Having a website is at the core of any digital marketing strategy. In 2021, a business without a website is not only suspicious but also rather limiting. People rely on websites to find businesses and, if you don’t have one, you might discover that clients are hard to find. And yet, when your shiny new website is up and running, the job is only half complete. In order for people to find your business, the website needs to rank high in search engines so that when people look for something like “restaurant near me”, your business will be one of the first to pop up. In order to be visible in search engines, you need to have a high page rank, and that’s not so easy to achieve.
Everyone wants to reach the first page on Google, but doing that is a very long adventure. It can be frustrating seeing some of your competitors effortlessly make it to the first page while you’re struggling to rank for your main keywords. In reality, no one other than Google employees knows the exact formula for how the page rank is calculated. Supposedly, Google takes into account about 200 factors when establishing how to rank websites, and we don’t have the full list yet. However, we do know some of them, and understanding what these are will help you optimize your website.
To simplify, we’ll split up the list into two categories:
- Onsite factors: factors that refer strictly to what’s on your website, such as content, internal links, and domain quality.
- Offsite factors: factors that refer to things outside the website, such as backlinks.
Fortunately, you don’t have to google your business for every imaginable keyword to find out where you stand. Instead, you can use a page rank checker, which tells you where you rank for both primary and secondary keywords in just a few seconds.
Onsite factors that influence the page rank
Content quality. A very, very, long time ago, webmasters were spamming keywords to manipulate the page rank, which led to low-quality, useless content written purely for search engines. Now, this practice is outdated, and the focus is on high-quality, informative content that provides value to the users. So, for example, if you want to write a high-ranking guide about the state of the online gaming industry in Colombia, that page will do better in search results if you include statistical data, examples, and if the content is long-form, that’s even better.
Website usability. A high-quality page isn’t just about content and keywords. It’s also about page usability. For example, if it takes the page more than two seconds to load, it’s already too slow, and that could affect the page rank. Also, the website needs to be responsive and accessible to all visitors.
Content relevance. Content doesn’t just need to be high-quality in itself but also in relation to the user query. That’s why you should use as many related phrases as possible, not just the main keyword.
Domain quality. No matter how well-written and optimized the content is, if it’s on a domain that Google has previously flagged as unreliable, the page won’t rank high. Similarly, a page from a high-authority domain will always rank higher than one from a new domain. That’s why when you create a website, it’s harder to compete with businesses that have been around for years.
One important thing you should know about the page rank is that it doesn’t change overnight. So, if you optimize your landing pages and use a page rank checker to see the improvements, you won’t notice anything right away. Usually, it takes weeks, even months for SEO efforts to work.
Offsite factors that influence the page rank
Onsite SEO factors are the basis of a good SEO strategy. However, if you want to improve your page rank, you have to pay attention to other factors too – the offsite ones. Unlike the onsite ones, these factors refer to things that happen outside your website, and that may influence your rank.
By far the most important offsite ranking factor is external links. Basically, other domains linking back to your website. This is another example of quality over quantity. One of the biggest mistakes webmasters make is that they pay SEO companies for hundreds of cheap, low-quality links, hoping that will boost their website, only to discover that these strategies no longer work in 2021. When analyzing the quality of external links, Google takes into account the following:
- Domain authority. One link from a reliable website, such as Forbes or Business Insider has more power than ten links from no-name blogs. Yes, these links are harder to get, but once you do get them, they will help you boost your reputation and your page rank.
- The number of links. Obviously, the more websites link to you, the better, but if several hundreds of web directories link to you on the same day, that may be flagged as suspicious.
- Link diversity. The links should come from several sources. If you only have one type of link, with the same anchor text, Google might do the opposite and lower your page rank.
- Link relevance. Let’s say you have an accounting firm. If a finance or business website links back to your website, then that’s relevant, because they have a similar niche. However, a fashion or health website links back to you, that looks suspicious and that link may not count.
The complicated thing about page rank factors is that they change quite often, and no one really knows how. Many times, SEO is a matter of experimentation and finding the formula that works for you. You need to be consistent and, instead of trying to follow trends blindly, focus on high-quality, relevant content. As long as you strive to stay relevant, answer user intent, and constantly improve your website for usability, it won’t take long until the results appear.