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How do I determine my SEO rank and location?

Rank and File

Rank and File (Photo credit: forestpurnell)

The SEO rank of a website/web page refers to where you rank on the search results page (SERP) of a search engine. To determine your SEO rank and location, you just need to type in the exact keywords you have optimized your site for into the Google search box (or any other search engine) and hit enter.

Now, the search results are going to give you a fair idea about your rankings (for your geo location), but those results can never be considered the absolute measure of your SEO endeavors.

Why worry about SEO Rank?

Unlike PR (page rank, which is a measure of global link popularity), the actual SERP rank of a website is dependent on three different factors:

  • Search engine data centers
  • Geo location of the user
  • Browsing history

So, the Google rank of a website is anything but absolute (unlike page rank) and one or all of the above factors can have a tremendous impact on actual rankings no matter how solid your SEO strategy is. That being said, it is possible to remain unscathed by the above factors and as long as you understand how the above factors impact rankings, you don’t have to surrender to the ordinary nuances of the search algos!

So, How Do These Factors Affect SEO Rankings?

  1. Data Centers:
    Every time a user hits the search button, a search query string hits a particular data center that returns results based on its own binaries (read data crunching abilities) and algorithms. The fact that Google literally has a boatload of these data centers across the globe makes things really difficult for webmasters.

    In a recent interview, Google engineer Matt Cutts said that different types of data are always being tested in different data centers and every time a new filter is added or an algorithm is changed, search results might get affected.

    How To Bypass Those New Filters and Algos:
    The short answer – you cannot bypass them. But, you can definitely stay glued to your search engine position if you follow the thumb rule of “ideal” SEO:

    Content – Create content for humans, not search engines. Perfect content would have primary keywords and LSI keywords, but it should, first and foremost, appeal to your targeted readers. Any attempt to trick the search bots by stuffing your pages with keywords could have detrimental effects.

    Organic Links – Google simply hates paid links. Even the slightest hint of “unnatural linking” is going to set the Pandas and Penguins free and it’s only a matter of time before those beasts start nibbling away at your SEO ranking!

    Social Media Marketing – If your content is likable, it’s going to be liked! The search bots are more inclined to sites that have a heavy social media presence.

    Bottom Line: If you try to trick Google, you’d end in a big puddle of filth! Don’t do it unless you have the right shoes for it!

  2. Geo location of the user: If a user from Atlanta searches for a service on Google, his search results are going to be a bit biased towards businesses in Atlanta offering that particular service. Google does this all the time in the name of “enhanced user experience” and unless your site is optimized to show up in location based search queries, the local businesses are always going to win hands down.

    How To Fix The Problem: If you want to achieve location specific rankings, you’ll have to treat your business as one belonging to that place, even if you don’t in reality. Content targeting local users would certainly help. Backlinks from related websites targeting users from the same location would also help you secure a position in location specific listings.

    But, a single static page would never rank in the same position across the globe, unless of course it’s an authority site on the topic and there’s feeble competition.

  3. Browsing History: Even though a bunch of SEO pundits lambast the “browsing patterns” contingent, it is actually a good practice as far connecting the right products with the right customer is concerned.

    Google closely takes note of the browsing patterns and history of users and the search results it presents to that user are always influenced by that browsing pattern. For example, if someone frequents a particular site offering information on “Acne”, chances of him seeing that particular site high on the search results page for a related term (eg – get rid of acne scars) are very high even if there are better websites on the topic.

    Google strives to present with “what a user wants to see” rather than “what the webmasters want to present”. This is a good practice because your website would easily reach out to people having an inclination for similar information or products.

    But, such results could be deceptive for web masters.

    If you are looking to determine your SEO rank and location and are also signed into your Google account, the search results would most likely rank your site higher than it actually is. That’s attributed to your numerous visits to your own site (in the course of updating information or something else) in the recent past.

    How To Determine Your Actual Rankings: If you want to see the real results, you’ll have to log out of your Google account and check your rankings for a keyword on the search engine. Clearing your browser’s cache would also help.

Some Common Myths Busted

Hosting server location cam impact search rankings: That’s a myth. Your site could be hosting anywhere and as long it’s a decent hosting provider, your rankings are not going to get affected. In some rare cases websites hosted on shared hosting with other sites that exist for the sole purpose of spamming, fishing and scamming etc. might get affected but the problem can be easily solved by switching to a reputable host.

Domain name extensions can impact rankings: That’s a myth. Extensions have nothing to do with rankings – they are more about user preferences. However, .info domains are usually a bit more difficult to rank because that particular extension is commonly used by Blackhatters and spammers to trick users and search engines. But, once the trust has been established and a site has started ranking, the domain name extension completely ceases to be a ranking factor.

Is It Actually Possible To Recover A Website Hit By Penguin?

Penguin

Penguin (Photo credit: jaci XIII)

Just in case you haven’t been paying attention, there was a Google update named Penguin that was released a short time ago. This update was part of Google’s aggressive campaign to put a stop to SEO marketing techniques that were used to manipulate Google search rankings.

 

While Penguin didn’t quite catch every site that used SEO, it caught enough that quite a few sites saw their Google search rankings plummet. This event caused a bit of a panic in the SEO industry and there were a lot of people who claimed that Penguin was the death of SEO.

 

Google Only Wants to Help

 

While this feeling is understandable, the fact is that Google isn’t at war with SEO, they simply want people to follow practices that are designed to keep Google search results relevant. For Google to remain the dominant search engine on the internet, it has to make sure that the search results are as accurate as possible. While some people in the SEO industry decry Google’s release of the Penguin update, what they don’t realize is that SEO is not dead.

 

Google could not survive without the actions of the SEO industry and they know it. The release of Penguin wasn’t about stopping SEO as much as it was about returning relevance to their search rankings. What Google wanted to get rid of were sites that were simply piles of keywords that had no real relevance to the search terms and this is exactly what Penguin did.

 

Keyword Stacking is the Enemy

 

While Google wanted to get rid of sites that were simply stack upon stack of keywords, Penguin did snag quite a few legitimate sites as well. It was these sites losing their hard earned ranking overnight that led to the panic in the SEO industry and left many of us wondering if SEO was no longer a legitimate marketing technique.

 

The answer is that SEO is still just as valid as it ever was but that it has to be done according to Google’s best practices. While this means the days of keyword stacked sites are probably gone for good, this actually presents a new opportunity for the SEO industry and the people who rely on those techniques to compete with the massive websites like Amazon.

 

Study Google Harder for Recovery

 

If your site was one of the many sites hit by Penguin, then you need to take a look at how Google wants you to work. Read their best practices and get to know what it is they are looking for. Google doesn’t have a problem with SEO, they just don’t want it to affect their search result relevance. While this means that we all have to learn a different way of using SEO, it does not mean you can’t still use it.

 

The principals behind SEO are still the same, but in order to achieve and maintain a high ranking on Google you have to follow their best practice guidelines. The great thing about this (and yes there is a big upside) is that if you read those best practice guidelines you can learn everything you need to know about how to get a high ranking.

 

 

Sally Frain is a website designer and freelance writer who has studied much about Google and Penguin. She has worked with many to make a website recover from this update and get back to where they were, and in many instances better.

 

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A Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization

If you have a website or if you’re involved in marketing, you’ve probably heard of search engine optimization, or SEO. SEO is very important to the success and visibility of your website, but some people are unaware of what it is and how it works.

What is SEO?

SEO is a marketing tactic used to increase the visibility of your site on a search engine, such as Google or Yahoo.

Think of it this way: when you’re in need of a business, product or service, you probably turn to search engines to perform a search on what you need. Once you search, results are generated for you on a search engine results page, also known as a SERP.

Unbeknownst to most, these SERPs do not just appear randomly. Instead, search engines use specific algorithms to rank websites based on numerous factors, and these algorithms are part of SEO.

The use of keywords.

When a user performs a search on a search engine, they generally type in keywords to help produce better, and sometimes more specific, results. For example, if you were searching for a cost-effective plumber in the city of Chicago, you would probably enter “cheap plumber Chicago” into the search engine. These are known as keywords.

When a business or person creates a website, they need to implement keywords into their website content to help with SEO. Search engines use a technology known as a spider to virtually crawl through a website looking for keywords, and they use this information in their algorithm to rank your website.

When writing content for your website, it is important to include a great amount of keywords throughout your pages. To be most effective, these keywords need to flow naturally in your content, and you should never have a page on your website that just mentions keyword after keyword in order to try and generate a higher page rank.

Before writing content for your site, it’s important to think of popular words or phrases that people would use to locate your website. For help, Google offers a keyword tool through Google AdWords that can help you locate the most popular keywords for your site. Be sure to incorporate your most popular keywords into your content. The more keywords search engine spiders find, the better results your site will see.

Basic ways to improve SEO.

First, you need to ensure that your content is rich with keywords that those searching for your website would find useful. Then, you need to make sure that any pictures on your site contain a description, meta and alt tag that have keywords. While a search engine spider can’t see your images, they can read the text behind them, and if they are rich in keywords instead of IMG1234, it will help improve your search engine ranking.

Next, check the URLs of your website. If possible, try and keep your URLs free of random words, symbols and numbers that have nothing to do with your website. If your URL is easy to read and has valuable keywords, spiders will be able to read the URLs and rank them more appropriately.

If possible, update your content on a regular basis. The implementation of a company blog that is attached to your website is a great way to do this. If the content on your site is constantly changing, spiders will regularly come back to your site, crawl it for keywords, and reassess your ranking, and this can be great for your visibility.

Let’s say that you have a website dedicated to banking. Your website contains every banking keyword, and when someone searches for anything related to banking, your site comes up. This is a great thing. The problem is that you’re only reaching an audience interested in banking. If you have a blog on your website, and in one of your blog posts you talk about the benefits that banking provides to schools, you are now adding keywords associated with education. Now, if someone is searching for great banking tips for schools, your site will appear, giving your site more visibility and a wider audience.

Finally, you need to ensure that you produce great content that people enjoy reading and want to share with their friends. If a spider comes across a link to your website on another website, it will have a greater affect on your site’s algorithm.

What to take away.

SEO is important for the visibility of your site. The higher your site gets ranked on the search engines has an impact on how much traffic is brought to your site and how many new leads or new sales you can acquire.

It’s important to understand, though, that great SEO doesn’t occur overnight. If your site is currently on the last page of a SERP, don’t expect adding keywords to propel you to page 1 very quickly. These SEO tactics take time to marinate, and it’s important that you implement them correctly and remain patient, and you’ll eventually see great results.

Photo Credit: thewebpunk

google caffine

I love Google’s moxie and the fact that they don’t quit getting better.

Today, we’re announcing the completion of a new web indexing system called Caffeine. Caffeine provides 50 percent fresher results for web searches than our last index, and it’s the largest collection of web content we’ve offered. Whether it’s a news story, a blog or a forum post, you can now find links to relevant content much sooner after it is published than was possible ever before.

The funny thing is – the thing that attracted me most to this post was the cool info-graphic.

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