Basic Guide to Search Engine Ranking, Toisc Limited, How-to, Advertising and Marketing Consultancy

Basic Guide to Search Engine Ranking

There is plenty of information on this topic but for a Basic Guide to Search Engine Ranking for those new to ranking their business, this should give you a few of the first steps in. Any further ideas you think we could benefit from would be greatly appreciated.

Basic Guide to Search Engine Ranking, Toisc Limited, How-to

Explaining Search Engine Ranking

Search Engine Ranking Definition

Factors affecting a website by the way it is ranked within a Search Engine.

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First some smaller terms

It is probably best to understand some simple terms that we will use throughout this post.

Search Engine

This is a special type of website that indexes known websites available for search. It then places that list in categories and orders it according to relevance. Examples of search engines are Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

First Page Ranking

The spot where a website appears after a user has searched for a term within a Search Engine.

Example: Open Google in a new page, in the white box type ‘Facebook’, and the results that are listed are as closely linked to your search as possible, with the most relevant result near the top and less likely results below.

Basic guide to search Engine Ranking, Toisc Limited, How-To, Sear Engine Results

If you notice the results on the screenshot above, you will see that from our search term, Google, a search engine, has made a guess at what I am likely searching for. It returns a result at the very top which is closest to my search.

If you look really closely though, you will notice that it also points to the UK version of Facebook as I am accessing this site from the UK. Google chose as a first result a local relevant result for me.

You will also notice that the main Facebook website is listed below the first item in position 2 and on the right, Google has given me the business location of this business too.

You will notice that the Facebook result is first and the website address is third. The business address is still listed on the right.


How is relevance decided upon? That is the secret formula of all search engines and known as an algorithm. Remember that from your school days!

A number of factors need to be considered in order for a result to appear after you push the search button and here in lies the magic of Search Engine Ranking.


A complex code (set of computer instructions) which produce a result after a number of factors have been considered. This happens in milliseconds!

Basic Guide to Search Engine Ranking, Toisc Limited, If This Then That, How-to

Remember the “If This Then That” diagrams you used to see when troubleshooting a problem with your microwave… This is a more complex version of that.

The time it takes you to look and read that diagram will already be slower than what a search engine can search for a result to match your question from billions of entries.

Why are There Different Search Results in Different Search Engines?

A great question and one which will go a long way to explaining Search Engine Ranking.

Each Search Engine will have it’s own algorithm. That algorithm is a result of many years of collecting data from the way us, as users, have searched for items using the search box.

This gives the Search Engines an idea of what to give back after you hit search.

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Let’s say you do a search for the ‘weather’. Now we know the world is very large and that would return a result that you could not use. So a Search Engine has it programmed that if I am searching for weather, I may want to know what the weather is like where I live.  I may want to know the definition of the word weather, or I may be trying to understand how we predict the weather.

So one word leads to a search engine trying to figure out what you really want to know. This is where it gets really clever. If I always search for the weather in my local area, then that is the result it will most likely put at the top. (Possibly because you allowed location to be on or have a cookie set on your computer)

However, if there were a lot of Geographers looking for a definition, then that result would begin to appear.

At it’s essence it is a complex set of questions to weigh what we are looking for. This is reason for writing a Basic Guides to Search Engine Ranking.

Ranking a website

There are many ways we can approach this but at it’s most basic a website gets ranked according to the “votes” it receives from users and other websites.

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Imagine for a second you are talking with your friends when one of them makes a statement you are unsure about. Lets say the statement is, “Did you know that butterflies have scales on their wings?”

You look at your friend and say to them, “How do you know that?”

They go on to explain they watch “Getting Smarter Everyday” on YouTube and they got to see how it looked under a microscope.

Now another friend turns to you and says, oh yes they are scales. In a book he recently read on insects, he came across an article on butterflies and that is what they are – scales!

You, now slightly convinced ask for the YouTube link to watch this video.

Your friend sends you the link.

You all crowd round and watch it and are amazed at the detail in the wing of a butterfly.

More importantly you now believe your friend was telling the truth.

In the future when they make a statement you will more than likely trust them a little more to tell you something in a truthful way.

You are Voting EVERY DAY

This is what you are doing every day when you click on website links. Each time you click a link, that is confirmation that you think it is a good link to look at.

However, when you click a result you do not think matches what you searched for, you will more than likely click the back button.

That would equally be seen as a vote against what you were searching for.

Obviously there are exceptions and the length of time would be considered before that wouldn’t count, but I am sure you understand the idea.

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A bit like walking into a shop and asking for a drink. The assistant makes the decision you are looking for milk, because most people want milk from their local shop and they give it to you.

You say no you want a drink because you are thirsty. The assistant then thinks the next best thing to stop thirst is water and produces a bottle of water.

Again you say no, you want a fizzy drink, and she produces a can of pop for you. You pay and leave the shop.

When you walk in the shop tomorrow and ask for a drink, she immediately remembers yesterday and offers you a can of pop. Problem solved.

You voted by your actions and that is how ranking a web page works.

Other Websites Help Rank Websites

Now you understand your part in the ranking process, there are also other factors at play.

Just as in the example above with the butterfly, your friend showed you a video from someone else. This gave you evidence that what they were saying was true.

The same happens with other websites that link to a website. If an article that has been written on a website is useful it will be linked to other websites who talk about that topic.

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As more websites link to that topic, a search engine begins to notice that that article must be valuable because lots of people link to it. So it begins to rank it higher up the list when you search for that topic.

For example, you want to learn how to ride a bicycle. You type in that search and you begin to get articles and video appear. The ones near the top probably have other people who would like to teach their children or friends or write blogs about riding a bicycle linking to those answers.

When you click the first one you again signal that you think this is the right answer and so the article or video stays at the top of the list because it HELPS the most amount of people.

Social Media

Today, more and more is done through social media. This is where people are talking and discussing the latest ideas. It is also a big area that takes people to websites that are valuable.

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I am sure you have done it yourself. You have been reading a tweet on Twitter. Then another, then another. You then see a link to an article you think would be interesting to read and you click to visit that article. There – you just voted for that article and made it relevant to you.

Social Media is a massive driver for ranked search results today and is key in passing on good information to others. It counts in search results too.

Can the Algorithm be Cheated?

Unfortunately – YES.

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If you follow the same thinking that I have outline above but instead you create links to an article or you get your mates to all click on one link and get them to share that link, then for a short time you will confuse the algorithm.

Think about a viral YouTube video. One day nothing, then the next, everywhere you look that video turns up and it is shared, linked to and discussed by everyone.

That is all important to an algorithm because everyone is looking for that video so it ranks very high. Within a few months it drops from the top and fades into the distant past.

Now not all viral videos are made to be this way, some just happen because we all find them funny or sad, however, if you can apply the same logic to a website or web page you can trick the algorithm for a little while until it realises that it is not what people want.

Remember your votes count and the more times you vote against something the lower it falls from the ranking.

It is a complex area though, and one that requires a more advanced understanding of ranking that is outwith the scope of this introductory Guide on Search Engine Ranking.

Does First Place Mean Much in Rankings?

You bet!

If your website turns up in position 1 on a search result, you would be getting in the region of 32% of users clicking that link. This was found in a study by Chitika in 2013. Their statistics for further ranking is amazing too. If you rank in the second spot you only get 17% of clicks and the third spot on Google, only 11%.

Basic Guide to Search Engine Ranking, Toisc Limited, First Place, How-to

Imaging you are on the second page of Google, even if you are fortunate to be ranked that high you will only be receiving 4.8% of all traffic visiting that page and the chances of you being clicked relate highly to what the users are specifically looking for.

Yes, first place means a lot in the world of websites. You want the best answer for any search you make, and a search engine tries to get that for you by placing the most relevant websites first.

Being relevant stems for the very basic and ordinary concept that your Content is what will drive people to visit you and it is content that causes you to click on that page.

Relevant Content Driven World

Content creation is important when you are creating anything. If you are a business you want your customers to be satisfied with your product when they leave the shop so they go out and tell all their friends about you and they come and buy products from you too.

Equally, if you read an article you will want to pass it on to those who would be interested in what you can learn from it.

Being content minded is very important. Above all else –

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Bring value to your users!

It is this value which will stand out. When you see others sharing what you have done, or created you know it is good. It is helping them to understand a topic or deal with a problem.

To rank on any search engine, the same philosophy is true. If you want a short cut, those exist – but they are short lived and often carry penalties later on when things go wrong.

Rather approach the area of ranking from a different perspective – Aim to be the best at what you do! Share the best advice, offer the most comprehensive reviews, go out of your way to take pride in your work.

It will show through and others will recognise it.

Concluding the Basic Guide to Search Engine Ranking

In writing the Basic Guide to Search Engine Ranking, there were areas that I wanted to focus on for a beginner. To understand ranking from the very basic and be able to build apon later.

There are plenty of sites which give vast detail in explaining Click Through Rates (CTR) or how to Rank Higher. This article was not for that purpose.

Understanding how you get results for a search is the first step to understanding that you need to bring value to your audience.

As I said at the beginning, if you have a basic learning principle we could all benefit from leave a comment below.

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