Monday, January 02, 2006

Search - How to do well - On Page Issues - Google

There are three categories of issues to do well on the google search engine.

- on page factors - which I discuss below
- site architecture and technology factors - not discussed here but take a look at Site Architecture & Link Structure.
- links to the target page which I only mention in passing (points 5 & 6 below).

This is a simple beginners/intermediate level discussion which does not touch on relevancy and hordes of other stuff....It only lists free tools which any beginner will be able to use. In 20 minutes, if you use each tool listed for your own website (your keywords, your web pages), you will will get a total overview of the SEO issues in their simplest form. Feel free to comment. Better yet, reference this site on your blog with an appropriate link (best yet, take a look at, try out, and LINK TO my online kids education site, my real passion). I'll respond. Personally (ie there really is a John Edelson who really does look at and answer his comments and emails). We'll have links. Do lunch...

1. Find out what people are searching for. The volume matters. I'll start with a personal annecdote. I initially optimized my website for "Learn Reading & Math Online". I was so proud to see that after not that many months, I was Number 1 on google for that phrase. Imagine my disappointment when I learned that there were, on a monthly basis, ZERO searches for that term. So, be wiser than me. Beforeyou optimize, check on what searches the public is actually doing in what volume. will tell you for the previous month what the number of searches were for a given key phrase in the US on the yahoo search engine. Also, it suggests all the minor variations. so if you put in GIS, it might suggest: "gis software", "gis tools", "gis consulting" etc. Many people say that Overture/Yahoo is about 20% of the search market so multiply by 5 to get the entire number of searches for that month.

2. Track how you are doing by the keyphrases that interest you. This will also give you a sense of what it take to do well on the terms that you are targetting. . This type of tool took me a long time to understand since I got all confused about whether a website does well or whether a page does well in the search engines. The answer is, for google, pages do well but are affected by the website. Simple, each page is an individual contender for a term. For Special Needs Learning , each page on my site that has those terms is a contender and the page that does best for that term will be my lead contender. My result is not the sum of all of my pages that do well in that area, my top listing is the result of the strength of my single best contender in that area.

3. More specific (ie multiword) combinations are generally lower volume and more targetted than single words. For instance, take the word READING. It turns out that most people who type in the word reading are looking for the something astrological. Also, many are interested in a town called Reading. Then there are those who are interested in education or literacy (which is my area of interest). Try to avoid using a broad term which can be very competitive, focus on more specific terms. Generally, longer phrases have smaller volume than shorter ones. Exceptions are interesting and you will note them when you look at the overture tool. Exceptions: "first grade math" was searched more often than "first grade" and "school girls" was typed in more than "school". Both are interesting insights which I'll refrain from discussing here.

4. Rewrite your pages or create pages that use the targetted keyphrases or parts of the keyphrases alot. How much? Not clear but alot. Maybe 10-20 times on the page. Also, be prepared for google to change their mind about how much is too much. BTW, as you go to try and do well in SEO, start with the attitude that the google people are really smart and are trying to build technology that finds sites that are full of content and which are relevent and are trying to not prioritize people who take short-cuts. So, putting "Third Grade Third Grade Third Grade" on your page is probably pretty easy for google to detect. And google will someday give you penalty points for spelling errors and bad grammar and programming errors and dead links (maybe they already do) since these are all reasonable indicators of quality. Also:
- put it (ie the keyphrase) in the page url if possible
- put it in the meta name, description, and list of keywords (surrounded by commas)
- put it in the title and in the H1 and H2 phrases
- use it as alt tag for pictures
- use it in the body - More at the beginning. Terms together is good but apart but close together also helps. For the expression, "white elephant", I believe "white elephants" counts less than "white elephant" or "elephant white". "whitish gray elephant" counts the same as "yada yada elephant yada". " "Elefant" does not count at all.

5. Use your keyphrase text on other pages as "anchor text" pointing to pages optimized for those keyphrases. Example:

Educational Teaching Games - Number 1 (on a good day)
Homeschool Curriculum
Homeschool Education - Number 26 & counting
Special Needs
Online Math
Learning to Read
PreReading Skills
Reading Skills Phonics
Reading Comprehension
Building Vocabulary
Reading Fluency
GIS Education
GIS School

6. To see how Google reads your keyphrases, type in your keyphrase to google and then click on the "cached" version of the page. If you page is not coming up for your phrase in the first few pages of google, then enter your target keyphrase and something else whch is somewhat unique to your page. For instance, while the page does not show up in the first 100 when I type "homeschool math" into google, I can find the page easily by typing in "homeschool math time4learning". The cached version in this case will have three words highlighted.

This article is copyright 2005, Time4Learning, Kids Learning Online. You have our permission (in fact, please do) to reprint this article online or put it newsletters online or in print so long as the links stay stay active and this copyright notice stays here. The original (which gets updated) can be found at: Search - Onpage Issues


sassygirl said...

Hi John!

Thanks for the comment...looks like I could learn a lot from you too!Do you have some books that you could recommend to beginners like me?:)

BBat50 said...

Sassy - I read articles and use this blog to focus on what I've learned and need to learn. Since you seem to be reading, I'll look to you for answers to what the "gurus" say that I should be doing.

Anonymous said...

Well, I took your advice. Changed the title of the page and changed many of the properties of our website.
Renamed titles of images,and increased the frequency of key terms.
Let the spiders do their work and cross my fingers.
Thank you for the concise info.