Tag Archives: SEO

Finding Your Website in the Google SERPs

Google is king when it comes to web searches. Nearly 84% of web surfers start on Google for their first search. So, it shouldn’t surprise you to know that your website’s position in Google or the Google SERPs (search engine results page) is crucial to your online success.

Just how do you find out some of the key information that impacts your website’s organic placement in Google search results? First, it is important to know that Google has over 150 different factors that it uses to determine the SERP or your organic placement. Some of these factors are the age of your domain name, the number of pages from your website in their index is another, and another is the number of websites linking to yours.

Tips to See Where You Stand

To find out which and how many sites are linking to your website use this in the search query box in Google link:yourURL (ex. link:McCordWeb.com).

To find out who and how many sites are linking to you in Yahoo enter this search query: linkdomain:yourURL (ex. linkdomain:McCordWeb.com).

Microsoft has disabled both of these queries in their search engine recently and so you will not be able to identify results in Live.com or MSN’s searh engine using either of these queries unfortunately.

To find out which pages and how many pages Google has in their index for your website enter site:yourURL in the search query box (ex. site:McCordWeb.com).

Checking your website out this way will at least get you started in evaluating where your website is. I also recommend that you select search phrases as well and every 30 days or so monitor your site placement in the organic results. It is not unusual to see a small fluctuation in position but if you fall completely out of the results a careful review of your website, terms you are using, and tactics that you have tried for placement is definitely in order.

Your PageRank on Google

PageRank is a trademarked term that Google uses to identify organic position factors of a website. It used to be that websites rose and fell on their PageRank, but not so now. Nearly a year ago, Google revealed that the PageRank indicator that it used to show (as a green bar in a graph from 1 to 10 from the Google Toolbar) and that some webmasters used as a measure of Web visibility and authority, was not refreshed on a regular basis. Google is now concealing true PageRank results mainly to cut out manipulation from webmasters. As a result of these developments the webmaster field is widely divided on the importance of PageRank. I for one consider PageRank just one more measure, like a ranking in Alexa – just not something to get spun up on or to hang your hat on as a measure of real importance. In fact, I don’t even monitor PageRank for my own site or for clients at this time as I used to when it really meant something.

Although there are some factors that you can review, there are some that you cannot review, one of those being TrustRank. Google determines the TrustRank for a website based on many different factors. This appears to be a measure that is becoming more meaningful in organic placement and is affected by the age of the domain and the informational content on the website.

If Google leaked out what impacted their SERPs, businesses, in an effort to achieve top placemenet, would work to “scam” the system; which Google hates. What determines real organic page placement on Google is one of their most highly guarded secrets and truly a secret to their success and popularity on the Web in regards to providing the best quality results for a search.

So How Can You Know What Impacts Placement on Google Exactly?

Well, you really can’t unfortunately. I however, have found that by reading Google’s patent disclosures you can get a snap shot of the technology they are actively introducing that will impact their algorithm for search placement. I also follow the blog of Matt Cutts, the voice to my industry from Google. Matt is a search engine algorithm engineer who speaks for Google to professional webmasters and search engine optimization professionals. Although his blog has many mundane posts, periodically Google will use him as a mouthpiece on an important topic or thrust in the search field. Review Matt Cutts blog and see what you think.

Another key way to understand what impacts placement on Google is to be constantly testing new tactics and approaches and to watch to see what others are doing in the industry. I’ve tested a number of tactics and have found some highly workable and others to be highly touted yet ineffective in regards to impacting organic placement. By watching industry forums I also glean trends and tactics that others are trying or find interesting new approaches to test on my own website for further evaluation.

Regardless what anyone tells you, there is simply no silver bullet or special recipe to get placement on Google. Placement is achieved by many factors working together with quality content, search engine friendly web design, and savvy persistance.

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What Can You Expect to Pay for Organic Optimization

I am going to provide a simple answer to a very complex question, but I do get asked all the time “how much does organic search optimization cost?” Typically for a site that is 10 to 25 pages, you can expect to pay $1600 to $2800 for organic code optimization (this is an estimate).

Prices will be higher if new content needs to be created for your website, but it is important to understand that organic code optimization is not inexpensive. Some SEO firms will additionally charge you for link programs, monthly monitoring and reporting, and additional tweaking, but the bulk of the work revolves around laying hands on the website’s source code.

Improving organic optimization takes time. Results are typically not immediately apparent. Organic optimization does not stop with updating and improving the keyword density and source code, promoting your website with a blog, press releases, and article syndication keeps the push on and will improve overall results.

Another big thing to remember is that no firm can guarantee results on any engine – no way, no how! If you find a firm who does, you should be careful and proceed cautiously. The key to Google’s, Yahoo’s, and MSN’s search algorithm is such a highly guarded secret. If the key to placement was divulged, SEO firms would work to exploit the key to garner placement for their clients. So only Google, Yahoo, and MSN know what exactly they are looking for in regards to placement. Here’s one tip, Google looks at over 150 different factors alone to determine where a website falls in the organic results.

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What Do Search Engines Look For?

There is a lot of confusion about what search engines consider important when it comes to determining organic position. Here is my short list of key elements that search engines consider key when determining position.

  1. Source code title tag – this is one of the most important tags for your website and key to organic placement.
  2. Source code meta description tag – this is another important tag but not as crucial as the title tag but still very important.
  3. Keywords meta tags – I still input content in this tag, but it has been devalued by Google so don’t take a lot of time on it, or you can leave it out.
  4. Domain name registration renewal period. I recommend a minimum renewal of two years and five is even better. Google does look at this as just one of their organic placement factors.
  5. Home page content – this is crucial to organic placement. If your home page is all in graphics or has very little content, you WILL struggle to get organic placement.
  6. Spiderable navigation – if your navigation is in flash or image rollovers and you have not provided text-based navigation for search engines to follow, you should make the simple addition of putting text navigation links in the footer of your page.

Sure there are tons of other factors, but for clients who come to me when they are disappointed in their placement typically they all are lacking in the top six items that I have mentioned above and usually have other additional issues such as poor or very little content, no links from other websites, or content that has not been updated in years.

So take a look at your own site, what are your challenges. If you have a factor that you feel I’ve missed click comment and tell me what you think is important.

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Anchor Text Explained

Anchor what?Anchor what? Anchor text- this is the phrase that appears underlined in any link, and search engines consider anchor text highly important.

Here are few examples fo good and bad anchor text in use as a quick tutorial:

Poor use of anchor text:

Click here to download our white paper of Google AdWords. (Note the anchor text in this example is click here.)

Great use of anchor text:

Review our 9 page white paper comparing Google AdWords to Yahoo Sponsored Search now! (See the difference? Much more meat for search engines and actually more descriptive of what the link is actually about.)

Not only should great anchor text be used in websites, but in blog posts, e-newsletters and any online content including feature articles and even press releases. If you provide reciprocal link exchanges change your anchor text to not underline your business name, but rather your services using important keywords.

Using improved anchor text in all you do online is just one small yet simple way to boost your organic search placement.

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How to Blog For Organic Search Engine Placement

Many of our clients are doing blogging for search engine optimization benefits. So what exactly should you do if you are blogging for search engines?

  1. Make sure you have great well-written interesting content.
  2. Make sure you are using WordPress on your own domain and website server.
  3. Install the WordPress All in One SEO plug-in and configure it.
  4. Write only on topics that are your core businesses and keep posts keyword dense.
  5. Use great post titles that contain your important keywords.

These are just a few things that you should keep in mind as you blog. There are more tips and tricks what do you recommend for best practices?

Just one more from me, try to deep link to your content from your blog post at least once and two to three times depending on the length of the blog is better.

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Why Using a Hyphen Is Better Than An Underscore

I use hyphens only in all I do. I’ve done this for years both in content and in the naming of links, creating website architecture, and for search engine optimization.¬†Specifically that is only using hyphens (-) instead of an underscore (_).

Here’s a quick note from Webmaster World forums on that issue:

Key-word

A hyphen (as is probably consistent with language use) returns a mix of results for the words both used separately, and joined together – somewhere between [key word] and [keyword]. It’s the preferred word separator within website URLs, since other punctuation characters that are treated as a word-separator have specific functions within a URL.

Key_word

Underscores are treated as a letter of the alphabet, which is why you can [url=http://www.google.com/search?q=_]search for an underscore directly[/url]. Use underscores in content if your visitors include an underscore when searching (e.g. if you had a programming site).

 

Note the important information on hyphens here that search engines will return both the separate and joined together word. So if you want to match more searches it is hyphens all around. I even use this same technique when it comes to selecting a domain name where writing it out and keeping it short are not important.

It actually used to be that underscores in URLs were considered stop characters by search robots. Google did announce this past year that they have surmounted that obstacle and were not equally indexing underscores AND hyphens. For me, I simply use one syntax and for ease of use only use one way which is hyphens on everything. You’ll find no underscores on websites that I design or optimize for that matter a stronger match to more keywords is just simply better policy.

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