Bloggers and webmasters are constantly wondering why Google is such a bully to some websites and why they are so positive toward others. What are the keys to building a successful presence on the search engine results pages? What are the most important SEO factors for getting your site discovered by Google’s search bot and how can we get in on the action?

If you’ve been wondering these things then this article is exactly what you need. Listed below are the 15 most important SEO factors. Pay attention to these factors and you’ll see a drastic improvement in your listings on Google, Yahoo and Bing.

Always remember that your site doesn’t have to be a war between writing for your community and writing for search engines. When these SEO factors are used properly, these two seemingly opposing approaches to writing can coexist perfectly together.

The 15 Most Vital and Important SEO Factors

The 15 Most Vital & Important SEO Factors

Don’t just debate which factors are the most important. Make it your goal to be the best that you can be in each of these 30 SEO factors.

The 15 Most Vital and Important SEO Factors

The Runners Up: 5 Bonus SEO Factors

  • Bonus SEO Factor #1: A page that is HTML valid to W3C Standards.
    Some independent studies have shown that Google favors valid code. Although Google denies they use this as a factor, having a site that is semantically correct ensures that Google’s search bots are able to interpret your information correctly.
  • Bonus SEO Factor #2: Keyword repeated throughout the content.
    Have the same phrase repeated throughout an article makes it clear what the page is about. Too much of this and you’ll be partaking in a negative practice called keyword stuffing. Done well and it’s like sprinkling salt on a piece of meat.
  • Bonus SEO Factor #3: Links to trustworthy external pages on the domain.
    Search engines like it when our articles are filled with links to good, reliable resources. Links to spam sites or irrelevant sites can be a sign that your page is a spam site.
  • Bonus SEO Factor #4: The presence of an XML sitemap.
    By providing an XML sitemap and submitting it to Google’s webmaster tools, you ensure that Google will be able to find all of the important pages of your website with the least amount of hassle.
  • Bonus SEO Factor #5: Internal link popularity.
    Linking to a particular page from across your domain is a terrific way to let Google know which pages you think are the most important. An amazing tool for this is the SEO Smart Links plugin for WordPress.

Reflecting on these Important SEO factors

Traffic from search engines can be incredibly useful. After all, it’s those people who find your site through Google, Yahoo and Bing that are actually looking for the type of content that you’re providing. Think about it. That’s why they’re searching for it. So don’t dismiss these SEO factors.  They’re important.

Use these points as an overview. Examine them against your own efforts and work to improve the way that you present content at your website or blog. There has never been a better opportunity to start attracting those people who are actively searching for your content.

Nicholas Cardot

About Nicholas Cardot

It's my personal quest to enable every person that I can to unlock that dormant potential concerning their online influence. Also, I'm a geek.

97 Comments

  • Brankica says:

    Hey Nicholas, great round up. Totally agree with you cause this is all part of my strategy for niche websites (which is working).

    Just wanted to say that I really like that you are always mentioning META stuff (description in this case) cause people keep repeating that META’s are totally irrelevant.

    Well I don’t think they are. I thing they are very important and have the experience to prove it.

    You just keep rockin’ and we will learn 🙂

    • The description is especially important because that’s what the human reader sees on the search listing. I think that’s an invaluable way to let someone know what your article is about.

  • Hi Nicholas

    Although I have a friend doing my SEO and all things techie for me; find this easy to read and understand. Thanks

    So many posts I have read make it sound so complicated! Will bookmark and have another read later.

    Patricia Perth Australia

    • It doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s like riding a bike. When you first start, it’s difficult but as you get the hang of it, it becomes a natural part of your routine. At least it was for me as a kid.

  • Shree says:

    Can you please explain SEO factor #11? How can Google find out the domain registration detail?

    • Eric is correct. A lot of people attempt to spam Google and get listed quickly so Google often hesitates to list brand new sites from unknown sources. This is referred to as a sandbox.

      Those same spam sites are often labeled as spam rather quickly by Google so they are then abandoned for new sites. With this in mind, many spammers only register for the minimum 1 year knowing that it will be canceled and replaced.

      As a result, Google now assumes that authoritative, legitimate websites are those that have been around a good bit and are planning on being around a good bit.

  • Whiztechy says:

    Great list Nicholas, I totally agree with all factors. Many bloggers ignore interlinking and using keywords in images. Using images in keywords helps to drive good traffic to blog.

    • I’ve noticed a noticable improvement in my site’s performance when including more images in the posts. It helps make the post more enjoyable for your human readers and they provide more information for Google to crunch.

  • Robert says:

    I will ignore most of your SEO factor except SEO Factor #4: Genuinely high-quality, unique content. This SEO factor is vital. The key to success at your blog is to create awesome content that people enjoy. Until we master the art of really treating each visitor with gratitude like I walked in a nice restaurant. you will not see banners here for this, for that, you can not even see prices on the menu. If the visitor can spot the SEO on yoursite, the defense is up. My focus on people needs, desires, and wants than figuring out how to please google. At the end of the day google is trying to please the user. Know more about your audience than google knows. There are more websites brings more traffic than google.

    • If feel bad that you think the rest of the points will negate your efforts on the fourth one.

      The truth is that most posts only receive referral traffic for the first few days. That organic traffic degrades like half-lives each day.

      After that, it will likely never be seen again unless you focus on search engine marketing in which case you will then be able to bring people to it who are specifically interested in that topic. In my opinion, that is focusing on connecting with readers.

  • Eric Bonnici says:

    Nice SEO checklist you have here.

    @Whiztechy Google can access databases to find out information about a domain. I assume they use the whois database.

    You can find out information about domains by going here http://domains.whois.com/

    All of this plays a role in your SEO and search engine rankings.

    Hope this helps
    Eric

  • Nice list my friend. I definitely agree with all of it.

    I used to think keyword density was this “huge deal,” turns out, it isn’t as crazy as people make it out to be.

    I worked professionally as an SEO for about 9 months and I gotta say, this is about as close as it gets. Great post.

  • Elena says:

    Great Tips Nick. I feel as though you can never get enough tips with SEO because it’s so tricky. I need to get a sitemap implemented on a site I’ll be implementing soon. It’s interesting to see how important keywords are in making your site seo-friendly. Thanks for the useful information.

    • As you grow in your experience with it, I think you’ll find it’s less tricky than it once was. If you put these to practice, they can eventually become a natural part of your routine as you publish new posts. I like posting these every once in a while as a reminder to help us all keep implementing them.

    • Elena, it’s amazing how important reading other people’s blogs and comments are, reading your comment has just triggered my memory to add a sitemap to my newest site. Thank you – I totally forgot!

      “If we all treat each other like we treat ourselves – what a wonderful place earth would be.”

  • x-tra says:

    Nice post Nicholas.
    Not much knowledge that I didn’t already had, but always nice to get a summary of the most important stuff. I already try to follow these advises, but I guess it can always be a little bit better.

  • tushar says:

    well, to be very honest, i am still a newbie when it come to SEO and needs some easy-to-understand stuff that can help me in basic terminologies..
    can you tell me some resources.

    P.S.- is 15 your favorite number?

    • It’s my favorite number for this year. It’s easy to create a consistent number of new posts using it in 2011. I actually have about 20 more ideas that I plan to keep using throughout the year.

      Honestly, you don’t need a lot of resources to get good at search engine optimization. If you do need more, check out http://www.seomoz.com.

  • mark says:

    Great list post & an interesting variety of comments too.

    Personally, I have had a fair amount of success working for both readers and search engines on a few small niche sites. It really is not hard once you get the hang of it.

    Really, with alt tags and meta data added to the other things (most of which is fairly natural – of course your keyword is in your title, right?), this is a pretty easy thing to get right.

    My current weakness is standards compliant code….will get to it one of these days… 😉

    Have a good day!

    • My code isn’t quite perfect either, but at least it’s semantically correct. The structure is solid and I’m using the HTML5 markup also which some argue is excellent for sites trying to rank due to the clear structure that it uses which allows sites to be seen clearly for what they are about.

  • Seth Waite says:

    SEO is simple and I’m glad you laid out these points in a way that readers don’t make it more complicated than it really is.

    All SEO is, is telling search engines what your website is all about. This is done by making sure your website accurately describes it’s content (Nick’s tips) and other’s second this categorization (links).

    Running an SEO company I try to make it this simple for my clients to understand. It’s not complicated, it just might be worth having someone else do it for you.

    Thanks for keeping SEO real.

    • I agree, Seth. Most folks make it so much more complicated than it needs to be. It’s always my intention to make it as simple as possible.

      • Peter says:

        SEO in that sense is simple, but for most companies the bottom line is making money. Hence it’s not enough to tell search engines what the site is about – for businesses anyway. For them it’s about making SEO profitable, and beating the competition. That’s the trouble (I think) for so many people.

  • Yeah these all factors are the key features and each SEO should remember all these points

  • Vivek Parmar says:

    that’s a great round-up of seo. You have collected each and every aspect of SEO and it helps everyone who wants to know SEO.
    thanks for the round-up

  • Peter says:

    Great list. I find though that the success you can expect depends a lot on the niche you occupy. Talk about hot topics (SEO for instance) and you can expect a good response. Talk about ink cartridges (for instance) and it’s much harder to get people to engage.

  • Justine says:

    What a comprehensive post you have there Nicholas. I’m just a newbie in this SEO job and just learned some terminologies and stuff. Your list enables me to understand those terms and their functions even better. However, SEO should not only be focused on ranking the site but in giving the readers the information that they need which means providing them a good content.

  • Albin Stoop says:

    I really doubt that these two factors are included in their algorithm;

    “SEO Factor #11: Length of the remaining domain registration.”
    In Sweden, we generally only register a domain for one year at the time and then each year we pay to keep the domain one more year. That would mean that whole sweden gets disadvantage in Google. Sweden = spammers?

    “SEO Factor #14: The existence of a meta description for your page.”
    Well it’s good to have a visible description in Google so that the potential visitors can read a summary about your site before they enter. But Google don’t care of the existence, I doub’t that.

    Really good list in general – bookmarked! 🙂

    • You are absolutely correct. Sorry Nicholas. Here is Google’s Matt Cutts totally denying your number 11.

      There is a lot of misinformation or half-truths in SEO. I’m sorry to say that this post has some.

      Before making some claims, cite case studies and examples to prove your points.

      Not everything in this list is true and following some of these items blindly can actually lead to penalties. (keyword stuffing)

    • Actually, Albin, that demonstrates that you didn’t actually read point number 14 since I specifically explained that the point of creating a good description is to entice the human eyeballs that will see the listing on the search results page.

  • Tom Durkin says:

    Great information. thanks for sharing! I employ most of these already, and agree that social networking links are important despite most of them being ‘nofollow’

    Tom

  • Hey Nicholas

    Thanks for providing a ton of value in this post in simple non techie terms. I generally get a lot of this right but I know I should be far better at having my definitive keyword list and using it more often within my content and title tags.

    Great reminder. I think it’s also totally doable to have quality and remarkable content plus make it SEO optimized.

    Natalie

  • Factor #2: very important, yet very difficult to get consistently from natural linkers…..any tips on how to keep your keywords on the minds of other bloggers that may or may not link to you from time to time naturally?

  • Greg says:

    Thanks for the insightful post Nicholas, I definately think some people spend far too long on the tech side of seo, and while it is important to get your title and keywords right, surely good content, design and usability are more important than trying to get up the rankings.

  • Thanks for some great advice. I thought I knew the basics of SEO, but there were some new things here. Thanks

  • Melvin says:

    Well ironically I used to not care at all about search engines. I mean I came from the performance marketing world with PPC and advertising so when I created melvinblog I was more into branding more than search. In fact I really never cared about search traffic or any organic rankings.

    I could say its different now this year. Why? Because SEOing a site doesn’t really mean relying on SEO. And the main reason why I don’t do much SEO is because I want to show that I don’t rely to search for traffic. That’s what pride and stupidity can do I guess. 😉

    So yeah, SEO your site and always be updated with the search engines algorithm.

  • Ben says:

    I think the title tag and the back link anchors are most important, too.
    Great article.

  • […] The 15 Most Important SEO Factors in 2011 – SiteSketch101 Bloggers and webmasters are constantly wondering why Google is such a bully […]

  • Arad says:

    Great tips Nicholas. I have a question regarding page titles: if my title is like: “kw1 kw2 kw3 kw4 kw5” and my site ranks ok for searching “kw1 kw2” I will improve my rankings for the previous search phrase removing the last 3 keywords for the title (having the title “kw1 kw2”)? Thank you.

  • SEO # 4 is so true and highly ignored by some people imo. #8 is something I’ve never considered before, however I see how it can make an improvement!

  • Nicholas, This is a good list, great advice for anyone doing their own SEO. One thing I’d add is to look into plugins for SEO and sitemaps, there are tools out there that can help. And to @Robert’s point about #4 being his main objective, I agree about good content. But the best article in the world won’t really be that without any readers, if they can’t find the post. FWIW.

  • AllieRambles says:

    This is definitely a list I am going to always reference. I read it once but will need to read it numerous times til it sinks in.

    I think I have most covered but I will check again.

    Bookmarked AND IntaPaper’d it!

  • ah hong says:

    Love the part where sprinkling salt all over the meat for the repeated keyword technique. May I know what is the best % of keyword density in SEO? Overall it’s a good post on SEO. Thanks Nick for sharing.

  • Kavya Hari says:

    Hi, i would like to thank Nicholas for written a great article on here. From here, all these 15 SEO points would be useful for article writer because it has the worth full information and so on.

  • Ashish says:

    really awesome post. Really helpful

  • Kirsty says:

    Thanks Nicolas for sharing this. I will use this as my SEO 2011 guide to drive traffic on my sites and have a wonderful results that will convert to dollars 😀 I agree so much on the “existence of a meta description for your page”

  • […] The tech team needs to hit all the important SEO factors: keywords, browser titles, tags, etc. If it’s a blog, use plugins to help […]

  • James Hobson says:

    You have shared nice information about website optimization. it’s for on page optimization. can u shared us off page optimization factor also?

  • this post has almost all the seo factors I was looking for..I learned a lot today and this will help in popularizing by blog

  • Nasif says:

    Keyword in images can bring decent traffic but I always forget to add alt tag in images…

  • Jenny says:

    Hi Nicholas,

    I agree with having keywords in domain name will be a benefit.

    But I still don’t find an answer about how long a domain name should be?

    is two sentences of domain better than three?

    Thank you

    ~J.

  • Pavel Stoev says:

    I truly enjoyed reading your post. All very important tips, particularly the one about keywords being part of anchor text of backlinks. The more backlinks from popular and credible websites the easier it is to get good rankings from search engines.

    My Lastest Blog Post: Easy and fast way to do cross-browser testing

  • Great SEO list you have here Nicholas! SEO is an ongoing, never ending process. I was not aware that factor numbers 3 and 11 played any role in SEO. Thanks for sharing!

    @ Elena, it’s amazing how important reading other people’s blogs and comments are, reading your comment has just triggered my memory to add a sitemap to my newest site. Thank you – I totally forgot!

    “If we all treat each other like we treat ourselves – what a wonderful place earth would be.”

  • Abhishek says:

    Hi
    I have a wordpress based website/blog. Can you please guide me whether a CMS is better or an HTML website regarding SEO factors and PR?
    thanks

  • […] good article about SEO from sitesketch101.com . Optimizing your blog by using these very easy to follow guidelines will help your increase […]

  • MP says:

    Anyone else noticed that #5 (keyword in domain) can outweigh any other factors? Great example is this site burtonsnowboardsonsale.com that ranks #5 coincidentally for (Burton snowboards sale) but has ZERO content and Zero link juice. Basically it has great ranking purely on domain name!

  • car says:

    I always was interested in this topic and still am, thanks for posting .

  • Sometimes, it helps to see the whole tricky art of SEO being explained in such clear detail. Keep up the great work, Nic!

  • Brandi Starr says:

    Great post! It is important for business owners to choose their web designer wisely and have the conversations to make sure these things are being done.

  • Dan says:

    Very interesting article, but i would like to point out an additional factor that has played a tremendous role in search engine optimization this year, specifically this summer. After the panda update i noticed many of my clients sites that were engaging there visitors using social networking sites decrease rankings. This may play a role in further algo updates during the 2012.

  • Krishan says:

    Pretty basic stuff, but important as we might overlook many things here just for the same of knowing them… Good work

  • kevin says:

    You forgot one: SPEED. Massively important.

  • The bounce rate is now a factor which correlates with user experience, design, and content of the website.

    • I couldn’t agree more. Folks have no idea how important these elements are to the success of their blogs and websites. Although content is king, and we hear that shouted from every blog, the truth is that if folks are clicking away before seeing your content, why would Google and other search engines want to send people your direction?

  • I’ll follow this tips on my blog. thanks for knowing such good tips.

  • Web Designer says:

    There is some good stuff in there, although I would have expected the authority, relevance and anchor text of incoming links to be at the top of this list!?

  • […] his post on the 15 most important SEO factors in 2011, Nicholas brought up a lot of great points and touched on some key steps you can take to optimize […]

  • […] Text. Anchor text is one of the most important SEO factors due to the weight on the quality and quantity of the external links. The anchor text that is […]

  • […] Subscribers: 2,303     Followers: 12,726 By Nicholas Cardot 60 Comments […]

  • Akash Kumar says:

    A nice compilation of all the resources Nick, its good to find everything under one place.

  • […] Writing is necessary to connect with your audience. It’s also essential for content placement which will help the overall marketing strategy and when optimizing your pages to rank higher in the search engines. […]

  • You have talked about some great factor. It is very important for doing SEO. If anyone want to do SEO he or she should learn these thing. Thanks for your sharing.

  • Sagar says:

    Thanks a lot for these tips Nicholas, will implement these in my next post. 🙂

  • MelodyBoniao says:

    Quality Used Engines is all about solving a simple little conundrum that, sooner or later, always becomes a big problem. That problem is the problem of an engine that goes bad. It’s not something that you’re going to pay special attention to, and it’s not something that you’re exactly looking out fo…

  • Mark Hoult says:

    Still really good to read a year on Nicholas.

    It would be interesting to see an author’s postscript to this noting what changed the most during 2011.

  • […] 15 Most Vital SEO Factors in 2011 @ Suite Sketch 101 […]

  • Lycan Bd says:

    Love this article so much. These are the true basics of seo.

    *Naming the images really helped me to grab lots of visitors.

    now I have a question…How can i know that i am spamming in my site?

    Thank you!

  • This excellent website really has all of the information I wanted concerning this subject and didn�t know who to ask.

  • Matrimo says:

    Thanks for your advices.

    Anyway, I am afraid to use any SEO technics now because Google is a better detective then most of us.

    There is no magical key, sometimes site who do not make SEO get a better rank. Strange.

  • Ujjwal vaish says:

    hii i m big fan of yours and this is a very nice content

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