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Better placement on Google

Posted on 2005-04-20
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Last Modified: 2010-04-27
What can I do to get better placement on Google.  I have good rankings on Yahoo, MSN, Altavista etc and most of my visitors come from those engines but Google doesnt seem to be doing much - or am I still in the sandbox a bit.
The main area is Ireland, not too bothered about other countries.

www.eatdrinkandsleep.com
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Question by:Gary
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humeniuk earned 2000 total points
ID: 13826605
If I remember correctly from a past question, your site has been up long enough that the sandbox shouldn't still be a factor, but to confirm, how long has your site been live?

Each search engine works differently, either considering different factors or weighting those factors differently.  Nevertheless, it's easier to identify ways in which you can improve the SE appeal of your site than it is to identify which of the areas that could use improvement are more of less of a factor to one or another search engine.  Suffice it to say that if there are problems that can be identified, it is quite likely that those problems would have a different relevance to each search engine.

Having said that, one difference that is widely perceived is that Yahoo and MSN place more emphasis on the number of incoming links than Google, whereas Google places more emphasis on the quality of incoming links than Yahoo and MSN.  You have a good number of incoming links, but most of the ones I looked at aren't that great, having a low PR (www.duquesaestates.co.uk/links/ireland/resources1.html - PR2, www.offplaninvest.com/resources/ireland/resources1.html - PR1, www.koytravel.com/links5.htm - PR0).  Of course, PR isn't everything and your home page has a decent PR itself (PR4).  Additionally, one of these (www.offplaninvest.com) has the same C class IP as your site - 216.130.184.xxx, implying that these sites are somehow related.

A bigger problem is the anchor text of these links - either 'Eat, Drink and Sleep' or 'eatdrinkandsleep.com'.  You want  your keywords to appear in this anchor text and mix up the anchor text as well, using different keywords and in different order, etc.  You can read more about that here - www.seo-guy.com/seo-tutorial/off-page-linking.html.

When you say that your website ranks better on Yahoo and MSN than on Google, what keywords is this for?  And what keywords are you targeting for your home page?  Some words that appear to have a good density on your home page are 'hotels', 'guesthouses', 'restaurants', 'clubs', and 'bars'.  Unfortunately, all of these words owe their frequency to the fact that they are stuffed into the alt tags of your links - ie. <a alt="Hotels, B&B's, guesthouses, bars, clubs and restaurants in Carlow" id=sitemap href="/Carlow/index.html">Carlow</a>.  There is a good chance that in the case of your site (1) Google regards the repetition of virtually identical alt tags for each link to be keywords spam and/or (2) that Google regards alt tag content as less relevant than more naturally occuring content such as headings and body text.

The other question is, are these the keywords you wish to target?  If so, are you sure they are the best ones for your home page?  If your main focus is Ireland, why isn't 'Ireland' one of your keywords, at least for your home page.  My first instinct for this site would be to look at things like 'Ireland visitor information' or 'Ireland visitor guide' or something like that (off the top of my head, not to be taken as a recommendation).  You could then target more specific words, like those above, with your internal pages as appropriate.  The fact is that keyword research and selection is the foundation upon which all of your SEO and online marketing will be built.  IMHO - your first priority should be to start from scratch in terms of keyword selection.  Before doing so, read the excellent post by Duz about this here - www.experts-exchange.com/Q_21272204.html#13032040.

Also regarding keyword density, your page still has a lot of clutter in terms of being very code heavy, ie. your content-to-code ratio isn't very good.  Ideally, you should move away from a table-based layout in order to reduce properly externalize as much of your coding as possible.  Take a look at the validation results for your home page - http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=www.eatdrinkandsleep.com.  This shows some of the invalid code that the search engines will have to navigate to in order to evaluate your site.  With a css-based layout, you have the advantage of being able to present the search engines with a valid, efficient html file emphasizing your content while using an external css file to present that content in an efficient and attractive way to your users.
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by:Gary
ID: 13832149
Hi humeniuk
Thanks for the excellent response.
The site has been live for just about a year now.
I didnt know about the offplaninvest.com being the same, so I'll have it removed.
I will look at getting the anchor text and keywords of the inbound links changed to something more random.  I was planning on getting these to target through to Ireland anyway - so kill two birds with one stone
I had only just changed the alt tags of the home page links as you described thinking this was better, will have to rethink that one.
As for targetted keywords, things like 'hotels in dublin' I know I have no chance of getting high rankings due to the amount people spend to be at the top of the engines and its too generic a term.  I'm happy with getting visitors searching for actual hotel, restaurant etc names, or for places not quite so well known.
I was going to make the home page Irish specific, and in fact I'm in the middle of writing a page of blurb for the home page with the idea that I target specific areas as hyperlinks within the text, e.g. the Irish capital is Dublin, which is ....  and make Dublin an hyperlink to the Dublin specific content.
I keep trying using divs but it keeps going all to pot :o)
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by:humeniuk
ID: 13835132
"I didnt know about the offplaninvest.com being the same, so I'll have it removed."

You don't necessarily have to remove it.  I just point it out because the fact that it has the same C class IP means the link will probably be devalued by Google.  If it's a legitimate link (rather than part of some cross-linking scheme), there's nothing to be lost by leaving it in place.


"I had only just changed the alt tags of the home page links as you described thinking this was better, will have to rethink that one."

Alt tag content is relevant, but the thing to remember is that the content should be (or more importantly - appear to be) naturally occuring.  Repetition of the same set of keywords can certainly appear to be keyword stuffing.  Also, alt tag content isn't as relevant as title, header, and body content - ie. a keyword in a page title or <h1> header is worth far more than a keyword in an alt tag.


"As for targetted keywords, things like 'hotels in dublin' I know I have no chance of getting high rankings due to the amount people spend to be at the top of the engines and its too generic a term."

That makes sense.  Competing for search engine position with very competitive keywords is difficult.  In one sense, you are limited because you need to target keywords that accurately reflect the content and function of your site even if they are competitive.  In such a situation it makes optimizing your internal pages for more specific keywords all the more important.  At the same time, the keyword selection methods that are linked to above both lend themselves very well to selecting keywords that reflect your specific niche and as such can assist in selecting legitimate, but less competitive, keywords.


"I keep trying using divs but it keeps going all to pot :o)"

I can relate to that :)   Unlearning and relearning something so fundamental is a real pain and who has the time anyway?  There are many good design reasons for doing so and also some real SEO benefits, but realistically you can accomplish more with less work by focusing on the other elements discussed.  It is still a good idea to learn CSS at whatever rate your schedule allows and, when you start to see the benefits first hand, you will be motivated and ready to think about a redesign of your existing sites.
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by:Gary
ID: 13842844
It gets worse with Google, the PR has dropped to 2 :-/
Have a look at http://www.eatdrinkandsleep.com/Dublin/index.html if I do something like that for the index page as well but about Ireland and ditto for the other counties will that help.
I will have another attempt at using divs, have already played around and moved all the stuff at the top to the bottom of the page.  For some reason NS totally screws it up.  If you look at the source you'll see the first thing that comes up is the actual blurb about Dublin. Good?
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by:humeniuk
ID: 13844065
"If you look at the source you'll see the first thing that comes up is the actual blurb about Dublin. Good?"

A positive step.  What keywords are you hoping to optimize this page for?  You can check keyword density for any given page with this handy tool - www.webmaster-toolkit.com/keyword-analysis-tool.shtml.


"For some reason NS totally screws it up."

Sadly, it doesn't render properly in Firefox.  Cross-browser compatibility can be tricky.  BTW - one of the best resources I know of for learning CSS is the tutorial at www.w3schools.com/css.  Ultimately, though, the best way to learn is over time and through experience.  
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