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The Factors that Play a Role in Your Web Site's Ranking
By Courtney Heard
Have you ever had a proposal, estimate or quote for search engine optimization work and wondered what goes into the pricing? What makes one site need more work than another? Why do some sites increase rankings faster than others? Why do some sites get more traffïc from their top page ranking than yours?

There are so many aspects of a web site that can decrease or boost your search engine rankings. Each web site is as unique as DNA and as such, will react differently to different marketing treatments.

What are these different factors that go into your web site's ranking? Below is a list of the most important aspects:

1. The State of Your Site Prior to the Optimization - Your web site can have many different attributes that contribute to its ability to rank well or not so well. Your site's PageRank for example, if your PR is a 0/10 or 1/10, it's going to take a lot longer and a lot more work to get your site ranking well. If your site is poorly designed, contains frames or is written entirely in Flash, a lot of work will be required to redesign your site so that it is search engine friendly. If your site has very few incoming links, a fair amount of link development will have to be done in order for you to see the rankings and traffïc you're after. A web site that has been around for a while and developed its PageRank, has a search engine friendly design and obtains links on a frequent basis, will be able to reach top positions much faster than other sites, once an optimization campaign is under way.

2. The Keywords You Are Targeting - Some keywords are less competitive than others. If you search Google for a keyword or keyword phrase, you'll see at the top of the results how many web pages are listed in those results. That is the amount of web sites that are competing with yours to reach top page placement for that keyword or keyword phrase. For example, the keyword phrase "web design" has approximately 303 million web pages listed in the results, whereas if you search for my name in quotations, "courtney heard", you will see that there are only 508 web pages listed in the results.

It is therefore, much easier to rank well for the keywords "courtney heard" than it is for web design. This is why you must choose keywords wisely. With tools such as wordtracker.com, you can find out approximately how many searches are performed for a given keyword or keyword phrase. The more competitive those keywords are, the higher the cost will be to optimize your web site and the longer the optimization will take.

3. The Size of Your Target Market - If your site is targeting a global market, it will take a lot more effort to reach the top ten search results than if your site is targeting a regional market. It also depends on what sort of market you're targeting. If your site sells a product that only a small group of people will be interested in purchasing, your site will be optimized easier than if the product or service appealed to the global population. For instance, the keyword phrase "real estate" will require a lot more effort to reach top page placement for than "real estate Canada" and even "real estate Vancouver".

4. Competitor Sites' SEO Campaigns - You might find that once your optimization campaign is under way, your site jumps and slips and jumps and slips several times. This can be due to many things, but the one we'll look at is your competitors' sites SEO campaigns. If your competitors are aggressively optimizing their own sites for search engines, they can also be achieving new rankings and displacing your site. This brings us to our 5th and final point...

5. Your Own SEO and Link Development Campaign - Your own link development and SEO campaign should be thorough, covering all the aspects of a well optimized site and utilizing all your resources for obtaining incoming links. If your SEO campaign isn't approached properly, your competitors can surpass you in the rankings easily. You must be aware of your competition and adjust your efforts accordingly.

As you can see, there are many, many things that make your site unique in the services it requires. Some sites can reach top page placement by just changing a title tag, while others wait 6 months to even be listed on Google. The bottom line is, educate yourself, ask questions, choose the right SEO company and be patient. In time, your top page placement will come.

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