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    10 Replies Latest reply on Jun 12, 2008 11:28 PM by WITrading

    How to appear early in Google search results

    SEOpro Adventurer

      Only Google knows the exact algorithms that control which pages
      appear on page one of search results, and which do not. That process is
      as jealously guarded a secret as the formula for Coca Cola, but by
      reading the tea leaves and "walking back the cat", as they say in
      Hollywood, I have come up with a model that at the very least, fits the facts closely.

      "MatchScore", PageRank and Search Results Position

      Google's first pass is to calculate a "keyword match score" (which I explain further down). The
      second pass relates to PageRank. Let's start with Keyword Match Score, or "MatchScore".


      Search words are received by Google after a person types them into the Google search page and presses enter.


      The words are compared to the entries in a HUGE Google database of
      keywords associated with hundreds of millions of web pages they have
      already examined (that's what they mean when they say they have "indexed" a website), resulting in what I call a "MatchScore". (I am not
      sure what term Google uses internally, if indeed they use any).
      MatchScore is calculated by awarding points out of a hundred. There are
      a half-dozen factors that make up 100 points (or percent if you
      prefer). It's very much like doing a paper at school; you try to pick up at
      least the easy points on every question.

      1. Page Title: 20 points. If the search words match the page title exactly, you get most if not all of these 20 points. The looser the match, the fewer points awarded.
        • If the keywords on your web page are "Seattle Light and Power", and the searching person entered "lights in Seattle", you might score 15 points out of the
          available 20.
        • The very first words in the page title are the most important; If
          your page title is "Seattle Plumber and Plumbing Services
          " and the search words are "Seattle Plumber" you might
          score the full 20 points.
        • If no words match the page title, you get 0 points for this part of it.
        • An astounding percentage of web pages are missign a useful title (you see it on the top of the browser when viewing the page).
      2. Keywords in URL: 10 points. You score points when the search words match the words in the domain name.
        • If the search words were "life coach Dublin", and your domain name
          was, you might scoop up most if not all of the
          available 10 points.
        • If you were in the plumbing business in Denver and your domain name
          was "" , search words of "plumber in Denver" would
          score 0 from the available 10 points because nothing in the domain name ( matched the words the searching person entered. That is why a boring but descriptive domain name is a good thing to have!
        • If you had a URL on your website

          g-services.html, you might
          score 5 (half of the available 10) points because the search words are
          at least somewhere in the page's URL.
      3. Words in Keyword meta tag: 10 points: If your keywords match the search words, you score points. (Search for the text string *'<META NAME="Keywords" CONTENT=*' in your source code to see your keywords).
        • Too many keywords will dilute the effectiveness of the keywords you
          really want people to gravitate towards. About 5 - 7 keywords is ideal.
        • Keywords are actually "key phrases". A Keyword can have several
          words in it. For example, "Seattle plumbing" and "plumbing in Seattle"
          are two keywords.
        • In the HTML of any web page, itt is necessary to separate keywords using commas, otherwise search
          engines may consider them to be all the one keyword, or at best, a list
          of individual keywords even though you entered them as phrases. So,
          keywords "Seattle plumbing, plumbing in Seattle" are two
          distinct keywords. Thus, if someone searches for "Seattle plumbing", you will get a 100% match against one of your keywords, and you
          may score the full 10 points for keywords matching.
        • If the keywords are not comma separated, a search for "Seattle plumbing" will deliver a partial match, because "Seattle plumbing" is only a piece of the keyword "Seattle plumbing plumbing in Seattle". Such a partial match might score you half of the available 10 points.
          To scoop up your full 10 points, it is important to use commas to separate keywords (or rather, key phrases).
        • Limit your keywords to seven or fewer. Fewer is better, if fewer
          covers all the keywords you want. The more you increase your number of
          keywords, the more Google "dilutes" the value of each keyword for that page, so
          don't squander the value of your most important keywords by including
          keywords that are much less important. Use other variations of keywords in page
          content or blog postings on your website. The recommended limit of seven keywords
          is per page, which is another reason you should separate out pages. Small pages are better than big pages, and Google likes pages to be a reasonable size.
        • Pages larger than about 100,000 characters, including all HTML, are ignored. Break bigger pages into multiple pages.
      4. Textual content: 20 points. The more often keywords are used in your content, the better score you get.
        • Keyword density: If "seattle plumbing" appears 10 times out of
          10,000 words on a web page, it will get more points than if it appeared
          10 times out of 20,000 words on a web page. But remember, "stuffing"
          the text with your keywords can have a negative impact - search engines
          seem to know when a website does that.
        • If your relevant content is growing every day, you scoop up more of these points.
        • If your content has changed significantly every day, Google visits
          your site more and more frequently. It takes time for it to notice, but
          it will notice within three of four months.
      5. Latent Semantic Content: 10 points. Google knows that
        "chair" and "seat" have a similar meaning. You have probably noticed
        how when you search for one term, it brings up similar terms in search
        results. In addition to using the exact keywords of your choice, use
        related terms to reinforce keyword matching. Related terms (e.g. "chair" in addition to "seat") reinforce your
        ownership of the subject. The Google search engine is somehow able to
        make the association between semantically related words and gives you a
        better score if it finds a preponderance of related words.
      6. External keyword reinforcement: 30 points. The more links
        you get from sites that "talk about your subject" the more points you
        get for being associated with those keywords outside of your own
        website. Such external keyword reinforcement is one of the ways in
        which inbound links to your site help you scoop up most of these 30
        available points.
        • Anchor text Inbound Links (like this (with a link behind it):#* Life Coaching for Executives#* ) reinforce keyword ownership better than plain links (like this:#** ).

      The calculated MatchScore is then given a grade:


      95-100: A+
      90 - 94: A
      85 - 89: A-
      80 - 84: B+
      75 - 79: B
      70 - 74: B-
      and so on...


      That first pass is like taking an English exam (at least, like it
      was in the old days). You do your best on each of perhaps six
      questions, which in total offer you the possibility of 100 points (or
      percent). Getting full marks on one or two questions, even scoring
      brilliantly on them, won't overcome a miserably score on
      all other questions. The points are there for you to get that needed
      high score. You just have to score well on most if not all questions to
      score a high grade. And in the end, you jsut have to get the best grade compared to your competitors, which is not necessarily an A.


      Google takes the web pages that score an A+ (for the search words in
      question) and displays them in the search results, but sorted by
      PageRank; highest to lowest.


      You can see just how important keyword matching is.

      • If your page does not match up with the search words, it doesn't matter what PageRank you have.
      • In a competitive space, many companies might have worked up an
        excellent MatchScore, so PageRank becomes the deciding factor for which web pages appear on
      • Keep a religious dailiy focus on keyword matching, and keep an eye on your long term PageRank needs - when competition gets hot, you
        will need that higher PageRank.
      • Concentrate on individual pages to score that high MatchScore.
        Trying to match for too much in one page will dilute the page's
        MatchScore. For example, if you have 3 very different products, break
        out each product into a different web page, applying the above rules
        appropriately to each page.
      • All you need is a better MatchScore than your competition for those
        words you really want to own. Very, very few companies score highly on
        MatchScore, even for core terms related to their business. So, the
        opportunity is there for companies that know how this works to climb
        toward the first page of search results before their competitors wake
      I'm sure someone from Google who knows the actual algorithms for these calculations reads this would cringe. There might be lots of glitches to my theory, but in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. Remember the story of the two hikers running from a grissly bear? One hiker says "we'll never outrun this bear!!!" The other hiker points out: "I don't need to outrun the bear. I just need to outrun you!". (Some friend, eh?)
      You don't need to get a perfect score. You just need to get one that's slightly better than your competitor's score. And most businesses are asleep at the wheel when it comes to Search Engine Optimization, so there for the taking.

      SEO Services
      for Small Companies when I'm at work
      Or if you prefer, email me at
        • Re: How to appear early in Google search results
          MRFINANCE Adventurer

          Very informative SEO Pro!


          You cracked the code!!!
          1 of 1 people found this helpful
          • This guy from really knows his stuff
            PeoplePawn Wayfarer
            I personally use the solution for my business This is both a professional, relevant and cutting edge solution for SEO optimization.

            I urge everyone to visit the for a quick and simple education as to how you can impact your page ranking. There is lots of "free" advice and "strategy development" support.


            Patrick Kane -
            1 of 1 people found this helpful
            • Re: How to appear early in Google search results
              NatOnline Tracker

              Very nice article Liam,


              "In a competitive space, many companies might have worked up an excellent MatchScore, so PageRank becomes the deciding factor for which web pages appear on top."

              Well on this I am not sure, PR is certainly a small part of their algo, but not as important as you may think.

              Keep in mind even if you are on the top 5 or top10 by a good SEO, that doesn't mean that people will buy or visit your site. You need to make your site for people and search engines, one doesn't go with the other in my opinion.

              1 of 1 people found this helpful
                • Re: How to appear early in Google search results
                  NatOnline Tracker
                  "one doesn't go with the other in my opinion." I meant one doesn't go without the other in my opinion. Sorry about that.
                    • Re: How to appear early in Google search results
                      SEOpro Adventurer
                      Understood, NatOnline, and you made a very good point earlier. Google PageRank only plays a role under certain circumstances. In fact, if a web page has a higher MatchScore, even if it has a very low PageRank, it seems to beat out other pages with much higher PageRanks.

                      PageRank seems to play a kind of "tie-breaker" role when pages are close in MatchScore. This would suggest to me that when a market space has several savvy players who have their keyword matching equally-well buttoned down, PageRank will play a bigger role. Perhaps then, as industries wake up to SEO, PageRank will become more and more significant.

                      Lastly, I've found PageRank to be a kind of general "quality indicator" of the business, at least as far as their web presence is concerned. I wrote a piece on the dollar value of PageRank if you want a tongue-in-cheek read. I'll clean it up and post it here later, but here is it:

                        • Re: How to appear early in Google search results
                          NatOnline Tracker
                          I really stay away from any evaluation of our company price or even evaluation of our domain names price.

                          PR is just an indicator sometime difficult to trust, not because we don't want to trust this indicator, but rather discovered many times sites that should not get any PR.
                          For example: Web rings or unethical SEO, spamming the search engines, that's short term optimization anyway, but during the short term they can up rank honest business owners and making it harder to rank above them.

                          For e-commerce owner it is a perpetual fight that will never end.
                    • Re: How to appear early in Google search results
                      xenopod Adventurer
                      Actually Google has already stated an intention to open up many of its search and ranking algorithms:

                      We should see more from that in the coming weeks and months.
                      As for a technical description of one algorithm used by Google here is an article from the American Mathematical Society:

                      You don't need to have a high level understand of graph theory or linear algebra to understand the paper, but obviously that could help!

                      More importantly to really gain insight into how the search engines work an understanding of the articles references would be most useful (here they are if you don't feel like getting them from the article yourself):

                      • Michael Berry, Murray Browne, Understanding Search
                        Engines: Mathematical Modeling and Text Retrieval. Second Edition,
                        SIAM, Philadelphia. 2005.
                      • Sergey Brin, Lawrence Page, The antaomy of a
                        large-scale hypertextual Web search engine, Computer Networks and
                        ISDN Systems
                        , 33: 107-17, 1998. Also available online at*

                      * Google Corporate Information: Technology.

                      • Taher Haveliwala, Sepandar Kamvar,* The second eigenvalue of the Google

                      • Amy Langville, Carl Meyer, Google's PageRank and
                        Beyond: The Science of Search Engine Rankings.
                        University Press, 2006.

                        This is an informative, accessible book, written in an engaging
                        style. Besides providing the relevant mathematical background and
                        details of PageRank and its implementation (as well as Kleinberg's
                        HITS algorithm), this book contains many interesting "Asides" that
                        give trivia illuminating the context of search engine design.

                      The key is Google is filled with CS and Math majors you need to think a bit like they think to understand how they are trying to look at the problems of search engines, natural language processing, and human-computer interaction. Understanding what they are doing and how they are trying to solve the problems allows insights in how to optimize your own positions within the system.
                      • Re: How to appear early in Google search results
                        CommunityTeam Adventurer
                        Great dialogue! Remember Google is actually coming on June 16, so you can ask them questions and have an indepth exchange. Check out this thread for more event information and to ask them a question:

                        • Re: How to appear early in Google search results
                          jpiers Newbie
                          Yes, they really have different sets of algorithm. Like these keywords: London plumber and Plumber in London, if you try to search these keywords it gives a various result.