What are the three main principles that search engines run by? Your website must pass these three tests in order to rank. Ranking means it’s high enough on the list that when a person, otherwise known as a potential client, searches for your product or service, your website comes up on the first page. Because, like the hokey pokey, that’s what it’s all about.
Is it Relevant?
The first thing a search engine tries to figure out is whether a web page is relevant to the user’s search. So if a user is searching for horses, you have to make sure that amid all the talk about glamor and performance, it’s clear that the page is about horses, not cars or computers. Search engines want to respond to the user’s question with responses that actually answer the question. And yes, that’s web page, not website. Each page of your website will be ranked separately and will contain different keywords that you hope to rank for.
How does the search engine figure out if your web page is relevant to the user’s search? It uses these clues:
- Title Tag: The title must be a major clue to the page’s content, or else the search engine will look elsewhere.
- Words and phrases: While specific keywords are not as crucial as they were just a year ago, and no longer have to be repeated a set number of times, they still have to provide the answer to “what’s this page about?”
- Topic of site: The page should be on a relevant website.
- Internal links: The words in a link that will take you to another page have to provide a clue to what will be on that page.
- Inbound links: If other pages about horse training link to your page about horses, that will help you rank.
- Do they stay or leave? If readers leave your site very quickly, it could mean the site doesn’t seem relevant.
Is it Important?
Search engines want to know if a particular page is important to, not only relevant to, the search. The clue they look for is inbound links. That’s why it helps if horse trainers link to your site about horses. What will make those trainers want to link to your site? Great content. And you have to get the word out so that everyone knows about your great content.
Is it Popular?
For some sites, popularity is also important. If someone is searching for the most popular new restaurant in town, then the number of social media shares becomes important. Stories, images, and videos are useful in creating popularity.
Ranking high is a matter of skill, knowledge, and some trial and error. It’s important to keep at it and keep tweaking it until your effort pays off and you start getting calls from people who say, “I searched for horses and found your site.”