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Page Ranking Test
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Every day, we receive questions from our clients about how to rank higher on search engines. This is a challenge facing many small businesses, and most have a tiny budget but still want to rank alongside the big boys. Natural search engine rankings are one way to do this without big marketing budgets.

We decided to build a fictional site (http://www.petsandgifts.co.uk and seeing how quickly we could get it ranked on the major search engines without spending any money, only our time. We also wanted to build the site out of Flash, rafter than use the normal HTML design.

Testing keywords

To get my site effectively listed I needed keywords or phrases. These are the words I want my site to be found under when someone performs a search, and the more specific they are, the better. For my company, Pets and Gifts, there were general keywords I could try. I performed searches to see how many terms were returned by:

gifts = 802000000
cats = 110000000
gifts for oet lovers = 282000

These didn't seem good. The sheer volume of pages returned would make it hard to have an impact on my little business. So how about these?

gifts for pet lovers
pet books
pet calendars
pet mugs
coasters
clocks
animal calendars
dog calendars
cats
pigs
2008 calendars
t-shirts
cushions
cups
gifts
new year
Christmas gifts

That was getting better. Using the two- or three- word phrases dramatically cut down on the competitiveness of the search. And "gifts for pet lovers" was a much less competitive word than "pets". This would help me make my choices about which keyword phrases I should use for my site. Experts believe that less is more when it comes to keywords: don't have too many. I had 10-15 on my page, which gave me enough flexibility and reach.

Keywords need to vary from page to page, reflecting the contents of that page. There can be some overlap, but you can take different page contents as an opportunity to expand your list. On our page http://www.petsandgifts.co.uk I wanted to choose words related to pet gifts, such as "ordering pet gifts" or "Norwich pets and gifts”:

Listing and page optimisation

We now have our keywords, so we can now work on getting our site listed. The best way to do this is by having a link from another listed site to your site (http://www.vwdesigns.co.uk). The search engines will then follow the link from that site and start to index your page.

Once our site is listed, its rank on the search engines will depend on how many sites link to ours and how relevant the content is. This is where your keywords will help to produce a highly focused site. Search engines look for consistency and relevancy in a number of different areas of your in-page content and inbound links. These include: the URL of your page (such as http://www.petsandgifts.co.uk); your page title in the HTML (such as "Pets and Gifts"); your keywords metadata in the HTML ("gifts for pet lovers", "Pet Gift" or "Norwich"); your description metadata in the HTML ("A unique range of gifts with animal and pet themes"); your page content; links on your page, including the anchor text; the images on your page, including the name of the image file, and the link set on the image; and finally, referral links to your pages, including the anchor text of the referral link (such as a link on another site referring to yours).

Once you have a set of keywords for each page, go through your site page by page and update the contents so that the keywords are present in each of the areas above. This will ensure that when the search engines do find your site, they will come across focused and relevant content on each page.

We will re-visit this topic, in a few months to how we performed.
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