What Google Likes (And What It Hates)

I came across an interesting article at SEOmoz the other day that talked about the top 35 factors that SEO experts believe Google uses in it’s page rank algorithm.  While no one is exactly sure how Google ranks pages (most experts seem to think that there are over 200 factors in all), there is some agreement on many of the major factors that influence that ranking.  If getting a Google ranking is something you are hoping to accomplish for your blog, this knowledge is gold.

When trying to figure out what counted for and what counted against your site, each expert gave the factor a rank between 1 and 5, with 1 representing low or no influence, and 5 being high influence.  The results were averaged to come up with the final score.

What Google Loves

1.) Keyword Use in Title Tag (Score: 4.9) – This was an almost unanimous choice as the number one factor.  If you want your site to rank well for your chosen keyword, you better get those keywords into your pages title.  If you really want to optimize this, make sure that you not only use the words, but use them grouped like you think people will be searching for them.  If your blog is about Facebook Widgets, use the phrase that way, not “Widgets for Facebook”  You may still get some love from Google when you use the words in the wrong order, but not nearly as much.

2.) Anchor Text of Inbound Link (Score: 4,4) – What this means is that while inbound links influence your pages ranking, the biggest boost will come from getting inbound links that contain your keyword phrase.  A link with the “Facebook Widgets” will mean more valuable than a link from “Facebook Add-ons.”

3.) Global Link Popularity of Site (Score: 4.4) – If you want to rise in the rankings, you have to make friends that
are more influential than you are.  You will never soar if you are tied to a rock.  I’m not exactly sure how you can program an ego into an algorithm, but Google seems to have found a way.  If it likes a page, it expects you to like that page as well.  And if a page that Google thinks highly of likes you, then Google will assume you must have something going for you.

4.)  Age of Site (Score: 4.1) – For Google’s purposes, your sites age is when Google first started indexing the content.  When you are brand new, you will spend a little time in the sandbox before Google lets you go out and play with the other kids.  There seems to be a belief that while Google has always factored age into it’s rankings, this has become more of a factor over the past couple of years.

5.) Link Popularity within the Site (Score: 4.0) – I’ve always heard that linking to yourself is important, but this is a little more specific.  What this means is that if a lot of your internal links point to one page, that page will get more of a boost.  This gives you the ability to focus your articles toward a particular phrase, and consistently linking back to an anchor page that you want to rank well on Google.

What Google Hates

1.) Server is Often Inaccessible to Bots (Score: 3.8) – Not only does Google want it’s bots to be able to see your page, it wants to be able to see it every time it looks.  When the bot looks and your page isn’t there, you will drop in the rankings.  If you have used code that instructs bots how to look at your page, you want to make sure that it is formatted correctly, and that Google can see what you want it to see.

2.) Content is Very Similar or Duplicate of Content Already in the Index (Score: 3.6) – Write original content for everything you post on the internet.  I’m not talking about copying material from someone else’s site (if you do that, you deserve to dwell in the Google basement).  I am talking about not posting your article in more than one place.  I don’t care how good you think the piece is, it only gets posted one time!

3.) External Links are of Low Quality (Score: 3.6) – I wrote before about Google liking links from sites that rank higher than yours.  This is the other side of that coin.  Too many links from sites that rank lower than you will drag you down.  When doing link exchanges, make sure you are targeting quality sites, and not just agreeing to tie yourself to anyone who comes along.  The better the link quality, the more your ranking will be helped

4.) Participation in Link Schemes (Score: 3.3) – There are a lot of “link farms” and “buy-a-link” sites that tell you that the more links you get, the more Google likes you.  That is true for quality links, but Google doesn’t really seem to care a whole lot for massive pages that are just a collection of outbound links.  In fact Google dislikes them so much that it will ding your rankings if you take part in one of these programs.

5.) Duplicate Title or Meta Tags on Many Pages (Score: 3.3) – Give each of your pages a unique name.  If your permalink settings title the page the same as the title of your blog post, make sure each post has a unique name.  Don’t title every post “Facebook Widgets.”  Show a little creativity (after all, you are a writer).  You can still use your keyword phrase as much as possible, but do it with some variety: “Track Friends with Facebook Widgets” or “Facebook Widgets for Twitter.”  I think you get the point.

Google’s goal is to look for relevant content on the web.  If you are focused on producing a quality web site, and you make friends with other quality web sites, you’ll do alright with Google.  As soon as you start trying to scam the system, or running tricks to increase your rankings, you run the risk making Google angry, and you won’t like Google when it gets angry.

Imran Mir

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