Think about the last time you did a search online for a product, service, or an answer to a question you had. You likely didn't go beyond the first page or two of the results before you found what you were looking for. You're not alone, most people rarely click past the first page because search engines do such a good job of serving the most relevant websites to searchers. It's also due to the search marketing efforts of the companies that rank highest. If your business website isn't getting results like these, it's a good idea to incorporate some of the same strategies and techniques.
How are Search Engine Results Determined?
Before you make an attempt to improve your search engine ranking, it's important to understand how results are determined. The short answer is that search engines like Bing, Google, and Yahoo use algorithms, or formulas, to determine a website's ranking. While the exact algorithms are considered proprietary information, there are some indications as to what drives results.
Google Search Ranking Factors
It's estimated that there are over 200 factors that go into Google's ranking. It would be impossible to list them all here, however, here are the most important factors:
- Mobile-First - Google recognizes the fact that most people use a mobile device to peruse the internet, therefore, it ranks websites that are mobile friendly above those that aren't.
- Website Security - HTTPS or Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure are considered more secure than HTTP sites and rank higher in the SERP.
- Content Quality - This is one of the most important factors in a website's ranking. High quality content, regardless of its form, creates trust and authority and improves website ranking on Google.
- Relevance - RankBrain is Google's artificial intelligence (AI) feature used to sort live search results to provide users with the best fit for their query.
- Load Time - Google is all about providing users with the best possible experience and page load speed is an important factor. Fast loading sites consistently rank higher than slow loading sites.
- Schema Markup - This is a form of microdata that creates a rich snippet that appears in search results. Sites that incorporate schema markup are more likely to rank high than those that don't.
Bing and Yahoo Search Ranking Factors
Yahoo uses Bing's algoriths to produce search results. Bing is the search engine and Yahoo is more of a web portal. That said, here are some of the key factors that go into ranking on them:
- User Engagement - Strong user engagement is vital to ranking high with Bing. The volume of visitors that click a website link and do not return to the search page indicates strong user engagement.
- Social Signals - Bing produces results from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Sites that are connected to a social media account with relevant information will naturally rank higher.
- Content and Keyword Density - Bing puts a great deal of importance on unique content and keyword density when it comes to ranking. Engaging, longer content is preferred to shorter content.
- Site Code and Structure - Bing prefers content that is no more than three clicks from the homepage. It also ranks websites with content that moves from a broad to specific structure higher in the results.
- Page Authority - Bing considers older domain names, especially those that include a keyword as authority sites. They put more importance on them than they will a newly created domain.
- Inbound Anchor Text - Bing isn't good at recognizing synonyms or the context around a keyword. Instead, it rewards sites with a higher ranking when anchor text contains exact keyword matches.
How Can I Improve My Site's Search Engine Ranking?
Search marketing, also referred to as search engine marketing (SEM) is a tactic that improves a website's search engine ranking. It is broken down into two main activities:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) which relies on unpaid tactics to gain a higher ranking. Activities such as creating quality content that matches keywords visitors use to search, using meta tags that match keywords, gaining links from authority sites back to yours, and maintaining an active social media presence are all SEO tactics. It's a slow process, and there is no guarantee that your site will climb to the top of the SERP using SEO, however.
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising which as the name implies, relies on paid tactics to improve ranking. Paid ads make it easier to reach customers for specific keywords without putting in all the effort SEO requires. The search engine shows the ad whenever someone uses the keyword in a search. When the ad is clicked, the advertiser is charged, hence the name. While it's not a set-it-and-forget-it strategy, it's by no means as labor intensive, and it often produces faster results than SEO.
How Can Search Marketing Help My Business?
The answer to that question is actually quite simple. It will help the millions of people who search the internet each day find your company and learn about the benefits of your products and services. By answering their burning questions, providing solutions to their most pressing problems, and helping them take advantage of opportunities they're presented with, you'll become a trusted authority they'll return to time and again.
Search marketing is the key to increasing brand awareness, generating leads and improving conversions. In turn, you'll generate more revenue from sales and put your company in a more competitive position in the marketplace. This is the case for both SEO and PPC, and when these techniques are combined, it's even more likely that you'll achieve the results you desire.
Mastering search marketing isn't something that most people accomplish overnight. It's a process that takes time and energy. Begin where you are. Evaluate the state of your current website and look for ways to improve your search engine ranking using the information provided above. Perform a content audit and look for gaps in the information you offer, produce new content that is both high-quality and relevant to your customers. Spring for some PPC ads that are based on the keyword searches your customer base performs, evaluate their performance and alter your campaigns as necessary.
Contact us to learn more about search marketing techniques and how they can help your business grow and prosper.