For anyone who has spent many hours attempting to absorb the wisdom of experts on search engine optimisation and how to apply it to your own website, will no doubt be frustrated at the diverging views many of them have. Who or what can you believe? And google doesn’t make it any easier by keeping it’s ranking algorithm a secret. I have good news for you.
SEOmoz has surveyed the top SEO experts from around the world by asking them to rate more than 100 search ranking factors and publishing the results. These are survey results you must bookmark. The published results are more than just an overview; they are very detailed. The top 5 ranking factors, in order, are keyword focussed anchor text, external link popularity, diversity of link sources, keyword use in the title tag and trustworthiness of the domain.
I think each of these factors deserves an explanation. keyword focussed anchor text is simple to understand. If you are inserting a link in your text to a page, and that page is about, say, yorkshire terriers, then your link words should be yorkshire terriers. The only drawback here is the benefit is really for the destination page. But if everybody did this?
External link popularity, is universally touted as the most important part of an SEO strategy, by every expert I’ve read or listened to. There is no doubt it fits with google’s view of the Internet universe. The more links you have pointing your website, the more you are regarded as an authority and the higher your ranking. The best links are one way, from their site to yours. And excellent content is what will get you those links along with a link building strategy.
The survey ranks the effectiveness of link building tactics too. Creating viral content and what’s called ‘linkbait’, which is really great articles on very popular topics, comes top of the list. Blogging and engagement with the ‘blogosphere’ comes second. Engagement really means commenting on other blogs and repying to comments on your blog. Surprisingly, buying direct links from other websites only comes fifth.
Diversity of link sources means your link building strategy should be organic and come from a wide variety of sources. If you want to understand this concept better, the natural link profile has a little more detail. Keyword use in the title tag is almost self-explanatory. The title tag is what appears in the URL bar for the page you are viewing. And the title should include the most important keyword for that page. Here are some more title tag guidelines.
The trustworthiness of the domain is a little trickier to define. But it includes links from authority sites, like Yahoo, Facebook, or other quality content sites the search engines trust. It can also include how long your site has existed and if your domain name is registered for multiple years. No, that can’t be relevant! Yes it is. Read this article by Kimberley Kimbrough on renewing your domain and trustworthiness.
If you want to understand SEO that works, read and digest this survey report.