SEO Best Practices
2 On-Site Optimization – Site Level
Figure 2: Sample Google PageRank voting illustration
2.1.1 What is PageRank
PageRank as defined in Wikipedia “is a link analysis algorithm, named after Larry Page, used by the Google Internet search engine that assigns a numerical weighting to each element of a hyperlinked set of documents, such as the World Wide Web, with the purpose of measuring its relative importance within the set.”
Asside from the values of the links, the anchor text of the links play a huge role in ranking a page for a given keyword phrase. This not only applies to external links but to internal links as well.
PageRank (PR) is the modern search engine foundation for the commonly used term Popularity. A high PR page can out rank a more relevant page even if the keyword is not present on the page. This was identified when Search Engine Optimizers (SEOs) Google bombed the phrase “miserable failure” which linked to the White House Presidential page. The Google bomb has since been removed.
Google Bombing is the practice of getting massive amounts of links with a set of keyword phrased to rank a page in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). It is also the most common technique for ranking a site. The key is to make it appear natural in link growth.
2.1.2 Passing PR internally
The Google Bombing SERPs gave SEOs an insight into Google’s algorithm, which has not changed in its core since Google’s inception.
Since the home page of most sites is more likely to get linked to, it usually carries the highest page rank. Additionally, internal pages that have in-bound links also link to the home page further boosting its PageRank. To optimally utilize this ranking power is to make sure links to identified entry pages contain the optimization keyword phrases in the site’s navigation.
The more hops a page has from the home page, the lower its PageRank. The ideal scenario is to have all entry points linked from the home page. Consequently, limiting the number of links from the home page ensures that the most page rank is passed.
2.2 Website Link Structure
The ideal link structure is to have all entry point pages linked from the home page. Secondary and tertiary navigation can be used for informational pages that are not targeted as entry points. Site maps have the additional benefit of flattening the link structure and passing PageRank to pages not directly navigable from the home page.
2.3 Website Navigation and Anchor Text
The ideal method is to embed the keyword phrases in the site navigation using plain hypertext anchor links. If image links are used, the ALT attribute should contain the keyword phrase. Additionally, it does not hurt to put the keyword phrases in the Anchor TITLE attribute.
2.4 InURL Command
It is interesting to note that keywords in the URL play a part in ranking a page. Embedding keywords in the URL, be it a folder path or a file name is one of the desired methods for improving relevance.
The InURL command is a method of finding relevant results. It is also notable that when doing regular none command searches that major search engines show bold text in URLs containing the keyword phrase searched.
2.5 Link vs. Directory Structures
One misconception is that website link structure follows physical directory structure. The two should be viewed as mutually exclusive entities. URLs can have deep directory paths with embedded keywords and still be linked directly from the home page.
How a site is structured physically has no bearing on how it is structured navigationally. Deep directory structures with embedded keyword phrases are the ideal method. These deep directory pages can be linked one level down from the home page. If done properly it is optimized 2 ways:
- The anchor text link to the page
- The keywords embedded in the URL
- On-Site Optimization – Page Level
This section covers page level optimization. It covers relevance with respect to a web page’s merits. By improving the relevance of a page this aspect directly affects its ability to rank for the targeted keyword phrase.
As mentioned above, the ideal is to optimize a page for no more than 2 keyword phrases; preferably “nested” keyword phrases. Attempting to optimize for disparate phrases only serves to lessen the relevance for each phrase. For example, optimizing for cow paths and railroad cars makes it difficult to achieve both goals and, goes against the grain of the Information Architecture paradigm.