SEO for Small Business – What Factors Influence My Rankings in Google?

What influences search ranking

This is the second in our series on Search Engine Optimisation for Small Business. If you missed the first post, you might be interested in finding out “What is SEO?” first.


In order to develop a good understanding of SEO, you need to first understand the factors that influence your Google ranking. Search engines focus on what are called “keywords”. Keywords are the common search phrases that people type into the search engines. A keyword can be single word or a group of words. Search engines like Google have “robots” that travel the web and make a note of the text on each website. This is called “indexing”. Google uses its index to determine the websites it displays in the search results.

For example, when someone types in “golf shoes”, Google searches its index and then displays what it believes to be the best websites for “golf shoes”. The top website is ranked number 1 and it shows up first in the search results (just below any paid advertisements that may show up at the top of the page in yellow). Most businesses attempt to get ranked in the top 10 search results for their most important keywords, because only 10 results are shown on the first page. So, how does Google determine which websites are “the best”? Good question. Google keeps their search algorithms secret and also changes them from time to time (to prevent people from “gaming” the system). But through observation and trial and error, search engine optimization (SEO) experts have a good idea of which factors have the most influence, these being:

  • Keyword repetition (how often a keyword is found on a page)
  • Keyword placement (whether the keyword is found in certain key parts of the page like the title, headings and underlined links)
  • Website domain trust/authority (how old the website domain is and the quality of other domains that link to it)
  • Link Popularity (how many websites link to a specific page and what the anchor text of those links is)

Of these factors the two that are the easiest for business owners to control are the keyword repetition and placement. We will talk about how to do keyword research in a future post but the next post in this series will explain the difference between organic search results and paid search results.

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