Archive for April, 2006

Web Site Search Engine Ranking Factors

Sunday, April 2nd, 2006

Have you ever had a proposal, estimate or quote for search
engine optimization work
and wondered what goes into the
pricing? What makes one site need more work than another? Why
do some sites increase rankings faster than others? Why do
some sites get more traffic from their top page ranking than
yours?

There are so many aspects of a web site that can decrease or
boost your search engine rankings. Each web site is as unique
as DNA and as such, will react differently to different
marketing treatments.

What are these different factors that go into your web site’s
ranking? Here is a list of the most important aspects:

1. The State of Your Site Prior to the Optimization – Your web
site can have many different attributes that contribute to its
ability to rank well or not so well. Your site’s PageRank for
example, if your PR is a 0/10 or 1/10, it’s going to take a lot
longer and a lot more work to get your site ranking well. If
your site is poorly designed, contains frames or is written
entirely in Flash, a lot of work will be required to redesign
your site so that it is search engine friendly. If your site has
very few incoming links, a fair amount of link development will
have to be done in order for you to see the rankings and traffic
you’re after. A web site that has been around for a while and
developed its PageRank, has a search engine friendly design and
obtains links on a frequent basis, will be able to reach top
positions much faster than other sites, once an optimization
campaign is under way.

2. The Keywords You Are Targeting – Some keywords are less
competitive than others. If you search Google for a keyword or
keyword phrase, you’ll see at the top of the results how many
web pages are listed in those results. That is the amount of web
sites that are competing with yours to reach top page placement
for that keyword or keyword phrase. For example, the keyword
phrase “web design” has approximately 303 million web pages
listed in the results, whereas if you search for my name in
quotations, “courtney heard”, you will see that there are only
508 web pages listed in the results. It is therefore, much
easier to rank well for the keywords “courtney heard” than it is
for web design. This is why you must choose keywords wisely.
With tools such as wordtracker.com, you can find out
approximately how many searches are performed for a given
keyword or keyword phrase. The more competitive those keywords
are, the higher the cost will be to optimize your web site and
the longer the optimization will take.

3. The Size of Your Target Market – If your site is targeting a
global market, it will take a lot more effort to reach the top
ten search results than if your site is targeting a regional
market. It also depends on what sort of market you’re targeting.
If your site sells a product that only a small group of people
will be interested in purchasing, your site will be optimized
easier than if the product or service appealed to the global
population. For instance, the keyword phrase “real estate” will
require a lot more effort to reach top page placement for than
“real estate canada” and even “real estate vancouver”.

4. Competitor Sites’ SEO Campaigns – You might find that once
your optimization campaign is under way, your site jumps and
slips and jumps and slips several times. This can be due to many
things, but the one we’ll look at is your competitors’ sites SEO
campaigns. If your competitors are aggressively optimizing their
own sites for search engines, they can also be achieving new
rankings and displacing your site. This brings us to our 5th and
final point…

5. Your Own SEO and Link Development Campaign – Your own link
development and SEO campaign should be thorough, covering all
the aspects of a well optimized site and utilising all your
resources for obtaining incoming links. If your SEO campaign
isn’t approached properly, your competitors can surpass you in
the rankings easily. You must be aware of your competition and
adjust your efforts accordingly.

As you can see, there are many, many things that make your site
unique in the services it requires. Some sites can reach top
page placement by just changing a title tag, while others wait 6
months to even be listed on Google. The bottom line is, educate
yourself, ask questions, choose the right SEO company and be
patient. In time, your top page placement will come.

Courtney Heard is the founder of Abalone Designs (http://www.abalone.ca), an Internet Marketing and SEO company
in Vancouver, Canada. More of Courtney’s articles are available at Abalone’s Resource Library
(http://www.abalone.ca/resources/).

SEO Tools

Sunday, April 2nd, 2006

Savvy online marketers use a combination of these tools to analyze and generally "figure out" why one particular web page is ranking better than another web page.

Aaron Wall’s Link Popularity/Backlink Analyzer
Aaron Walls’ tool is fairly new to the game, and he apparently has spent a lot of money developing this tool. This SEO tool allows you to analyze all of the links that are pointing to one particular website. Once you download and run it, you are given several reports-one of the reports allows you to see the anchor text of the links that are pointing to that site. Anchor text is the actual clickable link text that describes a link. Search engines rely anchor text information in order to "figure out" what a web page is about-they use that as an important part of their algorithm. This tool requires that you install it on your PC. Aaron also has a list of more free SEO tools on his site.

We Build Pages’ Free SEO Tools
I’m amazed by the number of tools that the We Build Pages folks have available in their arsenal. There several good free online SEO tools and analyzers. The Neat-o Backlink Tool, like Aaron Wall’s tool mentioned above, "checks your backlinks (only showing one backlink per URL that links to you) and shows the link text used to link to you." This tool is an online tool and doesn’t require that you download it.

The C Class Backlink Analyzer Tool, also by We Build Pages, is a tool that checks the IP addresses of links to a site. This is important because not all links are created equal-it’s better to have fewer links from a lot of websites than a whole bunch of links from only one or two websites.

A third tool by We Build Pages, the Top 10 Analysis Tool, will give you the "big picture" of the rankings for a search term. "Type in a search phrase and this tool will check the top 10 sites in Google and will then show you things such as how many pages are indexed for each site, backlinks, allinanchor rankings, keyword density, and much more." Run this tool to see how competitive a search term is and what might be required to rank well for that search term.

URL Trends
This online tool gives you a "big picture" and an overall analysis of a website. URLTrends allows you to view trend reports of a website’s current and previous Google PageRank, Alexa Rank and incoming links for the URL. It also tells you the site’s DMOZ status (if it’s listed in DMOZ.org).

Server Header Check
There are many tools that allow you to perform a server header check. This is important especially if you’re dealing with redirects or setting up a redirect from one page to another. By running a server header check on a URL, you can easily see what error code or redirect code the server is returning when the URL is loaded. For example, if you’re setting up a 301 Permanent Redirect from one domain to another, checking the domain using a server header check tool is a must. Several good server header check tools exist:

http://www.webrankinfo.com/english/tools/server-header.php
http://www.searchengineworld.com/cgi-bin/servercheck.cgi
http://www.seoconsultants.com/tools/headers.asp
http://www.serverheader.com/

IDServe is a free tool that I keep in my desktop. This lets you perform a quick server header check without having to open a web browser.

Find more online SEO Tools
There are several websites that list even more online SEO tools worth exploring. SEO Company maintains a great list of Seo Tools worth checking out at http://www.seocompany.ca/tool/seo-tools.html, and even has a few of his own online tools, including a Page Rank Checker, a tool to check Internal Page Rank, a tool to check Link Popularity, a tool to check Indexed Pages, a DMOZ Listing Checker, and a SERP Checker. More free online SEO tool lists are available at the following sites, as well:

http://www.webmaster-toolkit.com/
http://seo.zunch.com/free_seo_tools.htm
http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools/
http://www.globalpromoter.com/seo-tools/

Privacy Issues
Many search marketers have expressed concerns about privacy issues when it comes to using online tools. When you use an online form and enter a URL or any other data, you’re potentially giving that data to the website providing that online tool. So, be sure to check the site’s privacy policy before you use the tool-or only use the online tools to check your competitors’ search engine rankings.

Big Oak SEO Blog

This SEO blog is provided by Big Oak SEO, a SEO Company. Most blog posts are related to search engine optimization, short reviews, SEO tips and increasing site conversions. Email us at contact@bigoakinc.com or give us a call 804-741-6776 to see how we can help your company. More

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