Understand what influences search engine rankings

Improve your search engine optimisation

Published: 29 Apr 2024

Last updated: 03 Apr 2024

Read time: minutes


Make no mistake, competition for online visibility is fierce, mastering the art of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is paramount for businesses, especially startups and SMEs looking to make their mark and gain an audience. But what are the key factors that influence SEO rankings? There are many things you can do when it comes to optimising a website and improving your rankings, which this blog discusses, shedding light on the strategies that can propel your website to the top of search engine results pages.

Understanding the SEO Ecosystem

Before we start, let's take a moment to understand the SEO ecosystem. Search engines like Google continuously evolve their algorithms to deliver the most relevant and valuable content to users. As a result, SEO is not a one-size-fits-all approach but rather a dynamic interplay of various factors.

While it is crucial that your content and pages are tailored to your audiences needs, it also needs to follow SEO best practices to be favoured among search engines. Search engines are incredibly powerful and smart, tailoring your approach to ensure a thumbs up from platforms like Google is just as valuable as the quality of the content. 

On-Page Optimisation

Crafting compelling content lies at the heart of on-page SEO – the king that reigns supreme.

Definition: The process of optimising individual web pages to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines.

Example: Optimising meta tags, headings, and content on a webpage to include relevant keywords and improve its visibility in search results.

Regularly audit your website's on-page elements (titles, meta descriptions, headers) and ensure they contain relevant keywords and provide clear, concise descriptions of your content.

Here's how you can optimise your on-page elements to captivate both search engines and your target audience:

1. Content Quality
Judging quality content involves the measure of how valuable, relevant, and engaging the content is to the target audience. Providing comprehensive information or engaging content that solves the reader's problem effectively is the goal, so understanding your audience is key.

The foundation of any successful SEO strategy is high-quality content that resonates with your audience's needs and interests. Invest time in crafting compelling, informative, and engaging content that adds value

2. Keyword Optimisation:
Keywords are the compass that guides search engines to your content. Conduct thorough keyword research and strategically integrate relevant keywords into your titles, headers, meta descriptions, and body copy.

Strategically placing keywords and utilising semantic keywords and relationships help towards improving visibility in search engine results.

Use keyword research tools, or search Google's frequently asked questions/related questions. Natural inclusion of these keywords throughout the content is important, you should focus on user intent rather than keyword density. 

3. Page Structure:
Structure your content for easy readability and navigation. Clear headings, bullet points, and proper HTML markup not only enhance user experience but also make it easier for search engine crawlers to understand your content.

Keeping in mind that we need to target both our audience and search engines, your content should flow, using headings and bullet points helps to break the content down.

4. Page Speed and Mobile Friendliness:
In today's fast-paced digital world, users expect lightning-fast loading times and seamless experiences across devices. Ensure your website is optimised for speed and mobile responsiveness to cater to the ever growing mobile audience.
Use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights and Lighthouse to identify and address speed and mobile-friendliness issues on your website. Optimise images, minimise CSS and JavaScript, and implement responsive design to improve performance.

5. URL Structure for Seamless Navigation:
Your website's URL structure is crucial for guiding users and search engines. Clear, concise URLs enhance user experience and aid in crawling and indexing. Incorporate relevant keywords and organise URLs logically for user-friendly navigation.

6. Internal Linking:
Internal linking is vital for guiding users and distributing authority across your site. Strategically interlink related pages to improve navigation and reinforce topical relevance, shaping the flow of traffic and coherence of your website. 

7. User Experience to Delight and Engage:
User experience (UX) is central to SEO success. Prioritise intuitive navigation, responsive design, and fast-loading pages to captivate and convert visitors.

Conduct user testing to identify pain points and areas for improvement on your website to guide any design changes, navigation enhancements, and performance optimisations. 

Off-Page Optimisation

While on-page optimisation lays the foundation, off-page SEO factors play a pivotal role in establishing your website's authority and credibility. 

Definition: SEO activities conducted outside of a website to improve its search engine rankings. 

Example: Guest blogging on external websites to earn backlinks and expand the site's online presence.

1. Backlinks:
Backlinks from authoritative and relevant websites serve as votes of confidence for your content. Focus on acquiring high-quality backlinks through strategic outreach, content partnerships, and guest blogging.

2. Social Signals:
While not a direct ranking factor, social media engagement can amplify your content's reach and indirectly impact SEO rankings. Cultivate an active presence on social platforms to foster brand awareness and engagement.

3. Brand Authority:
Building a strong brand presence can enhance your website's authority in the eyes of search engines. Invest in branding initiatives, thought leadership, and community engagement to establish credibility within your niche.

Consistently deliver high-quality content and engage with your audience to build credibility over time.

4. Local SEO:
Master local SEO tactics to dominate local search results and attract nearby customers. Optimise Google My Business listings, solicit positive reviews, and create geo-targeted content to establish a prominent local presence.

5. Domain Authority:
Domain authority reflects your website's trust and credibility. Consistently deliver high-quality content, earn authoritative backlinks, and cultivate a loyal audience to bolster your reputation.

Build relationships with influencers and thought leaders in your industry to earn mentions and backlinks from reputable sources.

6. Securing Your Website with HTTPS Encryption:
HTTPS encryption is essential for safeguarding data and instilling trust. Secure your website to prioritise data privacy and gain a competitive advantage in search engine rankings.

Ensure that all pages on your website are served over HTTPS to protect user privacy and enhance security.

7. XML Sitemaps:
XML sitemaps provide search engines with a blueprint of your website. Submitting an XML sitemap expedites crawling and indexing, ensuring prompt discovery of your latest updates and additions.

Generate an XML sitemap for your website and submit it to search engines like Google via Google Search Console. Regularly update your XML sitemap to include new pages and remove outdated ones, ensuring that search engines can easily discover and index your content.

Technical Optimisation

Ensuring seamless user experience behind the scenes, technical optimisation ensures that your website is easily accessible and navigable for both users and search engine crawlers. 

Definition: Improving the technical aspects of a website to enhance its visibility and performance in search engine results.

Example: Optimising site speed, fixing broken links, and resolving crawl errors to improve overall website health and search engine rankings.

1. Site Architecture:
A well-structured website with intuitive navigation enhances user experience and facilitates efficient crawling and indexing by search engines. Organise your content hierarchy logically and implement internal linking to connect related pages.

2. Schema Markup:
Incorporating schema markup into your HTML code helps search engines understand the context of your content, leading to enhanced visibility in rich snippets and featured snippets.

3. Crawlability and Indexability:
Ensure that your website is easily crawlable and indexable by search engine bots. Submitting an XML sitemap and resolving crawl errors promptly can improve your website's visibility in search results.

User Signals

Elevating user engagement user signals provide valuable insights into the relevance and quality of your content. By optimising for user engagement, you can create a more compelling and impactful online presence.

Definition: Metrics that indicate how users interact with a website, such as click-through rate (CTR) and dwell time.

Example: A high click-through rate (CTR) indicates that users find a search result relevant and compelling, while a low dwell time may suggest that the content is not engaging or relevant to the user's query.

1. Click-Through Rate (CTR):
Crafting enticing meta titles and descriptions can improve your CTR, leading to higher organic traffic and improved search rankings. Test different variations of your titles and descriptions to optimise your CTR and improve your organic search performance.

2. Dwell Time:
Encourage users to spend more time on your website by delivering valuable and engaging content. Aim to provide comprehensive answers to their queries and address their pain points effectively. Use multimedia, interactive elements, and clear calls to action to encourage users to explore more pages and spend more time engaging with your content.


In the ever-evolving landscape of SEO, understanding the factors that influence rankings is essential for businesses striving to enhance their online visibility and drive organic traffic. By embracing a holistic approach that encompasses on-page optimisation, off-page strategies, technical excellence, and user-centric principles, startups and SMEs can unlock the full potential of SEO and chart a course towards digital success.

With the right strategy and execution, the sky's the limit for your online presence. Are you ready to soar to new heights with SEO? Contact our dedicated team today to see how we can propel your SEO strategy. 

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