Google has filed a patent that makes their "website ranking criteria" public. The article has 3 pages worth of information that explains that criteria.
There's a plethora of information out there on Search Engine Optimization and trying to get your site ranked. One of the biggest challenges I have to deal with is the Google Sandbox. It's this magical realm where Google puts new websites and domains. Essentially, the sandbox is set up to prevent spam sites from bombarding the search engine and whether we agree with it or not, it is there. Once Google has decided that you've matured (typically 2-3 months), they'll let you out into the real world to frolic in cyberspace (and actually get rankings).
"Don't Be Evil"
Google's philosophy essentially dictates how you build your website and how to obtain your rankings. Don't try and cheat the system or you'll eventually get burned. Here are some of the common optimization tips that won't get you black-listed:
- Choose some keywords wisely in your TITLE tag. This is very important as it's the first thing that Google reads. Use some keywords in your ANCHOR text.
- Use some keywords in your URL's within your site. Also, when other sites link to you (link exchanging)
- Use some keywords in your image ALT tags.
- Content should be using some keywords in a way that it doesn't impede the customer experience (6%-8% keyword density).
- Update your site often (if possible). Keep expanding your website with more content and pages.
Google's philosophy essentially prompts users to be honest and build their websites naturally. That means you might have to build your website slowly too. If you want to go the risky route and try and beat the system, you could get black-listed (If you think it's spam, it probably is). If you thought the Google Sandbox was bad, you don't want to see the Google Black Hole...