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Friday, December 08, 2006

Girl's Guide to Google Rankings

First, let me make one thing clear. I am NOT a professional website designer or SEO consultant (Search Engine Optimization). I know nothing about HTML and metatags and... a lot of stuff. But I do know what I did to help drag my website out of the pits of Google (like, not in the top 1000) and onto the first couple of pages of my keywords.

Let me tell you, if I can do it. ANYONE can. (within reason--pick a keyword like “romance” and you’ll get nowhere, no matter what you do.)

So, below, I’m going to share some of the advice that was so generously offered to me when I posted a desperate message asking for help.

Note: It’s my understanding that Google changes the rules periodically, to shake things up and keep folks honest. But from my reading, the suggestions below SHOULD help, regardless. Again, you’re taking advice from someone who does not claim to be a professional. Keep that in mind. Also, since I’m not a pro, you can expect this post to lack the computer-techy-ese you might read in articles written by people who actually know what they’re talking about. But I hope you get the basic concepts.

Finally, this article is intended to be an introduction, not a all-inclusive treatise on Google search engine optimization. There are tons of articles on specifics. I have included links to some absolutely fabulous reference sites below.

Keywords?

What’s a keyword and how do you pick them? Keywords are words that describe the content of your website. Keywords are important for search engines. They help those little “bots” determine what search terms to relate your site to.

How do you pick? Well, a simple way to choose is to think about what words you might type into Google to find your site--or sites with similar content. From what I’ve read, it’s vital to choose the right keywords. There are tools to analyze keywords, some free, some that cost money (see the links below. Googlerankings has some). The trick is picking keywords where you stand some chance of ranking high. If a keyword is EXTREMELY popular, you’ll be buried on page 1053 where no one will find you. If it’s too obscure, no one will search for it, so even if you are number one, no one will ever find you.

Tag, You’re It!

What are meta tags? My definition: Meta tags are specific codes placed in a very specific place on your pages, to communicate with search engine bots.

An official definition: an HTML code line that identifies the contents of the web page to search engine indexes.(from worldwidelearn.com). A piece of advice: learn how to post meta tags on your pages and do it. This will improve your page rankings considerably.

It’s All in the Name (not really, but the title was so catchy...)

This is a piece of advice I stumbled upon when searching a Google SEO site. Name your graphic files, your page files, everything using your key words.

Linky-linky

It seems that this is a biggie, from what I’ve gathered in my research. If you want a top spot in a Google search for a specific keyword, you need multiple sites (the actual number you’ll need is determined by the popularity of your keyword--more popular keyword=more links needed) displaying live links to your page. And these sites must contain related, relevant content. If you’re a romance author, having your link displayed on a landscaping company’s website isn’t going to get you anywhere. At least not with Google.

You’re Da Bomb

This is a trick that’s been shown to work in blog-land, where certain individuals (including our president) have had their websites linked to specific keywords (bad keywords in some cases, LOL). I have NOT put it to the test, but if you type the words “miserable failure” into a google search, check out the results.

If you’d like to improve your ranking, and you have LOTS of friends with blogs or websites, ask them to display a live link to your site using your KEYWORD as the text link. In other words, you’d want your link to look like this: “Keyword” not “Click here” or “Tawny’s Site” or “www.tawnytaylor.com”.

Last But Not Least

You must have content that relates to and references your keywords (Warnings below). Google’s bot/spider whatever it’s called, reads the text on a page and follows the links. So, being the logical sort, it would seem that those two elements are the ones a website owner/designer/whatever would pay the most attention to. Make sure links between pages work. Make sure links to external sites work. Make sure your content is up to date and relates to your keywords.

Warnings

Do not paste “invisible” text on your page (white text on a white background, for instance), thinking it’ll improve your rating. That trick can get your site yanked from Google altogether. Also, overloading your content with your keywords is said to be a bad move. It might not get your site pulled, but from what I’ve read, it does seem to negatively impact your ranking (I couldn’t tell you how, though). Your keyword "density" on your page should be in the %5-8% range. No higher.

Some helpful sites for more info

http://www.googlerankings.com/
http://googlerankings.com/basic.php
http://en.wikipedia.org/
http://awstats.sourceforge.net/
http://www.stevenforsyth.com (read ALL the articles on this site that are related to Google how-to’s. They’re packed with helpful info)
http://www.google.com/ (Google’s webmaster help center. Again, there is TONS of info here. Take some time to go through it all)

A special thank you to Diva/Diva Dudes Christine, Aries, Dusk, Laura, Maria, Canice, and Racy

posted by Tawny Taylor at 10:29 AM |

2 Comments:

Commented by Blogger Jen:


That's nice the way you summed it up, Tawny. LOVE this stuff. Someday, I'll learn how to do it all.


1:27 PM 
Commented by Blogger Babe King:


Great article. Thanks.


4:49 AM 

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