Although Google looks at over 100 different criteria (which can change in importance over time) for ranking pages, here are the top aspects or elements that are currently deemed a “must-do” if you are serious about a top ranking. Other elements will be discussed later on that are also important. The following are listed in approximate order of importance, with the first two items being more important than the others:
1. Keywords used in link text - both on your site and especially on other websites that point to your site. And the more links you have on other sites that point to your site and that contain your most important keywords, the better, all else being equal. This is extra important if you are targeting broad, generic or otherwise “competitive” search terms.
2. Keywords used in the title of your Web pages (between the <TITLE> tags).
3. Keywords used in headings (H1, H2) and in the body of your Web pages.
4. The PageRank (PR) of your web pages, which in turn is dependent on the number of links that point to your site from other sites. The importance of these incoming links in turn is dependent on the PageRank of the linking page, which in turn is dependent on the number of incoming links to that page, and so on.
5. Web pages that contain at least 200 words of relevant text content. The more web pages on the site, the better chance of ranking well for a larger number of keyword phrases.
6. How often the content on your site is updated. You should update your site once a month if possible.
7. How fast you are obtaining new links (too many links too fast is a bad thing).
8. How old the site is, how old individual web pages are, and how old links to a site are. In general, the older the site and the older a link is, the better. So don't wait unnecessarily before launching a new site, a new page or obtaining new links to your site. Put simply, to rank well on Google, you need to optimize your website for your best keywords, get as many important and relevant sites to link to your site as you can, make sure the text of those links contain your best keywords, and don't do anything that looks "excessive", "unnatural", “manipulative” or “spammy” to Google. Keep it looking natural and act as if the search engines didn’t exist.
Important: You should also read the Google Patent Papers. In them are additional factors that Google may look at in determining rankings. For more information, see Appendix C for the link.