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Site speed and Google

Monday, March 8th, 2010

A few months ago, Google’s Matt Cutts said that Google was considering taking site speed into consideration as one of many potential ranking factors for search results in 2010. However, this would not trump relevance. It would be taken more into consideration when there are two sites of relatively equal relevance, but one site loads faster and delivers a better user experience.

For those getting worried, it’s probably not going to be something where all of a sudden all of the faster sites are ranking better and the slower ones are doing worse. But it does enhance the user experience, and studies show that an optimized site enjoy increased conversions by up to 16%. So, if you’re not optimizing your site’s performance for Google, maybe that’s a good enough reason on its own.

If you are wondering how you can make your site go faster, you should think simple; take out all the unnecessary material (HTML instances), optimize (shrink down) your images for web use, write valid code (by W3C standards) and use compression for the output (in case of dynamic sites). This is the basic checklist for steps to take towards optimizing your site’s speed.

Effective link building methods

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Link building is the process of building back-links to your site. The more back-links (links from other sites to your site) a site has, the higher it ranks on the search engines. It would be fair to say that link building is much more valuable than regular search engine optimization, especially taken into consideration the neutralization of meta tags and the limited effect that search engine friendly semantic code has nowadays.

Link building methods have changed from time to time and a specific method that worked before may not work at this point. This is due to changes in the search ranking algorithms over time, and in some cases abuse. If a specific link building method has been abused too much, it is likely that method will not work anymore.

Do you know which link building methods work today?
Below are some of the most popular link building methods that still apply.

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Article Submission

You can publish your article in article directories to gain backlinks to your site from your published articles, and get some traffic as a bonus. Article submission is a great way of building back-links as it provides you with absolutely relevant contextual back-links that Google loves.

Directory Submission

Directory submission used to work lot better before, but it is still a popular link building method that still works if done properly. However, most of the directories are not worth submitting to. You will have to check if they are quality first; in other words, find out their Google PR (but also the number of sites listed, the number of back-links the directory has and the age of the directory).

DMOZ is a directory that is worth submitting to and can provide great benefit in your SEO campaign. It may take months to get the approval from DMOZ and the chance of getting approved is quite slim. A lot of small directories use the DMOZ directory categories so getting listed with DMOZ would mean getting bonus listings on several other directories.

To be honest, paid inclusions might not worth your money, even to well known directories.

Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking worked like charm only a few months ago. If bookmarked on authority and quality bookmarking sites like Digg, then you can still make good use of social bookmarking. Other than back-links, social bookmarking also offers you some bonus traffic depending on where you submit to.

Blog Commenting

Public commenting has gone through lots of spamming already, so you need to work a little harder here. It is best to find quality blogs related to your category and make on-topic relevant comments. Not only do your comments add value to the blog post, you can have a good chance of getting your comments approved and staying on the post page.

Press Releases

Submitting to quality free press release sites can help. Here is a list of 20+ free press release distribution sites to get your started. For those reading the whole article here, the quality check routine applies here as well, and may I add that quality are usually popular sites (meaning they got a decent Alexa rank, at least below 1M).

Social Media and Free Blog Sites

You could write articles that are relevant to your site and publish them on popular social media (facebook, twitter, myspace) and free blog sites Web 2.0 sites with your keywords hyperlinked to your site. Some of the authority sites are Squidoo, Hubpages, Blogger and

This method is very popular these days because it actually works great. It results in quality, relevant contextual back-links that Google and other major search engines love.

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If you can utilize the above methods to their fullest potential, you will have solid grounds for quality back-links generation and more traffic for your site.

Google introduces “Nearby” tool

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Google announced the availability of the “Nearby” tool in the Search Options panel, that should help you refine your searches by location. This feature is available on the domain in English only at the moment.

See excerpts from the post on the official Google blog by Jackie Bavaro below.

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Location has become an important part of the way we search. If you’re a foodie looking for restaurant details, food blogs or the closest farmer’s market, location can be vital to helping you find the right information. Starting today, we’ve added the ability to refine your searches with the “Nearby” tool in the Search Options panel. One of the really helpful things about this tool is that it works geographically — not just with keywords — so you don’t have to worry about adding “Minneapolis” to your query and missing webpages that only say “St. Paul” or “Twin Cities.” Check it out by doing a search, clicking on “show options” and selecting “Nearby.”

Nearby tool in Google's Search Options panel

You can choose to see results nearby either your default location or a custom location, and you can narrow down to results at the city, region or state level. Try these examples:

[things to do on st. patrick’s day] – In the Minneapolis region
[food blogs] – Near you (default location)
[farmers market] – Near the city of Ithaca
[dmv] – In the same state as Tucson

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The question is “Would that be accurate enough?”. Well, at first it would not be that accurate, but this is the reason it has begun as part of the English only Google domain. Though it certainly is a step forward, helping users customize their searches further and get fine-tuned results a little easier.

Google ranking and meta tags

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Google confirmed that it does not use the keywords meta tag in web ranking. While this might be new to some people, Google actually ignored this tag since its foundation, back in 1998. The reason is obvious and explained below. Google also does not use the description meta tag for its search ranking.

The four most popular questions regarding how Google handles meta tags are answered by Matt Cutts, part of Google’s Search Quality Team.

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Q: Does Google ever use the “keywords” meta tag in its web search ranking?
A: In a word, no. Google does sell a Google Search Appliance, and that product has the ability to match meta tags, which could include the keywords meta tag. But that’s an enterprise search appliance that is completely separate from our main web search. Our web search (the well-known search at that hundreds of millions of people use each day) disregards keyword metatags completely. They simply don’t have any effect in our search ranking at present.

Q: Why doesn’t Google use the keywords meta tag?
A: About a decade ago, search engines judged pages only on the content of web pages, not any so-called “off-page” factors such as the links pointing to a web page. In those days, keyword meta tags quickly became an area where someone could stuff often-irrelevant keywords without typical visitors ever seeing those keywords. Because the keywords meta tag was so often abused, many years ago Google began disregarding the keywords meta tag.

Q: Does this mean that Google ignores all meta tags?
A: No, Google does support several other meta tags. This meta tags page documents more info on several meta tags that we do use. For example, we do sometimes use the “description” meta tag as the text for our search results snippets, as this screenshot shows:

meta description

Even though we sometimes use the description meta tag for the snippets we show, we still don’t use the description meta tag in our ranking.

Q: Does this mean that Google will always ignore the keywords meta tag?
A: It’s possible that Google could use this information in the future, but it’s unlikely. Google has ignored the keywords meta tag for years and currently we see no need to change that policy.

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In a nutshell, the phrase “content is king” still applies and it’s very likely this will be the case for many years to come. If you have quality content, search engines will eventually appreciate it; just make sure it is well written and has proper titles… oh, and keeping it simple and clean usually helps.

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