The exact way in which the search engines rank the pages of a web site is not known to anyone outside of the inner circle of engineers working for Google, Yahoo, MSN etc. However there are some general principles on what is considered to be positive factors that can influence your rankings.
These factors relate mainly to the quality and quantity of incoming links to your site. Although outgoing links also play a part, they are not as important as incoming links.
Quality of Incoming Links
Quality is based on the perceived importance of the website linking to you. If the link is one way (you don’t reciprocate by linking back) it carries more weight than a reciprocal link.
Another factor to consider is the relevance of the page that is linked to. It’s no good having a page from a gambling site linking to a page on a health site. The more closely they match the better.
Relevance of On Topic Theme Content
Based on your sites content, the search engines determine the theme of your site and the relevance of your individual pages to your theme. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to focus on a niche topic and not go too broad.
The search engines are looking for sites that appear to be natural and not contrived to beat their algorithms. If your site has lots of incoming links but they all went to the same page, this would not appear to be natural. Similarly if lots of your links come from the same site or even the same server, this would raise alarm signals with the search engines and they could penalise your rankings.
Do not try and fool the search engines by purchasing links from so called “link farms” or other dubious schemes. You may succeed for a short while, but the search engines will always catch you out and penalize your site heavily.
In Summary…SEO is not an exact science… a page could rank no 1 with Yahoo and not even be in the top 100 with Google. Similarly, a page that ranks well today could rank poorly tomorrow. Don’t get too involved with trying to figure out what you are doing wrong. Stick to the basics of producing lots of good quality original content related to your niche and get as many quality incoming links as you can.
A good idea is to get some help in the form of step by step instructions and coaching videos designed specifically for newbies.