Search engine ranking is the position at which a particular site appears in the results of a search engine query. Each page of the search results typically lists 10 websites, although they are sometimes augmented with local listings, videos and images.
Ranking higher in the search results actually corresponds to a lower number (#1), while ranking lower corresponds to a higher number (#10). Many site owners engage in SEO campaigns in order to improve their search engine ranking and move their website closer to the top of the results because websites that are ranked higher typically get a larger percentage of click-throughs and attract more visitors than lower ranked websites.
Search engine ranking is influenced by a multitude of factors including age of site, the quality of a site’s link portfolio, relevancy of the page, social signals and level of competition, among others. Google admits to using 200 factors when determining a site’s search engine ranking, many of which cannot be controlled by the website owner. Among other things, a white hat SEO campaign is designed to positively impact these factors and improve a website’s overall search engine ranking.
The search engines are also focused on creating a more personalized search experience for users and take an individual’s search history into account. While a website might rank #3 for certain search phrase for one visitor, it might have only ranked #8 for another. Search engine rankings are not guaranteed from one search to another, even when the search phrase is the same.
Search engines rank individual pages of a website, not the entire site. This means that the homepage might rank #1 for certain keywords, while a deep internal page might be listed on the third page.