According to Matt Cutts, there are
over 100 factors that affect search engine ranking.
For those of you who don't know, Matt is a Google
guy guru, he is employed by Google but writes
an independent blog and shares information related
to Google and search engine optimization. Unfortunately,
of those 100 items that account for search engine
ranking, there are only a few that webmasters
can actually control.
Unless you are a interested in an
exercise of futility, it is important to only
focus on those ranking factors that you, as a
webmaster, can control and influence.
What are Search Engine factors
do webmasters control?
Outside of the obvious (webpage title and description)
those items which the webmaster has the most control
are: PageRank, TrustRank, Anchor Text, Keyword
Density, Domain Age, URL, and Relevant Links.
How can a webmaster use these
items to help ranking?
First off--the obvious, each and every web page
should have a descriptive page specific title
and description. The title, description, and header
tags are channels to communicate the most important
details of a specific webpage. They should be
used effectively, but not be abused. The web page
should make use of h1 and h2 tags (header tags)
to emphasize pertinent keywords and phrases.
Particular attention should be paid
when formatting urls. Keywords related to the
webpage can and should be used in the webpage
urls. Use hyphens rather than underscores between
the keywords. Search engines are designed by developers
and programming languages will recognize a hyphen
and distinguish separate words, while an underscore
blends the words. Keywords in the URL should not
be abused, as search engines do not appreciate
excessively long urls. Avoid using characters
like ID= in the URL as many search engines will
see it as a unique session ID and not spider the
contents of the webpage.
The website's navigation depth should
not exceed 3-4 levels. The shallow website depth
will make a search engines deep crawl easier,
ensuring that will be able to spider the entire
contents of your website. If you add a new page
and wish for it to be spidered quickly add a link
to it from an existing spidered web page.
Domain hosting and location do matter!
A .uk domain and a webhost located in the UK will
increase the domains search engine position in
any .uk search engine. If you are targeting a
specific region or market consider purchasing
a local domain.
Obviously you control the websites
content;bad content or no content means no incoming
links. Good content has the potential to attract
good quality unsolicited links.
What kinds of content generally
attract quality links?
The idea is develop quality content that will
result in incoming links. Think of JibJab, http://www.jibjab.com
they portrayed a controversial subject in a humorous
way without alienating their audience. While JibJab
was able to garner a lot of attention, its a tricky
tight-rope to walk. Consider adding tutorials
that explain a specific technology, create a niche
directory or a topic specific glossary, post industry
news, maintain a blog with fresh content, or write
how to articles.
Take advantage of your content.
If you write a press release don't just send it
to the editors, add it to your website in a press
center. Submit the press release to public relations
websites. There area a number of press related
websites like PRWeb that are really good and all
will result in good quality incoming links back
to your website. Also add your press release(s)
to an RSS feed, not only with this communicate
with your customers that new products or updates
are available but you will also benefit from links
from RSS search engines and directories.
When you post a release or content
that has genuine value, use social bookmarking
tools (like digg, del.icio.us, furl) to bookmark
the contents. These social bookmarking sites are
becoming increasingly important in weighing the
value of a site. The large search engines do not
yet use social bookmarking in their algorithms,
but it is quite possible and highly likely that
they will in the future. If the webpage/content
has genuine value others will social bookmark
it as well. The bookmarks are viral and with increasing
popularity there is more emphasis placed on the
content. Additionally, bloggers notoriously skim
social bookmarking sites for content to write
about which will result in additional links. Keep
in mind that in order to bookmark a webpage, it
really must have genuine value.
Before we talk more about links,
there are a few warnings worth mentioning.
What are the link warnings?
The first is to attain links gradually, search
engines prefer links obtained over time rather
than links achieved all at once. Avoid link schemes,
link farms, or overt reciprocal links, they can
be time consuming and have very little benefit.
Avoid links on the C block. If you own multiple
domains, be sure not to triangulate links. Search
engines have become wise to this and they prefer
a linking scheme that is more like a star (or
What keywords should you optimize
When determining what keywords to optimize a website
for, there are a number of tools that will assess
the number of times that a keyword or phrase is
searched on, the number of websites/webpages competing
for that keyword or phrase, and rate the phrase.
Obviously, the terms that have more searches and
less competition are the best to optimize for--if,
and only if, they relate to your product or service.
If you optimize for terms that are either too
broad, you will likely increase traffic but decrease
your conversions. It is really a balancing act.
Two of the more popular tools available are Keyword
Discovery and Word Tracker. Also, talk to friends
or family members and ask what phrases they would
use to describe your product or service. You might
be surprised with the terms they use. Consider
optimizing for regional variations, look at the
variety of terms used to describe soda - tonic,
pop, soda, soda pop, or cola all are relevant
and popular but only within a specific region.
Examine web logs to determine what your users
are using, look at the language used in emails
and forum posts and consider optimizing specific
pages for popular descriptive terms.
And finally, use competitive intelligence
to locate links and keywords. What are your competitors
using? Analyze the adwords they bid on, look at
their meta tags, look at their anchor links.
There is a wealth of information
out there, no real mystery to it, so use it to
About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll
software for creating, editing and publishing
RSS feeds and NotePage http://www.notepage.net
a wireless text messaging software.