Jim speaks with Dave Kelly, long-time search engine expert...

"I enjoy some great search engine rankings thanks to Dave. Today he shares some great inside information on ranking..."



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         November 8, 2002                         Today's circulation: 156,921

"A Conversation with a Search Engine Expert"

This week I wrote to one of my ol' friends online, Dave Kelly. Dave is one of the pioneer search engine experts on the web. I was making some updates to my Make A Living Online site and wanted to increase my search engine ranking in the process.

The information Dave shared with me was invaluable and he gave me permission to share our conversation with YOU, my subscribers.

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Dave has been a "search engine guy" since the early days of the Internet and knows how to help websites rank better in the major search engines. In fact, Dave's small 'adjustments' here and there to my websites have boosted my rankings to the very top of some busy engines.

Here is what Dave had to say about two of the very best (and busiest) searching sites on the web, Google and Yahoo!...

Hi Jim,

As you probably realize, the biggest news on the search engine front is the news that Yahoo has renewed with Google. I don't have to tell you that Yahoo and Google are the busiest and most important search engines on the Internet, and understanding how they can help your website traffic is extremely important.

Yahoo just announced their long awaited decision regarding their choice of provider for third party search listings, and that choice once again is Google, ending speculation that they may go with Fast or Inktomi.

But perhaps the biggest news to come out of this announcement is the major change in the way Yahoo is displaying Google listings. Where previously, Google listings were displayed under the web page results, they are now mixed in with the main Yahoo listings and are called web matches. These main results now are supposed to be a combination of results from Yahoo and Google, but they are essentially 'pure Google' right now.

Essentially the bottom line is this... This will be a HUGE boost for sites that rank well in Google. And I'll get to that in a minute. First let me talk a little about Yahoo! On the face of it, this change may hurt people who had good Yahoo listings in categories with very few competing pages, as they will no longer be competing against just a few sites, but against the entire Google database. So now a Yahoo strategy must be looked at very differently.

Obtaining a good Yahoo listing is going to be significantly less important. Before this change the key to doing well in Yahoo was to find search terms with a limited number of competing pages. But Yahoo has essentially reversed the way their directory previously worked. You now have to click to see Yahoo's web directory results, which is exactly the opposite of the way they were previously displaying results. And while this can still deliver some traffic, it becomes far less significant than it was just a few days ago.

If your site is just being launched, a Yahoo listing may still be important but much less so than before this change. But the real important point here is that your site that is listed in Yahoo, needs to also be doing well in Google.

If you own a site that is ranked well in Google you will probably be very pleased with these changes, and sites previously not ranking as high in Yahoo but doing well in Google may now see a huge jump in referrals from Yahoo especially if Yahoo continues to display Google results like they are now.

Like any change, some people are going to be thrilled about this and reap a huge boost, others are going to take a big hit.

What we are also seeing here is Google taking over web searches. With their market share approaching 35% on it's own, and now factoring heavily in Yahoo’s main results, with Yahoo's approximate 35% market share, right there we have nearly 75% market share, and that’s not counting Google’s affiliation with AOL, Netscape and many others. Right now the potential exists for about 70-80% of all web searches coming from a direct or indirect result of a Google listing.

Need I stress any further how important it is to get a great listing in Google? I cannot emphasize enough that how important it is to do well in Google.

OK, so here is what I recommend to you to help your Google rankings.

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For starters, I would ask if you have to free Google toolbar installed into Internet Explorer browser? If not you can download it free at http://toolbar.google.com/ - it shows you your current page rank.

Jim, your http://www.make-a-living-online.com site has a PR of 6 and 240 links pointing to the site. A PR of six is very good but the only way you are going to get a higher page rank is to get other PR 6 and above sites linking to you. At this point with your current high page rank you want to be very careful whom you link to. You do not want to add any outgoing links on your site to sites of lesser quality than yours. In my opinion, Google tends to penalize for this.

The key right now in my opinion is not to go out and secure as many links as possible, Google is far more concerned with the quality of links that point to your site.. And what the linkable text in those links say. For example, if I had a link on my site to your main page which is geared towards internet marketing, the way to ask the other site to display the link would be by using the words internet marketing in the linkable text. This is one thing Google looks for. And they make a direct correlation to the info on your page, especially the title tag.

And if these links come from a site with a high Google page rank, it really can give you a boost, so I think the key for you is to try and find sites that have a PR 6 and above and get them to link to you. It doesn't take a ton of these links to give your site a boost, a handful of links with good anchor text from a high PR site are far superior to a site with 1000 links from low PR sites.

This is why you can often find sites with lower link popularity outranking a site with more links.. it's the quality of those links.

The problem most folks have is obtaining those great links. There are lots of ways to do it, you just have to use your imagination. One technique you might consider is checking customers' URLs when they order. If any customers have high page rank you could offer them some type of discount on your products if they agree to put a link to your site. There are a lot of high PR sites and some of the site owners don't even know. Links from a few good sites would likely offset any lost income many times over.

[Note from Editor: One last thing to remember... it is quality that matters to top search sites like Google and Yahoo. A quality site with solid content will always do better than sites trying to "trick" their way to good ranking. That's why these search sites have such a huge market share -- they provide quality search results. So make sure your website qualifies as such and it will move up the ranks.]

I hope this helps or gives you a few ideas..

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