SEO-News Search Engine Strategies

AuthorAnJeLaNeT Palangkaraya

Search for a list of SEO factors and you'll find that mostfeature at least 50.
That's 50+ elements of your website that influence your abilityto rank in search engines. Sounds complicated, doesn't it?
Some SEO Consultants will tell you that ranking in searchengines is about applying a precise formula to these 50+elements - about using "special proprietary techniques"fine-tuned to search algorithms to boost your website above thecompetition.
Not exactly.
There are actually more like 200+ signals that search enginesuse when ranking websites.

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Imagine trying to reverse-engineer something like that? Soundsimpossible, right?
That's because it is.
The good news: it doesn't matter.
You don't need to be a computer engineer to rank well in searchengines. Relieving, isn't it?
The truth is that everything boils down to three factors:

1. Search-Friendly Pages
2. Relevant Content
3. A Trusted Website

All of those other factors and elements of SEO? They all fitinto one of these three basic categories.
You don't need to be a search scientist to understand thebasics of what's going on with these three factors and improvethem for your website.

1) Search-Friendly Pages
Essentially, this first factor has to do with the technicalaspects of how your website and pages work.
Search engines use crawlers (or "bots") to browse the web byfollowing links. As they browse, these crawlers scan the contentthey see and store it in databases. These databases form thesearch engine's web index - and when a user comes along andenters a search phrase the index is scanned for pages that match.
The basic idea: you want to make sure your pages, and thecontent that fills them, are visible to search engine crawlers.
There are a few things you should know about crawlers:

? They don't support JavaScript - sothat rollover menu, those drop-down links, etc, might not be visibleto search engine crawlers.

? They don't support Flash (mostly) - whilethere have been a few developments in this regard recently, Flash websitesstillaren't too search engine friendly .

? They can't "see" - sometimes designers useimages instead of HTML text (usually because they want to use a certain fontthat isn't web-safe), and search engine crawlers can't read or index this text.Crawlers can only read code - and if your content isn't found there it'sessentially invisible to search engines.

? They skimp on resources - it takes a lotof energy and time (and money) to crawl the web (there are a lot of pages outthere) so crawlers are usually programmed to be conservative with how far they'lldive into a page. If your web pages take a long time to load or feature a tremendousamount of content crawlers might leave without scanning/indexing everything.

There are some other things crawlers can't/won't do. To get asense of what they can see on your website . This tool allowsyou to enter the address of a web page and see it as searchcrawlers see it.

The bottom line: you might have the best content in the world,but if crawlers can't see it you won't rank for relevantkeywords.

2) Relevant Content
This factor is all about the words on your pages.

As we discussed above, the visible content on your pages isstored and searched every time someone uses a search engine. Ifthe keyword or phrase entered doesn't occur on your page youprobably won't show up.
There are a few key places where you'll want to use the rightlanguage on your pages:

? Title tags
? Headlines
? Body copy
? Anchor text (links pointing to internal pages)

As you browse the web you'll probably notice that lots ofwebmasters have gotten a bit, shall we say, "overzealous" withoptimizing their content. Title tags stuffed to the brim withdozens of keyword variations is common. Sometimes even the bodycopy itself is stuffed with keywords in an attempt to boostrankings.
You might be tempted to do this yourself to try and enhance yourchances of ranking for a given keyword.
Don't do it. Please.
Why not? Try reading a page that's been stuffed with keywordsthis way. It's an awful experience, right? Certainly enough tostop your reading flow and send you to another website, isn'tit?
Don't sacrifice your user's reading experience in the aim ofranking for a given keyword. It's not worth it. All of thetraffic in the world won't mean a thing if the users who landat your pages are turned off and leave. Your competitors arejust a few painless clicks away.

To learn about what keywords people use when they search foryour products/services/info tryGoogle'sAdWords Keyword Tool- entereither your website address or a keyword and this tool willreturn a líst of related keywords including numbers on how manypeople search for them.
The bottom line: it's rare to rank for a keyword that doesn'toccur on your pages so use the language your users do when theysearch. Don't overdo it and stuff keywords, though, becauseyou'll annoy your visitors (and search engines don't like iteither - they might flag you as SPAM).

3) A Trusted Website
When you've got 1) search-friendly pages and 2) relevantcontent it's still not time to sit back and let the searchtraffic pour in.

The truth is that most of your competitors will have looked intothese factors already - they're kind of the "low hangingfruit" of SEO, because they're not usually terribly difficultto work out.

Trust is what sets you apart. It is by far the most important ofthe three factors.

Before Google came onto the scene using PageRank (a measurementof link popularity) to rank websites, search engines generallybased their rankings on the first two factors we've discussed.
What was the problem with that approach?
Webmasters are greedy. We can't help ourselves. We lovetraffic.
Keyword stuffing was rampant, and rarely did webmasters stick tothe honest truth about what their website was relevant to. Theresult: search results littered with SPAM and just aboutanything with very little relevance.
The reason links were a better signal to Google was simple -it's harder to game. While you can control the content/keywordson your website, it's a lot harder to control it on someoneelse's. It's pretty tough to get someone to link to youagainst their will.
The model simply worked - Google's results were better. Theother search engines quickly caught on and looked to signals oftrust for sorting through the SPAM.
Some signals that search engines use to determine whether theycan trust your website:

? Inbound links - quality is more important than quantityhere - that's why those "500 directory links for $49.95"deals are worthless. The easiest links to get are the leastvaluable/powerful. A single link from, forexample, would outweigh tens of thousands of weaker links- that's how much quality matters.

? Website age - if your website is new there's not much youcan do about it without a Delorian and a working fluxcapacitor ("Marty, the website is in place - now we gottago back to the future!"). A website that's been around fora while is simply more trusted by search engines.

? Who you link to - it's not just about inbound links.Search engines also look at what websites you link to fromyour pages. If you're linking out to SPAMMY websites, theymight consider you part of that "bad neighborhood" andpenalize your website. Be careful who you vouch for.
There are other signals involved, but if you've got these threetrust factors working in your favor you're very likely todominate the competition.

The bottom line: search engines don't like getting burned byranking SPAMMY websites. They want to know they can trust yourwebsite. Once you've got your on-page factors right (#1 and #2above), you'll need to build trust signals before your websitewill rank competitively.

About The Author
Mike Tekula is the Director of Marketing of Unstuck Digital - anInternet Marketing company thatprovides SEO Consulting andother custom-tailored services.

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