Melanie is a tech YouTuber who loves social media and is an expert on internet culture. She also runs a YouTube channel: The Curious Coder.
There is much speculation as to which methods boost search engine ranking. Those who are new to SEO or even many seasoned SEO pros may find confusion as to what the rules really are. Many top SEO webmasters share what they do to climb up in the search engines, but are their methods actually 100% correct? Luckily, the Google patent of August 10, 2006, has cleared up a lot of questions when it comes to SEO.
On-site SEO is very important when it comes to obtaining those highly coveted top search engine positions. This guide was written to share what Google has confirmed to be correct SEO methods and contains no speculation as to what could be correct. All information here is collected from the Google patent.
#1 The Domain Name
Having the main keyword as a part of the domain name is a huge help to SEO. However, caution should be taken in selecting a domain name with a keyword. You should take your audience into consideration when selecting a domain name.
If the keyword is a long-tail keyword like "money making tips for moms," moneymakingtipsformoms.com wouldn't be a friendly domain name for readers. There are two other options, in this case, use a partial keyword like moneymakingtips.com or use a completely new name or even a made up word and brand it.
Doing SEO for a site with a made up word as a domain name can be a difficult task, but sometimes it's better than using a keyword in the domain name, especially if you want to avoid sounding spammy to your audience.
#2 Keywords in the URL
Having keywords as a part of a page's URL is different than using them in the domain name, but is still of major importance. Doing this not only helps sites with keywords in the domain name but also helps those trying to do SEO for a domain with a made-up, branded name. Imagine there is an article on your doll site about vintage doll dresses. For this article, you're likely targeting "vintage doll dresses" as your keyword. To help this particular page along, you'll want your URL to reflect your keyword. If you own the domain name of dolldresses.com, you'll want the URL of this particular article to be something like dolldresses.com/vintage_doll_dresses.
This is the same if you own a branded domain name. The search engine will see the URL of the article and say to itself, "Oh this page is about vintage doll dresses, I'm going to rank this a bit higher in the search results for that keyword." Different content management systems handle URLs differently, so it's important to look into how URLs are generated. Blogger, for example, uses the title of a post as part of the URL. Drupal, another popular blogging platform uses nodes which are not good for SEO. For example, an article on vintage doll dresses will end up with a URL similar to dolldresses.com/node21. Luckily, there are plug-ins and workarounds for Drupal that will create more search engine friendly URLs!
#3 Keywords in the Title Tag
Having keywords in the title tag is one of the most important factors in search engine ranking when it comes to on-site SEO. When adding a keyword to part of the title tag, it's important to make it look natural.
A site with keywords crammed in the title can quickly look desperate (and Google doesn't like it, either.) It's a good idea to avoid adding too many keywords in the title. Instead of having a title like "Dolls, vintage doll dresses, collectible dolls, antique dolls, and more doll keywords," it's a good idea to choose one important keyword to be a part of the title. In doing this, the site name will flow better and look better to both human audiences and the search engines.
It's also a good idea to include part of the brand in the title to help readers remember the site. If a branded domain like SandeesCollection.com is being used, something like "Sandee's Vintage Doll Dress Collection" would be a great title tag.
#4 Keywords in the Header Tags
The H1, H2, and H3 tags are what make up the headings on a page. Search engines get clues as to the main idea of a particular website from these headings, so it's a good idea to put keywords here. Using keywords in the header tags are perhaps one of the most important aspects of SEO, so it's definitely not something to ignore! However, it is also a bad idea to make headers all about keywords.
Sacrificing reader satisfaction in the name of SEO is never a good idea. One other point about headers that I must mention is that it is a travesty when designers rename the tags when working with CSS. When this happens, search engines are unable to tell whether or not they are headers and thus an important aspect of SEO on a site has been lost (until the designer changes the tags back to their default names.)
#5 Link Churn
There are a variety of topics covered in the Google patent which covers outgoing links on a website, which I will cover in tips 5, 6, and 7. The first of these topics is "link churn." Link churn is the rate in which links on a page change over time, thus is basically a measure of outgoing link stability of a site. When a website frequently changes the sites which it links to, Google starts to penalize the links and the site. This is because when links change frequently on a site, the site is likely a part of some linking scheme (such as paid back links.) Thus, it's important to not frequently change the outgoing links on a particular website.
#6 Don't Link to Spammy Sites
It is also important to link to sites that Google sees as "good." When a website links to a spam site or other type of site that Google looks poorly upon, it makes the website look bad. SEO is basically a popularity contest and if a website hangs out with the bad crowd, Google is going to assume the website is a PART of the bad crowd. This doesn't mean you should only link to authority sites, it just means not linking to spammy, blacklisted sites.
#7 Content Freshness
Google loves when a site is constantly adding to its repertoire. Fresh, new content on a site shows Google that the website is important. Nobody wants to read stale, old content from three years ago, so keeping up on the trends and publishing new content on a site is the bee's knees to Google.
While it's important for a website to have fresh content, it's even more important that the content is relevant to the site. Google is all about relevancy (that's the whole point behind SEO, anyway.) Thus, it's a bad idea to publish something new on a site just for the sake of content freshness.
#8 Outgoing Link Anchor Text
The anchor text is also of important when it comes to outgoing links. It's important for links to be somewhat descriptive of the site it's linking to. For example, when linking to a site like eBay, it's a good idea to have either "eBay" or "online auctions" as a part of the link text and not something like, "go here" or "Amazon" as the link text.
#9 Site Age
Site age isn't just about how old a domain is (although aged domains are pretty awesome to have.) How long a particular site has been up on the domain is what I'm talking about here. The older a site, the better.
Anyone can throw a site on the Internet overnight, but does this necessarily mean that the website is trustworthy? When a website has been up for a long time, it basically shows Google, "Hey, I'm one of the regulars." It's much easier to trust a regular than the new guy in town. One thing that's nice about having an older site is that when fresh content is added to the site, it fares better in the search engines than new content on a new site. This is basically Google's way of saying, "I'm new to this content, but the guy delivering it is cool by me, therefore the content is cool." Like I said, SEO is a huge popularity contest.
#10 Domain Registration Time
I seriously argue this point with a TON of people, but seriously, look at the Google patent: it's there! The length of time remaining on a domain is important. The more time left on a domain, the better. When a domain is registered for 5 or 10 years, it shows Google, "Hey, I'm going to be here a while."
Domains that are only registered for a year make a site look like there's a possibility it may be gone in a year. This doesn't mean those looking to have a successful website need to fork over the money for 5 years on a domain when they register it. The time can be added later and, when it is, Google may give a nice boost in the SERPs. It is seriously really important, though.
© 2010 Melanie Shebel
poetryman6969 on February 04, 2015:
Some very useful information here. Voted up.
F. Vahdad on April 16, 2013:
Most things are on my checked list and thankfully are already done and in process. One think that I have to double check is linking detail to pages like eBay and Amazon. Great post and highly appreciate it
MrHunter from Highway 24 on November 29, 2012:
Ur analogies really help my understanding and encourage me to get more in the flow here, ma'am. To date, my attention has been focused on writing alone.
JAMIE from Cagayan de Oro on November 23, 2012:
there's just one thing I'd like to ask... how would I know that a certain website is spammy? Not linking to them sounds really important. I am actually very new to SEO (trying to figure it out and practicing backlinks for only 2weeks now). It would be really great if you can somehow enlighten me...
kim hudges on September 17, 2012:
Great Hub, Thumbs Up
ShaamCA from India on July 26, 2012:
which is the most important method out of these list?
Dr Anupma Srivastava from India on July 03, 2012:
Thanks for sharing such important information.
Hub is really very helpful to the beginners and of course to us all.
Steve Mitchell from Cambridgeshire on July 02, 2012:
I am trying to absorb SEO and have not yet mastered it for my hubs. At first I just cracked on writing hub content. Now I am thinking before I write any old tosh. Hopefully I will begin to seee results. Your article confirms some of my thinking.
Thanks for sharing this.
zein-okeh from Indonesia on December 22, 2011:
Seo make me confused and I've learned over a year ago and still a little confused, and this is one seo methods that I had to learn again. thanks for this
SilkThimble from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on December 17, 2011:
Another informative hub. #10 is fascinating! And pretty easy to address - definitely on my To Do list for end of year clean up.
Lalit Rajput from Chandigarh, India on December 16, 2011:
Thanks for sharing such a nice resources for newbies to know what to do for seo to get higher rankings.
World-Traveler from USA on November 14, 2011:
Very informative. I never stop learning about all of this. Voted UP! and Useful. Thank you.
Matt Jackson from UK on November 01, 2011:
There's some decent on-page SEO tips although obviously 5 years since the patent means a lot has likely changed now.
Also, just because information is contained in a patent doesn't mean it's actually being employed yet, or that it ever will be employed for that matter.
Nevertheless, they're all good practice anyway, and offer side benefits that certainly mean they're worth doing.
SEO Pakistan on November 01, 2011:
Hey! I just would like to give an enormous thumbs up for the great data you could have here on this post. I can be coming again to your weblog for extra soon.
Annette R. Smith from Ocala, Florida on October 29, 2011:
I'm working on optimizing many of my pages, here and elsewhere, so finding your article was timely for me. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us! I'm heading to your other SEO hubs right now!
Karen N from United States on October 23, 2011:
Very helpful for anyone needing a little help with SEO.
rebecca seo on September 04, 2011:
You have made some excellent points here. Thanks for your contribution
Victor Mavedzenge from Oakland, California on September 04, 2011:
Thanks for the tips.I had no idea about the domain registration length.
Toysbase on September 01, 2011:
Very Good! It's very useful .
kerlynb from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^ on August 25, 2011:
Very useful for a newbie like me. Really, thanks a lot! :D
Los Angeles Search Engine Optimization on August 03, 2011:
I simply loved your article. On page is kind of a base for any website. Can you please explain me a bit more about Link Churn?
Danette Watt from Illinois on July 27, 2011:
this is definitely a topic I need to read much more about. As you said, it's confusing and there seems to be conflicting information out there. I'm bookmarking this so I can re-read it later. Voted up and useful
whoisbid on July 19, 2011:
Thanks for the information. It is always nice to see how people do seo. I also appreciate your kindness is coming to my Hub. Well done and thanks!
Olaguma from Slovenia on July 13, 2011:
Great article! I must say: Past 2 years I was always reading tons of articles and forums about SEO optimization (it pays to be up to date) :) But you really put all the basics in one place, it was good to remember some of them. If I would have to recommend a reading about must do SEO methods I would recommend your hub for sure :)... I got pandalized on just one site, where I was doing only pure White hat methods...
Have you had any encounter with the Panda update? I would love to get your opinion on it.
darntoothysam from Burnsville, MN on July 10, 2011:
Honestly, out of the 200+ ranking factors, the only ones that really matter are:
- Title tag
- incoming anchor text
- pagerank sculpting
Everything else is so small compared to these that if you do these 3 right and you're not in a highly competitive market you will get good rankings.
If you are on hubpages trying to learn how to win at SEO in a highly competitive market... you aren't going to win.
I love the comment above by "Accounting SEO" ... they are spamming comments with their desired anchor text in a no-follow link! This is NOT how you do SEO. LOL
Joe Bricky from Northern Nevada on July 08, 2011:
Good information. Thanks.
MarloByDesign from United States on July 06, 2011:
Thanks so much for this information. Regarding your point, "The H1, H2, and H3 tags are what make up the headings on a page. Search engines get clues as to the main idea of a particular website from these headings, so it's a good idea to put keywords here." - Are you referring to the H1, H2, and H3 tags in WordPress for example? Thanks so much.
Venture Boyz from Floating in the clouds on July 02, 2011:
#10 Domain Registration Time - This was a pretty cool point.. I've never even thought of that but it does make sense.
Accounting SEO on June 04, 2011:
Onpage factors holds the key for the success of off-page optimisation of a website. Thanks a lot for this information
Melanie Shebel (author) from Midwest, USA on May 14, 2011:
Oh definitely, deblipp, the urls aren't as important as they once were. However, if you DO have a branded site like: buzzpopsnap.com or something and have an article on cranberry juice, it will help having information on that in the rest of the url: buzzpopsnap.com/cranberryjuice versus buzzpopsnap.com/node21
Also, with the Project Rungay blog, using a term like "Tom & Lorenzo" would be easier for them to rank for because it's long-tail and not very many sites use that term (if any.) For example, if I were to write an article called "Macaroni and Cheese is cooler than owning a cat" and use a url like website.com, of course I'll rank for it, even though I don't use the keywords in the url.
Thank you for your comment. :)
deblipp on May 13, 2011:
Hi melbel. These are excellent tips, but I disagree in part about the urls. I don't think user-friendly urls are very important anymore, because people bookmark everything and navigate through RSS, through bookmarks, through SB sites like Stumble, or (and I find this very often), they navigate through Google.
There's no need to give your site the same name as its url. The popular fashion blog Project Rungay officially changed its name to "Tom & Lorenzo" over a year ago and only changed its url this week, and people found them just fine, because of all these other navigation methods.
JesicaJ from USA on April 18, 2011:
# of pages on the website, Breadcrumb, CMS you used, also conversion is important factor.
John Paul Hogbin on April 08, 2011:
Great tips. I have now more ideas on site seo,lots of ideas to be learned in here.
Melanie Shebel (author) from Midwest, USA on April 04, 2011:
Agraj, just make sure, regardless of what plug-ins you use, regardless of what CMS you use, or any other type of software you have on your site, that your output HTML meets the above rule. Also, watch your domain registration time and keep your content fresh!
agraj from London, UK on February 19, 2011:
do you have some words about onpage issues if i use Zencart ?
Melanie Shebel (author) from Midwest, USA on January 24, 2011:
I'm glad you all found this to be so helpful! :)
sandeep.uniyal8 from Delhi on January 10, 2011:
Thanks for providing such good information. Its really helpful.
jolisa on December 12, 2010:
Helpful information, thank you, interesting to read about Domain Registration Time being important.
jay on December 02, 2010:
Good point Mel, on-site is the stuff you can really get to grips with. I have had a site ranked #1 for a niche keyword without using ANY off-site (other than one link to get the site spidered in the first place).
I could do with tips on how to apply SEO to WordPress - I am struggling to reconcile the ease of creating a WP site, with the royal pain in the a$$ of trying to give the pages proper URL's the plug-ins don't seem to offer much help...
Melanie Shebel (author) from Midwest, USA on September 26, 2010:
Back links are EXTREMELY important, but they would be considered a part of off-page SEO. I will write a hub on those techniques for you soon. I do want to say that while back links are important, it is probably one of the most boring parts of SEO. On-page SEO is always there for you to spice things up with SEO and keep things interesting. Testing with a variety of on-page factors can help improve a site, so don't be afraid to do some tweaking to see what works.
my-success-guru from Upstate NY on September 26, 2010:
Great seo tips! I read that a top seo expert claims back links are the most important factor for seo. Acording to Google patent how important are back links and what is the best strategy to get them?
Joni Douglas on September 26, 2010:
Thanks for the great information. You have answered a number of questions for me.
Hello, hello, from London, UK on September 26, 2010:
You have given a fantastic amount tips which help to improve our Ranking. Thank you
SteveoMc from Pacific NorthWest on September 25, 2010:
Glad to have this thinking hub. I will think a lot more about this stuff before I am done. I like being exposed to this stuff over and over. Since I am slow to learn, it is the only way.