Search Engine Positioning: Why It Matters & Best Practices

You probably have a website or application that you’re looking to market. Getting as many eyeballs on your site through better search engine rankings is important. So how much does search engine positioning factor into this endeavor?

A lot, as we’ll see in this article. Where you rank on Google directly affects how much organic traffic you can accumulate. According to a study, the first five organic results on the first page alone account for 67.6% of all clicks.

If you don’t have the budget to hire link building companies to help you increase your backlink profile, optimizing your blog articles it’s the best thing you can do.

Today, we’ll discuss the basics of search engine positioning and why it is a crucial metric to determine the overall success of your website online. By the end of this article, you’ll know which best practices to follow to try and vie for the coveted top spot on search engines.

What Is Search Engine Positioning (SEP)?

Search engine positioning refers to the process of refining web pages of a website, so they rank higher on search engines relative to specific keywords and search queries. It is a continuous process that involves various levels of tinkering to ensure higher rankings until a web page dominates the first spot on a search engine like Google.

Everyone wants to rank on Google’s first page. Let’s put this into practice and see for ourselves. If you were looking for a list of metal roofing companies in your area, would you be interested in opening any more than the first two to three pages that show up on Google or other search engines?

Probably not. It is why your search engine positioning plays a vital role in how successful your brand and website are going to be.

The process has many different components that all play a major role in how well a web page performs, but the primary factor is web content. And since Google is the most popular search engine today, most marketers and search engine optimization (SEO) specialists focus primarily on it. However, you can perform similar strategies for Bing and DuckDuckGo.

SEP is crucial for businesses, new and old. If done correctly, your site can begin to rank higher and even land on the first pages of the search engine of your preference.

For instance, if you owned a website that sold fire pits in San Diego, CA, you’d want to nudge your competition out of the way and rank above them. Whether you approach this on a city or state level depends on the target keywords you use for your website.

Search Engine Positioning Fire Pits Ahrefs keyword research

The keyword “fire pits USA” might be tempting to optimize for a page, but the chances of it ranking above the more established competition are scarce at best. It’s extremely hard to rank for, and the traffic potential is not even worth aiming for.

Search Engine Positioning Fire Pits San Diego Ahrefs keyword research

Search engine positioning helps you identify the right keywords to rank on your specific website or page. In this case, “fire pits San Diego” would give you a better shot at placing closer to the first page and within the eyes of your prospective target audience. Not only is it extremely easy to rank for, but it has better search volumes and greater traffic potential.

I. Understanding The Inner Workings

Almost all search engines follow the same principles for ranking websites, but typically, Google is the most favored due to its immense popularity. With its state-of-the-art algorithm based on artificial intelligence and machine learning, Google analyzes the existing content, its structure, design, and relationship with other websites to conclude how sought-after or “valuable” the page is compared to the competition.

To select the positioning of a web page, the search engine crawls the site to analyze its data and information present. The crawling indexes all web pages on the website and assesses all internal and external links.

It creates a web of all interconnected pages and other linked websites. The website is then analyzed based on the quality of content and its links to ensure all links pointing to and away from the website are stable and have great domain authority.

The next time someone enters a keyword or search query into the search engine, the search engine filters through the indexed pages to provide the best matching results. These pages are referred to as search engine results pages (SERPs).

Google Ranking Factors Diagram
Source: WordStream

SERPs can be affected by the following factors:

  • Website loading speed.
  • Previous search history.
  • Trustworthiness of a site.
  • Location of the searcher.
  • Keyword usage and density.
  • How mobile-friendly the site is.
  • Backlinks to a page from other sites.
  • Keyword synonyms and related topics.
  • How well it engages customers with the right info.
  • Keyword locations in URLs, title tags, and meta descriptions.

As you can see, a lot of data goes into providing the best SERPs on a search engine. Once the analysis is complete, search engines give numerical scores to each item on the page.

II. Search Engine Positioning vs. Search Engine Optimization

Considering search engine positioning as a different technique to search engine optimization is incorrect. The former comes under the umbrella of SEO and is an integral part of maintaining your website’s higher rankings. But they aren’t the same either.

Think of it as a Venn diagram. All aspects of SEP are part of an SEO strategy, but a complete SEO strategy has more to it than just search engine positioning.

SEP and SEO Venn Diagram

SEP is strictly related to page-level optimization, whereas SEO focuses beyond this scope. The term supports search engine positioning efforts and also emphasizes domain-level optimizations and enhancements.

Today’s SEO strategies include many other fundamental aspects of a website’s marketability and ranking and are primarily divided into three categories.

  • On-page SEO – This category deals with the website’s quality.
  • Off-page SEO – This category deals with the website’s authority.
  • Technical SEO – This category deals with the website’s health.

Technical SEO deals with aspects like website speed and design, how easy it is for search engines to crawl it, its user experience, sitemaps, and URL structure.

Off-page SEO handles backlinks, social media, guest posts, and reputation management. In contrast, On-page SEO includes everything from meta tags to keyword research and header tags to page content. One could argue that SEP slots well into the on-page category.

You can leverage the best on-page SEO tools to help you achieve your on-page goals for higher rankings.

The end goal of SEO is to increase the website’s domain authority. A strong authority can help search engine positioning efforts bring tangible results in the form of relevant traffic to specific pages. In comparison, SEP’s primary focus is to improve page ranking and works in a very limited but focused context.

The Importance Of Search Engine Positioning

We’ve mentioned why search engine positioning is a heavily implemented SEO tactic today. The most obvious reason is to help your web pages (and consequently, your website) rank higher in search engines regardless of which eCommerce platform it is built on. But most people aren’t aware of the inherent benefits of this positioning strategy besides the hotly-contested first spot.

Here are the 3 key benefits you can expect your website to experience with a great SEP strategy and implementation:

A. Greater Organic Traffic

Assuming you’ve ranked at the top spot on a popular search query, it is guaranteed that your web page will rake in the most organic traffic, as over 25% of the users are more likely to click on the first link they see. Especially compared to other competing links on the same search engine page.

Greater traffic to a web page will help the website’s overall ranking position, and a large percentage of users will naturally explore your site once there. It can signal search engines that your website has relevant quality content, bringing other web pages to the forefront too.

B. Beat The Competition

It’s almost impossible to build a brand that caters to such a niche market that it has no competitors at all. Regardless of your business model, you’re going to have competing companies vying to take business (and online search traffic) away from you.

A good positioning strategy can help your brand stay relevant as it consistently places higher on organic search results compared to the competition. Users will also be more likely to consider your products/services since you “got to them first.”

C. Generate More Revenue

Increase revenue with SEP mobile stats
Source: Ahrefs

During the pandemic, when the economic situation had deteriorated, and businesses were either filing for bankruptcy or looking for alternatives to bankruptcy, only online businesses remained afloat, particularly those with a strong search engine positioning strategy in place.

Search engine positioning is a great long-term strategy affecting your sales and revenue. While the investment cost to ensure you’re placed high on search engines is substantial at first, over time, as the clicks convert to sales, you’ll get your return on investment.

But SEP demands consistency and isn’t a stop-gap solution to fix web page issues in the short term. If revenue generation for your brand is your end goal, SEP may not be the best option to deploy.

Finding SEP For Your Web Page

Figuring out your web page’s SEP is a pretty straightforward process if you have the right rank tracking tools. Google Search Console is a popular platform for finding your page’s SEP within the index or program. Its performance section ranks common queries for your website and indicates where pages or specific content rank in SERPs on Google for that query.

Google Search Console dashboard search results

You can then view the actual pages by clicking on the keyword and then clicking the pages tab.

If your website showcases your company’s services in strategic processing, you can view how web pages rank on the search query “strategic planning process” through the console. It will provide you with a rundown of the common queries related to your site and rank all indexed web pages accordingly.

All website managers can benefit from learning the Google Search Console. It is a vital tool in any digital marketing department and can help optimize web pages to get better positioning. Rankings are never permanent so having a marketing automation tool by your side that can deploy and track the changes is vital for all companies and website administrators.

6 Search Engine Positioning Best Practices

Knowing what SEP is and how to track it over time is only one part of the job. The other aspect deals with the changes and modifications you can start making to improve your search engine positioning.

With these steps, you’re guaranteed to start increasing the SEP for your web pages:

1. Organic Clickthrough Rate (CTR) Is Important

CTR per SEO ranking position graph
Source: Reliablesoft

CTR is the ratio of how often visitors, to whom your website links or listings are visible, end up clicking on it. It is Google’s benchmark to determine how popular a particular brand or web page is.

Search engines use organic CTR to assess the most relevant results to show searchers. Google Search Console can help you locate your average CTR; improving it should be the primary focus of your SEP endeavors.

Ultimately, if you have a website that showcases your company’s services to prospective clients but scores low on organic CTR, it’ll hurt your SEO and SEP efforts.

The average CTR for most web pages is between 2% and 4%. Any percentage above and your website is immediately signaled as incredibly popular to search engines. This could help you go up a few spots for search engine positioning.

Increase your CTR by searching for Google Ads on the same topic as your page and evaluate those snippets and pieces of content. Copy the trending format, and you may start competing with the rest.

2. Re-Optimize Old Content

Content can very quickly become outdated. Ensure every bit of information on your web pages is updated and that they follow the latest updates and rules. Ensuring your highest-ranking pages are near-perfect is also vital, as this can help bump them even higher in the rankings.

Ensure that your SEO and content development teams work together as one unit to ensure all content is re-optimized frequently. This practice will ensure your pages rank high with algorithm updates to search engines and other minor changes.

You can begin by updating statistics older than a few years and optimizing the introduction and conclusion paragraphs on blog entries and inner pages. Ensuring that your headings and subheadings are questions with answers below can help you feature in Google’s featured snippets.

You can use an SEO tool like NeuronWriter to optimize your meta description and title tag for better search engine placement.

3. Speed Up Website Loading Times

Factoring out user internet speeds, your website should load within seconds of clicking. With diminishing attention spans in users and plenty of “faster” alternatives that Google pushes at them, ensuring you’re the first to load is important.

PageSpeed Insights Mobile Core Web Vitals Assessment Passed

The page speed is mainly dependent on your website design, JavaScript structure, and the number of integrated third-party tools. To determine the page speed, Core Web Vitals are used, which are user-centric metrics and include the following:

  • First Input Delay (FID): FID measures the amount of time between a user’s initial interaction with a page and the moment the browser is actually able to start processing the request. A FID time of 100 ms or less will be considered good by Google.
  • Time to First Byte (TTFB): It measures the time when the request was made by the user and the first byte of that information actually arrived. Any time less than 0.8 seconds is considered a good TTFB.
  • First Contentful Paint (FCP): It measures the time when the screen starts to load to when the first content is displayed to the users on their screens. The FCP score of your web pages must be less than 1.8 seconds to score higher.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): It measures the unexpected shifts in the layouts of a web page throughout its lifetime. It accumulates these shifts and generates a score. You must try to keep the CLS score at 0.1 or less.
  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): It is the measurement of time your web page takes to display the largest image or text block to the user. This time should be kept under 2.5 seconds for all web pages.

4. Focus On Internal Links

How PageRank works
Source: Ahrefs

Internal linking is an effective SEO strategy that helps search engine positioning too. Ensure that you add internal links on the highest authority pages and that they direct to pages where you’re trying to increase SEP.

Ahrefs and Semrush are two great SEO tools for link building and can identify pages with the most link authority. When implementing this strategy, use relevant anchor text for your links. Search engines pick up on these to understand the context of the page.

However, it can very easily start to look like spam if all your anchor texts are the same. While Google has admitted to not penalizing websites with many exact-match anchor texts, it is better to stick to the safe side and mix it up a bit. Using tools for SEO will help you monitor these issues.

5. Avoid Keyword Cannibalization

The simplest and most common mistake we find with SEO teams is the overindulgence of keywords. It means that the particular keyword is “stuffed” into the page repeatedly.

While repetitions are important, repeating the same phrases and long-tail keywords can signal a massive red flag to Google since this practice is now entirely obsolete. It is also the biggest culprit of lower-ranking pages. Use a combination of primary keywords and some secondary keywords having good search volumes to avoid pages from the same site competing with each other.

This trend is most commonly seen when people are starting out new blogs for their existing websites and feel they can include as many keywords as possible in one blog entry. Depending on the amount of content you have on the site, it can work. However, my advice is to always use different keywords regardless of where they’re intended to be placed.

6. Update Broken Links

Consistency in high organic positioning comes down to functional links on your pages. Ensure that your SEO teams manage tasks accordingly to check whether on-page links are still directed to their intended sources.

Internal link management may be easier to check if you haven’t updated the website or page URLs. But external links are the biggest problem here since they’re highly susceptible to updates and breaking. It is an important aspect of improving SEP since broken links can diminish user experience. Visitors may leave and avoid clicking your links in SERPs.

Search Engine Positioning FAQs

What’s the difference between search engine positioning and search engine optimization?

Search engine positioning and search engine optimization are not the same thing. The first is the act of getting your website higher on the results page, while the latter relates to the process of optimizing your website for search engines.

Search engine positioning refers to how high or low a website ranks in search results. It can be measured by looking at factors like keyword density, click-through rates, page views, and other metrics. SEO experts use these factors to determine if a site will rank well for particular keywords or phrases. In a nutshell, SEP refers to the ongoing process of optimizing web pages for appearing on search results.

SEO refers to many different strategies that can help you get more traffic from search engines. These include increasing the quantity and quality of backlinks and adjusting your content. Hence, it’s more relevant to what people are looking for online and improving user experience through things like better navigation and internal linking schemes.

Why is search engine positioning important?

Search engine positioning is important as it helps you get found by your target audience.

The Internet has changed the way we search for products and services. Instead of flipping through a magazine or newspaper, we now turn to search engines like Google and Bing for answers to our questions.

By implementing a search engine positioning strategy, you can improve your website’s visibility on search engines. Rank tracking tools can be of great benefit for your SEP efforts.

How does search engine positioning work?

Search engines use algorithms to determine how much weight should be given to each factor when ranking a page for a particular query. These algorithms take into account things like content length, keyword density (how many times a keyword appears on the page), the number of links from other sites pointing at your page, and many other factors.

Providing useful content for users is the most crucial thing you can do. If someone comes across your site while doing research or looking for information, they should be able to find what they’re looking for easily and quickly without having to click through multiple pages or scroll through large blocks of text.

This means ensuring all your content has been properly optimized and categorized so that it can be easily found by search engines and visitors browsing manually through your website pages.

To Conclude

Search engine positioning isn’t an easy strategy to implement by any means, but it is consistently in the limelight today due to the immense value it presents. In an ideal world, everyone’s web pages are ranked the highest based on whether it is relevant to users in terms of content or not.

But things seldom go ideally, and competition is fierce in the search engine ranking space. With a complete understanding of SEP and its best practices, you’re one step ahead of your competition in implementing better strategies to ensure you’re placed higher on Google and have better conversions. The key element to note is to begin today.


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