A ranked summary of the on-page elements affecting the visibility of a webpage to search engines

Blümel, Manuela; Weideman, Melius

Published Online

Blümel, M. & Weideman, M. 2014. A ranked summary of the on-page elements affecting the visibility of a webpage to search engines. Working Paper, Munich University of Applied Science, Munich. Available online: http://www.web-visibility.co.za/website-visibility-abstracts-seo.htm

Search engine optimisation has become a popular topic of discussion, especially in the commercial world. There are different reasons why the owner of a website would want their site should to rank well in the search results. Different approaches are available to achieve high rankings: on the one hand the ethically correct whitehat method, and on the other hand the unethical blackhat approach. Because of the potential of incurring penalties and subsequent problems it is not recommendable to use a blackhat approach. This research only focussed on whitehat methods. The objective of this research was to determine which positive and negative on-page elements affect the visibility of a webpage most. An average ranking was compiled.
Website visibility elements were separated into those which have a positive and a negative impact on the visibility of a website respectively. The factors were divided into categories. The positive groups were keywords, internal links, content, external links, meta-tags and others. The negative groups included bad content, link farming, keyword stuffing, cloaking and advertisements. The content of several ranking models was split up into these groups to make them comparable. An average value for each group was calculated. Diagrams were generated by combining the models and calculating average values for the positive and negative on-page elements. These diagrams indicate which on-page element have the highest impact on the visibility of a website. The result was that good content, keywords, internal links, external links and meta-tags generate the greatest positive impact on the visibility of a webpage. In contrast, bad content, keyword stuffing, link farming, certain technologies, cloaking and advertising provided the greatest negative impact.
The ranking of on-page elements is not a straightforward calculation due to the fact that search engine algorithms are usually not public. The models are based on estimated values, and therefore the average of several models produced more reliable results. In conclusion it can be stated that no single on-page element have a major impact on the visibility of a website. Rather, the focus should be on a combination of factors.
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