June 27, 2007
Every web site owner wants to íncrease search engine traffic. It’s free and the visitor is targeted to your subject matter, product or service. What more could you ask for in search engine traffic? The downside is that you need to understand search engine ranking methods and that is quite a challenge for many.
The number of opinions and “experts” on ways to increase search engine traffic is overwhelming. And regardless of what anyone might tell you, they’re all guessing. The search engines themselves don’t divulge how their methods work for one simple reason. As soon as anyone figures out the method, there’s a mad rush to implement changes based on the method.
In a perfect world, where there were no scoundrels, this might not be a factor. Everyone would organize their web site information so that a visitor could easily find what they are looking for, and life would be good. But we certainly don’t live in a perfect world and scoundrels are everywhere.
So we are at the mercy of the search engines to help us sort through the clutter to find what we want. And that’s the value that the search engines provide, accurate and meaningful search engine results that are related to the search terms or phrases. So it goes back to the quality of content, that’s the only common factor in all 3 major search engines’ ranking methods.
Each of the big 3 (Google, Yahoo, and MSN) search engines use a little different method and technology to arrive at any given web site’s ranking under specific search terms. As mentioned above, no one knows exactly how each method works. But you can test different strategies and methods to see how they impact your rank.
And therein lies the only true method of determining what the search engines might look for when ranking your web page on specific search terms. I’m sure most of us are aware that most processes can be expressed in mathematical equations. I’m not sure if that’s the best method for search engine ranking, but it is the most popular for the search engine ranking process.
And consider the fact that when someone has determined (or thinks they have determined) one of the factors used in search engine rankings they beat it to death. Every discovered aspect in the past few years has been exploited immediately to the point of the search engines abandoning the tactic. As soon as the search engines see that someone can beat the system, they change it.
That’s one of the big reasons you see constant change in ranking methods. Since there is a tremendous amount of revenue at stake for all concerned, i.e. sales of products and services for the web site owners, plus the advertising revenue for the search engines, any advantage is huge.
If you would have tested and tracked all the changes and methods in search engine rankings for the past few years, one constant factor would stand out. This is also one of the most misunderstood and often overlooked elements in search engine ranking for a specific term.
So what’s the one thing that the search engines can’t change about their mathematical algorithms? You got it, CONTENT! The search engines can play with the process, methods, or means to judge web site content. But, if web site owners stick to the basic philosophy of providing meaningful content, in relation to the search term, the impact of changes are far less, if even felt.
And that is where many web site owners run afoul of getting good search engine rankings. Many jump on the bandwagon with every new revelation in search engine strategies based on the latest changes. It’s the old forest and trees scenario, Internet style. Even if you get a slight advantage from all these “new” tactics, it will be short lived. As soon as the search engines catch on that you are working the system, they will change the system.
So the best way to increase your rankings for a particular search term is to provide meaningful information or content based on that search term. Here a few guidelines I’ve found that help:
- Make sure you focus on the subject matter (don’t try to satisfy too many terms with one web page).
- Get inside the searcher’s head – figure out what they want and give it to them.
- Be specific and provide details – don’t generalize and be descriptive.
- For a sales page use benefits and features to fully explain the problem and the solution.
- Update your information often – setup a schedule to update and add more content.
There are many sub factors that can have an impact on how well the search engine bots can determine the value of the content. The search engine bots are software programs that go out and “read” your web page and then provide the information to rank your web pages on what they discovered.
You’ll find many “experts” who will give you a hard list of items and how to present this information. And I don’t disagree with suggestions to include the search term in your web page in key areas like title, description, and font designations like H1. That helps the search engine software bots to determine the content.
But I’ve seen web pages with no meta-tags, title, or description but that had rock solid content and still had high search engine rankings on a particular search term. So make it easy for the search engines, but always remember that the content is the single consistent factor in search engine rankings.
There are a lot of different aspects to consider when trying to improve your search engine ranking, and increase search engine traffic. The keyword and phrase research, interpreting the search term or phrase to provide the best result, reviewing other popular web sites with the same intentions, linking to other like content web sites, and more. How you present the information and content is also an important issue.
But all those factors come after good content. So if you start with providing the best content, you can’t go wrong. After all, this is both an art and a science, not to mention a moving target.
Author: Visit John at jd WebWorks, to see some recent case studies and get better results with SEO Web Site Design.