Search engine positioning is the practice of optimizing individual web pages to rank higher in search for specific keywords.
It is different from search engine optimization (SEO) in that it focuses on optimizing individual web pages, rather than the website as a whole.
Simply put, search engine positioning is a subset of search engine optimization.
While SEO encompasses a broader range of strategies and tactics to improve your website's overall performance in search engines, positioning specifically focuses on achieving higher rankings and visibility for targeted keywords or pages.
Positioning is an ongoing and dynamic process.
It involves constant monitoring, analysis, and adjustment of strategies to adapt to changing search engine algorithms and user behavior.
What you will learn
- How search engine positioning can help you build site authority, boost organic traffic, and outrank the competition.
- 8 ways to improve your website's search engine positions
- How to check your average position in the SERPs
Why search engine positioning is important
Search engine positioning is important because it increases the visibility of your web pages in search results, leading to more organic traffic, credibility, and a competitive edge in the market.
It’s important to note that positioning is not just about achieving higher rankings.
Instead, it focuses on increasing visibility in search, such as through SERP (search engine results pages) features like featured snippets.
Here’s how search engine positioning can benefit your brand:
Increased organic traffic
Optimizing web pages can help you rank higher in search engine results for high-volume search terms and boost your pages’ visibility by securing SERP features.
This can significantly boost organic traffic because the top-ranked search results receive the highest click-through rates (CTRs).
Specifically, the first organic search result in Google receives about 39.8% of all clicks.
That’s 42.9% of clicks if it's a featured snippet.
The 10th position only receives about 2.2% of total clicks.
Outranking the competition
By securing a high search engine position and featured snippets your pages will be among the first to be seen when users search for relevant keywords.
The visibility can help you stand out from the crowd.
This is especially important in saturated niches, where there are many other sites competing for the same customers and keywords.
Establishing authority and credibility
Higher visibility in search results equates to greater trust and credibility in the eyes of users.
When your website consistently appears near the top, it suggests that you are a reliable and authoritative source in your industry.
This can be a powerful differentiator, especially when customers are evaluating multiple results.
How to improve your search engine positioning
Now let’s get into the practical side of things.
The Google ranking system evaluates content on a page-specific basis. While they also look at side-wide signals, this stresses the importance of optimizing individual pages on your website.
Here’s are 11 ways to improve the search engine positioning of your web pages.
1. Establish niche authority
Search engines aim to deliver the most relevant and comprehensive content to users.
When you create content that covers all aspects of a particular topic, you are indicating to search engines that you have a deep understanding of that topic.
You can achieve this by organizing your content using topical clusters - one piece of pillar content and several related pages or articles that link back to it. This interconnected structure signals to search engines that you've thoroughly explored the subject matter.
As search engines recognize your website's authority in a specific niche or topic, your rankings will improve.
This can attract more organic traffic and enhance your online performance.
To create topical clusters for your website, head to Surfer Keyword Research and follow these steps.
- Enter your target keyword
- Enable the Topical Map feature
- Click Create Keyword Research
You will be presented with a list of topical clusters in the left panel.
Keyword difficulty is in green followed by the monthly search volume for the entire cluster. We'll come to the first number in a bit.
The right side will show you primary keywords for the pillar page and supporting pages relevant to the cluster. These will include traffic potential and average keyword difficulty to help you make content writing choices.
To receive personalized suggestions for your domain, use the Import data from GSC tab.
Doing so will reveal how many keywords you've covered from that cluster.
For example, we've covered 8 out of 10 articles for a cluster about "competitor keywords."
2. Produce high quality content
High-quality content addresses user intent, engages users, keeps them on the page longer, and encourages interaction in the form of comments and shares.
When users find valuable content that answers their questions or solves their problems, they are less likely to leave your website quickly, resulting in a lower bounce rate.
This indicates a positive user experience.
And Google considers user experience as a key quality signal that's essential to the success of any site.
Moreover, content quality helps with the crawling and indexing of a web page, and as such, its ranking.
John Mueller confirmed this in a Google podcast episode.
Surfer AI can assist you with the research, planning, and writing of high-quality, human-like content that is optimized for search engines.
Enter the topic you want to write an article on and tell Surfer what your preferred tone of voice is.
In about the time it takes to drink your coffee, Surfer AI will have a complete search engine optimized article ready for you.
We do recommend fact checking AI content and editing it for your own tastes.
Using AI writing tools can take many hours off your content writing process. You can combine the expertise of content writers and editors with AI to create high-quality content faster, easier, and at scale.
A content calendar can help you plan and organize your content while ensuring you stick to a consistent publishing schedule.
A content calendar contains elements like content publication dates, titles, types, assigned authors and editors, promotion channels, and the status and progress of each content piece.
You can create a content calendar using Google Sheets or Excel.
Tools like Notion and Trello offer free content calendar templates that you can customize as needed.
3. Optimize for click through rate (CTR)
Besides optimizing your content for visibility, you should also make it enticing for users to click on it.
You can achieve this by focusing on your meta tags and descriptions.
These are HTML tags that appear in search results and provide search engines and users with more information regarding the content of your page.
The title tag is also known as meta title, title tag, or SEO title.
It appears in the <title> tags inside the <head> element of a page's HTML code.
Title tags are a Google ranking factor, as confirmed by John Mueller.
While not a primary factor, they are above all important to delivering a good user experience across search.
The meta title appears below your website name and URL in search engine results. It’s the first thing users see when they Google something.
In this example, the title tag includes our brand and the meta description aligned with user search intent and needs.
So an effective title tag aligns with users’ intent, includes target keywords in a natural manner, and is within 60 characters to avoid truncation.
Meta descriptions provide search engines and users with a brief overview of the page content. This helps users decide whether to click through to the page.
The meta description text appears below the page title in search results.
In the example above, the meta description text tells users exactly what they will find inside the article so they know what to expect.
Moreover, since (part of) the search query “keyword research” is included in the description, Google has made it bold. This attracts attention and highlights the relevancy of the search result.
So a good meta description is descriptive, to the point, and includes the target keyword in a natural way.
Keep your meta descriptions at 155-166 character limit. Avoid keyword stuffing and remember that you are writing for humans, with the goal of having them click on your page.
Here’s an example provided by Google that demonstrates the above. Here you can also see meta descriptions in the form of HTML tags.
A good click through rate is key to improving search engine positioning so pay attention to your meta tags.
Note that sometimes Google may display a different title tag and meta description than the one you’ve chosen.
Unfortunately this is upto Google's discretion and we can't do much about this.
4. Update existing content
Google and other search engines prioritize fresh content and consider it to be a key ranking factor. That’s because they aim to serve relevant and timely information to users.
So when someone is searching for the “best video editing tools”, Google understands they likely need to know this year’s best, even without the user having to spell it out.
So that’s the results it prioritizes showing.
Moreover, as announced by Google, the search engine will aim to find the most recently updated featured snippet to serve to users for queries where time is significant.
You have a higher chance of securing a featured snippet to increase your visibility in search and improve your positioning by keeping your content up to date.
Here are a few minor tweaks to indicate to search engines that your content is up to date:
- Update the publication date to reflect the most recent content update.
- Add new information such as recent statistics, research findings, or developments related to your content topic.
- Add more depth to your content by expanding on some points or addressing new aspects of the topic.
- Replace images or graphics with newer, more relevant ones (when it makes sense).
- Check and fix broken links.
- Incorporate new internal links.
- Consider adding a "last updated" or "updated on" note at the top or bottom of your content.
By implementing these minor tweaks and consistently publishing new content, you demonstrate to search engines that your website provides valuable and current information.
This can improve the search engine positioning of the updated pages.
5. Optimize for SERP features
SERP features can greatly help with your search engine positioning efforts. These features enhance your visibility, provide more context to users, and can lead to higher click-through rates.
We'll discuss why you should consider them in your search engine positioning strategy, and how you can optimize your content to appear in search real estate.
Here are a few common types of SERP features.
The Knowledge Graph appears before other results. Appearing on it can increase your content’s visibility.
Here’s an example of a Knowledge Graph for American psychologist “Robert Cialdini.”
Google pulls the information from websites it deems as trusted sources.
You can increase the likelihood of showing up in a Knowledge Graph by improving your overall website authority on a certain entity.
This SERP feature is constantly updated with new information. Make sure to publish new content and update your existing one.
Featured snippets are designed to provide users with a quick and concise answer by highlighting helpful content at the top of SERPs.
So, for instance when a user searches for “what is inbound marketing”, they will see a summarized answer at the top of the page, before other Google search results.
The featured snippet accounts for 35.1% of all clicks.
You can increase your chances of appearing as a featured snippet by including direct answers to “what, how, when, where, and who” type of questions in your content.
People also ask boxes
People also ask boxes, also called “others want to know” answer common questions related to the search query.
Try to anticipate the questions that users might have about your topic and answer them in your content.
You can also find several suggestions in the Outline tab in Surfer's Content Editor.
Make sure that your answers are to the point and use relevant keywords in a non-spammy way.
6. Use internal linking
Internal links play a crucial role in distributing page authority, facilitating crawling and indexing, and creating topical clusters on your website.
Internal linking pages can indicate topical clusters to search engines and help them understand the context and relevance of your content.
When search engines can associate your content with specific topics and themes, they are more likely to rank your pages higher for relevant search queries.
A good practice is to link to new pages from old ones when you publish them. This helps search engines efficiently use your allocated crawl budget to find new pages on your website.
Surfer Audit can help you identify which pages you can link your new content from.
You also want to use relevant keywords and use variations in your anchor tags.
7. Optimize relevant anchor text
The anchor text helps search engines and users understand the context of the linked page.
Optimizing your anchor text can help communicate context and help your pages rank better. It can also lead to better crawlability and indexing for new pages.
Make your anchor text descriptive and use keyword-rich anchor text.
For example, if you're linking to a page about "best running shoes," using "best running shoes" as an anchor text makes it clear what the page is about.
But don't stop there. Use different variations that convey the same topic.
- best shoes for running
- shoes for runners
- running shoes
These are effective examples of anchor text for a page about sports shoes for runners.
8. Improve your core web vitals score
Core Web Vitals determine the user experience of a page, which is an important ranking factor. Improving them is one of the best ways to improve your search engine positioning.
In Google Search Console, you can see your Core Web Vitals report.
The report provides insights into the loading speed, interactivity, and user-friendliness of your web pages.
There you can see what needs improvement.
Pagespeed is another free tool provided by Google to analyze the Core Web Vitals of your website pages.
The tool will also analyze your pages in areas such as page speed, accessibility, best practices, and SEO, for both mobile and desktop devices.
You can review any diagnosed performance issues and fix them.
Some common steps to improve your Core Web Vital score are:
- Compress and resize images while maintaining quality.
- Leverage browser caching.
- Use a content delivery network (CDN).
Work on any issues to improve the Core Web Vital score of your page and as a result, improve your search engine positioning.
How to check your search engine position
You can use Google Search Console (GSC) to check your website's position in the search engine results.
- Head to Google Search Console
- Click on Performance in the left menu
- Check the Average Position tab
Choose the Queries tab to find the average position of your pages in the search engine results for specific search terms.
You may also use the Pages tab but keep in mind that the average position of a page is indicative of the average of all keywords it ranks for.
You can also use GSC to compare a page's position over time.
To do this, click on the Dates dropdown menu at the top and select the date range that you want to compare.
The report can also help you evaluate your average ranking position against CTR data.
Evaluating these metrics side by side can give you insights into which pages need optimization.
For instance, let’s say your page ranks high well, but has a surprisingly low CTR.
This can be a sign that you might need to work on your meta description and title. While if your page has a high CTR, but ranks low, focus on focus on your on-page elements to improve the search engine position.
- Search engine positioning refers to where your web pages rank in SERPs for specific keywords or queries. Positioning is a subset of SEO that focuses on optimizing the rank and visibility of individual pages of your site in organic search results.
- You can improve your search engine positioning by following a few strategies and best practices, such as updating your existing content, creating effective meta descriptions and title tags, leveraging internal links, and improving your site authority and Core Web Vital score.
- You can check the average position of your pages using Google Search Console.
Search engine positioning is an important part of SEO. It focuses on improving the search engine visibility of your web pages for specific keywords and queries.
Positioning is not only about ranking high on SERPs. It’s also about boosting your visibility and encouraging users to click on your page.
Use both on and off page SEO practices to improve your page's search engine positioning.