Did you know that Google has over 200 Ranking Factors?
“Wait a minute… WTF are Ranking Factors?” You ask.
Great question! Let’s talk about that…
You know when someone says “Google likes XXX.” Well, that XXX is what’s called a Ranking Factor. Maybe it’s “Google likes fast loading websites” or “Google likes sites with low Bounce Rates.” Those are Ranking Factors.
And yes, there are over 200.
OK, Got it… Why are there Ranking Factors?
Well, search engines like Google and Bing want you to come back to their site to use Search over and over again. In order to do that, they’ve become very interested in delivering the best Search Results for the term you searched for. And for that to happen, they created these factors that contribute to returning results. The more factors a website complies with, the better the chances are for it displaying higher than other sites.
(It’s important to note that the Factors that we talk about are only guesses as to what they can be, since the search engines keep these very secret. But the people that are guessing what these factors are, are incredibly bright people, using very sophisticated methods of determining these types of things).
Each factor is given a certain “Weight” (For example “Links from other sites” Weighs more – or has more value than “Age of website”). Those Factors are put together with the other 200-ish Factors in a very complex Algorithm that the search engines uses to compare websites to each other in order to display the best results for a given search term.
No Website is an Island
Ranking factors about a website by itself doesn’t really mean anything. In order to give it some context, we have to compare websites to each other. So we’ll look at 2 imaginary webpages both wanting to rank for “Timbuktu Wedding Photography.” And we’ll compare just 5 of the ranking factors we think Google uses for it’s algorithm.
If we look at each of the 5 ranking factors, we can see why Page A would rank better than Page B.
- Use of the Keyword (or Keyphrase) in the Title of the page: You can see the phrase “Timbuktu Wedding Photography” in the title on Page A, and Page B making them equal in this factor.
- Use of the Keyword (or Keyphrase) in the Content Body: Here is where Page A gets an advantage over Page B. The actual term is used in the content area.
- Number of links to the page: Links are an important strength metric, and in our scenario Page A has more links than Page B giving Page A a better chance of ranking for the keyword.
- Not using Meta Keywords (or using them sparingly): Meta Keywords is an outdated method of putting the keywords you want to rank for in the Meta section (the behind the scenes area). Page B happens to be using them in our scenario. In this instance, it’s a negative ranking factor for Page B.
- Finally Page A has been around a lot longer than Page B, and has a greater trust factor.
Putting It All Together
Just looking at the 5 factors we looked at here, you can see that Page A scores better than Page B in 4 of the 5 areas. This would give it a tendency to rank higher than Page B when someone searches for the term “Timbuktu Wedding Photography.”
Of course there are over 200 ranking factors in the real world. But I hope this gives you a sense of how webpages are ranked.