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Link Exchange for Search Engine Optimization

Here are some questions and answers regarding search engine optimization (SEO), the "science" of achieving high search engine rankings! Link exchange is not the only topic related to this issue.

Link exchange still remains the best way to achieve a first-page search engine listing!

Question: Does Google AdWords Help My Ranking?

Answer: No, (un)fortunately it does not. Google has a very strict policy on separating their search engine index and their pay-per-click service Google AdWords. The only way to improve your ranking is to optimize your site and to increase your Google PageRank by doing link exchange.

Question: My web site's been listed in Google for several months now, but is nowehere near the top rankings for the search queries that I'm targeting. What did I do wrong?

Answer: Apparently, Google places new web sites in a so-called "sandbox", not allowing them to achieve top rankings for competitive keywords right away. This contraversial policy is apparently intended to discourage fly-by-night sites that hope to make a quick buck by exploiting Google's ranking system. The only way to get out of this sandbox is to wait it out - sometimes the wait is several months, even a year. The good news is that once your site is let out of the sandbox it will immediately get the high rankings it deserves.

Question: How can I tell whether my site is stuck in Google's sandbox?

Answer: One clue is if your site ranks well in other search engines such as Yahoo! and MSN Search, but ranks in the hundreds (or not at all) for the same query on Google. Another way is to use Google's allinanchor: type search with the same query. If your site ranks well for allinanchor but poorly for the straight query search, it's likely that your site is in the sandbox.

Question: Does the anchor text of the links to my page influence the position of the page in search results?

Answer: Yes, it is one of the most important factors. Do a Google search for the query that you want your page to rank well with, for example "fine wine" (without the quotes). Now use Google's allinanchor search to find the most popular pages that have the words "fine" and "wine" in the anchor text of their incoming links, like this: "allinanchor:fine wine" (again, without the quotes). Usually, you'll find that the top 30 results in the straight query search will be almost exactly the same as the top 30 in the allinanchor search. The order may differ, but this shows how great an influence Google gives to the anchor text of incoming links.

Question: What tools do you recommend to help automate the link management process?

Answer: Easily the most useful link management tool on the market now is LinkMachine. It organizes links, generates a customized link directory, searches for link partners, and much more - it even analyzes competing sites to tell you exactly what needs to be done to optimize your own site. If your web server doesn't support Php, I recommend the stand-alone program Arelis.

Question: When I ask Google, which other sites link to my site, Google does not list any sites. But I know that other sites link to me. Am I doing something wrong?

Answer: If you have a web site www.xzy.com, you can find out which other sites link to your site by asking Google for link:www.xyz.com. Other search engines, such as MSN or Yahoo!, have similar features. If Google (or MSN, or Yahoo!) does not list all the links, this might have to do with any of the following reasons:

1.) Google does not list all of the links that it knows about. It tends to list links from pages with higher PageRank.
2.) The link might have been added within the last days, so that Google has not yet spidered the page that links to you.
3.) The web page that links to your site might not be in the Google index at all.

Question: When my friend in New York and I in California both search Google for the same query, we get different results. Does Google provide different results for every region?

Answer: No, it does not. Different results are related to the regular updates of the Google index. Google has several data centers around the US and the rest of the world. If you visit www.google.com, it is not guaranteed that your query is sent to the same data center every time. Usually your query should end up at the nearest data center, so that your Google search should be answered by the same data center every time. Thus, if you and your buddy get different Google results, this is because your query has been answered by different data centers.

Question: I tried the Google Toolbar and found out that my Google PageRank is 4. Is that good or bad? How can I improve my Google PageRank?

Answer: Most pages with a decent number of links have a Google PageRank of 4. Thus, your PageRank is OK, but of course you can always improve your link popularity and thereby improve your PageRank. If you want to learn more about the PageRank algorithm, please visit the following site (you have been warned: it might get technical): http://pr.efactory.de/

Question: I recently tried out the Google Toolbar. What is the Google PageRank and why does it change from time to time?

Answer: The Google PageRank is a web page's score, based on link popularity, i.e. the number and quality of links from other sites. The Google Toolbar displays the PageRank in a very simplified and sometimes inaccurate way. Even some pages that are not in the Google index, will show a Google PageRank. Thus, don't worry to much about a low or changing value. Of course, this does not mean, that the Google PageRank itself is unimportant - on the contrary. It still is important for you to have other sites link to you. But for some reason the Google Toolbar does not really reflect the PageRank in a consistent and proper manner.