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Google unravelled

Anne Fine has sent us a cutting from The Author, in which Steve Johnston, author of a forthcoming book called 50 Ways to Make Google Love Your Website, advises authors on how to persuade Google to rank their site as highly as possible.

He offers three pieces of advice, and I’m relieved to see that the one he places first was also the main theme of our own article on this subject: Google indexes text, not pictures, and if there is no text on a page, Google can’t index it.

His second point follows on: Google matches words on the page to words people search for. It isn’t as easy as it sounds to produce text that covers all the possible variants without being repetitive. On a recent new site for Triangle Translations, I had to make sure that both "translation" and "translating" came near the top of the page, and that the languages offered were all listed: a human being might know that "all major languages" included, say, English – German, but Google wouldn’t.

Steve Johnston’s article also argues that Google needs a certain amount of content on a site before it can rate it as "relevant". Content also makes it easier to attract links, which are the third factor in Google’s rating system discussed in the article: if a site is a good source of information, people are more likely to link to it! The world is full of people trying to fake this, by placing links to their site in text that pretends to be a comment or even an entire blog (nuisance spam makes it all but impossible to run a guestbook on a web site nowadays – but that’s another story). But if you offer relevant information, real people will be happy to link to it – and you can encourage your friends to do so! It all helps…

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