Search ranking or SEO ranking refers to the position a website or webpage holds within a specific search engine results page.
Search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Ask.com function largely by returning webpages and/or websites that best respond to a searcher's query. When you type a question into a search engine, these results will be displayed one at a time in a certain order. This ordering of results is what determines the ranking of a page, and where a given result ranks among the other results is determined by a number of factors.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an array of methods and techniques used to help a given page organically appear higher in the search engine results pages (SERP) of Google or other search engines. This does not include promoted results, or paid results at the top of a page that have an “ad” box next to the URL.
Rankings refer to where a website or webpage falls positionally on a SERP. For example, if your webpage is about insurance and you appear third in line on a SERP, you are ranked third. Effective SEO is important for ranking, because nearly 92% of internet traffic is generated by sites listed on page one of the SERP, and almost 33% of traffic is received by the first search result (excluding paid traffic).
SEO occurs on two levels; for human searchers, and for search engine bots. In order to optimize web pages best for bots, you need to take technical SEO and keyword placement into consideration. For any given search, Google’s ranking results could incorporate features such as image results, video, smart snippets (a piece of the page being displayed directly on the SERP), as well as answer boxes (where information from multiple pages is automatically cobbled together to create a quick, easy resource for searchers). It becomes increasingly necessary to think like a bot, because any of the items listed above can account for high or low ranking.
Page rankings are updated in real-time. In order for a website to maintain a particular ranking, or improve in ranking, the web page must be a constant work in progress that is adapted to new search queries in order to display notably higher in the SERPs. What ranks well today, may rank terribly tomorrow if you’re not invested in good SEO.
There are a variety of factors that influence search engine rankings. Search engines calculate search results via intricate, patented algorithms. Google does have general guidelines pertaining to how they calculate rankings, but, because Google’s algorithm is a closely guarded secret, it’s impossible to know everything about ranking factors. That being said, there are certain elements that have been observed to generally contribute to higher rankings:
Although the algorithms that establish rankings are widely unknown, there are techniques in SEO that have been proven to help achieve a higher ranking in the SERPs: