I likely don't even need to mention that Google is currently the
largest of all the search engines with ComScore Media estimating
this giant to be responsible for 42.7% of all online searches in
March of 2006. For this reason people tend to view Google as the
engine to rank on. While this point is debatable (let's remember
that there's still 57.3% of searches that aren't done on Google)
it's definitely an important engine to rank on. So how is it done?
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To optimize and rank highly on Google, as with any of the major engines,
specific areas need to be addressed. On Google the most important of these
More than on either Yahoo! or MSN backlinks are key to attaining top
rankings on Google. More importantly, Google's methods for calculating the
weight of backlinks is very different than either of the other two engines.
Once upon a time backlink acquisition was mainly a numbers game. If you had
more links you had higher rankings, it was basically as simple as that.
Today however Google has an algorithm inside their algorithm for determining
which links are more valuable than others. This algorithm has a number of
factors itself, however there are some that are more important than others.
They key factors that determine the value of a link in regards to its
contributions to the ranking of your site are:
The Age of the Links
The age of the links - Like domains, links gain weight with age. The
longer your links have been on a web page the higher their value. Basically
this means that your link building efforts today aren't going to pay off for
a number of months. The weight seems to age gradually. In a month your link
will hold partial weight, in two months it'll hold a bit more and so on.
Links hold the majority of their weight after about 5 to 6 months.
location of the link - The physical location of your link on the page is an
indicator to Google of it's value. A link buried in the footer of a page
will hold virtually no weight whereas a link near the top (i.e. where a
visitor is likely to see it) will hold much more. Another location factor is
how this link is situated relative to the content around it. A link that is
located within content holds more weight than a link in a typical link-page
or directory format with a title and description. The inline nature of the
aforementioned location indicates that the link itself is more natural.
anchor text and formatting - The linking text used is obviously important.
If you are targeting a phrase such as "seo firms" then using these two
keywords in the anchor text is going to attach relevancy between your site
and these keywords. Be careful though, building a thousand links using all
the same anchor text is going to look suspicious. Vary your anchor text,
perhaps include other keywords and you'll find your efforts rewarded. The
formatting of the link is also relevant. A link that uses bold, italics,
etc. is obviously meant to be seen by a visitor and is thus more highly
regarded by Google.
Relevancy - The relevancy of the site linking to you is
of key importance. Getting a link on a health site if you're an SEO firm is
going to hold little weight whereas a link from an SEO resource site will be
much more valuable. PageRank - While the value of PageRank is arguably
dropping when one is considering it's importance in link building it is
still a factor. A link from a PageRank 5 page is worth substantially more
than a link from a PageRank 2 page. Age
In a patent application from back in 2004 Google told SEO firms (and
anyone else for that matter) that age was an important factor. Google has
since become a domain name registrar which gives them access to whois data
and thus they can clearly see the age of a domain, who it is registered to,
where it is hosted, etc. The older your domain is the more legitimate Google
sees it and thus the more likely they are to rank it. Additionally, domains
that are registered for longer periods of time are also seen as more
legitimate and thus will tend to rank higher.
Google is more picky than either Yahoo! or MSN when it comes to content.
While the phrase, "content is king," may be overused it is still relevant.
The more content you have on your site the more likely someone is to find
what they're looking for when they get there. Thus, the more content you
have on your site the more likely Google is to believe a searcher will find
what they're looking for there. This does not mean that you should grab
every bit of content you can find and build a 500,000 page site about
potatoes. The content needs to be relevant and preferably well written.
While a search engine spider may not be able to tell if your content is
truly well written it must appeal to a human visitor. The reason for this
will be made more clear below.
A blog is a good option for the easy addition of relevant content
provided that you can dedicate the time (generally only a few minutes per
day) to post some new and interesting information on your industry.
Keyword density is not as large a factor on Google as on Yahoo! or MSN
however it is a factor and in the SEO "game" any factor that holds weight
needs to be taken into consideration in all but the least competitive areas.
While a site targeting a phrase such as "bed and breakfast in the middle of
nowhere" can afford weakness in some of the areas most of us cannot. As
noted in the articles on MSN and Yahoo! it would be unwise for me to specify
an optimal keyword density here as the optimal levels vary by site type,
topic, and fluctuate with the algorithm updates. Keyword densities need to
be reanalyzed approximately monthly or any time an update is noted.
How it fares in the results
How your website fares in the results is a growing factor and will only
continue to gain importance as time passes. If your website appears in the
results for a specific phrase yet no one click on is your website will drop
out of the rankings. Arguably worse, if your website is clicked however
after a few seconds Google detects that the searcher has returned to the
results to find a new site your site will drop. It is for this reason that
it is important to insure that the titles you write for your website are
both search engine and human friendly. You want Google to rank it highly and
you also need humans to click it or Google won't rank it highly (circular
logic I know but valid nonetheless).
You also need to make sure that what people see when they first land on
your page either is the information they are looking for or alternatively,
clearly indicates where that information can be found. This point may seem
obvious simply from a usability standpoint however the number of sites out
there that violate this basic principle is vast. As part of your SEO efforts
you will want to take a look at your site from a user's standpoint or better
yet, watch real users navigate it to see if they can find what they're
looking for quickly. You have about 3 seconds to get a visitor's attention
so make sure that your visitor can find what they want in that time. You may
need to hire experienced web designers to bring your website up to speed
however the cost of this is lower than the cost of losing rankings and
business due to poor design and the falling rankings that will follow.
Google has the most sophisticated algorithm of the three major engines
and must be treated as such. Tricks rarely work and when they do they tend
to work only for a short period of time. Build a strong site with lots of
quality content that is easily navigated and will appeal to your human
visitors and you're off to a good start. Optimize your keyword densities and
secure quality links to your site and while it may take a bit of time to get
past the aging delays, you will succeed on Google.
Total Optimizer Pro - A keyword density and backlink analysis tool. This
tool breaks down a variety of onsite and offsite factors giving you a full
snapshot of how the top 10 got their positions.
Google Press Releases
http://googlepress.blogspot.com/ - Read the latest press releases
from Google. This may not give you the algorithm but it will tell you the
direction they're going. Understand this and you'll be better equipped to
deal with changes down the road.
Matt Cutts Blog
http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/ - Read this blog from Google software
engineer Matt Cutts. Obviously he's not about to give you the algorithm (or
he wouldn't be a Google engineer would he?) but he does give great advice
and the occasional head's up on updates. He allows comments on his blog and
many of them are useful as well.
About The Author:
Dave Davies is the CEO of the Beanstalk Search Engine Positioning, Inc
Beanstalk is an SEO company that is proud to offer guaranteed services on
all their packages. Dave Davies is also available to provide SEO training
(http://www.beanstalk-inc.com/services/training.htm) to individuals, web
developers or IT teams. Beanstalk would like to extend its sincere
appreciation to Metro Hi Speed (http://www.metrohispeed.com/) for providing
us with our new toll free Internet fax services. We can now be faxed at