SEO Basics

How Do Search Engines Determine SEO Rankings

Whether you are a beginner or an expert, it is important to always remember the basics. In this article, we will cover the basics of SEO that anyone should always remember.

Search Engines Display Relevant and Useful Content

When you type keyword phrases in search engines, several web pages will be displayed. What are the factors to determine the order of these websites? The websites are not listed by the newest arrival order, random, nor even alphabetical. They are displayed by what search engines determine as the most relevant and useful to what users search for. 

In other words, search engines are displaying content that matches with users’ “search intent”. Search intent is the question or information that a user is seeking. For a web page to be considered having search intent matching content, the content has to provide information to add value or solve the user's problem.

Search engine companies like Google or Yahoo! base their business on attracting and retaining a large number of users. For this reason, search engines prefer not to show content that is not relevant or does not meet the user's search intent. As a result, content without these will be considered to be poor and will likely be displayed at the bottom of the search result.

In other words, unless a web page offers “good content”, it is hard for the page to rank high on search engine results.

How is Content Judged by Search Engines?

How is “good content judged? Again, it’s all about matching the “relevancy” and “search intent”. Search engines analyze and evaluate every single web page that they recognize. They look at web pages from various angles using a computer-based calculation method called “algorithm”.

The algorithm automatically evaluates the content from various factors such as the relevancy of the topic, how much users enjoy it, and if other websites talk about it.

Although Google has not officially announced this, items to be evaluated by this search engine algorithm are believed to be over 200.

Although it is overwhelming, it does not mean that we need to grasp all of the 200 evaluation items to build a website to rank high on a search engine.

The algorithm is made for search engines to evaluate "good content". If publishers continue to deliver good content for the targeted users, they will likely be rated high on search engines, as well.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is an act to optimize your website to the form that search engines prefer. In this case, building relevant and useful content.

We will explain the three major factors that search engines use to evaluate the "relevancy" and “intent”. As long as the business model of search engines is based on user retention, these will most likely not change. Although these sound basic, anyone who does SEO should always keep in their mind.

Here are Three Elements That Search Engines Evaluate

Element 1: Content

It is basically, how useful is the information on the webpage.
Does the page title sound attracting enough to bring in users to your website?

Numbers of search appearance of a webpage and rate of user visitation is an important SEO factor as it shows the popularity of the website.

Does the body of the content related to what your users expect to read from the title? And yet, does it still provide useful information to add value? These are an important thing to consider.

Another thing you can consider is, does the content have the keywords that your target users would type in search engines when looking for the content you offer?

This can be tricky because, in the past, the frequency of keyword occurrences were valued by search algorithms. In recent years, however, with the development of technologies, this keyword stuffing has almost no effect or even cause harm to your website.

New search engine algorithms place more emphasis on the quality of content.

Elements 2: User Experience 

Even if users visit your site, search engines will not value it as much if the users do not stay on the website for very long.

This is similar to the experience of going inside a store, but then quickly deciding to leave. Maybe what the store offered was different from what you expected, or maybe you didn’t enjoy something about the store.

Websites are the same way. If users do not stay on the website long enough, then the search engines will not think the website is useful.

A reason users are leaving could be because of the content. It could be the loading speed of the site. If it takes 20 seconds to see what the website is offering, most people will probably walk away to check out the next offer.

SEO is how many of the users who saw the website on the search engine result and entered the website. Then, how long those users stayed on the site.

Elements 3: Links

A link is a hyperlink on a web page to jump to another page. Based on the idea that "well-cited papers are good papers", the webpage to receive links from other popular pages are highly evaluated from the search engine algorithm.

Type of links are divided into 2 types. They are (1) links within the same domain, and (2) links from different domains.

For the links within the same domain, if several pages are pointing to the same page in a way that provides users value by jumping to that page, then the destination page will get additional value.

For the links from different domains, if the webpage receives links from a popular website that are relevant to the content, the linked website is also considered valuable. These are called backlinks.

For the link to bring high value, it has to come from a “relevant” site. For example, if your website is talking about fine dining and the content of the website where the link is coming from is talking about IT software, the link will not have much value compared to a link from other pages to talk about dining.

This is because those links seem unnatural from search engines eyes.

 Old SEO Techniques are Becoming Obsolete 

In the past, SEO could have been easily manipulated with some techniques such as purchasing backlinks and stuffing the targeted keywords.

Although these old techniques may still work today if they are implemented “properly”, the search algorithm has become more sophisticated and developed to detect these manipulated techniques.

Maybe, reading about these 3 points and knowing there are 200 SEO factors may sound SEO complicated.

However, as mentioned at the beginning of the blog, search engines are evaluating websites based on the observation of "How useful the content". Search engines determine if users find the content useful by how often users visit the page and how long they stay. Also, if other websites find the content useful that they would want to quote the content on their webpage.

Content is King. Marketing is Queen

As the saying goes, “Content is King, but Marketing is Queen”

For the long term and sustainable result, the most important thing, again, is "content."

Continually delivering high quality, excellent content to increase the fans of the site, make sure that the website is comfortable for users to use. Doing so will increase the credibility of your website.

What you can do to acquire natural links is to promote your content online or offline. You can do this online by outreaching to other blog site owners to see if they find it useful.

You can do this offline by becoming a speaker at several events to be mentioned in various places online.

Although we have explained the basics of SEO, there are a lot more than just these 3 points.

We will continue to break it down to explain this and other similar information, so that everyone can understand and how to do SEO in a proper manner.