Search Ranking Factors

I’ve been asked a few times from subscribers and in a couple forums what are the “most important” factors to consider when trying to rank for any particular keyphrases. I’ve demonstrated with this blog that with a little bit of work and common sense, it’s not *that* hard to rank for even fairly competitive terms. Don’t let the “10,000,000” competing pages fool you! Chances are, 99% of them aren’t fully optimized and can be easily outdone in the search engine ranking battlefield…

Here’s a top 10 list as compiled by 37 of the world’s authorities on search engine optimization

1. Keyword Use In Title Tags
The title tag is probably the single most important HTML tag, not only because Google considers it to be a very important ranking factor, but also because Google uses the title tag text to create the listing’s heading (the blue link) on the search results. It is therefore equivalent to the headline of an ad inciting searchers to visit the site.


2. Global Link Popularity of Site
Last year this would have been considered the single most important factor. However, recent changes in the Google algorithm have slightly reduced the importance of the overall number of inbound links pointing to the site. The factor is still extremely important and weight, authority and relevance of the links are also factored into considerations.

3. Anchor Text of Inbound Link
The text contained within the link (between the and tags in the HTML) is called the anchor text. This text serves as a description of the link’s target, and is hence a very clear indication to users and the search engine of what the target page will be about. As a result, this continues to be a very important factor in ranking a site.

4. Link Popularity within Site’s Internal Link Structure
Unlike external links from third-party websites, internal links are fully within the control of the webmaster. How these internal links are structured gives Google a very clear indication of which pages are more important for the site owners. Accordingly, Google perceives this as an internal vote for the importance of individual pages.

5. Age of Site
Authority of a site, according to the Google algorithm is determined by two main factors: The number and quality of links pointing to it and the age of the site, in terms of the period of time that the site has contained indexable content seen by the search engines. Webmasters have no control over this factor. The only way to affect this is by buying old websites.

6. Topical Relevance of Inbound Links To Site
Relevance has always been the mantra of Google ranking, and this factor is a mere extension of that fact. Not only is it important to have lots of links pointing to a site, but it is also important that a good number of these links are from sites related to the topic of the target page and the target keyword.

7. Link Popularity of Site In Topical Community
Increased use of social networking sites and user generated content has turned the Internet and SEO around in the past year. Accordingly, a new factor now considered of importance is the link weight and authority of the target website amongst its topical peers in the online world.

8. Keyword Use in Body Text
Link bombs and spam linking enabled websites to be ranked, in the past, for keywords that were not even present on the site. This has changed. Google will almost never rank a site now based solely on links pointing to it, no matter how many they may be. Use of the targeted search term in the visible, HTML text of the page is a must.

9. Global Link Popularity of Linking Site
This is all about PageRank of the site that is providing a link. Number and quality of links matter. The quality of the link is determined by its relevance and by its own link popularity. Hence, a single link from an extremely popular (high PR) website will be worth much much more than many more links from a relatively unknown site.

10. Rate of New Inbound Links to Site
Sudden spikes in the number of inbound links pointing to a site are unnatural. Google constantly monitors the frequency and timing of external sites linking to given domain, even though this may not be reflected in the link counts they show on their search results. A steady upward growth rate is always best.

The full article with all other ranking factors can be read at:
http://www.seomoz.org/article/search-ranking-factors

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