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How do I rank highly using SEO?

It’s the Holy Grail of web marketing: how to rank highly using SEO techniques. But what factors have the greatest impact on search rankings?

A recent SearchMetrics report looked at the characteristics of 300,000 highly ranked URLs, and determined the features they most had in common.

Interestingly, the most significant factor in terms of the page content itself was the length of the HTML – with longer pages generally ranking higher.

Other positively correlated factors include the addition of images, subheaders correctly labelled using h2 tags, and self-referential internal links.

Perhaps surprisingly, h1 tags did not perform so well – and keywords included in main headers were found to be less important.

Despite all the furore about exact-match domains in recent years, it would appear that these can still be useful in SEO terms.

First of all, brand pages – which are more likely to be an exact match for the search query – were much more likely to rank highly, regardless of other characteristics like word count.

And secondly, the report detected a 4.8% increase in domains with keywords in their description tag, and an average keyword position of 1.7 in the title tag – both indicators that conventional, ‘old-fashioned’ on-page SEO is still working.

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