Top SEO Ranking Factors

Duplicate Content:

Duplicate content is content that is either copied from another site, or content that is repeated throughout a single site. Duplicate content rarely offers any value to the search engines and will generally result in pages being crawled less and stuck in supplemental results.


The industry that a site is targeting is a very important factor in search rankings that is often overlooked. A site in the mortgage industry is going to struggle much more than a site in the flower industry. That's just the way it is. There are much more sites going for high ticket terms like mortgage, insurance and real estate than there are for less lucrative terms.

A format that works terrible for one industry may work great for another. It all depends.

Page Length:

The amount of content on each page has been called a crucial factor for ranking well in search engines. It is usually said that a longer document contains more substance and thus more value for the desired keyword.

Unique IP Address:

A unique IP address supposedly means that the web site is more authoritative and established because it does not need to share its IP with other sites. There is very little actual proof proving this as a true piece of the puzzle.

Links from .edu sites:

Links from .edu sites are thought to have more strength with the search engines because .edu sites are well trusted sites that are established. Because strict rules are given to register a .edu domain name, almost all links coming from a .edu site are not spam and can therefore be given more weight from the search engines.

This hasn't been confirmed as a fact, but it is generally believed by the SEO community that .edu links are very powerful.

Domain Extension (TLD):

The extension of a domain name is said to affect the way a site may rank. A site with a popular extension such as .com will supposedly rank higher than the exact same name with a .net or .org.


Getting a site dugg on Digg can be a great way to boost traffic temporarily as the Digg web site usually provides a considerable amount of traffic to your niche. It is important to remember that Digg is generally associated with more tech savvy individuals and it only works for a select group of web sites.

Domain Name Hyphens:

Hyphens are supposed to help because they allow the words to be separated and easily recognized by programs.

Hyphens in a domain name can have some positives for SEO, but the effects on a site's users and brand should also be considered. A site like maybe benefit more than just as the hyphen separates the words and allows search engines to understand what the site is about easily.

It is considered that having a domain name with a large number of hyphens (usually 3 or more) may actually hurt rankings as it is much more probable that the domain name is spam.

Site Submission:

Submitting a site to search engines can be a first step for a lot of new web sites. The search engines eventually crawl the site within a few weeks.

If you really want to indexed quicker you can always build backlinks as this will tell the search engines that this new domain name exists.

Over Optimization Penalty (OOP):

Over optimizing a web page can actually get a penalty or hurt your rankings as it shows that you are deliberately trying to manipulate your ranking. Keyword stuffing, link spamming, stuffing title tags and lots of similar on page tricks will usually end up doing more bad than good.

It can be tempting at times to optimize a page heavily as sometimes competitors are able to get away with this. It should be noted that most pages that are able to still rank with OOP are ranking IN SPITE of this negative, not because of it. These sites are usually older and are able to still maintain fairly solid rankings despite their mistakes.


Frames on a web site usually end up confusing web sites (and users sometimes). This happens because with frames there is really multiple pages per URL that the search engines can link to.

A search engine may crawl the content section of a website and like this content a lot, but when they link to it from their SERPs the user is brought only to this page and not the actual frameset that contains the navigation and other important elements.

With CSS, frames shouldn't really have any use anymore these days. Virtually all the positives for design that frames used to present can now be mimicked using CSS.

Hidden Text:

Hidden text is a popular blackhat SEO technique where text is hidden from users. The page is usually stuffed with tons of keywords that are thought to help the ranking as the page now has a higher keyword density and more copy about the theme of that page.

This used to be accomplished by making the text the same color as the background or by making the text super small. It is becoming more common now for sites to use CSS to hide certain elements of the page completely from its users. Since search engines don't crawl CSS that is included on a page (obviously not a confirmed fact) they end up getting all the extra keyword text like they would with any other document. And when a user browses the page they notice no effects at all as the spammy text is not displayed for them.


Cloaking is the act of showing one page to users and a different page to search engines. There can be many unique advantages and disadvantages that arise from such a technique.

Cloaking looks and the useragent of each browser and decides internally which page it will display. In most cases a spammy, heavily SEO'd page is shown to search engines so the site appears to have value. If an actual web user was to browse this page they would probably get either confused or pissed and want to leave. To remedy this problem when a user does in fact show up they are presented with a more user friendly, call to action oriented page.

Paid Links:

Paid links can be a great way for a site to get the boost it needs to really win some searches. A site may be at position 5 or so and one or two quality paid links can push it to that first spot to deliver more traffic.

Something to realize of course with paid links is that these links will only help your site for as long as you continue to pay for these links. As soon as you stop paying for these links your site will immediately go back to where it was before.

This can be a more useful technique for those people looking to test some searches short term or go for some seasonality wins.

Total Number of Inbound Links:

The total number of links pointing to a particular web site is still thought to add significant value in the search engines. A lot of SEO's are saying that it is all about quality and themed links which is true, but at the same time the search engines do still weight the sheer number of links, especially if they are from different web sites.

Keyword Density:

Keyword density is the density of the page's keywords in the body content. It is generally advised to keep a keyword density of around 3-5% or so. Keyword density may be something that is not weighted very much or even at all anymore. With new technologies such as latent semantic indexing, it is becoming more common for natural copy that reflects the subject matter to have greater weight for ranking considerations.

Link Bait:

Link bait can be one of the best way to gather lots of new quality links quickly. The best part about link bait is that it can be done with relatively little time and work.

Link bait is basically buzz marketing and requires more thought and innovation about what will be something people will either need or want to talk about.

A great way to generate quality links is to write a high quality article and then get users on various social news sites such as Digg and Reddit to read your article.

Link Farms:

Link farms are link networks typically owned by webmasters where they exchange links within their own network of sites. Link farms can have many apparent benefits as they offer complete control over topical links, however, they can also run the risk of penalizing or even dropping a site from the search engine index.


Blogs are a great way to improve search engine rankings, but more importantly they are a superb way to involve your users and really develop some lasting connections.

From a search engine perspective blogs are usually very content rich and very optimized where the site can be crawled easily. They usually contain new and unique information which helps greatly with obtaining high quality backlinks.

From a user perspective blogs really help connect with users at a more personal level and make the company or person much more friendly. They no longer appear like some huge company or corporate expert and it really helps create a large audience of evangelists.

Yahoo Directory Link:

A link from the Yahoo directory is just about the best link money can buy. For the fee of $300 a year you will receive a link back to your website in the appropriate category. I have noticed a small jump in SERPs after purchasing this link.

Alt Attributes (Tags):

My rule of thumb is to add ALT tags to images of importance; i.e. images that link or say something. Any navigation or headers need ALTs, any logos, and any 'big' images. Anything extraneous need not have an ALT tag, for instance the top left rounded corner of a DIV.

You could spend weeks adding ALT tags to every image, but it won't matter if you can't give it a good description other than "Bottom right footer".

The title attribute (that’s title=”keywords here” normally associated with text links) does NOT count towards a pages rankings, the alt attribute text (that’s (alt=”keywords here” normally associated with images/image links) does count.

SEO Tip Usage - Makes no difference what you put in the title attribute, but try to be keyword rich in your alt attributes, meaning if a page is about SEO Tips try to use SEO Tips as alt text.

SEO Tip Blackhat Warning - Like any on page SEO technique, don’t go over the top with stuffing your alt attribute text with long keyword lists. Be descriptive about your images whilst covering your pages SERPs and you’ll be fine.

Internal Link Structure:

The internal link structure of a web site can greatly help search engines understand the more important and less important areas of a web site. In general, it is best to have your main categories be the main keywords that are being targeted. Every other section or category should funnel its way down in importance.

If all the pages of a web site are linking back to the homepage for instance, the homepage will be viewed as a much more important page and this page alone will hold more weight than any other page of the web site.


A sitemap is a great way to show the search engines the structure and organization of a web site. This helps the search engines find pages that may have not been properly linked throughout the rest of the site.

A sitemap also allows users to quickly go to a page and have a full break-down of how a web site works.

Domain Length:

A shorter domain name is hard to pull of and thus more credible in most cases. A site that is willing to either pay or take the time to find a shorter domain name can be considered of higher value that one that takes say the exact keyword phrase they are going after.

For example: is noted as a higher quality domain name than something like because it is shorter in character length.


There are usually two different contexts of Flash on a web site:

Full Flash web site
Flash banner
Allow me to hit on both:

1. Full Flash Web Site
A full Flash web site is a complete no-no for a serious site. The only time it seems okay to use is on a brochure site for a movie, artist or maybe a web design firm. But seriously, full Flash sites were cool like 5 years ago when nobody actually cared about usability, consistency, ease of use and a number of other vital aspects. Here are a few of huge disadvantages a Flash site has compared to a straight up HTML site:

You can't really index the page
Yes I am aware you can do some weird #url thing that does create a unique URL for each page but 99% of Flash sites don't do that.

Therese nothing to index
There is generally no content on Flash sites as they are mainly animation and images. The actual text that they do have is worthless as far as making an assumption about the page - that is, if there even is a page.

The content they do have is worthless
It is almost impossible to do anything with content on a Flash site if it does have any. What are you supposed to do, bookmark the whole web site? How do you like your friend to the page, link him to the root of the site and tell him where to click?

2. Flash Banner
Flash banners are fine for SEO. In this instance it is pretty much treated exactly like an image. It's just a blank area of content that search engines just pass over and move on. It can be embedded in an HTML page perfectly fine and does nothing to the overall structure and organiztion of the site.

META Keywords Tag:

The META keywords tag was once of high value in the whole scheme of SEO, but since the rise of Google and the reliability of link structures META keyword tags have lost their value. It is just too easy for anyone to spam a list of tons of keywords into this tag to give it any actual merit or weight.

Most search engines ignore this tag completely for ranking a site. The only use it really has now is to actually describe what a sites theme may be about by analysis of these keywords.


Although it may sound pretty obvious, having a good host is very important for SEO. If the search engine can't access your page, well then there is nothing for it to index. Moreover, if after multiple attempts the search engine still can't index a page it is highly likely it will remove it completely from its index and the whole indexing / history aspect will have to start all over again.

It is very important for your web site to be live as much as possible as this will allow the search engines to get a recent cache every time it visits the page.


The Robots.txt file can be a great way to make the most out of your link equity and keep the search engines on the most popular and relevant pages. For most large sites there are usually sections that get very little attention, yet have hundreds of thousands of pages.

Things such as galleries or sorting links may be new indexable pages that have little relevant or original content to users. Directories that hold these pages could easily be thrown in a robots file as pages to exclude.

By excluding low PR and irrelevant pages you are basically passing your link juice in a much more dense area. These search engines will also spend more time crawling useful pages with a properly configured robots.txt file.

Dmoz Backlink:

Dmoz is the largest directory on the Internet and believed to offer considerable weight in its backlinks. Dmoz is entirely free and run by editors who follow set guidelines to decide whether or not to list a site in the directory.

One of the problems of Dmoz is that it can take many months for sites to show up in the directory at all. There is also a recent trend of webmasters signing up as editors and then exploiting the section that they are moderating.

RSS Feeds:

RSS Feeds are a great way to get content indexed both by search engines and people. An RSS feed is basically a dynamic page that delivers content in a structured format so that it can be used whatever way the end party wants to use it.

RSS has recently grown large in the social media end of Internet marketing as bloggers are able to easily set up feeds on their blogs for their readers to keep track of however they like.

H1 Tags:

H1 tags are the most prominent heading tags that are recommended for placing the general topic or theme of the page in. It is best to include the main keywords of the page by either matching or writing something closely related to the already well researched title tag.

Site Size:

The size of a web site holds great weight on the rankings of search engines as larger sites are generally higher quality and of greater use to users.

Also, most competitive and one word searches are usually informational searches where the user is looking for information. Most informational sites are larger by nature as they usually support a number of topics on the subject matter.

Commercial sites find themselves loosing to these large informational sites all the time partially because of this reason.

301 Redirect:

301 redirects are a way to show search engines (and users) that a page has permanently been moved from one location to another. Redirects can be handled at the page level or at the domain level.

301 redirects come in handy when an older, more established site is changing its URL structure. Older pages generally have some quality links and are accumulated over time. Instead of just creating a new URL and having the old one be lost, it is usually a good idea to redirect the old URL to the new one. This way all the link juice will be passed on through to the newer URL.

External CSS and Javascript:

For usability and SEO it is usually best to keep CSS and Javascript files in an external document that is called from the page. This greatly reduces file size and removes extra clutter in the source code that doesn't have to be repeated on every page.

Google Sitemap:

A Google sitemap helps greatly with getting pages indexed by Google on larger sites. While it doesn't actually help the rankings of a website, it can help more pages get indexed which on a more popular, trusted site can greatly increase the amount of traffic received as more pages will now be rankable.

It has been mentioned by some of the more savvy SEOs that Google sitemaps can actually have a less desirable effect on some sites as you will be losing valuable data as to what pages the bot is able to crawl manually based off links juice and site architecture alone.

For instance, a smaller web site that has about 50 pages may only get 10 pages indexed because of its low quality links or lack of SEO in general. With Google sitemaps the search engine would know about these pages and try to rank them despite the bot's failed attempt to actually get to the pages on its own due to the lack of other pertinent factors.

URL Rewrite:

Using a URL rewrite on a web site's URLs can be a very useful thing for SEO. This is usually a fairly technical task to accomplish although it is becoming easier to accomplish these days with all the new blogging and content management software available for free. Most popular blogs have modules that will automatically rewrite the URL with page title keywords in it. There is no set standard as to what you should have in your URL but you usually want to make it user friendly and relevant.

Link Page Order:

Links that are placed higher on a page (hierarchy-wise) are considered to be more useful to the user and therefore most likely weighted more than links that appear lower down on a page. It is generally a good idea to get links from as high up in the HTML of a page as possible as these will most likely be weighted more than links found later down on a page.

Keyword Research:

An often over-looked factor that is not really considered SEO a lot of times would be keyword research. Most people skip this step because they think what matters is working with the site that they currently have and figuring out how to rank for what they are already going after.

The problem with not researching your keywords is that you may be going after stuff that is probably not worth spending your time trying to win, or even worse, it never gets searched. Picking the right keywords will make all the difference with your optimization strategy. Why even spend any time building links or writing content for something that will never payoff? It is much smarter to properly discover the areas of greatest ROI and move forward with those.

Reciprocal Links:

A reciprocal link is an exchange of links between two sites that are similar in topic. The webmaster of Site A places a link to Site B while the webmaster of Site B places a link to Site A.

Update Frequency:

The frequency in which a site is updated holds some weight with the search engines because it shows that this site is still active and that the information is trying to stay fresh and new. New content is generally a good thing to have for a site's users.

However, there are cases where new content doesn't necessarily matter and a user searching for something may be just looking for the best content and doesn't care whether it was written 10 years ago, or 1 day ago. The answer to their search still remains the same.

Broken Links:

Broken links can hurt a web site's rankings as they can confuse a search engine and interfere with the overall link architecture. It is a good idea to check and make sure that all the links on a web site are pointing to the proper location and not broken.

META Description Tag:

While the META description tag is supposedly outdated and not worth much value anymore it can still help on the CTR as it does show up as the description for a page in the SERPs.

Strong Tags:

Once again, probably weighted very low with Google.

I agree, but when it comes to SEO you don't need to hit a home run with every factor. If you can just keep hitting singles all day, then you will win the game!

Anchor Text:

Getting links with targeted and relevant anchor text is supposed to hold very high weight with the search engines. One of the main reasons for this is because it is very hard to manipulate what your links say in the anchor text because you don't control the sites linking to you. By having great anchor text in a link to your site basically is saying, "this is a good site and this is what its about."

Unique Content:

High quality, original content is said to be king in the world of SEO. There are many benefits to having original content on a site from both a SEO perspective and a user perspective.

Some of the benefits from an SEO perspective would be:
-The site is offering something new
-The site owner takes the site seriously as they have allocated time or resources towards this
And from a user perspective:
-This site knows enough about the topic to share something original
-This site makes me want to come back again and again for new content

Title Tags:

Title tags are largely considered the most important on page optimization technique that can be applied to a web site. This is in part because the title really does explain the whole overall purpose of the page and is also used often when linking to a page.

Title tags should describe what your page is about and target the main keyword(s) for that particular page. Your title tags should be short and concise. It is generally a good rule of thumb to try to use 10 words or less.

It is important to also remember that your title tags do have value beyond just actually helping a site rank on the search engines. Title tags can also benefit by being creative and interesting which will help in the click ratios on search engines and social sites.


Backlinks are said to be the 1 most important factor in SEO. This is because it's something that's very hard to fake. Google gives more importance to backlinks from higher-rated sites (i.e. a backlink from Wired is weighted higher than a link from an unpopular blog).

That said, does anyone have an idea of the percentage that Google gives to backlinks? Is it 50% of your PageRank score? More, less?

As I understand it, Google doesn't give out their algorithm, but people guess at it, and from everything I read I thought it was around 50-60%.

Link Age:

The age of a link is supposed to hold a lot of weight with the search engines (especially Google) because it is something that is very hard to manipulate and control. A link that has been pointing to the same website for a long time is thought to be of high value and organic.

Sites that buy links or do other activities where the links are fairly new may not get as much of a boost off of them.

Site History:

The history of a site holds great value on search engines because it is one of the hardest factors to manipulate. There is nothing you can really do to get around giving a site positive history other than just waiting for a web site to gain history or buy an existing web site. For this reason, this is a very important factor to successful rankings on the search engines.

Site Trust:

A highly trusted website is one of the most important things in SEO. A high trusted site is powerful because it shows the search engines that what its doing is of high quality and legit. A site with lots of trust can simply create a new page on a fairly competitive keyword and be ranking in a matter of days due to the fact that the search engines can almost guarantee that anything coming from or related to this site is of value.

Take for instance. This site has the ability to rank for anything on Google that it desires. The site has so much content and has developed such a high level of trust with Google that any page it produces is going to be considered of super high value and rank immediately.

Trust is a very valuable and hard thing to obtain with search engines.

Domain Age:

The age of the domain name is the time the domain has existed since a record was first created on ICANN. An older domain is generally supposed to show more trust and commitment to a web site. More spammy sites usually will register a domain name for a year or so and then let it expire if the site fails or gets banned.

A great tool to check how old a domain name is can be found at

Site Age:

The age of a web site appears to be a more and more important ranking factor in the search engines. An older web site holds more trust than a new site because it has been around a while and established itself.

Generally speaking, spam or low quality sites usually don't last a whole long time so as a result the age factor greatly reduces the amount of spam or unwanted sites.


PageRank (PR) is one of the most, if not the most, talked about topics when it comes to SEO. Ever since Google released its little green bar a few years ago the whole search engine community has been infatuated with it.

PageRank in short is a way Google measures the importance of a single web page by measuring the number of inbound links pointing to a page, and the number of outbound links pointing out. The idea is that by judging the whole linking pattern of the Internet, more important and higher quality sites will receive more links. It is also known that higher quality web sites also link out to other high quality sites. PageRank is basically Google's way of allowing Internet users to control the results on their search engine.

Although fairly simple mathematically, the logic and purpose behind PageRank is brilliant and the system has turned out to be a very accurate method for ranking web pages.

Many SEO's focus heavily on PR because of the weight Google gives to inbound links. PR is usually a fairly tangible indicator that a lot of webmasters hang onto as it will give you a rough idea of where you stand.

PageRank is thought to be less important these days as the actual theme and quality of backlinks supposedly holds much greater weight in terms of relevancy.

Site Subject:

The overall subject and direction of a site holds value as to how well it will rank. A site that is focused completely on a tight and targeted niche usually will rank better than a larger site that focuses on a broader range of topics (although this is not always the case). If all of the documents that search engines crawl are generally related to one main subject this is said to hold greater weight.

Quality Links:

It is becoming more and more important these days to receive quality links when doing SEO. A quality link is something that is weighted heavily with search engines because it shows that a highly trusted web site is voting for your site as a trustworthy site with relevant content. Quality links will continue to gain merit as algorithms become more sophisticated.

Domain Name:

Getting keywords in a domain name can be a very useful part of SEO. A lot of the time when somebody decides to link to a website they formulate the anchor text of the link with either the actual domain name ( or the words of it (The Domain Name). Both of these types of links are very valuable with SEO as they both contain the specific words that you are trying to win on the search engines and make the link extremely relevant.

A lot of SEOs also are inclined to believe that just having the actual text in the domain name itself (with no links) also holds some value with search engines. If this is the case the weight may be fairly low, but overall this is something to think about when starting an SEO campaign from scratch.

Keyword Proximity:

The proximity of keywords in certain page elements can have an overall effect on how a web site ranks for its keywords. Take the title tag for instance - it is best to have the main keywords appear first and less important keywords appear towards the end. Keywords should also be as close the the phrase that is being targeted as possible.

If a site is being optimized for the search term "small blue widgets for sale" the words should be in this same proximity. For the above example "small blue widgets for sale" would rank better than say "for sale blue widgets small" because it more closely matches the search and is therefore more relevant.

Directory Submission:

Directory submission is the act of submitting a web site to a number of relevant link categories on other web sites. Directories are considered to hold fairly good weight especially if they are well established and trusted.


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Ashwini Prajapati
IM Analyst
Phone No.: 9785009245