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by Stephen Logan on 14th September 2009
How are Search Engine Rankings Decided?
All search engines rankings are determined by a complex algorithm. Very few know the exact programming of the algorithm, but through testing and universally available information, SEO experts are able to put together strategies that will help improve a site’s rank.
Yahoo, Bing, Google and Ask will all have their own unique algorithm, which in turn means that their search results can differ. Whilst there are similarities across each search engine, the programming tweaks ensure that each has their own identifiable SERPs. This is why some people prefer to still use sites other than the standard industry favourite Google, and will continue to do so.
Google itself assigns each page an individual PageRank. Ranging from zero to ten, it is a specially created algorithm that determines how relevant a site is within its sphere. The higher your site’s PageRank the more authority Google will give it, thus helping you get higher up their listings for your key terms. A common misconception is that PageRank is so called because it represents the rank of the page; in fact it is named after its inventor, Larry Page co-founder of Google.
The mathematics behind these algorithms is extremely complex. The search engines regularly update them – often causing temporary fluctuations in positions – so as to provide the best possible SERPs and remove sites that maybe have an unrealistic ranking. It is because of these changes that most black hat techniques, including keyword stuffing, have now died out. Search engines will not tolerate sites that look to ‘game’ them, making for a more level playing field and ensuring that all searches return the best possible results.
Here are just a few factors that they consider:
1. Age of the domain – Older websites are often given improved rankings due to their perceived experience and longevity.
2. Back links – The more relevant, high quality links you have coming into your site, the greater the authority that it will be given.
3. Content – If your pages are missing copy, Meta or anything that indicates what you for search engine spiders will struggle to define it, resulting in lower rankings.
4. Navigation - If your site is littered with navigation errors they can’t be crawled as easily, making it essential to do regular checks of your internal linking structure.
A website’s strength can be improved by implementing a thorough SEO programme, which might include link building, local search and copywriting. As search engines generally look for the same things, for example keywords and back linking structure, there are plenty of ways in which a site can be optimised and always scope for improved search engine rankings.