Search engine optimisation (SEO) can seem like a complex task if you are a just a beginner with limited online marketing experience. There is so much industry jargon and terminology, it easy to get confused quite quickly. I have written this article to break down some of the basic ranking factors that search engines use to rank sites.

1) Title Tags & Meta Descriptions

Your title tag is effectively the main topic of your page. It is the first line you will see for your result in search engine listings. It has been determined to be one of the most important search engine ranking factors and should contain relevant keywords that sum up the topic of your site. For example if your site is about LED TVs, the term LED TVs (or something similar) should appear in the title tag. The title tag should also be under 70 characters long. This is because search engines like Google will not index any content that appears after this limit has been reached.


Image above: Title tag and meta description for the Info Barrel home page

Your meta description is the 2 subsequent lines underneath your title tag in search engine listings. It is not actually a direct ranking factor, but I have included it in this article because it's quality will consequently effect how many people click through to your page. The meta description is essentially a piece of ad copy, a brief description that expands on the title tag to explain the nature of the page the user will visit if they click on it. Meta descriptions have an indexing limit of approximately 155 characters, so ensure they are within this limit as search engines will not index content beyond this point.

Alt Tags

Alternate text (or alt tags) are brief descriptions you assign for images on your page. As search engines can only read text, assigning alt tags to each image will help search engines uncover the topic of each image and consequently will improve their ability to rank your page appropriately. In addition, some users prefer to disable images been shown on their computer. Alt tags give these people a way to determine what the image is showing.


One of the most important ranking factors search engines look at is the number of authoritative external sites that link to your page (known as back links). For example, Google views back links from educational (.edu) and government (.gov) sites as being authoritative because educational institutions are deemed highly trusted and more reputable then say a link from a dodgy online gambling site. How one gain does links from these sites? Well you could sponsor a student event, start a charity, give career counselling to a university or better yet – run for parliament! If you are just looking to source back links from sites within your industry, start making contact with other webmasters through email. Ask for advice or tips on how they got their site to rank. The more contacts you make and networking you can do can lead to guest posting opportunities and back linking later down the line.

I hope these tips have been helpful. Just remember SEO is not a short-term, quick fix marketing strategy. Search engines such as Google have over 200 ranking factors and update their algorithm constantly every year. However, if you get the basics right (such as the factors above) and periodically review your site's SEO strategy, there is no reason as to why you shouldn't improve your ranking