On Sunday, SEOmoz released its biennial search engine ranking factors report. In case you aren’t a regular reader of SEOmoz and haven’t seen this report in years past, I’ll let Rand explain the format to you:
“Every two years, we survey 100 of the industry’s top SEO minds. In 2009, 72 SEOs participated in the data gathering process, answering survey questions that consumed hours of time. The resulting document is an amazing aggregation of data about how search engines rank documents and, at least in my opinion, should be read by anyone serious about practicing search engine optimization.”
As you can see, this is an impressive collection of knowledge from the top minds in the SEO world. As Rand recommends, you should take the time to read and analyze the entire report. However, since it is probably going to take some time for you to get through and digest all five sections (Overview, Ranking Factors, Link Building, Additional SEO Data and Contributors), I thought I would highlight the ten most useful takeaways I have found in the report so far (although they’re numbered 1 to 10, I consider to be all equally important pieces of knowledge):
1. You Currently Can’t Beat Trusted, Keyword Rich, External Links – In 2007, this factor was number three on the list, so the fact that it has moved up to number one shows that even though the web is growing, trusted links are currently still the best way to judge relevance.
2. Don’t Forget the Basics – Although they may seem like mundane details, don’t forget to put your keywords in your title tags! It’s even better if you can write compelling title tags that begin with your keywords and also attract users’ attention.
3. Generic Domain Names are Powerful – While they may cost a little more, having a generic domain name can not only help you with branding, but also with your search engine rankings.
4. Meta Tags are Meaningless – I shouldn’t have to mention this one, but there are still far too many “SEOs” who are still charging clients to add neta tags to their websites (which gives the entire SEO industry a bad reputation when those clients don’t get any results for their money).