How Google Ranks Pages and Why You Should Care!

There has been a lot written in the past about the “magic” formula that Google and other search engines use to figure out where your website should rank for a particular search. This article will not go over that. I have found that most people don’t actually care about the nuts and bolts of search, they just want to get to the top of the search engine results page (SERP). So let’s talk about that.

First, let’s make sure we understand there are two ways to get to the top of the page. The first is via paid search. You buy an ad (on Google it’s called AdWords) and then tell the search engine how much you will pay for a click on your ad. This is the easy way, but it can also be the expensive way. Really common keywords like “email marketing” can command $50-$100 a click in order to get in one of the top positions. If you are like most small business, you don’t have the budget to use paid search effectively, so lets look at the other way you can get to the top.

The second way is via “natural” or “organic” search. This is when the content of your site is the most relevant and has the most “pull” for a particular keyword.

Natural Search Engine Rank= (Relevance x Pull)

Let’s break that down. Le’ts say you sell cookies. You specialize in “double-chocolate overstuffed chocolate chip”. You decided that you want to make sure that when someone searches for this type of cookie, they find your site first. What you need to do is have content on your site that contains this keyword and variations of this keyword in the Title, Header Tags and Body Content. The more relevant content you have to this keyword phrase, the higher relevance you earn with the search engine.  The “Pull” of your website is basically the reputation your site has. The reputation is called different things in different search engines (for example Google calls theirs PageRank). Reputation is made up of a lot of different components, but the main one is usually how many other websites link to your website. You gain higher reputation not only from how many sites link to you, but on how many high reputation sites link to you.  For example, Google’s PageRank scale is 1-10, with 10 being the highest. You will gain more reputation with a few links from websites with a 9 or 10 than from many links from sites with only a 1 or 2.

Make sense yet?

Now comes the fun part. Where your pages rank in the SERPs is totally in your control. The better your content and the more you distribute your content via social media, email marketing and other channels, the higher you will rank. Your friends, followers, customers and even your competition love to link to great content. The challenge many small businesses have is figuring out which of those keywords to spend time writing quality content on. It is a waste of time to write a great blog article on “rainbow mint organic holistic cookies” only to find out no one ever searches for that. In my cookie business example, they probably make more than just one variety of cookie and offer many different options for quantities, boxes, shipping, etc. In the past, you would have to spend a lot of time using Google Analytics or other analysis tools just to figure out what kind of content to create on your site. This has all changed with the launch of BoostSuite last week. Now, you can use BoostSuite to receive suggestions on exactly what content to create, what content needs more optimization and which pages are missing information. BoostSuite allows you to reach the top of the “natural” search without being a web analyst. It’s great to understand how a search engine works, but it’s even better to have your website show up first.

Want your website to rank first? Sign up for a free account with BoostSuite and receive the top 25 suggestions for improving your website in 60 seconds.

Have other questions about how you can get your business’s website to the top of the search engine? Leave us a comment below.

About Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith is co-founder and CMO at BoostSuite. Daniel is a car enthusiast, world traveler and wanna-be wine snob. When he’s not at BoostSuite helping small businesses succeed you can find him skiing, wake-boarding and driving fast cars.

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