Search engine ranking factors are some of the most closely guarded secrets in online business. Google and other search engines don’t publish exactly how they rank webpages in search results, because that would lead to massive gaming of the system and produce non-useful results.
Fortunately, you don’t have to figure out how Google determines search engine rankings all by yourself. There’s an entire industry of professionals who have a good handle on how search engine placement works based on their cumulative experiences. Better still, their collective wisdom has been collected and published by SEOmoz, a SEO consultancy and website. The top 37 search engine optimization (SEO) professionals were asked to sort the 50+ factors that affect a website’s search engine placement.
Here are the top 10 factors that positively affect your search engine rankings: (We go over each one in detail below.)
- Keyword Use in Title Tag
- Anchor Text of Inbound Links
- Global Link Popularity of Site
- Age of Site
- Link Popularity within the Site’s Internal Link Structure
- Topical Relevance of Inbound Links to Site
- Link Popularity of Site in Topical Community
- Keyword Use in Body Text
- Global Link Popularity of Linking Site
- Topical Relationship of Linking Page
Here’s each of the top 10 search engine ranking factors, with easy-to-understand explanations and actionable tasks you can apply today.
1. Keyword Use in Title Tag
In Laymen’s Terms: Include the search keywords you are targeting in your webpage’s title tag.
If you have time to do only one SEO action on your site, take the time to create good titles.
– Christine Churchill
The title tag (or “meta title”) is the text that appears at the top of your browser window. Think of it as the title for the webpage. The meta title is also what is displayed as a link in search results.
In the HTML code, the meta title is the text between the <title> tags. For example, the meta title of this article looks like this in the HTML code:
<title>Improve Search Engine Rankings – Top 10 Tips to Improve Search Engine Rankings</title>
Your Action: Use the search keywords you’re targeting in every webpage’s title tag. Have a customized title for each page; don’t be lazy and use the same title for every page on your site.
If you have a brochureware website designed by a Web designer, when you give the designer your text copy for each page, you should also provide a custom title for each page.
For WordPress users, you can install the All-in-One SEO Pack plugin. It lets you modify the title tag of each blog posts.
2. Anchor Text of Inbound Links
In Laymen’s Terms: When other sites link to your webpages, how do they describe the link?
Anchor text of the inbound link is one of the most concise assessments another person can make about what your site/page is ‘about’.
– Mike McDonald
The anchor text is the visible, clickable text of a link. (In the last sentence, the words “anchor text” is the anchor text of the link.)
Looking at how other websites link to you (ie., what they use for the anchor text) tells Google how people are describing your content.
Your Action: When you email other websites to promote your content, mention your preferred anchor text if they choose to link to your site. You won’t always get what you ask for, but it never hurts to ask. And there’s a big payoff if you can get other sites to use the search keywords you’re targeting when they link to you.
Choose anchor text that helps your website/page rank better for your targeted keywords. For example, if I were to ask for a link to this article, I would ask for anchor text that says something like “Top 10 Search Engine Ranking Factors”. That anchor text tells search engines that the link goes to a page about “search engine ranking” — the search keywords that I would love to have this article rank prominently.
That anchor text is better than “the most awesome article ever written”. While it would be interesting to see which anchor text generates more clicks from human surfers, there is no doubt that the keyword-rich version of the anchor text would help this article’s ranking in search results much more than the keyword-less version.
3. Global Link Popularity of Site
In Laymen’s Terms: How many other websites are linking to your site?
I am a strong believer that a sites overall link popularity drastically effect rankings.
– Neil Patel
In general, the more inbound links to your website, the better it is for you. Every inbound link is a “vote” for your site. If lots of other websites link to you, search engines conclude that lots of people find your content useful or interesting. That makes your webpage rank higher than a similar page with fewer inbound links.
But remember that quantity is not the whole game. As we continue to look at the top 10 search ranking factors, note that the quality and relevance of those inbound links matter greatly.
Your Action: Make link building — the practice of getting more inbound links to your site — a central part of your online marketing strategy.
4. Age of Site
In Laymen’s Terms: The older your website, the better.
I believe it’s always had some importance and within the past two years, aging has taken on more signifigance in the ranking factors.
– Scottie Claiborne
Older sites have more weight than newer sites. The age of a website is hard to fake. Plus, search engines figure that if your site has been around for so long, it’s probably better than a brand new site.
Your Action: Start today. Be patient. The hard work you put in now to optimize your website may not payoff until next year. The good news is that after next year, you’ll have a leg up on new competition.