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You Can Become Your Own SEO Consultant

Remember, SEO is a process!. You know the importance today of having a website that is ranked highly in the search engines. If you are not in the top 20 for your category
, it is unlikely you will get  much traffic from     any search engine. A number of people never go past the first page in a search result. As such, a top 10 ranking is needed to bring lots of visitors to your site.
  
Know search engines today, didn’t come into being until 1993. It was developed by Matthew Gray, and it was called Wandex. Wandex was the first program to both index and search the index of  pages on the Web. This technology was the first program to crawl the Web, and later became the basis for all search crawlers. And from there, search engines took on a life of their own. From 1993 
to 1998, the major search engines that you’re probably familiar with today were created:
___Excite — 1993
___Yahoo! — 1994
___Web Crawler — 1994
___Lycos — 1994 
___Infoseek — 1995 
___AltaVista— 1995 
___Inktomi — 1996 
___Ask Jeeves — 1997 
___Google — 1997 
___MSN Search — 1998

Classifications of Search Engines With a decent understanding of how search engines work and how people use those search engines, 
you can now concentrate on some more detailed information about these engines. For example, you know that all search engines aren’t created equal, right? But did you know that there are different types, or classifications, of search engines? There are. Search engines can be broken down into three different types (in the broadest of terms): primary, secondary, and targeted.   

Primary search engines 
A  primary search engine  is the type you think of most often when search engines come to mind. Some index most or all sites on the Web. For example, Yahoo! Google, and MSN are primary (also called major) search engines. Primary search engines will generate the majority of the traffic to your web site, and as such will be the primary focus of your SEO efforts. Each primary search engine differs slightly from the others. For example, Lycos has been around much longer than Google, yet Google is the most popular search engine on the Web. Why is that? Most likely because people find that, when searching the Web, Google provides better search results.  
The difference in those search results is all in the search algorithm used to create the search engine. Most primary search engines are also more than just search. Additional features such as e-mail, map-ping, news, and different types of entertainment applications are also available from most of the primary search engine companies. These elements were added long after the search was established, as a way to draw more and more people to the search engine. Although those features don’t change the way people search, they might affect which search engine people choose.

Overview of Google
Each of the major search engines differs in some small way. Google is the king of search engines, in part because of the accuracy with which it can pull the results from a search query. Sure, Google offers all kinds of extras like e-mail, a personalized home page, and even productivity applications,but those value-added services are not what made Google popular. What turned Google into a household word is the accuracy with which the search engine can return search results. This accuracy was developed when the Google designers combined keyword searches with link popularity. The combination of the keywords and the popularity of links to those pages yields a higher accuracy rank than just keywords alone.  

However, it’s important to understand that link popularity and keywords are just two of hundreds of different criteria that search engines can use in ranking the relevancy of web pages.
 

Overview of Yahoo!
Most people assume that Yahoo! is a search engine, and it is. But it’s also a web directory, which  basically means that it’s a list of the different web pages available on the Internet, divided by category and subcategory. In fact, what few people know is that Yahoo! started as the favorites list of the two young men who founded it. Through the acquisition of companies like Inktomi, All the Web, AltaVista, and Overture, Yahoo! gradually gained market share as a search engine. Yahoo!, which at one time used Google to search its directory of links, now ranks pages through a combination of the technologies that it acquired over time. However, Yahoo!’s link-ranking capability is not as accurate as Google’s. In addition, Yahoo! also has a paid inclusion program, which somethink tends to skew search results in favor of the highest payer.

Overview of MSN
MSN’s search capabilities aren’t quite as mature as those of Google or Yahoo! As a result of this immaturity, MSN has not yet developed the in-depth link analysis capabilities of these other primary search engines. Instead, MSN relies heavily on web-site content for ranking purposes. However, this may have a beneficial effect for new web sites that are trying to get listed in search engines. The link-ranking capabilities of Google and Yahoo! can preclude new web sites from being listed for a period of time after they have been created. This is because (especially where Google is concerned)
Search Engine Basics the quality of the link may be considered during ranking. New links are often ignored until they have been in place for a time.Because MSN relies heavily on page content, a web site that is tagged properly and contains a good ratio of keywords will be more likely to be listed — and listed sooner — by the MSN search engine. So, though it’s not the most popular of search engines, it is one of the primaries, and being listed there sooner rather than later will help increase your site traffic.

Secondary search engines 

Secondary search engines  are targeted at smaller, more specific audiences, although the search engine’s content itself is still general. They don’t generate as much traffic as the primary search engines, but they’re useful for regional and more narrowly focused searches. Examples of secondary search engines include Lycos, LookSmart, Miva, Ask.com, and Espotting. Secondary search engines, just like the primary ones, will vary in the way they rank search results. Some will rely more heavily upon keywords, whereas others will rely on reciprocal links. Still others 
might rely on criteria such as meta tags or some proprietary criteria. Secondary search engines should be included in any SEO plan. Though these search engines might not generate as much traffic as the primary search engines, they will still generate valuable traffic that should not be overlooked. Many users of secondary search engines are users because they have some loyalty to that specific search engine. For example, many past AOL users who have moved on to broadband Internet service providers still use the AOL search engine whenever possible, because it’s comfortable for them. 

Targeted search engines
Targeted search engines — sometimes called topical search engines — are the most specific of them all. These search engines are very narrowly focused, usually to a general topic, like medicine or branches of science, travel, sports, or some other topic. Examples of targeted search engines include CitySearch,Yahoo! Travel, and MusicSearch, and like other types of search engines, ranking criteria will vary from one to another.When considering targeted search engines for SEO purposes, keep in mind that many of these search engines are much more narrowly focused than primary or secondary search engines. Look for the targeted search engines that are relevant to your specific topic (like pets, sports, locations,and so on).


Putting Search Engines to Work for You
All this information about search engines has one purpose — to show you how they work, so that you can put them to work for you. Throughout this book, you’ll find various strategies for optimiz-
ing your web site so it appears high in search engine rankings when relevant searches are performed.But this requires that you know how to put search engines to work for you. Search engine optimization is essentially the science of designing your web site to maximize your search engine rankings. This means that all of the elements of your web site are created with the goal of obtaining high search engine rankings. Those elements include:
Entry and exit pages Page titles Site content Graphics Web site structure In addition to these elements, however, you also have to consider things like keywords, links, HTML,and meta-tagging. Even after you have all the elements of your page optimized for search-engine friendliness, there are other things to consider. For example, you can have all the right design ele-ments included in your web pages and still have a relatively low search engine ranking. Factors such as advertising campaigns and update frequencies also affect your SEO efforts.All of this means that you should understand that the concept of search engine optimization is not based on any single element. Instead, search engine optimization is based on a vast number of ele-ments and strategies. And it’s an ongoing process that doesn’t end once your web site is live. SEO is a living, breathing concept of maximizing the traffic that your web site generates, and because
it is, that means that it’s a constantly moving target. If you’ve ever played a game of Whack-a-Mole, you can understand how difficult search engine optimization is to nail. In the game, a little mole pops up out of a hole. Your job is to whack the mole on the top of the head before it disappears back down the hole and appears in another. Search engine optimization is much the same concept. Search engines are constantly changing, so the methods and strategies used to achieve high search engine rankings must also change. As soon as that little mole pops up in one hole, he disappears and then reappears in another. It’s a frustrating game, but given enough time and concentration, you can become very good at it.

Manipulating Search Engines
There’s one more topic to touch on before this chapter is finished. SEO is about manipulating search engines — to an extent. Beyond that, the manipulation becomes something more sinister and you run the risk of having your web site removed from the search engine rankings completely. It’s true. It happens. Search Engine Basics So what exactly can and can’t you do? There’s a list. Here is part of it. 
You can: Create a web site that contains meta tags, content, graphics, and keywords that help improve your site ranking. Use keywords liberally on your site, so long as they are used in the correct context of your site topic and content. Include reciprocal links to your site from others as long as those links are legitimate and relevant. Encourage web site traffic through many venues, including keyword advertising, recipro-cal links, and marketing campaigns. Submit your web site to search engines manually, rather than waiting for them to pick up your site in the natural course of cataloging web sites. You can’t:Trick search engines by imbedding hidden keywords in your web site. This is a practice that will very likely get you banned by most search engines. Artificially generate links to your site from unrelated sites for the purpose of increasing your ranking based on link analysis. Most search engines have a built-in mechanism that will detect this type of deceptive practice. Artificially generate traffic to your web site so that it appears more popular than it is. Again, there are safeguards in place to prevent this from happening, and if you trip those safe-guards, you could end up on the banned list for many search engines. Force your web site to appear in search engine rankings by submitting the site repeatedly for inclusion in the rankings. A good general rule of thumb is that you should submit your site once and then wait at least six weeks before submitting it again. Submitting it repeat-edly will, again, only lead to something nasty like being banned from the search engine. Expect search engines to automatically rank you at the top of your topic, category, or key-word as soon as the site is picked up. It could take a little time to build the “status” that you need to reach a high search engine ranking. Remember, SEO is a process. These are just basic rules for putting search engines to work for you. There are many more, which you will discover in the coming chapters. As you get started, however, keep these in mind, because you’ll see them over and over again throughout the course of this book and any other research that you might be doing on search engine optimization.

Creating an SEO Plan 

Before you can even begin to optimize your web site for search engines, you need to have a search engine optimization plan in place. This will help you create SEO goals and keep those goals in focus as the pur-Understanding why you need SEO B pose of your site changes, and as the methods for search engine optimization 
Setting SEO goals change — and they will change. Your SEO plan will help you see where you need to concentrate your efforts at                  Customizing your SEO plan any given time. This need will change over time. In the beginning, you’re most  
                                                                                    Understanding black-hat SEO
likely to be focusing on getting started with SEO. However, after you’ve put all of your SEO strategies into place, the focus of your SEO activities will change.Avoiding black-hat SEO Note that I said they will change, not that they will end. Once you’ve started Creating your SEO plan SEO, if you plan to continue using it, you’ll need to constantly monitor and What is organic SEO?
update your SEO plan, strategies, and activities. There was a time when the only thing you had to worry about was which keywords or links would be Achieving organic SEO most effective for getting your site ranked high in relevant search results. 

Today, very few search engines focus on a single aspect of search engine opti- mization. This means that over time those who focused only on keywords or only on links have found themselves with diminished SEO effectiveness. Search engines will naturally change and mature, as the technologies and prin- ciples that enable SEO and the engines themselves change. For this reason, the SEO plan should be considered a dynamic, changing document. To keep up with that document, you need to be evolving or changing as well. And that’s where your SEO plan will help you stay on track. Using the SEO plan, you can quickly and easily tell where you are and where you need to be with your search engine optimization efforts.



Understanding Why You Need SEO!? 
Before you can understand the reasons for using SEO, it might be good to have a definition of what SEO — search engine optimization — is. It’s probably a safe assumption that if you’ve picked up this book, you have some understanding of SEO, so I’ll keep it simple. SEO is the science of customizing elements of your web site to achieve the best possible search engine
ranking. That’s really all there is to search engine optimization. But as simple as it sounds, don’t let it fool you. Both internal and external elements of the site affect the way it’s ranked in any given search engine, so all of these elements should be taken into consideration. Good SEO can be very  difficult to achieve, and great SEO seems pretty well impossible at times. But why is search engine optimization so important? Think of it this way. If you’re standing in a crowd of a few thousand people and someone is looking for you, how will they find you? In a crowd that size, everyone blends together. Now suppose there is some system that separates groups of people. Maybe if you’re a woman you’re wearing red and if you’re a man you’re wearing blue. Now anyone looking for you will have to look 
through only half of the people in the crowd. You can further narrow the group of people to be searched by adding additional differentiators until you have a small enough group that a      search query  can be executed and the desired person can be easily found.Your web site is much like that one person in the huge crowd. In the larger picture your site is nearly invisible, even to the search engines that send crawlers out to catalog the Web. To get your site noticed, even by the crawlers, certain elements must stand out. And that’s why you need  search engine optimization. By accident your site will surely land in a search engine. And it’s likely to rank within the first few thousand results. That’s just not good enough. Being ranked on the ninth or tenth page of search results is tantamount to being invisible. To be noticed, your site should be ranked much higher. Ideally you want your site to be displayed somewhere on the first three pages of results. Most people won’t look beyond the third page, if they get even that far. The fact is, it’s the sites that fall on the first page of results that get the most traffic, and traffic is translated into revenue, which is the ulti-mate goal of search engine optimization. To achieve a high position in search results, your site must be more than simply recognizable by a search engine crawler. It must satisfy a set of criteria that not only gets the site cataloged, but can also get it cataloged above most (if not all) of the other sites that fall into that category or topic. Some of the criteria by which a search engine crawler determines the rank your site should have in a set of results include: Anchor text Site popularity  There are estimated to be at least several hundred other criteria that could also be examined before your site is ranked by a search engine. Some of the criteria listed also have multiple points of view. For example, when looking at link context, a crawler might take into consideration where the link is located on the page, what text surrounds it, and where it leads to or from.  

These criteria are also different in importance. For some search engines, links are more important than site maturity, and for others, links have little importance. These weights and measures are con-stantly changing, so even trying to guess what is most important at any given time is a pointless exer-cise. Just as you figure it out, the criteria will shift or change completely.  
By nature, many of the elements are likely to have some impact on your site ranking, even when you do nothing to improve them. However, without your attention, you’re leaving the search rank-ing of your site to chance. That’s like opening a business without putting out a sign. You’re sure to get some traffic, but because people don’t know you’re there, it won’t be anything more than the curiosity of passersby. 

Setting SEO Goals 
Okay, so you understand how important it is to put time into SEO. Now, how exactly do you go about it? One thing you don’t do is begin trying to implement SEO strategies without some sort of goal for what you want to accomplish. One of the greatest failings of many SEO plans, like all technology plans, is the lack of a clearly defined goal. The goal for your SEO plan should be built around your business needs, and it’s not something every business requires. For example, if you run a simple blog, SEO might be more expense than it’s worth. But if your plans for that blog are to turn it into a brand, then the simplest of SEO strategies might be just what you need to build the traffic that begins to establish your brand. If you have a larger business, say a web site that sells custom-made silk-flower arrangements, one way to increase your business (some estimate by more than 50 percent) is to invest time, money, and considerable effort into optimizing your site for search. Just don’t do it without a goal in mind. In the case of the silk-flower web site, one goal might be to increase the amount of traffic your web site receives. Another might be to increase your exposure to potential customers outside your geo-graphic region. Those are both good reasons to implement an SEO plan. One other reason you might consider investing in SEO is to increase your revenues, which you can do by funneling site visitors through a sales transaction while they are visiting your web site. SEO can help with that, too. So before you even begin to put together an SEO plan, the first thing you need to do is determine 
                                            what goal you want to achieve with that plan. Be sure it is a well-articulated and specifically defined goal, too. The more specific, the closer you will come to hitting it. For example, a goal to “increase web site traffic” is far too broad. Of course you want to increase your web site traffic. That’s the overarching goal of any SEO plan. However, if you change that goal to “increase the number of visitors who complete a transaction of at least $25,” you are much more likely to implement the SEO that will indeed help you reach that goal. Make sure the goal is specific and attainable. Otherwise, it’s very easy to become unfocused with your SEO efforts. In some cases, you can spend all your time chasing SEO and never accomplish anything. Search engines regularly change the criteria for ranking sites. They started doing this when internal, incoming, and external links became a factor in SEO. Suddenly, every webmaster was rushing to add as many additional links as possible, and often those links were completely unrelated to the site. There was a sudden and often meaningless rise in page links. It wasn’t long before the linking criteria had to be qualified with additional requirements. Today, link strategies are quite complex and must abide by a set of rules or your web site could be banned from some search engines for what’s called SEO spam , or the practice of targeting a specific element or criteria of search engine ranking, with the intention of becoming one of the highest ranked sites on the Web. If an SEO goal has been established, however, you’re more likely to have a balanced traffic flow, which will improve your search engine ranking naturally. In addition to well-focused goals, you should also consider how your SEO goals align with your business goals. Business goals should be the overall theme for everything you do with your web site, and if your SEO goals are not created with the intent of furthering those business goals, you’ll  find the SEO goals ultimately fail. Be sure that any goal you set for optimizing your site for search is a goal that works well within the parameters that are set by your overall business goals. Finally, remain flexible at all times. Get a goal, or even a set of goals. And hold tightly to them. Just don’t hold so tightly that the goals get in the way of performing great SEO activities. SEO goals and plans, like any others, must be flexible and must grow with your organization. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to review your SEO goals and plans periodically — at least every six months, and quarterly is much better. Creating Your SEO Plan Once you have a goal or set of goals in mind for your web site, it’s time to create your SEO plan. The SEO plan is the document that you’ll use to stay on track as you try to implement SEO strate-gies on your site. 
                                                                                                                             Creating an SEO Plan 
For many people, the thought of implementing SEO on a web site that includes dozens or even hundreds of pages is overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be, though. Prioritizing pages  Look at SEO in small, bite-size pieces. For example, instead of looking at your site as a whole, look at each page on the site. Prioritize those pages, and then plan your SEO around each page’s priority. Taking a single page into consideration helps to eliminate the “everything has to happen right now” issue and makes it possible for you to create an SEO plan that will maximize your web site’s poten-tial in the minimum amount of time. Top priority pages should be the ones that your visitors will most naturally gravitate to, such as your home page, or pages that will generate the most in terms of traffic or revenue. When prioritiz-ing pages, you’re also creating a roadmap for your marketing efforts. If three of the pages on your site are your top priority, those three will have the lion’s share of time, capital, and effort when it comes to SEO and marketing. Site assessment After you have prioritized your site, you should assess where you stand and where you need to be with your current SEO efforts. Again, assess each page individually, rather than the site as a whole. In SEO, individual pages are equally important (if not more so) than the entire site. All of your efforts are designed to rank one page above all others in search results. Which page is the most important should be determined by your business needs. Your SEO assessment should be a document that outlines the current standing of the main SEO elements of each page. It should contain columns for the element of the site you’re assessing, the current status of that element, what needs to be improved in that element, and the deadline for improvement. It’s also helpful if you have a check box next to each item that can be marked when improvements are completed and a column for follow-up, because SEO is a never-ending process. The elements that should be considered during an assessment include: 

Site/page tagging: The meta tags that are included in the coding of your web site are essential to having that site listed properly in a search engine. Tags to which you should pay specific attention are the title tags and description tags, because these are the most important to a search engine. 

Page content: How fresh is your content? How relevant is it? How often is it updated? And how much content is there? Content is still important when it comes to search results. After all, most people are looking for a specific piece of content, whether it’s information or a product. If your content is stale, search engines could eventually begin to ignore your site in favor of a site that has fresher content. There are exceptions to this generalization, however. And one exception is if your content is, by nature, very rich but not very dynamic. Because of the usefulness of the content, your site will probably continue to rank well. But it’s a dif-ficult case to determine. In most cases, fresh content is better. Site links: Site links are essential in SEO. Crawlers and spiders look for the links into and out of your site in order to traverse your site and collect data on each URL. However, they also look for those links to be in-context, meaning the link must come from or lead to a site that is relevant to the page that is being indexed. Broken links tend to be a large problem when it comes to search engine ranking, so be sure to check that links are still working during the assessment process. 

Site map:  Believe it or not, a site map will help your web site be more accurately linked. But this is not the ordinary site map that you include to help users quickly navigate through your site. This site map is an XML-based document, at the root of your HTML, that contains information (URL, last updated, relevance to surrounding pages, and so on) about each of the pages within a site. Using this XML site map will help to ensure that even the deep pages within your site are indexed by search engines. If you don’t have a site map, you should create one. If you do have one, make sure it’s accurate and up to date. You can find an example SEO Assessment worksheet in Appendix D of this book. Use CRO  SSS -REF this worksheet to create an accurate assessment of your web site. 


Google is un-disputedly the most important search engine in the world today. A top 10 listing on Google can bring almost more traffic to your site than the other major search engines combined. 

But do you know the rules that Google plays by? Do you know where best to focus your efforts? Do you know what the most important factors are for a top ranking on the Google search engine? There is no book in the currently that is focused solely on Google and how to achieve top rankings on this search engine!  

                              Google SEO Secrets         is a comprehensive how-to guide for getting your website ranked highly on Google. Whether you are a beginner or have more advanced knowledge, this guide has something for you. It pulls timely information from a variety of sources into one end-to-end process for you to follow.  More importantly, this process has been field-tested and proven to work in getting top rankings on Google. This guide does assume that you do have a working knowledge of HTML and how  websites are put together in general.          Google SEO Secrets can benefit Web-savvy business decision makers, webmasters, and general Internet marketers. Beginning                       to intermediate Search Engine Optimization (SEO) specialists will also find this guide to be of use in that the information is all in one place, rather than scattered around. Because each chapter builds on what came before it, it is recommended that you                               read this book from beginning to end. To put it all together, there is a step-by-step checklist at the end as well as several Appendices that you will find useful.  

The focus of this blog is to give you the maximum results using the minimum amount of your money. There are numerous success stories of business people getting top rankings on Google using no pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. As such,this guide only sparsely covers the paid forms of advertising you can do on Google – like Google AdWords™. However, given the potentially long timeframe that SEO results can take for     new  websites in competitive markets, using Google AdWords as a way to drive traffic in the interim can be a smart idea.

Are you ready for massive amounts of traffic to your site? Are you ready to blow past the competition? Are you committed to success? Will you finish this book and 
                              implement Google SEO Secrets? Then let’s get started…

_____________________Google and Keywords_________________________
This section of the book lays the foundation for all your work. You must understand the concepts and perform the tasks discussed here, even if you feel they are basic or you know them. The first chapter deals with how Google works, while the second chapter discusses the important concept of keywords and how they form the basis of your success with Google. Before we continue, there are a few terms that you should know. These terms are the most often misunderstood by beginners. There are other terms you’ll need to know, but let’s get through these first.

Rank, ranking: a website’s actual position in the free (unpaid) section of a search engine results page for a search term. It is meaningless to speak of website rank without specifying what search word or phrase you are ranked for. When someone says to you “My website is #1 on Google”, you need to ask “OK, but for which search term?”

PageRank: Google’s patented system for specifying a web page’s  importance, PageRank (PR) is a single, albeit important, factor that influences ranking. Many people confuse a page’s rank (what position they are on a search results page) with a page’s PageRank (PR) value. They are totally separate. 

Keywords: Keywords for those words and phrases that define what a web page is all about. When someone enters a search term or phrase into Google, Google tries to find those web pages that match the search phrase best. Some people confuse
keywords with the META “Keywords” tag. They are not the same thing.

Page title:  The title of a web page is the text contained between the   tags at the beginning of an HTML file and is displayed in the top bar of a browser. It is not  the first heading of a web page or any other large text that
may be displayed at the top of a web page. This is an important distinction to know.

On-page factors : SEO factors influencing rank that are associated with elements on YOUR website, such as content, title tags, navigation links and code.

Off-page factors: SEO factors influencing rank that are associated with elements on OTHER websites, primarily links that point to your website.
One          
The Importance of Google  
So why a special guide just on Google? Aren’t there hundreds of search engines out there that need to be worried about? There              are  many other search engines, but Google is the most prominent, most used, and most important of them all.   

Google also currently provides search results to other “partner” search engines and directories. This means a # 1 ranking on Google will most likely land you a # 1 ranking on these partner sites as well! I say “likely” because the partner sites tend to  
 blend their results a little bit so the rankings across the partners may not be exact.Specifically, a # 1 ranking on Google for a specific search term also means a # 1 ranking on AOL, Netscape, Earthlink, CompuServe, Lycos, iWon.com, Go.com and 
 AT&T Worldnet! With its partners included, Google alone is responsible for powering over 70% of all search engine traffic to websites. Clearly, Google is where you need to focus your website promotion efforts first. After you have applied the techniques discussed, have monitored your results, and then refined your efforts over time, you should start seeing dramatic results. The two other major search engines of importance – Yahoo and MSN Search, look for the same things as Google in terms of ranking sites. So if you get it right for Google, you have also gotten it right in general for the other search engines!
Two 
How Google Works   


This chapter explains those elements of the Google ranking process that will matter most to you. It is not meant to be an exhaustive inside look of how Google ranks pages – only a handful of persons at Google know this closely-guarded information.  


                             Google, like other search engines, uses automated software to read, analyze,  compare, and rank your web pages. So you need to know what elements and factors  
                             Google cares about, and how important these factors are in relation to each other.   

This is an important concept: Google uses automated software that looks at code and text, not human beings. This means the visual elements of your website that may matter to you – like layout, color, animation, Flash, and other graphics, are ignored by Google. The Google search engine is like a blind person reading a book in Braille – anything that is graphical, spatial, or visual in nature is simply not seen. As such, you need to start thinking like the Google search engine.  
                             So What Is a Ranking? A ranking on a search engine is a web page’s listing and relative placement on a results page (known as a SERP) for a certain search query. As an example, if you type “house plans” into the search box at Google, you will get those listings displayed 
(10 listings per page by default) that Google deems most relevant to the search phrase   house plans,    sorted in order of relative importance. The most   relevant     and most     important web pages are listed in descending order.For Google, page relevancy is dependent on how well a web page “matches” a  
specific word search. Page importance on the other hand is dependent on the quality  and quantity of links that point to your web page from other websites. The concept of link     quality  is important and will be discussed in a later chapter.  
If your site does not appear in the top 20 for your most important keywords (search terms), you might as well forget getting much traffic from Google or from any other search engine. Because many people never go past the first page for a search  result, you really need to be in the top 10.  

                              It is debatable how much more traffic a #1 ranking gets compared to say, a #3 or a                               #10 ranking. Those listings “above the fold” on a page (anything higher than #4 or #3 depending on your monitor size and resolution) do get clicked more than those below
ogle SEO Secrets                                                                              page 11 of 105  

the fold. Above the fold is anything displayed on the page before you have to start scrolling downward.  
A recent study provides some interesting numbers on the subject of ranking vs. percentage of clicks for that position. This study tracked the number of times people  
                             clicked on a listing on Google for a given search query: 
First Page:  
                             1st position: 30%   
                             2nd position: 15%   
                             3rd position: 7%   
                              4th position: 5%  
                              5th position: 4%  

                              6th position: 4%  
                              7th position: 2%  
                             8th position: 2%   
                              9th position: 3%  
                              10th position: 5% 

                             Second Page:   
                             1st position: 6%   
                             2nd position: 4%   
                              3rd position: 2%  
                              4th position and beyond <1 nbsp="nbsp" span="span">

 As you can see, if you aren’t on the first two pages, you might as well forget getting clicked. When was the last time you went to the third page of a search query versus  just starting a new search query?  


             When Google Comes Visiting 
To be listed in Google’s search database (or index), Google visits your site using automated programs called robots or spiders   . Such programs “read” each and every page of your website, starting typically with your home page and then following each  link to all other web pages on your site. When a search engine robot or spider visits your site, it is said to   crawl  or spider   your site. 
Important :  Google will not add a new web page to its index unless there is at least one other web page in its index that links to that page. So don’t fret over submitting  your site to Google directly. Instead, you need to get another website to link to your website first. Website crawls are performed by the main Google spider, called Googlebot. 
The  more “popular” your site, the more often it typically is crawled by Google. Highly ranked sites and sites that update content frequently (like news and blog sites) get crawled daily.  

If interested, you can check your server log files for the user-agent  “Googlebot”. This will tell you when Google crawls your site. You can also check by IP address although this method is not as accurate as Google uses different IP addresses for their robots, which can change over time.

Google updates its main index more or less continuously although major “updates”   still happen several times a year. These major updates correspond to major ranking  algorithm changes. These updates have all been named – you may have heard bout Florida, Bourbon, Allegra or Jagger in the forums.

For new websites, I advise you to make your site live as quickly as possible, even  before you are  completed  Given .hat Google prefers sites that are older, it no longer makes sense to wait until every \"i\" is dotted and \"t\" is crossed before going live with a new site. Instead, create an overall skeleton of your site, with a reasonably finished Home page and other important pages and make it live. Add new content, or update

The content, on at least a monthly basis. Google also prefers sites that add or update content regularly. This strategy has to do with what is called the Google Sandbox or the aging factor.  The Sandbox is a set of filters applied to new websites whereby the site cannot rank  well (or at all) for any competitive keywords for 6 – 24 months. Also called the aging delay . New sites can rank well for very niche, unique keyword phrases, such as their  company name, but that’s about it. It is for this reason that new sites need to be made live on the Web as soon as possible in order to “start the aging clock”. 
Important:   It is critical that your website is up and running when Google visits you  by following a link from another site. If your site is down, your listing on Google may disappear until the next update! The reason is that Google thinks your site doesn’t     exist and may remove it from the index after a couple of attempts. 

How Google Ranks Pages Google uses a sophisticated and proprietary algorithm for ranking Web sites that  uses over 100 different criteria in the calculation, each of which is given a specific weighting which can change over time. Because the algorithm can change,specific  techniques that used to work well may no longer work as well over time. This is important to remember when your site’s ranking seems to change for no apparent 
reason. For this reason, optimizing your site should not be considered as a one-time task. You should always try, test, and refine your efforts. 
The Google algorithm can be broken down into two major groups of factors:  

  On-page (keyword) factors. Keyword factors involve how, where and when keywords are used. Meaning how well your website is optimized for your most important keywords, and if those same keywords appear in your content and in links.Keyword factors determine page relevance. Off-page (link) factors. These include the quantity and quality  of links that point to your site. Link factors determine page importance and are related to Google PageRank (PR). Links play a VERY important role in getting high rankings, particularly for competitive markets. Very simply put, Google finds pages in its index that are both  relevant and important to a search for a particular term or phrase, and then lists them in descending order on search results pages. On-Page Factors and Page Relevance Keywords are intrinsically related to search terms – words and phrases that people  enter into a search engine to find specific information. Most people enter 2 to 5-word  phrases in Google to find what they are looking for. Google in turn analyzes all pages in its index and lists the pages which contain those search terms. Each web page usually contains one or two keywords that are repeated more often than others throughout the site. These keywords dictate the “theme” of a website.In addition, Google analyzes other sites that contain links to your site. Specifically, Google looks to see if the text of a link (the clickable portion) that points to your site also contain those same keywords.  
Off-Page Factors and Page Importance Page importance is all about links - their quantity, quality, and strength, which we will 
discuss later on. This part of the algorithm includes Google PageRank (PR).   
Google looks for links that point to your site from other websites. Google believes a link from website A to website B is a “vote” for the importance of website B. In this way, other websites add votes for your website, which in turn helps increase a pages PageRank value on your site. Each page on your site has a PR value. Usually the PR value is the highest for the home page as most people will link to your home page rather than another page on your site.The more web pages that link to your site, and the more important in turn those pages are, the more important Google thinks your site is and hence the higher your PageRank value. Moreover, it is the quality, as well as the quantity, of links that matter – not all links are valued the same. Keep in mind that PageRank is but a single (albeit important) factor used in ranking. Sites that are highly optimized for on-page factors can outrank sites that are less optimized but have higher PageRank.PageRank value is assigned after comparing every page in the Google index against one another. This is billions and billions of web pages. Note that PageRank does NOT factor in keywords or phrases used on your site.  

Top Things Google Looks For Although Google looks at over 100 different criteria (which can change in importance over time) for ranking pages, here are the top aspects or elements that are                        currently deemed a “must-do” if you are serious about a top ranking. Other elements will be  discussed later on that are also important. The following are listed in approximate order of importance, with the first two items being more important than the others:____Keywords used in link text – both on your  site and specially on other websites that point to your site. And the more links you have on other sites that point to your site and that contain your most important keywords, the better, all else being equal. This is extra important if you are targeting broad, generic or otherwise “competitive” search terms. ___Keywords used in the title of your Web pages(between the

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