My post yesterday discussed how if a site was more useful and had a bigger brand presence than all its competitors, Google really should be ranking it higher.

The problem is that most of the time it doesn't.

The way Google works is it uses a model known as PageRank to decide which sites are the most important.

PageRank is a system of counting links to a website as votes - in general, the more incoming links a site has the higher its PageRank and the more Google will trust the site.

Once Google has decided how much your site is trusted, the algorithm looks at the content of your pages.

If you want to rank highly for a search term such as “News” you would need to include the word “News” in key areas of your page such as the page title, h1 tag, page content and maybe in the alt text of certain images.

Another signal Google uses to rank pages is the anchor text of the links pointing at your website.

For example, if E-consultancy wanted to rank highly for internet marketing, it would need a lot of incoming links with the anchor text “internet marketing”.

Including all the elements to rank highly for your target keywords is quite straightforward and you can often look at the content of pages that already rank highly for clues as to how they are structured.

The difficult aspect of SEO comes from attracting enough incoming links to reach trusted status with Google.

Of the hundreds of ways a site can attract links, the best are natural citations from other trusted sites.

For example, if your company was to carry out some research linked from the online versions of all the major newspapers, the trusted links you gained would have a huge effect on your rankings.

Conversely, if you were to build your links by submitting to low quality general web directories, the chances of you ranking highly would be extremely slim.

The lesson to be learned is that once you understand the signals Google uses, it as almost a matter of online PR rather than technical SEO ability that will determine your sites rankings.

Of course, technical SEO ability will always have a place but if you can successfully and consistently market your site using the press and even popular blogs your chances of ranking are very high indeed.


Published 18 January, 2008 by Patrick Altoft

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Comments (7)

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John Richards

I take your point about the value of links from 'trusted' sites but what has happened to relevancy? Why is a link from The Times more valuable than a link from a site that is closely related to your business?

In my field in particular (asbestos consultancy) there are any number of poorly made sites that lack decent content and with links (according to yahoo site explorer) from completely irrelevant sites (poker, porn, sun tanning systems?) that rank better than well optimised sites with excellent content.

Although my own site seems to bounce in and out of the top ten (sometimes its eight then a couple of days it's fourteen and so on - OK but frustrating) there are some really appalling efforts that always seem to rank well.

Time and time again I hear that 'content is king' but this just doesn't seem to be true.

I can't understand why getting a link from one article from a popular blog should make your site more relevant (according to Google) than ten links from other sites in your own industry that have a lower PageRank

over 10 years ago



John, please may i draw your attention to the following article on SEOmoz for further reading 'Search Ranking Factors':

There will always be speculation, but this article will at least will direct you into areas where time is best spent optimising your site. Relevancy is very important, so an understanding of how Google et al determine this is is important.

over 10 years ago


Kaya PPC, Internet Marketing Manager at Optimised Media

We have to remember PageRank is calculated based on hundreds of factors. Websites need a mixture of backlinks both from related sites and "trusted" sites. I think the content is king philosphy still applies for long tale search terms. Easiest way to get to the top? Pay Per Click Marketing.

over 10 years ago

Chris Ellis

Chris Ellis, Group Digital Marketing Manager at Belron International Ltd

Of course there will always be a mixture of quality and quantity, content and links. Otherwise Google and other engines' results would bounce around and be much easier to swing.

There are many things that move the dial of search engine results. If you want to do this yourself then the mantra is test, track, tweak. If you engage an agency to help then make sure they have a clear target - e.g. gain a first page position for this keyword or those keywords, or better to increase customer acquisition or online revenue by so much. Then measure them on that target and don't take excuses such as "it takes up to 12 months to get results" or "that search term was just too competitive".

over 10 years ago


Search Engine Optimisation

Chris>> It can take time to achieve natural search engine rankings so it could be a legitimate reason. However timings etc shouldbe agreed at kickoff.

Glenn>> The value of trading links is falling. It's increasingly about one way links from other sites in your vertical/topic.

Kaya, Internet Marketing

over 10 years ago


Chris Lang

Actually Google deals with blogs totally differently than it does static webpages.

I just published an enlightening article on how Google ranks blogs on my site.

Any comments or questions would be appreciated.

Of course you are welcome to link to this article if you like.

Also both our sites have complementary content. Why not add me to your blogroll?

My blog is at and the suggested text is "social marketing"

Hope to hear from you soon.

Chris Lang

about 10 years ago



Are links in comments to blogs also counted as links to website by Google? I presume this would be too easy that way?


almost 9 years ago

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