The first secret was to do with your title tag, the positioning and density of the keywords within that title tag can greatly affect your ranking. However this second secret has been proven to be the single most powerful tool for high rankings.
A few years ago in the property boom there was fierce competition for keywords such as Spanish Properties, Morocco Properties, etc. Whilst working on some optimisation for an estate agent we came across a phenomenon. A competitor was ranking first on loads of incredibly popular keywords without even having those keywords mentioned on the page. I started looking into this, I checked the source code and did some tricks in google.
What I discovered was this, (secret number two):
High quality links to your website can amazingly boost your rankings
These sites did not have a lot of content, they didn't have many keywords but they did have thousands of sites linking to them. It is these links that make all the difference.
Google has a way of ranking links and their relevance to your site, so a link from a well-ranked website which is relevant to your business has much more authority than your sisters personal website.
If you are an estate agent and you get a link to your site placed on another estate agent site in Spain, and this site ranks well in Google then that is like a qualified vote for your site.
It is well known that links from popular sites like Delicious, Digg, etc are also valuable.
Links from government and education websites are particularly valuable, especially if they end in .gov or .edu
You can check the links to your site by simply searching in Google using link:www.yourwebsite.com - You can also check your competitors links too!
You can get high quality links by simply contacting the website owners and asking them. The problem is they will want something in return and that is normally a link from your site to theirs. This is no good. Google can see that and will recognise it as a traded link rather than a real recommendation.
In order to get sites to link to yours you need to have good, compelling information or services that people are happy to recommend. Many sites use a free widget, or some unique information or a guide or a white paper. There are many ways to do this and I will go into detail in another email series. You can also pay for someone to submit your links and articles to a large number of websites for you.
So to recap:
Use your title tag to its full power
Get high quality one-way links to your site