Image courtesy of ddpavumba / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of ddpavumba / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Imagine a website’s Page Rank as a number that defines how many votes you’ve received from other websites. A high PR means more websites have linked back to you.

In theory, a website that has received more votes should be ranked higher.

But with votes, same as in the every-day world, these can be influenced. You can pay to have your link placed on a website or add it yourself instead of waiting for someone to genuinely recommend your site.

To ensure such manipulative strategies won’t work, when it comes to ranking, Google’s algorithms take into consideration over 200 factors! These are not all known and they keep changing as user needs evolve.

Just having a high PR (thus a lot of backlinks) doesn’t necessarily mean your website is also relevant for a search query. Because backlinks can be created artificially, these are not always the best indicator that a website is worthy of a good rank in Google’s result pages.

To ensure the delivery of relevant results, Google also looks at other factors such as:

  • The age of your domain
  • Where your website is hosted
  • Your hosting neighbors
  • URL structure
  • Content
  • Internal links structure
  • Trust
  • Keywords
  • Bounce rate
  • Outbound links

And even if your PR is good, Google also analyzes the quality of the websites linking back to you. A few of these quality indicators include:

  • Total incoming links
  • Backlinks from high-ranking pages
  • PR of the referring page
  • Anchor text of the inbound link
  • Age of link
  • Number of outgoing links on the referrer page
  • Keyword density of the referrer page
  • Type of link (image, JavaScript)

Please note these are just a few of the factors that weigh in Google’s decision to rank your website better than your competitors’.

Happy GoogleBot

There are no exact steps you can follow in order to convince Google that your website deserves to rank first. There are some guidelines though that can help you understand what search engines like and what they don’t like. Google even published a search engine optimization starter guide to help webmasters. Beside all the technical aspects, you’ll notice that the most important decisional factor for Google is the user experience. If you build your website having your visitors in mind, you’ll be covering most of the requirements from the guidelines.

So stop thinking about ways to rank higher and start thinking of ways to make your visitors enjoy their stay on your website.

Best way to do this is by creating interesting and unique content. This will not only make your visitors keep coming back for more but it can also help increase and diversify your backlink profile.

By offering the information they need, your visitors will do all the sharing in your place, be it on social media platforms or on their own websites.

Also pay attention to other issues that might offer a bad user experience such as slow loading pages, complicated menus and duplicate content.

Next time you see a website with a lower PR ranking better than you, just have a look and see what they’re doing for their users and you’re not. Your competitors can be your best friends when it comes to tips and tricks for pleasing visitors (and implicitly search engines).

Use our SEO quiz to judge exactly how much you know about the subject.

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17 Responses

  • Matthew Sylvester

    What’s happened to your site? This is the only page that loads correctly on either my PC or iMac.

    My email address has been hacked, and I can’t log in to the control panel to sort it as your pages aren’t working. Please sort this! I’m getting hundreds of bounce-back emails.

    April 16, 2013 at 2:09 pm
  • Tim

    Matthew, it sounds like you may have a virus on your machines / network? Have you run up to date anti-virus scanners?
    In terms of email, please raise a ticket via the Ask a question tab on our support site https://www.123-reg.co.uk/secure/support_login.pl?page=Protected/AskAQuestion.aspx so our technical team can look into it. If you have difficulties logging on you can use our lost password function or call our support teams on 0845 450 2310. Calls to 0845 numbers are free on some BT call plans but will cost the applicable local or national rate for BT customers not on a plan. Calls made using other service providers or mobiles may cost more. We staff our lines 9:00 am to 7:00 pm Monday to Friday. Please note lines may get busy at peak times.

    April 17, 2013 at 10:25 am
  • Just Shutters

    Great article, lots of sensible points made. I agree that if you make your website useful, helpful and relevant the rest will follow.

    Chris

    April 24, 2013 at 6:02 pm
  • Brandt Dainow

    Excellent summary. I published an article listing 173 different factors Google considers when ranking sites at http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/28301.asp

    April 24, 2013 at 7:30 pm
  • Rob Dunning

    This is so true. If people spent more time building a website with their customers in mind than Google in mind, they would probably get a lot more visitor traffic.

    Fab article, thank you.

    April 24, 2013 at 7:58 pm
  • Fruit Machine Manuals

    Has this not always been the case with google?

    April 24, 2013 at 9:20 pm
  • David McClelland

    One blindingly obvious point this blog post fails to address is where to find out the PageRank of your website and your competitors’.

    April 24, 2013 at 9:28 pm
  • Coffee Machine

    It would be a real treat to understand how google really works. My coffee business ranks ok but I’ve oten put in searched and page 1 is full of sites with no product content. Maybe that’s the answer, good structure, decent meta but don’t fill description box with any info :)

    April 24, 2013 at 10:39 pm
  • Immigration Lawyer

    So Backlinks like in this very comment with my name as the Anchor text (excuse the example) is it kind of obsolete in googls eyes?

    Also just a question: what is the difference in DoFollow and NOfollow.
    Can Backlinks from spammy sites decrease your PR?

    April 25, 2013 at 1:59 am
  • Andre Armacollo

    Matthew Sylvester,

    Your comments and rate have nothing to do with this article and therefore, you should not be rating it based on something else.

    Great article – 10 out of 10.

    April 25, 2013 at 2:01 am
  • DopplerHire

    Interesting article. Whilst search algorithms will inevitably allow some short-term opportunities for manipulators, Google’s business model depends upon one key thing: relevancy.

    April 26, 2013 at 5:04 pm
  • Michael McNeillis

    Thanks for this guide. It is very easy to understand and gives a nice insight into how google views websites. The link to the search engine optimization starter guide was very helpful too

    April 27, 2013 at 3:12 pm
  • Newboilerman

    Thanks for the information on page rank.

    Just querying whether bounce rate is still one of the criteria used by google. I understood that it was not used – there are many sites which can deliver the information searched for by the user on one page – this is great for the user but does result in a 100% bounce rate. A currency converter page or a “what time is it in Tokyo?” page would be examples.

    April 29, 2013 at 10:28 am
  • Roxana

    Hello Jon!
    Good question, thanks for bringing it up.
    The internet is filled with diverse websites built to cater different needs. Since most websites are based on rich content, bounce rate is counted as an important factor for ranking.

    When it comes to the websites you mention, such as a currency convertor websites, most (if not all) of the competing sites have the same bounce rate issue. I’m thinking it then comes down to other factors that will help determine the order these websites rank in search engine result pages.

    April 29, 2013 at 11:26 am
  • Roxana

    Hello David!
    There are various websites and plug-ins that can show you the PR of a website and it also depends on what browser you’re using. Such a list might end up as an article of its own.
    I for one prefer Google’s Toolbar and the plug-in called Search Status as a back-up.

    April 29, 2013 at 11:34 am
  • Tim

    Michael pleased you found it helpful

    April 30, 2013 at 12:07 pm
  • Design Web

    Good post with information I’ve mostly found to be accurate. People keep saying that domain name isn’t an important factor but it still is! Just not as important as it use to be years back.

    Regards,
    Aadil

    August 10, 2013 at 12:55 pm