If you understand what the search engine optimization process is, the next step is to understand
how many factors the search engines actually do look at. Many search engines suggest in their
documentation and discussions that there are numerous factors that various search engines look
for, and can affect how a web site ranks in their search engine. There are about 20 factors
that are very obvious and others that are less obvious, and much harder if not impossible to prove.
Furthermore, each search engine weights each of these factors differently, and places the
emphasis in different spots.
The List Of Some Things Search Engines Look For:
Title tag - You need a relevant title, not just "Home Page" Use it for 5 key words.
Headings - The search engines view < h> tags as being terms of emphasis - they give
weight to the words within them. Put key terms in them.
Bold - Of lesser importance than < h> tags. the < b> tags still emphasize terms of
Alt text - Use descriptive short sentences in your alt tags. If it's a picture of a
rose, and you're a florist try "Red Rose - Available at 'name' Flower Shop"
Email addresses on page - if you put up an address, make sure the domain name in the
address matches the web site domain. The search engines look at it as 'cheesy'if you don't.
Keyword metatags - Some engines
use them directly, some check them as part of a validation process - "do they match the content"
If they don't then is this a spam site?
Meta description tag - Most engines look at this tag. Use distinct ones throughout
your site, and distinct ones for each page. Make them particular to that page.
Key term placement - Terms that are higher up on a page are more heavily weighted.
Key term proximity - Terms that are close together are probably related, and thus
the site will show up in searches for those terms.
Comment tags - Some engines use comment tags for content. Most engines look for
them in graphic rich / text poor sites.
Page structure validation - proper coding is likely to be of better overall quality,
and thus rewarded.
Traffic/Visitors - The search engines do keep track of how many people follow their
Link Popularity (PageRank in Google's case).
How may other web pages around the Internet point to your web site?
Do these other pages relate?
Are they considered valuable resources?
Anchor Text of inbound links
Does the link to your web site have relevant keywords in it?
Do the keywords used match keywords in your content?
Rating of pages linking to this page
Even if it is not directly relevant, a web page that is important that links to your
site will still help your web site.
Having relevant links helps more with search engines like Teoma.
Presence on marked authority pages. (DMOZ)
Url quotation - i.e. when a page mentions the site by url but doesn't link to it.
This commonly occurs in news articles that mention web sites. While it doesn't count as a
link, it does count as a reference.
Number of links on pages linking to this page. If the link to your web site is
the only one from a page, it's viewed as being more valuable than being one link among 100.
Freshness of links on pages linking to your web site. While the engines will
count all links, a link from a web site that has not been updated in a year or two will be
less valuable than from one that is updated daily. It indicates activity / interest levels.
Page Last Modified (Freshness)- just like the last point a page that is updated frequently is favoured.
Reciprocal Links - Search engines like to see a closed loop - that a referring
site as also used as a reference. So when you are giving away a link, ask for one back.
It will help both websites.
Keyword frequency across all pages. Does the content really talk to the subject
which the page and the web site is supposed to be about?
Keywords in the url
Using keywords in the url does have an effect for the search engine algorithms.
You can use keywords in the filename. For example if the page is about ford parts, then
call it "http://www.sitename.com/ford-auto-parts.html"
use dashes "-" and not underscores "_" to separate words in filenames.
Response Time - If your site is fast, it's favored.
Server Downtime - If the search engine robot comes by and frequently can't connect
sometimes, they penalize your site.
Page Size - The engines tend to weigh content at the start of a document more than
content further down. If a page is long, look at breaking it into sections. If a page is over
50k, then it's too long.
Some Factors Which May Affect Search Engine Ranking
Domain Extension - New extensions are not always immediately recognized by the
search engines. This was a problem for .cc and .biz sites in the early going.
Subdomains - If your web site is 'mysite.network.com, and 'network.com' has engaged
in any unsavoury search engine spamming, your site will be affected.
Always get your own domain, even if you use a subdomain for your shopping cart,
IP Address/Range - This is a bit like the last point. If the search engines have
had problems with many sites from one hosting company, they may degrade all the sites from
that comapny's IP range. It makes the hosting companies behave.
"Domain in use since" The longer it's live the better it's generally viewed. Kind
of a respect thy elders thing...
Negatives That Affect Your Position Within The
Broken links - Internally and outgoing.
Spam - Read our section on search engine spam for details.
Irrelevance - If you use irrelevant keywords, description, etc.
Tiny Text. - If you use text that is too small for the eye to see.
Invisible Text - Text the same color as the background.
Meta Refresh Tag - (see Cloaking)
Redirects - Where when you try and get to one page, but the address changes to a
Excessive Search Engine Submission - oversubmitting may get your site banned.
Frames - Be careful when you use them. You need to embed key terms in them, because
generally, the search engines can only see the frame, and not the primary content that you see
Empty Alt Tags - Leaving these empty shows is poorly viewed. It's akin to bad coding.
Compounded Words in the content, or tags will not help the web site for individual
terms - i.e - 'hammersandnails' as opposed to 'hammers and nails'.
Excessive punctuation in the TITLE and description tags - wastes precious space, and
some characters are ignored or may cause a problem with the spider (the pipe "|" is a great one
that should be avoided).