Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Set up Multiple Ad Groups

You should have a number of different keyword phrase variations that are centered
around common, similar keywords. Each “cluster” of related phrases should be
placed in their own Ad Group.

Create Multiple Ads per Ad Group

Because you don’t know in advance which ads will have the highest click-through
rate (CTR), you should create several ads per Ad Group. These ads then be
constantly tweaked and refined to determine which ads are the best for pulling in
clicks. I cannot stress how much difference it can make by simply changing one word
in the title or in the description, or changing the order.

Writing Great Ads

Writing compelling ads in a Google AdWords campaign is both an art and an
science. It is all about writing good sales copy, in a very limited space, for the Web.

Google has the following limitations:

Ad title: 25 characters maximum
Ad description: 70 characters maximum (2 lines at 35 characters per line maximum)

This isn’t a lot of space, so make every word count. Some tips for writing good ads:

   1. Use keywords from your particular Ad Group in the ad title or description.
      Your click-through rate may double if you include the keywords in the ad.

   2. Consider stating the problem or the solution in the ad. For example: “No
      traffic to your site?” or “Learn SEO tips for your site”.

   3. Use of the following can have particularly good results:

   •   Use of “action words” (get, buy, order)
   •   Use of “sales” words (new, leading, top, discount)
   •   Use of region, geography (Seattle services)

Setting Up Tracking URLs

Although you can see at a glance in the AdWords program which ads are pulling the
most clicks, you should nevertheless set up tracking URLs for each ad or each Ad
Group for ease of analyzing all of your site traffic using your stats program. With
tracking URLs, you can look at your site traffic reports and see exactly how much
traffic your pay-per-click (PPC) campaign(s) did in relation to your “free” clicks
obtained through traditional SEO methods and from your incoming reciprocal links.

Tracking URLs for Google ads are extremely simple to set up. Here is a
representative tracking URL:

Use whatever format works best for you to track your Google AdWords traffic. At a
minimum, you should at least be tracking at the Ad Group level to determine which
“keyphrase clusters” are doing the best and ideally down to the ad level so you know
which specific ads are doing the best in each Ad Group.

Setting Your Daily Budget Limit

Whatever daily budget you decide to place on your Google AdWords campaign is
totally up to you. The only recommendations I can give here are as follows:

•   Set your daily budget higher than is comfortable for you in the first month. Much
    good testing data can come out of the first month, but only if you don’t stifle your
    efforts by setting your daily budget too low. Google states that your daily budget
    can be exceeded, but not your daily limit x 30 (for a monthly budget). Pump up
    the budget initially to see quickly which ads and groups to dump or revise.

•   Don’t fret about trying to appear in the #1 AdWords spot for a given keyword.
    There is no real difference in click-through rate between positions 1 thru 3.

This just covers a few of the tips and best practices for using Google AdWords.

Google SEO Glossary

Here is a list of terms that were either used in this book, or represent terms in the
Internet marketing industry that you may encounter.

Aging delay. Term describing a set of filters applied to new websites whereby the
site cannot rank well (or at all) for any competitive keywords for 6 – 24 months. Also
called the Sandbox.

Algo, Algorithm. A specific mathematical process for achieving a desired result.
Google uses a proprietary algorithm that contains over 100 different criteria to rank
Web sites in a specific order based on a specific search request.

Algorithmic listing. Any search engine listing that is on the “free” or unpaid section
of a search results page. These listings are obtained using SEO techniques without
the use of paid advertising. Also called organic, natural or editorial listing.

Anchor text. The clickable portion of text displayed (usually as blue, underlined
text) for a link. Also known as link text.

Authority. Site with a high number of incoming links and a relatively low number of
outgoing links. Opposite of hub.

Backlinks, backward links. Links from other sites that point to your site. Also
known as inbound or incoming links.

Cascading Style Sheet (CSS). Code that defines the visual appearance, style
(size, color, font), or positioning of text on a Web page. This code can be located
either on the page it is used on or can be stored in a separate (.css) file.

Conversion rate. The percentage of visitors to a website that end up performing a
specific action that leads to a sale. Such actions can include the purchase of a
product, the submission of a form, or an email requesting more information.

Cost-Per-Click (CPC). See Pay-per-click (PPC).

Crawl. The operation of reading or analyzing pages of a website by an automated
program called a spider or robot. Spiders crawl your site by following links on each
page of your site. After crawling, the spider will return the results back to the search
engine for later inclusion into it’s database for indexing. See also Index.

Appendix B - Linking Do’s and Don’ts DO

•   Do submit your site to the Open Directory Project (ODP or DMOZ). A listing in
         the ODP is considered golden as the ODP feeds so many other directories.

     •   Do exchange links all sites that offer similar or complementary services to
         yours, with specialized directories, and with industry associations.

     •   Do include a link to your site in your “signature” line when you post in forums,
         blogs, or newsgroups. This also applies when submitting articles or sending
         out newsletters.

     •   Do link to each page on your site from your home page or sitemap page and
         back again. This will help funnel PageRank to your most important pages.

     •   Do include inline links on your site. Inline links appear in the body of a
         paragraph rather than in a navigation menu. Google likes the neighboring text
         that surrounds inline links.

     •   Do use simple A HREF format links rather than JavaScript to generate the
         link. Google may have a harder time deciphering your link otherwise.

     •   Do actively monitor who links to you. You need to track this on a regular basis
         to make sure your link is added on sites you have agreed to trade links with.


     •   Don’t use “click here” as the text for your links. Otherwise, Google may
         decide your page is about “click here.”

     •   Don’t exchange links with link farms, link free-for-alls (FFAs), or other sites
         that are obvious spam.

     •   Don’t exchange links with unrelated sites simply to boost the number of links.
         Your customers won’t be on these sites and it won’t help with Google.
     •   Don’t have your Links page automatically generated by a program. Google
         has been known to penalize sites that generate Links pages using “cookie-
         cutter” template pages.

Appendix A - Website Do’s and Don’ts

This is a general list of SEO do’s and don’ts for your website. Adhering to this list will
not only improve optimization of your site, but will make it easier on visitors in terms
of faster pages and better navigation.

• Do create relevant, timely, and useful content on your site – particularly for your
   home page. This may be obvious, but often is overlooked.

•   Do update your content frequently – particularly your home page. Sites that
    frequently update their content get visited by Google more often. This also gives
    your visitors a reason to return to your site regularly.

•   Do create lots of relevant content and pages on your site. It is better to have 50
    short pages than to have 10 long pages, all else being equal. It's also easier to
    optimize a page tightly focused on a single keyword. Make sure each page
    contains a minimum of 200 words of content.

•   Do use your keywords in the page title, headings, first paragraph, and in link text.
    These are the main places that Google looks – the page title is extra important.

•   Do keep your page size small. Both your customers and Google like smaller
    pages. They download (and are crawled) faster and are easier to read. For every
    second it takes your page to load, you lose 10% of your visitors.

•   Do create unique titles and META descriptions for each page. Unique titles are a
    must. Don’t skimp on this.

•   Do use a shallow site structure. If you can manage it, keep all your web pages in
    the same folder on your server as your home page.

•   Do create a “Related Links” page for adding links to other sites as part of your
    link exchange campaign. Try to add some content on this page too.

•   Do put JavaScript code in a separate .js file and link to it. This makes pages load
    (and get crawled) faster.

•   Do create a stylesheet .css file and link to it from your pages. This makes pages
    load (and get crawled) faster.

    Don’t use page redirects on your site. Google has been known to penalize
        sites that use fast redirects.

   •    Don’t use "doorway pages" hosted on free servers, or create one-page “mini-
        sites” as such pages usually have very low PageRank. Spend time adding
        new content to your main site instead.

   •    Don’t repeat your keyword over and over again throughout a page, otherwise
        Google may consider it as spam - as might other search engines.

   •    Don’t use hidden text on your site, such as using white text on a white
        background. Search engines consider this as spam.

   •    Don’t use tiny text with extremely small font sizes. Search engines may
        consider this as spam.

   •    Don’t use hidden image links on your site. Hidden image links are 1-by-1
        pixel sized images inside a <A HREF> link tag.

   •    Don’t use frames. Although Google can crawl framed sites, they are
        problematic in other areas. Most sites don’t use frames.

   •    Don’t use elaborate image maps, gratuitous animations, or Flash on your site
        if possible - especially on your home page. Google needs to see actual
        textual content on your pages!

End-to-End SEO Checklist

Here is the simplistic and summarized process you need to undertake to achieve a
top ranking on Google. Print this page out where you can refer to it.

1. Determine the best keyword phrases for your site. Use KeywordDiscovery or
WordTracker to come up with a list of at least 100 2 to 4-word phrases for your site.

2. Create content-rich pages. It’s better to have 20 short pages than 5 long pages
on your site, all else being equal. Each page should contain at least 200 words and
discuss one topic only. Optimize for at most two keyword phrases per page.

3.   Optimize each page for it’s best keyword phrases:
•    Include keywords in the <TITLE> of each page. This is a must.
•    Include keywords in the <H1> headings for each page.
•    Include keywords in the first paragraph of each page.
•    Include keywords in the text of links. Never use “Click here”.
•    Read Appendix A - Website Do’s and Don’ts.

4. Link to each page from your sitemap page, and from each page back to
your home page. Also link between pages that discuss the same topic.

5. Submit your site to search directories. Submit your site to the Open Directory
Project (DMOZ), Yahoo Directory, GoGuides, and other general and industry-specific
directories. Stagger your submissions over time, don’t submit them all at once.

6.   Setup and maintain a link-building & exchange campaign:
•    Create a “Related Links” page on your site for exchanging links.
•    Create “Link to Us” code can be copied by your link partners.
•    Determine the best sites to exchange links with. This is important.
•    Read Appendix B - Linking Do’s and Don’ts”
•    Submit articles, write online press releases and post in blogs and forums.
•    Actively manage your link campaign. Always strive to get more links!

7.   Regularly monitor your progress and modify your efforts:
•     Monitor your site traffic often – it contains a wealth of information.
•    Check to see that all new pages are indexed in Google.
•    Check your site’s ranking on your chosen keywords once a month.
•    Regularly check your incoming links as part of your link campaign

Type in allintitle:"your keyword phrase

and see how many pages are displayed in the search results. These are
pages that use the exact phrase in the <TITLE> tags of their pages - the first
important step to optimizing a site.

2. Next, type in allinanchor:"your keyword phrase "

and count the results. These are sites that have incoming links that contain these
keywords - the next important step to boosting one's ranking.

3. Next, type in allinurl:"your keyword phrase "

and count the results. These are sites that use the keywords either in their
domain name or in a file name. Although by itself not an important factor, Google
does give slight weight to keywords used in domain names and file names.

4. Now combine everything by typing:
intitle:"keyword" inanchor:"keyword" inurl:"keyword"

to see how many sites do all three things together. The resulting number is an
accurate indication of how many true competitors you have that are doing SEO for
their site for your given keyword phrase.

Using Pay-Per-Click to Augment SEO traffic

Every year it is getting harder to rank well in Google, as well as Yahoo and MSN.
This is due to the following factors:

1. More new sites are coming online all the time.

2. More sites are incorporating SEO tactics.

3. The search engines are devaluing tactics that used to work fine in the past.

4. The search engines are more aggressive at penalizing sites that use black-hat and
spammy tactics, and often unfairly penalize legitimate sites as well.

All the more reason you may need to implement a PPC strategy like Google
AdWords. A targeted Google AdWords campaign is an ideal way to supplement your
website traffic anyway, and is crucial for new sites in the Sandbox. For more
information, see my book The AdWords Edge at

After all, you are in business to make a profit. I use AdWords all the time because
the advertising much more than pays for itself and the traffic is immediate.

How To Reverse-Engineer Your Competition

Do you have a site in a competitive market and want to determine how your top-
ranked competitors are doing so well. This involves reverse-engineering the linking
structure of the top 3-5 sites in your keyword space and emulating what they are
doing right. Here is how to go about doing it:

1. Use Yahoo's backlink command, or software such as SEO Elite
( find every site that is linking to the top 3 sites in your
chosen keyword in Google.

2. Obtain links from those exact sites that your competitors are getting links from.
This takes time so be patient.

3. Use the same anchor text that is pointing to the competition’s sites for your own
incoming links. Try to duplicate the percentage of different anchor text variations
used – this is important.

4. Look at the page titles of the #1 site and duplicate them for your site. You don't
need to do this for all your pages, just your most important ones - home page,
important category/product/service pages.

Why reinvent the wheel? Your competition has already figured out how to rank well,
so you should emulate their strategies.

Bear in mind that site age and link age is a factor, so even if you duplicate your
competitor's link-building strategies 100%, it is going to take time for you to rank well
as the new links to your site won't be as good as the old links that your competitors

How Much Competition Do You Really Have?

Some people are confused about the true number of online competitors for a given
keyword phrase, particular when using keyword research tools or looking at the
number of returned pages in Google. Many such "competing pages" are what are
called "accidental competitors" - they aren't necessarily trying to beat you in search
engine ranking, they just happen to use the term somewhere on a page.

If you want to get an accurate number of other sites that are optimizing their
pages for a given search term, follow these steps. Open Google and follow these
steps using your keyword phrase:

Low-Competitive Site

Keyword phrase: “Redmond Reflexology Services”

On-site factors keyword contribute heavily to rankings. Often all that is needed is a
handful of links and solid SEO methods used on the site. Most competitors won't
even know what SEO is. Good rankings can be achieved with relatively little effort
within 3 months.

Medium-Competitive Site
Keyword phrase: “Seattle Plastic Surgery” or “Seattle Dentist”

An equal combination of on-site factors and off-site factors contribute to good
ranking. For such sites, 100 or so quality links are needed (this is a generalization).
About half of your competitors will know what SEO is and of those that do, a fair
percentage will be doing a good job at it. Good rankings can be achieved with
moderate efforts within 6 months to a year.

Medium-to-High-Competitive Site
Keyword Phrase: “House Plans” or “Limo Service”

On-site factors contribute little toward ranking, unless you have a large site, in which
case they count for some. Such sites need an aggressive link-building campaign and
typically have hundreds or thousands of incoming links that use effective anchor-text
strategies. Most if not all of your competitors will be using SEO tactics, some quite
aggressively and spending a fair budget on it. Good rankings can be achieved only
with steady, continual, focused efforts after 12 to 18 months, and assigning (and
paying) a dedicated SEO person for it. Most if not all will use PPC advertising like
Google AdWords to augment traffic, especially in the near-term.

Very-High-Competitive Site
Keyword Phrase: “Used Cars” or “Discount Travel” or “Home Mortgages”

Such markets are ripe with spammy, black-hat techniques and on-site factors count
for extremely little. For such sites, a very aggressive link-buying, link-building
strategy is needed, along with analyzing exactly what the competition is doing and
copying their methods. Such sites have many thousands of incoming links. Tactics
used need to be monitored and changed in case of penalties applied. All of your
competitors will be throwing lots of money on every trick in the book because so
much money is at stake. Good rankings may never be achieved unless you are
ready to spend the time and money for it, are dogged, and be willing to take risks. All
will use PPC advertising like Google AdWords to augment traffic and spend a lot of
money (like $100K or more a month) doing it.

Competitive Strategies

e are almost at the end now. You are probably wondering where your site sits in
your chosen keyword space and against your competitors. You might also be
wanting to figure out what your competition is doing in terms of SEO and link-
building. These sections can help out in this regard.

Low-Competitive vs. High-Competitive Sites

Your chosen keyword space directly impacts the scope and what kind of SEO
strategy you will need to implement for success. Websites that sell to a national or
global market in a competitive industry need a different SEO strategy (and overall
marketing strategy) than a site that caters to a local or regional market, or for a
product in a niche category.

For highly-competitive sites that target keyword phrases that are shorter, more
generic, and that command higher PPC bid, Google gives much more weight to off-
page link factors. For local and niche sites, on-page SEO factors like keyword
phrases used on relevant content, can be weighed as much or even more than off-
page link factors.

I have seen sites that cater to a local audience rank very well on a number of
different keyword phrases having only a handful of incoming links. Conversely, I
have seen giant, content-rich, well-optimized sites that sell nationally rank nowhere
for ANY search terms until they have a ton of incoming links.

With this said, every site needs to do both on-page optimization as well as have an
active link-building campaign. However, if you are going after short, generic or
competitive keyword phrases, I strongly suggest you do the following:

1. Start optimizing your site for as many different more-specialized permutations of
your best keyword phrases as possible and build content pages around each one.

2. Start getting very serious and persistent about your link-building campaign. Your
competitors know this and that's why they are busy getting hundreds if not thousands
of links to their site over time. Just don’t obtain your links too quickly.

To clarify the differences between a "low-competitive" and "high-competitive" sites
and to further illustrate the type and amount of resources that may be involved to
obtain satisfactory ranking results, here are representative examples. Note that these
are generalizations for comparative purposes only:

Checking Number of Pages Indexed

f you have a new site or if you have added new pages to your site, check to see if
those pages have been added to the Google index. The easiest way to check is to
go to and in the Google Search box, type:

site:www.YourDomain       www.YourDomain

replacing YourDomain with your domain (such as

Checking Number of Incoming Links

Managing an active linking campaign involves seeing who links to you and to your
competitors. The most accurate way to see the total number of incoming links to your
site is by using Yahoo. Go to and type the following in the
Search the Web box:

linkdomain:www.YourDomain         -site:www.YourDomain

replacing YourDomain with your domain (such as

Using the link command in Yahoo gives the most accurate number of incoming links
today, but it is not 100% accurate.

Don’t use the Google Toolbar to count incoming links for a page, this method is
totally inaccurate. This feature is on the Toolbar by clicking Page Info, then by
clicking Backward Links.

For an comparison of how many links each major search engine has on record to
your site, use MarketLeap’s Link Popularity Check tool at MarketLeap also has a great tool
for checking the number of pages indexed on the major search engines.

Measuring Sales Conversion and ROI

At the end of the day, what matters are your sales and your bottom line. After all your
hard work, are you converting your visitors to customers? Do you know what
percentage of visitors turn into customers? Do you know what your return on
investment (ROI) is when you have added up your web site development costs, web
hosting costs, consultants, books and all other expenses related to driving traffic to
your web site? Do you know what that cost per customer is? Few people do.
The subject of sales conversion and ROI (and how to measure and increase them) is
complex and is really beyond the scope of this book. Nevertheless, this is an
important topic that should be introduced for you to think about. For more information
on calculating sales conversion and ROI, as well as improving copywriting, improving
website usability, and in general creating a high-performing website, see my other
book Desperate Websites at

Quite a number of business owners don’t make their money back on their web sites.
Commonly this is because they got carried away with the look for their site (We just
have to have Flash and all those gorgeous graphics!), bells and whistles on their site
(We have to have that interactive, self-updating, daily survey!), or what the site
should say (We just have to use those paradigm-speak, marketing buzzwords – that
is what our company is all about!). As a result, you have a case of “Corporate Egos
Gone Wild”. Well guess what? The customer does not care about any of this. The
customer wants to find a solution to their problem, they want to find it fast, at a value,
and they don’t want to be patronized.

You need a method to track visitors from beginning to end and “close the loop”. This
means tracking a single visitor from which keyword they typed into Google to find
your listing, to which page they landed on your site, to the “sales” page where they
took an action. The “sales” page can be an actual product purchase page, form or
request for information page, or any other page that represents the next desired
action you want visitors to take on your site before.

The easiest way to track visitors in this way is to use a service like Conversion Ruler
at For a monthly fee, they will set this up for you.

Alternatively, you can also place custom JavaScript code on each page of your site
that obtains the referral URL of the page that a visitor came from before landing on
your site, and then storing a cookie that tracks the visitor through the site. The code
then emails this information to you when a “sale” takes place (product confirmation
email, form submission, etc).

Monitoring Your Ranking

Although the focus of this book is on how to get top rankings on Google, what you
are really after is lots of traffic to your site that you can turn into sales. Google is one
way (albeit an important way) of getting traffic. Don’t get too hung up on your
rankings - if you are in the top 10, you will do fine. Some people obsess over getting
a #1 ranking to the exclusion of all else, when what is really important in the end are
conversions and sales. Keep this in mind.

There are two ways to check your ranking on Google for a particular keyword phrase
– check it manually by simply counting your position in a search results pages (this
works OK if you are in the top 20 or so), or by using software.

The premiere software program for checking ranking is WebPosition. This is a
powerful, full-featured tool designed for the professional. It contains several modules,
but only one is really recommended for use – the Reporter module.

Some of WebPosition’s features have gotten people in trouble with search engines in
the past. Before you use this tool, make sure your read the online manual and
understand how it works. For more information, go to

WebPosition (and other programs like it) should be used during off-peak hours and
only when really needed. Google, along with other search engines, have a dislike for
the chronic use of such tools as they impact the performance of their servers. Google
has been known to block access to their site from computers that carelessly and
frequently run such tools.

Google changes their ranking algorithm all the time, and ranking changes you may
see on your site are more likely due to algorithm changes and not because of small
changes you may have recently made to your pages. With that said, you should wait
a few months after initial optimization before changing anything.

Even though your server logs may indicate that GoogleBot visited your site recently,
it takes time before Google indexes the information and synchronizes it across all its
datacenters, and can months after that for a stable ranking of your pages to stop
bouncing around.

If your site is kicked out of the index for a spam penalty it will usually
come back after 60 days if the factor(s) that triggered the spam penalty have been
removed. To be proactive, send an email to after you have
cleaned up your website, explaining in detail what you did to fix the issue and
promising not to do it again. If you are still having problems after emailing them, give
them a call at 650-330-0100.

However, before assuming that Google has penalized your site, make sure your Web
host hasn't implemented a process to block search engine spiders from visiting their
hosted sites in order to save bandwidth. This has been documented to happen with
some of the lower-end hosting companies.

Important: If you have a new site, or an existing site that has been redesigned to
the extent that page filenames have changed, your site will likely be placed in the
“Google Sandbox”. In this case, it can take 12-18 months to get a decent ranking for
your most important keywords, especially for competitive terms.

Monitoring Your PageRank

You can see an approximation of the actual PageRank that Google uses by
downloading and installing the Google Toolbar at

Some people have turned the monitoring of PageRank (PR) into an obsession. Don’t
waste your time being one of them. PR is but a single factor that influences ranking.
PR displayed in the Toolbar can also be inaccurate, but it is better than nothing.

The Toolbar PageRank (PR) scale goes from 0 to 10. Bear in mind that there are
vast gulfs between ranges at the upper end, due to the logarithmic nature of actual
PageRank. Also bear in mind that sometimes the PR value shown for a new page
may not be real and is only a guess.

Using a Tracking Service

Real-time tracking, also called browser-based tracking, is sold as a monthly service.
Instead of reading a log file, you include JavaScript tracking code on each page of
your site. Each time a visitor comes to your site, the JavaScript code sends
information to the service provider where it is stored. Information can be accessed in
near real-time and usually the quality of information is better (more accurate visitor
and page view counts) than with a log-file analyzer. However you are paying a
monthly recurring expense and you are charged by how much traffic you receive on
your site – this can be very expensive for high-traffic sites.

More popular service providers include WebTrends Live and HitBox, which start at
around $30/mo for low-traffic sites. There are also a couple of even lower-cost
vendors that I recommend – ( and IndexTools
( Both are excellent choices for the value.

What to Monitor?

At a minimum you should check your traffic stats weekly as they are a goldmine of
information. Of particular importance is tracking the following for your web site:

Keywords: This lists the actual keywords people typed into search engines to find
your site. Also listed is the percentage of the total traffic each keyword brought in.
There will probably be an entry called “other”, “no keyword” or something similar.
This represents people that either directly typed your site into their browser or that
have bookmarked your site in their Favorites list.

Spend time determining which search terms visitors used to find your site. You may
uncover some new keyword combinations that you didn’t think of using. If this is the
case, tweak your site or create a new page around this phrase accordingly.

Search Engines: This lists the search engines that visitors used to find your site.
Also listed is the percentage of the total traffic each search engine brought to your
site. Usually Google is at the top of the list.

Referrals: This lists the websites that brought traffic to your site and what
percentage of the total traffic each “referral” site brought in. Over time, you should
start seeing referral traffic from websites you've exchanged links with. There will
probably be an entry called “direct”, “no referral” or something similar. This
represents people that either directly typed your site into their browser or that have
bookmarked your site.

SEO Monitoring and Tracking

The long-term key to success on Google is to measure and monitor the performance
and success your web site over time, modify your efforts, test, and repeat. This
means you need to regularly monitor different metrics of your website.

Monitoring Your Site Traffic

This is a must-do activity. If you are not viewing and analyzing your site traffic and
visitor statistics over time, you are essentially flying blind. This would be akin to a
retail store not tracking how many customers come into their store, what they buy,
and on which days.

You should first take advantage of the free statistics or “stats” program that most
Web hosting companies offer in their packages. These work by reading the contents
of the server log file for your site. Such programs are also called log file analyzers.
More often than not, such programs don’t provide the information you need or they
present it in poorly-organized, hard-to decipher reports. As such, I highly recommend
you use a third-party program or service to obtain the information you need to track
your site. You can often customize the of reports you want to view and download
them into Excel.

You have two choices – use a different log analyzer program, which runs either on
the server or on your desktop computer, or sign up for a monthly service that
monitors real-time traffic for you. There are pros and cons to each as follows:

Using a Log-file Analyzer

Log-file analyzers can be installed on the server or on your desktop computer.
Unless your log files are really large, I recommend the latter. However, getting your
Web host to install and configure a different log-file analyzer than the default one
they offer can be a frustrating experience. Regardless, make sure the referrer option
is enabled for your site (it is usually disabled by default), otherwise you’ll be reading
IP addresses instead of domain names to figure out where your traffic is coming.

One issue with log-file analyzers is the information isn’t shown in real time – the data
is a day old. This usually isn’t a problem. One of the more popular analyzers is
Urchin, which Google now owns. Two free log-file analyzers that are worthwhile
include Funnel Web Analyzer ( and
AWStats (

SEO Monitoring and Strategy

After all your hard work, you need to measure your progress and results over time.
This section discusses what you should monitor regularly and what strategies you
may need to implement for success. To wrap it up, there is a checklist that
summarizes the processes and tasks used in the book.

It amazes me the resources that people put into continuing plain dumb business
practices. I believe there are two mindsets out there with webmasters when it comes
to Internet marketing, including SEO. The following illustrates the differences:

The Successful SEO Mindset

1. Creates useful, relevant new page content as needed.
2. Syndicates useful articles in a regular manner.
3. Submits newsworthy online press releases regularly.
4. Submits their site to relevant directories, one by one.
5. Worries about increasing traffic, conversion, growing market share.
6. Builds a site with visitors and customers as top priority.
7. Realizes that successful online promotion costs time and money.
8. Finds quality writers and link-builders to complement their own resources.
9. Quality and adding value is their mantra in everything. (Ex: fewer, quality links)
10. Steady, incremental improvements. In it for the long term.
11. Doesn't give up, and doesn't stop when success is achieved.
12. Spends time understanding and improving relationships with customers.
13. Measures, tests and refines SEO campaign for improvement.

The Unsuccessful SEO Mindset

1. Buys software that automatically creates hundreds of spammy junk pages.
2. Spams every blog site with irrelevant drivel.
3. Spams every blog site with irrelevant drivel.
4. Buys software for $29.95 to submit their site to 18,000 directories.
5. Worries about PageRank, keyword density, stuffing H1 tags, ranking #1.
6. Builds a site with search engines (and their manipulation) as top priority.
7. Tries to get everything for free and complains when results suck.
8. Uses cheap offshore labor to buy as many pages and links as possible.
9. Quantity and saving money is their mantra. (Ex: Get as many links as possible)
10. Short-term, quick-buck, "lets try everything and see what sticks" mentality.
11. Gives up before results are achieved (SEO doesn't work for me).
12. Spends time whining in the forums.
13. Doesn’t measure, test or try anything different

Using JavaScript Code

Most links use a standard HREF format, which Google has no problem
understanding. However, if you use JavaScript code to create your links, Google
may not be able to recognize this as a link.

Bear in mind that Google can recognize some JavaScript-coded links, depending on
how the link is coded. For information on how to construct a JavaScript-coded link,
look anywhere on the Web for samples. The best way is to use a separate
JavaScript (.js) file to store the URLs.

Please do not consider such tactics for reciprocal links, as it is deceitful to other site
owners as they do not get the value of your link counted by Google. However, these
methods are used by unscrupulous linking partners to prevent links from transferring
PageRank. So be on the lookout for this when getting links.

Using an .Htacess File for 301 Redirect

A common problem is having links that point to the www version as well as an non-
www version of your home page. An example is vs. A simple fix for this is to create an .htaccess file that
contains the following lines of code:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www\.YourDomain\.com
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1

Simply place this file in the root (usually www) folder of your server. This will redirect
any non-www links to the www version of your site to keep PageRank going to a
single version of your home page.

About Non-Reciprocating Links

It is common to have outgoing links that are for the benefit of your customers and
that you don’t expect reciprocal links back to your site for.

A good example are links that go to book pages on Clearly such links
can benefit your visitors, but is not going to reciprocate by placing links
on their site back to your site either.

There are two methods you can use to prevent “leakage” of PageRank from non-
reciprocating links on your site. Don’t go overboard with this. It is only an issue if you
have LOTS of outbound, non-reciprocating links. You are leaking PR only from the
page that contains outbound links. So the leakage is quite minimal.

Using the NOFOLLOW Link Attribute

Simply use the “NOFOLLOW” attribute in any link you don’t want Google to follow
(and hence transfer PageRank from). The syntax is as follows:

<a href="" rel="NOFOLLOW">

This attribute is also used by Google to combat blog spam, where people spend all
day on blogs posting links back to their site in order to boost PageRank.

The Reciprocal Link-Building Process

The process for setting up and managing a reciprocal link campaign is as follows. It
is an expanded set of steps that was covered under the section on general link-
building. Again, I recommend you use tools such as SEO Elite or Arelis to help you
out, but you can do it manually if you wish.

Do a search of your most important keywords on Google, as mentioned before..

1. Determine which sites link to you now and which link to your competitors, as
   mentioned before. Visit each site and pare down the list as needed.

2. Obtain the email address of each website owner. This can be done several
   different ways:

   a. Determine the email address directly from their Contact Us page.

   b. Use the Whois utility from a domain registrar to look up the email address
      from the domain name record.

   c. Use SEO Elite or Arelis, which have built-in Whois utilities to obtain the email
      address for a site owner.

3. Create a dedicated email account on your web server, such as link-, to help manage your efforts.

4. Create one or more email "templates" to use for contacting your prospective link
   partners. This is simply a form letter with “placeholders” that allow the email
   address to be automatically merged in. Most email clients, such as Microsoft
   Outlook and Eudora, allow you to generate templates for this purpose.

5. One simple way of sending the same email to multiple people is to use the “bcc”
   option (blind carbon) in your email program. This way, each email recipient won’t
   see all the other email recipients.

6. Be sure and include sample link code in your email template that can be copied
   by your prospective linking partners.
7. Once you start getting, make sure you have links to their sites on your links page.
   You will get a much higher response rate if you put their link on your site first.

8. Systematically manage, track and expand your efforts. Get in the habit of
   spending at least one hour per week looking for new link partnerships. Your goal
   is to find new targeted traffic in as many different relevant locations as possible.

Reciprocal Linking Best Practices

Although the blanket statement of “get as many links as possible” applies in general,
here are some tips and best practices for prioritizing your link exchange efforts:

•   Only exchange links with sites that are relevant to, or are in a complementary
    market to, as your own business.

•   Focus first on getting links from pages with a high PageRank (PR). Links from
    low PR pages won’t influence your ranking negatively, but you probably won’t be
    getting an appreciable PR boost unless you have a large number of them.

•   Don’t discount the power of low PR pages directing traffic to your site. Today's
    PR = 3 page could be tomorrow's PR = 6 page.

•   Your best links will be from sites that have a large number of incoming links
    themselves and that also have a relatively small number of outgoing links (such
    sites are called authorities). Make sure these sites are relevant to your theme or

•   Try to get your link on a page that is as close to their home page as possible. A
    link has less PR if it is buried several levels deep. For example a link on is better than a link on

Changing Old Link Anchor Text

If you have a site that is several years old, chances are you have links on sites you
aren’t aware of, or that use less-than-optimal link text.

In this case, contact those site owners to see if they will change the anchor text of
the link to include your most important keywords where applicable.

Not everything will respond to you, let alone change the link text, and a few may
decide to remove your link altogether. But it is still a worthwhile effort.

Reciprocal Linking

Reciprocal linking, also called link exchange, is where you obtain a link from another
website in exchange for you linking to that website.

To facilitate this, you need to have "Related Links" or “Related Resources” page on
your site. You should have such a page regardless in order to list any sites that offer
a complementary product or service to your own that might be of interest to your

You should also have “Link to Us” code on your site where other site owners can
simply copy your HTML link code to their site. In this way, you control the use of
keywords in the text of such links that point to your site.

Using a Related Links Page

You should really only link to other sites that offer similar products to your own. Don’t
clutter your links page with unrelated junk. Use keywords on your links page that are
related to your site’s keywords. This includes using keywords in the text of links that
point to other sites.

Also include some actual content on your Links page. Don’t merely create a long list
of links with no text. Add a short description of the site to accompany each link.

Ideally, all outgoing links should be located on a single Links page on your site. This
is because outgoing links can “leak” PageRank from any page that contains outgoing

Under no circumstances link out to link farms or other questionable site. While you
can’t control it if your site is placed on a link farm, you should definitely never link to
such a site, otherwise your site may get penalized.

Adding “Link to Us” Code

You want other websites to use your best keywords in the text of links that point to
your site. You can help ensure this by placing “Link to Us” code on your Links page
that contains HTML code for others to easily copy to their websites. Using a site
about house plans, here is some representative link code:

Writing Online Press Releases

Journalists today are overwhelmed by the deluge of new information arriving via fax,
email, mail and by phone. Savvy journalists in the interest of time are using the News
search engines, such as Google News, Yahoo News and to find new press
release material. Google News alone is read by more people each month than print
or online newspaper.

Optimize your online press release page in the same manner you would optimize we
page on your website. Make sure your most important keywords are listed in the title,
and make sure you have a keyword-relevant link in the Resources section of the
press release. Most people are not optimizing their online press releases – yet.

The best services for distributing your online press release are as follows. Each has
a free distribution and a paid expanded distribution network:

PRWeb -

PRLeap -

Press World -

Donating to Non-Profits & Charities

There are non-profit and charity organizations that will gladly add a link to your site if
you donate to their cause. Either you can do volunteer work, help them update their
website, write an article for them, or simply write a check. Not only are you doing a
good thing for society, but your business is benefiting as well.

For a site that with a great list of non-profit organizations, see GuideStar at

Creating Content for Links

Writing Articles For Publication & Syndication

You should consider creating timely one-page articles about a product or service that
you offer. Something that addresses industry issues or solves a customer problem
perhaps. People who spend time writing online articles find their material published
and distributed all over the Web in short order.

This is a sure-fire way to get links. Make sure you include a keyword-rich link back to
your site at the bottom of the page. In this way, you control both the content of the
page and what the link says. This is a powerful technique that should not be
underestimated or underutilized.

The best sites for submitting your articles for publication and syndication are:

AMAzines -
Article City -
Business Know-How -
EzineArticles -
Go Articles -
Idea Marketers -
Knowledge Bed –
NetterWeb -

Posting on Blogs, Forums and Newsgroups

Don’t overlook relevant blog sites, forums and newsgroups as venues for posting
short articles and snippets of useful content. There blogs and forums that pertain to
every imaginable topic today. This is another great way to add links back to your site.
Just don't spam and overdo it, like some others can tend to do.

In fact, the NOFOLLOW link attribute came as a result of the increasing tide of blog
spam. Do a View Source on the page to ensure that your link won’t have a
NOFOLLOW attribute attached to it.

Regardless of the site, be sure and always include a link to your site in your email
“signature” line when posting.

Submitting to The Yahoo Directory

Yahoo charges $299 a year for all business sites ($599 for adult sites), but is worth it
if you can afford it. Non-business and non-profit sites can still get listed for free.
Editors at Yahoo will review your site first, and are known to change your title and
description as they see fit. Not much you can do about it – same if you mess up and
want to change your listing.

Bear in mind your $299 is no guarantee that your site will be listed, it is merely the
fee for having your site reviewed and considered for a listing.

Getting listed on Yahoo can be a bit of a challenge as they have exacting editorial
standards. You want your site to be 100% complete before a Yahoo editor looks at it.

You must follow the review submission guidelines for Yahoo precisely. For more
information, see

Submitting to Second-Tier Directories

You also should be submit your site to second-tier directories. Here is a list of some
important secondary search directories you should submit your site to: You need to email the "Guide" of the topic first.
Click on the Guide's photo in the upper left of the page and then scroll down until you
see a "Suggest a Site" link. It can be difficult to get in but is worth it - charges $199 per year and is an excellent directory for B2B listings.

Small Business Directory -
This is Microsoft’s bCentral service for $49 per year. Gets you several listings.

Gimpsy -
GoGuides -
Joeant -
Best of the Web -
ExactSeek -
WoW Directory -

Skaffe -
Abilogic –
Anthony Parsons –
Greenstalk –
InCrawler –
Info-listings –
Seoma –
Sitesnoop –
Sublime –
World Site Index –
Yeandi –

For a larger list of both paid and free search directories to consider, see The problem with most free directories
is that they take months to list you, if they add your site at all. So I generally don’t
recommend wasting your time with the free directories.

Submitting to Local and IYP Directories

I don't care if you work out of your home office and use a 3x5 mailbox down the
block as your business address, you should get your website listed in the local and
Internet Yellow Page (IYP) directories.

The Google search results are getting more crowded with Google Local listings
appearing above the other search listings. Google Local and Yahoo Local search
results are predominately influenced by listings in Switchboard and Verizon
SuperPages so you should strive to get listings in these.

Here are the top ones to submit your site to:

Yahoo Local
To add your business listing to Yahoo Local, go to and then
click Add/Edit a Business at the bottom of the page.

Google Local
If you advertise with Yellow Pages, you should already be in Google Local. If not,
read the information at and then send an
email with the required information to

Submitting Your Site to Directories

Submitting your site to search directories should be your step in link-building. Many
have an inexpensive one-time, lifetime listing cost. This is money well-spent and is
the best way to get PageRank to new sites quickly. Although directories provide less
traffic compared to search engines, the quality of that traffic can be better targeted as
you are listed on a specific category.

Search directories contain listings that are ordered under categories and sub-
categories. Site listings are placed into directories by people – unlike search engines,
which use automated programs to return ranked pages. Also unlike search engines,
search directories can alter the title and description of your site listing to better “fit”
into their categories as their editors deem fit.

Always submit your site manually. Do NOT use software or an online service that
submits your site to multiple search directories automatically. This is particularly
important for the larger directories, which ignore submissions from automated
programs. You want to control how and where your site is submitted.

Note: Google has blocked some websites and directories from being able to pass
PageRank. Such pages may still show PR value in the Google Toolbar however.

Submitting Your Site to the ODP

Due to it’s importance, a listing on the ODP (also known as DMOZ) is considered
quite important. The ODP provides directory listings not only to Google, but also for
the directories at AOL, Lycos, Teoma, AskJeeves, Netscape, AltaVista, HotBot and a
host of smaller, specialized directories.

It can take several months (if ever) to show up in the ODP as the ODP is staffed by
volunteers who are overwhelmed with work. As such, you should focus on getting
listed in the ODP as soon as possible after your site is complete.

You can increase your chances for a listing if you can find a topic or category page
that is not oversaturated already with listings. Also, consider signing up to be an
Editor for a particular topic, this is a sure-fire way to get your listing added.

An ODP editor will review your submission. If applicable, submit your website to the
ODP twice – once for the appropriate topic-related page and once for any location-
specific page if your business is regional. However, submit only once per page,
otherwise you will get shuffled to the end of the queue.

About Arelis

Arelis is a program that helps you find quality linking partners, and tracks and
manages who you have linked to. It searches for sites based on keywords you enter
and returns a list of matching sites.

What’s nice about Arelis is that you can click and preview each site in the interface. It
also allows you to look up the domain record (similar to SEO Elite) in order to get the
email address of the site owner. Arelis also shows you the link text for all links, and
has columns for you to check whether you link to the site and whether the site links
back to you.

Arelis has a number of sample email templates that you can modify and then send
out to prospective site owners. Although not recommended, Arelis also builds Link
pages for you automatically.

When using Arelis to generate your Links page, make sure you modify the page to
make it look like a page on your site and not one of the cookie-cutter template

For more information on Arelis, see I encourage you to
download the trial version, read the online manual, try it out and learn it thoroughly.

The General Link-Building Process

The general process for setting up and managing a link-building campaign is as
follows. There is an expanded process that applies to reciprocal linking campaigns
that will be discussed later. I recommend you use tools such as SEO Elite or Arelis to
help you out, but you can do this manually too.

1. Do a search of your most important keywords on Google. Look at the top 30
   results. These sites are either your competition or are complementary sites to
   yours. Also look at sites that are listed in the ODP and in Yahoo in the same
   market as your business.

2. Determine which sites link to you now. You can use SEO Elite or Arelis, or you
   can use the Yahoo backlink command as follows: Go to
   and type the following in the Search the Web box:

Link Analysis and Management Tools

Although you can manage a linking campaign by hand, there are two software
programs that can make your job MUCH easier – SEO Elite and Arelis. SEO Elite
allows you to see the actual linking structure of any website (such as your
competitors), including seeing what the link text is on sites, which sites are
authorities, PageRank and Alexa ranking, all in one interface. It also helps you track
and manage who you linked to, if they linked back to you, and so forth. It is a
comprehensive link research, analysis and tracking tool. Arelis on the other hand is
primarily used to track and manage reciprocal linking partners.

About SEO Elite

SEO Elite is a powerful tool that allows you to reverse-engineer the linking structure
of any website – including your competition. Some of the more important features
that SEO Elite has that make it a must-have tool include:

•   Shows you the incoming and outgoing links for each page on a site.

•   Tells you what the link text is for each incoming link as well as the page title of
    the linking page.

•   Tells you the Google PageRank for each page.

•   Shows you the Alexa rating for the site

•   Allows you to look up the domain record for a site for the email address.

All results can be sorted, so that you can tell at a glance which sites are authorities –
that is, which have the most links that point to them. You can also tell at a glance
what your link text is for all sites that link to you.

In a nutshell, SEO Elite allows you to quickly determine which sites you should
target. If a site links to your competitor’s site, they will likely link to your site as well. It
also shows you the internal linking structure of a site. Best of all, you can save and
export your results to a spreadsheet.

I prefer SEO Elite over Arelis because it does almost everything that Arelis does plus
has all the functionality of another tool called OptiLink that I used to use, all in one
convenient interface.

I highly recommend SEO Elite. For more info, go to
Download the trial version, read the online manual, and try it out.

How To Rate Sites For Linking

Not all sites and the links you may obtain from them are equally important. Some
links are free, some charge a one-time listing fee while others charge monthly or
annually. Especially for the sites that charge money, here are some criteria you can
use to help make the decision whether to pursue a link:

1. Make sure the site allows you to use the exact anchor text you want for your link
so that it can contain your most important keywords.

2. Make sure the link use a simple HREF code format. Javascript-based links or links
that redirect to another page are worthless. Also, links that display funny tracking
characters in the URL are worthless. Do a View Source on the page your link will be
placed on and check for the following:

1. That no redirection is used on the link (won’t pass PageRank).
2. That Javascript isn't used to code the link (Google won't see the link).
3. That the rel=NOFOLLOW attribute is not used (Google won't follow the link).
4. That the META robots tag for the page doesn't contain “NOINDEX” (page won't be

3. Use the tool at http:/ to determine how many backlinks
(incoming links) the site has. This is an important indicator for how important Google
deems a link will be. A link from a page with many inbound links can be as important
as the PR value of that page.

4. Check the PageRank of the actual page your link will be listed on - not the
PageRank of the home page, which can be vastly different.

5. The Alexa Traffic rating of the site. This provides a rough indication of the traffic
the sites receives. Lower numbers are better. Note that the Alexa rating can be
manipulated so take this with a grain of salt. It is better than nothing however.

6. Is the linking page in the index of Google? A link from any page not indexed by
Google is worthless. Copy and paste a section of unique text from the page in the
search box of Google and see if the page appears for the search.

7. Are links displayed in the cached version of the page? If not, the page probably
uses some trick to keep search engines from seeing outgoing links.

8. Content on the page your link will be placed on as well as the anchor text of other
links on the page. Are all the links in the same general category or does the page
contain tons of links in every conceivable category and lots of spammy ads?

Managing a Link-Building Campaign

Managing a link-building campaign is a time-consuming, ongoing process that you
need to budget time and money for. Link-building is really just a form of advertising
your site and should be managed accordingly.

There are two main classes of links, one-way and reciprocal:

One-way links. These include links in search directories, ezines, blogs, news sites
and any other site that doesn’t request that you link back to that site. Google
currently values one-way links more than two-way (reciprocal) links.

Reciprocal (two-way links). These are links where a site links to you in exchange
for you linking back to that site. Reciprocal linking has been abused in the past by
everyone madly linking to each other, regardless of whether it made any sense from
a visitor or business standpoint. As such, reciprocal links are not valued as much by
Google. It still is an important method of obtaining links however when done right.

The primary, most-effective means of obtaining links to your website include the
following, in order of priority:

1. Submitting your site to search directories, both general and industry-specific.

2. Publishing articles and other content to feature in ezines, articles sites and blogs.

3. Writing online press releases for the News search engines, like Google News.

4. Reciprocal linking, where you link to a site and that site links back to you.

Reciprocal linking should come last. You need to generate some PageRank first
before most sites will consider linking with you. PR = 4 on your home page is usually
the cutoff people look for. So get some listings in the search directories first.

Tip: Don’t worry about whether you should spend more time getting a few links from
pages with high PageRank or whether to get lots of links from pages with low
PageRank. Today’s site with a low PageRank can be tomorrow’s site with a high
PageRank, and even vice versa.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Topic-Sensitive PageRank

Topic-sensitive PageRank computes link value based only on incoming links from
pages that are returned from a given search result set that matches the search query
(whether the result set is 100 or 10,000 pages is not known).
This means that a flower site only gets links counted from other sites that are related
to flowers and gardening - not from sites that are about mortgage loans for example.
By using Topic-sensitive PageRank, Google hopes to filter out irrelevant links that
have skewed the value of PageRank in the past.

A variation of PageRank whereby links from sites that share the same Class C
blocks are worth less than links from a variety of different IP addresses, which are
generally different servers owned by different businesses.

As you may recall, a Class C block is that number shown in the third position of an IP
address. For example, for, xxx represents the Class C block.

This attempts to deal with the problem of different sites owned by the same company
that cross-link to each other. Put another way, Google wants to see incoming links
that are from different business entities, not different sites owned by the same

TrustRank and the Sandbox
A variation of PageRank whereby links from site that are “trusted” by Google carry
more weight than other links. This also related to the Google Sandbox. As you
recall, the Google Sandbox is a series of filters applied to new sites that cause them
not to rank well or rank at all for anything but very niche, unique keyword phrases,
such as their company name.

TrustRank says that new websites either have to reach a certain age (say 6 - 18
months) OR obtain relevant, quality links from authoritative "highly-trusted" sites to
escape the Sandbox. However, links from highly-trusted sites can be very difficult for
new sites to get. For this reason, most new sites must be of sufficient age AND the
links that point to new sites need also to be of sufficient age and at least “moderately
trusted" before a new site can rank well.
The TrustRank threshold that new sites need to overcome to escape the Sandbox
varies by keyword and industry. Gambling and pill sites have a much harder time
breaking free from the Sandbox filters than say baby blanket sites.

The PageRank Equation

Here is the official PageRank equation. It is calculated by solving an equation that
includes each of the billions of web pages in the Google index:

PR(your page) = 0.15 + 0.85 [(PR(page A) / total links (page A) ) + (PR(page B) / total links (page B) ) + …]

A couple of observations to note about the PR equation:

•   PR is based on individual web pages – not on a website as a whole.

•   The PR of each page that links to your site in turn is dependent on the PR of the
    pages that link to it, and so on iteratively.

•   A link’s value (amount of PageRank or “voting power” forwarded to the linked-to
    page) is at most only 85% of the linking page’s PageRank value, and this value is
    diluted (decreased) by the number of other links on that page.

•   PR has nothing to do with keywords or text in links - it is purely dependent on link
    quantity and link strength, as discussed previously.

Some may incorrectly conclude that a link from a page with a PR = 4 and with only a
few outgoing links is worth a more than a link from a page with a PR = 6 with 100
outgoing links because for the latter, the “voting power” or value is divided up among
99 other links.

However, you must remember the logarithmic nature of actual PageRank. A link from
a PR = 6 page with lots of outbound links may indeed be worth more than a link from
a PR = 4 page that has only a few outbound links.

The Evolution of PageRank
Pagerank used to be a simple weighting factor for all links regardless of the topic of
the page that contained the link. This led to a small industry that focused around
buying and selling high-PageRank links. However, when anyone can achieve high
rankings by simply buying enough links from any website, or trading links with any
unrelated website, Pagerank loses its value as a factor in ranking websites
As such, Google has done some tweaking of how it analyzes the value of links. Links
are now scored differently and some links may not count as much as they used to.
PageRank as the defining metric for links is becoming less important and the other
variations listed below are becoming more important.

Increasing PageRank

Each page of your website has a PR value, and as such you can simply add up the
individual PR values of each page to arrive at the total PR that your site has (bear in
mind however that when someone speaks of PR, it applies to a page). How you
structure your internal links can influence what the PR value of a page will be, as will
links pointing to a page on your site. Although page PR value is important, you
should really be trying to increase your total site PR value.

The actual PR value of each page indexed by Google is in constant flux. On the Web
new pages are added, old pages are removed, more links are created – all of which
over time slowly degrade the “value” of your links.

As the number of web pages in the Google index increases, so does the total
PageRank value of the entire Web, and so does the high end of the overall scale
used. This is kind of like the top student setting the “curve” for an exam. The top-
ranking site (or handful of sites in actuality) gets the maximum, perfect PageRank
score of 10 in the Google Toolbar) and everyone else is scaled down accordingly. As
a result, some web pages may drop in PageRank value for no apparent reason. If a
page's actual PR value was just above a division on the scale, the addition of new
pages to the Web may cause the dividing line to move up the scale slightly and the
page would end up just below the new division.

As such, you should always strive to obtain more links that point to your site,
otherwise your site can naturally start slipping in rankings due to this “raising of the
bar” of PageRank across the Web.

Decreasing PageRank

The amount of PageRank value a link forward on to your site is diluted by the
presence of other links on the same page. This is where link strength comes into

The greater the number of other links on a page, the weaker the strength of each
individual link. The strength of that “vote” is divided equally among all other links on
the page.

Which means, all other things being equal, if someone has a link to your site on their
page with 100 other links, you may not get any appreciable value from that link in the
overall calculation, unless the page has a very high PageRank.

The Toolbar PageRank value only indicates that a page is in a certain range of the overall scale. One PR=5 page could be just above the PR=5 division and another PR=5 page could be just below the PR=6 division, which is a vast gulf

Although the exact logarithmic base used for PageRank is a secret, the following
table should give you an idea of how different Toolbar PR is from actual PR.

    Toolbar PR (linear) Actual PR (log base 5)            Actual PR (log base 10)
              0                      0.15                            0.15
            0-1                     0.15 - 1                        0.15 - 1
            1-2                      1–5                             1 - 10
            2-3                      5 – 25                         10 - 100
            3- 4                    25 - 125                      100 - 1,000
            4-5                    125 – 625                    1,000 – 10,000
            5-6                   625 – 3,125                  10,000 – 100,000
            6-7                 3,125 – 15,625                100,000 – 1,000,000
            7-8                 15,625 – 78,125             1,000,000 – 10,000,000
            8-9                78,125 – 390,625            10,000,000 – 100,000,000
           9 - 10                  390,625 +                     100,000,000 +

This means that moving a page from a PR = 6 to a PR = 7 is much harder than
moving from a PR = 4 to a PR = 5.

Although PageRank is assigned per page, your site is a collection of web pages
under a domain that you control and hence your site has a total PR value too.

PR as viewed using the Toolbar can be pretty inaccurate. Sometimes home pages
for sites will suddenly show a PR = 0 (no green bar) when indeed the page does
have a PR value. Appending /index.html to the URL (or whatever the filename is for
the home page) in your browser restores the proper value displayed in the Toolbar.

Also, new web pages that the Toolbar displays a PR value for may not have any
“real” PageRank of their own yet. Rather, the new page is “assigned” a PR value 1
point below an indexed page on the site, but this is an “estimate” PageRank that
exists only in the Toolbar.

My suggestion is to simply ignore that little green bar. It never was that accurate to
begin with and it’s just gotten worse over time. It really doesn’t have much bearing
on how well you are ranking.

All About PageRank

This chapter deals largely with theory. However, because of the misunderstanding of
Google PageRank (PR), it is important that you understand how PR works under the
hood and what role it plays in influencing rankings.

Many people obsess and over-hype the importance PageRank and therefore
introduce worry and confusion that is not warranted.

There are PR = 8 sites that you cannot find in Google unless you search for them by
company name, while there are PR = 4 sites that are in the top 2 or 3 search results
for relevant keyword phrases.

PageRank vs. Search Result Ranking

People tend to confuse PageRank with their page’s ranking for a certain search
result for a certain keyword. PR is just one factor that is used to determine your
page’s actual rank on a search results page for a given search query.

It is not uncommon to see a page with a lower PageRank that is positioned higher on
a search results page than a page with a higher PageRank. This shows that
PageRank is not the most important factor in Google’s ranking algorithm. A properly
keyword-optimized page with a lower PageRank can outrank a non-optimized page
with a higher PageRank.

This is a common scenario for large corporate sites. The corporate site may have a
high PageRank as a result of the large number of other business partner sites that
link to it, but they may end up being outranked due to their lack of keyword
optimization for their pages.

Toolbar PageRank vs. Actual PageRank

The Google Toolbar allows you to see a crude approximation of PageRank value for
any page in its index. Download and install the Google Toolbar at

Most people don’t realize that the PageRank values shown in the Google Toolbar are
not the actual PageRank values that Google uses to rank web pages. The Google
Toolbar is divided up into 10 equal linear ranges from 0 - 10. These linear divisions
correspond to a logarithmic scale that Google uses. The actual scale is estimated to
be between log base 5 and log base 10. The public Toolbar PR value is however
what people talk and agonize about.

Link Quality Factor

Google returns the most relevant results for a given search query. One way Google
does so is by analyzing keywords on pages of other websites that link to your site.
What other sites “say” about your site on their page is important. This means that the
quality of links may be as important as the quantity of links to your site.

You may have hundreds of pages linking to your site, but if the text of those links
doesn’t match your keywords, or if the linking page content is not related to your site,
those links by themselves may not add any appreciable PageRank boost.

If only the quantity of links to a site were important, every site on the Web would link
indiscriminately with every other site and the site with the largest number of incoming
links would be #1 for any word. This clearly is not the case.

Specifically, the quality of a link that points to your site is determined by the following:

1. Text of the link – does it contain your keywords? (This very important)

2. Text of other links on the same page – do they also contain, or are similar to,
   your keywords?

3. Is the link contained in a paragraph on the page, surrounded by related text.
   Such “inline” links are weighted more than links that are listed on a page without
   any other text, such as in the footer of a page or a Sponsored Links section.

4. Title of the linking page – does it contain, or is it related to, your keywords?

Linking-Building is About Visitors

The primary value of obtaining incoming links should be to diversify and increase
your qualified traffic sources. The secondary value should be to increase PageRank
to boost site ranking.

By implementing an effective linking strategy you attract more qualified visitors, you
learn more about your industry, you build business relationships, and you become a
valued member of the online community. These benefits can bring much long-term
reward. As such, link building should be thought more as “business building”.

Why You Need Links

If your site has no incoming links from other websites, your site will not be included in
the Google index. You MUST have at least one incoming link from another website if
you are going to show up in Google at all!

Obtaining links from other websites is a time-consuming process. However, without
other sites that link to your site, you will likely not rank well on Google for your
keywords. More businesses fail to achieve satisfactory rankings in Google
because of an insufficient number of quality links than any other reason. Your
objective is to obtain the highest number of “high-quality” links as possible from other

Having lots of links is also important for “diversifying” where your traffic comes from –
it is not wise to place all your traffic eggs in one Google basket. By growing and
maintaining an active link exchange effort, your traffic risk can be decreased.

Link-building also makes you immune to tweaks in search engine algorithms. Links
are forever. Each link individually won't drive much traffic to your site, but hundreds
of links in the aggregate will over time. Traffic you receive from links on many
different sites may eclipse traffic you obtain from Google in the long term.

Off-Page Link Factors Used in the Algorithm

Off-page link factors include that portion of the Google algorithm that determines
page importance, which in turn is primarily dependent on PageRank (PR), which is
about the quantity and strength of links that point to your site.

The concept of link quality is also an important factor, and is not part of the
PageRank calculation. Link quality is determined by keyword factors.

PageRank Factor

When one page links to another, it “casts a vote” for that page in the form of a
PageRank value. The more links you have that point to your site the better, as this
increases the PageRank of the page being linked to. The number of links that point
to a site is also called it’s link popularity.

Effective Link-Building

This section deals with those aspects of your SEO efforts that increase page
importance. You want to maximize how important your website is with Google.

Before we begin, don’t overlook the obvious: Your website must contain high-
quality, useful, timely content that people will actually want to link to. Spend
more time creating useful and relevant content, and less time on fancy graphics,
gratuitous animations, or Flash.

As this section builds on the previous section, it is recommended that you first read
PART II - Website Optimization.

Link-building is a tedious, long-term strategy. It takes time and effort to get links
placed on another site, more time for the search engines to find the links, and more
time for them to include those links in the ranking algorithm. So be patient.

Domain Registration and Domain Age

Google now looks at the length of time a domain is registered for. Legitimate
domains are more likely to be paid for several years in advance, while shady
domains are rarely registered for more than a year in advance, since the owner
knows they are likely to be penalized anyway. I recommend you sign up or renew a
domain for at least 2 years, preferably more. Legitimate businesses are in it for the
long haul anyway.

Google may also take into account the rate at which Whois information and DNS
Nameserver is changed for a given domain. Domains that frequently change their
hosting servers and registered owners may be flagged as possible spam domains.

Lastly, Google appears to give more weight to older domains (and hence older sites)
when ranking sites, all other things being equal.

Domain and Subdomain Naming

When a keyword is contained in a domain name or a subdomain, there is a good
chance that the keyword is pretty relevant to the content of the site. A website with a
keyword in the domain name may rank every so slightly higher than another website
that doesn't use keywords in the domain (all other things being equal).

Given a choice between two listings in the search results, an online searcher will
likely choose the listing containing the keyword in the domain name over the listing
that contains unmemorable or is spammy-sounding.

Other tips to consider:

1. The shorter the domain name, the better.

2. Go from specific to generic: is better than

3. Don't use more than one hyphen is you can help it - no more than two hyphens
   ever in a domain name.

4. Don't be cute and use the TLD in the domain name, like

Domain Pointing and Subdomains

Given that you can register domain names so cheaply, it may make sense to register
your top keyword phrases as domain names, and then use domain pointers (also
known as domain aliases or domain forwarding) to redirect visitors from your
“pointer” domains to your main domain.

For example, if your main website is at, you may want to
register the following domains:,,, and, and set it up to have
each one of these forward visitors to your main website. In this way, you can capture
visitors who may type in variations of your main domain and singular vs. plural forms.

Another technique is the use of subdomains, also known as prefix domains or third-
level domains. For example -

Google currently treats a subdomain as an entirely different domain name. On your
server, each subdomain is redirected to a different folder on your website. For
example, could point to This is an excellent strategy is your site is comprised of
related but distinct groups of topics.

Contact your webmaster for setting this up as it varies from one server platform to
the next.

Changing Domain Names

Think carefully if you are changing domain names at an established site solely for the
purpose of change. Google will see your new domain as a brand-new site, even if
you have kept all the file names the same. That means all your old incoming links will
point to the old domain. I recommend keeping your old domain name unless you
have a real compelling reason to change it.

If you must change domain names, the way to do it properly is to keep your old
domain active and insert a Permanent 301 Redirect script on that server to instruct
browsers and search engines that the site on the old domain have been replaced by
a new domain. This will also transfer PageRank from your old domain to your new

Ask your Webmaster to do this as it is a little complex and varies by server
(Linux/Apache vs. Windows/IIS).

Domains and Subdomains

The following are not required to get a top ranking but rather are ideas that may be
explored further.

Multiple Domains – Is it Worth It?

If your site contains more than one major subject – like baby diapers and garage
door openers, you should consider splitting your site into multiple sites, one site per
subject. This case is largely a no-brainer.

If you have a site that has several related, but distinct groups of products or services,
the case is not so clear-cut. You may be better off spending your time expanding the
size of your main site and organizing it better.

Should you decide to create more than one site for your business, keep the following
points in mind:

•   Don’t copy your main site onto a separate domain and duplicate pages in order
    to get more incoming links. Google can detect this and your site may get
    penalized (or even dropped from their index).

•   Use different hosting companies for each site. The reason being is that Google
    may consider multiple similar sites on the same server that are cross-linked
    together as potential duplicate sites. The important consideration here is to have
    each site hosted on a different Class C block.

    A Class C block is that number shown in the third position of an IP address. For
    example, for, xxx represents the Class C block. This number
    needs to be different for all your websites and the easiest way to guarantee this
    is to use separate Web hosting companies for each site.

It is not advised that you create multiple “mini” sites to help increase your traffic or
number of incoming links. This was a popular technique a couple of years ago but
has largely fallen out of favor due to abuse. There are people reportedly that do well
at these but I am skeptical. Many mini-sites are junk one-page sites with little content
(or with duplicate content) in the hopes of creating lots of links to boost PageRank.
Google will catch on and you will be sorry you did this.

Create multiple sites only if there is a strong, compelling reason to do so.