The Top 5 SEO Ranking Factors

by mjtaylor on February 6, 2012

What if I told you there are only 5 ranking SEO signals that really matter?

If you do nothing other than pay adequate attention to these 5 SEO ranking factors, you can make Google and the other search engines sit up and take note of your website. In fact, if you get the first one right, you can stop working on your SEO right then and there.

1. Content – Fresh, relevant, quality content. If you can present information in a way that inspires folks to link to you, you’ve done your job as an SEO, plain and simple. No other great effort required. Of course, creating content that goes viral and attracts massive quality links is no mean feat, but it is the holy grail of SEO.

2. Title Tag – Your targeted keyword phrase should come before all else in the title tag – not your company name. Chances are no one else is competing to rank for your brand, so don’t put it first. Limit your title to 68 characters and don’t repeat any keyword.

Star Top 5 SEO Factors

These Top 5 SEO Factors Are All You Need To Succeed

3. Anchor Text – Of both incoming and internal links. But pure matching anchor text may not be the ticket – it can create an link profile that screams optimization, and if there is anything that Google hates, it’s being manipulated. Instead go for partial match anchor text with close proximity to the rest of the targeted term. For example, if your target phrase for a page is ‘San Antonio Car Mechanic,’ this would be an ideal partial match anchor text: ‘Car Mechanic in San Antonio,’ where the underlined is the anchor text of the link.

4. PageRank – The other reason you want links. We’ve really already covered this one – if you’re creating relevant quality content, you won’t need to worry about links.

The links will come if you’ve created compelling, link worthy content, and because you’ve continued to provide new and informative posts or pages. I know, I know, if you’ve hung around forums or read much of what Google says, you’ll have gotten the impression that PageRank doesn’t matter so much anymore. Don’t let them fool you. If PageRank didn’t matter, Google wouldn’t care if website bought or sold links –and if you’re reading widely, you’ve heard numerous, ominous caveats against link buying and selling.

PageRank – at its simplest – is Google’s estimation of the importance of a given web page based on the importance of other pages linking to it. Yes, PageRank is one of more than 200 signals, but it remains one of the top 5 signals. If you’re still not clear on that, try to imagine how far your site could climb in the SERPs (search engine results pages) without any incoming links. It really is all about the links – and anchor text and PageRank are the two most powerful signals those links carry. Period.

5. Social Buzz – No one social signal is going to push your site up the cliff of the SERPs, but having your site links shared on Twitter, Facebook and now Google+ is becoming increasingly important; especially in the age of personalized search. If the searcher’s Facebook friends or Google+ contacts are sharing about a page relevant to a search query, that is likely to appear prominently in the SERPs. If you’re an influential Tweeter, the links carry extra juice. An active Facebook page gives a social kick that adds up to the social element that is a stronger and stronger factor in search boost. But this comes down to content again. If you have the right content, the social buzz will come.

Get these five ranking signals – or even just the first – right and you can forget about the rest.

But you knew that, didn’t you!


WanderingSEO February 6, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Yes, I knew that, but it’s a great reminder. Sometimes I get so caught up in trying to get links from elsewhere that I forget that all I need to do is create linkable content. I hear you on PageRank, too. I think Google has done a great job of convincing webmasters that PR is dead; it’s tough to get anyone to trade links anymore and I know recips work!

mjtaylor February 21, 2012 at 4:11 pm

It’s easy to get caught up in link building off page, and yes, straight reciprocal links trades are still an effective *part* of an overall link profile. Thanks for stopping by.

O Salary February 21, 2012 at 3:12 am

thanks for the post. quick question: what exactly do you mean when you say “don’t repeat any keyword’? If I am trying to rank for Brittany Spaniel, can I not use French Brittany Spaniel as a second keyword in title tag?

mjtaylor February 21, 2012 at 4:21 pm

I believe you dilute the value of the keyword when you repeat it. “Best practice” SEO would suggest you create a landing page for “French Brittany Spaniel” and since it is a distinct breed, that makes sense for the user, too, I venture. Thanks for visiting.

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