One fundamental tactic that aids the SEO ranking factor of a website is to create hierarchical structures that allow you to (a) categorize information in a way that it is easier for searchers as well as (b) aid in the process of indexing for search engines.
Search engines use an array of metrics to assess relevance:
- link citation – how many links are internal (referencing the keyword in question)
- anchor text – What text is in the link, who is it from and what page does it link to?
- link co citation – what other types of websites also have links / content on the topic? are they linking to you, or vice versa? This can determine how accurate, relevant or authoritive your content it.
- exact match co-occurrence – how many times is a keyword or key phrase mentioned within the total volume of your website? 1 page, 100 pages, 500 pages?
- topical density – Are related topics covered as well within the site, or is it merely a sparse mention?
- trust rank – are the sites linking to your cited sources of factual data? are they trusted authorities on a topic, or have they received an algorithmic endorsement from search engines as a trusted source? if so, one link from a site such as this could offer tremendous leverage.
Although these are only a few ranking factors, developing website authority is the goal of SEO, regardless of how you accomplish it (links, time, content, etc.). Ideally, you should use your website to create your own authority internally as a result of linking to your own content, coherent site architecture and by employing topical continuity of the content (such as through the use of synonyms, links and the type of links you use to augment your off page factors).
Website authority and trust work in tandem to provide a platform for launching new content to the top of search results. Although trust is a by-product that is acquired eventually, chronology on the web is important (so the more aged content you have on a topic within your website, the higher propensity of it gaining authority or passing it via links).
However, before you can rank, you have to get in the search engine index. According to one of Google’s chief engineers Matt Cutts, Once a document in indexed in the web, the next process of assigning relevance to that document is accomplished by using a computational method known as (inverting the crawl data) to eliminate the documents that lack relevance through (a) finding the set of pages that contain the query and (b) rank them according to relevance.
Google uses a cloud computing method (sharing multiple computers that house, share and holistically execute components of a given task) thus making the task faster and more efficient than using one computer to process a request.
As a result, the data that is in the index (like a snapshot from the past) contains a fertile range of content to use for retrieval when pairing search queries with content for relevance. The process is outlined here in this document, in greater detail. However, this does provide an introduction to some of the algorithms that determine relevance score and how suitable a given page is for a specific query.
In addition, this data is recrawled regularly (reviewed and reincluded with new edits, links, relevance score) depending on the authority of the site in question, to discover new links or additional information on the topic. Each page within a website that makes it into the index, has the ability to pass valuable ranking factors.
What this means to you is (1) by linking to your own content when relevant as much as possible in addition to (2) creating new content to link to from older documents. By using your own website as a souce for citation or co-citation (much like Wikipedia), you can expedite the process of authority and trust which eventually become assets for escalate the ranking factor for each page in your website.
The more streamlined your website is, based on related topics, using keyword-rich naming conventions, relevant header tags, relevant titles, relevant links from one page to the next, the higher each page can rank respectively when a search query is presented.
The take away is simple, write great content, add fresh relevant information about your topic to reinforce your websites theme and look for opportunities to expedite authority through cross-linking aged content with newer pages and vice versa to use the buddy system to outrank competitors targeting the same keywords.