SEOmoz conducted a survey of leading SEOs to determine what these SEOs thought were the most important ranking factors (http://www.seomoz.org/article/search-ranking-factors). Here is a high-level summary of the top nine results:
Keyword use in title tag
Anchor text of inbound link
Global link authority of site
Age of site
Link popularity within the site’s internal link structure
Topical relevance of inbound links
Link popularity of site in topical community
Keyword use in body text
Global link popularity of sites that link to the site
Here is a brief look at each of these:
The title tag was clearly considered the #1 ranking factor. The words in the title tag say a lot about the topic of a page (or they should), and it is a useful element for the search engines to key on. One reason is that it is a highly visible element on the web page and therefore is likely to be used, well, as a title for the page.
It is also generally accepted that search engines place the most weight on the words that appear at the start of the title. For that reason it is always a good idea to put your most important keywords at the start of the title tag, but make sure to avoid keyword stuffing (a concept that we will discuss more in Keyword Targeting in Chapter 6).
When one web page links to another, the anchor text used for that link is also used as a strong signal by the search engines. Webmasters and publishers who choose to link to other ...