What Are Search Engines Looking for

If you have tried unsuccessfully to get your site ranked in the search engines you may be asking yourself the question, what are search engines looking for? A couple of years ago you could use some piece of software that would automate the link building process and blast thousands of spammy links at your webpages and get them to rank. Things are a little more complicated today but Mississauga SEO services are here to help you. So what is it that the search engines want?

What Are Search Engines like?

Quality Content

The search engines are trying to provide a good user experience for the people that use their search engine. When someone searches for something online, the search engines want to provide relevant results with helpful, well-written content. Know, how to write SEO optimized article?

Of course, search engines use an algorithm to determine which pages rank for any given search query and an algorithm can’t read and understand content to determine whether it is of good quality. It is people that determine whether the content is of good quality but there are some ways for the search engines to tap into the way people interact with your webpages and this will give them clues as to whether your content is good or bad.

Website Performance

Search engines can look at several different metrics to help them determine whether people think your website delivers quality content. Things like bounce rate and the time spent on any given page are a couple of clues that search engines might use. Time spent on page is pretty self-explanatory and bounce rate refers to a measurement of how many people land on your webpage and then “bounce” or leave your site rather than looking at other pages on your site.

In addition to figuring out an answer to the question of what search engines are looking for, you may also be wondering how a search engine can look at these types of metrics. There are a couple of ways. If we use Google as an example, many webmasters use Google Analytics to track statistics showing the way people interact with their websites. By putting the Google analytics code on your website you are allowing Google to track the way people interact with your webpages. This information may be valuable for you as a webmaster but it can also be used by Google.

Another way that Google can obtain information, particularly the bounce rate, is the fact that many people on the Internet are logged into a Google account. If someone checks their Gmail before surfing the Internet, they are logged into Google and Google can then track whether they stay on a particular website or click on your site in the search results and then bounce right back to the search results page in Google.


In their quest to provide the most relevant and useful content, search engines would prefer to list authority sites in their search results. An authority site is usually a large website with a massive amount of content but it is also a site that is a well known and trusted name in a given niche.

It’s impossible to know exactly how a search engine calculates authority but it is almost certain that they are using several different signals. Some of the signals they may look for are incoming links from other authority sites, signals from social sites, and some of the metrics mentioned above under the website performance heading.

User Experience

We mentioned earlier that search engines are trying to provide the best user experience for their customers. Providing a good user experience means that people keep coming back and the more traffic a search engine gets the more likely they are to generate revenue by people clicking on advertisements.

For a search engine to provide good user experience, they must show websites in their search results that also provide a good user experience. This means that in addition to having good quality content and being an authority in your niche, you must also have a website that loads quickly, is easy to navigate, and provides the most relevant and useful content possible.

For anyone asking the question, what are search engines looking for, I would like to remind them that it’s impossible to know for sure because the search engine algorithms are closely guarded secrets. 

However, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence gained by trial and error from webmasters that are constantly testing various strategies that we do have a good idea of a lot of the things that do work to improve your rankings.

What Search Engines Don’t Like?

Avoid Mistakes That Will Hurt Your Search Engine Rank

On this page we are going to talk about what search engines don’t like. There are a lot of search engine optimization techniques that used to work very well but if you use those same techniques today, it can have a negative impact and your site can be penalized. Keep reading and we will share some techniques that you should steer clear of.

Keyword Stuffing

This is something that used to work many years ago but has not worked for quite some time. Having said that, there are still plenty of people out there who think that keyword stuffing is pure genius.

So what is keyword stuffing? When you are optimizing a page for the search engines, it’s a good idea to have your keyword on the page. Your keyword should be in the URL, the title tags, the H1 tags and your content. Some people think that if putting your keyword on your page a few times is good, then putting it in as much as possible is better. The fact of the matter is that search engines are a lot smarter than they used to be back in the 1990s and putting your keyword all over your page will do more harm than good.

Some webmasters realize that keyword stuffing would make their content a lot less pleasant for their website visitors to read so they got clever and tried to hide their keywords. For example, if the background of their website was white, they would put their keyword in white text as many times as possible. This would make the keyword invisible to their website visitors but visible to the search engines. This may have been a clever workaround for a very short period but I will repeat one more time that keyword stuffing is not a good idea and will get your site penalized.

A list of what search engines don’t like would not be complete without talking about purchasing links. Search engines don’t want you to purchase links. They don’t want you to build links at all. If you follow Google’s Webmaster guidelines you would not build any links, you would just make such great content that other sites would link to you naturally. That sounds good in theory but it rarely works that way. For someone to see your fantastic content and link to it, they have to be able to find it in the first place.

One of the reasons that search engines don’t like it when people purchase links is because purchasing links works. If you buy high PR links it can help give you a very significant boost in search engine rankings. The problem is that buying links is dangerous because if Google finds out that you are doing it, they will quickly devalue those links and your website will drop in the search engines. They will probably even take it a step further than that and penalize your site, making it very difficult to ever get your rankings back.

Poor User Experience

If your website gives your visitors poor user experience, the search engines are not going to be very excited about listing your site well in their rankings. Search engines want to provide the most relevant and useful results to their users, so if your website is bad, it may be more difficult to get it to rank in the search engines.

Of course I am sure you have probably seen some pretty bad websites in the rankings so it’s not impossible for a bad site to rank well. The problem is that those rankings won’t last forever and it’s much better if you try to provide the best content possible for your readers.

We mentioned purchasing links above but some other link building techniques can get you in trouble these days. One thing that used to work very well but will now get your site penalized is a lack of anchor text variation. If you are trying to rank for a particular keyword, you don’t want to use that keyword phrase over and over again when linking back to your website. It’s best to use your keyword for some of your links, variations of your keyword phrase for other links, a naked URL, and even random words or phrases like “click here.”

Other poor link building practices would include things like unnatural link velocity and getting too many of the same types of links. Link velocity is the rate at which you are acquiring backlinks. It seems unnatural if you get 10,000 backlinks throughout a couple of days and then suddenly the links stop coming in. This could hurt your rankings.

Getting too many of the same types of links means that you’re getting all or most of your backlinks from similar sources. For example, if the majority of your links are coming from blog commenting, it doesn’t look as natural as it would if your links are coming from blog commenting, guest posting, article marketing, video sites, social media sites, forums, etc.

We really could write an entire book about what search engines don’t like but you probably get the idea at this point. The game of SEO is constantly changing and if you want to get traffic from the search engines you are going to have to stay up-to-date and be able to adapt if you want to survive.


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