Not Exactly the Billboard Charts
Every two years, SEOMoz.com polls some of the top search engine optimization practitioners and gurus and asks them, "What can you do to get ranked?" They come back with all of the various factors that they have found to be most and least impactful on search engine ranking. That data is all compiled and sorted, and presented to you at their site, as a guide to overall value in search engine optimization.
Now, this is absolutely incredibly vital information! This tells us what to put our best efforts into, what to merely pay attention to, and what we can pretty much ignore altogether.
Keep in mind that these are the opinions of those professionals that are out on the field playing the game, but not pronouncements from those that are making the rules. Google, Bing, and Yahoo don't come out and reveal their ranking algorithms. They give guidelines, and leave it up to the rest of us to figure out what the details are.
Still, when a lot of really smart people with a lot of experience put their heads together and give their opinions, I'm gonna recommend that we all shut up and listen!
I looked over the various factors in several categories, and I noticed that many of them overlapped. For quick simplicity, I merged the categories, and created a list of the most critical overall ranking factors.
- External link popularity - The best links to boost your ranking are:
- Inbound links
- From diverse domains (many other unique websites)
- From websites with authority in your area
- From other relevant websites
- Using keywords in the text they use to link to you.
- Keyword use anywhere in the title tag - Many of the responses added that having a keyword match as the first word of a title tag was also very significant.
- Having a valuable website - This is determined based on a lot of factors, including:
- Unique, substantial content on the page
- A high Google Page Rank
- A high "TrustRank"
- Keyword use in the URL - Especially in the root domain name (eg. "keyword.com").
- Having internal links (from other pages in your site) that contain keywords.
- Having a steady growth in your inbound links, rather than a sudden influx of many links.
- How recently the page was created or updated.
- Keyword use anywhere in the H1 headline tag.
- Keyword use in internal link text on the page.
There are some surprises. For example, for many years, people have talked about the possibility of the "Age Rank", that is, Google giving preference to domains that have existed longer. That didn't appear in the list this time. In fact, it appears that some preference is being given to the freshest content.
Also, some gurus have long dismissed the Google Page Rank as a factor, but it's still in the list, so many others still believe it has value.
Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter didn't appear to have that strong of an impact on search engine ranking. However, most gurus seem to think their value is in more direct promotions and immediate clicks, rather than any search engine boost.
The META tags are pretty much ignored, however, the META description is still often used as the descriptive snippet in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). So, having a good strong and attractive description can still help convince browsers to click on your link, instead of one that even ranks a step or two higher.
I'd encourage you to study the survey in detail, and begin to understand each unique element that combines to give your website the best possible chance for success!
Mark is currently in the curriculum Department of an internet and SEO training company. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including Mark's Black Pot - Dutch Oven Recipes, MarkHansenMusic.com and his MoBoy blog.