Why do competitor websites rank above mine?

24 January 2011

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New customers always ask us why their website is not performing well in the search engines. Here we answer one of our most commonly asked questions.

Page authority

Page authority is a term that we regularly use to explain the position of a page in its search engine ranking. More authority generally equals a higher ranking. But explaining why a page has more authority than another is often very difficult – especially to people who are new to SEO or have little understanding of how search engines work.

When we explain about page authority we always like to use the analogy of a reference library. Here’s why…

Search engines use their own algorithms to analyse websites looking for evidence of authority which they then use to rank the pages in what they believe is the most appropriate order. Whilst they don’t disclose how they do this, you can assume that it is essentially based on human logic (after all it is humans that programme the algorithms that power the searches). The main categories that we use to explain how this works are as follows (this could be a very long list, but this explanation is aimed at newbies so we’re trying to keep things relatively easy to digest!):

SEO performance criteria

Age

The age of a web page should improve its authority. Whilst this may seem somewhat unfair, it works in much the same way that a reference book of historical significance will generally be more widely known and referred to by academics. Being first on the scene can only ever be a good thing.

Content

Having exceptional, intelligent and well structured content should increase your page authority. No great book has ever achieved a status as an authoritative work without having the substance to back it up.

Indexing

How well the page is indexed (ie: how easy it is to find and how relevant the indexing is) is another important point that should determine page authority. After all, even if you have written the worlds’ greatest book, nobody is ever going to give it the recognition it deserves if people are unable to find it amongst all the other books on the shelf.

Backlink Authority

The number of other authoritative websites linking back to a web page should also improve its authority. This is in exactly the same way as book endorsements from famous, well-respected and knowledgeable people are more useful and trusted by the public than a review from somebody that no-one has ever heard of.

Backlink Relevance

The relevance of the subject matter on websites that link back to a web page should also improve its authority. This works in exactly the same way as a book review or endorsement from a leading academic in the field of the books subject, is bound to carry more weight than a review from someone in a completely different line of work.

These are some of the observations we use to help people understand some of the main principles of page authority and why some pages will rank above others for the same search terms. That said, they are not hard and fast rules and in a similar way to how modern reference books work, there is always room for a newer source to shake things up if it has the right content and offers something new to the discussion.

If you want to find out more about BML Creative’s SEO service, please contact us.

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