Now that you know what SEO is and how people search, you can start making that information actionable. There are many parts of a Web page that you can optimize with keywords and it can be tempting to go wild and touch every element on the page. But before you do this, you need to understand the many different factors that can influence how a Web page ranks in search engine results. For the purposes of this post, I’m going to focus on two key areas: content and links.

Content Factors. Good SEO content is written for readers and optimized for search engines. One best practice to follow is to be selective with how you insert keywords onto a page. Start small and see how the changes you’ve made affect your rankings, then adjust your strategies accordingly. Here are other content-related ranking factors to consider:

  • Quality: If you remember nothing else about SEO content, remember that content needs to be well written and useful to the website visitor.
  • Research: Keywords are important, but make sure the keywords you’re using are ones your audience actually uses to find your content. Do your research and understand how your audience searches.
  • Words: Web pages should contain keywords people are using, but weave those keywords into the content naturally and on relevant pages.
  • Engaging: You don’t want people to leave your website the second they get there. Make sure the content is relevant to their search and engaging.
  • Fresh: Content should be updated as needed and cover hot topics and trends.
  • Substance: A page with one sentence of content? Bad news! Content should have substance and provide useful information.

Link Factors. When other websites link to your website, it shows search engines that you’re providing quality content that they should be promoting and rewarding with favorable ranking positions. But there’s a lot more that goes into link-related ranking factors:

  • Link quality: Websites that link to your content should be quality, relevant websites. Be aware of what websites are linking to your site and make sure they’re not anything you don’t want your company associated with.
  • Link number: Just like media relations, if you’re asking other websites to link to your content you should be selective in whom you solicit. A few high-quality, relevant websites linking to yours will help your rankings, while thousands of irrelevant, low-quality links will hurt them.
  • Spam: Simply stated, don’t spam blogs and websites asking for links. Google will know what you’re doing and will ding you for it.

There are many positive and negative factors that contribute to how pages on a website will be ranked in search engine results. Your best bet is to focus your efforts on creating high-quality, relevant and engaging content that people want to read and other websites will want to link to.

Caroline Bogart is Content Architect at AKHIA. Follow her on Twitter @carolinebogart.