What it Takes to Rank

There are essentially 3 elements

Source Hubspot

It is not difficult to get your website to index and even rank on the search engines. However, getting your website to rank for specific keywords can be tricky. There are essentially 3 elements that a search engine considers when determining where to list a website on the SERP: rank, authority, and relevance.

Rank

Rank is the position that your website physically falls in on the SERP when a specific search query is entered.

If you are the first website in the organic section of the SERP (don't be confused by the paid ads at the very top), then your rank is 1. If your website is in the second position, your rank is 2, and so on. As discussed previously in How Search Engines Work, your rank is an indicator of how relevant and authoritative your website is in the eyes of the search engine, as it relates to the search query entered

Tracking how your website ranks for a specific keyword over time is a good way to determine if your SEO techniques are having an impact. However, since there are so many other factors beyond your control when it comes to ranking, do not obsess over it. If your website jumps 1-5 spots from time to time, that's to be expected. It's when you jump 10, 20, 30 spots up in the rankings that it makes sense to pat yourself on the back.

Authority

As previously discussed in the How Search Engines Work section, search engines determine how authoritative and credible a website's content is by calculating how many inbound links (links from other websites) it has. However, the number of inbound links does not necessarily correlate with higher rankings. The search engines also look at how authoritative the websites that link to you are, what anchor text is used to link to your website, and other factors such as the age of your domain.

You can track over time how authoritative your website is by monitoring a few different metrics. There are a variety of tools to help you keep track. HubSpot offers a free tool called Website Grader that will show you how many domains are linking to your website, and also provide your website's

Moz rank.

MozRank is SEOmoz's general, logarithmically scaled 10-point measure of global link authority or popularity. It is very similar in purpose to the measures of link importance used by the search engines (e.g., Google's PageRank).

Relevance

Relevance is a one of the most critical factors of SEO. The search engines are not only looking to see that you are using certain keywords, but they are also looking for clues to determine how relevant your content is to a specific search query. Besides actual text on your webpages, the search engines will review your website‟s structure, use of keywords in your URLs, page formatting (such as bolded text), and what keywords are in the headline of the webpage versus those in the body text.

While there is no way to track how relevant your website is, there are some SEO basics you can practice to cover your bases and make sure you are giving the search engines every possible opportunity to consider your website. We'll get to that in just a bit.

Search engines are extremely complex.

Bottom line: the search engines are trying to think like human beings. It is very easy to get caught up in modifying your website's content just so you rank on the search engines. When in doubt, always err on the side of providing relevant and coherent content that your website's audience (your prospects) can digest.

If you find yourself doing something solely for the search engines, you should take a moment to ask yourself why.

Read more about SEO