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The Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

SEO Periodic Table

The good folks at Search Engine Land have created and released a tool that goes a long way towards simplifying SEO for the masses.  Well, the masses with a chemistry degree anyway.  Just kidding – read on to see how easy this is…

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Don’t let the high school flashback scare you away (like it did to me at first) – it’s actually very easy to read and breaks down critical SEO information in a way that makes sense and allows you to fine tune your website with a solid understanding of what you’re doing and why.  Let’s look at it in a bit more detail.

  • On the left side, you have the “on page SEO” factors – these are the aspects of SEO that you can control on your own website.
  • In the middle you have the representation of the SEO factors, along with “element names” and weights.  The element names correspond with items on the left and right sides.  The weights correspond with the impact that element will have on your SEO.  A +3 is a strong positive impact while a -3 is a strong negative impact.  These are also color coded – darker colors have stronger impact (either positive or negative).  Pretty cool, right? Why didn’t I think of this?
  • On the right side, you have the “off page SEO” factors – these are the areas you have less control over, yet can still influence.

Improve your search engine ranking by understanding and implementing these critical SEO Elements

I won’t waste your time going over each item as I’m sure you’re more than capable, but lets look at the ones that are shown as most critical – those marked as either +3 or -3:

  • Cq(+3):  Quality
    • The quality of the content on your site today is critical.  In the past, you could have “spun” content (automatically re-written or even plagiarized articles) that were just good enough to get by Google’s algorithms.  Today, this is a whole lot tougher as the algorithms have improved and Google has become very, very good at spotting plagiarized content.  There is another “element” above for duplicate content, but it should be addressed here as duplicate content is NOT quality content, regardless of how well written it is.
    • To get top marks from Google, your content must be unique, well written, easily readable, and relevant.
  • Ac(+3):  Crawl
    • If Google can’t “crawl” your site, your rankings will suffer.  There are several aspects of this to watch for
      • Sitemaps make crawling your site easier and it’s always best to make it as easy as possible on Google, so ensure your site has a sitemap and it is readable and functional.  You can check the reliability of your site map on Google Webmaster Tools or on various other sites around the internet.
      • Robots.txt file tells search engines what pages they can or cannot crawl.  Or, more precisely, which pages you would like the crawl and which you would not like them to crawl.  They’re robots…they don’t always listen!  The key here is to make sure you are not accidentally telling them to not crawl pages you want crawled.  An incorrectly configured robots.txt file often causes sites to not be crawled correctly.  There is a “robots.txt” tester at the same Google Webmaster Tools link given above.
  • Ht(+3):  Titles
    • The titles you use on your site’s pages have critical impact on your rankings.  This impact is so big, you can change the ranking of a page or site simply by providing a good title.  A good practice here is to research the keywords you want your site to be ranked for and ensure that keyword is the title of your main page.  This one simple step can drastically enhance your search engine results.
  • Cr(+3):  Research
    • This applies to the above topic – we’re talking about researching keywords.  Do not assume your first thought about what to rank your site for is accurate.  You (or your SEO person) must research to ensure you are targeting the best keywords.  This means keywords that actually have people searching for them on the internet.  It’s common to ask a business owner what their site is ranking for and be told that it is ranking #1 for several terms that have zero search results.  So yes, they are ranking #1 for those terms, but there is nobody searching for those terms.  Do do the research or have somebody do it for you to make sure your site is focused on keywords that have search volume – do not skimp on this as it is the single most important part of the SEO recipe.
  • Vp(-3):  Paid
    • Paying for links?  Shame on you.  You better hope Google doesn’t find out.  There are good and bad places to buy links but Google views any form of payment for links as evil or “black hat” SEO and will penalize your site if they find you doing it.  Backlinks are the true currency of the internet – each backlink you get to your website from another site is a vote of credibility and relevancy for your site and these backlinks are what will catapult your site into the stratospheric reaches of the Google search results.  But paying for them instead of earning them naturally goes against Google’s master plan.  So, my first advice, don’t do it.  But, if you do be very selective about the process.  Actually, nix that…just don’t do it!
  • VI(-3):  Spam
    • Are you creating backlinks to your site by spamming blogs, forums or other sites with those annoying and nonsensical entries?  You know the ones – the comment is something like “I appreciate this article, I learned a lot” or “buy purple Nikes at my site today for half off” and they’re posted on a doctor’s website and the link back to your site which is about dog training.  No relevance, no sense, no value for anybody reading it – it’s just there to get a link from that site to yours.  It’s spam – don’t do it.  It’ll wreck your site’s credibility.
  • Vc(-3):  Cloaking
    • This is a fun one – we’ve all seen it.  You do a  search, find something interesting and click on the link and you end up at a payday loan site, or maybe online gambling site when you actually clicked on a dog training link.  This is Cloaking – the act of redirecting or misdirecting users.  It’s also a matter of showing search engines something different than what the humans see.  It creates no value and has no benefit for the person – again, it’s strictly a means of getting a visitor to a site they didn’t intend to visit.  Don’t do it.

Well, that’s a quick overview of the critical “elements” of SEO – I hope you found it interesting.  Just please understand that although I spent time on the +/- 3 elements only, the others are important as well and they all play together.  Don’t ignore the others, just understand that some carry more weight than others and given a finite amount of time to tweak your SEO, you should focus on the heavy hitters first.

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