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SEO - explain google page rank, alexa rank, and others

Posted on 2004-08-29
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Hi,

My web site has finally reached a point where I can begin to concentrate on marketing it, rather than codeing it.  Although I've read how alexa explains their ranking system, and I understand google's page rank is supposed to be an indication of popularity, but something is just not clicking in my understanding of their meanings.  I have a google pr of 5 but very little traffic to my web site.  And I've seen sites with hugh traffic numbers compared to mine with a much lower google pr.  And the same with alexa, I've seen dead pages with much higher rank than mine.  

-1-  Please explain page rank as it applies to google, alexa, and if there is any other ranking system, or links to tools, web sites, etc that tells realistically what other sites do in comparison.  

-2-  What can I do to increase my search engine presence?  I paid an SEO company a large amount, but after 6 months they still had no results to show for it.  I'm not in the top 1,000 sites for any keyword in my category of batteries.  I have lots of text for search engines to capture, and almost every line of text on my home page is from a reverse search engine top results, so something else is seriously wrong with my site.

-3-  Finally, the first box of 9 links in the top of the left margin is totally unnecessary to the function of the web site.  They just add unnecessary clutter.  I'd like to remove them, but they each bring up an additional page with a google rank of 3 (if "www" is added to their url).  Will removing them cause a drop in my page rank and/or a drop in my already low search engine presence?

Thank you for your help.  I will split points.  Please give me some indication of your expertise in seo when giving your opinions to point 3 above.  I've had answers for point 3 from one extreme to another.

Thank you.

Steve
<personal site address removed by PAQ_Man>
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Question by:Steve234
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humeniuk earned 168 total points
ID: 11928265
(1) Page Rank - every search engine has their own means of determining the relative value of a page relative to the keywords searched.  Google's PageRank algorithm is one of the many factors they consider.  You can go to the horse's mouth and get a basic overview of their criteria (http://www.google.com/webmasters/4.html) or a technical one (http://www.google.com/corporate/tech.html).

You can probably drive yourself nuts trying to figure out how they do it, but you don't have to because it doesn't matter.  Why not?  As Google says, "Make pages for users, not for search engines."  This means that the goal of search engines is to deliver users quality sites with useful information.  If that's what the search engines are looking for, isn't it a better use of your time and resources to provide that than it is to try to convince the search engines that you provide that?  If you're not convinced, read on . . .


(2) SEO - The most important thing to remember is to forget about using any tricks, because they generally work against you.  The best way to get SE recognition is to create a quality website, because that is consistent with the objectives of any search engine, to deliver quality websites to their users.  There are lots of people who look for ways around that, but the SEs are constantly refining their methods to focus on that primary objective and they're starting to get pretty good at it.

So what is a quality website?  Firstly, you have to provide lots of useful, original content.  From a design perspective, it has to be clear and uncluttered (both visually and in terms of your coding) so that it is easily accessable and navigable by users (and SE crawlers).  For a basic one-page overview of some of the elements related to the design aspect, see http://earthskater.com/library/seo.asp.

Of course, there are other things you can do to optimize your site.  SEO is a complex and dynamic process.  You have to find good information resources, keep up to date, and learn what works with practice and experience.  A good starting point would be Google's webmaster guidelines (see http://www.google.com/webmasters/guidelines.html).  A good basic starting point for learning SEO is the tutorial at http://www.seo-guy.com/tutorial.html.

What else helps?  Keywords and links.  The best way to think of keywords is as words that someone looking for the kinds of services you offer would type into a search engine to find those services.  You want to put some serious thought into which keywords best represent your website and then use them in your Page Title tag, your Heading tags, your Alt tags, etc. as outlined in the earthskater link above.  You also want to use them in your website content (very important).  Try to use the 'early and often', but never at the expense of compromising the relevance and clarity of your content.

Most search engines use the number and quality of links to your site as an important indication of the relevance and importance of your site.  How do you get links?  First and foremost, you build a quality site with relevant content as above.  If you create a valuable information resource, people will link to you.  You can also exchange links with other websites.  However, make sure they are also quality websites with content that is related to yours.  A link from a poor site won't benefit you at all and remember to avoid Link Farms AT ALL COSTS.  Not only will you not benefit from their link to you, SEs will penalize you for linking to them.  The best place to start is to get your website listed in the appropriate directory at the Open Directory Project (www.dmoz.org).  This ensures that your site will be crawled by Google and numerous other SEs and legit directories.

Again, this is a basic starting point.  You still have to read, try things, and commit to an ongoing learning process.


(3) One thing that search engines don't like is unnecessary info and clutter.  If the links aren't serving any purpose, get rid of them.  However, from the look of the site, I would say they are providing navigation around your site.  You have the drop down menus for navigation, but a SE crawler won't necessarily be able to follow them.  You need easy to follow navigation for SE crawlers to find and index your whole site and text links are about the easiest.  They are also the most conventional and user-friendly.  I'll be that most of your visitors use them for navigation instead of your menus.  I did.

If you elect to do without them, you should add a sitemap that contains text links to your whole website.  Make sure it is one text link away from your home page.

In general, remember that linking to pages with high PR isn't going to benefit you because it is incoming links that boost your PR, not outgoing links (as noted in the secion on links above).  At the moment, you don't have many incoming links.  One is from a cluttered and ineffective links page at http://www.onlinedigitalcamera.com/index.pmg/page-builder/pageid-7.  It is certainly doing you no good.  If you're going to have a links page, make it one text link away from your home page and don't clutter it up with useless code and too many links.  A better link is from http://www.cordlessdrillbattery.com/links.htm.  Note that it is one text link away from the home page and has a PR of 4.  The problem with this one is that there are too many links and many of them are to completely unrelated sites.  Google recommends no more than 100 links per page, so this links page is going to lose its effectiveness as it looks more and more like a link farm.  If the website owner is exchanging links with all those poker and vacation and auto loans sites, he/she is not getting much benefit from the incoming links.

Side note - you should definitely link to www.thebatteryshoppe.com/laptop_notebook.php (for example) rather than thebatteryshoppe.com/laptop_notebook.php, because while the www. essentially doesn't mean anything, most search engines will see and index www.domain.com/page.php and domain.com/page.php as different pages.


I hope this is a good starting point.  If you want to get more specific comments about your site, I would suggest you post the URL in the Online Marketing Topic Area.
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Assisted Solution

by:duz
duz earned 166 total points
ID: 11928939
Steve -

>-1-  Please explain page rank as it applies to google, alexa,

PageRank is one of the methods Google uses to determine a page’s importance.  The actual calculation of PageRank is quite tricky but you can visualize it as a ballot amongst all the other pages on the Web where a link to a page counts as a vote of support. There is a slight twist in that the value of a vote depends on the PageRank of the voting page which is why the calculation is tricky! Google uses over one hundred factors to rank pages in its search engine results pages (SERPs) and PageRank is just one of them.

Alexa rankings are something else entirely. Their data derives from users who have installed and are running the Alexa Toolbar and whenever they visit a site it sends a log of their hit back to Alexa's servers.  The site with the most hits is ranked number one and the second most hits is ranked number 2 and so on.  It is however open to manipulation.
 
>if there is any other ranking system, or links to tools, web sites, etc that tells realistically what other sites do in comparison.

I am not sure what you mean by this question but the three most important ranking systems are Google, Yahoo and MSN because they account for an estimated 80%+ of all searches.

>-2-  What can I do to increase my search engine presence?  I paid an SEO company a large amount, but after 6 months they still had no results to show for it.

I am sorry to hear that but you are not alone. The vast majority of SEO companies are at best incompetent and at worst outright scams. There are a few very good ones and some excellent individuals but finding out who they are is like trying to find a needle in a hay stack if you have no guidance.

I have had a good look at your site and I can see that from the SEO point of view it is a complete mess. The use of poorly implemented doorway pages needs to be addressed right away. I strongly recommend that you get in touch with an expert as soon as possible. You may find my answer to this previously asked question on Experts Exchange a useful starting point in selecting one that will do a good job and not rip you off http://www.experts-exchange.com/Web/Online_Marketing/Q_21016555.html

>-3-  Finally, the first box of 9 links.....Will removing them cause a drop in my page rank and/or a drop in my already low search engine presence?

It will not cause a drop in your PageRank but it will reduce your ranking in the SERPs for certain keyword searches.

>Please give me some indication of your expertise in seo...

See Member Profile http://www.experts-exchange.com/M_333573.html

If you have any supplementary questions please post them in the Web Development ---> Online Marketing channel.

- duz
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Author Comment

by:Steve234
ID: 11929065
Thank you both for your comments.

Duz, are you saying it's better to have a lower number with Alexa, meaning I'm nearer the top?  I'm not at all familiar with Yahoo and MSN ranking systems.  I'll check them out.  Thanks.

What is a doorway page?  Is it one of the 9 pages I link to from the top box in the left margin - the ones I'm considering eliminating?

I'm moving this question to the Web Development - OnLine Marketing section.  I missed it somehow when I was looking where to place this question.  

Humeniuk and duz, please post a comment there so I can award you points, and close this.  

What is the proper way to transfer this question to the OnLine Marketing category?

Thanks.
Steve
<personal site address removed by PAQ_Man>

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Expert Comment

by:duz
ID: 11929252
Steve -

>Duz, are you saying it's better to have a lower number with Alexa,

Yes it means that more people with Alexa Tool Bars are visiting your site. (How many people have you met who have the Alexa TB installed?)

>meaning I'm nearer the top?

Nearer the top in that list, yes.  But since no one uses it order to find a website it doesn't matter where you are in the list.

>I'm not at all familiar with Yahoo and MSN ranking systems.

Only the people employed to design the search algorithms for these companies are familiar with their ranking systems. The rest of us have to make do with the results when we use Yahoo or MSN search.

>What is a doorway page?

A doorway page is a page that is seen by the search engines but not by users. For example here is Google's cache of http://www.the-battery-shoppe.com/

http://216.239.59.104/search?q=cache:Cjnsm9GtGjEJ:www.the-battery-shoppe.com/+%22rechargeable+batteries,+AC+adapters+and+battery+chargers.++If%22&hl=en

However if a user clicks on the link http://www.the-battery-shoppe.com/ they arrive not at the page Google has in it's cache but here http://www.thebatteryshoppe.com/ which is a different page altogether.

So http://www.the-battery-shoppe.com/ is a doorway page, not a very good one and possibly unintentional but potentially dangerous as far as Google is concerned.

>What is the proper way to transfer this question to the OnLine Marketing category?

Ask for it to be moved in the Community Support channel and at the same time you probably want to get the duplicate question you posted in OnLine Marketing deleted.

- duz
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Author Comment

by:Steve234
ID: 11929493
Hi duz,

I've been reading the info at the site at seoconsultants.com I got from reading your previous answer - amazing info there.  I will open several more questions based on what I read there so far.

The "doorway" pages referenced above concern me.  (Actually, it's the same site for both url's.  It's how the site looked a couple weeks ago.)  That could be why I'm ranked at the bottom of google.  Actually, I didn't know they were doorway pages.  I originally thought I would create different se optimized web sites, host them somewhere and have them link to the product database at thebatteryshoppe.com.  As of now, I have about a dozen similar url's including thebatterysource.com, thebatterystore.com, thebatterysupply.com etc.  Right now they're all only just url's, they just sit at godaddy and all point forwarded to thebatteryshoppe.com.  I don't have masking activated, but do you think I'd be better off, from an seo perspective, if I don't have the url's point anywhere?  I've never done anything with any of them yet, so the customers lost because they see a "page not found" error would be minimal.  Your opinion please.  Do you think I should just put them (the url's) up for sale?

(By the way, how did you find the-battery-shoppe.com url?)

Thank you.

Steve
<personal site address removed by PAQ_Man>
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LVL 24

Expert Comment

by:duz
ID: 11929685
Steve -

>Right now they're all only just url's, they just sit at godaddy and all point forwarded to thebatteryshoppe.com.

That is fine and quite normal - people register a few domains decide to use one and have the rest point to it, no problem.  But no advantage either unless one of the domains is a common misspelling in which case there might be a few 'type in' visitors. So it doesn't really matter is the answer.

What you want to avoid is pages with content that are redirected because this can be done for genuine reasons or to try and fool the search engines.  At the moment the-battery-shoppe.com has a 302 (temporary) redirect, which is what GoDaddy use but either the content should be removed or the redirect changed to a 301 (permanent). Probably better just to remove the content and treat the domain like your dozen others.  Then forget about them all and concentrate on thebatteryshoppe.com.

>That could be why I'm ranked at the bottom of google.

No. there is no single reason that you are not ranking well for your keywords on Google.  As I say the site is a mess as far as SEO is concerned but there is a huge opportunity to get lots of targeted traffic. At the very least you should be near the top for keyword searches on battery models like UIM 486 and the hundreds of others. Great potential here!

>how did you find the-battery-shoppe.com url?

I took a text string  "rechargeable  batteries  ac  adapters  and  battery  chargers  if " from thebatteryshoppe.com and searched in Google for it and the-battery-shoppe.com shows up. What I was doing was searching for duplicate pages which also cause problems with Google.

- duz
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Author Comment

by:Steve234
ID: 11940089
Hi duz,

First, about the url the-battery-shoppe.com, it does not and never has had any content.  It simply points to my site, www.thebatteryshoppe.com like the other url's point to it.  

A couple sub-questions:
1- Is "pointing" to a domain technically the same as "forwarding" a domain name?  If not, which should I use in regards to seo for all my domain names?  And is masking the domain preferrable?

2-  I don't know what a  temporary (302) vs permanent (301) redirect is, and neither does tech support at godaddy.com.  Could you please explain it a bit more?

3-  There are about 50 sites that exchange links with me, but I'm not sure of the best way to have other sites display my links from an seo perspective.
What I presently use on other people's sites are these three:
<A href="http://www.TheBatteryShoppe.com/">www.TheBatteryShoppe.com</A>
or
<A href="http://www.TheBatteryShoppe.com/">www.The-Battery-Shoppe.com</A>
or
<A href="http://www.TheBatteryShoppe.com/">The-Battery-Shoppe.com</A>

I was told its best to use the name of the site in the link.  Do you agree?  Or would something like the following be better from googles perspective for link exchanges:
<A href="http://www.TheBatteryShoppe.com/">Laptop Notebook Camcorder and phone batteries</A>

Thank you for your help and insights.  And thanks to anyone else who may comment on this question.

Steve
www.TheBatteryShoppe.com

> the site is a mess as far as SEO is concerned but there is a huge opportunity to get lots of targeted traffic. At the very least you should be near the top for keyword searches on battery models like UIM 486 and the hundreds of others. Great potential here!

Am I permitted to ask if I can hire someone here to unlock some of my site's seo potential?  My web site has the email address where anyone can contact me directly.  Thanks.
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Assisted Solution

by:me_xan
me_xan earned 166 total points
ID: 11940154
Hi there,

it can be pretty confusing really!  Alexa toolbar bases its ranking on a popularity count which is measured through sites that uses having the toolbar go to (a pretty flawed methos if you ask me), and Google uses PageRank amongst other algorithms to mathematically establish whih sites are the most relevant to a query.  Your page rank score is based heavily on links in and out from your site.  It is spread evenly accross your webite.  To improve page rank i suggest getting links in to your site from websites that are relevant to yours (this is very improtant).  Make sure you have reciprocal links (that means that when you link out to a site, make sure they link back or you will leak page rank).  
Otherwise, I had a look at your site, and it seems that the following could be improved:
. Make sure your anchor text (hyperlinks) contain keywords that you are trying to compete for (this scores additionally in google)
. Make sure that your content is optimised.  At the moment, it has a lot of text but its not doing you any favours.  Use wordTracker or the overture keyword suggestion tool to find out which keywords are actually being searched for in your market area.
. Your meta-tags need drastic improvement!!  Use the key terms in them and read a tutorial on how to write them, its not rocket science and it can really make a difference.

http://www.webdeveloper.com/html/html_metatags.html
http://searchenginewatch.com/webmasters/article.php/2167931

I hope that this help you out.
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Author Comment

by:Steve234
ID: 11950950
Hi and I thank everyone for their comments and help.  

When I hired the previous seo company, as far as I can tell, they did nothing except create my metatags.  Apparently they didn't even do that correctly.  I'm presently considering my next moves.  

Thanks.

Steve
<personal site address removed by PAQ_Man>
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Expert Comment

by:humeniuk
ID: 12189701
Still interested, but happy to defer to your judgement, Venabili.
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Author Comment

by:Steve234
ID: 12262452
hi,

I will let you know my decisions shortly.  

Thank you everyone for your help.

Steve
<personal site address removed by PAQ_Man>
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Expert Comment

by:Venabili
ID: 12357886
Update please...

Venabili
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