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There has been some discussion within our web marketing group as to what the most important factors in SEO are. I’ve always contended that it comes down to two major factors, Relevance and Authority/Quality. Depending on how competitive the phrase is, the more authoritative your site needs to be to rank but you don’t stand a chance if your page isn’t relevant to begin with. So with any SEO program, we always start with focusing on creating relevance. This begins with keyword research to determine what your target market is searching for. From there, you know what to make your content relevant towards.
First things first…. Is the content indexable? If not, then don’t worry about anything else. This takes priority above all else. Once you can establish this then move on to how relevant your page is.
- What is the Page’s Title Tag? Are they relevant to the query and what is the density/order for matched phrase
- Does the keyword match the anchor text in external links?
- What keywords are in the internal anchor text
- How relevant is the URL? Does it have exact or close matches in the URL structure?
- Is there a match in the h tags?
- What is the density of the keyword on the page?
- How many exact matches can be found on the page?
- Are their exact matches in the description tags?
- Does the content qualify for the freshness score?
- Does the page have high Page Rank? Does the site have internal structure to pass internal Page rank to it?
- Does it have external links from relevant authoritative sites? How many?
- What is the page’s CTR for query in comparison to standards for that position?
- Does that clickthrough result in secondary search or secondary result click immediately afterwards?
- How long has the domain existed
- How long has the page existed
- What is the trust score of the domain
- How many social media links/mentions
- How old is the domain?
- Is the domain registered for a long period of time
- Does it have a lot of non-linked “mentions” across the web.
- What is the sentiment of those mentions?
- How many branded searches does the domain receive
- Is the site hosted on a dedicated server
- Page Load time
Factors that have Negative influence:
- Is the page keyword stuffing or madlibbing
- Is the content duplicated across the site
- Is the content duplicated across the web
- Are the meta tags keyword stuffed
- Does the page have any hidden text
- Is the page cloaked?
- Is the URL extremely long and transactional?
- Does the domain have any penalties
- Is there a link buying penalty
- Has the directory been penalized
The interesting thing is that just one negative factor can negate all the other work you’ve done. If you have a penalty on the domain, no matter your efforts in producing authority or relevance, you may be pigeon-holed to below the first 3 pages.
You can submit a reconsideration request if this is the case, but this rarely has any effect. Google will not respond to your request directly to let you know whether your assumptions are correct or whether they will do anything about it.
Ultimately there are over 200 factors that go into the algorithm but you really want to focus on the ones that are going to produce the most for your time. It also seems as though Google is placing more emphasis on factors that are less controllable such as internal historical data such as CTR and secondary searches which indicate quality.
What should you take away from this post? Google is getting smarter, naturally. They are placing more emphasis on factors that can’t be manipulated. This gives them better control at fighting spammers and ultimately the quality of their search engine results. This also means bigger brands that have more recognition are going to be favored due to CTR and overall mentions. However, the small guy has an advantage as well when it comes to relevance. Often times, big corporations have extremely complex websites that make it much more difficult to manage the factors that influence relevance.