Wednesday, October 8, 2008

How Google Ranks Websites

Google uses a sophisticated and proprietary algorithm for ranking Web sites that
uses over 100 different criteria in the calculation, each of which is given a specific
weighting which can change over time. Because the algorithm can change, specific
techniques that used to work well may no longer work as well over time. This is
important to remember when your site’s ranking seems to change for no apparent
reason. For this reason, optimizing your site should not be considered as a one-time
task. You should always try, test, and refine your efforts.

With that said, the Google algorithm can be broken down into two major groups of

On-page (keyword) factors. Keyword factors involve how, where and when
keywords are used. Meaning how well your website is optimized for your chosen
keywords, and if those same keywords appear in links that point to pages on your
site. Keyword factors determine page relevance.

Off-page (link) factors. These include the quantity and quality of links that point to
your site. Link factors determine page importance and are strongly related to
Google PageRank (PR).

Very simply put, Google finds pages in its index that are both relevant and important
to a search for a particular term or phrase, and then lists them in descending order
on a search results page.

On-Page Factors and Page Relevance

Keywords are intrinsically related to search terms – those words and phrases that
people enter into a search engine to find specific information. Most people enter 2 to
5-word phrases in Google to find what they are looking for. Google in turn analyzes
all pages in its index and lists the pages which contain those search terms. Each
website usually contains one or two keywords that are repeated more often than
others throughout the site. These keywords dictate the “theme” of a website, and will
be discussed later on.

How well you can define the theme of your site, and how well you can optimize the
use of keywords that comprise the theme of your site, will greatly influence your
ranking with Google.

Google determines the most relevant web pages based on a hypertext search and
analysis of your site AND of other sites that contain links to your site. Specifically,
Google looks to see if the text of a link (the clickable portion) that points to your site,
the title of the linking page, and other content on the linking page, also contain your

Note: When Internet marketers speak of optimizing a site for a search engine, they
are usually talking about improving those aspects and elements of your website that
will improve page relevance.

Off-Page Factors (PageRank) and Page Importance

Page importance is all about links - their quantity, quality, and strength, which we will
discuss later on. This part of the algorithm is also called the Google PageRank (PR).

Google looks for links that point to your site from other websites. Google believes a
link from website A to website B is a “vote” for the importance of website B. In this
way, other websites add votes for your website, which in turn helps increase a pages
PageRank value on your site. Each page on your site has a PR value. Usually the
PR value is the highest for the home page as most people will link to your home
page rather than another page on your site.

The more web pages that link to your site, the more important Google thinks your
site is and hence the higher your PageRank value can be. Moreover, it is the quality,
as well as the quantity, of links that matter – not all links are valued the same.
However, keep in mind that PageRank is but a single (albeit important) factor used in
ranking. Sites that are highly optimized for particular keywords can outrank sites that
are less optimized but have higher PageRank values.

PageRank value is assigned after comparing every page on every site in the Google
index against one another. This is over 3.3 billion web pages! Note that PageRank
does NOT factor in keywords or phrases used on your site.

Note: When Internet marketers speak of increasing your link popularity, they are
generally talking about increasing the quantity and quality of links to your site,
generally through a reciprocal link exchange effort.