Page ranking is the basis of how search engines operate. By giving each page a rating based on the page‘s quality and relevancy, search engines can begin to differentiate between quality sites and inferior sites. Through SEO practices, a company will improve their overall quality and thus improve their ranking in search engines. Since search engines want to give the best product possible to searchers, rankings assure users that they are getting the best search possible.

For each of the major search engines like Google, Yahoo!, or MSN Search, the results are displayed based on page rank. The best sites that most relate to the keywords used will appear at the top of the ranking, while sites that use those keywords less or aren‘t as related to those keywords will appear further down in the rankings. Almost every search engine will then display results for the user from most to least relevant.

The search engine‘s rank of pages takes several characteristics into consideration. If a user types “classic cars” into a search engine, they‘ll get results that are ranked in order of relevancy to the topic. The first site listed on the search engine results page will relate closely to the words “classic cars,” and may be a company that sells classic cars, an article about various types of classic cars, or other information that‘s highly relevant to those keywords. There may be millions of results given, but the search engine only displays about ten listings per page. The results on top are the most relevant, and relevancy to the keyword shrinks further down on the listings.

Since search engines typically display only about 10 listings at a time and the vast majority of users will only click on the first page of results page, ranking is very competitive. With some search terms, the user may end up with millions of sites in their results. Of those people who only click on the first page of a search engine results page, the majority of those users will only click on the first three results. Competition for the top three spots on Google for a popular search term can turn fierce. Some companies will pay exorbitant sums of money and time just to be in the top three listings of popular search terms like “jobs,” “cars,” or “dating.”

The goal of SEO practitioners is to increase page rank. This ranking is most critical because this ranking indicates where a particular page will appear on a search engine and thus how many visitors that page can expect. There‘s no guaranteed or surefire way to directly increase page ranking, though. Because there are so many factors, and because these factors are often kept secret by the search engines, SEO practitioners may find themselves frustrated when trying to achieve better ranking. However, there are still many surefire techniques that will help increase a site‘s page rank and maintain that high ranking as time goes on.

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