To help navigate the digital marketing waters, we are publishing a six-part series during the month of December on the business benefits of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Google Adwords and Google Analytics. Our goal is to give back this season by revealing some industry secrets that you can start implementing in your 2014 marketing strategy.

SEO

Earlier this week, I took us through the basics of implementing SEO in a marketing strategy. Then Kenzie skimmed the surface of Google Adwords, learning about how pay per click advertising works and how to win an Adwords auction.

This is part two of understanding Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In my last blog I explained the function of how search engines operate and outlined some benefits of SEO for your website. Now I’m going to walk through some of the on-site ranking factors.

Search Engine Ranking Factors

Search engine ranking factors really boil down to this:

  • Be Accessible
  • And slightly more Relevant
  • And slightly more Authoritative
  • Than your Competitors

Let me explain:

  • Be Accessible – Can Google understand your site. Do you allow Google, Bing and Yahoo to crawl and index your site?
  • And slightly more Relevant – Can they understand what your site is about? Is the information on your site properly optimized to take out the guesswork by Google?
  • And slightly more Authoritative – Are other sites voting for you with links? Are sites linking to your information from their site? When they do that tells Google that you must be an authority.
  • Than your Competitors – To be #1, you only need to be slightly better than #2. When there’s low competition implementing a little SEO can move your information to the top result. On the other hand, in high competition markets you need to be optimized plus a relevant authority.

Google Ranking Weight

If you knew the top ranking factors then you would optimize for those, right? The answer is maybe. Well, often times the top factors are the hardest to implement right away. It’s usually easier to go for the low-hanging fruit at first then make your way to the more difficult to implement factors.

Remember, Google doesn’t tell their secret algorithm to how they rank search results. That would be foolish. However, if you have been doing SEO for a while then you can make some pretty educated assumptions.

Thankfully, Moz conducted a study asking 120 SEO professionals what they thought were the top ranking factors in Google. The results ranked domain-level, link authority features as the top weighted ranking factor with 20.94%. This is the trust and quality of links coming to the domain. In second were page-level link features with 19.15%. These include PageRank, anchor text distribution, and quality of link sources.

Google Ranking Factors

 On Page Ranking Factors

To drill these ranking factors down to the web page level, Moz provides a great image of around 50 factors of a well-optimized page grouped by theme. These seven themes are crawler/bot accessible, phenomenal UX (user experience), uniquely valuable content, keyword-targeted, built to be shared on social networks, multi-device ready, and authorship, schema, meta data, rich snippets.

This infographic from Moz breaks it down.

elements-optimized-sml

Perfectly Optimized Web Page

Let’s combine all these factors and look at an example. Again, Moz provides another great example of a “perfectly” optimized page. These on-site ranking factors are fleshed out in this web page example from Mary’s Bakery.

Perfectly Optimized Page

This infographic illustrates how you can start implementing SEO on-site best practices for 2014. Remember these key ranking factors next time you sit down to write web content. It’s much easier to do it right the first time then to go back and edit all your content. Now you just need a content marketing strategy to really help provide valuable content to your audience.

Over the last two blogs, I walked you through how search engines work and what they look for on webpages. With these best practices, you can now begin your on-site search engine optimization for 2014. If you need more help check out a few SEO diagnostic tools to get you started.

Do you have any questions? Are you ready to tackle 2014? If there’s anything I missed please let me know in the comments sections.