Are web backlinks dead?
What should I do for SEO?
So you want your website to be on page 1 of the Google search engine results. What you have to bear in mind is where Google is coming from when they decide which websites go on page 1.
Their business depends absolutely on showing the most relevant websites for a specific key phrase search, otherwise their competitors might start to get a look in.
In the very early days, this was just a question of looking at the words in the web page. This is how YAHOO started. Then the founders of Google were doing a research project at Stanford University called "backrub" which looked at the web links between websites (backlinks) as a way of judging the importance and usefulness of websites. They could also exploit the anchor text (the text on the actual web link). This proved very successful, and before we knew it Google had usurped YAHOO as the leading search engine because they have better results.
Needless to say once everyone knew that Google was looking at web links, the Search Engine optimiser chaps started building web links willy nilly and this was for a while a very powerful technique to game the system and get your website promoted.
Google countered with the PENGUIN update, which attempts to recognize the genuine web links and remove the artificial links on the basis of relevancy, non-random IP addresses and non-random anchor text (the text on the link) etc. This caused quite a lot of anguish to web masters who had built poor web links and found themselves penalized and well off page 1.
Even recently, Matt Cutts of Google acknowledged that when Google attempted to set search rankings without using web links, they got poor results. So web links are still important, and you should try to build web links so long as they are relevant links and add genuine value to the person browsing the web.
What other factors does Google use to determine search engine rankings? It's worth bearing in mind that the precise algorithm Google uses is a state secret, and changes constantly. Just remember to think back to the Google business model, where they must show the most relevant results to their users.
But you can listen to the chatter on the internet and in particular take note of any announcements by Google, for example they have announced that in searches done on a mobile (now more that 50% of all searches), they will give priority to responsive Websites, ie designed to show properly on mobile phones with their narrow screens.
Recently the Google Search Quality Guidelines have come out in to the open, This document is for their internal evaluators, but it emphasizes expertise, authority and trust, in practice this means that links and references from people who are considered an authority are valued.
There are many articles on SEO, which will have a lot of details, but the main things you must do for SEO is:
(1) Provide useful content / information / service, be prepared to give away some trade secrets
(2) Persuade others to share your content, by possibly social media share buttons on your own website or relevant backlinks from others to your website.