SEO 101: Search Engine Ranking Factors

Posted on June 30, 2012 by Nikhil P Naik

If you have always wondered how search engines work, then ranking factors are worth looking into.  But what are ranking factors, you ask?  These are the signals or things that search engines look at when trying to decide just how relevant and authoritative your website is compared to others.  Ultimately, knowing the ranking factors can help you get a better spot in search results.

Search engine ranking factors are influenced by:

  1. The Web page or the site itself
  2. Other Web pages or sites
  3. Violations you make
  4. Users or searchers
Choosing a good SEO Company

Ranking factors include:

1. On-Page Ranking Factors.

These are the ranking factors that are seen on your website or Web page.  The good thing with these is that you are in full command of these factors and could change it to improve your search rank.

  • Content. Probably the most important on-page ranking factor is the content you have on your pages.  Having quality content that is well-researched, relevant, easy to read, fresh and engaging can do a lot to increase your search rankings. Indeed, in SEO, content is still king.
  • Meta tags.  Meta tags provide information about the page and are not directly visible on the page itself but in the source code.  You and your visitors may not see these, but search engine spiders do.  There are a lot of tags that are used in an HTML page, but for SEO purposes, focus on the title, description and headers.
  • Site architecture.  This pertains to your site’s performance such as how fast spiders can crawl your pages, how fast the site loads and how you structure your URLs.  In effect, you should make sure that your pages load quickly and allow spiders to crawl your site.  URLs, on the other hand, should be short and have meaningful keywords in it that are relevant to the page’s content.
2. Off-Page Ranking Factors.

If you can fully manipulate what appears on your Web page, off-page ranking factors are much more difficult to control.  But there are still ways for you to influence these.

  • Links.  Incoming links to your site are a prime indicator of just how good your content is or just how authoritative you are.  Incoming links should be from high quality sites, and it’s not just about having a high number of links coming in.  Links should also have textual clues or anchor texts, preferably those matching your keywords.  If you offer good content on your site, it will be easier for you to get other sites to link to you.  For example, if you publish an important study, then chances are other sites related to your industry will be referencing your content by linking to it.
  • Social Cues. Social shares are relatively new, but the logic is that people are much more likely to share your content on their social media sites if they find it useful to them and to their friends. To get more social shares, you can add sharing buttons to your Web pages to make it easier for your readers to share your content.
  • Trust.  While it is more difficult to find out just how search engines gauge your site’s trust, it is still widely accepted as one of the more important off-page ranking factors.  It may be a mix of how well your site is in terms of the quality of incoming links, mentions from other sites and maybe even online reviews of your business or products.
  • Personal.  Remember that search engines are now using the user’s settings to tailor-fit their search results.  The searcher’s location will influence what sites he or she sees first.  For example, if you are looking for a car dealership in New York, then those based in New York will come up first.
3. Violations.

Violations is a negative ranking factor.  If you have been practicing bad SEO techniques, then chances are you will be caught for it and it will affect your future ranking.  For example, stuffing your content with keywords or paying for sites to link to your site will not help you rank well and it will also pull your site ranking down.  To be sure, follow the tips and guidelines being published by different search engines to know which practices are bound to help you rank higher.

4. Blocking.

On Google and other search engines, searchers are now given the option to blog a whole website from appearing on their search results.  If a user chooses to block your website, your pages would not show up on his or her searches in the future, no matter what the search terms are.  The thing is, you do not only lose that customer, but this will also pull your ranking down.

This SEO 101 lesson is brought to you by SEO Inc, a San Diego based Search Engine Optimization Company that specializes in creating SEO/SEM, and Social Media Marketing solutions for businesses of all sizes.

About Nikhil P Naik

Nikhil Naik has a Master's Degree in Information Systems, and is currently working as a Software Engineer at Microsoft. He also loves playing cricket, listening to music, and traveling. Twitter Handle - @buzz_nikhil.


  1. Good morning, thank you for this article. Very helpful indeed. More power and good luck.


  1. […] SEO 101: Search Engine Ranking Factors […]

Leave a Comment


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.