I'm going to try something different. For quite some time now
I've noticed that the same questions have been asked over
and over again in search engine forums. In this article
I've tried to pick out the most frequent of those questions and
then answer them. Hopefully you'll find some of your questions
answered in here, and if you don't, you can always drop me a line
and ask…I might put out a similar Q&A lesson soon in the future,
so your questions will definitely get answered here.
let's get started.
is relevance in SEO?
is a central concept in search engine marketing, but you will
be hard pressed to find any reasonable definition for it. Most
SEO experts take the term for granted, and the rest of us just
nod along :-) It is not very complicated, but it does involve
some very core ideas, so listen closely.
SEO, relevance is a criteria used by search engines to determine
the importance of a target (page, keyword, website)
within a niche. Since search engines are primarily concerned with
serving user queries, the role of relevance comes up most often
during searches. For example, if I search for the term “search
marketing” on Google, the search engine will analyse its index
and provide me a list of web pages ranked by how “relevant” they
are to “search marketing” – in this case the top result is www.overture.com,
now known as Yahoo! Search Marketing.
that search engines don't explicitly deal with niches or categories
of websites. Instead, an SE treats the Internet as a loosely
defined grouping of topical pages, with those topics
forming sub-groups of their own.
engines and relevance
assume that websites in general will follow the mantra of “information-targeting”,
with the ideal website in a niche being the one that is most relevant
to that niche. Sounds simple, right?
is where it gets interesting. Search engines measure relevance
on different levels, or different categories if you may. Once
you understand the above definition, they all make sense by themselves.
For starters, there is content relevance – is
this page's content relevant to a search query (and that query's
projected niche)? This is where on-page optimization is so important.
Search engines use keywords to measure relevance, but they aren't
checking for keyword density; in fact, they are checking for keyword
placement in the page.
second criteria is link relevance – whether the
sites linking to you are “relevant” – i.e. in the same niche (or
closely related to the niche), and whether the sites YOU link
to are relevant as well. This is, in a nutshell, off-page optimization
in search engine optimization has been the biggest stumbling block
for webmasters – the concept is so important that every aspect
of SEO is governed by it, but yet so obvious that many of us overlook
useful is keyword density
density was once the single most important criteria for
judging the value of a webpage. I'm talking back in the pre-Google
era (now if THAT doesn't give you a hint about how outdated
keyword density is…). However, with Google's PageRank
algorithm and the general trend towards off-page factors determining
more and more of your website's rankings – the importance of keyword
density as an on-page optimization tool diminished. People continued
to theorize about what the ideal keyword density should be, and
estimates ranged from 2% to 8%. Keyword density, in case you are
wondering, is measured by the following formula:
= x / y where:
= No. of times a keyword is used in a block of content (page)
y = total word count of the page
d = keyword density
problem with keyword density is quite simple – it is very, very
easy to manipulate and spam. Spammers used automated
content generators to create highly optimized web pages with high
keyword densities. As search engines started to set limits on
“acceptable” keyword density, spammers got smarter
and smarter and reduced their keyword density as well, making
it especially hard for search engines to separate spam content
from genuine, useful content.
Engines and Keyword Density
search engines could not conceivably check every page manually
(As a rough estimate, Google indexes 8.1 billion pages – and pages
are added daily), and they couldn't tolerate spam in their search
results, search engines devalued keyword density as a ranking
tool. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if keyword density did
NOT affect your rankings – in fact, keyword positioning (placing
the keywords in title tags and header tags) as well as thematic
keyword relevance (a fancy term that refers to how related
your core keywords are to your website's main theme or niche)
is far more important in terms of on-page optimization. And that,
of course, pales in comparison to how important off-page optimization,
or link building, is.
if possible, ignore the bounds of keyword density and focus on
useful, quality content
once you're done with the basics, move on to the next page (or
start building links).
web pages need a minimum number of words to rank well?
myth going around in some search engine forums that you should
have a minimum word count for web pages to satisfy
search engine requirements.
put that myth to rest – there's no minimum requirement for web
pages to rank well – in fact, there are many, many web pages that
rank at the top position for highly competitive terms WITHOUT
having too many words on them – for example, a search for the
term “resume samples” on Google gives a top result
of a page that has ONLY links on it – no serious content. This
is a highly competitive term with over 150,000 searches each month
according to Yahoo Search Marketing – a figure that translates
to almost a million searches each month on Google.
a links page is on top of the pile (click on the link to see it
- resume samples).
other words, word count is not the defining criteria for high
rankings – you could have 250 words, or 500, or 1000, or even
just a 100 words, but that is still a small part of your on-page
optimization, which in itself plays a small part in determining
your website's rankings.
practice, you will always have different types of
pages – some will be main pages for the website or link pages
(both usually lacking too much content), while others will be
article or informative pages with loads of content. The key is
to work on the right page structure for each type of page, and
not the word count.
often should I change the anchor text in my backlinks?
short answer to that is: pretty often. The long
it starts with a definition.
we talk about link-building, it seems necessary to mention organic
SEO – where other websites link to your website “by themselves”
(as opposed to an “artificial” link exchange) because they genuinely
find it useful. Why is this important? Because once you understand
what search engines are looking for in links, you'll know how
to dominate the rankings.
to the question, search engines try to measure the “originality”
of the link – that is, the chances that this link was natural
or “artificial”. Since most of the links (and almost all of the
ones that you will get in the beginning) pointing to your website
are artificial, you have to make them look organic to avoid any
penalties from the search engines.
example, suppose that you are setting up a website on copywriting
– assuming that you have the on-page optimization done and dusted,
let's talk about how you can regularly change your anchor text.
Anchor Link Strategy
we take your core list of keywords:
so on. Now, take each keyword, work it in an attractive
headline and write 1-2 lines describing your website
– no hype, no keyword spamming – make it attractive and useful
to the reader. Make sure that each description is different
– it cannot be totally different, but it should change a bit.
you do that for each keyword, you have 10 or more sets of link
details – the headline makes the anchor text and the
2 lines will act as a description. Once you have this set, start
from the first combination and switch to the next one after 25-30
way you can cycle through your list and maybe get to 300 to 400
backlinks before you get through your set of anchor text and description
combinations. If you have fewer core keywords (a tiny niche),
you can space out the changes – say every 50 links or so.
to do when the list is up? Alter the anchor text
and descriptions for each keyword and do that for the whole list,
then start all over.
you follow this formula not only will you be able to regularly
alter your anchor text (and thus make the link-building process
look natural), but by targeting so many keywords within the list
you can also end up ranking highly for all of them.
field of search engine optimization is unnecessarily cluttered
with incorrect or outdated advice. Often, people tend to “over-analyse”
minor issues, so much so that they miss the big picture.
always: keep it simple, get the basics right,
use the best SEO tools
and you'll get to the top of the search engine rankings in no
time at all.
if you have any questions of your own, make sure you drop me an
All the best,
SEO Elite: SEO Software
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