Sticking to the basics of search optimisation, such as good use of title tags, using keyword-rich content and having plenty of quality inbound links, will give a site a sound footing – but in a web of more than one trillion pages, a number of factors can sometimes result in a competitor’s portal still ranking higher up the results.

Eric Enge of Search Engine Watch said these issues can include the age of a domain, link churn and social media buzz – a rival could be achieving a better position in search listings because they have a stronger profile of references on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Other common factors that can leave sites trailing their competitors include click data, which is used by both Google and Bing to track users’ activity, as well as content quality.

In some cases, unintentionally "overzealous" search engine optimisation (SEO) can work against pages because they are classed as being potential spammers.

Creating a superior click profile and keeping an eye on content is therefore crucial to besting a rival’s ranking – but, Mr Enge added, creating a "great user experience" and using it to bring in links remains the basic foundations of search success.

In a previous column for the site, the expert advised "consistent – and constant – investment" in expanding SEO knowledge in order to stay on top of the results pages.

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