How to Rank First on Google?
Nobody actually knows exactly how search engines decide which websites to choose from their database and share on a SERP. The algorithm is a secret (on purpose) to keep the Internet a "fair place." If Google (and other search engines) shared how they rank results, web geeks would most likely hack and manipulate the system in order to have their websites rank at the top in searches. Even though we don't exactly know the algorithms, we do have a solid understanding on which characteristics can affect how a site ranks — that’s why it's so crucial to have really good SEO!
Search Rankings Explained...
Google’s algorithm has over 200 characteristics to decide which websites are most relevant for a specific search. Not only does Google go through its index, but also accounts for the popularity and reputation of a website. Websites that receive a small amount of traffic (or no traffic) will rank lower than websites that are popular and constantly being visited. Although the search algorithms are a secret, others agree that the below parameters play an important role in how well a website ranks in searches. These components create the fundamentals of SEO...
Domain - Is the search phrase within the domain name of a website?
Keyword Frequency - How many times is a search phrase located within the content of a website or as image alt text?
Freshness - How often is a website updated? How recent was the last update?
Titles and Descriptions - Is the search phrase found in the page titles and descriptions of the website?
Quality of Links - How legitimate are the sites that you link from your site? Are they useless or are they helpful?
Backlinks - How many others websites link to your site?
Bounce Rate - How many visitors click on your website but then immediately leave? A website with a high bounce rate will negatively affect your ranking.
Engagement - How many visitors click on the website in the search results and how much time do they average on the website?
Social Media - How often are others mentioning the website on Google +, Twitter, Facebook, etc.?
Brand Reputation - How often is your website/brand/business mentioned in the news?
Applying a combination of these factors will help your SEO.
Why do Links Matter?
Bottom-line, search engines won't find every website on the Internet. There are over 1 billion websites on the World Wide Web and automated computer spiders do their best to find and index al of them. Yet, take note! - search engines locate websites through following links — if a website isn't linked from other pages on the Internet, bots have a more difficult time finding and indexing a website. To ensure that your own website isn't missed, submit your sitemap to Google. You also should try to get links coming from other websites.
These are called “#backlinks” - which can help make sure your website gets found! Find out more about how to get backlinks here.
Still have questions? Need help with SEO on your website? Contact me & I'll help.