What is SEO Ranking:
What is SEO ranking is one of the most frequented asked questions I’ve heard.
It’s easy to understand why:
A powerful SEO strategy can turn a small business into a powerhouse and authority within their industry, so it makes sense they’re so sought after (even if there’s technically not a unified ranking).
So, what is SEO ranking?
SEO Ranking can refer to your website’s position in the search engine’s result page (SERP) for a specific keyword or query. Your general SEO Ranking can also be your Domain’s Authority score, which can be calculated using the tools featured in this article.
Why Your SEO Ranking Matters
A whole industry exists thanks to how important search engine optimization is. Around 70% of all traffic online can track its origins to a particular search engine, such as Google, YouTube, Yahoo or Bing).
You can monetize all this traffic in some way: either through ads networks, affiliate commissions or by targeting customers that are interested in your products (or services) and selling directly to them.
For example, let’s say that your business sells products that sell for $60 each, on average, and there’s a particular keyword that has roughly around 15,000 searches per month.
Now, let’s estimate that out of those 15,000 visitors, around 13% decide to convert (slightly below average conversion rate for SEO campaigns) and buy your products online.
Targeting that single keyword can net your business around $117,000 ~ worth of sales every month.
Not bad. But consider this:
Your website can rank, (depending on your industry and reach) for hundreds of these commercial keywords. Large brands rank in the thousands.
Ranking for so many keywords can derive in millions in sales and exponential growth, which is what most businesses aspire.
So, it begs the question: how does google rank search results? How do they choose which website gets the top result for a keyword?
Allow me to explain.
How Does Google Rank Search Results?
It’s important to remember that Google is a company that offers a service: helping you find the absolute best resource for your queries.
Understanding this basic premise will allow you to understand what is SEO ranking, and how they determine it.
Google has become increasingly efficient at defining which website hosts the best information at a given time because it considers the following:
Is Your Information Relevant?
I’ve recently become almost obsessed with the idea of living a healthier life through proper exercise and nutrition.
When I’ve searched for “best food for weight loss”, I’ve gotten thousands of results of pages that recommend food.
Search engines don’t recommend, for example, what food is best for a two-year-old cat, because they understand it’s not relevant to my question.
Instead, they examine different website’s content in order to detect keywords and patterns that are linked to a topic and establish relevance.
Is Your Information Accessible?
Next, they determine if the content you’ve published is actually helpful. Are your articles and sales pages full of content that helps your audience and prospects? If so, Google will consider bumping it up the SEO ranking.
Notice I used the word consider.
Google also checks if, for example, you published your article on a non-responsive website (a website you can’t browse from mobile devices).
If so, your content is unavailable to a large chunk of their users.
Sadly, this means that your awesome article is not useful because your visitors won’t be able to read it during their lunch break on their smartphone.
Responsive web design services play a major role in making sure your content is useful from both your visitors and Google’s perspective, and it’s one of the many variables their algorithm evaluates.
It’s also why SEO Services for Small Business tend to focus on responsive design and technical SEO first.
Remember, you need both Google and your audience’s approval if you want to climb up the SEO rankings. And its factors such as these that influence how successful your website can be.
Finally, we have the last major piece of the puzzle, and it’s one we can actually estimate with certain tools: domain authority.
Are You Trustworthy?
Are you, from Google’s perspective, considered an authority in your industry?
As it turns out, this is actually a major factor, and unless you’re very deliberate about building your business’ brand, there’s a good chance you’re not. At least not to them.
Google’s algorithm is also able to recognize if a website tends to publish interesting content that audiences love and trust.
Content quality and backlink building are essential to achieve this. A backlink is, essentially, a link from another website.
Google reads these links as “vouches” that, in considerable numbers, can position your business as an authority in the field. Given their importance, we’ll talk more about backlinks (and some of its nuances) later in the article but right now, let’s focus on authority.
I mentioned earlier you can actually estimate your website’s authority, and when it comes to the question what is SEO ranking, three companies have come up with three different answers:
What is SEO Ranking:
Tools To Determine Domain Authority
Moz’s DA (Domain Authority) is an SEO ranking that estimates a website’s SEO ranking in a score that ranges from 1 to 100. The higher your DA, the better.
I’ve used the free Chrome extension for quite a while now. It looks like this:
Moz’s Domain Authority score reviews many factors (backlinks, among them), and just as any logarithmic scale, it becomes exponentially harder to grow from, say 60 to 70 domain authority, than it is to go from 10 to 20.
Since backlinks are such a dominant factor in their scale, you’ll find that many established websites such as Wikipedia and Google themselves have high DA, whereas a website that was founded a year ago will have a considerably lower score.
This leads me to this next tool: Majestic’s SEO.
Majestic SEO Tool
Majestic is another well-established SEO giant, and have answered what is SEO ranking with their own take on domain authority: they used the terms Citation Flow and Trust Flow.
Citation flow predicts authority based on the number of backlinks the website has, while Trust Flow predicts how “trustworthy” are the sites that are linking a particular website.
In a nutshell, citation measures link quantity, and trust flow link quality, both in a score from 0 to 100. Keep in mind this is a vast oversimplification of how their scores are calculated, but these two metrics can determine what is SEO ranking fairly well.
Let’s take a look at the last tool I’ve picked: SEMRUSH
SEMRUSH SEO Tools
SEMRush has also developed a tool to determine what is SEO ranking,
through their backlink Analytics module measures:
- Trust Score: measures how many high-quality links a website has
- Authority Score: Overall quality of a domain. The number of referring domains, and other organic search traffic data.
- Page Score & Domain Score: number of backlinks a website has.
SEMRush combines all these individual metrics to form a score that goes from 0 to 100. Again, the higher your score, the better.
These three tools cover what is SEO Ranking for websites (or rather, what their domain authority is) quite nicely.
As mentioned earlier, a higher domain authority will allow your website to rank for a larger number of keywords faster, which is what many SEO services for small businesses aim to deliver for their clients with a thorough, well-thought-out SEO strategy.
Now that we’ve reviewed the key factors behind what is SEO ranking, let’s go over some tips on how we can improve our SEO ranking starting today:
Boosting Your SEO Ranking:
Now that we understand what is SEO ranking, we’re going to need a solid keyword research process that allows you to:
- Understand your target market and,
- How they’re searching your products and/or services,
When we ask what is SEO ranking, the follow-up question should be, what is my SEO ranking for a particular keyword.
Your SEO ranking, (which could be interpreted as your domain authority in a very broad manner), is only relevant when ranking for keywords that could earn you money or traffic, (depending on your business’ goal).
SEO as an industry has grown over the years and it’s become difficult to rank for commercial keywords unless your SEO consultant services are executing a carefully laid out strategy.
This is not surprising, considering how profit margins tend to explode after ranking for 20-30 targeted keywords.
Long-tail keywords, which are keywords with four or more words tend to be the most sought-after terms across industries, precisely because of how targeted (high commercial intent) and specific (lower competition) they inherently possess.
There are many tools such as the Keyword Moz Explorer, the AHREF keyword research module and others that can help you immensely during this process.
But it’s important that you’re prepared for competition in almost every keyword that’s worth ranking.
Keep in mind that, for better or worse, choosing keywords that adapt to your budget takes experience.
Businesses sometimes run out of juice shortly before they can make it to the first page for their target keyword. It sucks but happens when there’s little to no supervision over the process.
Let’s discuss the next top factor behind what is SEO ranking.
Boosting Your SEO Ranking:
There’s a very old, almost cliché phrase that is thrown around the SEO industry:
“Content is king”
As lovely as it’d be to debunk such a phrase given how stablished and predictable it has become, I’d be a fool to do so.
Because Google is here to help its users find the best resource to their questions and doubts. This means that whoever has the best content has the upper hand.
Creating quality content can be a difficult task. But it’s also absolutely necessary in today’s world, which is usually why content creation is handled by a marketing team with proven copywriters, capable of handling your business’ online marketing strategy.
There are, of course, many other factors that have a hand in Google’s SEO ranking. Such as On-page Optimization, Backlink generation and Technical SEO, which we’ll discuss further below, but it’s important to understand that cutting corners in content creation is a very bad idea.
Once you’ve created a helpful resource your audience will enjoy reading and sharing, it’s time to optimize your website for SEO.
Boosting Your SEO Ranking:
Asking what is SEO ranking without actual context (for example SEO ranking for specific keywords) won’t do.
Google does not crawl each page with a human operator. It’s just not feasible, or even possible given the raw amount of data and websites out there.
It uses bots, called Google Spiders or Google Crawlers.
This is why providing google with clear hints and context on what your website is about is critical.
These crawlers, while incredibly efficient, depend entirely on the algorithm to sort out and categorize everything that they discover so it can later be indexed (two completely different activities).
The purpose of SEO Optimization, or rather, On-Page optimization, is to help Google understand what our content is about, and what keywords we wish to target.
SEO Optimization is so broad it’d need an article on its own, but it has to do with:
- Keyword Density parameters / TF*IDF Optimization for keywords: these parameters and/or ratios ensure that your target keywords are prevalent throughout your content
- Thin content pruning: improving any piece of content that is below 1250 words in length
- Image Optimization: Images with alt tags and relevant file names
- Proper use of headlines: having all your content categorized and organized by headlines
There are also meta tags, title tags, schema markup, etc. That needs to be on point if you want your content to get indexed by Google.
On every page.
This calls for a time-consuming effort that must follow a solid SEO strategy, but it’s without the shadow of doubt necessary for success.
Once your website has been perfectly optimized, it’s time to take a look at your backlinks.
Boosting Your SEO Ranking: Link Building
It’s true that content is king. But I’d say that a powerful backlink portfolio is your queen.
When we tried to answer the question, what is SEO ranking, we tried to define it in context to a particular keyword, or by taking a look at our domain’s authority.
All of the tools used to estimate your domain’s authority in Google’s eye consider backlinks.
Because it’s a major ranking factor, and it’s one that can actually be quantified.
Backlink generation, also known as Off-Page SEO or link building, is a cornerstone in Google’s algorithm.
A few years back, all links (for the most part) were worth the same. Domain authority and relevance didn’t have a major role in determining how good a backlink was.
Those days are long gone.
Backlinks can now be rated by Google, and they can be anywhere from toxic to excellent. A great number of variables affect their evaluation but here are some of them:
Just as Google can categorize what your information is all about thanks to their algorithm, it can also scan the websites that are linking to your pages and decide if the link holds topical relevance.
Imagine you own a pet shop, and two different websites link to your products:
The first website belongs to a known blogger that writes about Pugs. He saw one of your articles on proper pet nutrition and recommended his audience to check it out.
The second website belongs to your friend Bob, who owns a small tire shop and added you to his “friends and family” resource pages.
Which link is more likely to provide value to readers? Someone who is clearly interested in your pet-related content, or one of Bob’s clients that clicked on Bob’s link because she liked your logo?
The answer is obvious. Local SEO Services performed by professionals consider relevance when building links for their clients.
Linking Domain’s Authority
We’ve seen that Majestic’s tool can already predict whether the pages that are linking your domain are trustworthy themselves.
Imagine what Google can do with the ridiculously vast amount of data it possesses.
Websites that follow spammy, shady link strategies probably won’t do much for your backlink profile. In fact, your Local SEO Agency might even have to disavow the link altogether, since it could be hurting your seo ranking.
Creating an entire link building strategy from scratch can also be difficult, but it’s equally important as creating quality content. After all, imagine building a long, comprehensive post and failing to promote it to audiences that would love to read it.
You’d end up with a beautiful, empty ghost town of a website. Yikes.
There are other factors that can transform a weak link into a powerful asset in your SEO strategy, which I’ll discuss in a future article.
Let’s continue to our last major factor behind how does google rank search results: technical SEO
Boosting Your SEO Ranking: Technical SEO
When it comes to what is SEO ranking, we can’t start competing with other websites for their money if we can’t even follow the basics behind Technical SEO, which ensures our website can actually be found by Google.
You’ve heard the phrase “you can’t run until you walk, and you can’t walk until you crawl”, haven’t you?
Well, it rings true when it comes to SEO as well. In fact, I’d say, you can’t index before you crawl.
Horrible puns aside, here’s how search engines work:
- Crawling process: In this case, Google sends its spiders to inspect every URL they can find
- Indexing: the previously crawled content gets listed for keywords the algorithm detected.
- Ranking process: Google displays your website for queries that are relevant to your content. It then evaluates whether the content serves its purpose (inform and help visitors) and ranks it up or down.
Some of the most common issues can be resolved by troubleshooting your website’s errors with Google Search Console, especially if you’re using WordPress.
Issues such as:
- Loading Speed
- Website Structure
- Errors in HTML Code
- Errors in CSS Code
Will cost you big time when it comes to SEO ranking if left unchecked.
Because they can ruin your visitor’s experience and affect your website’s responsiveness, which is a huge red flag for Google. Here’s what Google themselves say:
It often takes the expertise of an SEO consultant with a background in web design, or content management systems such as WordPress, for example, to find and fix these issues.
The more I think about it, the more it seems it’s in our nature to wonder what is SEO ranking before asking ourselves if we’re even ready to compete with the rest of the internet for its valuable traffic.
And I suspect this is why technical SEO is so often overlooked, even though it’s often the difference between a top rank in the SERPs or oblivion.
It’s not enough to wonder what is SEO ranking. Pinpointing your position on the SERPs for high-value keywords and building your domain authority, is the right approach.
Hopefully, now you have a better idea of how does google rank search results, and the top five factors you need to consider as part of your SEO strategy. The truth is, ranking for valuable keywords has become an increasingly difficult activity, mainly because of the ridiculous revenue they can generate for business both locally and globally.
This is why, depending on your budget, delegating these responsibilities to proven SEO consultant services that can offer your business value will likely be the smart choice at the end of the day.
Having said that, I thank you for taking the time to read this article on what is SEO ranking.
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions: we’d love to hear what you have to say!