You have to wonder why some pages rank higher than others sometimes. For the most part, though, it comes down to the frequency and placement of the keywords. We’ve done a little experimenting with this (okay, a lot of experimenting) to try to determine what matters the most when a search engine ranks your pages.
The results of our experiments told us a whole lot that we already knew, and a few things that were a little bit surprising. First of all, the conventional wisdom that META tags and page titles matter held true. It’s also true that the number of times a keyword or phrase is repeated on the page helps. It also helps to put the keyword in the first paragraph of text on the site, because many search engines don’t read any farther for keywords, at least on the first pass.
What we didn’t know was that many search engines seem to find the keywords used in your links to be more important than normal keywords. For example, if you’re trying to maximize your ranking for the phrase, “freeze-dried gerbil food,” you obviously want to put that in the META tags, and repeat it as often as grammar allows in the body of the page. In addition, if you have a link to your order form, you want the link to say “order freeze-dried gerbil food” instead of “order now.”