Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Why You Need Links


If your site has no incoming links from other websites, your site will not be included in the Google index. You MUST have at least one incoming link from another website if you are going to show up in Google at all!

Obtaining links from other websites is a time-consuming process. However, without other sites that link to your site, you will likely not rank well on Google for your keywords. More businesses fail to achieve satisfactory rankings in Google because of an insufficient number of quality links than any other reason. Your objective is to obtain the highest number of “high-quality” links as possible from other sites.

Having lots of links is also important for “diversifying” where your traffic comes from – it is not wise to place all your traffic eggs in one Google basket. By growing and maintaining an active link exchange effort, your traffic risk can be decreased.

Link-building also makes you immune to tweaks in search engine algorithms. Links are forever. Each link individually won't drive much traffic to your site, but hundreds of links in the aggregate will over time. Traffic you receive from links on many different sites may eclipse traffic you obtain from Google in the long term.

Off-Page Link Factors Used in the Algorithm

Off-page link factors include that portion of the Google algorithm that determines page importance, which in turn is primarily dependent on PageRank (PR), which is about the quantity and strength of links that point to your site.

The concept of link quality is also an important factor, and is not part of the PageRank calculation. Link quality is determined by keyword factors.

PageRank Factor

When one page links to another, it “casts a vote” for that page in the form of a PageRank value. The more links you have that point to your site the better, as this increases the PageRank of the page being linked to. The number of links that point to a site is also called it’s link popularity.

Link Quality Factor

Google returns the most relevant results for a given search query. One way Google does so is by analyzing keywords on pages of other websites that link to your site. What other sites “say” about your site on their page is important. This means that the quality of links may be as important as the quantity of links to your site.

You may have hundreds of pages linking to your site, but if the text of those links doesn’t match your keywords, or if the linking page content is not related to your site, those links by themselves may not add any appreciable PageRank boost.
If only the quantity of links to a site were important, every site on the Web would link indiscriminately with every other site and the site with the largest number of incoming links would be #1 for any word. This clearly is not the case.

Specifically, the quality of a link that points to your site is determined by the following:

1. Text of the link – does it contain your keywords? (This very important)

2. Text of other links on the same page – do they also contain, or are similar to, your keywords?

3. Is the link contained in a paragraph on the page, surrounded by related text. Such “inline” links are weighted more than links that are listed on a page without any other text, such as in the footer of a page or a Sponsored Links section.

4. Title of the linking page – does it contain, or is it related to, your keywords?

Linking-Building is About Visitors

The primary value of obtaining incoming links should be to diversify and increase your qualified traffic sources. The secondary value should be to increase PageRank to boost site ranking.

By implementing an effective linking strategy you attract more qualified visitors, you learn more about your industry, you build business relationships, and you become a valued member of the online community. These benefits can bring much long-term reward. As such, link building should be thought more as “business building”.

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Optimizing Your Web Pages


Keyword Factors Used in the Algorithm

The following factors play a part in the portion of the Google algorithm that determines page relevancy. Google looks at the following keyword factors and assigns a relevancy score for each page of your site. The factors are listed in approximate order of importance, however, like all factors in the Google algorithm, this is subject to change.

Keyword Proximity

Google looks at individual words that make up phrases. Keyword proximity is a measure of word order and closeness. The closer all words in a keyword phrase are together, and in the correct order, the better.

Obviously, exact matches score the best. As an example, say someone does a search on “country house plans”. Google will assign a higher score if your page contains “country house plans” than if it contains “country and farm house plans”. For the latter, all three words are contained on the page, so the page would receive some score, but since this is an inexact match (there are words in between “country and “house”), the page score would be lower than for the exact match of country house plans.

Keyword Placement

This measures where on the page keywords are located. Google looks for keywords in the page title, in headings, in body text, in links, in image ALT text and in drop-down boxes.

Keyword Prominence

A measure of how early or high up on a page the keywords are found. Having keywords in the first heading and in the first paragraph (first 20 words or so) on a page are best.

Keyword Density

Also known as keyword weight, the number of times a keyword is used on a page divided by the total number of words on the page. There is some confusion over keyword density. Part of this stems from the fact that different software programs look at different parts of the page and calculate this differently.

There doesn’t seem to be an ideal density value for Google. Just don’t spam. In other words, don’t fill your pages up needlessly with your keywords - not only will customers think your site is amateurish, but Google may penalize you

Keyword density used to be more important in the past for search engines, and you may still find books that stress the importance of this factor. For Google, it is not important so don't get hung up on it.

Keyword Format

A measure of whether keywords are bolded or italicized on the page. The best place to do this is in the first paragraph of the page. This isn’t a real important factor, but every little bit helps.

How and Where to Use Keywords

Don't try to use all of your keywords on the home page - rather focus only on your Primary Keyword Phrase and your best Secondary Keyword. Use your product or service pages to focus on the more specific keyword.

You will likely want to use the plural form of your keywords. However, you need to verify this using KeywordDiscovery or WordTracker as sometimes the singular form of a word is searched on more often.

Google treats hyphenated words as two words: “house-plans” is the same as “house plans” on Google. However, words connected by an underscore or slash, such as “house_plans” and “house/plans” are treated as a single word “houseplans” currently.

Google is not case-sensitive, so HOUSE PLANS, House Plans, house plans, and HoUsE pLaNs are all treated the same.

The Importance of Title Text

There is one place on a web page where your keywords MUST be present, and that is in the page title, which is everything between the tags in the section of a page. The page title (not to be confused with the heading for a page) is what is displayed in the title bar of your browser, and is also what is displayed when you bookmark a page or add it to your browser Favorites.

Correct use of keywords in the title of every page of your website is important to Google – particularly for the home page. If you do nothing else to optimize your site, do this!

The "Keywords" META tag is ignored by Google. Concentrate your efforts on the title for each page, making sure they contain the best keywords for the content of each page.

The title shouldn’t consist of much more than about 9 words or 60 characters, with your keywords used toward the beginning of the title. Since Google is looking for relevant keywords in the title, this means you should NOT include your company name in the title unless your company name is so well known as to be a keyword in it’s own right with instant name recognition – like Disney, Nike, or Yahoo. If you must include your company name in the title, put it at the end. In addition, each page title should be unique – don’t duplicate titles on pages.

Improper or nonexistent use of titles in web pages keep more websites out of top rankings on Google than any other factor except for a lack of quality links from other websites that point to your site.

The following table shows both the improper and proper use of titles for a website that sells house plans. You undoubtedly have seen numerous websites that use “Home” as the title of their home page. Google may think these sites are about homes!

As you can see, you should use relevant keywords in every title of every page of your site. Most people get this wrong. Do a search for “Welcome to”, “Home”, “Home page”, “Untitled Document”, or “index.html” and you’ll see what I mean about incorrect use of TITLE text.