4 Factors That Affect SEO Rankings and How to Improve Yours

You’ve just demonstrated the first of Steven Covey’s tips on his book “The 7 Habits,” which is to “be proactive.” Great job for starting the journey towards financial success. If you already have a business or a site up, you can chart your path to success through SEO.

If you haven’t heard the term by now, SEO or “Search Engine Optimization” is the process of making your site more visible to search engines through a number of tactics. You may already know that Google has invented a very complex, often changing algorithm to rank the importance and relevance of websites. This is evident every time you perform a Google search.  

At last count there were 200+ factors taken into account within Google’s algorithm alone. If you care to know about all those factors, Brian Dean, the genius behind, wrote a comprehensive article about each of them here.

Most businesses’ goal is to rank on the first page of Google’s search results preferable anywhere in the top 3 with number 1 being the coveted spot.  

From results published in 2013, online ad network company Chitika determined that for every web search, the number one spot garnered around 33% of the clicks while the 2nd and 3rd spots received 17.6% and 11.4%, respectively.  Another astonishing find by their study was that 95% of the clicks stayed on the first page of results.  Simply put, if your company doesn’t show up in the first ten spots of a Google search, there’s a 95% chance you won’t be seen at all.

In this article, you’ll get to know the most heavily weighted components of Google’s algorithm.  If you don’t have those right then  abiding by the other 200 factors won’t matter much or be nearly as effective.

#1. Website Structure

One of the most crucial factors is the actual structure of the website. Google uses a massive set of computers running a program called GoogleBot to search or “crawl” the billions of pages on the web in order to categorize and index information.  

This GoogleBot, also called “bots” or “spiders,” travels to URLs (think the webs version of a street address) and then uses links (the webs version of streets) to travel between those addresses to gather data.  The problem with having a “discount” (the one that was the cheapest option at the time) website is that many times there are no “streets” connecting each page on the site and what the “bot” sees when it gets there (your page content) doesn’t have what Google needs to classify the address.

Think a business with no sign or a sign that just says “Joe’s” but Joe’s what? Is it a diner, garage or barber shop?

A good website structure should be organized similar to an outline for a book report or everyone’s childhood favorite—the dreaded research paper outline.  This is a relatively new type of organization and has been termed “Silo Structuring.”

Each page should have a relevant title as well as text on the page that relates to that title. There should also be links to supporting pages with different but related content with the same titling and content techniques.  With this proper structure, Google’s “bots” can accurately “crawl” a site, index it, and include it in relevant search results.

Example of an effective “silo” structure:

To be a little more specific, let’s use the following website as an example.  The home page is:

One of the pages connected to the home pages is:

And then one of the pages connected to that page is:

Do you see how the pages stay in the same “silo” and all point back to the domain of ContentHow?  In this way, the domain and page authority is shared throughout the site, making the site as a whole stronger.

#2. Keyword Campaign

The next logical step in making your website a viable and visible revenue generating tool is determining what keywords you want to try and go after.  

What exactly does that mean? If you own a siding and window company in Booger Hollow, Ar. (Yes, that’s a real place!) Showing up on the first page for the search term “siding” could be extremely expensive and time-consuming. If you wanted to rank instead for “siding and window installers in Pope County Arkansas” that would be a much easier task.

“Siding” as a search term is a very broad topic, also known as a “short tail keyword.”  Short tails don’t usually have the highest conversion rate from search to sale.  They would usually be used in general research and information gathering.  “Siding and window installers in Pope County Arkansas” is an example of a long tail keyword. Long tails are generally much easier to rank for since there’s less competition targeting it.  

While the obvious conclusion would be to go after only long-tail keywords, it might now always work for you since some can have particularly low search volumes.  The sweet spot seems to be with medium-tail keywords. They have a higher search frequency as well as a more targeted search so you get the best of both worlds—good search volumes as well as less competition.

Now that you have your keywords, how do you exactly rank for them?

Remember earlier when we talked about having the appropriate titles and content for your pages? For this article, my goal was to rank for “small business SEO” and “SEO for small business.” In my keyword research (I used Keywordcanine but you can also find a free keyword tool here), I discovered that “small business SEO” garnered 720 monthly searches and “SEO for small business” pulled in 260. These are a good example of medium-tail keywords we just talked about.  Since it’s a targeted keyword, those search volumes aren’t that bad.

Now to the title and content portion, as you can see by the title of the article “Small Business SEO” and by several uses of “Small Business SEO” and “SEO for Business” in the article, Google’s “spiders” should have no problem determining what this post is about and where it fits in their grand indexing scheme.  

#3. Backlinks

So what the heck are backlinks? Earlier I described them as the “streets” that connect the pages of sites together. As any of us directionally challenged people already know, a set of directions that starts on a popular street such as Broadway or Central Avenue are much easier to navigate than one that starts at Alley 007 or some other obscure street.

That’s why popular or “authority” sites are given more credibility and clout by Google. The links from such sites are given more credibility as well. The more “streets” leading to your site, the more weight it will carry, which will impress Google.

If your site is “linked” to or referenced by, it will carry a TON of weight, commonly referred to as “link juice.” Alternatively, if your site contains links from, the “juice” wouldn’t hold so much weight and quite possibly result in a Google penalty. The “link neighborhood” also plays a large part. Sites such as would most likely be considered a “bad neighborhood.”

The more links from reputable sites, the more likely you are to win Google’s “popularity contest.”

#4. Content Creation and Amplification

So how do you get links from good sites?  

That depends. How much time do you have? Being successful in the creation and promotion of content weighs heavily on how good your content is. Are you able to provide relevant and useful information to your audience? 

If so, the likelihood of a successful linking campaign becomes much more possible. If your content is dated or just flat out stinks, the chance that you’ll get good links diminishes. If you’re able to write a good blog, a good method would be to contact influential bloggers within your field and ask them if you could write a guest blog on their site. Most bloggers are more than happy to add good content to their site. Moreover, sharing your blog posts on Linkedin groups is a good way to get noticed.

Anyone can create good content, but this is where the time factor comes in. Most business owners spend upwards of 60 hours working IN their business, which doesn’t allow for much time working ON their business. I refer to this self-perpetuating cycle as the “hamster wheel.”

No matter how fast you run, you seem to stay stuck in the same place. This is where a reputable SEO company becomes an invaluable tool. SEO pros can actually create and promote content for a business. If you have a REALLY good SEO team, like ContentHow which already has existing partnerships with strong sites and owners then ranking higher is a much easier task.  

Going for reputable SEO services is a must since you don’t want links from “bad neighborhoods” mentioned earlier or any other “black hat” practices that could earn you a Google penalty.


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