high page one search result. It’s not enough.

All that money spent on the getting the visual look and copywriting does not guarantee search traffic. Google really cares nothing about the site appearance. Only text, good code and links. Web designers need to learn much more on how Google sees their website not just the company owner or clients.

You must get other websites of high authority to link to you

Most people, including highly talented graphic designers, still think the website look and keywords is all that’s needed to rank high. It’s only a 26% factor at best. The biggest factor (56%) is not your look, content, keywords or even the code structure, but all the ‘off-site’ stuff, being how to get other websites of high authority to link back to you. This includes major local and international directories, other reputable industry, education or government websites and blogs, as well as ALL the social channels, including Youtube.

No Traffic? Don’t Blame the Web Designer!

No one ever discusses the formula and work needed to get traffic…

The big problem today is that too often company owners just ‘assume’ this search component and getting traffic is magically included in the website design and development fee. Graphic designers own sales pitch will often make reference to SEO, but keep things vague. ‘Traffic takes time’ they will say, without either party actually discussing the formula and work needed to get traffic…

Actually it’s not the graphic designers ‘fault’ as such. Everyone is making assumptions on what website ‘design’ is all about. What the design and development fee covers. When we think about web design it’s inevitably around the visual look of the site, using tools like Photoshop, html/css editors like Dreamweaver. Some design compaines do have a coding geek around to help. But neither looks at SEO or traffic side. The site must only look good and function well. Getting traffic is another chore entirely. Not their problem.

Real amateurs will throw a few keywords into the site header and wait for Google to send through traffic. Sadly strategy this hasn’t worked since 2004 and the fact that these sites get very little traffic is proof. In 2012 it takes real work, lots more expertise and a good budget to get traffic! Bottom line is, we now need someone else with new expertise to optimise the site code for Google, do keyword analysis, review analytics reports, start using AdWords, build up backlinks, blogs, social networks and more…

Don’t Neglect Your Best Salesperson – Google

To get loads of search traffic, Google expects you to do certain things well

Remember it’s Google that drives 50-70% of new traffic to most websites. Involving coding, SEO and copywriting specialists at the beginning to work alongside skilled graphic designers can have a quick payback and more importantly, a website that gets lots more traffic from day one.

The design element is still critical, ensuring that it impresses people and converts well. But Google is the primary tool (effectively your salesperson) to promote your site and business to the world, or local community – To send you new traffic and customers. But to do that sales job well, Google expects you to do certain things correctly, as detailed in the SEOmoz report.

What’s the One Thing You Should Do?

Unfortunately, there’s no single magic bullet to getting website traffic. No one thing I can tell you to do. Yes, there’s plenty of SEO scams being run that tell you otherwise, promising loads of traffic for little time or little money – Overnight riches. e.g. Good content; Keyword tools; Blogging; Local Directory listings; Backlinks; Social Media etc. Everyone has an angle and barrow to push. Like most in business I get several of these suspect emails every week promising more traffic to my website and more leads…

But in reality, as shown in the above research, there’s many, many links in our rags-to-riches chain to get traffic and new business leads. And like a chain, one broken link can undo your other good work and investments.

But it’s ALL important
There’s no heros here

For example, I have one new client who has loads of inbound links and great social media work done by a colleague, plus they thought they had good website content. Yet their lesser competitors frequently ranked higher than them in a search. Why? The internal semantic coding structure and the keyword choice of their aging website is so bad that Google simply didn’t know what the site was about, which pushed down their search page position…

Yet this site looks fine in a browser. We’re recommending upgrading their site to an optimsied WordPress CMS, which has very ‘Google-friendly’ coding, which I’ve calculated will double their traffic within a few months.

As I said earlier, let’s actually start discussing the formula and work needed to get traffic, based upon a logical analysis and a real plan.  I can run a free website analysis for you that looks at your keywords, structure, backlinks and site authority. From here we can make informed decisions based upon the facts, not hype. email zn.oc.gnitekramlatigidnull@nivek

Extracts from the SEOmoz Report – Notes for Web designers and developers

Overall Ranking Factor Importance – Following is a breakdown of the highest-ranking factors, and the overall importance each has on a site’s ability to rank on a search engine result page (SERP), according to the experts. The order of the bullets contained in each section is based on importance.

Inbound Links — 42% of SERP Impact

  • Number of unique websites that are considered important by search engines — have a high PageRank or mozRankthat link to a site or page. This is the highest-ranking factor when it comes to a website’s ability to rank for a search query.
  • Number of unique inbound links that contain relevant keywords as the anchor text.
  • Distance (how many links removed) the site is from a “trusted site,” such as a government (.gov) or university (.edu) site.
  • Quantity of unique web pages (not to be confused with websites) linking to a site or a page.
  • Topical relevance of a web page linking to a site or page.

Keyword Usage — 26% of SERP Impact

Domain Level – Search engines do look for:

  • Keywords in the domain and subdomain of a website.
  • Order of keywords used first in the domain or subdomain (e.g. www.keywordABC.com will rank better than www.ABCkeyword.com).

 The On Page / Site Content Factors

It’s good on-page keyword optimisation, structure and page elements that’s critical:

  • Page Title The earlier that the keyword is used the better.
  • Internal Link Anchor Text — Keyword is in the anchor text of internal links (links on your web pages to other pages on your site).
  • URL — Keyword is in the page URL (e.g. example.com/keyword).
  • Headlines (H1 tags) — Keyword appears first within the H1 tag.
  • External Anchor Text — Keyword is in the anchor text of external links (links to other websites) on the page.
  • Content — Keyword appears in the “content” area of a web page, within the first 100 words.
  • Related Terms — The page includes terms related to the keyword (e.g. keyword = “camera”; related terms = “lens,” “photo,” etc.)
  • Image Alt Text — Keyword included in image alt text tags.
  • Sub Headlines — Keyword present in sub headlines (H2 tags); H3 tags are less significant.
  • First Word Body Text — Keyword appears as the first word in the body section of the page.
  • Keyword density (number of times a word appears on a page) – This is still a factor, but less important than it once was.

Social Media Links — 7% of SERP Impact

  • The SEO experts agree that the twitter network does impact on search results. Specifially, the authority of a user tweeting links and the quantity of tweets to a page.
  • Facebook shares of a page.
  • Authority of the user who is sharing the links.
  • Votes and comments about a site on social bookmarking sites (e.g. Digg, Reddit, etc).
  • Authority and quantity of links shared on Google +

It’s important to point out that SEOmoz’s primary correlation research found Facebook shares, activity, comments and likes to be the four highest social correlations to search engine rankings, with Tweets being fifth.

Brand Popularity — 7% of SERP Impact

Brand popularity also plays a significant role in search engine rankings. According to the experts, the most importact factors are:

  • Search volume for a brand name.
  • Quantity of brand mentions on websites and social sites.
  • Volume of visits to brand sites based on the data collected by search engine browser tool bars, sugh as Google Toolbar
  • Citations for the domain in Wikipedia or similar.
  • Claimed Google Places / maps / profile pages.
  • Active accounts on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Other Important Factors (totaling approx 10%)

  • Unique, fresh content across the entire site. Blogs are good since site owners can post every day or week.
  • Bounce rate as tracked by the search engines. This refers to visitors that go to a site and then use the back button to return to the SERP. The lower the bounce rate, the better. A figure under 30% is the ideal.
  • Click through rate to your site on SERPs for relevant keyword searches.
  • Number of error pages. This should be as close to zero as possible.
  • Length of time you’ve owned a domain name — the longer, the better.
  • Site page load time. Faster sites will achieve higher rankings. Cheap hosting has a cost



2 Responses to “Finally – How Google Ranks Your Website”

  1. Everything posted made a ton of sense. But, think on this,
    suppose you were to create a awesome post title? I am not saying your information is
    not good, however what if you added a post title that makes people desire more?
    I mean My Digital Marketing Blog Finally – How Google Ranks Your Website is kinda vanilla.
    You could glance at Yahoo’s front page and see how they create article headlines to grab viewers to click. You might add a related video or a related pic or two to grab readers excited about what you’ve
    written. In my opinion, it would make your website a little livelier.

    Posted by susan | May 26, 2013, 5:24 am
    • Thanks Susan. Yes, our old site is due for a makeover. Better focus upon headings always helps get attention too. As an engineer we tend to be too bland and matter-of-fact. Appreciate the comments.

      Posted by Kevin Trye | May 27, 2013, 11:50 am

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