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UNDERSTANDING HOW GOOGLE LISTS YOUR WEBSITE

Every website needs traffic. Lots of traffic. This starts with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and good copywriting. But if you really want to be visible and attracts loads of the right traffic, you need to rank well on Google. That ‘s the bottom line. If you have a look at the Top 100 sites visited by South Africans, you will see that www.google.co.za ranks top, and that social networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube are not far behind.

We’ll talk about promoting your website via social networking sites later on. In this article, we’ll focus on Google...

So, your aim should be to get the best possible ranking on Google - not only for your home page, but with all your website pages. The secret lies in combining the right ingredients in the right ratio: Link Popularity and Keyword Density. So, how do you achieve that?

1. Link Popularity

The guys at Google have come up with a very inventive way of deciding how important each page on your website is. They call it PageRank (PR). You can read a detailed explanation of how the PageRank of a page is being calculated in WikiPedia. The long and short of it is that each page on your website gets a score from 0 - 10, based on a key factor: Link Popularity.

Link Popularity is determined by the number of inbound links to a page, as well as the importance of the pages providing those links. Let’s explain it with the diagram below:

Page A has the highest PR, as it has the most inbound links, including links from other pages that have a high PR. Although Page C has only 1 inbound link, it has a higher PR than Page D, which has several inbound links. Why? The inbound link to Page C is provided by Page A (with a high PR), while the inbound links from Page D are only coming from pages with much lower PR values. If Page D had inbound links from Pages A, B and C as well, it would have had a much higher PR!

So, the best way to increase the PR value of each page on your website, is to ensure that you have as many inbound links as possible, and that those links are provided by other pages which also have a high PR.

How do you do that?

There’s a very nifty tool available on the internet, called Good Keywords. It’s entirely free and takes only a few minutes to download. You’ll find it here.

This magnificent piece of software will tell you a lot about your own site, as well as those of your competitors. It can generate good keywords for you, build keyword phrases, and it does a whole bunch of other things as well.

The functionality that we’d like to focus on for now, is Site & Link Popularity. Type in the name of your own domain, and you will instantly get a report with gives you the PR of your site’s home page, its Alexa Rank, and the number of inbound links that it has from the most significant search engines.

The Alexa Rank is somewhat of a controversial figure. It is an indication of the amount of traffic that a site receives, but not regarded as a very accurate tool for a couple of reasons. You can read everything about it at www.alexa.com and if you’re interested in getting a higher Alexa rank, read this, too.

For now, we’re going to focus on the PR of your home page, and on the number of inbound links. Let’s say the PR is 2 and the number of Google links to your home page is 32. This means that 32 other websites link to your website, and that the significance of those links weighs 2 in the eyes of Google. So, to increase the PR, the logical thing to do would be to make sure that more websites link to yours, and to choose those websites carefully. Our suggestion would be to use the Site & Link Popularity function again, and to type in the names of a few websites that you’d want to advertise on. If the PR of such a website is good, you might want to consider contacting them and get your link on their website. This doesn’t need to cost you anything. You can refer to the list of Top 100 sites visited by South Africans again (or have a look at the Top 100 sites of other countries in which you want to conduct business), and find sites where you can advertise for free. Good ones in our opinion are www.wordpress.com, www.blogger.com, www.gumtree.co.za and www.theclassifieds.co.za.You can, of course, also use a couple of the hundreds of social networking sites to your advantage, such as www.facebook.com, www.youtube.com, www.squidoo.com, www.twitter.com, etc.

2. Keyword Density

The second important factor that Google takes into consideration when ranking a page, is its Keyword Density. To put it simply, if someone searches for say exercise equipment, Google will count the number of times these words (separately and as a phrase) are being displayed on the page, combine that with the PR value that it has calculated for the page, and rank your page accordingly.

Google regards the first paragraph on a page as highly significant. So, your first paragraph should grab Google’s attention! It also looks for words and phrases that are highlighted, i.e. used as headers, written in bold, etc. So, you need to ensure that each page in your website abounds with keywords and phrases that describe your products or services accurately. On paper it might sound crazy, but on the internet it is imperative that you repeat yourself many times. Don’t use exactly the same words, of course, but rephrase what you’ve just said, just in other words. Use synonyms liberally, and emphasize the words and phrases that you want Google to value highly.

Also make sure that you optimise each page for one or two keyword phrases only. Don’t try to put too many different keywords on one page. Rather design a separate page for each one of your main products or services. You can even have several pages for the same product, each optimised for a different target group. For example, if you sell irrigation equipment, you might want to dedicate a page to farmers who use dripper irrigation on open land, another page to farmers who specialize in hydroponics, and yet another page to gardeners and landscape architects. All these pages might advertise the same products, but the keywords that you emphasize, will be different.

Remember that search engines don’t see your web page in the same way as humans do. Search engines work behind the scenes, and can only read HTML code. Make sure that the keyword or phrase for which you optimise a specific page, is contained in your page title, as well as in your other meta tags (description and keywords). Ensure that every image on your web page has an Alt text (the text that’s being displayed when you move your mouse over the image). Good Search Engine Optimisation is essential to boost Keyword Density.

These are just a few short guidelines to increase the traffic to your website. Use Google to your advantage. If you know how it works, it’s much easier to get a good Google ranking!


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