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An Overview of SEO Ranking Factors – Part 1

In the chase for search engine rankings, web publishers execute an SEO campaign that addresses the key components that affect where a page is listed in search results. It’s not all about content – though that variable carries significant weight – but about the way in which the site is “perceived” in the Web community.

 

Admittedly the factors we’re discussing do not encompass the broad spectrum of individual SE criteria; however, attempting to design a strong SEO campaign starts with understanding the basics.

 

According to Search Engine Land (SEL), there are four primary ranking factors that determine page ranking:

  1. On the Page Factors
  2. Off the Page Factors
  3. Violations
  4. Blocking

 

Within those factors are subgroups containing elements which affect ranking. These elements work in conjunction with each other to elevate page ranking. There are positive and negative factors that can offset one another within most SE algorithms. For example, a page with quality links that are discovered to have been purchased receives offsetting ranking values.

 

  • On the Page Factors (Content, HTML, Architecture). These factors are completely within a publisher’s control. Content relevance reveals how supportive the site’s “ingredients” are of tags and other metadata. HTML code provides important clues to the site’s relevance. Finally, the architecture assists the SE with indexing the page.
  • ¬†Off the Page Factors (Links, Social Presence, Trust, Personal Connection). It’s not just about how the content is presented; it’s also how the Web audience recognizes the site. Search engine developers understand that a site’s relevance within its social constituency affects the content’s pertinence to a particular search.
  • Violations. If publishers employ tactics such as spamming, paid links or cloaking, the SE deducts points. The engines are designed to flesh out cheaters, so sites with violations suffer low rankings or worse: search engine purgatory.
  • Blocking. One of the latest factors to gain popularity is searcher-generated blocking. Even if a site has not violated rules, it can lose ranking if a significant number of users block pages. Blocking not only affects the site’s presence to the searcher but its presence to Web audience.

 

Most engines apply weighting to each factor within its algorithm. This provides proportional equality when crawling for pages. Within the primary factors, elements are given weights as well. The complexity of the weighting system is too cumbersome a topic to discuss here, and competing engines employ different systems, thus experts like SEL recommend not getting bogged down in every detail. But when it comes time to improve a site’s SEO, look at the general principles of the ranking factors to guide your presence development.

 

In future articles, we’ll be examining each of the factors in more depth.

 

 

 

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Adam Vandergang

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