Rand Fishkin’s SEOMOZ has been doing some of the best work collecting data from prominent SEO folks and groups of experts and then analyzing that data. Back in April I missed this report about SEO ranking factors but it’s a great read, especially for those who have little idea about how to optimize a website and web pages for better placement in search engines. Note that experts do not agree. Also, my fairly extensive experiences have convinced me that Google changes the ranking rules regularly simply to make it impossible to reverse engineer them. But it’s still important to follow these basic recommendations which include what I’d argue are now the “prime directives” for optimizing websites:
Create pages that are of high and unique content quality.
Use URLs and Titles that are highly relevant to the queries you wish to rank for.
In bound links are still very important – seek external links and create internal incoming links using your desired keywords as anchor text.
Tend to exaggerate the keywords you are targeting. ie the best writing will NOT result in the best optimization due to defects in the way machines process word information.