Check your search engine placement in Google™
Everyday the Internet is becoming more and more reliant on Google and finding that you’ve lost favour with the big G can have very serious repercussions for both your website and your business.
Now it’s time to look at 10 ways to make Google love your site and feed it with all those fantastic visitors:
If you want to get into Google’s index in short-time you need to get as many authoritative links pointing at your site as possible. Forget about using the Google submission tool, just find some links from regularly crawled sites (sites that frequently update their content are usually crawled more frequently). With the right links pointing at your site you can get indexed in a week or less, so go beg, borrow or steal to get those links.
When you need to find your way you look at a map. Sitemaps are just as useful to spiders as real maps are to humans. In fact, sitemaps are also incredibly useful for your human visitors so consider creating both a html and an xml sitemap - the former for humans (and spiders!) and the latter for Google Sitemaps.
Where possible use well formed, semantically correct mark-up. I make sure that my pages validate over on validator.w3.org (well, I let the HTMLtidy plug-in take care of this).
I also spend a fair bit of time on the page title, the header elements, the text body and the internal link anchors. I try to ensure that keywords are consistent across these four page elements. This helps Google to identify what your page is about.
BTW the page title is quite an important variable used by Google when applying SERP positioning so make sure to get the correct keywords into each and every unique page title.
Search Engines have always had problems with Flash. For this reason Flash-based websites are notoriously difficult to rank well in Google.
If you must keep that cool looking Flash site you should consider offering a text-based alternative (not just for the SE’s, but also from a usability perspective). Failing that, you could try utilising the <noembed> or <noframe> elements to incorporate as much text into your pages as possible. If absolutely all else fails your last hope is probably the ‘Google Bomb‘.
While I’m on the subject, try to avoid using Flash for navigation - bear in mind that some people don’t have Flash installed and others (like me) block Flash from their browser.
Google loves unique content. But more importantly so do humans, and the best advice is to create your content for human visitors first and foremost.
Great content attracts attention and people show their interest by linking to your content. Every time someone links to you Google counts this as a vote for your content - the more votes the higher your SERP ranking. Oh, and just for the record, the converse of this also holds - Google hates copied content just as much as it loves unique content so don’t expect much love if you scrap other sites.
The most important trick to getting those all important #1 positions from Google is to get great links pointing at your unique content. (Having a 10 year old domain doesn’t hurt also, but that’s another story.)
This is probably the trickiest part of getting Google’s love - if people cant find you how can they possibly link to you? Well my advice is to go for the low-hanging fruit first. Human edited web directories offer a great way to get some easy links.
If you have a bit more time you could also try some writing some quality articles related to your niche and submit these to the top article directories.
A quick note about link anchors:
If I can control just one single factor when looking for Google love then it would have to be the anchor text used in the backlinks pointing at my content.
IMO Google applies quite a serious bias to the anchor text used in your backlinks when determining the most appropriate SERP position.
Some link tools and other info
Most Search Engines allow the use of the link: operator to display the backlinks a website has. Generally I use Yahoo.com to check backlinks quickly, but be warned that the Google link: command NEVER displays anything other than a sample of your backlinks.
MSN have just recently released the LinkFromDomain: operator which shows you all the outbound links from a website (handy to check where a site is linking to).
Google offers country-specific searches on all its search properties. If you want to appear in any particular ‘pages from [your country here]’ search you must fulfil one of the following conditions:
So if you want to target the ‘pages from Ireland’ search your website must be either hosted on a server located in Ireland (use this to test) or your domain must be a .ie ccTLD.
Google indexes pages not websites so each page can target different keywords that apply to the niche you are targeting. The more possible ways people have of finding your site then the more potential visitors your site will receive from Google.
You should make use of keyword estimators (although bear in mind that none is flawless) to ensure that your pages and copy contain the keywords people actually search for. There are many free keyword tools that you can try.
You should also familiarise yourself with the advanced operators available from most of the major search engines. ‘inanchor:’, ‘allinanchor:’, ‘intitle:’ and ‘allintitle:’ are extremely useful for determining how competitive particular search phrases are, and these operators should form part of any serious keyword analysis.
It’s worth mentioning that the rapid growth of local search (e.g. appending place names onto queries) means that targeting particular locations is becoming more important. I personally see far more referrals come for localised search queries than from country-only filtered searches. (Note - I work on optimising Irish websites so this observation should be taken in that particular context.)
If you want to really be best friends with Google then I suggest you learn 1 fairly easy Apache module:
mod_rewrite allows you to turn those ugly dynamic URLs into their pretty SEO-friendly static-looking counterparts.
mod_rewrite also allows you to redirect the non-www to your www website URL (or vice-verse). This issue, known as the canonical URL, is one of the most common causes of problems within Google’s index.
I also suggest getting familiar HTTP header codes, and in particular the 301 redirect which might someday save your relationship with Google.
The lucky is very important too.
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