I thought, there are only two kinds of SEO and immediately went off into my standard speech about on page and off page SEO. Half way through I realised this question may be coming from a local business, therefore, there was a third “kind” of SEO, Local SEO.
So the best kind of SEO depends on where your target market is, if your target market is global you can not rely on Local SEO, also how competitive your keywords are, the more competitive, the more off page SEO is required.
This got me thinking a bit more as to what are the most important factors to get top rankings for your site. Google keeps their algorithms secret so no one knows exactly what is required for top rankings. Google uses over 200 factors in ranking your website and they will never tell you these factors or their relative importance. The reason for this is that Google changes their algorithms over 500 times per year. The top SEO professionals are surveyed about this and the results they get from their extensive testing, these results are about as accurate as you are going to get.
So when I decided to write this post I thought I would read through the latest survey results and present you with an easy to read summary. But, I then found out that the survey is only done every 2 years and the last one was June 2011! As we all know there has been a lot of changes in the Google camp this year so how actuate are these survey results?
All I can do for you is to present these results and add my own research to bring you what I consider the most import ranking factors in 2012.
1: On-Page (Keyword-Specific) Ranking Factors
The top 6 most import places to put your keyword is as follows:
- Title tag
- H1 tag
- Internal link anchor text
- External link anchor text
- First 50-100 words of HTML (body text)
I was surprised when I first read this as my own research indicates that the meta description tag should be in the top 5. But the research from the survey shows that meta description is down at 21 of 24 on page keyword factors in order of importance. It doesn’t take much to add your keyword into the description tag so why not do this as well.
Exact match domains: The recent Google EMD update has made SEOs a bit wary about having keywords as a domain name but there are other ways to get your keyword in the URL. Simply use the page URL as your keyword. (e.g. http://www.yourdomain.name.com/yourkeyword.html)
2: On-Page (Non-Keyword) Ranking Factors
Other factors you should consider are:
- Existence of Substantive Unique Content on the Page. Make sure all of your content is unique. Read my post about duplicate content.
- Recency (freshness) of Page Creation. Google loves fresh content so update your website regularly.
- Ad placement. Another Google Algorithm update this year is the page layout update. If you have too may ads above the fold your rankings will suffer.
3: Top Link Popularity Ranking Factors (Backlinks)
- Keyword-Focused Anchor Text from External Links. This must now not be over optimised, use generic as well as a diverse selection of keywords for anchor text.
- External Link Popularity (quality of external links)
- Diversity of Link Sources (links from many unique root domains)
- Page-Specific TrustRank (page has earned links from trusted sources)
- Sitewide – Trustworthiness Based on Link Distance from Trusted Domains
4: Authority / Trust (Age/Time signals)
There are many factors involved in working out domain authority. Some tools have put a number on this. You can use Open Site Explorer to find out domain authority and page authority which are numbers between 0-100.
Domain trust is can be measured and is based on the links to your website and the links to the sites that link to yours. Basically the further away from a trusted domain the less trust you have. You can compare a trust ranking called mozTrust at Open Site Explorer.
5: Registration/Hosting Data
It is best to host your website and domain in the country where your target market is. If you have a global market then a .com is the best choice.
Geo Targeting factors: TLD, Language, links from domains in target area, location of IP address are all taken into consideration.
6: Social Metrics (Social Proof)
Getting likes from Facebook and other social sites will help your rankings but this is only a small part of the big picture so you will need to work on other factors as well.
7: Usage Data – Traffic, bounce rate, load times (User Metrics)
High traffic sites will get a better ranking and also sites that give the user a good experience. Time on site and bounce rate are taken into consideration.
Some of the above factors have more effect on your rankings than others but I believe that if you cover as many angles as possible you have a better chance of out ranking your competition.
SEO isn’t just meta tags and backlinks, as you can see there are many factors you have to consider.