The competitive game of ranking well for search terms on the Internet has changed dramatically in the last several years. Google has lead the way and all other search engines are now following Google’s successful example. Yahoo, MSN and Ask.com are all currently making the transition to a more Google-like ranking formula when evaluating the search results that are returned.
For a better understanding of how to rank well in today’s more competitive environment it is important to take a brief look at the evolution of search engines and their respective ranking algorithms.
Flash back to the year 1995 when it was easy to rank well for a particular search term by doing one of several tricks including :
- repeating your keyword several times on the page
- including hidden text in your page which contained your search term repeated over and over
- changing the title of your page to your search terms.
- repeating your keyword in the meta tags
Flash forward to the year 2007 and the game has completely changed – for the better I would add. Ranking well for a particular search term on Google, Yahoo and Msn – especially in a competitive category – is not determined by factors such as meta tags, repeating keywords on your homepage nor any other factors pertaining to your website.
Search engines now imitate life in that ranking results are determined not by what you say your website is about but what other websites say about your website
One simple and very good analogy is that ranking for a search term is now determined by a popularity contest. I will give specific examples shortly but to make sure this concept is understood take the concept of a job interview.
How would you evaluate a job applicant ? Would you believe everything a job applicant would tell you ? Or would one of the most important parts of the interview be evaluating job references ? Clearly job references ( or links to a website in the case of search rankings ) are the most important part of an interview.
The analogy of a job interview fits very well for the in that you would look at the resume ( in this case the webpage ) but place most of your evaluation criteria on a candidate’s reputation determined by references ( link from other websites )
This is not fiction and to prove my point I will give several examples. First go to google and type in click here for your search term.
Notice that Adobe Acrobat reader download is returned as the first result.
What does Adobe Acrobat reader have to do with the search term click here ?
Not much actually but people all over the Internet have linked to this url http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html with the words “Click here to download Acrobat reader” or some other variation.
Therefore search engines associate the words “click here” with Adobe Acrobat.
Another example using my own website – search on google for the terms fields marshall.
Notice that my website is returned as the the first result. This is a new development because until recently I was competing with the department store Marshall Fields for those keywords.
What changed ?
A link from a popular website kayakchile.net refer to the bottom of the page where it says website designed by Ben May and Fields Marshall. Notice that the words fields marshall have been associated with the url http://fieldsmarshall.com
My final example — please search on Google for the search term “fields marshall american” .
Notice that my personal website gonker.net is being returned instead of fieldsmarshall.com
What is going on here ?
My friend Amit Mehta who has a popular blog has linked to my gonker.net website with the term “Fields Marshall is an American who moved to Pucon, Chile”.
Refer to the actual article http://www.superaffiliatemindset.com/5-things-i-love-about-the-affiliate-lifestyle/
Because Amit’s blog is popular with Google his opinion of my website carries weight with the search engines and as a consequence the phrase fields marshall is an american is associated with the domain gonker.net
I hope this article was helpful in creating a high level overview of the ranking formula that search engines use.
While Google guards their specific ranking formula as a company secret it is no secret that the single most important factor in ranking your site well for search terms are incoming links from qualified sources.
I can address strategies for ranking well in another post if there is interest.
Briefly if you want your website to rank for the term steel mill grinder then you will need quality links to your website with the anchor text or the link text set to steel mill grinders
Example, <a href=”http://yourwebsite”>Steel Mill Grinders</a>