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Build Natural Search Engine Rankings

Getting a top position in major search engines is hard work, it can take 1 month,  it can take 10 years. Follow these rules and techniques and you are truly giving it your best shot, but BE PATIENT! It's difficult for a reason, remember, those who give up, never make it.

This article covers;

  1. Getting the search engine spiders to find your site.
  2. Getting the search engine spiders to crawl your site more frequently.
  3. Getting the search engine spiders to crawl your site more deeply (i.e., this will get them to look at more than just your site's homepage.)
  4. Setting your site for maximum keyword optimisation
  5. Building link popularity for high rankings

But first......Lets take a quick history lesson to understand what we are dealing with. What is the Google Search Engine, and why are they important in the world of Search Engines and Directories?

 
Sergey Brin, Co-founder of Google and Jim Boykin.

Brief History.  In early 1998 at Stanford University Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page wrote a paper called The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine.  Back then there were about 20 major search engines and portals, with Yahoo leading the way.

Yahoo has always had about 1/3 of all search traffic, and in 2002 Google surpassed Yahoo in percentage of searches on the web.

Then Google contracted with AOL to provide the results to AOL searches....and then the biggie...in October 2002 Yahoo defaulted to showing Google Result.  To explain that simply...you used to be able to do a search on Google, then go to Yahoo and perform that same search, and you would see they're the same results.

In February 2004 Yahoo stopped using Google results and switched over to using Inktomi results.

Not only has the number of searches on Google's Search Engine grown, but so has the number of web pages that Google has indexed. In mid-2000 Google became the largest index on the Internet with over 1 Billion web pages indexed. By the beginning of 2004 the Google Search Engine had racked up over 4 Billion indexed documents, pictures, and Usenet messages. Google is now a super power in not only online search but is one of the biggest companies in the world. Here are a few stats.

Revenue ▲31.3% $ 21.796 billion (2008) 
Operating income ▲30.4% $ 6.632 billion (2008) 
Net income ▲.6% $ 4.227 billion (2008) 
Total assets ▲ $ 31.768 billion (2008) 
Total equity ▲ $ 28.239 billion (2008) 
Employees 19,835 – December 2009
 

 

Understanding Rankings

This "article" covers several areas which Google uses to rank sites in their search results.

Below, we show the "Natural" results, (as opposed to Paid Results) These "natural" results should be regarded as the major target of your business to be ranked highest in the world as they provide long term targeted visitors for your store. The "paid" results are considered by many to be a short term objective as they provide instant results but more of a costly outlay for visitors (PPC).


   
The web sites that rank high in the major search engines (like GoogleYahoo!MSN, etc) are the ones getting traffic, and often sales.

Search Engines have computers and programs called "Spiders" that collect information about your web pages in an attempt to "figure out" what your pages are about. These spiders gather information from your pages and use these in factoring which sites get ranked higher than others. Search Engines analyze over 150 On-Page Factors when "spidering" your web pages.

Some of the major On-Page Search Engine Optimization Factors are:

  • Keyword Density
  • Words in Title Tag
  • Words in the Page
  • Words in Links
  • Words in Headings
  • Words in Bold
  • Beginning Words
  • Words in URL
  • Meta Tags (some older small engines)
  • HTML Validation
  • Directory Listings
  • Link Structure
  • "Indexability" of the page
  • and Hundreds of Other Factors

What is Search Engine Optimization?
When a user types a search phrase into Google, and gets back results, those results are made up of several complex formulas.  When Google "Ranks" sites, it is really just performing Mathematical Formulas.  There is no human involved in the process of evaluating any individual site - it is Math formulas computed from the information that Google Bot gathers from your site.  

Google sends several Search Engine Spiders (computers) out to update pages it knows of, and to seek new pages that it finds through links. The name given to all the Google Search Engine Spiders is Google Bot.

Google Bot can not view pictures or Flash files.  Google Bot can not see if the site is "Pretty" or "not".  It also doesn't read keyword Meta Tags the way that the older search engines once did.. Meta Tags are not bad, but they are mostly a thing of the past. The description Meta tag is mainly used to display to potential visitors on search engine results, so it should be catchy, concise and informative so visitors will click through to your site.

For an example of Google Search Engine Optimization, go to Google and type in any search phrase. Google will go through the list of sites that are in its database and look for those pages that mention your words at least once. On the Google results page all of these sites will be the X number in the "Results 1 - 10 of about X NUMBER".  You must mention the terms and phrases that you want to get found within your page's text.  In other words, if you are marketing a phrase, then that phrase had better be mentionedat least once on the page to have a chance of showing up in the results.

Here's a very useful checklist of what the worlds best SEO experts have to say about each optimisation component. Click here to read

To start with you will need a web site that offers lots of good keyword specific information, content is King! Internet Marketing or Search engine optimisation starts with finding the best keyword phrases for marketing.

This is NOT a guessing game - keyword marketing is a science, and an art.

Analyzing keyword phrases is the foundation of everything you will do for your internet marketing campaign - Choose your words wisely. Ashop shopping cart software provides our merchants with free web promotion tools including a keyword suggestion tool and density analyser which are found in your admin panel when logged in. These will help you get started.

Keyword Marketing

To find the best keywords to target, start by asking the following questions:

  1. What is the ultimate goal of your site? Keep this in mind when choosing words.
  2. Who is your target market?  Try to "think" like them.
  3. What words might they type in to find your products / services - always assuming they don't know your company name, or anything about your company?  Be sure to put yourself in their shoes!

It is best to choose keywords that are highly relevant to your products and services. For a customer wishing to sell Sun Protective Clothing it is better to target the keyword "sun protection clothing" compared to "sun" or "clothing". Aside from individual keywords being to broad, they are also very competitive.

Keep in mind that most people search using 2-3 word phrases.  In the Internet Marketing field we call these words "keyword phrases".  Come up with a list of as many phrases as you can from your brainstorming session. Add these to your keyword marketing list.

The best-case scenario is choosing targeted keyword phrases which are popular. Optimizing your web site for keywords that no one is searching for is a waste of time and money.

Keyword optimisation has many factors making it a powerful marketing tool, this is a large part of the reason why websites are ranked higher than others, if it were only up to a couple of factors then search engines could not honestly clearly rank billions of sites. 

Some important factors when using your keywords include;

  • Keyword density (roughly 4.5% repetition per page is good)
  • Keyword placement (more weight is given to first 25 words of text on a page, repeating on every page, in the URL, in the site title and footer all help).
  • Keyword properties (bold, italic, underlined, font size (whether it is a header title or a subtitle) all make keywords stronger).
  • Use of alt tags (mouse over image text)
  • Hyperlinking keywords to pages within your own site using the same keywords.
  • Hyperlinking keywords to pages outside your own site with similar topics and keywords. (not proven but seems to help)
  • Good use of hierarchy where you have titles and related content underneath on the same page.
  • an H1 tag for your page name and h2, h3 tags for following section titles on each page.
  • Do not over-use each of these tools as it can actually work against you, it's called over optimizing.
  • Write your content in an educational manner using research driven words. A unique and informative site will generally rank better than a sales word driven site.

DO NOT:

  • Over-use any of the above tools as it can actually work against you, it's called over optimizing.
  • Hide keywords as the same colour as your background
  • Repeat your keywords too often or all in a row with commas (keyword spamming)
  • Write your keywords so often it compromises the value of your site content. Content still needs to make sense!
  • Mention the words "trade links" "link exchange" or similar in any pages you are linking to people, it may get you banned from Google.
  • Mention the words "under construction" or similar on your home page as this often prevents sites from indexing in Google

A little more in depth

The Google Search Engine puts A LOT of weight on the text that is found in the TITLE tag. Most search results will show pages that have the searched words in the title tag. Try to keep the title tag under 70 characters including spaces. Here's a link for more title tag hints.

Title Tag circled.


 

 

 

Also good Google Search Engine Optimization will have the targeted keyword phrases at the beginning of the page since the text at the beginning of the page has more relevance than the text on the rest of the page.  This means that your first few sentences on the page should mention your targeted keyword phrases.

Google also likes it if you have text links on the page that include your keyword phrases.  If you have a navigation bar that is pictures (and not text) then you will want to also add some text links on the pages that link to your "important" pages, and it's better optimization if you have those links be the keywords that describe that page.  For example, if I were looking to optimize a link I might link to a page in the following manner:

Read more about promoting your online store

You may also find that an FAQ's page relating to all your site content is useful, this also gives you a chance to hyperlink important keywords, via anchor text, down to related information.

Another small factor which can help is the use of "ALT" tags.  These are the tags that a designer will put within a picture.  You can view these tags by hovering your mouse over a picture, and then keeping your mouse still, you will then see the text for the ALT tag pop up. 

Ashop Commerce shopping cart software has already built one of the strongest platforms in the world to create the best layout and properties of your keywords by the standard use of our software, however, a manual optimisation to target keyword content is always extremely beneficial. Our Kick Start Package looks at these specific keyword phrases, density, properties, placement and the most important part of optimizing a site for Google, Link popularity.

Link popularity is by far the most important factor in gaining a high ranking position in major search engines for the keyword phrases you use within your site. 

"Link popularity".  In simple terms, means that the more external websites which link to any of your website pages, the more popular that page is, and thus, pages with more links TO THEM, should rank higher. But there's a BIG CATCH!

Google especially looks deeper into the types of links your site is receiving. A link from a related site is by far more important than a link from a non related site. e.g. if you own a site about trees then high value inbound links are from other sites related to trees such as a horticultural site, an encyclopedia about trees, a tree directory, a blog about trees and so on. A link from a site about computers doesn't count for much at all.

 Caution 1!: Cross linking
For site owners who have a number of sites, it's not unusual to see them linking to each other on every page in an effort to keep visitors within their "network" but also to boost search engine rankings, this is called cross linking. This can not only impede getting a new site listed, but also have a negative affect on all cross-linked sites as Google sees it as an artificial method for improving rankings. Our advice is that if you do wish to cross-link your own sites, do it from one page only - your "about" page is probably most suitable for this. 

 Caution 2!: Reciprocal linking
Reciprocal Linking is a well recognised form of artificially building link popularity and in turn higher rankings in search engines. The only way reciprocal linking may help a small amount is if sites of similar content/topics are linking together and the links are placed within relevant keywords. Simply exchanging links with sites to improve rankings will more than often do damage to your rankings rather than improve them. Google can see when a site is doing link exchange programs by analysing how many links in one page, the keywords surrounding the link and the relevancy of the sites linking, DON'T TRY TO TRICK GOOGLE! As an important note, do not mention the words "trade links" "link exchange" or similar in any pages you are linking to people, it may get you banned from Google, it is considered an artificial method of inflating PageRank. Apart from all this, if you're new to the web, there are thousands of site owners employing nasty tactics to get your link, including asking for a reciprocal link but placing a nofollow or noindex tag when linking back to you, rendering it worthless.

A more in depth look at link popularity is to explain the "GOOGLE PAGERANK" system. This is Google's own link ranking system based on the "quantity" and "value/importance" of the inbound links to your site.

To find PageRank you will use the Google Tool Bar. Click here to get the Google Tool Bar for FREE - be sure to download it with the "Advanced features".  In the Google Toolbar you will see .  If you move your mouse over the graph and then keep your mouse still, a yellow box will pop up and tell you the Google PageRank of that page.  PageRank is on a scale of 0 to 10. 

The Google website explains PageRank as:
PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves "important" weigh more heavily and help to make other pages "important." - Google.

As you get more quality links to your site and add usefull information, your PageRank will increase. e.g. 5 highly important sites linking to you may equal 5,000 less important sites linking to you.

Check your current link popularity. (How many sites are linking directly to you?)

You can check your site's current quantity of links by going to any search engine and typing in link:http://www.mydomain.com

Google Dance

every few months at least , and totally unannounced,  Google has a major shift in it's rankings.  This is when Google "tweaks" it's algorithm, and when it does, it updates each sites PageRank and Back Links.

During the month there will be minor changes in rankings.  This is called 'Everflux'.  But only about once every few months doesGoogle Dance, updating the back links and the PageRank.  The dance usually lasts about 3-5 days.  During these days the Google Results will vary widely.

Most sites are revisited by Googlebot only around the Google Dance time.  

Here is how Googlebot works for indexing your site.  The first time it finds your site it may visit it every few days to see if the content changes.  The theory being that if your site is constantly changing, then the Googlebot will continue to return on a daily basis.  But, if the Google bot finds your site and indexes it, and then returns to the site every week and the site has not changed then Google will be apt to put you on the "monthly dance" schedule.

Google doesn't announce dancing days, it just something that you have to "stay-tuned" to by looking at your rankings for certain keywords each month.

Google Caffein Update

In 2010, Google release an update which affects the way your site is indexed and ranked, Not in terms of it's algorithms, but it's speed.

Caffein was realeased to increase the speed in which your SERP's would be updated after Google crawls and indexes your site. Previously there may have been a delay of up to two weeks for a new index to affect your rankings. Now it's almost immediate.

 How to gain link popularity

An affective way to build instant inbound links is to activate Ashop's link exchange program. This means that you will link out to 5 Ashop Commerce stores from your site and a different 5 stores will link back to you. Click here to view the tutorial on setting up the link exchange program.

There is an incredible amount of free sites, directories and search engines out there offering a free link to your site by simply submitting your domain name and details. I will list these in the next couple of pages. Use them, they may help in building your link popularity quickly and easily, however many search engines hold less importance to these directories as time goes by.

The most affective form of building quality inbound links is blog advertising. "Blog advertising" is where a site owner pays a blogger to write an article about their services and link back to their site on a keyword phrase. This is powerful for a few reasons.

  • The article is relevant to the owners site content.
  • The inbound link is on a keyword of choice
  • The blog may have a high page rank with lots of indexed pages

Look at smorty.com They are a service connecting advertisers with bloggers. It's a fast way of advertising on quality blogs.

What you SHOULD do;

List your domain name as a clickable, keyword rich link within other peoples websites, directories, search engines and forums. Also aim to have an inbound link to many of your custom pages and products pages as this will allow the spiders to list and rank your deeper website pages.

An affective way to build instant inbound links is to activate Ashop's link exchange program. This means that you will link out to 5 Ashop Commerce stores from your site and a different 5 stores will link back to you. Click here to view the tutorial on setting up the link exchange program.

What you should NOT to do;

List your site using non-reputable mass link submission programs or with FFA (Free for All) directories. This will do major damage to your rankings including exclusion of Google in some cases. 
I've seen this happen many, many times - a site owner submits their web site to the engines, gets impatient after a couple of weeks and then decides to take out a "1,000,000 visitors for $24" campaign. 
Many of these cheap traffic strategies can actually get you banned. Rule of thumb - if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is - and you should steer clear of such schemes. This is especially the case where the method of delivery of traffic is through a page on your site being displayed. Not all such advertising campaigns are shonky, you just need to be careful.

Be patient - there really is no magic solution to rankings and listings; solid and ethical search engine optimization strategies are still the only way to go.

  • Websites

You know the saying "It's not what you know, it's who you know"? In this case it applies to how many friends, colleagues, associates etc you have with websites willing to link directly to yours without asking for a link in return, this may even cost you a little to persuade them. This is where a high PageRanking website linking back to yours can be of the utmost value, it can mean the difference between ranking on the 5th page in Google or the 1st.

  • Directories

There are literally thousands and thousands of free directories willing to list your domain in their site based on whether your site is in reference to a certain industry or whether someone is recommending your site etc. Best way to find these helpful directories is to type in your stores industry keyword and then the word "submit" or "directory" and so on. Some of these directories have great page ranks so they will really help. 

Caution: Don't waste your time linking back to them unless they are purely a helpful link within your site, this will basically cancel out the link they provide in their system.

  • Search engines

There are countless smaller search engines out there who ask for your site to be listed with them. Search for these on Google with keywords such as "submit search engines" "free link submission" "link popularity submit". Once again, don't waste your time in linking back to them.

  • Forums

Forums based on certain industries are a great source of building link popularity as you can chat for days in them finding out great tips for your site whilst leaving your domain as a link in your signature each time. Don't spam these forums, you will get kicked out and annoy hundreds of people at the same time, then your links will be deleted. Some forums also hold great Google PageRanks so they will really help you.

Important directories/search engines for link popularity and rankings

The Open Directory Project
AKA ODP
AKA DMOZ

The Google Directory holds great value to The Open Directory Project (http://www.dmoz.org/).  In order to get listed in the Google Directory fast you should get listed in The Open Directory Project. 

Google and DMOZ have a partnership where if a web site is listed in the Open Directory Project Google will include that sites "Description" and "Category" for that listing on the Search Results Page.  To see if your site is listed in DMOZ go tohttp://www.dmoz.org/ and type in "yourdomain.com" (no www). 

How the Google Directory (DMOZ) works

The Google Directory is run by HUMAN Editors.  This means that when you submit your site, a real person will go to your site for review.  The editors are volunteers.  In theory, the editors are doing this to make the web a better place.

When you submit there is no telling how long it will take the editor to get around to reviewing your site.  It could be hours, it could be months.  I've even heard that some categories have sites that have been waiting to be reviewed even longer than several months.

Editors do not let you know if they have accepted, or rejected your listing.  With DMOZ, it is a process of waiting and watching. 

The editor will go to your site, and will browse around first.  They are looking for several things  If any part of your site appears to be under construction they will automatically reject the site. 

The editor will then see if your site has been submitted to the best category for your listing.  If they feel that the site would fit better in another category they might sent it to that category editor for review....or they may just reject your submission.

When you submit a site to the Open Directory you are allowed to suggest a description.  The editor may take this into consideration.  Before you submit you will want to study the language of other descriptions in that category. The description below is boxed in yellow. 

The Open Directory has a good outline of how to write your description, it says,

  • (Write) A well-written, objective description will make listing your site easier.
  • Write in complete sentences and/or descriptive phrases using proper grammar, punctuation and correct spelling.
  • Do not use ALL CAPS in your description.
  • Avoid capitalizing every word in a sentence.
  • Don't repeat the title of your site in the description.
  • Avoid using promotional language and strings of key words and search terms.
  • Words and phrases like "cool" and "best darn site" will be removed."

The important thing to remember when writing your description is to make it the most accurate description of your site.  The more accurate your suggested description is to what your site says, the more likely you are to have the editor use mostly what you suggested.

It is the job of the editor to make sure that the site has a good description that accurately describes what the web site is about - not what your business is about - not what are your keywords, but what the web site is about. The best way to write a description is to keep it short, keep it keyword rich, and make it exactly what the site is about.

Official tips on writing for DMOZ are found here.

The biggest factor in getting into a category is "does your site fit into that category?"  You will want to study other sites in that category to see if there are others similar to your site.

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Below is a solid list of search engines and directories to get your stores domain name listed on to gain link popularity. Some of these seem to be especially good for Google as they are reputable and often have a high PageRank.

There are many free directories so start with them, then look carefully into the pay for inclusion directories before you submit. Look at other listings to see if it's worth it and if they list you as a clickable link rather than just a written link.

Buying directory links is worth it *only* if the click throughs yield more sales and profits than the link cost. This is a situation that would require evaluating the specifics of the business.

Many of these search engines are the same in different links so be sure to write down the ones you have submitted to.

 Please contact Ashop Commerce to recommend any more useful lists to gain popularity

 Submission directories and engines good for Google (Click here)

Strongest submission directories and engines good for Google (Click here)

Submission directories and engines good for general link popularity (Click here)

Submission to niche directories and engines good for Google (Click here)

* Great source to find usergroups/forums in your industry (Click here)

Submission to niche directories and engines good for Google (Click here)

 

Social Media Marketing is the new form of SEO. It relates to the use of social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter and social bookmarking sites such as Delicious and Digg.

  • Social Media Marketing

Social Networking is the new way to create a web presence, It is generally known as "chatter". Search engines such as Google are now paying a lot of attention to chatter on the web. This means, the more it sees your "brand", domain and contact information which would relate purly to your website, the more important you seem on the web. It's as simple as, if thousands of people on the web are talking about you then you're obviously important for the topic being talked about. Google effectively looks for a theme to the chatter. If all the chatter seems to be related to trees then your site is clearly a hot topic for trees, this can help your rankings for that topic, especially if you have other inbound links from sites related to trees.

Presence in online social communities such as Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and blogs increases brand awareness, builds traffic from alternate sources, and influences traditional media. It's a must have in the current online world of search engine marketing.

  • Social Bookmarking

Social Bookmarking is the method of increasing inbound links from social bookmarking sites such as Digg, Delicious and StumbleUpon. They are essentially your favourites list but saved online. They also collect the most saved sites and create lists of more popular sites within each category. It's a great way to promote a useful site with unique and helpful information or an online store with popular products to sell.

Whilst the links generated within these social bookmarking sites are not individually as important as a direct link from a related website, they are still recognised and help to create an understanding of the keywords Google should rank you well for. A social bookmarking site can generate thousands of bookmarks making your site generally more popular on the web so it's imperative in modern search engine marketing.

Combine these two social media marketing concepts along with excellent site content and relevant link building and you're well on your way to high search engine rankings and high visitor counts. Good luck!

 Here's a perfect summary of correct SEO and marketing techniques by Google

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