There is a lot of speculation, and many myths about what factors Google uses in their document ranking algorithm. If you can address the primary factors, you are well on your way to increasing your site’s visibility in Google, Yahoo, and other search engines.
Primary Ranking Factors:
1. Title Tag-<title>Ranking Well in Google</title> This meta tag is used to identify what the web page is all about. Make sure to include your primary keywords in this tag; don’t abuse this tag by stuffing it with multiple instances of your keyword.
2. Keyword Useage-make sure that your web page contains unique content about your primary keywords, written in a natural manner, without trying to maintain a target keyword density. Don’t stuff your content full of keywords, in the mistaken opinion that it will improve your ranking. This no longer works.
3. Internal Linking Structure-make sure your internal navigation is easy to crawly, and that the most important pages in your site have a link from your index page, as well as some of the primary catagories. Use relevant keywords in the anchor text. The search engines are trying to determine what your page is really all about-help them out.
4. Content-make sure that each web page contains content that is relevant to your site’s main theme, and unique as well. Write it with your visitors in mind, not the search engines. Find out what they are looking for, and then give it to them. If you have a site about travel, don’t expect a page on plasma tv’s to do well. It’s not relevant. Also, duplicate content is discounted by all the search engines, so don’t even think about stealing someone else’s content.
5. Inbound Links from External Sites-this is actually what made Goggle unique in the beginning. They thought, rightly so, that the more people linked to a site, the higher quality the site was. If the inbound links contained keywords, then the site was especially relevant to the search term. From Page and Brin: “..anchors often provide more accurate descriptions of web pages than the pages themselves” and “..counting citations or backlinks to a given page..gives some approximation of a page’s importance or quality.” More information on from “The Anatomy of a Search Engine” from Page and Brin.
6. Outbound Links to External Sites- make sure to include relevant links, referencing other websites in your web pages. While you may lose a few disinterested visitors, the search engines will see your site as a good source of information for your keywords. That is good.
7. User Friendly Design- make sure your website is designed with your visitors in mind. Make it easy for them to identify what your site is about and where to click. Give them multiple paths through your site, and almost unlimited access to information. If your visitors love your site, so will Goggle. There is an army of users with Goggle toolbars installed, and if one of them visits your site, they will feed Goggle information on how long they were on your site, and where they went.
8. Technical issues- Make sure your server is always available. If it’s down when Googlebot visits, you might not get indexed. If, for some reason, you must use Flash, make sure to include some static navigation links somewhere. If you use dynamically generated webpages, avoid using session id’s, or rewrite them into more search engine friendly pages.
For more information on Goggle friendly design, visit Google’s guidelines for webmasters