Most people know that search engine optimization (SEO) is required to get a website to rank on the first page of search results. While that’s true, you might be wondering exactly how much of your results are within your control.

Is any part of search engine ranking left to chance? Or can a site’s rankings be completely controlled if only Google executives would reveal all of their secrets?

While Google executives aren’t likely to spill the beans anytime soon, you have more control over your site’s ranking than you think. The challenge is knowing where to place your focus and how much effort to spend on each component of SEO.

Quality backlinks give you the strongest SEO leverage

While the art of SEO is continuously evolving, the basics never change – backlinks, relevant content, and a mobile-friendly design are SEO pillars. In fact, link building through quality content marketing is the oldest and most important SEO component. If you have just one competitor, you need quality backlinks to rank.

Search engines are built to favor backlinks

The first version of Google (called ‘Backrub’) was programmed to rank webpages based on the number of backlinks pointing to that page. The algorithm was fairly simple. When multiple webpages with similar content matched a search, the page with more backlinks would rank higher in the results pages. The idea was that better content was linked to more often.

Better content still commands more links. However, ranking power generated by backlinks is no longer about quantity but rather quality. Today’s search engines have the ability to scrutinize the source, quality, and relevance of links pointing to a webpage. And a high quality backlink profile tells search engines your website is genuinely important.

Backlinks aren’t the only way you can control your rankings

In addition to releasing periodic updates that seem to skew search results for some websites, Google (and other search engines) won’t divulge the exact algorithms used to rank webpages. However, we know that Google’s algorithm considers more than 200 ranking factors.

If you’re new to SEO, that number will probably make your head spin. However, many of Google’s ranking factors are simple. For example, the following technicalities are small but critical:

  • Maintaining a fast TTFB (time to first byte) page loading speed
  • Using alt tags for images
  • Using H1, H2, and H3 tags
  • Linking only to authoritative websites
  • Adequate internal links
  • Fixing broken links
  • Fixing 404 errors using redirects
  • Using Valid HTML
  • Using an SSL certificate
  • And more

With enough time and hard work, you can greatly increase your site’s ranking

 Taking the time to develop a solid SEO strategy is worth the effort. According to data aggregated by Search Engine Journal, brands spent an estimated $79.27 billion on SEO services. If SEO didn’t work, brands wouldn’t spend that kind of money – they’d stop their campaigns if they weren’t seeing results.

 However, big brands continue their campaigns because they get results – and so can you.

 SEO strategies give you the power to rank your website in the search engines

 While nobody can have absolute power to rank their website as the top result for every search, you don’t need that carte blanche power to be successful. If you consider success generating a steady stream of organic traffic, then all you need is a strong digital marketing and SEO strategy.

Worried about not being able to rank for the most popular keywords? You don’t have to rank for those keywords. You can generate plenty of organic traffic without targeting the highly competitive generic keywords in your industry.

 You don’t need to have every webpage at the top of the SERPs to be successful

 Also, don’t worry about trying to get into the top spot for every search related to your industry. You’ll see sites like Wikipedia on the first page for an overwhelming majority of search phrases, but that’s because those sites deal with a variety of subjects and already have massive momentum.

 You don’t need to be in the number one spot for every search phrase. You just need to be visible toward the top of the search results for as many searches as possible.

 The verdict? SEO gives you significant control over your search rankings

At the end of the day, you need a strong SEO strategy in place. Optimizing your website for search is a tried and true method for boosting your ranking to gain visibility in the SERPs.