What is Search Engine Rank?

G. Melanson

A search engine rank is the order in which a web page appears in the list of results after any given terms are entered into a search engine. For example, if a word or combination of words is entered into a search engine such as Google, whichever web page appears at the top of the results list has the “number one search engine rank” for those keywords. A website’s search engine rank is of critical importance to the site’s marketing, promotion, and overall presence on the Internet. As such, various strategies are often employed to elevate a website’s search engine rank in searches that contain keywords that the website’s target audience may be searching for. The deployment of these techniques is typically referred to as Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Search engine optimization is the preparation and tweaking of a web page so that it is both highly visible to and highly ranked in search engines.
Search engine optimization is the preparation and tweaking of a web page so that it is both highly visible to and highly ranked in search engines.

The placement and frequency of keywords in a website’s text are factors which search engines use to determine a website’s search engine rank for certain keywords. For example, if a website that sells watches wants to attract customers looking for a watch online, they should ensure that the word “watch” as well as other related terms, such as “wristwatch” or various watch brand names are used frequently throughout the text. This causes a search engine’s “crawlers” to pick up on the keywords in a website and deem that site relevant to those search terms. Search engines also consider the actual terms included the website’s URL to be highly relevant. Therefore, a website which has a URL containing the exact terms that someone has entered into a search engine will achieve a higher search engine rank.

Well-written content will help improve a site's search engine ranking.
Well-written content will help improve a site's search engine ranking.

Another way to elevate a website’s search engine rank is to ensure that it is linked to other websites on the Internet. Otherwise, a search engine crawler will take longer to reach that website as it considers its presence on the Internet to be less relevant. In 2003, a group of webmasters united to each include a hyperlink on their website labeled “Miserable Failure” and link it to a biography of George W. Bush on the White House’s official site. As a result, Google searches for “miserable failure” yielded the President’s biography page as the number one search engine rank for those keywords.

SEO companies offer services that are devoted to helping a website achieve a higher search engine rank. They typically assess which types of keywords the website’s target audience would most likely enter into a search engine and then re-write the website’s copy to include those keywords more prominently and frequently, to make the site more “keyword dense.”

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