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    How Google works - SEO Tips

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Google doesn’t disclose
exact details of its patent "relevance algorithm" that it uses to rank sites in its search results. But it’s possible to deduce how the algorithm works by trial and error methods - systematically changing different aspects of a page and noting the results in Google searches.

Over the past ten years we’ve determined by these methods that what Google does, in effect, is to score each page that it indexes on a number of key factors against each keyword. It also gives a weighting to each factor.

The relevance factors that it scores include:-

The domain name (URL)
The page title
The keyword meta tag*
The Description meta tag*
Keyword frequency in normal text
Keyword density in normal text
Keyword proximity in normal text
Keywords in heading 1 (heading 2 etc)
Keywords in picture titles
Keywords in alt tags
Keywords in anchor text for links

* Google says that it does not take the keyword and description meta tags into account when assessing relevance. Empirical tests suggest that they do have an effect.  Yahoo and Bing do take these meta tags into account.

Google also takes into account the amount of traffic that visits a site from a keyword search. What this means is that the higher a page ranks in a search on relevance to a keyword, the more people are likely to visit it and so the higher it will be ranked on traffic! Thus "to him who hath it shall be given and to him who hath not it shall be taken away."

Note that the Page Rank Google assigns to a page is not the same thing as that page’s ranking in the search result listing against any particular keyword. Page Rank, on a scale of 0 to 10, is a measure of how probable it is that the page will be found on the internet, or in practical terms, how important it is. A page like the home page of Guardian Unlimited is ranked 9 out of 10 because it gets 20 million unique visitors a month. So pages from the Guardian are likely to figure in many searches, especially on keywords drawn from news and current affairs. But the Guardian will usually rank low in a search on "molecular biology" because that keyword is not usually prominent on its pages.

It’s perfectly possible (and not uncommon) for a page with a Google Page Rank of 0 to rank higher in search results for a particular keyword than a page from an "important" website if that page is optimised effectively. All it takes is the know-how.

The third factor that Google assesses is the number and value of inbound links to each page.

Knowing the weighting given to each relevance factor, and knowing ways to increase page traffic and inbound links are the secrets of effective SEO. It is through optimising these elements that we have produced the high rankings illustrated here >>>.


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