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Category: Search Engines

Google won’t search for Chuck Norris…

31 January, 2008 (09:42) | Search Engines | By: Nick Dalton

Go to Google and search for “find chuck norris” and click the “I’m Feeling Lucky button”.

Google-like search result for find Chuck Norris

:-D

Tip of the hat to David Krane.

Search Engine Ranking Factor – Recency

14 January, 2008 (15:22) | Search Engines | By: Nick Dalton

In previous posts I’ve talked about different types of ranking factors: on-page, URL and off-page (links). There are of course hundreds of variables in the major search engines’ ranking algorithms, but these three big buckets are helpful for categorizing them.

But there is one other major type of ranking factor that doesn’t fit neatly into these three categories: time, or how recently the web page was updated. Google, especially, is obsessed with indexing and returning search results from new web pages. From a user’s perspective this makes sense since you often want read the very latest information on a subject.

However this poses a problem for Google since new web pages do not have any links pointing back to them, and therefore their traditional Page Rank algorithm would never rank new pages very high. So it appears that Google is giving new web pages the benefit of the doubt for a short period of time. Yaro has dubbed this the Google Honeymoon Period. After this period of time, your web page will slide back in ranking to it’s position based on the other ranking factors.

Here are four steps to take advantage of the recency ranking factor:

  1. Get a blog. There is no better way to continuously publish new content and alert the search engines to it.
  2. Publish new blog posts as often as you can manage.
  3. Make sure your blog pings Google Blog Search. Add http://blogsearch.google.com/ping/RPC2 to the list of Update Services in WordPress Options > Writing.
  4. If you’re trying to rank for a specific keyword phrase, then use that often in your blog posts. If each post gets its honeymoon period you will constantly have one page ranking well for that phrase. Over time the search engines will recognize that this is a topic that you frequently write about and therefore you’re probably an authority on it.

I attribute most of my recent page two Google ranking for “internet business” to on-page ranking factors. The home page RaSof score for “internet business” was at the time 1,274 (very high). It has since declined somewhat due to recent posts not mentioning “internet business” as frequently. I’ve currently slipped to page three, so there is more than likely a bit of the recency ranking factor at play too.

Have you enjoyed the Google Honeymoon for your web site? How long did it last?

Review: Search Engine Myths Exposed

10 January, 2008 (10:35) | Reviews, Search Engines | By: Nick Dalton

Search Engine Myths ExposedJonathan Leger released his free report Search Engine Myths Exposed yesterday. Here are the “myths” that are exposed:

  1. Google Knows All and Sees All
  2. Google Will Not Rank Duplicate Content
  3. You Must Get Links From Related Subject Sites to Rank
  4. Your Site Must Focus On One Subject To Rank
  5. High PageRank Means Good Rankings
  6. To Maintain Good Rankings, You Must Add New Content
  7. The Biggest Myth: Ranking in Google is Hard

I didn’t realize that these were still considered myths or that there was any controversy surrounding them. But given all the FUD surrounding search engine optimization, somebody needs to set the record straight. And Jonathan Leger does a pretty good job at it.

Simplifications

There are a couple of things that I take issue with, mostly related to simplifications.

  • Google is an algorithm. The algorithm was created by people. Therefore Google is not a Deity that sees all and knows all. Ok…
  • The duplicate content discussion is interesting. But instead of proving that duplicate content does show up in search results, it would be far more useful to understand how duplicate content affects the value of incoming links. This is something that all article marketers are subject to each time they submit an article for syndication.
  • The only on-page ranking factor that is mentioned is the title tag. As a user of rApogee and RaSof you know that the title tag is very important, but there are close to 1,500 on-page ranking factors that you can use to your advantage.
  • The over-emphasis on links. Especially links from a specific service.

Sales Pitch

Since there never is such a thing as a free lunch, this report builds into a sales pitch for Jonathan Leger’s 3WayLinks.net service. Install some PHP on your site and you will automatically participate in 3-way link building, i.e. your site links to B, B links to C, and C links back to you. According to Jonathan, these links are much more valuable in Google’s eyes than when you link to site B and they link back to you.

Side Note

One of my favorite blogs High Scalability – Building bigger, faster, more reliable websites recently had a post about the Google Architecture. In this rather technical article Google’s MapReduce programming model is explained. With a few lines of MapReduce code junior Google engineers can easily query the massive amounts of data that Google collects. Figuring out 3-way linking schemes should be trivial and I’d be surprised if that’s not already done in any of the over 6,000 existing MapReduce applications. So Jonathan Leger’s Myth #1 that Google knows all and sees all may still be false, but I think they’re getting pretty close.

The Verdict

Sales pitch aside, the report does contain good information. Overall, it’s definitely worth reading. I haven’t tried the 3-way links service, so I cannot comment on that.

Hurry, download now…

No doubt you have received a flurry of emails urging you to download this report. The reason is that Jonathan Leger is paying $0.25 per referred download. So full disclosure: I will receive $0.25 if you use my link to download this report. And yes, I have my retirement all planned out. ;-)

Does RaSof Really Help You Rank Better?

8 January, 2008 (11:35) | Search Engines, Tools | By: Nick Dalton

I didn’t get any questions over the weekend to answer, so I’m going to address the elephant in the room: Does RaSof really help you rank better? In a world full of bad SEO advice, is RaSof just another product based on hearsay and witchcraft?

James Brausch often points out the fact that he ranks very well for the competitive phrase “internet business”, and he credits that achievement to RaSof. This blog is not nearly as well known as JamesBrauch.com and it doesn’t have close to as many backlinks, so I figured this would be a really good case study of the power of just on-page ranking factors. Before writing this post, the RaSof score for the home page of this blog is 1,274 for the infamous keywords “internet business”. If you have rApogee you can quickly check the scores for the top ranking sites for this phrase. You will find that 1,274 is a very high score.

So this site has very few incoming links, it doesn’t have any of the keywords “internet business” in the URL, but the home page is optimized with RaSof. What did I achieve with this? I’m on the second page of Google for this very competitive search:

internet business Google page 2 ranking

And I’m on the first page of Google in the Philippines and Nigeria… There may be more good rankings out there, but I don’t go around looking for them. I have noticed all these stats just by monitoring my web analytics. Google is already sending me lots of free traffic and I can tell that it’s because of my natural ranking for “internet business”. Keep in mind that a good search engine ranking is pointless in itself. Your goal is to get traffic.

James Brausch received 1,636 free visitors from Google in November, mostly due to his first page ranking for “internet business”. How much would 1,636 new visitors to your web site each month be worth to you? If you had to get these visitors using Google AdWord you would have to pay at least $0.41 per click for an ad on the first page of the search results for “internet business”.

Obviously you can use rApogee and RaSof to optimize your web pages for any keywords. You are likely to have even faster success with keywords that are less competitive. I choose “internet business” for this experiment because it seems more worthwhile than coolest guy on the planet, and it is also happens to be the topic of this blog.

If you are new to this blog you may be confused by the references to rApogee and RaSof. Basically rApogee is a product that helps you use RaSof. Here’s what one of my readers who just started using rApogee has to say:

Thanks for rApogee. It makes using RaSof so much easier. I used it yesterday and got my score over 1400 and there are still a few tweaks I could make to get it even higher.

Checkout Aaron’s blog about online business. With a score of 1,400 I expect that we’ll see him rocket up the rankings for those keywords very soon.

Note: By the time you read this blog entry, my rankings in Google will most likely have changed. Writing about your ranking and especially explaining what you did to achieve it usually has a detrimental effect on your ranking. Using these simple tools everyone will be gunning for a top listing for “internet business”.

There is also a fourth ranking factor at work here. One I haven’t written about yet. But more about that next week.

If you found this blog post useful please link to it from your blog. That will give me a little boost in the off-page ranking factors. Thanks!

PS. Get a free copy of rApogee. I have decided to extend the Holiday Season to January 25, 2008. If you have not yet picked up your rApogee Christmas gift (and if you did receive something in your stocking from James Brausch) then go here.

Question Time: rApogee And Search Engine Ranking

5 January, 2008 (07:42) | Search Engines, Tools | By: Nick Dalton

Here’s how it works:

You ask me any question you would like about rApogee and ranking better in search engines.

Before you ask a question please read my recent posts on this topic:

If you ask the best question, I’ll send you a copy of James Brausch’s “Life Management 101“. I choose the best question and it is entirely arbitrary and what I personally think is the best question.

You can ask your question in a comment below or by posting to your own blog and linking back to this blog entry. I’ll answer questions in a post on this blog on Monday.

I Have A Great RaSof Score – How Come I’m Not On The First Page Of Google?

4 January, 2008 (11:33) | Search Engines, Tools | By: Nick Dalton

This is the fourth installment of the RaSof/rApogee mini-tutorials. You can read the previous posts here:

First keep in mind that RaSof only deals with on-page ranking factors. In addition to the HTML on your page, search engines also consider the URL of your page and other web pages linking to you. According to James Brausch on-page ranking factors account for about 40% of your search engine ranking. 40% is huge and these are factors that you have direct and immediate control over. That is why RaSof and rApogee are such powerful tools. But even if you maximize the on-page ranking factors for your page, other web pages can still rank ahead of you based on their domain/URL and link factors.

Side Note: You can score your URL using the software Nemeas.

The second issue to keep in mind is time. Even if you make changes to your home page today, it’s going to take Google a while to index the new page. And it’s going to take even longer for Google to update the ranking of your web site based on the latest crawl. The Google ranking algorithm is very complex and it involves checking other web sites that link to yours to determine the relevancy and authority of those web sites for each query. The entire Google ranking system cannot be recomputed every day (not even with Google’s massive resources). Therefore you will see your ranking fluctuate day by day as different parts of the ranking system is recomputed. If you consistently apply the recommendations of RaSof and rApogee, as well as take action to get incoming links to your page, you should see your ranking improve over time.

This concludes my mini-tutorial series. No doubt you still have questions about search engine rankings and the softwares RaSof and rApogee. Therefore, tomorrow I will have an open question time where you can ask me any question on this topic. All questions will be answered on Monday and there will be a prize for the best question. Before you ask a question please check out James Brausch’s recent answers on the ranking topic. Your question may already have been answered.

How Do You Improve Your RaSof Score (And Thus Your Search Engine Ranking)?

3 January, 2008 (11:05) | Search Engines, Tools | By: Nick Dalton

Yesterday you learned what the RaSof results meant. Today we’ll build on that knowledge and learn how to increase your RaSof score. If you have not already done so please download my product rApogee – my Christmas gift to you. It will be very useful in this exercise.

In yesterday’s example you noticed that the page had a ranking factor score of -10 for a keyword count of 12 for the page. That seems like a score that is low hanging fruit for improvement. If having the keywords exist 12 times on a page results in a negative score, then there are probably values that are positive. Look at google-page.txt for the various entries “Does having a keyword count of x for the page affect ranking?”. And find the one which has the high score as the first number on the “Data” line. This is what I found:

Q. Does having a keyword count of 18 for the page affect ranking?
A. No; It does not significantly affect ranking.
Data: +32 7 3 6 5 3 5 6 2

Just by adding the keywords to the page 6 more times for a total of 18 will increase the score for this ranking factor from -10 to +32. That’s a good improvement and probably pretty easy to do.

However, the best value for this particular ranking factor is:

Q. Does having a keyword count of more than 50 for the page affect ranking?
A. Yes; It increases ranking.
Data: +92 123 100 95 95 93 81 81 77

For the best search engine ranking benefit you should have your keywords appear more than 50 times on a page. Now this is more of a challenge. How do you work in your keywords more than 50 times into your text without it sounding like gibberish? If you can that’s great. If not, then just focus on some of the other ranking factors. Keep in mind that search engine ranking is not a goal in itself. What you want is customers who buy your products. If they find your web site through a top listing in a search engine, but they get turned off by the text on the web site because it suffers from keyword stuffing, then you haven’t gained anything.

Locating the right entry in the ranking factors data files and correlating it back to the RaSof results can be rather time consuming. That is one of the reasons I wrote rApogee. If you’re using rApogee all you have to do is look in column E to see the value of the ranking factor. Just scan the rows to find the one with the highest value. That’s your target.

rApogee ranking factor scores in column E

There are a couple of things to keep in mind while you’re doing this process:

  1. Adjusting your page for one ranking factor can have an impact on another factor. For example if you were to add your keywords to your page 50 times it’s very likely that the page would get longer. Total page length is another ranking factor.
  2. Make small changes at a time and note the new total RaSof score after each change.
  3. If you are optimizing a blog, keep in mind that the content of the blog home page changes each time you write another post. Therefore you should not pay too much attention to ranking factors like number of keywords on the page. Focus instead on elements of the page that do not change with each new post: the page title tag, and anything you have in your page header.

Here’s an extreme example of how a small change can make a large impact on your score due to the compounded effect of multiple ranking factors. Say you want to rank for the keywords “golf bags”. If you change your title tag on the page to be just “golf bags”, nothing else, then this is the RaSof score you would get for just that one item:

  • KeywordExists: +71
  • KeywordBeginning: +78
  • KeywordEnd: +42
  • KeywordCount of 1: +35
  • KeywordCount of 1-10: +71
  • KeywordDensity of 91-100%: +32
  • SectionLength of 1-9 characters: +67

For a grand total of +421 !

Where do you start?

My recommendation is that you tackle the page elements in this order:

  1. Title
  2. KeywordsMeta
  3. DescriptionMeta
  4. Head – Optimizing the first three items will often give you a good score for the Head section too.
  5. FirstAlt – If you have an image in your page header this is easy.
  6. Page and Body – Your page presumably already contains your keyword multiple times, so this should just be a matter of tweaking the number of keywords.

Another important tip

Until you’re comfortable working with rApogee and RaSof, do your changes and experiments on a test page. Make a copy of the page you’re trying to optimize and call it www.yoursite.com/test.html. RaSof can score any web page that is publicly available. When you’re happy with the RaSof score then copy the page back to its original location. You can even create multiple copies, e.g. test1.hml, test2.html, where you keep a copy of the highest scoring page and then try to beat it.

Side Note: This is like the method you use in Glyphius to refine your headlines to ever increasing scores. Note that James Brausch is currently running a 24-hour special on Glyphius and Glyphius 2007. The price is now $100 instead of the regular $300. After the 24-hour special Glyphius will no longer be for sale by James Brausch.

What Do The Results In RaSof Mean?

2 January, 2008 (15:37) | Search Engines, Tools | By: Nick Dalton

Some of you who received James Brausch’s generous Christmas gift of a subscription to RaSof, may be struggling with how to use the service. RaSof is a very powerful tool. And I remember that I was puzzled when I first tried to use it.

This is the first post in a series of mini-tutorials on how to use RaSof and my companion product rApogee. As a reminder you can still get rApogee for free as my Christmas gift to you.

On the first page of RaSof (and rApogee) you need to enter the URL of the page you want to score and the keyword(s) you want your ranking score for. (If you don’t know what keywords you should select for your web site, then read my Concise Guide To Keyword Research.)

Finally you need to select a search engine. Since each search engine has a different algorithm for ranking web pages, the score that RaSof calculates will differ depending on the search engine you selected. A consequence of the different algorithms is that it’s very difficult to get one web page to rank very well in all three search engines. My recommendation is that you start with Google since they typically refer the most traffic. Once you’re done with optimizing your page for Google, then you can create separate web pages and optimize them for Yahoo and MSN separately.

The results you get back from RaSof look something like this:
RaSof results for internet business

Each of the almost 1,500 lines on this web page corresponds to one entry in the Ranking Factors data that you received with the RaSof subscription. The first line on the results page in the image above reads:
Section  Variable       Score
Page     KeywordExists  53

This corresponds to the first entry in google-page.txt, which looks like this:
Q. Does having the keyword exist within the page affect ranking?
A. Yes; It increases ranking.
Data: +53 353 346 349 342 342 343 344 340

What RaSof does is examine your web page and search for the keyword(s) you entered to see if they exist “within the page”. In this example the keywords “internet business” did exist at least once on www.jamesbrauch.com. RaSof therefore added +53 (the first value in the Ranking Factor “Data” row) to your total score.

Continuing on the next line, RaSof did not find “internet business” at the beginning of the page (”KeywordBeginning”) so no score was added for that ranking factor. Further down RaSof determined that “internet business” existed 12 times on the page. Unfortunately that resulted in a ranking factor score of -10.
Q. Does having a keyword count of 12 for the page affect ranking?
A. No; It does not significantly affect ranking.
Data: -10 5 10 6 8 4 9 8 8

Flipping back and forth between the RaSof results and the Ranking Factors data can be a bit time consuming. Therefore in rApogee all you have to do is hover over the variable name and a tool tip is shown with the Ranking Factors explanation.

rApogee Tooltip shows Ranking Factors data

This process continues all the way down to the end of all the ranking factors where a total score is presented. Now this score does not have any real meaning other then a higher number is better. James Brauch currently has a score of 947 for the keywords “internet business”. This is a very high score and it has contributed to his first page ranking in Google. On other not so competitive search terms you can probably achieve a first page ranking with a much lower RaSof score. What’s important is that your score is higher than your competition.

Of course you can, and should, analyze your competitor’s web pages with RaSof. From this you can learn what your competitors have done to optimize their web pages and what you can do better. You can also try different keywords to find some that are not as competitive for ranking well.

In rApogee you can enter more than one URL to analyze at a time. The results for each URL will be presented in separate columns so that you can easily compare the results against each other. Alternatively if you want to compare your web site against the top 10 web sites for a particular keyword then all you have to do is specify this in rApogee and the program will automagically retrieve the top 10 search results from the search engine you specified, and then compute the RaSof scores for each one.

A Concise Guide To Keyword Research

30 December, 2007 (11:35) | Search Engines | By: Nick Dalton

Keywords are the underpinnings of all major search engines. In order to rank well in search engines or to do well with AdWords ads, you need to do keyword research. Knowing which keywords to target is also a prerequisite for using the tools RaSof and rApogee.

Keyword Ideas

First you need to come up with an initial list of keywords that you think are relevant to your web site.

Brainstorm

List all the keywords and phrases that you think your customers would use to find your site. While this is a starting point, most people are too close to their own business to know what words their customers use to describe their products. As a business owner you are prone to using industry jargon and abbreviations along with internal product names and descriptions.

Thesaurus

Use a thesaurus to come up with possible synonyms for your keywords.

Analytics

Look at your web analytics tools to get a list of keywords that visitors actually used to find your site.

Google Webmaster Tools

In Google Webmaster Tools click on Statistics > What Googlebot sees, to get a list of phrases and keywords on your site as Google sees it. This often reveals some eyeopening information.

Competitors

Look at the keywords your competitors are targeting. One easy way to do this is to view the source of their web pages and look at the “meta keywords” tag.
<meta name="keywords" content="internet business,business,internet,copywriting,traffic,product creation,marketing,advertising" />

Things To Avoid

Single Words

Most single words are bad keywords because they are too broad. How can you tell what someone is looking for if all they type in is “internet” or “business”? Even the two word phrase “internet business” is very broad. An exception to this rule could be the names of your product.

Generic Terms

Very generic terms like “iphone” are going to get a lot more search volume than more specific search terms like “iphone ebook“. But visitors who type is a specific term are much more targeted visitors and are therefore more likely to convert to customers. Again there are exceptions. For example you may have a blog with general iPhone information.

Plurals And Stem Variations

At this point in your keyword research focus on the core keywords. Do not worry about listing every possible variation, including plural forms, of every keyword you think of. There are tools that can help you with that later.

Refine Your Keyword List

Search Volume

Use Wordtracker’s Free Keyword Tool and Google’s Keyword Tool to estimate the search volume of the keywords on your list. If too few people are searching using particular keywords then there is not much to be gained from targeting those keywords.

How much is enough search volume? James Brausch once recommended in his 5 Minute Marketing Research process that you should have at least as much search traffic has the keyword “airguns” gets. The exact numbers will of course vary depending on your market, but this is a good starting point.

Competitiveness

If you’re just starting out and you target very competitive keywords you have your work cut out for you. One way to gage the the competitiveness of keywords is to look at the total number of search results, but this is no longer very accurate due to the increasing number of junk web sites. A better way is to look at the number of AdWords ads shown in Google when you search for the keywords.

You can also use rApogee and look at the total scores for the top 10 web sites. If the scores are all above 500 they those pages are probably highly optimized for those keywords.

Long Tail

If you have found generic keywords with a lot of search volume but are highly competitive, then you should think about more specific variations that are applicable to your business. For example instead of “internet business” you may go after “internet business startup advice” or “internet business technical consulting”.

Organize Your Keywords

When you have your list of keywords you need to map them to web pages on your site. If you have a web site that sells a lot of products then that’s pretty straightforward. If you have a blog it’s a little more tricky; you can think of your blog categories as product categories and optimize for different keywords for each category.

Don’t agonize over treating your home page in a special way or consider it more important than all the other pages. Search engines couldn’t care less which page you consider to be your “home page”. Nor do your visitors, they just want the information they’re looking for.

The three major search engines have very different algorithms for on-page ranking factors. That’s the reason RaSof gives you different scores for the same URL depending on the search engine you have selected. As you are organizing keywords and web pages you may also consider creating separate pages to target Google, MSN/Live and Yahoo as it is very unlikely that the same page will have a top ranking in all three.

Continuous Improvements

Keyword research is an ongoing process. You need to constantly refine your list of keywords. Use your web analytics tool to find new keywords that visitors have used to find your web site.

But most important is to trim keywords from your list that do not result in conversions to sales, newsletter sign-ups, etc. Unless you are selling advertising on your web site by page views, more traffic in general is not what you should strive for. What you want is targeted traffic: visitors who stay on your web site, take some action and eventually become your customers.

Resources

A Christmas Gift For You To Complement The One From James Brausch

26 December, 2007 (00:42) | General, Search Engines | By: Nick Dalton

Again this year James Brausch gave away some of his products to all the people who had signed up to his Christmas card list. (And again controversy erupted when some people felt like they “missed” their gift. Just like last year…)

Since it’s the day after Christmas I think I can reveal the content of James’ gift without spoiling any surprise:

  1. he Ranking Factors Data which contains the raw data for how the three major search engines rank web pages. This product used to sell for $1000, but is no longer available.
  2. A free trial to the RaSof service which uses the ranking factors data to give any web page that you enter a “score” for the keywords that you enter. This is very helpful for improving the search engine ranking for your web sites. This service is normally $1000 per month.

I’m a long-time owner of both products. The data they contain is unique.

However as a beginner user of the products the amount of data, and the raw presentation, can be a bit overwhelming. Therefore I created a companion product called rApogee which takes the information and presents it in a more organized and actionable form. You can read more about rApogee here and here.

With James’ generous Christmas gift I reckon there will be many new users to RaSof and I would like to make their experience as productive as possible. Therefore my Christmas gift to you is a free copy of rApogee. Here’s the page to sign up and claim your Christmas gift.

To ensure that the electrons of this blog post reach all the remote corners of the Internet, you have all Twelve Days of Christmas to claim your gift. That is until January 6, 2008. After that date you will still be able to purchase rApogee for the regular price of $105.

That will also give you time to let your blog readers and customers know about this gift. (Hint.)

If you find rApogee useful I’d appreciate if you leave a comment below.