How Do You Calculate Search Engine Rankings?

To the untrained eye, search engine optimisation can appear to be a mystery.

Some people claim it’s nothing but smoke and mirrors: others simply find the whole concept baffling and therefore try to ignore it. Both opinions have their place, we suppose, but both are also wrong. What the two opinions do have in common is the fact that neither really appreciates what search engine optimisation is all about. Most people can grasp that it revolves around ranking on the search engines like Google, and that the higher a business ranks, the more likely it is to get a greater share of business than its competitors.

What they don’t appreciate is how this ranking is calculated by the search engines, and interpreted by search engine consultants.

Well, should we let you into a little secret- neither do we.

SEO times are changing

Search engines are naturally secretive. Let’s face it, why shouldn’t they be? If they gave away all their plans and made their algorithms known to everyone, then the engines would be worthless. It doesn’t make commercial sense to give the game away and disclose how you make your calculations: it’s much better to keep everybody guessing instead. However, optimisation consultants have studied this problem in detail, and are able to extract important information from the search engine trends that give some clues as to how these search engine rankings are calculated. Once you understand the type of factors Google and the like take into account, then it’s possible to fine-tune any website to make it rank better and perform as effectively as possible. We thought it only fair to share this knowledge with you. What follows are some of the different metrics that search engines use to determine the potential relevance and the value of the content to the user.

Page level links.

Page level links are amongst the most important metrics search engines use to rank content.  What we mean by page level links is the number and quality of links that point to specific pages on any web site. Back links on the internet are vital for websites: you could almost class them as life blood that keeps the website healthy. They are essentially votes of confidence from other websites which mean that the destination website that links back to yours thinks the content you are providing is both relevant and worthwhile. Backlinks are of great value to both the source website and destination website. Search engines like Google count the number of backlinks and assess the quality of those backlinks to determine the likelihood of an end user finding the content interesting.

Domain level links.

The quality and quantity on inbound links throughout the domain are also crucially important when search engines are ranking content.  This is one of the ways search engines are able to rank fresh content on a popular website higher than old content on an unpopular site. This will happen even if the fresh content features as the destination anchor for few links. In other words search engines will look at the wider picture and value the worthiness of the domain in totality, even if some of the backlinks have less gravitas. Search engines assess the number and quality of links that point to the domain as a whole, which means that search engines develop a much better picture about whether users are likely to find any particular piece of content interesting.

The use of keywords at page level.

This is another is another significant metric the search engines use. . Although search engines may be clever and intuitive and are generally capable of determining what a piece of content is about, they lag way behind human beings in their ability to digest and understand what content is about. That’s why it’s important to include the relevant keywords you think internet users interested in your content will be searching for. Including these keywords will leave search engines in no doubt about the subject matter of your content. This helps the search engines to index your content accurately, and will improve your relevance score and ranking.

The use of keywords at domain level.

This is also extremely important. Search engines want to know that your website has a particular point of view or area of expertise; for example if your website deals with internet marketing, then it will obviously post content that relates to this field. There may be other sites that post occasional articles about a subject like internet marketing that doesn’t relate to their key area of expertise, but these will not be indexed with content that is predominantly of interest to internet marketers. So it’s important to keep the keywords at domain level relevant for your niche market.

Social media page level metrics.

Social media networks are playing an increasingly important role in search engine metrics. Search engines are now placing strong emphasis on sociability, so the greater the number of users who “like”, “tweet” or “+1” the content or apply any other positive social signal to a given piece of content, the better. This is one of the ways search engines are able to identify if a piece of content is likely to go viral. Logically the chances are that if everyone you know is sharing a given piece of content, then it’s likely to be relevant and interesting. Search engines will pick up on this signal.

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