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Optimizing for top Google rankings includes a number of factors. In Part 1 of 3 we discussed onsite optimization. In Part 2 we will touch on incoming links as well as using Google Webmaster Tools.

LINKS
Links are very important in today’s Google rankings, but just how many links you need will depend on both the competitiveness of your target phrases, and the quality of the incoming links themselves.

Essentially the number one rule of links is to keep it relevant! Topical relevance is very important in order for inbound links to give your site the most value. If the page that links to you is relevant that is good, if the entire site linking to you is relevant, that is better.

First to get an idea of how many links you may need, take a look at the top 10 ranking sites in Google and record how many links Yahoo is noting for each site. (This is because Google does not display anywhere near all the links they have noted). The average of this count is often a good indication of how many links your site may need. Read more…

The Fantomaster blogged about a rather interesting new service called SubmitLinks.com that has launched despite the war Google formally started on paid links.

The service uniquely provides users with the ability to buy one way text links for a one time fee (guaranteed for 6 months). Here is a quote from the home page:

SubmitLinks.com offers permanent one way text links for a one time fee. The text links we provide have a Google PageRank between 1 and 5 and are placed on a wide variety of different web sites. In addition, links are placed on web pages relevant to your web site subject.

There is a minimum purchase of $300. Text Link pricing: (one time fee)

It should be interesting to see how this pans out. In my opinion this company has a good chance of doing well but this is certainly not a market segment I would be interested in jumping into right now.

All-in-all it merits mentioning that buying text links is playing with fire these days. That said, if you do it carefully your rankings are very likely to improve.

Loren Baker over at SearchEngineJournal.com announced that Matt Cutts had confirmed the PageRank update that happened last week was ‘primarily’ a response to link selling. No additional information was provided except that Google would be continuing to look “at additional sites that appear to be buying or selling PageRank.”

If your sites’s PageRank was damaged by this update Loren suggests taking a close look at your site and ironing out any wrinkles before asking for reconsideration via Google’s Webmaster Tools. Be CERTAIN that your website is wrinkle free otherwise you may get yourself in hotter water if you tell Google to give your site special attention.

IMPORTANT
Remember that it is always wise to wait for the fallout to clear before making any considerable changes to your website in response to a search engine update. Often we find that when search results stabilize many falsely affected websites are automatically reinstated – at least partially. Here’s hoping that the same happens this time around.

This week the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog announced an addition to Google’s spam reporting form for people to report sites that appear to be buying paid links in order to influence search engine rankings. This addition ties in with Matt Cutt’s none-too-subtle warning at a recent SMX Advanced interview with Danny Sullivan. Matt essentially reinforced to the audience that buying links is against Google’s guidelines and that those who are buying links may feel the heat soon as Google tries to patch this chink in its armor (see the video below).

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Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

Google and the "www" Issue

It would appear as if both www and non-www versions of websites are no longer being treated by Google as separate pages, at least where Page Rank is concerned.

We know that the visible PR in the tool bars is only a loose indication of a site’s actual PR, but it can still be frustrating when you see a low PR for the non-www version, and a higher PR for domains with the www. Recently we have noticed that the PR displayed is now the same for both versions.

I have checked out a few sites where I know the non-www version was displaying a lower PR, and now all are equal. This is certainly a good thing as it is likely a step in the right direction where having both versions will not present any duplicate content issues.

Until such time that duplicate content is no longer a potential hazard, it is still highly recommended to use mod rewrites to permanently 301 redirect traffic to one version of your site. This will eliminate the duplicate content concerns when pertaining to www issues. If you currently use a Google Webmasters account, we also recommend you select the preferred domain to have the site displayed the way you want. For more details on how to play it safe and consolidate www and non-www links here is a tutorial published exclusively at WilsonWeb.com and written by Ross Dunn.

In virtually all situations sites which are visible with both the www and non-www versions are not attempting anything fishy, so it only makes sense that Google should treat both versions as the same URL.

Repeatedly my sales and consulting staff find themselves explaining that using duplicate content can and will negatively affect search engine rankings and it is heartbreaking to see clients having to rebuild rankings due to such a simple mistake. As a result, I felt it was time to write this article and hopefully dispel many misled website owners.

Why write an entire article on something as simple as duplicate content? Well probably because it is not as simple as it sounds and many website owners find themselves in the grey area of duplication; where they don’t know for sure whether they are risking rankings or not. Read more…

QUESTION: When a high PR page within a 3rd party website links to a page within my website where is the benefit placed… on my home page or my page that was linked to? – Jose U.

ANSWER: The home page and the linked page benefit from the link… but to different degrees. The majority of the weight is applied to the linked page because it is the page that effectively deserved the vote of confidence but it also counts positively towards the integrity and credibility of your whole website; which in essence is represented by your home page.

Please note, this answer is totally dependent upon the quality of the backlink you received. For example, links from websites that are unrelated or have poor credibility will offer little or no benefit. For more information on what constitutes a ‘good’ backlink see my answer to a recent question from a reader: “What exactly are good backlinks?”.

I just have a second for a quick tip but this is a good one for those of you new to link building. If you have ever done a backlink search on a competitor to find out where they have their links from you often find that a large majority of the links are from their own site. It can be a real pain separating the wheat from the chaffe so here is a little trick on Yahoo (the best place to do link building).

Conduct the following search in Yahoo replacing “domain.com” with your competitor’s address:

http://www.domain.com -site:domain.com

The result is a listing of all the sites your competitor has gotten links from minus your competitor’s own pages. This is a handy little tool. Now if you want to do this faster you can always pick up OptiLink – a program that we use religiously when we are conducting link building campaigns. Visit our recommended SEO tools section of the SEO Blog for this one and much more.

Live.com has released a great new search option for webmasters which allows you to see just how many links point to other websites from within your own. To use it simply search using the following syntax without the quotes and replacing “yoursite.com” with your domain (do not use ‘www.’):

“linkfromdomain:yoursite.com” Read more…

Thank you to those that sent in their SEO questions from the last few search engine newsletters. I would also like to again request that you take a moment and submit your own questions; it is paramount that I answer the questions that are important to you. Just email me your question, it is that simple! Read more…