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Google search engine optimization.

The art of getting your web pages high in the search results of a search engine is called "Search Engine Optimisation" or SEO.

It is becoming more and more important to have a presence on the internet. But Having web pages that no one ever sees is virtually pointless. There are many ways to get your web pages accessible to the public. You can get other companies to have links to your web site. You can send emails to your customers with links to your pages. But by far the most important way is via Google.

In 2008:

  • The world population is over six billion (6,000,000,000).
  • The number of internet users is approaching one and a half billion (1,500,000,000).
  • In North America about 70% of the population use the internet.

What the internet has to offer is rapidly expanding.

The internet offers relevancy. It is far better advertising things to people when they are in the right context. Targeting adverts to users of the internet in a relevant context is a major advantage that the internet provides. And the majority of people who use the internet use Google to search for whatever it is they are looking for. So it becomes increasingly important to get high up in Google's search results for relevant searches. So how is it done?

Google has numerous ways of assessing the relevance of web pages. It is becoming a more and more sophisticated art (or science even). Knowing something of how Google rates pages will help anyone trying to tune their web pages for better results.

Here are some relevant pointers.

Keywords in meta tags are out. Google stopped using them early in the 21 century.

Keywords in the content, in the page title, the description, and in the actual page name, are all relevant. Keywords in the home page of the web site are relevant too. This is probably the order of importance as well.

So concentrate on your keywords in this order:

  • 1. CONTENT
  • 2. TITLE
  • 4. URL
  • 5. HOME PAGE

Google tends to put more weight on the earlier text in a page and so it is important to concentrate on this end of things.

Too many occurrences of keywords are seen as an attempt to affect the search results and not useful for the viewer.

The title tag for a page is considered important but this cannot be too long as Google will only consider about the first 60 characters and it seems can down rank the page if the title is too long.

The description meta tag is seen as relevant and must not be too long either.

Keywords in the url, either in folder names or the actual page names makes a difference too.

If the home page of the web site also contains the same keywords this can positively affect the page rank allocated by Google as it is regarded as consistent and central to the web site.

Another way that Google ranks pages is by counting the number of links from other web sites. Since this information became public knowledge there has been a surge of "reciprocal link" sites. On the whole these are regarded as a bad thing by Google on the grounds that it is not in their customers' interest. So avoid responding to emails claiming that they have studied your web site and feel you have a mutual interest and offering a reciprocal link. They are probably worse than useless. On the whole, if your motives are genuine then it will be okay. But being aware of the ways Google ranks pages is invaluable. Government and educational sites linking to your site are rated more highly because of the reliability of these domains. There are also the alt tags for images that Google rates and in fact they are now obligatory in XHTML 1 because of audio readers as well as for alternative content if the image cannot be shown.

More information can be found in Google's Webmaster Tools and there are one or two things to avoid.

Do not use hidden links. These are deemed to be aimed solely at search engines and of no interest to Google's users. For example a one space link to another page is seen as furtive and will knock your page rank down significantly. Use of JavaScript which is in external files has a detrimental effect too. I guess Google regards this as too much of a black hole. Google seems very Flash unfriendly too. Also, any hidden text is marked down presumably on the same grounds that it is not visible to the user. So repeating keywords all over your home page in the same colour as the background will do you no good.

I hope this has been helpful and in general the rule of thumb is to consider the user first because that is who Google is aiming to please.

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