Chapter 1: Types Of Search Engine SEO Factors

There are four major groups covered by Search Engine Land’s Periodic Table of SEO Factors:

  • On-page SEO: Content, Architecture, HTML
  • Off-page SEO: Trust, Links, User
  • Toxins
  • Emerging verticals

The elements within each group or subgroup are factors you need to consider if you want to increase your site’s organic visibility and rankings. In the top-right corner of each element, there’s a value to help you understand the weight or importance of that particular element — the higher the number, the more weight it carries.

The on-page and off-page SEO groups each have several subgroups, and each chapter of this SEO guide is dedicated to helping you navigate that particular facet of SEO.

SEO factors work in combination

SEO factors do not exist in a vacuum. Well-optimized HTML titles won’t compensate for thin content. Blazing fast site speed won’t help if search engines can’t easily crawl your pages. Simply put, having several positive factors can increase your odds of success, but negative factors can worsen those odds.

On-page SEO factors

On-page search ranking factors are almost entirely within the publisher’s control. This is also where it’s critical to balance serving the needs of your audience with making your pages search engine friendly. 

The title of the page or article, the depth of research, keywords used and so on should all be used with your specific audience’s needs in mind. HTML headings, anchor text and more should provide clues for both search engines and your audience about the relevancy of your content. Your site architecture should help search engine crawlers navigate your site and help users find what they’re looking for.

Off-page SEO factors

The search engines don’t just evaluate what’s on the page and visible to users. Off-page ranking factors are typically out of the creator or publisher’s direct influence. Search engines evaluate reputation, the quality of a site’s backlinks, the user’s geographic location and many other factors to deliver the most relevant results. 

Although these factors aren’t as easy to control on a per-page basis, they must be taken into account when optimizing your site for search.


When done well, SEO benefits the search engines just as much as it benefits sites. SEO helps search engines provide users with better search results. However, using SEO techniques that aim to manipulate ranking signals to gain an unfair advantage over the competition can backfire. 

We group spam and so-called “black hat” techniques into “toxins.” Using them can result in your pages receiving a ranking penalty or even getting banned from the search results entirely.  

Emerging verticals

Voice, local, image and video search have their own special chapter in this guide because they represent different ways for users to find your content. Each of these emerging verticals has its own distinguishing features, nuances and opportunities for brands and publishers. However, they also correspond to one or more of the base elements in our Periodic Table and do not require a completely new way of viewing SEO.

SEO Guide chapters: Home 1: Factors 2: Content 3: Architecture 4: HTML 5: Trust 6: Links 7: User 8: Toxins 9: Emerging