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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.

The importance of historical web traffic in ranking a site?

TrafficJam

TrafficJam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many people who make their living online are interested in the subject of historical web traffic. What is historical web traffic and how can it be used? In order to define the terms you must look to see the traffic that a given website has gotten over a certain period of time.  Alexa rankings are some of the ways that web traffic can be counted.

Historical Web Traffic

Individuals keep a ranking ordinarily of the traffic that has come to a website over a period of time, anywhere from the past 3 months to the past 5 years. Those who are looking at these patterns can determine which unique visitors have come to their website over a given period of time.

It is really helpful to see the type of traffic the site has gotten and where it has come from. These are some of the things that to find when getting to know the site well. Most people use google website analaytics and google tracking tools to get the statistics on some of the traffic that has come their way.

They can use these options to view the traffic and take advantage of the things necessary. There are lots of ways to gauge the traffic coming into a website Having traffic counters, and so forth is one of the ways to do this. These are just some of the ways site owners can make sure they have the traffic they need.

Page Rank History

Those who use wordpress can also find out how their website has been performing over time. It is important for individuals to find since they need to track their websites history, and make sure that they make any necessary amendments or adjustments to the website in question.

Server Tools

Another way to find how many hits the blog or website is getting is to use server tools. For those who wish to see website statistics on their own or someone else’s website they can use domain.com/webalyzier to find the statistics of a particular site. Domain.com is one of the sites that you can use to find the statistics and take advantage of the server tools. Another possible place to check website stats and page history is domains.com or stats.com.

Other places to check would include stats.domain.com or domain.com/statistics. Successful owners use these to access traffic stats that may be needed to find their own stats or stats for a particular website. A note is that you as the website owner need to enable these tools first. They are helpful tools and something to bear in mind in order to track the traffic as it comes to a site.

Another tool that may be in your arsenal to look up information on sites you don’t own is traffic estimate. You can enter any website or blog to find out how much traffic the site had over time. This is also a way to find the google page rank of the site, Alexa rank to find out the traffic that the site has.

Many people can find the information they need and can find the ways to locate their historical traffic data as it comes in. It is always good to note this information to draw conclusions about what direction to go in next with the website. It is simply necessary information that owners can use when trying to adjust the website.

Some individuals also want to find their historical page rank as they want to find out whether adding items such as a banner ad would be helpful or appropriate. These are some of the things to use to analyze traffic patterns These are the ways to find out information about how others view the website.

A bit about Page rank history. Those who are somewhat familiar with the inner rankings of google know that google page ranks all of the websites on the internet. It is helpful for those who wish to keep track of their history, and are looking to know how they are ranking, Page rank is one of these things that individuals can use when they list websites by their importance.

Ways that google determines page ranks of sites are as follows:

  • Some of the ways individuals can use page rank is to determine the website rank and its degree of importance as far as google is concerned.
  • Page rank is an algorthim used by google to measure the importance of websites and their relevance to consumers.
  • The algorithim that is used by google was the first one developed by the company and one that has been used since google’s initial definition.
  • Page rank may be considered a probability definition where the page rank is determined by the possibility or probability of anyone clicking on a website at the same time.

Knowing how your page rank changes over time is really useful to those who have websites. Google changes their page rank periodically and is something that to be used when looking for statistics and popularity on a site. It is one of the things that owners can use to track their website’s importance.

It should be noted though that google does not calculate page ranks that often. The page rank that you actually see is the pseudo page rank and it is updated every 3 months. Psuedo page rank is a method that tracks how often the page is searched. It is something owners can use to make sure that you they are on target. It may be a rough guide to actual page rank which is not changed as frequently.

Website authority is another factor that can be used. Website authority in its purest terms is one of the things that measures the age of the domain, content of search and rank,and length of website operation.This is one of the things owners can use to document the impact of their site. It is important to know this as well. In general the longer the site has been around the greater it’s authority.

What is an authority site?

Young people have no respect for authority now...

Young people have no respect for authority nowadays (Photo credit: Alexandre Dulaunoy)

Making an authority website should be the goal of any business that focuses on SEO. While it is possible for an ecommerce website with little content that is able to rank for a wide range of different high profile keywords, the goal needs to be the main information source for individuals looking for information about that particular niche. An authority site is typically an information hub, but it can fill a number of different roles, depending upon the needs of the business and it’s current SEO outlook. Typically, an authority site will contain some of the following characteristics.

Authority site: Definitive Information Provider

One thing that many authority sites have in common is the fact that it is a bonafide information provider for information that is related to the business’ particular industry. Typically, the more information contained on the website the better. Websites that are able to achieve status as an authority website are able to provide a wide range of information about any and all subjects related to their niche.

By looking at what other websites have done successfully, businesses that are interested in becoming an authority site will be able to learn how to go about structuring content and navigation to make the experience seamless for the end user, while also remaining search engine friendly.

Depending upon how broad a particular niche is, a site could be an authority website with just a few pages. Broader niches could require hundreds or thousands of pages to be a true authority. In example, if a particular niche focused on “Stock mufflers in Honda Civics,” that authority site might only need 10 to 15 pages to display all of the relevant information. However, if the website were focused on “Honda Civic Parts,” in general, there would be a lot more content required to provide well-rounded information on the subject as a whole.

Authority websites should strive to cover the entirety of their subject matter as wholly as possible. There can be dozens of websites considered to be an authority in the same niche, but those that are able to go above and beyond in terms of information quality and quantity are much more likely to position themselves as an authority site.

Keep in mind that there are no strict definitions of an authority site. There is no magical number of pages that needs to be reached in order to be considered one. Instead of setting limits and aiming for a certain number of pages, set goals for providing the best coverage of the subject matter within that niche.

Links

While it is not a necessity to be considered an authority site, a large majority of websites will have links from other authority sites within their niche. While links might not play the same prominent role in SEO as they once did, having a high quality inbound link profile still helps the website to rank and is required for most competitive keywords. A website can have the greatest content in the world, but if the website does not contain what the Google algorithm is looking for, it will never be able to rank. The goal of any would-be authority site should be to garner links from other authority sites within the niche. This signals to google that the website provides excellent information that is worth being linked to. The higher quality the website is that the link comes from, the better.

Additionally, would-be authority sites also need to make sure that they link to other high quality websites as well. Understanding link juice, how it flows from one page to another, and how to structure it’s outbound links for maximum effect is an important part of SEO. The business need to make sure that the website is linking to other high quality websites in its niche. An easy way to make sure that a website has appropriate outbound links is to link to sources for the information provided. If a particular website was used during article research, a link to that website would be appropriate and would help to establish professionalism as well.

Links allow websites to pass their Google authority from one page to another, and one site to another. This is commonly referred to as ‘link juice.’ A strong navigation system helps authority sites to pass this Google authority from one page to another on their own site. The outbound links allow the website to pass that authority on to other websites. Essentially, an outbound link is viewed as a vote of confidence for the websites that are linked to. This is applied in reverse for inbound links, meaning that the goal should be to garner as many votes of confidence as possible.

Expanded Content

One thing that can be noted by visiting authority sites is the fact that many of them offer expanded content, greatly helping their ranking authority. Expanded content refers to adding other, usually visual additions to the content so that it is more than just words on a page. Remember, half of the population learns better visually. For this reason, would-be authority websites should add images, videos, and info graphics that help to support the claims that are being made on the page.

By providing better information with expanded content types, the website is able to not only help users to better understand the information that is provided, but this also makes a website much more likely to garner links from other authority sites that find the content useful as well.

The ranking authority of a given website depends on a number of different factors. Not only should the website be the best provider of information in the given niche, but it should also have a solid SEO structure, links from other websites that are within the niche and considered to be authorities, and enough information to cover the entire niche as a whole.

Having an authority website can mean big returns for a business. No matter what style a website is published as, whether it is an e-commerce site, informational site, web magazine, or other type of website, that doesn’t stop them from offering a wealth of high quality information related to their subject matter. There is no set requirement that must be met to be an authority site, but there are certain considerations that need to be taken into account such as what subjects need to be covered. Building an authority site takes time, effort and knowledge, but can pay off big in the long term.

How Quality Articles Affect Your SEO Position

English: Opening chess position from black sid...

English: Opening chess position from black side. Français : Jeu d’échecs en début de partie, vu depuis le coté des noirs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With the new updates that Google has implemented, it seems as people’s rankings dropped quite a lot – what can you do to get your website back to the top and how do you improve your SEO position?

SEO Position – Improving it is Not That Hard

Improving your SEO rankings is not that hard. Google has made it loud and clear that authority websites will always have the upper edge. The saying that content is king has yet to be proven false, and will probably remain so for a long time.

Writing good quality and unique content has been somewhat hard to do for many website owners, and many of them even outsource this tedious process. Hundreds and thousands of dollars go to writers every day, and to no surprise it seems, as quality content is that really helps improve your SEO position.

Is there no coming back after the latest Google updates? Many of you might think so, but that is hardly the case. Links can always be removed and articles can always be updated. Google loves fresh content, and there’s no better time to update your content than after the Penguin and Panda updates.

Is Unique Content that Important?

Is sure is – many experienced webmasters make the mistake of disregarding content and just throw whatever spun content they can find up on their website. Search engines do not go for quantity, they mostly want quality. Think about it, would you read a blog or an article that is mostly gibberish? Even if it had articles thousands of words long, even if it had hundreds of articles, all that wouldn’t matter to the average reader.

It’s all about your audience. Do not ever think your SEO position is not affected by your audience. That bounce rate you see on your analytics profile is something Google also takes into consideration when calculating your rankings. It’s common sense really – if people like your site it’s natural for them to browse through it, and even come back if they truly find helpful information on it. Google knows this, thus web pages with a lower bounce rate are usually the ones ranking in first position.

How can you get your audience hooked? As mentioned earlier, people like quality content. What is quality content? Well, if a piece of information helps me, then I consider that to be very valuable, thus increasing its quality. There isn’t much to this really; if you just rewrite redundant articles and throw them up on your website, don’t expect a large readership, as redundant and obsolete topics are not that popular.

Research is super important

Nobody can lecture on topics they have no clue about. If your selected niche is something you have no clue about, then you’re going to have a hard time. However, you can always find information about any subject, making it somewhat easier for you to write unique articles. Your Google rank will improve if and only if you provide your readership with valuable content and articles.

How to do your research thoroughly and how to make sure you don’t just copy older articles? Well, research is somewhat tricky. Original research involves going to various websites and skimming through their articles, noting down everything that might be useful and even drawing logical conclusions yourself. Connect the dots and voila, you have yourself a small guideline on how to write a great article.

Let’s say you want to write about dental insurance, but you have no knowledge on this subject whatsoever. Well, worry not, as any information you might need is just a click away. Do a quick search on Google about this subject and you can easily find out what you need.

Here’s a small list for what to look for when doing your research:

  • For products, look up their cost. Whether it’s a stuffed teddy bear or dental insurance, look average cost median of the product. Readers generally want to know how much a thing costs, so adding it to your articles will only add value to your website.
  • Guidelines: People love reading guidelines, so during your research try to incorporate them in your articles. How to obtain a product, how to improve your grammar, how to make money from home, etc. are all things that people want to know.
  • Don’t just visit one website for research. The more websites your visit, the more information you obtain, and adding all this information up will result in one hell of an article, thus increasing your SEO rank.
  • Always take note of interesting things. Whether in notepad or in a simple textbook, always make sure you note down everything you find and deem useful. Nobody expects you to remember everything you read, so having a notepad near you will be very useful.

Your SEO Position is Bound to Increase

Think about what other websites do to achieve those high rankings. Look at CNN, Wikipedia and Amazon; what do all these websites have in common? They are all high authority websites, of course, but not just that. They all provide people with a valuable service.

A valuable service can be anything from information to selling quality products. If you aren’t planning on selling anything on your website, then think about how you can add value to it through your writing. Pass on your knowledge to others, try to find topics that interest people and answer their questions on said topics. Wikipedia has been around longer than ever and is still ranked high, and that is because it is a renowned authority website that provides great content on merely any subject.

Webmasters should perhaps stop thinking about how to improve their SEO position for a second and try to focus on offering a great service for their audience. Quality websites are not built in a day, so make sure to be patient with yours, as it won’t get on the first page of Google in just one day.

Look at what other websites are doing and try to learn from them. How the sites are structured, what kind of service do they offer and what makes them indispensable? Try to answer these questions for each and every website and then figure out what your website should be offering. Keep in mind that people want information that is helpful and easy to understand.

Why does my site need SEO – Part 2/2

telescope

telescope (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In this second post about “why does my site need SEO” and issues that might prevent you from ranking better, we’ll start with one of the most underestimated mistakes that webmasters make.

Why does my site need SEO? – Part 2

  • Failing to understand how Google prioritizes links.
    Here is a typical scenario for most websites: two links to the home page on the upper part of the site, one from the clickable logo and one from the navigation bar, the latter with the anchor “Home.”These links appear on all the pages, and make navigation easier, as they allow users to go back to the home page regardless of where they are.However, which one of those two links will Google prioritize? As we found out, this is what happens:

    • If you have only one link to a given URL, and it’s embedded in an image with an ALT attribute, Google will use it as anchor text
    • If you have two URLs in the same page, one as an image and the other as text, Google will prioritize the latter, regardless of its position or the ALT tag of the image link.

    Forget about the dear old “Home” as anchor text then, and try to use a more descriptive one. Also, remember two more things when it comes to links:

    • Google prefers HTML over Javascript
    • If the first link uses the rel=”nofollow” attribute, that will block the crawling of the second one, even if it’s not nofollow.

    The safe bet is to make sure that the first link to a URL is a keyword-rich text, as it will have priority in Google’s eyes on any other URL that might come further down in the page.

  • Moving to a different URL without letting Google know.
    If you are moving an entire site to a new URL, what happens to all the old backlinks, and how can you avoid losing your hard-earned Page Rank? The solution is a Google tool for webmasters, called Change of Address Form, whose purpose is to inform the search engine that your site has moved. On top of that, you want to put permanent redirections (called 301) from the old pages to the corresponding ones in the new site.The difference  between the tool and the 301 is that the first provides the information about the change at site level, whereas the latter is for single pages, but it definitely won’t hurt to use both (in fact, Google recommends it), and for two reasons:
    • The PageRank from the old URL will be passed on to the new one
    • Users that visit the old URL directly, from a bookmark, old backlinks or by typing it on the address bar, will be led to your new site, without getting the infamous “Page not found” response.
  • Building slow loading pages.
    Last but not least, don’t forget that users want speed, and so does Google. A slow-loading page will affect you negatively in two waysIf you use Adwords to promote your site, a high loading time will lower your Quality Score, resulting in higher Cost Per Click of your ads and a less favorable placement

    Whether you use Adwords or not, slowness will bring you down in the rankings.

So, do you still think you don’t need an SEO guy?   These should be some good reasons why does my site need SEO.

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