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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Okay, I'm the first to admit that there's a lot of junk out here on the Internet. I can't tell you how much information I see daily that either is just plain garbage or has no factual basis upon which conclusions are drawn.

This is especially true with it comes to Internet marketing. Late last week, I saw the first article (SEOmoz) that had a thread of truth and aligns with everything I know to be true about improving search engine rankings for promotional pages, web sites, and blogs.

For those of you who are new to The Marketing Blog you probably don't know that even though this blog covers all aspects of marketing (from Advertising to Trade Shows), I have a particular infatuation with Internet marketing and making money online. As a result, I'm always looking to share with all my blog readers information that has personally helped me to succeed online with any one of more than a dozen web sites or blogs I own.

In this brief article I talk about the most important factors for improving web site rankings and guess what, the image above sums it up nicely. You can read on for a full explanation of these factors or simply print the image/post and pin it on your corkboard - be sure to Retweet it too!

The top ranking factors as reported by SEOmoz include: Anchor text from external links, keyword use in title tag, link popularity, diversity of linking domains, and keyword use in root domain. What does it all mean? Here's my take...

Top 5 Search Engine Ranking Factors

The first ranking factor refers to the anchor text of all inbound links to your website. What this means is that Google in particular but all search engines, use the anchor text from other sites linking to yours to determine what you site is about and what it should rank well for. So if you have sites that are linking to you using your URL (ex:, email them and ask them to update how the link appears to include your keywords.

The second ranking factor is keyword use in title tag. Believe it or not, this refers to both your site and the sites that are linking to your particular web site or web page. It's called "link juice" baby and the more quality links you have that have your keyword in their page title, keywords, or description, the better off you'll be. At the very least, make sure the page you're optimizing include your most important keywords in the title tag. If possible, only include your keyword phrase. This gives it more weight and greater importance.

The third ranking factor is link popularity. This phrase has been tossed around in SEO circles for a while but in essence it's referred to as Page Rank which measures a number of factors - the largest of which is how many other sites have links pointing to a given website. The more popularity or value of each link,the better a web site's link popularity and page rank. Bottom line: Build links from sites that have a good Google PR.

The fourth ranking factor is diversity of linking domains. It's all about links. Diversity of linking domains means that if you have 1,000 links from a single domain/URL versus another site ranking for a similar keyword that has one link from 1,000 independent, unrelated sites, they're going to rank better than you.

The final ranking factor is keyword use in root domain. Although it's possible to use subdomains or dedicated pages to get your keywords in a URL, nothing beats having them in your root domain. Example: I've seen sites, like The Marketing Blog, outrank sites that have the keyword in the root domain, but it takes a good deal of SEO experience, know how, and persistence. There are plenty of SEO training programs that can show you how to have this type of impact on organic listings, but know that having a domain with your keyword definitely helps.

What Are The Top 5 Negative Ranking Factors

Just as there are factors that improve your web site's rankings, there are also factors that can have a negative impact on organic results. These five factors should be avoided at all costs. Here they are:

The first negative ranking factor is cloaking with malicious intent. The good news here is that if you site is guilty of such a thing, Google will actually blog you and basically shut you down. They can do this? You bet they can - it's great to be the king! If your site was hijacked in some way and you are unable to access, you should restore using a backup and submit a request to have the site reviewed via Google webmaster tools. Cloaking or hijacking of this type is usually done via iframe redirects and other technical stuff!

The second negative ranking factor is link acquisition from link brokers. I used to generate a lot of money every month from text-link-ads dot com and other sites but have seen a significant drop in the number of customers using these services. Why? Because Google is on to them, that's why. Paying for links is like paying for good grades. Sooner or later it's a failing proposition.

The third negative ranking factor is cloaking by a User Agent. This is a bit technical, but User Agent Cloaking is similar to IP cloaking in the sense that the cloaking script compares the User Agent text string which is sent when a page is requested with its list of search engine User Agent names and then serves the appropriate page.

The problem with User Agent cloaking is that Agent names can be easily faked. Imagine Google introducing a new anti-spam method to beat cloakers, all they need to do is fake their name and pretend they're a normal person using Internet explorer or Netscape, the cloaking software will take Googles bot to the non optimized page and hence your search engine rankings will suffer. User Agent cloaking is much more riskier than IP based cloaking and it's not recommended.

The fourth negative ranking factor is frequent service downtime. If you site is rarely accessible, or down for extended period of times, it fall out of good graces with search engines. How valuable would Google or Yahoo be if every time you clicked on a link to visit a site it couldn't be accessed. Make sure you site is up and running 99.8% of the time.

The fifth and final negative ranking factor is linking out to SPAM. It's all about the company you keep. If you make reference to shady web sites, it will reflect badly upon you and your web site. Make sure you know who you're linking to before you place a link.

Good information is hard to find these days, that's why I was so excited about this SEO related report on ranking factors. The reason I believe the report is because I've worked with dozens of companies on improving their organic rankings and have taught search engine optimization classes that supported this information with case studies and real life examples. If you want to improve your rankings and avoid getting "Google slapped", then consider these factors.


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