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Incidentally, I use PPC to get a high ranking on sponsered links and that is working, but costing a fortune albeit, generating good revenue.
All help appreciated
a) measure my ranking
But one legal way is to set the number of results per page to 100 (via the preferences, or by adding &num=100 to the content of your browser's address bar having done a search). Furthermore, if you browse google.com/ie instead of google.com you'll get a compact, numbered list.
Google only presents the first 1000 results, but that's ten pages as above, very quick and easy to scan, with your position printed next to your listing.
Tips to improve your ranking?
Well, don't pay lots of people to get you high rankings and then ask us for advice - that's just a waste of money!
Ask them what they did for their money - you have a right to know!
Search through the forum3 postings - you'll see a common theme of
a) plenty of links to your site with keywords in the anchor text.
b) thoughtful <title> and <h1>
d) No dirty tricks
e) Good content.
I'll leave you to read up on them...
However, results from searches are different because they're keyed to that exact phrase.
That's pretty close, although the actual position will change slightly if you were doing a standard 10 result per page search, that's the case for the 100 per page too by the way, it won't give you your exact ranking number, but it's pretty close.
I'm not sure that's a 'programmatic' type site, since I imagine all they do is construct a simple query to google, then retrieve it, and tell you where your page came in on that query.
plenty of links to your site with keywords in the anchor text
Plenty of links - yes. But relevant ones.
Keywords in the anchor text - Not overdone. Let the theme/neighborhood of linked pages take over from what keywords in anchor text were doing before.