the friendly web people



FAQs - Search Engine Rankings
How Can I Be at the Top of the Search Engines? + / -

Many, no let me correct that, almost every client, friend, relative and passer-by in the street asks me if they can be Number 1 on the Search Engines. The answer is quite simple. 'Yes' if the search phrases you hope to be found under are unique enough and 'No' if they are too general or inappropriate to your website content.

There are many factors involved in achieving good rankings. There are things you can do to help your website along, but site owners must be realistic, especially newcomers who are competing in a popular or well-established market.

Search Engines have a reputation to keep. They need to produce quality links in response to a search query. If someone types in 'Bookshops', the results are likely to produce top rankings to large, long-established and well-known booksellers above a brand new business of someone selling a few cartons of used books from their garage. The smaller bookseller must establish their presence through their Unique Selling Points.

This does not mean that the small, home-based bookseller with a small website cannot establish a healthy internet presence. Not at all. But if they try to compete using broad, generic terms like 'bookseller', they won't succeed. However, if they target their special niche, they will do far, far better.

If there were some magical way of 'making' your website rank Number One, everyone would rank Number One!

Paid and Organic Search Results+ / -

There are two types of rankings: Organic and Paid.

The organic results are the ones you see in the main body of the results page. There is no way you can pay to influence these in the big engines. These are purely the result of the Search Engine's own, secret criteria. You cannot force their arm in this. What you can do is be as concise and clear about what your website offers, so the Engines are able to rank you better because they understand what your website is all about.

Paid results are the listings you can influence straightaway. These are usually the ones along the right-hand side of the page and sometimes at the very top. You can buy your way up this hierarchy.

Step 1 - Getting Better Rankings+ / -

Above all, be clear and straightforward about what you are presenting. Stay focussed when writing your content.

Number One Rule: Do Not Try to Trick the Search Engines. You can't. Well, maybe you can for a short time. But this is mega-business and they will discover the tricks very soon. If you are seen to be trying to manipulate results, your rankings will probably suffer. It can take a long time to recover.

Consistency. Be as clear and honest about what your website offers. Some people pretend they are about something else to get lots of traffic. The spiders Spiders are automated scanners sent out by search engines to read websites. They collect and relay the information back to the search engine HQ where the content is analysed by a highly sophisticated algorithm. This algorithm determines what your website is all about, how 'weighty' it is for what terms and how consistent it is. It is then indexed accordingly. This determines how a website is ranked for a variety of search phrases. will notice the discrepancy and it detracts from clear, steady rankings.

Keyword Choice. Choose one or two key phrases per page and integrate that in a natural way into your textual content. You need to summarise to the Search Engine 'spiders' what your page is about. Avoid ambiguity. Your site needs to make this as easy as possible for the spiders.

Unique key phrases. Choose key phrases realistically. Example: if you are a small start-up shoe distributor, if you chose 'online shoes' as your key phrase, you would have a lot of stiff competition from well-established companies. You would rank poorly against them. Select key phrases that reflect any specialisms or unique products you offer. Specialise as much as you can. Instead of 'shoes', you might choose 'waterproof gardening shoes'.

Think like your customer. Think as if you were your potential customer looking for what you have to offer. What words would you use to search for your products?

Meta data. This is the code you do not see. Make sure each page title, internal link names, picture names and 'alt' tags all reflect your key phrases. It is also helpful to extract a couple of sentences from your page copy to use as your 'Description' tag. Think of a Search Engine list of results. There is a title and then an extract of the content that you can read. Choose your Description Tag as if you were choosing what you want Search Engine users to see. Make it essenceful. Keep your meta data lean and meaningful. Do not keyword stuff or it will be seen as spam and work against you.

Good Programming. Make sure your website has sparkling clean and accurate HTML code. My New Venture utilises clear, straightforward coding techniques that ensure your website is easily read by the Search Engine spiders.

Never, ever keyword stuff. Keyword stuffing is the over-use of keywords or phrases, either in the textual content or the coding or both. Good Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) depends upon a fine balance of clarity of what your page is about and not over-doing it. Spammy content will cost you dearly in terms of good rankings.If you have so many phrases to catch the engines, they will be suspicious if you show only a page or two to contain all that. Better to have more pages for each key phrase and write content for that specialism.

Original Content. The better and more unusual your content, the better it will rank.

Choose Your Domain Name Carefully. Keep your domain name for as long as possible. If you switch names, you have to start all over again. There are things that can be done to minimise this impact, but it is best avoided if possible.

Choose the Domain Name You Want. It makes no difference to your rankings whether your domain name contains your keywords or not. Choose the domain name that matches the catchiness to humans that you want.

Step 2 - Once Your Website is Live+ / -

Notify Search Engines. My New Venture will notify Google and MSN Search that your website is live. They will include you on their database of sites to visit. Do not keep notifying them. It will not help and might work against you.

Networking. Good quality links leading to your website indicate to search engines that you might have good content. The emphasis is on good quality links in. The best links come from big, reputable websites that are quoting your content. For instance, if the BBC website linked to your site because you had an interesting article, that would get you big points. Your links in should demonstrate that your website has something interesting or unusual to offer other sites.

Provide Useful, Quality ContentIf you have a small business, it is difficult to compete against the magnetism of the large sites of big businesses with similar products. However, if you provide interesting information that is useful to people, that will be considered noteworthy not only by search engines but by other websites who may wish to link to you.

Uniqueness. If your website is simply an electronic version of a paper brochure to sell yourself and/or your business, that does not really set you apart from your competitors. However, if you provide interesting content that is not just about you, that will escalate your chances of climbing up the ranking ladder.

For example, let's say your website is about your business that produces and sells Homemade Soup. If your website simply advertises you and your soup, you will struggle to rank well.

If you look at your unique selling points, in this case, Homemade Soups, and stress the qualities and benefits of your soup being homemade, that will help target your audience and will tell the search engines there is something that sets you apart from the others. This will give the search engines something more specific to understand and they will be more enabled to feature your website.

Keep Developing and Growing. But there is something even better that you can do. That is develop your content. If you added information showing people how to make a few good soups or how to grow the vegetables you grew to make the soups and so on, your websites starts to really draw attention as something valuable and noteworthy. This type of information also gives you something to tempt other websites to link to yours with. For instance, someone who sells organic veggie seeds, might want to link to your veggie growing and soup making pages.

Step 3 - Do not forget+ / -


Avoid artificial links. This includes any form of Link Exchange Schemes, Link Farms and other artificial forms of getting links in to your website are not what the Search Engines consider quality and could well demote you for it. There is also a 'Triangle Scheme' to trick the reciprocal ban. This means Site A links to B. B links to C and C links to A. Forget it. The engines are more than wise to this practice. If you have a links page with reciprocal links or links from meaningless directories, you lose points. Got the picture?

Good Reasons for linking to you. Links in must demonstrate some consistency between what is linking to you and the content it is linking to in your site.

Be patient!
It takes time for the search engines to rank you well. This is for several reasons:

  • Maturity of your Website The longer your website is in existence with consistent, quality, updated content, the better. New Kids On the Block need to prove themselves to the engines. There are so many sites that come and go, the engines like to make sure their better ranking sites are reliable.
  • Incubation of a New Site After a Search Engine has scanned your website, some of them will list you; others will hang back and re-check a little later to see what you have been up to. Do not expect much for the first six to nine months.
  • Steady growth Do not do too much too soon. A brand new website with zillions of links in will be regarded as very suspicious. No brand new website will attract instant linking unless it has some earth-shattering content! Develop your website and networking in a steady, natural time frame.
  • Paid Listings If you need more traffic in the meantime, consider Paid Listings, also known as Pay-Per-Click programmes, such as Google's AdWords.
Step 4 - Your Maturing, Evolving Website+ / -

The older your website, the better chances it has of good rankings. However, a website consisting of one page, with little content, no incoming links and hasn't changed in three years cannot be expected to perform in the rankings game. You need to earn your popularity. Therefore, you will perform better if you:

  • Continue to develop your content. Search Engines love new content and will visit your site more regularly if it sees regular updates.

  • Continue to expand your website. Avoid the temptation to have several websites with different products, etc. As a rule of thumb, it is far better to develop into one big website than lots of little ones.

  • Continue to develop interest. Add articles that provide valuable information.