Every two years, one of the top SEO resource sites, SEOmoz.org, surveys some of the industry’s best to find out what they feel are the most important factors to consider when attempting to improve your Web site’s rankings.
This year, more than 70 participants from around the world responded, with opinions on more than 100 search ranking factors. For those a bit less geeky, I’ve provided some highlights, along with a geek-to-english translation.
Top Five Ranking Factors
These are the five best things you can do to improve your search rankings:
- Anchor Text from External Links – 73% very high importance
According to these SEOs, the most important thing you can do to achieve higher rankings is to ensure your incoming links use targeted anchor text.
If you’re not sure what anchor text is, look at the analytics glossary.
- Keyword Use in Title Tag – 66% very high importance
Includingyour keywords in your title – and not in a spammy way – is critically important. Remember that not only do the search engines use it, your prospective readers see this in the results pages. If the word(s) they are looking for appear very early in the title, research has shown they are more likely to click on it.
- Raw Link Popularity – 64% high importance
Link popularity is a measure of how many links there are pointing to a given page, the more there are the better.
- Diversity of Linking Domains – 64% high importance
This measures how many different domains link to a given page. It is far better to have 1 link each from 100 sites, than to have 10 links each from 10 sites.
- Keyword Use in Root Domain – 60% high importance
This one becomes more difficult every day as more and more sites go live , and as more squatters buy domain names. If you sell brown widgets in Boston, if at all possible, your best bet for a domain name (for SEO purposes) would be boston-brown-widgets.com. Of course, for real estate that may be a bit difficult in some areas of the country.
Top 5 Negative Ranking Factors
These are the five things that can do the worst harm to your search rankings:
- Cloaking with Malicious Intent – 68% very high importance
“Cloaking” means to use sneaky, geeky methods to show the search-bots something other than what you show your readers. More specifically, you try to hide something from the engines.
- Link Acquisition from Link Brokers – 66% very high importance
That’s fancy-speak for “buying links from pages that rank well”. Buying links is bad – don’t do it.
- Cloaking by User Agent – 51% moderate importance
This is a variation on #1 above. In this case, you show the search-bot what you think the engines will interpret as better content.
- Frequent Server Downtime – 51% moderate importance
Having a site that is down a lot could mean a couple of different things – you have a bad host, or worse – your hosts keep shutting you down for having bad sites. In either case, Google does not want to waste their users time by sending them to pages that have a good chance of being down.
- Linking Out to Spam – 48% moderate importance
Mom always used to tell me “People will judge you by the crowd you run with.” When it comes to search engines, she is right. Links from your site are treated as votes of confidence from you. If you point to sites that are bad, Google will assume you are also bad.
There you have it – the top best and worst things you can do to affect your search rankings, as voted on by some of the world’s best Search Engine Optimizers. In my opinion, the best part of this is that none of the five “good” things require any technical ability, just time and dedication. So, without a huge amount of work, or money, you can make some serious progress if you concentrate on these best practices. Good luck, and let me know how it goes for you.