The lovely folks at recently released their 2015 ranking factors report that surveys search marketers. Although these reports are highly insightful and very helpful, the search industry as a whole likes to weave these results into a scientific data-sweater of fancy words that your normal business owner doesn’t have time to decode.

I don't have time for this!

Fear not, local business owners! From surveys to correlations, we are going to give it to you in plain English. #KISS

With over 15o marketers surveyed over 90 different ranking factors, we will cover the ones most relevant to SMBs and their websites, broken down into manageable building blocks.

Building Block A

Page-Level Keyword Usage Features (or stuff that is on your website)

The survey says that:

“These features describe use of the keyword term/phrase in particular parts of the HTML code on the page (title element, H1s, alt attributes, etc.) as well as semantic relevance and language modeling of the given keywords.”

To the non-SEO expert, this translates into two things: “technical” and “does the stuff you are writing on your page relate to what you want to rank for?”

These two things for small business websites are a pretty big deal, so keep reading!



“Technical” ranking factors deal with the way your website is structured within the code. These things help organize and present the information you put on your page just like the formatting in a document. They consist of various heading sizes, bolded words, and other factors.

Headings and Titles

If you are trying to rank for “blue widgets” than you would more than likely put “blue widgets” in your Title tag and H1 tag. The title tag is equivalent to the spine of a book.  It usually consists of what you are trying to rank for, and who you are (ie: Jimmy’s Shop of Blue Widgets) H1 would be the main heading (think how they put bigger words for chapter titles in books) for your page. It will tell people and the search engines – “Hey! this page will be about blue widgets!” There are 6 levels of H tags (heading tags H1-H6) so you can select the importance of your headings. Most business websites should find H1-H3 sufficient.  A typical Heading Structure would be broken down in sections like:

  • Title – Jimmy’s Shop of Blue Widgets in Sometown, USA
  • H1- Blue Widgets
    • H2- About Blue Widgets
      • H3- Where these Blue Widgets come from
    • H2 – Why Blue Widgets are Cool
      • H3 – All your friends have blue widgets!
    • H2 – Why you should buy Blue Widgets
      • H3 – Order your Blue Widgets here!

Really, you are building a good outline and template for the content on your page that revolves around selling blue widgets.  Once that is done, it’s time to put in the rest of your content to fit around this overall structure of your titles and headings.


Query-Document Relevance (or does the stuff you are writing on your page relate to what you want to rank for?)

Query-Document relevance, semantic, and other fancy words that talk about your content, are, at the end of the day, concerned with “can the search engine determine through its robot mind, that your page will help people who are searching for blue widgets?” The goal for your content is to not only give your users relevant information, but to get the search engine robots to also understand it and classify it correctly.


Your page should be talking about blue widgets to the point where it makes sense.  A lot of people fail to understand that in 2015, the search engines (or skynet 😉 ) are pretty intelligent with their language-intent formulas, and putting “blue widgets” on your page 1000000000 times is as harmful to it as not mentioning it at all.  Simply put, your content has to be human readable (since that’s all robots want to be!) and give off the overall blue widgets theme. Anything unnatural sounding will cause fits for your rankings.  Let’s face it, no one wants to read:

“Blue widgets are blue and are widgets, so come to Jimmy’s for widgets that are blue, or blue widgets for all your blue widgets needs, blue.widgets.”

My next post on Ranking Factors (Building Block B) will cover the stuff that isn’t on your page, but can also really help or really hurt your rankings on the search engines.

Until next time!