Any discussion about SEO Fundamentals needs to start with Google. With over 75% of the world’s web searches now being conducted via Google, it’s safe to say that your potential customers will be starting their journey there as well.

Google is the gold standard of Search Engines in both overall search volume and search quality. I’ll save the rationale behind Google’s dominance for another day, but undoubtedly a large portion of their rise to the top of Search Engine excellence can be attributed to their proprietary algorithm, which is the set of calculations performed against the web’s content that decides which web sites they think their viewers will find most relevant for the entered keywords.

Google’s is the most difficult search engine to optimize against because it does the best job of filtering out all of the short-cuts marketers try to use to cheat the system. Google makes a company work to return high organically. At the most basic of Google’s (and hence, SEO’s) driving factors to page rank are:

* How much relevant content does your site have, and

* How highly the web community values your content (measured in number of links from other sites to your content).

This means that the early days of tweaking a few meta tag descriptions to fix your web site’s SEO are long, long gone. In today’s game, SEO cannot be thought of as a one-time expense. It requires a commitment. Based on your competition, your industry and your objectives, it may also require a good deal of time and money before you see results. There is no short-cut around satisfying these two criteria. If an SEO Consultant tells you there is, it’s likely either a scam or an activity that could get your site blacklisted.

So, how exactly does a company show Google great, relevant content that’s as popular and externally-validated as a southern Homecoming Queen? There’s no magic answer, and the rules are always changing, but….

Without further ado, and in no particular order, Google’s 20 most important factors to better SEO rankings.

1. Keyword Use in Title Tag – Placing the targeted search term or phrase in the title tag of the web page’s HTML header.

2. Keyword Use in Body Text – Using the targeted search term in the visible, HTML text of the page.

3. Relationship of Body Text Content to Keywords – Topical relevance of text on the page compared to targeted keywords.

4. Keyword Use in a web page’s Headline (H1 Tag) – Creating an H1 tag with the targeted search term/phrase.

5. Keyword Use in Domain Name & Page URL

6. Link Popularity within the Site’s Internal Link Structure – Refers to the number and importance of internal links pointing to the target page.

7. Quality/Relevance of Links to External Sites/Pages – Do links on the page point to high quality, topically-related pages?

8. Age of Document – Older pages may be perceived as more authoritative while newer pages may be more temporarily relevant.

9. Amount of Indexable Text Content – Refers to the literal quantity of visible HTML text on a page.

10. Quality of the Document Content (as measured algorithmically) – Assuming search engines can use text, visual or other analysis methods to determine the validity and value of content, this metric would provide some level of rating.

11. Global Link Popularity of Site – The overall link weight/authority as measured by links from any and all sites across the web (both link quality and quantity).

12. Age of Site – Not the date of original registration of the domain, but rather the launch of indexable content seen by the search engines (note that this can change if a domain switches ownership).

13. Topical Relevance of Inbound Links to Site – The subject-specific relationship between the sites/pages linking to the target page and the target keyword.

14. Link Popularity of Site in Topical Community – The link weight/authority of the target website amongst its topical peers in the online world.

15. Rate of New Inbound Links to Site – The frequency and timing of external sites linking in to the given domain.