Search engine optimization is all about getting a website onto the first page of Google search results for a targeted keyword. Everything revolves around that – the further your website is from the coveted first page. The less likely it is that people will actually visit it. It’s a ruthless game, search engine optimization, but it’s also a game that doesn’t have clearly defined rules. Not a single SEO guru can guarantee that your website will end up where you want it to end up. No one really knows all of the things Google’s algorithms take into account when ranking a website.

Still, there are SEO professionals who can drastically increase a website’s search ranking, so there has to be something they know. Some rules and best practices have been figured out and some of them have been announced by Google itself. To tell you the truth, though, you could try figuring out some of them on your own, just by noticing the things top-rated websites have in common.

Technical Stuff You Might not even Notice

When was the last time you had to wait for more than a couple of seconds for a website to load? If you’re like most people, you’ll tend to stick to the websites you find on the first page of search results. And that means you probably haven’t seen slow-loading websites in a while. Why you might wonder? Well, because of the search engine, Google included, tend to favor websites with short loading times. People don’t want to spend their time waiting for a website to load. They are very likely to leave a website if they’re too slow. A website most people will leave before it even loads is not a search result engine would like to serve you. Voila – slow websites end up far, far away from page one of the search results.

Another very big thing in website design is responsiveness, or the ability of the website to display on devices with various screen sizes. You’ve probably seen the statistics that show that people are gravitating towards mobile devices for any Internet-related activity, whether it’s shopping, surfing the Web, or using social media. When search engines deliver results, they have to take that fact into account. Which is why page one is mostly populated by websites that utilize responsive design.

And speaking of design, your website needs to approach it purposefully. There are many ways to design a website, depending on what you want to achieve with it, and using the wrong design choices will hurt your search rankings. The best-ranking websites know how to utilize different elements like copy, color, shapes, and sizes of elements, as well as their placement.

Content and Relationships

The one thing websites that get good search result ranking really focus on is having quality content. Some might even claim that having top-quality content is the most important thing to have when chasing the rankings. The content these websites have is relevant to the keyword the website focus on, and it creates with the content consumer in mind. Things like keyword placement and density are important, but giving the people who visit the website what they want is paramount. Content cannot be only relevant, it has to be useful and it has to fulfill a need.

Linking to other websites is an important strategy for increasing the rankings of your own website. If your website has a blog and lots of them do because it’s good for SEO. You’ll want to include links to other relevant pages on other websites. That’s one of the things search engines notice. But you shouldn’t add links to just any websites – you want to include links to authority websites. The websites that are doing really well and are usually seen on the first page of search results. Think of the websites you link to as a group your website will hang out with. If the group is good, your website will be perceived as being good. If the group is filled with troublemakers, your website will be tagged as one as well.