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Search engine optimization. It’s a controversial topic these days. Lots of professionals have their own opinions about what constitutes a good SEO strategy. Some people insist that a solid keyword strategy is the only thing that matters, while other SEO pundits lambast the “keyword” contingent. I’ve been involved in this field long enough now that there are three solid truths in the SEO field, at least as of today.
The first is that keyword phrases do matter and will always matter, to an extent. Search engines will always need the ability to extract relevant and important information from the web. The text of your site makes up the content that must get judged, one way or the other. The last two truths are just as important. The first is that social networking also drives relevance. If you aren’t taking advantage of that, then you’re letting your site stagnate. The second is that links still matter as well.
Evaluating Your True SEO Ranking
With those three truths in mind, I’m going to help you judge your own site’s accurate SEO ranking. I did not call it “PR” ranking, or pagerank, because that is truly an artifact of the past. There is a new sort of “ranking” that you should use based on all factors that search engines take into account. In this article, I’m going to help you determine the true SEO value of your site.
Make Sure You List Highly For Important Keywords
You should already have a list of about 5 to 10 critical keywords that you want to perform well for in Google. They should be focused on the content of your site.
Take those keyword phrases and search the Google, Bing and Yahoo search engines for them. File through the listings and determine what position you land in. But beware of false rankings when you are logged in, such as shown here.
When I’m logged into Google, I rank #2 for the search term “secret societies”. That’s a false positive. If I log out, I find that I actually list somewhere around #10 for that term. However, when logged out of Google, conducting a search for “top secret cults” shows that I really do list second, so that’s an accurate result for that term.
Go through each of your keywords and then give it a score based on the following formula that I developed. (x is placement position)
(100/x) * .60 = Google score
(100/x) * .20 = Bing Score
(100/x) * .20 = Yahoo score
If you rank 10th in Google, 5th in Yahoo and 4th in Bing, then your “keyword” score is 6 + 4 + 5 = 15
Anything above 10 is good, 30 is very good, 50 is excellent and above 70 is top-tier.
Determining Your Incoming Links
There are countless tools that help you determine your number of backlinks. I’ve covered Traffic Travis previously, and a while back Linda covered a number of sites that will show you your incoming link count. A couple of my favorites are Domain-Pop, as shown here –
– or Backlink Watch, as shown below. This is one of my favorites for a quick overview of my most recent stats for incoming links.
By far, my favorite tool – because you can get the most accurate picture of incoming links to your site – is definitely Google Webmaster Tools.
Take a look at the “Total Links” and also pay attention to “How your data is linked“. Those links can show you what people value about your site and feel compelled to link to.
Judge Your Influence On Social Networks
Today, more than ever, social networks are playing a giant part in how search engines judge you. Only a year or so ago, only Twitter and Facebook were key. More recently, Google Plus is critical. So, to determine your value to search engines, you need to evaluate your site’s value on the social networks. Mahendra wrote a great article listing some great tools for this. My favorite is Klout.
I love Kout because it incorporates everything – Twitter, Facebook, Google + and more – add whatever networks you want to use, or leave any of them out.
You can use your Klout score as a baseline to work on improving your overall social networking score. The higher you can move this score, the higher you will rank in the search engines, guaranteed.
Of course, if you really love Facebook, you need to have a Facebook Page for your site, and so you should be using Facebook Insights.
It’s the best way to see what impact different posts have on how many people link or share your articles – so use it, study it, and learn from it.
Check The Number Of Broken Links
Once again, the single best tool to analyze your site links is Google Webmaster Tools. Just click on “Diagnostics” and “Crawl errors” to see a report of Google crawler errors. Most of these will be broken links – 404 not found errors. You should work hard to get this list to zero.
The number of broken links listed here is another factor for your overall “SEO Ranking”. For every broken link, you are hurting your search engine value significantly. A part of any good SEO regimen is going back constantly and removing or fixing broken links. Do this, and you’ll see your search engine placements skyrocket.
There are many issues that determine your value and relevance to search engines – far too many to list in this one article. However, the four factors that I’ve listed here are the four issues that will have the greatest affect on your SEO quality over any other factor out there. Just improve any one of these factors, and you’ll almost immediately notice results (or at least the next time your site gets crawled).
So give it a try and let us know if you were able to improve your standings in the search engines. Do you have any other tips for readers in addition to these? Share your own thoughts and insights in the comments section below.
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