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How does Google rank websites in search results? Our annual review.

No1 graphic
We all know the benefits of having a website top of page one on Google, and we also know that position is the business equivalent of an Oscar, a lottery win and striking oil in your back yard - all at once.

However, what nobody outside Google actually knows is exactly how Google (or any other search engine) chooses the websites that occupy that top slot in the search engine results page, or SERPs.

But we've got a pretty good idea...

 

 

How does Google choose what's #1?

Here's what Google itself says; "Sites' positions in our search results are determined based on hundreds of factors designed to provide end-users with helpful, accurate search results."

Let's read that again: hundreds of factors. And that's before we take into consideration that every business in your marketplace wants that top slot too, and is doing everything they can to get it.

Algorithms = Google's checklist

Google and other search engines create extremely sophisticated mathematical formulas to help determine ranking, known as algorithms. They constantly change, refine and adapt these algorithms to the changing face of the Internet. Some are major updates, such as Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird. Others are incremental tweaks that gently drop the importance of one factor and boost another. Keeping up to date with all of these changes and sorting the information wheat from the online chaff involves stepping back every so often and taking stock.

That's what our SEO guru Kirsty does, to ensure that all Akira websites follow best practice, are not led by SEO fads and false leads, and ultimately 'do the business'. It's not an exact science by any means, but it does ensure that every Akira website is built with long-term, sustained results in mind, not 'flash in the pan' fashions.

Key online ranking factors for 2015

For 2015, the following factors are increasingly important in how your website ranks in the SERPs. Please note these factors follow on from the fundamental requirement of researching keywords in your industry; without these, it’s just so much guesswork.

1. Content

In 2015, content will again be king, and we're talking substantial content here. If you want to rank well, according to Searchmetrics, your website needs: "Comprehensive wording in regard to the co-occurrence of related terms in the context, a higher word-count and media enrichment." That's content focused on a core subject, which is of a good length, and includes images and/or video, to you and me. A 'good length' is around 1000 words, which can look a bit scary on a page, but careful use of ‘Read More…’ sections can keep the text length without the long page formats.

2. Blogs

If content is king, blogs are your best way to becoming website royalty! A blog enables you to add new, detailed, relevant content to your website as often as you wish without having to build new pages or muck about with the navigation. You can write about any topic that's to do with your business area, and by focusing on a key product or service, you add both value and interest for your customers. (Remember, we can write high quality blogs for you if you wish.)

3. Meta tags

Yes, this one just gets more and more important. Well-crafted, keyword-centric meta titles and meta descriptions are crucial to search engine success. EVERY page must have them, so if you've added pages but not meta tags, go back and do the tags asap. (Again, we can help with this if you wish.)

4. Site architecture

This is the way your website is built and coded. With Akira, we use the latest standards so new websites are always compliant and search-engine friendly. For older sites, you might like to consider a redesign to bring it up to date visually and technically, with the added bonus of your website then becoming mobile-friendly.

5. Backlinks

Backlinks are links pointing to your website from other websites. The key measure for backlinks is quality; you need links from sites with a high Domain Authority (DA). This is a measure of their reputation and quality, and you want as many of these as possible. A backlink from a major site such as CNN or the BBC is superb, a link from your mum's quilting society webpage less so… (We'll be writing more about this subject very soon - watch this space.)

6. Social Signals

Social signals come from social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. The way these signals work is that Likes, Tweets and Google Plus 1s indicate to search engines where good content might be. A Like is not a link, however, so if you want people to actually go to your website from social media, you need to give them a reason to do so (and a link to click). Blogs are brilliant for this.

7. Sticky Home pages

User Signals are becoming a lot more important, and these include the time customers spend on your site. Another is the bounce rate, which is the percentage of people who arrive on one page and then leave your site straight away. So, you need to make your website as attractive and interesting as possible, and full of tempting links to other pages and information to keep customers engaged.

And there's more…

There are many other ranking factors that Google use, and other they are planning to use. At Akira, we do our best to future-proof our SEO, but it's a changing world out there. We'll keep you posted on the latest changes right here at our blog, so

to discover the latest information, or just check into this blog once a week.

And by the way, this blog is 999 words long – ideal!

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