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.

Those two letter acronyms you see on the chart above? That’s our play on the periodic table of elements and the letter representations, or symbol, of each element. You may have had to remember that the symbol for gold was Au or that iron’s was Fe.

In the Periodic Table of SEO, we’ve tried to make it slightly more intuitive. The first letter of each “SEO element” comes from the subgroup that it’s in and the second letter stands for the individual factor.

SEO Factors Work In Combination

No single SEO factor will guarantee search engine rankings. Having a great HTML title won’t help if a page has low quality content. Having many links won’t help if they are all low in quality. Having several positive factors can increase the odds of success while the presence of negative factors can worsen those odds.

On-The-Page Success Factors

On-The-Page search ranking factors are those that are almost entirely within the publisher’s own control. What type of content do you publish? Are you providing important HTML clues that help search engines (and users) determine relevancy? How does your site architecture help or hinder search engines?

Off-The-Page Success Factors

Off-The-Page ranking factors are those that publishers do not directly control. Search engines use these because they learned early on that relying on publisher-controlled signals alone didn’t always yield the best results. For instance, some publishers may try to make themselves seem more relevant than they are in reality.

With billions of web pages to sort through, looking only at ‘On-The-Page’ clues isn’t enough. More signals are needed to return the best pages for any particular search.

SEO Violations & Ranking Penalties

Make no mistake; search engines want people to perform SEO because it can help improve their search results. Search engines provide help in the form of guidelines, blog posts and videos to encourage specific SEO techniques.

However, there are some techniques that search engines deem “spam” or “black hat”, which could result in your pages receiving a ranking penalty or, worse, being banned from the search engines entirely.

Violations are generally tactics meant to deceive or manipulate a search engine’s understanding of a site’s true relevancy and authority.

Weighting Of Search Ranking Factors

All the factors we show are weighted on a scale of one to three, as shown in the top right corner of each factor, as well as reflected in the hue of that factor. A weighting of three is most important and is something you should pay special attention to because it has a bigger impact than other factors.

That doesn’t mean that factors weighted two or one aren’t important. They are. It’s just that they are of less importance, relatively speaking, in terms of the other factors on the chart. Violations are also weighted, but in negative numbers, with negative three being the worst and potentially most harmful to your SEO success.

The weighting is based on a combination of what search engines have said, surveys of the SEO community, as well as our own expertise and experience in watching the space over time. We don’t expect them to be perfect. Not everyone will agree. Your mileage may vary.