The Chemistry of SEO


Impressive photos, dazzling illustrations and the most inspired writing may remain unseen by potential visitors if the web’s most meaningful spiders crawl right by.

The idea of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to design your website in a way that will boost its visibility within the rankings of major search engines. To help visualize the ranking factors of SEO, Search Engine Land have created the Periodic Table of SEO…

The Periodic Table of SEO is an attempt at explaining the science behind SEO ranking factors.


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In general, the idea behind the table is to ensure that your pages have the right combination of positive “on the page” and “off the page” SEO ranking factors. ‘On the page’ ranking factors, which you control directly, are content, HTML and architecture. ‘Off the page’ ranking factors, which are controlled by readers, visitors and other publishers, include links as well as the social, trust and personal elements. Some elements on the Periodic Table of SEO hold more weight than others, with 1 being assigned to the weakest and 3 to the strongest.

There are also negative factors which include violations and blocking. Violations can include such things as: using design elements like color, for example, to hide words you want your pages to be found for; overstuffing your pages with keywords; and, last but not least, embedding paid links. The act of someone blocking your site from their search results hurts both the trust and personal ranking factors.

What do you think of the Periodic Table of SEO? Do you think it accurately summarizes the major factors for search engine ranking success? What factors do you need to focus on to improve your search engine rankings?

Photo: horiavarlan Infographic: Search Engine Land

3 thoughts on “The Chemistry of SEO

  • I always liked that infographic. The big thing to me is that like all chemical recipes it’s about balance and measurement. You need to test and refine to get the flavour you want from your site. You need to balance up what recipes everyone else is using and make your blend better.

    Keep it up

  • I’ve seen that infographic before, and while it’s clever, I think it makes SEO look more complicated than it really is. Everything you need to know about SEO is in the Google Webmaster Guidelines:

    Those guidelines (straightforward as they are) can be boiled down to three even simpler rules:

    1) Create pages for readers, not search engines. (Ideally, build a “best of breed” site in your niche.)

    2) Use descriptive, plain-language filenames, page titles, and headlines that searchers (and, as a bonus, search crawlers) can understand.

    3) Don’t try to game the search engines. If you hear of a clever “black hat” SEO trick, you can be sure that the engineers and other search gurus at Google, Bing/Yahoo, Yandex, etc. heard about it long before you did.

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