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Essential Google Optimization Tips
article by Mike Liebner www.LinkPopularityExchange.com

There is no question that Google is the KING of SEARCH ENGINES (kiss kiss!) delivering the most relevant results of any of the top engines (there are some excellent MetaSearch engines however which return exceptional results!). How do they do it? How does Google consistently beat Yahoo and MSN to deliver what is unaminously refferred to as the best search results around? The answer to that is top secret and only known by Google.

This article is a brief yet concise guide to helping webmasters score top ranking pages on Google. It's going to be a challenge because Google has never published any explicit guidelines to direct webmasters toward achieving top ranking pages. The algorhythms and systems Google uses to rank results are top secret and ever evolving. There is constant speculation by so called "search engine experts" with theories and ideas as to how Google accomplishes it's magical ranking thing.

One thing I like to point out to my readers is that all my ideas are OPINIONS and are to be taken with a grain of salt. In fact that applies to any article or forum post on Search Engine Optimization. Always use your best judgement to form your own opinions, because this article and others are nothing more than educated guesses.

This article will present the factors that I have found to have the most impact on my pages and those of the web sites I have studied. There is no "right way" or "exact ratio" of which things to do and in what proportion. The first step is to become AWARE so that when you study web pages that rank high on Google you will see first hand what factors played a part in getting those pages to the top.

This article is intended to be a short and concise "cheat sheet" for achieving success by getting as much traffic as possible from search engines and specifically Google. The goal is to have a short article that we can print out and read when we have some spare time that will remind us about what is really important and where to focus our energy in this challenging activity often referred to as "search engine optimization". Notice how I said "we" as I too need to be reminded where to focus my energies. It is so easy to get distracted by the "little things" that the important things get pushed aside.

With that said my first suggestion is to get out a POST IT or small sheet of paper and write on it the following:

"FOCUS! Avoid distractions. Get the important things done first".

Then post the paper somewhere where you will see the above phrase while you work. Mine is posted on a speaker next to my computer monitor. I must admit I do notice it often enough to give me that little kick and remind me not to sweat the details and move on to the things that are REALLY IMPORTANT. Don't get lost in email and waste time. There are a million web distractions - stay focused on what really matters and will get your pages seen by more people! After you read this article you will hopefully understand what I am suggesting.

To get lots of highly targeted traffic from search engines like Google you need to focus on the important things. Spend LOTS of time on what's important and as little time as possible on what is not.



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So what is impportant to Google?

When Google is presented with a query (keywords or phrases) from a surfer it looks for the following qualities in it's index of web pages to deliver what it feels are the most relevant results:

1. WORDS - ON PAGE OPTIMIZATION FACTORS - It all boils down to the WORDS on your web pages. There is nothing more important than WORDS. While pictures and graphics have their place on the web, it is the WORDS on the pages that Google indexes and ranks web sites by. If you do not have the words on your pages, then Google will never even consider your pages. If you have the wrong words on your pages, not enough people will search for topics featured on your web pages in the first place.

The proper ratio of keywords in relation to the total number of words on a page can influence how Google determines your pages relevance to a particular search query. On page factors however generally play second fiddle to PageRank and Link Popularity, which ruffles the feathers of a few webmasters out there. It may be reassuring to them to know that despite the power of PageRank and Link Popularity the perfect density or keyword ratio can trump a popular high PR page in the rankings. It's also highly likely that the keyword ratios Google uses to rank sites are "randomized" or "weighted" differently depending on co-related factors, and as such can't be pinned down to an exact percentage or ratio.

In the early days of the web all you had to do was figure out the magic number of words to have on your page and you could rank on top. That doesn't work with Google! Google uses sophisticated algorhytms and filters to use a combination of factors to rank web pages. Words are just one part of that equation.

On page optimization factors include: <TITLES>. heading tags like <H1> and <H2>, Body Text, proper ratios of keywords, related keywords and phrases (themes), Bold Text, Link Text, ALT Tags on Images etc. There are a million articles out there that have opinions as to what good on page optimization consists of. They deserve some attention and consideration, but we suggest to spend more of your efforts on LINKING than OPTIMIZING on page factors. You can always go back later and tweak your pages content.

One more comment about WORDS that can save the beginning webmaster or optimization expert tons of time and lessen the learning curve. Start out by targeting WORDS and PHRASES that are LESS COMPETITIVE. Work hard to make those words climb in rank and you will see the factors in action that determine how your pages rank. I'm not saying that you should stay away from competitive words and categories, but that if you create a few pages with less travelled keywords you can see more immediate results with your optimization efforts. Start with a few fun ones like your name or nickname or a less common keyword or phrase.

Example: while "free mp3" is a very popular ketyword phrase and has lots of traffic, you will likely have a tough time getting in the top ten battling those other 1,770,000 web pages indexed by Google that have "free mp3" on the pages. Why not focus some energy towards winning a smaller victory to whet your appetite for success? For example "free chinese mp3" only has 3,830 other pages on Google to compete with!

Win a few smaller victories first, and work your way up to winning the larger more difficult accomplishments when you have more experience and have found your "personal formula" of achieving success.

2. LINK POPULARITY and PageRank tm (aka PR) - Google prefers popular pages that many other sites "vote for" with LINKS. Sites that have votes from the "right sites" (authorities) and more of them will achieve higher PageRank. Quantity is good but quality is even better. One PR6 link is worth as much or more than many PR 3, 4 or 5 links. The exact numbers are not known, as the formulas to determine PageRank are not published. One thing that is for sure is that when your page gets a PageRank of 6 or higher some magical things start to happen! Your primary goal will be to get as many high PageRank links as you can! This will be accomplished by creating a resource directory and actively seeking link exchanges with other webmasters. That doesn't mean to avoid trades with sites with PR under 4 or 5, but you should go out of your way to create relationships with people that have pages with PR4 and better that will help you with links to your site. Also a word of caution: sites that have PR0 or "graybar" on their HOME PAGE are not good linking candidates. It is a possibility that they have been penalized or even banned by Google. They may just be brand new sites, so use your best judgement and keep an open mind. That low PR site could potentially be a high PR site someday, so don't disocunt them completely.

Important Tip: In order for Google to "count the links as votes" it must be able to SEE the links, which must be in standard HTML and NOT use unorthodox dynamic linking techniques, java menubars or cgi or php "re-directs". It is suggested you do a little research in this area as there are a number of web sites and directories out there that TRADE LINKS which will never be seen by Google, because the links on their pages are dynamic, java, or re-directs etc.

In order for your link to be seen by Google it must be visible in the source code as a LINK.

Example of proper code: <a href="http://www.linkpopularityexchange.com"> Link Popularity Exchange</a>

Example of code that as of this writing will NOT be spiderable by Google as seen in the source code from a directory like www.url.biz:

<span class="l7" onClick="MM_openBrWindow('http://www.linkpopularityexchange.com,
'adbanner'
'toolbar=yes,location=yes,status=yes,menubar=yes,scrollbars=yes,
resizable=yes,width=700,height=370')"
onmouseover="window.status='http://www.linkpopularityexchange.com';return true;"onmouseout="window.status='';return true;">Link Popularity Exchange</span>

That's some fancy looking code, but your link is hidden to the Google spider and won't get any PageRank from having a link on a page with that code. You may get traffic from the link, but not PageRank or Link Popularity. So exercise caution and whenever possible inspect the source code of the page before you trade a link. It may just be a waste of your time.

3. ANCHOR TEXT - LINK REPUTATION - relevancy of the page that has links to YOUR PAGE and the LINK TEXT that was used to describe where they are sending their visitors. Your keywords MUST be in a reasonable amount of LINKS in order for you to rank near the top in competitive search queries. It is also believed that Google favors one-way "non-reciprocal" links to web sites over 1 to 1 reciprocal links. One-way links count as heavy weight votes for your web site giving it added credibility. A few well placed LINKS with your KEYWORD PHRASE in the ANCHOR TEXT and BINGO magic things happen!

If you are starting a new site, get going on the right foot and start getting used to using your keywords in your ANCHOR TEXT as much as possible. It tells GOOGLE and your VISITORS what they will find when they click the link. Also avoid links with HOME, CLICK etc. as they send Google the wrong message (unless your page is about HOME or CLICK). If you have an existing site you'd be well served by going through your links and renaming links when appropriate.

4. TITLES - RELEVANCY - secret weapon - TITLE of REFERRING PAGE can have a giant impact on how Google ranks a page. If a page that is TITLED: "Big Savings on Fishing Rods and Bait" and it has ANCHOR TEXT that says "Fishing Rods and Bait" and it goes to a PAGE with decent on page OPTIMIZATION for "Fishing Rods and Bait" it is very likely the page will rank higher than other pages even if their PageRank is higher. The TITLE if relevant to the LINK can push you over the edge. It is under utilized by many of the "gurus" out there too, so make sure you work it in to your plan!

5. IP Diversity - Domain Name Diversity - Google gives preference to web sites that have "natural patterns" of incoming links. Google is said to have filters that notice when "un-natural patterns" occur, such as when TOO MANY domains from the same server (same IP Class) link to the web page. In the real world successful web pages have links coming from all around the globe, not just it's own neighborhood. Google also is said to "filter" multiple links from domains with the same name - ie ibm.com, ibm.net, ibm.org etc. So be cognizant about where your links are coming from and avoid trading or buying in bulk if the web sites are on the same server or have overtly similar names. The rule of "moderation" can save your site from being penalized. If it looks too good to be true, it just may be. IP Diversity is the way your links should look - naturally representative of the world wide web. You'll likely score extra points for what I call IP Diversity and may even get penalized if you have exagerated un-natural overt clusters of incoming links from the same IP class. Even if the 500 links are on different "sub-domains" they still may have the same IP. Be careful if you own many web sites about how you cross link them. Google is watching.

6. Spiderability - Internal Linking - another secret weapon! It's amazing how easy it is to overlook perhaps the easiest way to get your links noticed by Google. By displaying your most important links prominently on your own web pages. While not necessarily a "ranking factor", good internal linking allows all of your important pages to be found and spidered and best of all you control the context in which Google sees your links. Most important is that you are in control of your own web site so you can use all of the above factors as you desire. For example, you can use anchor text that has your targeted keywords. You can match TITLES and LINK TEXT. Internal linking is a secret weapon that pushes many web sites to the top because so many of us overlook its importance.

As an exercise, make a list of your sites  "most important" web pages. Write down EVERY IMPORTANT URL in a list or text file. Then go and look over your list and ask yourself "how many pages on my own site are these most important links on?" Are there pages that are ONLY found on a site map? Do the most important URLS have links on my most important highest PageRank pages?

A powerful way to boost your overlooked "important pages" PageRank is by creating TEXT LINK MENU BARS and placing them on every appropriate page on your web site. The more pages these "important links" are on, the more Google will know they are important (and rightly so!). And while you're at it, make sure all your important pages have keyword rich TEXT LINKS representing what the pages are about. Logos, Image Links, Java Menus and bad text links that say "home" or "click here" can do more harm than good. Balance looks with functionality by adding TEXT LINKS whenever possible.

The above 6 factors are what I consider to be the most important to Google when they rank web sites. You need to focus on these 6 areas and make sure you have them covered to the best of your ability. Why waste unneccessary time and be obsessive over a font choice or a graphic, or style sheet when there are other things you can easily do that will get your pages ranked at the top??? This is what can make or break you. Of course you need to strike a balance between beauty and functionality, so please don't think I am saying you should design ugly pages!

I suggest that when you prepare to spend time on something perhaps trivial or less important, you ask yourself this simple question:

"Will my efforts result in more people seeing my web pages?"

If the answer is NO stop what you are doing and look for something else to do!

Also, keep in mind that although I have presented you with 6 factors of ranking success that it is often not necessary to have all 6 buttoned down perfectly. In many less popular multiple word queries ie "good food Mexican restaurant"  it is not so important to have all of the 6 factors perfect. The competition may be less fierce and one well done factor can make up for the lack of another.

However for the popular one or two word hyper competitive search terms like "sex", "free downloads", "paris hilton" "sports", "money", "viagra" it is absolutely critical to have as many of the above 6 areas buttoned up perfectly to be able to compete. That is when PageRank and Link Popularity and Reputation really enters into the equation and can make or break a web site.

For example a site could be lacking in "on page optimization" but have great anchor text, lots of links and a high page rank so it can bully by a weaker site with lesser PageRank, even if that page was highly optimized.

Where should the bulk of your efforts be? What have you been wasting time on? What have you been neglecting? Have you been obsessing about something that has little or no impact on how much traffic you will get?

Good Content and Words are very important.

I suggest that the first priority for any web site is to have decent worthwhile content. Publish a site that other web sites would be happy to link to. If your site looks like shit and has zero content and looks like nothing more than an empty directory or cheesy viagra advertisement, then no one will want to link to it.

You need to have some content or something of value that makes a visit to your web site worthwhile. Whether you have 1 killer article, 10 good articles or 100 so-so articles is up to you. I suggest that you start with a few decent articles (or features) and move on to what's really important - getting links to your sites.

Once you have CONTENT your focus should be on getting LINKS to your web pages.

Getting links to your web pages should be your number one priority after you have some content up on the web. Not just to your home page, but make sure you also get links to your OTHER important pages - articles for example. To get good quality links will require your site has something to offer in exchange for a link. The best way to look at it is to put yourself in the mindset of the propsed link partner. Will they feel good about seeing their link on your web site? Will their link be on a good page and in a good position that Google will see as well as real live people? Or will their link be buried in the back pages of a site where no one will ever find it?

Tip: Do not name the file links.html (rumoured to be in disfavor by Google) and never put too many links on one single page. If you are going to target the "big hitters" and "successful web sites" for link exchanges you are going to need to present yourself in the best possible light. Webmasters in the know don't want to give a high PR link to a site that will stick them on a crowded page with too many links, or worse yet put their link on a page that is so hard to get to it will never get decent PageRank.

If a visitor has trouble finding a link to the "resources" section, then Google will have trouble finding it too and it will NEVER get PageRank. Remember if the page is IMPORTANT it needs to have LINKS TO IT. Lots of links to it.

Build a resources section - it adds value to your site!

Build a good looking simple multi page "directory" or "resource section" and make sure it is visibly connected to your home page or at the very least your site map page. A "links page" is for amateurs - "resources" or a "directory" is a valuable addition to your web sites content and are for successful web sites. Make the space that you will be putting your partner links on as attractive as you can. Set up several pages with categories. Make sure the pages are liberally linked and easily spidered by Google. Make sure your links are standard HTML and can be spidered by Google. It will save you headaches and get you partners faster and easier.

When you have a nice resource or directory section with several pages, connect an "add url" or submission form so people can easily add your link and then give you their information. Exchange links with as many sites as you can. Doing so will boost your PageRank. The higher your PageRank the easier it will be to trade links with other High PageRank sites. Make sure you have an ADD URL or SUBMIT SITE link somewhere on your site so that people will really see it. You want links - right? So why not use prime real estate and advertise for it? You'll get more link partners if they see your ADD URL button (especially if it is on a high PageRank page and it will be if you have it linked everywhere possible on your site!)

Trading links gets easier over time. At first you will not have high PageRank on your home page or inside pages, so you will need to find on your own a few quality directories and search the web for link exchange partners. A good way to do so is to search Google for "add url" music. Replace music with your important keyword phrase. You'll find a bunch of sites already listed in Google with directories/resource sections ready and willing to trade links with you! Be sure to also submit to dmoz.org (open directory project) and Yahoo Directory. They may take some time to get your site listed, but are worth the extra effort and long wait.

A list of LINK TRADES and DIRECTORIES to get you started are posted at www.linkpopularityexchange.com - some of the sites even have high PR directory pages and encourage one way NON RECIPROCAL TRADES.

That's all for this part of the article. Print this sucker and review it from time to time. It will help you to focus on what is really important to get your site ranked high on Google and the other search engines.

Mick Liebner lives in sunny Sherman Oaks, California with his Jack Russell Terrier Milo who makes sure he doesn't spend too much time in front of the computer. Among Mick's recent projects are the sites www.linkpopularityexchange.com and www.creativepower.us which are both looking for quality linking partners such as yourself!

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