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If you are new to SEO you are most likely chasing your tail in circles, given the huge amounts of good and (mostly) bad information on the subject.

For the most part, it is wise to ignore building links. Google has too many traps in place to make it worthwhile.
Even if you circumvent the traps, most link building has been depreciated to the point where results are immeasurable.

Instead of trying to figure out what Google wants, let's look at what people are looking for when they go to a page, and how they evaluate the content.
What Google wants will fall into line.

After a search, the first thing they see is the search results, Title, Description, and URL all play a part.
Make sure your primary keyword phrase is in all three.

On page content now assumes a high proportion of importance.  In 2010 Google started to switch from assigning links a high value in deciding SERPs and this is reflected in today's scoring.
If we go back to the the original Google thesis it was divided into 2 main categories, link recommendations and text evaluation.
The following is an excerpt from Google's design paper, "Backrub"


2.3 Other Features

Aside from PageRank and the use of anchor text, Google has several other features.
First, it has location information for all hits and so it makes extensive use of proximity in search.
Second, Google keeps track of some visual presentation details such as font size of words.
Words in a larger or bolder font are weighted higher than other words.
Third, full raw HTML of pages is available in a repository.

So, now we know what Google wants in regards to a general over all concept.

All we have to do is apply this using user generated metrics.
To do this we need to find out how users interact on websites.
A top source of information on (UX), or user interactions is available from the Nielsen Norman Group, (formerly know as "
An "Evidence-Based User Experience Research" company.

Since 1998 Nielsen Norman Group has been a leading voice in the user experience field: conducting groundbreaking research, evaluating interfaces of all shapes and sizes, and guiding critical design decisions to improve the bottom line.

"Our clients rely on us to help their websites, applications, intranets, and products realize their full potential for both businesses and their users."

One of the main things the NNGroup has shown us is how a user reads a webpage.
This resulted in eye tracking studies showing us the "Golden Triangle" as readers use an "F" pattern.
Eyetracking heatmaps with 3 different examples of the F-pattern for reading web pages

Obviously, users' scan patterns are not always comprised of exactly three parts. Sometimes users will read across a third part of the content, making the pattern look more like an E than an F. Other times they'll only read across once, making the pattern look like an inverted L (with the crossbar at the top). Generally, however, reading patterns roughly resemble an F, though the distance between the top and lower bar varies, as the studies show..

 (Click for fullsize)
Heatmaps from user eyetracking studies of three websites. The areas where users looked the most are colored red; the yellow areas indicate fewer views, followed by the least-viewed blue areas. Gray areas didn't attract any fixations.

The above heatmaps show how users read three different types of Web pages:

  • an article in the "about us" section of a corporate website (far left),

  • a product page on an e-commerce site (center), and

  • a search engine results page (SERP; far right).

Now we need to turn to the page elements that attract the attention of visitors.
"Most of our eyetracking findings on Web advertising present no ethical dilemmas. For example, we know that there are 3 design elements that are most effective at attracting eyeballs:"
  • Plain text
  • Faces
  • Cleavage and other "private" body parts

On the flip side is "Banner Blindness". 
Users almost never look at anything that looks like an advertisement, whether or not it's actually an ad.

NNG's studies show that users don't fixate on ads.

The following heatmaps show three examples that cover a range of user engagement with the content: quick scanning, partial reading, and thorough reading.
Scanning is more common than reading, but users will sometimes dig into an article if they really care about it.

 Heatmaps from eyetracking studies: The areas where users looked the most are colored red; the yellow areas indicate fewer views, followed by the least-viewed blue areas. Gray areas didn't attract any fixations. Green boxes were drawn on top of the images after the study to highlight the advertisements.

At all levels of user engagement, the finding is the same regarding banners (outlined with green boxes in the above illustration): almost no fixations within advertisements. If users are looking for a quick fact, they want to get done and aren't diverted by banners; and if users are engrossed in a story, they're not going to look away from the content.

The heatmaps also show how users don't fixate within design elements that resemble ads, even if they aren't ads (and thus aren't shown within green boxes above).


3 heatmaps from eyetracking studies, showing where users looked at the pages

So we know where they look and what they look at.

Google's algos are a machine trying to "read" and "think" like a human.
If a human does it, the "AI" is going to try to emulate it.

A search engine cannot distinguish the visual positioning as would a human, instead it uses page structure components.
The header is the first place people look, and the 3rd place to get your message across.
3rd place because before people even see your page they see the URL and description.
The first place they look is in the header and they ignore your logo, or images and head straight for the text.
Because this "first seen text" has to satisfy the visitors search relevance factor, it should be short, contain your primary keywords, and in the largest text on the page, (h1).

"Short" because this is the main factor in a user determined relevance factor, as postulated by Sperber and Wilson in their "Relevance theory".


Sperber and Wilsonís theory posits the notion of manifestness, which is when something is grasped either consciously or unconsciously by a person.

They further note that it will be manifest to people who are engaged in inferential communication that each other have the notion of relevance in their minds. This will cause each person engaged in the interaction to arrive at the presumption of relevance, which is the notion that (a) implicit messages are relevant enough to be worth bothering to process, and (b) the speaker will be as economical as they possibly can be in communicating it. (ED: Shorter is Better)