February 2, 2011
Getting your website to rank high in Google searches is a daunting task to say the least. There are hundreds of different factors that will determine how well your site ranks. In this article I will go over the most important factors in SEO (search engine optimization) to help you reach the number one spot!
Before we begin, please note that SEO takes a long time! Anything you do today, wont actually be visible for up to 6 months depending on how much work is needed. This is why the techniques in this article are so important; you want the best results at the end.
On Page Optimization
On Page optimizations include everything and anything that involves changing the layout and code of your site. Generally speaking, the layout and coding of your site has little effect on how Google decides to rank your site’s position, but it does however effect how Google will determine what your site is all about. A properly formatted and coded site makes it easier for the search giant to determine the importance rating of any content on your site. So lets start with the basics.
Tags: I’m including both meta tags, as well as other HTML tags such as title and heading tags, and even bold or italics. I’m not going to go over meta tags here as that topic has been beaten to death by every SEO article ever written!
View your site as a report or textbook. I’m sure your website is beautiful and full of artsy design and cutting edge CSS, but that’s NOT how Google sees it. Google only sees the text. So how does it determine which text is the important text? Heading tags!
Just like a school textbook, the most important information is ‘coded’ with clues. The title of the textbook gives the reader the first and most important clue on what is inside. Each chapter or unit of the book has it’s own heading (h1 tag), with subheadings (h2, h3, h4). The most important key terms of the chapter are almost always in bold. Your site should follow this format! To follow through with my textbook analogy, the table of contents would be your sitemap.xml file.
Now for what really matters in SEO. If it was as simple as optimizing some meta tags and formatting the site properly, then everyone would be on the first page. For the short story, Link Popularity is what determines how well your site will rank for your chosen keywords. This means that the more sites linking to you, the more awesome you seem in the eyes of Google.
Now for the long story. Google ranks every page on every website with a rating from 0 to 10. This rating is called a PR rating, or Page Rank. To put things in perspective, Google has a PR of 10, Digg has 8, and Zakk Wylde has a PR of 4. 4 is considered a respectable PR rating, with only power houses reaching 6+.
So why’s this important? Well no one knows the actual math as Google keeps it’s secrets well, but ultimately, if a site with a PR of 4 or 5 links to you, that one link is worth more that a hundred links from PR 0 sites.
There are also many other factors that change a link’s worth. The two most important are site relevance, and the anchor text in the link. That’s right, each independent link to your site is also assigned its own value. Generally speaking, links in the footer of a site are worth far less than one in the content. The site’s relevance is important as well. If you have a site about dentistry, and a guitar store links to you, then Google will assign it less importance. However, if it was Crest linking to your site!
The anchor text is what the text of the link actually says. If someone links to your site like this “click here to read more” then Google doesn’t have any content to determine what the link is about. If the link read more like this “Dentistry Information” then Google can better determine it’s relevance.
So how do you get people to link to you? This is where the real life value of your site matters. You need to have content that people want to link to!
You can also comment on blogs and forums, but this isn’t very effective and can be time consuming. You can write articles and submit them to differing sites on the web. Also time consuming. What about social media? Facebook and twitter are huge right? Depending on your site, this might be a great way to get your link out there, but your site has to be ‘buzz’ worthy. I don’t see people re-tweeting or Facebooking a site on dentistry. Unless you have the best friends ever who are willing to take the hit. Lastly you can contact webmasters of other websites in your category and ask them to place a link to you on their site.
Ultimately, you need to have valuable content on your site that people will want to link to by themselves. Good luck!
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