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As a newbie to this forum (or any forum for that matter), I was wondering if anyone would be so kind as to tell me what you think are the top 10 things to do to your web site to get good rankings on Google?
I've read about using keywords in your title tag, meta tags, alt tags, hrefs, body copy, comments, etc...
I've read that using CSS to design the site instead of tables will help also...
I've read many of the threads in this forum too.
What does SERP mean? What is www2 and www3 google urls mean?
What is the "dance"? When Google tweaks their algo and re-spiders all sites?
I'm trying to get smart on Google optimization quickly! I'm sure it's not something to learn overnight, but if you could steer me in the right direction, that would be great.
Any thoughts or ideas would be very much appreciated!
title tag: Important. Think phrases, not just words.
meta tags: Google used the META description instead of the contextual snippet if the META description matches the search words. META keywords are completely irrelevant for most pages.
alt tags: The behaviour changes now and again. Sometimes Google uses alt text if it's in a link. Usually it does count alt text in a link to help the page you're linking to.
hrefs: The anchor text weight from a link has always been important in Google. Again, having the phrase helps. The anchor text on a page gets more weight than normal body text too.
body copy: Still helps; maybe a little more now than a few months ago. Having the search phrases in the body is much better than having just the words.
comments: I don't remember comments ever helping in Google.
etc: Well, URLs don't make much difference in my opinion.
CSS to design the site instead of tables: Not in itself, but if you tidy up the flow of the page then this can give you benefits.
What does SERP mean?: Search Engine Results Page (see glossary on the top navigation bar of this page)
What is www2 and www3: Google have several datacentres (eg. www-ex.google.com, www-in.google.com, etc.) and sometimes www2.google.com and www3.google.com point at different data from www.google.com Very occasionally (like today) Google point them at interesting results, presumablly to get some webmaster feedback (it works!).
"dance"?: It's when the various datacentres are out of sync. This term used to be appropriate for old-style updates, when Google tweaked their algo and re-spidered all sites. Now, change is constant so normally a Google update is just when the link: search and Toolbar PageRank values catch up with recent spidering, or more rarely when there's a major change in Google (like the recent 'Florida' update).
Any discussion on this subject needs mention of Brett's Successful Site in 12 Months with Google Alone [webmasterworld.com] post. It stands the test of time very well.
The other thing that is important to consider is that if you do everything 'right' from a standard SEO point of view (links, page construction, etc.) then you can trip a Google filter or 'penalty'. For example, quite a lot of people who ran multiple sites and linked their home pages together had a nasty surprise back in December 2001 when their PageRank was removed entirely. Recently, there have been some new penalties, but they're still being debated in the 'Florida' update threads.
Generally, the more natural ("organic") your site, who it links to and who links to it, the more chance it has of weathering Google storms.
Although it doesn't help directly, it makes your html pages much smaller - thus a better text to code ratio - thus better placement.
I recently changed from table layouts to css layouts and this made a very noticable and positive impact on our serp positions and referrals.
One of the top things I've done in my short stint as a webmaster (4 months and still going) was to look beyond the site itself. The site *is* important, and you'll get a lot of good direction here at WW, but after the site is running smoothly (don't wait too long) develop an Ad Campaign. Right now that's the only reason my site is being spotted in the serps for my main keyword.
In hindsight, it's too bad it took what it did to force us into having an Ad Campaign. Just imagine all the lost revenue from resting on our SEO laurels.
What is www2 and www3: Google have several datacentres (eg. www-ex.google.com, www-in.google.com, etc.) and sometimes www2.google.com and www3.google.com point at different data from www.google.com. Very occasionally (like today) Google point them at interesting results, presumably to get some webmaster feedback (it works!).
Is this a generally held view? That www2 and www3 are not an automatic move towards www?
If so, it may be that the doggy doo-doos we are seeing now on -in, www2 and www3 may not migrate en bloc to www, and I'll be able to start breathing again!
Just be fully awre that nobody here *knows for a fact* how much weight Google gives to each element and often if the element is a factor at all.
The philosophy I follow is very simple and works extremely well for me.
1) Add new content pages daily.
2) Make each content page specific to a set of keywords and phrases. Write a detailed page that describes the product/service/tip or whatever.
3) Make full use of H1, H2 etc tags
4) Make good use of all Meta tags and Titles. Include your keywords and phrases but ensure it contructs a readable sentence for *person*
5) Add a basic HTML site map.
6) Get as many links as possible from other on-topic sites. Do *not* worry about what the PR of the page with your link is.
6) Add more content and think human not robot.
I recently changed from table layouts to css layouts and this made a very noticable and positive impact on our serp positions and referrals. <<
I didn't know this, I mean i did but i never knew that actually works. i guess it's time to take my tables off and put in css. honestly i love it but i also hate it that i have to do this :(
also make sure that you get your url into other directories and se. it will help you and speed up the process.
I totally agree with you that creating a great site with the end user in mind is very important, and making sure you get repeat visitors is fundamental as well.
Much of my business (accommodation) is from word of mouth and repeat visitors.
My web site brings in people from all walks of life too, having focused on many aspects of our community and not only on "accommodation" here.
However, in keeping with the topic of this thread I would suggest diversifying your site to cover all potential clients and interests.
For example, although my site no longer appears for the main keyword phrase I was after, I still get requests from people stumbling on to the site searching for photos.
So among the 10 most important things I would suggest getting a good idea of what people are searching for who might be interested in your product or service.
Keep the user in mind (i.e. usability), code to the specs, content is king.
dmoz.org is a great place to start, for back-links. (A back-link is a web site linking to you. You link to them, and then they link back to you)
Not. More often than not you should not link back. You should only link to another site if it there is a reason for the user. Articificial linking is bad and against Google's webmaster guidelines. Do it at your peril.
Having said that, I'll get off my high horse and admit that reciprocal linking is a necessary evil when the competition is too hot. But remember, you'll always be looking over your shoulder....
If you read it deep enough, it just simply reaffirms what we all know. There is no easy thing as a "magic SEO".
Just the simple content generation/publishing with disciplined effort. And precisely for that reason, it has stood the test of time-(florida update or whatever). There is nothing more to dwell on it. Anyone who is looking more to it, is looking nowhere.
If you work in ultra competitive industries with a limited Keyword space you have to reverse engineer and be aggressive (or after florida - be aggressive so as not to appear aggressive!)
When mew members arrive at WebmasterWorld and read about title tags, meta tags, alt tags, hrefs, body copy, comments, etc.; CSS and tables; SERPs, www2, www3 and "dance"; I think it's handy to simply reaffirm what we (you and I) all know, before getting down to Google nitty-gritty.
Those of us willing to spend a couple of hundred hours modelling PR decay on the Toolbar scale or whether bold text still gets any boost can easily lead someone new to the topic down a precarious path.
It's easy to say "create a site with the end user in mind", it's harder to write a step by step guide that stands the test of time.
If there is nothing more to ranking well on Google than writing good content, why do you even bother posting here?
Obviously you must rank very well on hyper competetive keywords through your wonderful prose. If you don't believe that Google is actually scoring sites based on an ALGO, you really have nothing to say here.
PR, link pop, and anchor text are still king (far above content). It just isn't as obvious as it was a few weeks ago.
Remember that reams of content without use or meaning is spam - even if it is handcrafted, organic, grammatically correct and conforms to all known earthly and unearthly protocols and standards.
Don't take half of the crap you read here seriously. Nobody here has a degree in SEO. It's a virgin industry and it's not a science.
So if they ever do give out SEO degrees, it will probably be classed as an art!
And another thing - if too many people here start agreeing about something - get worried, because it means the search engines will start penalizing that technique very soon.
Use www in front of the domain or don't do it - just don't use both versions - insist on one of them being the right one. Also, if you have "vanity domains" (more than one domain pointing at your site) make sure these domains return the proper 30X server headers, and that one of these is clearly the "right one". These relationships take time to figure out, and might easily confuse an automated system even though they are easy to deal with for humans, so be consistent and accurate.
"Right one": The one (and only) domain or url used in links, if possible. A page, or site, should have only one URL
Also, don't use "session-ID's" or anything else that will make the spider read the same page a lot of times on a slightly different URL. There's a few more tips at the Google guidelines [google.com] pages.
"Just the simple content generation/publishing with disciplined effort. And precisely for that reason, it has stood the test of time-(florida update or whatever). There is nothing more to dwell on it. Anyone who is looking more to it, is looking nowhere."
On the sites Iím working on I have tried to maintain a low-key SEO approach. I donít spam the content or tags with repetitive quotes. I simply try to make sure everything
matches up. I try to make the pages appealing to the end user (the SEARCHER) in content, as well as matching up tags, title, etc. to follow content. Seems to have worked
well so far with Google and most others.