Search Engines - how to increase your ranking

This is a beginners guide to search engine optimization. We'll show you how to achieve long term high rankings for your pages by making them more useful and more relevant.

To rank well in Google, or any other search engine, your site must be useful and relevant.

We'll use Google as an example throughout these pages. This is because Google has a massive share of the search engine market, but also because other search engines work in much the same way.

How do search engines rank pages?

A search for "Computer" will return millions of results, but the search engine only has room for 10 results on the first page. Search engines have to be very selective.

Google uses two factors to determine usefulness and relevancy and these are covered in our other search engine pages:

A further consideration is accessibility - making sure Google can actually view your pages.

Link popularity and usefulness

Link popularity (or pagerank) was the technology that made Google's search engine so successful. Google realized that if a page was useful, then other sites on the internet would link to it. If that page was very useful, hundreds of other sites would link to it.

"To rank well .... your site must be useful and relevant."

Google developed this idea further. It decided that if a page it had already established as very useful linked to another page, then there would be a fair chance that the linked page would also be very useful, and would rank it accordingly.

Google is constantly developing it's algorithm. If many websites about computers link to a certain web site, then Google will think that site is useful in the field of computers, and increase that site's ranking for searches regarding computers.

Link popularity is covered in more detail in the guide to link popularity.

Content and relevance

The content of your site is important. If your site was about paper aeroplanes, then you might feature in search results about paper aeroplanes, but would be unlikely to feature for "hot dogs".

"To rank well .... your site must be useful and relevant."

When you visit a web page you can normally figure out the theme pretty quickly. The human brain is very good at that sort of thing. Unfortunately, it would be too expensive for humans to visit every web page, so Google use computer algorithms to try to figure out what the web page is about.

These algorithms are constantly improving, but there are still a few things you need to do to help Google work out what your pages are all about. These are detailed in the guide to web page optimization.

Accessibility for search engine robots

Search engines use computer programs called "spiders" or "robots" which follow links around the web and read the content of web sites.

Robots can't currently follow JavaScript links, so if a drop down menu is your only form of site navigation then the robots won't be able to view the contents of most of your site. The capability of robots is examined in the guide to search engine robots.

Search Engine Submission

Why is this section so far down on the page? It's because it's not important. Search engines won't bother listing your site unless you have a number of inbound links from other sites.

There is no point in submitting to search engines. Get some inbound links, they will follow the links, find your site, and rank you accordingly.


Link popularity

Web page optimization

More ranking factors

Accessibility for robots

What not to do

Search Engine Glossary

Web Accessibility

Website Specification

Search Engine Optimisation

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Web Design Guide

Web Standards

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