Trust, Authority, Identity & Search Rankings

If search engines can decide to trust links or social accounts, can they learn to trust websites? Absolutely. Many SEOs believe that site trust plays a big role in whether a site will succeed or fail from a search perspective.

Ta: Authority

Is your site an authority? Is it a widely recognized leader in its field, area, business or in some other way? That’s the goal.

No one knows exactly how search engines calculate authority and, in fact, there are probably multiple “authority” signals. The type of links your site receives (lots of quality or ‘neighborhood’ links?) or social references (from respected accounts?) and engagement metrics (long clicks?) may all play a role in site authority. Of course, negative sentiment and reviews may hurt site authority.

There’s little doubt that search engines try to assess authority. One only needs to look through thequestions Google told publishers to ask themselves in building high-quality sites that should be immune to “Panda” updates. The words trust, authority and expertise are all frequently mentioned.

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HTML Code & Search Engine Success Factors

HTML is the underlying code used to create web pages. Search engines can pick up ranking signals from specific HTML elements. Below are some of the most important HTML elements to achieve SEO success.

Ht: HTML Title Tag

Imagine that you wrote 100 different books but gave them all the same exact title. How would anyone understand that they are all about different topics?

Imagine that you wrote 100 different books, and while they did have different titles, the titles weren’t very descriptive — maybe just a single word or two. Again, how would anyone know, at a glance, what the books were about?

HTML titles have always been and remain the most important HTML signal that search engines use to understand what a page is about. Bad titles on your pages are like having bad book titles in the examples above. In fact, if your HTML titles are deemed bad or not descriptive, Google changes them.

So think about what you hope each page will be found for, relying on the keyword research you’ve already performed. Then craft unique, descriptive titles for each of your pages. For more help about this, see our posts in the category below:

  • SEO: Titles and Descriptions

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Site Architecture & Search Engine Success Factors

The next major On-The-Page group in the Periodic Table Of SEO Success Factors is site architecture. The right site structure can help your SEO efforts flourish while the wrong one can cripple them.

Ac: Site Crawlability

Search engines “crawl” websites, going from one page to another incredibly quickly, acting like hyperactive speed-readers. They make copies of your pages that get stored in what’s called an “index,” which is like a massive book of the web.

When someone searches, the search engine flips through this big book, finds all the relevant pages and then picks out what it thinks are the very best ones to show first. To be found, you have to be in the book. To be in the book, you have to be crawled.

Most sites generally don’t have crawling issues, but there are things that can cause problems. For example, JavaScript or Flash can potentially hide links; making the pages those links lead to hidden from search engines. And both can potentially cause the actual words on pages to be hidden.

Each site is given a crawl budget, an approximate amount of time or pages a search engine will crawl each day, based on the relative trust and authority of a site. Larger sites may seek to improve their crawl efficiency to ensure that the ‘right’ pages are being crawled more often. The use of robots.txt, internal link structures and specifically telling search engines not to crawl pages with certain URL parameters can all improve crawl efficiency.

However, for most, crawl problems can be easily avoided. In addition, it’s good practice to use sitemaps, both HTML and XML, to make it easy for search engines to crawl your site. You’ll find more about sitemaps and dealing with potential crawling issues in the Search Engine Land categories below:

  • SEO: Submitting Sitemaps
  • SEO: Crawling and Robots

Remember, “search engine friendly design” is also “human friendly design!”

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Content & Search Engine Success Factors

Content is king. You’ll hear that phrase over and over again when it comes SEO success. Indeed, that’s why the Periodic Table Of SEO Success Factors begins with the content “elements,” with the very first element being about content quality.

Get your content right, and you’ve created a solid foundation to support all of your other SEO efforts.

Cq: Content Quality

More than anything else, are you producing quality content? If you’re selling something, do you go beyond being a simple brochure with the same information that can be found on hundreds of other sites?

Do you provide a reason for people to spend more than a few seconds reading your pages?

Do you offer real value, something of substance to visitors, that is unique, different, useful and that they won’t find elsewhere?

These are just some of the questions to ask yourself in assessing whether you’re providing quality content. This is not the place to skimp since it is the cornerstone upon which nearly all other factors depend.

  • You can find more information in the Search Engine Land SEO: Content and Writing category.

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Types Of Search Engine Success Factors

There are three major groups covered by Search Engine Land’s Periodic Table Of SEO Success Factors:

  • On-The-Page SEO
  • Off-The-Page SEO
  • Violations

Within each group are subgroups, as each chapter of this SEO guide will explain. These subgroups contain one or more individual SEO factors with a specific weight or importance.

Violations, while a group unto themselves, are displayed under the group and subgroup to which they’re associated.

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