Getting Listed & Ranked in Google, Yahoo and Bing
Getting listed in Google and the other popular search engines is one of the most effective ways of directing free, targeted traffic to your website.
However, a lot has changed over the years and getting ranked is not as easy as it used to be.
So make sure you take time to read this entire article.
Below you'll discover what the search engines look for when determining your page rank so you can learn how to optimize your pages for best results.
This is often called SEO or search engine optimization.
The Evolution of Search Engine Optimization & What Google Wants
In the video below, I take you through the history of SEO and what you need to know about ranking in Google today!
How Search Engines Determine Your Rank
Before you try to add your site to the search engines, you should understand what they look for when they decide how to rank your site.
Just because your site is listed/indexed doesn't mean you'll get traffic. You have to make sure your site is search engine ready.
The general rule of thumb is that most engines use a "formula" to determine keyword relevancy. The technical term is called an "algorithm", and each search engine has its own unique algorithm that it uses to rank pages.
Generally, this magic formula consists of your page title, overall body content and the number and quality of links (backlinks) pointing back to your site, social media influence, etc.
It's important to note that every engine is different. Some may look at inbound links (number of people linking to you), others may place more emphasis on your body content.
Backlinks are really the foundation of ranking well with most engines. The more relevant, quality sites that link to you (one-way, not link exchange), the better you will rank overall.
That does not mean you should go around paying for links because it is against the guidelines of most search engines today. In fact, Google began penalizing services that were charging customers to build up their backlinks.
Google considers that unnatural linking because anyone can do it. It's also not a great way for them to gauge how authentically popular a site is because anyone can buy links or participate in link exchanges.
That's why many people have lost their rankings over the years. Google began devaluing certain link building practices that used to benefit websites in search.
Many websites were ranking on the first page just because they bought links or participated in link building schemes. So the sites that ranked well weren't necessarily the most popular, just the ones that bought or obtained the most links.
As a result, Google adjusted their algorithm to discount many of the linking practices people once used.
I've always been one to build up my backlinks naturally by just focusing on writing content. People link to my content voluntarily and my backlink profile grows naturally. I don't spend time chasing links or looking for ways to increase my backlinks.
Yes, it's a slower process, but I'm playing by the rules and don't have to worry about violating any SE guidelines.
You also need to know about meta tags. These are hidden descriptors that appear at the beginning of your HTML code, inside your <head> tag. They are invisible to your visitor's eyes, but search engine spiders can read them.
They usually consist of a title, description, and keyword tag and they look something like this:
<title>Title of Your Site</title>
<meta name="description" content="Description of your site here.">
<meta name="keywords" content="keywords separated by commas">
Because of abuse, search engines now put less emphasis on certain tags when ranking pages, but you should still include them because they do use them to display information about your site.
For example, whatever is inside the <title> tag is what the search engines will use as the title of your site in the search results. You want to use keywords that describe your page and entice visitors to click.
Watch a Video on Adding Meta Tags
Note: Bloggers do not need to manually insert this code as there are places to insert your title, description, etc. in the "Edit" most when you are creating your posts.
WordPress plugins like the All in One SEO Plugin allow you to specify a different title for your meta <title> than your actual page title.
Google, Bing and Yahoo
There are a handful of engines out there that bring traffic, but the reality is a very large percentage of search engine traffic comes from Google, Yahoo and Bing.
Yes, there are other engines like AOL, etc, but they pull their results from the big 3.
As far as getting listed goes, all search engines have spiders that roam the web and add sites to their databases as they find them. So the easiest way for Google to index/list your site is to get linked from a site already in Google's index.
No matter what blogging platform you use, you should still create an account with Google Webmaster Tools.
Getting Ranked in Google
Getting into Google is not hard. The challenge is getting ranked for your target keywords -- especially if they are competitive. How well you rank largely depends on how many relevant, quality sites link to you.
And as social media matures, now the engines are beginning to use your connections to influence your rank.
For example, if you're logged into Google and do a search for something, the results that show up may be heavily influenced by who is in your social circles in the Google Plus Network. You can connect with my website on the network here.
Also, if you are logged out of Google, the results may be altogether different from when you were logged in.
Google is moving more toward personalized search, which means no two people will see the same results when they perform keyword searches.
Target Long Tail Keywords
It's much easier to rank for "woman's shoe size 10" than it is to rank for "women's shoes."
Unfortunately too many people ignore this tip and still target keywords that are nearly impossible to rank for these days because the competition is so tough.
These days it's crucial that you understand how to conduct proper keyword research if you want to generate organic search traffic.
WordPress Pages vs. Posts and SEO
Some people believe that the search engines favor posts over pages or vice versa.
I've found that it doesn't really matter. The engines care more about content, social media shares and links pointing to the content than they do the structure of the URL.
Here's my take on pages vs. posts in WordPress.
Setting up Google Authorship is important and you should do this as soon as you create your website.
This is how you officially tag your content and tell Google you own and created it.
AuthorRank is tied to Google Authorship. Once you tag your content with your name, you can build up your Your AuthorRank, which is your author profile according to Google.
So if you write a guest post on a related blog and that post gets shared a lot on Twitter, Facebook, etc. that will positively influence your AuthorRank -- which may have an impact on how your site ranks for the keywords you target.
Getting Listed and Ranked With Bing-Yahoo
Bing and Yahoo are now search alliances. In other words, Yahoo search has a Bing-powered backend. So once you setup a Webmaster Tools account and create a sitemap for Bing, you're covered for Yahoo as well.
Just like Google, Bing-Yahoo takes quality inbound links into account.
Less than 1% of my search engine traffic comes from Bing-Yahoo. I mainly focus my efforts on Google these days.
One component of ranking well in the search engines is proper keyword research. It's all about finding less competitive phrases so you can optimize your search engine traffic.
Paying for Google Traffic With AdWords
Did you know you can actually pay to be on top of the Google.com search results? It's called Google AdWords and it's based on a pay per click system.
So if you want to rank for "blue widgets" you bid on that keyword with other advertisers and your ad displays in the sponsored listings on Google.com.
This can be a great way to drive business, but make sure you read this overview of AdWords before starting.
Need More Info?
If you're just getting started creating your website and you want to make money like I do with a content/affiliate website, you may want to download my ebook Niche Website Success to guide you along.
I go into much more detail on search engine optimization, social media strategies and marketing.
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