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Plain Language, Please: What Are ‘SEO Ranking Factors’?

Web marketers are an excitable bunch. They talk about SEO campaign trends like a six-year-old talks about the latest Transformers action figure, all rapid chatter and wide eyes and maybe a bit of jumping up and down.

Witness it for yourself: get a web marketer talking about bringing your small business online, and you’ll find yourself in a hurricane of conversation, where words whirr by so quickly that you might look back and say, “Wait! What was that?”

Every industry has its jargon, and web marketing is no exception. But by wanting to attract more customers to your company online, it doesn’t mean you should inherently know every specialized word in its ever-evolving dictionary.  You’re busy enough as it is, keeping up with your own business.

However, an online presence is important to running a successful business, so having some web marketing know-how doesn’t hurt.  In the many years since Bill Gates predicted the end of the Yellow Pages, the Internet has become a vital information organ in the global body (despite an unwillingness to die on the part of phone books). A huge percentage of consumers use search engines for purchase decisions, and the competition for top ranking spots on Google and Bing is vicious, even for niche markets.  Your business needs to have a strong presence online, this is clear. Now let’s make some sense of getting there.

Be empowered to make the right decisions for your business in just two steps:

1. Choose a web marketing company that speaks your language

Establishing and growing an online strategy takes time, so you need to choose a web marketing company as though you’re choosing a roommate. Do you communicate effectively? Do you anticipate still getting along in a year from now? Do you feel comfortable being open and honest?

This assessment will guide you to a company that speaks your language. Even when puzzling web marketing lingo arises in conversation, you should feel confident in asking questions and getting concise, comprehensible answers.

2. Use our handy new blog series along the way

Plain Language, Please takes important web marketing words and phrases and makes them easy to understand. You get the knowledge you need to help you thrive as a savvy business owner in the Internet age, no textbook needed.

First up: ‘SEO Ranking Factors’

These are specific traits that search engines such as Google and Bing look for to determine whether your site is useful or not.

SEO experts estimate that Google draws from over 200 ranking factors to decide where to put your website on a search page for a specific query.

This includes:

  • Content – text and graphic quality, word count, keyword usage, reader engagement (do users spend time reading or bounce quickly?), update frequency.
  • Keywords in HTML – title tags, descriptions, headers and sub headers edited with keywords that correspond with the content on the page.
  • Architecture  fast page loading times, keyword-oriented web addresses, and a layout that makes it easy for search engines to scan.
  • Links – the number of links to your website from other legitimate, relevant websites.  This often ties in to social media involvement.
  • Social Media Involvement – the number of social media platform users sharing your content, the reputability of those shares.
  • Trust – social media involvement, links to your website from other websites, and other factors that suggest your website can be trusted not to spam users or spread false information.

When Google and Bing find websites with the qualities (ranking factors) they like, they reward the websites with higher spots on search pages.

That’s why web marketers bring up ‘ranking factors’ when they’re talk about increasing your business presence on search engines and getting more traffic back to your website. SEO strategy is about ensuring your website generates the right type of ranking factors.

Because when search engines find ranking factors they don’t like, they punish those websites by pushing them down the list on a search page, or by banishing them from the search engine altogether.

Violating guidelines is a big no-no on the ranking factor side. Google has guidelines for website owners to follow if they want to get top spots on search results. You can look at them in-depth here.  If you violate the guidelines, you put up a big, ugly flag on your website signaling Google to banish your address.

Some common violations include:

  • Duplicate content – displaying the exact same textual content on more than one page on a website.
  • Keyword stuffing – overusing keywords in page text to the point where it reads like mindless mumbo-jumbo.
  • Paid link schemes – getting links back to your website by purchasing them from third-party companies or individuals, amongst other unnatural and manipulative link building strategies.
  • Hidden text or links – concealing text (such as excessive keywords) or links on a website to manipulate search results.

EXTRA TIP: If an SEO ‘expert’ or web marketer tries to convince you to use these practices as part of a strategy for higher search rankings, just shake your head and walk away.

In fact, now you’re much wiser than most when it comes to SEO strategy. The more you know, the easier it is to see your online business goals right to the finish line.

Other ‘Plain Language, Please!’ Articles

Need a web-marketing concept or phrase explained in plain language?

Share it with us in the comment section below – it could be featured in an upcoming Plain Language, Please post!

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