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News May 31, 2005
Jason Miller


The e-commerce world is a tricky one. If you have an online business, then there's no doubt as to the importance of obtaining a high ranking on search engine results pages-especially on search master Google, whose popularity has led to a command of 85% of the search world.

Editor's Note: Has Google dropped you out of its index? Have you become a Google dropping? At Webproworld we maybe able to help you get ranked once again. Discuss any solutions you may have at WebProWorld.

A high ranking, especially a first or second spot, is the key to a successful online marking campaign. A drop in rank, or worse, disappearing altogether, can threaten the very life of your business-especially if your webpage is the sole face of your organization, your building, and your salesperson.

Search engine optimization is so competitive that some resort to "black hat" techniques to increase their ranking, a desperate, some say smart, but foolhardily risky practice that can get you banned from Google outright. But there are still instances, usually due to a change in algorithms, where a site completely drops off even though they're marketing techniques are innocently on the "white hat" side of the spectrum.

So what do you do if you become a Google dropping? There are a number of suggestions about how to handle this situation--the first of which is, "chill out." Chances are that Google doesn't have a vendetta against your organization. It is most likely the result of algorithm changes that are necessary to prevent people from manipulating the system through "black hat" techniques like link spamming, hidden links, and such.

As a general rule, you shouldn't rely on Google and organic listings as your bread and butter. As you don't have control of how sites are picked up, then you also have no control of how much traffic is generated. If your site has been a top keyword listing for a significant amount of time, that's great, but it can change in a heart beat. Too many variables equals dangerous ground, and if Google is the only source of traffic, then all can be lost.

So, take the gun away from your head, as one blogger mentioned after his site was dropped, and follow a few suggestions to get your site back on track.

1. Wait a few days. During an update, it is common that ranking drops, but in a matter of days, the site often crawls its way back to the top.

2. Diversify. Instead of making Google your principle traffic supplier, arrange it so that you expect 10-20% of hits will come from there. There are lots of other search engines that accept paid inclusion and paid placement. In addition, good old-fashioned marketing techniques in the real world can make a big difference.

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3. Content continues to reign supreme. Most Googlites (Google users) view the web as a library rather than a shopping mall. Update your webpage content every day, at least 200-300 words worth, making sure it is relevant and compelling. Remember that people aren't searching for your content, they are searching for their own-a concept that changes with each user depending on their personal paradigms. So varied, updated content can help match up with some unpredictable keyword choices.

4. Avoid duplicate content. This is incredibly important if you're running several websites at a time, or using "doorway" pages to your main site. Having pages with identical content is a surefire way for Google to drop your listing.

5. Site design is the stepchild of good online marketing. Though an algorithm is clueless about how nice your site looks, people viewing it do notice and this will increase your click-throughs. Sites heavy on HTML and light on text, however, are a bad idea, as search engine spiders pick up text mostly. A good balance of design and simplicity coupled with easily read content is probably the best bet. Even better, have lots of breaks in text to accommodate the majority of net readers that scan pages, rather than read them in their entirety. It takes 25% longer to read from a computer screen than from paper.

6. Remember that there is a balance of keywords required. If your pages use the keywords excessively, red flags pop up all over the Google world and they might tag you for spamming. A good rule of thumb is to keep keyword density below 20% of content.

7. Linking in the Internet world is what networking is to the outside world. Always include links to other sites that relate to your subject matter and try to utilize link swapping as much as possible. Other people want their site recognized too, so most are more than happy to trade links with you. The more your site is referenced on other sites, the more it affects your page ranking.

8. Try to keep the gloves up. Don't try to trick the algorithms with "black hat" techniques like hidden image links and burying the link inside the background. This will get you banned for sure. Avoid Java script redirection and IP cloaking.

9. It is impossible to create a page that pleases everybody. Try to think in terms of target users, who the typical viewer of your site is going to be. If you sell baby car seats, don't have content about the Chinese socio-economic politics.

10. It's so important I have to say it again. CONTENT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT OF YOUR WEBSITE. Content content content content.

And I'm spent.

About the Author:
Jason L. Miller is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.
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