What Is Google Ranking?
What is Google ranking? The answer is simple but could mean a great deal to your business.
In short: Google ranking is an algorithm to measure the relative relevance, quality and importance of findings in a Google search. Being favoured over other businesses means having a much bigger ‘shop window’ in results and much more chance to show your wares to potential buyers!
How? Read on…
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What is Google ranking? The ‘How‘
Google uses a lot of factors to rank results. It counts links like they were votes for a page. A link means the page has been contacted in some way, whether visited or just linked to. The more links, the more votes it gets, and the higher rank it gets.
That may be the biggest factor, but there is a lot involved. Basically, Page Rank, as the program is called, measures the number of quality of links to a page to give a rough estimate of the importance of pages related to your search. According to Google itself, it analyzes the links, Pages that are higher ranking that link to a page carry more weight than other links, so that would push it higher in the rankings. Google also uses a complicated system of text matching to make sure it matches your search words. It also examines all the content on the page, but those key words make a difference.
A whole industry, called SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, has sprung up and tries to to anticipate what the system will rank. The number of times the key word of a search appears on a page is important, but it goes a lot further than that. It compares all aspects of a pages contents in its rankings.
Google ranking – Factors
There is a lot of relativity involved in how Google ranking works. The words matter and the links matter, but that is all relative to the pages doing the linking and the words that are used. It examines millions of pages and notices the millions of links to various pages and what pages have visited what pages.
Google also says as the web gets bigger, this way of doing searches actually gets even better. There are move “votes” to be counted as the web gets even bigger, and each new site is just another point of information to guide the super information highway.
Page rank is obviously important, but Google says it is not the only consideration. Page rank itself is a program and it helps decide if a page will show up in a search. From there, other things help determine the actual ranking of the results when you do a search.
What is Google ranking? The ‘What’
As we see, how many times a page has been linked to, or seen, has a tremendous impact. If it has a lot of “votes,” that will make its rank go higher. The actual words on the page, that are simlar to the search terms, also have an effect.
There are more than 200 known factors that have an impact on a Google search. Some or clearly known and some are speculation.
There is sort of a cat and mouse game going on. People keep trying to figure out how to manipulate the system so their pages will show up at the top of search results. Google knows this and continually changes things to stop various loopholes and advantages.
There are domain factors, or the name of the website itself. It used to be that if you had an exact match, that would propel you to the top, but Google has changed that a bit to take away that advantage. Content matters more than the name.
Page level factors include having the keyword in the title tag, but the importance of that has faded some recently. However the keyword being in the description tag, and in the H1 tag, or the secondary headline, seems to matter more in recent times. Longer documents or articles matter more when the keyword is there a lot. It is also believed that having a table of contents can have a positive result.
Keyword density is also important, as Google uses that to determine the subject matter. However, having too much of a keyword may make Google think it is spam and that would hurt your ranking.
The site level factors are similar, but it considers the entire site more than a single page. Keywords matter of course, but not too many of them.
Backlinks are important, but having too many broken ones will hurt you. The quality of the backlinks are believed to matter as well. Links from one page to another are important, as are links from mother pages. Having links from high ranking pages also helps your rankings.
How people interact with search results can affect future results too, making it a little more complicated. The traffic a site gets also is a positive marker A well-visited site will get even more visitors because it will rank higher in search results. Repeat visits are also measured and have an impact.
Sometimes people don’t click on the first link. If people tend to skip over the first two or three in the list of results, that can adversely affect the rankings next time. Pages that have been bookmarked in Chrome, and the number of comments an article gets, can also have a positive impact on results.
Some other factors include the idea that newer sites get a boost with certain types of queries. Your browser history and your search history are also figured into a search.
People often search for brands, so if Google knows your brand that will help. If a site has Facebook linked and that page has a lot of likes, that will also help. Twitter profile can also play a role. Other social sites can also impact searches.
What is Google ranking? Let’s talk about negative results
While there are a lot of factors that positively impact search results, there are also some factors that can work against you. Google tries to avoid spammy pages, or pages overloaded with ads, and if it can spot those they will be lowered in the rankings.
Pages that have low quality content, or content from content farms clearly poorly written to try to manipulate key words, will be lowered in the rankings. Google can tell when a page has been optimized too much, and those are penalized as well. How much is to much is not specifically known, but overdoing it clearly hurts page rankings.
Content is also important obviously. A page stuffed with keywords likely will not do well. But a lot of information on the subject of the keyword, will do well. Comprehensive information is important.
What is Google ranking? Understanding your ranking
There are several sites out there with tools that claim to be able to tell you where your site will rank with various keywords. Most web gurus advise against using these, and Google itself says it is a violation of their terms of service to send a lot of queries though these sites.
One way to find out is to do searches, but do it in invisible or incognito mode, so your previous searches won’t be figured into the calculation. If you can use someone else’s computer, or even a public computer at a library, that might give you very objective results.
Google webmaster tools is also a good place to try to find how your page is ranking. Go to the “search queries” area of the Google Webmaster tools and there you can find keywords that people used. The tool will include the ranking in the results.
Understanding where you rank is a great first step to finding out WHY you rank where you do. Good luck!
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