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World's Top SEO Professionals Reveal Search Engine Ranking Factors

Every couple years SEOmoz surveys top SEO professionals to get their thoughts on current search engine ranking factors. The result is a document detailing the opinions of leading SEOs on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to search engine optimization.

This is a great resource for real estate agents & brokers working on their own sites who don’t have the time or money to do their own extensive testing to compile this type of information. Check it out…

SEOmoz’s Search Engine Ranking Factors

Now that you’ve seen the survey let’s take some time to review the…

Top 5 Ranking Factors

  1. Keyword Focused Anchor Text from External Links
    This is the text in the link pointing back to your website. Be sure not to get carried away using only one keyword/keyword phrase here. You want to have diversified anchor text linking back to your site.
  2. External Link Popularity (quantity/quality of external links)
    This includes PageRank, but remember that PageRank is not the end all (I personally stopped looking at PR a long time ago). I prefer to look at site traffic (using something like Alexa or Compete.com) as well as the overall quality of the site (is it well designed, does it have good content and user participation?).
  3. Diversity of Link Sources (links from many unique root domains)
    Basically this means that it is better to have 10 links from 10 different website then to have 1000 links from 2 different websites. This is a generalization and there are many other factors that could affect this. But all things being equal this is the case.
  4. Keyword Use Anywhere in the Title Tag
    This is in your HTML head tag where you see <title>Your Kewywords Go Here</title>. There is also some consensus in this survey that having your keywords closer to the front of the title tag is better.
  5. Trustworthiness of the Domain Based on Link Distance from Trusted Domains
    This is referring to how far your link is from a trusted source. So if a U.S. government website (a highly trusted site) links to a mortgage website, and that mortgage website links to your real estate website you are 2 clicks away from a trusted source. The closer you are to trusted sources the more trust your website will carry.

Top 5 Link Building Tactics

  1. Linkbait + Viral Content Creation
    This is a more advanced tactic that is harder to employ but can be very effective in the real estate niche. An example is the SEO survey we are currently discussing which is a great piece of link bait. Learn more from the man himself—watch this video by Matt Cutts on link bait.
  2. Blogging and Engagement with the Blogosphere
    Everybody told you to blog about real estate. Now you know why. It builds links back to your website.
  3. Classic “Create Valuable Content” Strategies w/o Promotional Marketing
    Creating valuable, useful and original content is a great way to get links back to your site. Imagine if you create the best “moving to (your neighborhood goes here)” article on the web. People would naturally link to that content.
  4. Public Relations (beyond just press release publication)
    This is a tactic I use pretty heavily. It’s how I get links from sites like CNBC and The Wall Street Journal. If you want to employ this tactic but don’t know much about PR it might be wise to hire a public relations person. I say person opposed to company because you can hire an independent contractor for much less then an agency.
  5. Direct Link Purchases from Individual Sites/Webmasters
    I’ll take a little more time to explain this one because it is a controversial tactic. Done in the wrong way this could be considered gray or even black hat. If you’re going to purchase links, think of it more as purchasing advertising. Look for highly relevant websites (whose visitors would find your site useful / interesting) with decent to good traffic. Look for areas with high click-thru rates (NOT in the footer). Google recommends that website owners nofollow these types of direct link ads, but you do not have control over what the website owner will do. I will say when buying this type of advertising you shouldn’t care if the website owner ads a nofollow to your link because the link itself should be for delivering targeted traffic…not buying PageRank.

There is more excellent info in the survey and I suggest reading through it if you’re serious about SEO. If you have any question about the other ranking factors not included in this post, please ask in the comments.

About Justin Britt

Justin Britt (justin@hawaiilife.com) is Head of Innovation and Co-Founder of a little Hawaii Real Estate company. Britt oversees user interface design, SEO, programming, public relations and social media for Hawaii's 6th largest and fastest growing real estate brokerage.

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  • billynexp

    Terrific article. You have put good tips and topics there. There are numerous different ways of making high quality backlinks. Some experts encourage the writing and submission of articles in particular. Others recommend posting on forums and creating comments on blogs.

  • I guess the thing that really stands out for me here is what *isn't* in the list of top SEO factors, rather than what is!

    • Also, if you look at the “On-Page (Non-Keyword) Ranking Factors” this is very interesting.

  • SEO

    Really informative Justin. Increasing link popularity is important in search engine optimization, and effective linking can give a real boost to your search result rankings.But there are other important benefits to link popularity that rarely get mentioned. As a result, they're not often incorporated into the planning of link campaigns, but they should be!

    1. Create a detailed map of your industry online
    2. Create trust in your brand
    3. Attract qualified leads
    4. Create value for your customers
    5. Attract even more links
    6. Establish your company in a virtual community

    • I really like creating trust in your brand and attracting even more links. Great points.

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  • do you have the pro subscription to seo moz justin?

  • Justin,
    you are the man, and now i see why you are killing it in Hawaii. I want to be just like you when I grow up 🙂

  • Thanks for the tips. There is always more to learn about SEO. Great idea about writing an article about the best features of my area. I will have to add this to my web site.

  • deanouellette

    Justin, this is GREAT content. I understand looking at alexa, im actually an addict and have the firefox plugin, but i also have great questions about it's accuracy. I think it likes me to much vs some blogs i think have higher traffic than mine

    • It's easy to spoof Alexa stats if you're using the Alexa Toolbar. So not it is not the end all. This is why I also verify the information against compete.com and quantcast.

  • Hi,
    Very informative article.As the goal is to increase your site’s visibility by achieving favourable listings within the search engine results page.I think we get a significant enough amount of traffic from images that making a change to our image domain could be detrimental.

  • Justin do you have a person you could recommend for doing that kind of public relations work you mentioned?

    • I may have a contact for you shortly. I've been looking for somebody to help me out, but currently I do all the PR myself.

  • brianrothenberg

    Just to clarify on the link purchasing point, if you buy a link for the purposes of influencing page rank, it is considered a black hat tactic. There's little wiggle room on that one – Google is pretty transparent that they will ding you if they find out. That said, Justin's point about not caring about a “nofollow” tag and using external links for targeted direct traffic is a good one.

    • If I wasn't clear enough, Brian is correct, never buy a link for PageRank. Ever. If you purchase a link it should be for relevant traffic. You can ask for a nofollow and explain it's merits to the website owner, but many do not understand it and you cannot control what they do.

  • I am so glad I stumbled upon this post, such a great find. This is going into my resource file, along with this other great post: http://blog.directorymaximizer.com/2010/01/12/w
    Thanks, Justin.

  • Excellent article. Thanks for the information

  • Great stuff. I'm kind of new to the SEO thing and so this is all very helpful information. Thanks for the post.

  • annejaa

    Well good post!Backlinks are a link to your website from another website.When they see the link on someone else's site it sends the spiders over to your site and they index your site getting it placed on a search engine organically instead of you going over and entering it.This is one way to get traffic more on your website.
    business investor daily

  • Really informative post. I especially like the 5 link building tactics. Will definitely try these stuff for my website so that I can generate more quality links.

  • Really informative post. I especially like the 5 link building tactics. Will definitely try these stuff for my website so that I can generate more quality links.

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  • Thanks for summarizing it for us. It was an excellent analysis. Blogging has been an excellent way to get links for us. Glad to hear you approve of direct link purchases. I have done this on a few occasions and it seems to have helped.

  • One day they will understand you.

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