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Understanding Search Engine Ranking

22. July 2009 21:48

Lots of website owners want to know how to increase their web site search engine ranking.  To help understand how you can improve your ranking in Google and the other major search engines, let me start off by asking a question.

What makes a good search engine? 

The answer is to do with relevancy. As a user, when you type a query into a search engine like Google or Bing.com you are hoping to see results that accurately match the type of website you are searching for.

So it is in the search engines best interests to make sure that the best web pages are ranked highest for any query a user may search for, otherwise you will start using a different search engine that gives you better results.  As such search engines spend a great deal of time improving how they rank websites, but unfortunately they never tell us exactly what we need to do to achieve better results.

Most search engine optimisation techniques therefore are based on experimentation and guess work, and the techniques frequently change.

What do I mean buy best web pages?

When I used the phrase "The best web pages" I meant the kind that you bookmark to refer to later, the kind that you read and send to your friends, the pages that you find some value in.

Understanding Page Rank

PageRankTM is a technique introduced by the Google search engine and was the key factor which catapulted Google to where it is today.  It can be best explained as a voting system designed to rank pages with the most votes highest. 

Each hyperlink on the internet (besides links from your own site) that point to a page on your website is classed as a vote.  Not every vote is equal though, links from highly ranked websites and sites relevant to your industry/profession or topic are worth more.  The theory behind this is simple.  If a website has taken the time and effort to link to one of your web pages then that particular page must have some value.  The more websites that link to a page on your website the greater the perceived value of your web page and the higher your page rank.

You can use this Google PageRank Checker to check your own PageRank.

Off-Site Search Engine Optimisation

Techniques aimed at increasing your page rank by gaining so-called "backlinks" to your website is called off-site SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).  Unfortunately it can be quite difficult to get people to link to business websites because more often than not a business website exists just to sell a product, service or provide corporate information rather than provide content that other people may find useful.

As I mentioned before it is important to get links from related sites, as links from websites that are "off-topic" are worth a lot less that a link from a high quality relevant website.

If you get the opportunity to specify how a website links to you, be sure to specify a short sentence or phrase describing your website to place in the anchor text rather than your business name or website address. For example:

A good backlink might look like this.

24 hour plumbers in the Kent area

And a not so optimised backlink containing your web address.


Avoid black hat SEO

Search engines are cracking down on dubious SEO techniques which attempt to increase their rank quickly by trying to manipulate page rank, so it is best to steer clear of these methods:

Search engines are constantly improving code which detects such behaviour and can negatively impact your website's ranking or even ban the site from its index if you are not careful!

There are lots of "SEO" companies that will use so called "black hat" techniques to help your website get quick results but these can backfire long after you have parted company with the SEO firm so beware!


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