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What will give you a better ranking?

Google uses two basic principles:

  1. how close is the content of the site to a search request and
  2. how popular is the organisation represented by the site.

They are trying to help the searcher by delivering the goods - that's how they made their name and became the market leader. How do they collect this information? They describe it thus:

"continuously traversing the web with software called crawlers, or Googlebots. They visit a page, copy the content and follows the links from that page to the pages linked to it, repeating this process over and over until they have crawled billions of pages on the web." - for more information on this click to read  Google's note on it. [That link goes to a note by Google, which helps webmasters get better rankings. Don't bother to look elsewhere online - you will soon be baffled and confused by the nonsense and half-truths on this topic which are floating round the web.] A screen grab of the google front page.

Factors which help your Google ranking

Factor 1
Sites linking to your site

This is a measure of popularity. The more sites link to you, and the more popular those sites are the better. So ensure that you get relevant* links- the IAC of course, the local authority or any local arts /leisure sites, the school/organisation that you meet at, of course. If you could get a link from the BBC (one of the country's most popular sites) then you would be made but don't bank on it!

* By relevant we mean sites which also have something to do with what you do - video/film/editing/computers etc. a link from the local garage is not worth much.

If you want to rank well for a specific keyword like "film making", you need incoming links that actually say "film making "

If you want to know how many sites are linking to your site (and sometimes you acquire links without realising it) then go to www.linkpopularity.com  This will enable you to find exactly who links to your site, as identified by the 3 major search engines.

Screen shot from Link Popularity service.

Factor 2
Key words

These terms from various places and pages on your site are used to establish what you are about. When a search term - such as Film making is echoed on your web site it improves the chance of it being shown as a search result. Google looks in all kinds of places:

locations conclusion
URL/web address An address like www.anytownfilm-makers.co.uk is much better than piggybacking your club site onto someone else's main URL like this: www.xhaltonbrat65.com/anytownfilm-makers.co.uk
in titles, headings and body text Use your chosen keywords in your titles, paragraph headings and the body text. Note that words which are included in an graphic or flash animation as opposed to normal text is not recognised - see alt text below.
meta tags See Factor 3.
density of key words Google likes the key words to be seen more than once as it assumes this shows where your focus is.

On Finchley Film Makers front page the key words appear:
  • Finchley - 5 times
  • Film - 11 times
  • Club - 12 times
  • Makers - 6 times

Warning - Some web designers try to trick Google's computerised search engine by producing pages with barely understandable but extremely repetitious content designed to get good results. Do that and Google will banish you to 5545 in the rankings

Factor 3
Meta Tags

Behind the scenes on every web page is information visitors do not see - but search engines do. At the top of a page there can be Meta Tags. Two are important to us. How you fill them in varies from one web design tool to another.

They have a standard format:
<META name="Description" content="yyy">
<META name="Keywords" content="aaa, bbb, ccc. ">

Description - a sentence or two succinctly saying what your website is. Many search engines will display this. You need to make it attractive enough to entice people to click on the search list and visit your website. If it is possible to work in some of your keywords, do it! Typically the Description might be 'Anytown Movie Makers club makes films and discusses all aspects of film-making'

Keywords - words people might type into a search engine when looking for a website like yours. Since Autumn 2009 Google has not taken these into account, but Yahoo and some other search engines still do. Use the keywords you have chosen for your site ( see factor 2).

Include common mistypes like "vido,  flim, clun" . Include the town where you meet and the postcode of your venue. (These are helpful for localised searches used by mobile phones to seek places near the caller.)

If you want to see what other websites use for these tags right click on their webpage and choose "View Source". A new page pops us showing all the html code and the meta tags will be seen towards the top.

Factor 4
Use alt text to make graphics searchable

If your front page has one of these, (text turned into a graphic):

A website button with a club name on it.

Google will not recognise it as words to index so it will not contribute to the keyword search recognition Google operates. You should make sure the keywords are repeated in normal text.

Always add details to the alt text option which is kept "under a picture". It is intended for browsers that don't show images.

In our example above, if you type in the alt text space:
The logo of Anytown Movie Makers.
those words will be

  1. visible when sighted people point their mouse at the picture
  2. read aloud to visitors with sight problems and above all
  3. will be recognised by search engines!

Try to write alt text as a complete sentence and if you need to include a quotation or title, do that within single quotation marks:
A picture of Jo Jones and Pat Smith preparing to shoot a scene for 'Queen of the Hill'.

A screen shot of the alt text appearing when cursor is over a picture.

You can see how the idea of Google collecting Keywords and delivering them as search tools works in practice by searching for 'film making sheffield' (Did you know Google does not care about capitals?) When you find in the list 'Sheffield Movie Makers' click the word Cached. First of all it tells you when it was cached:

A screen shot of google's cache for the site.

And then it shows the version of their website the Googlebot checked and the search words you chose are highlighted.
You may notice that the title - Sheffield Movie Makers - is an image and was not indexed because it does not have an 'alt text'.

Screen shot of what google cached.

Factor 5

Some clubs regard a website as an electronic poster, which can be left alone apart from changing the programme once a year - in Google terms that's a big mistake.

Google gives good rankings to sites that appear to be active so that it won't waste searchers time sending them to moribund organisations. So update regularly or Google assumes your organisation is not very active and this pushes you down the rankings. Google looks for significant new material rather than minor changes like the date of next meeting.

Photo of a woman studying a map.

Factor 6
Real rich content is important

Write real content (i.e. useful information) using the key words regularly. Do not overuse them or make the repetition annoying to readers and all will be well. For example, include a detailed useful article on 'editing with Edius' and Google will reward you when someone searches on editing with Edius.

Factor 7
Logical Progression

It is easier for search engines to assess your page if there is a logical progression from  heading one (main headlines) down to sub-headers. In conventional html  web code they are called <h1>, <h2>, <h3>.

Do not use bolding and bigger size text alone to indicate sub-headings. Even if you tweak the look of those headings stick to the traditional names <h1>, <h2> and <h3>.

Try to work keywords into titles, but first priority, of course, is that they make sense to the visitor.


After building a new site, tell the main search engines that it exists. They do have programs which look for new and changed websites but the internet is so vast that it can take weeks for them to find your website.

Google www.google.com/addurl
Bing www.bing.com/webmaster/submitsitepage.aspx
Yahoo http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/submit
Ask http://about.ask.com/en/docs/about/webmasters.shtml - Ask does not really accept submission but this page - in rather technical language - is their advice.

Negative Factors

You should concentrate on the positive factors as described above but for completeness, we need to warn you not to try to trick Google. Because getting a good ranking on Google is so very, very important and valuable to a business some Web designers try to use various 'black arts' to gain a better ranking than their site deserves. You may come across such ideas on the web but we strongly recommend you do not try them. Google's response in the past has been to punish such activities by banishing your site to 5456 in the rankings!!

If you want the more complex Google explanation of the whole process read this article.

Right arrow. What is SEO?

Go to Check Your Search Ranking A right arrow.

Website Makeover Guides - Introduction

What Should the Content Be? | Navigation | Planning Navigation | Anchors & Links | Words | Getting Pictures | Getting & Using Pictures
Processing Pictures | Video | Presentation Pictures | Colours | Layout Principles | Layout Schemes | Fonts | What is SEO?
Search Engine Factors | Check Your Search Ranking | Stay Legal | Website Health Check | Website No Goes more to come ...

A Beginner's Guide to Creating a Club Website with Weebly

Don't Panic! | Signing up to Weebly | Making your first (elegant) page | Adding more pages and navigation
Adding pictures and words | Creating a complex Coming Soon Page | Adding Forms, Emails, Maps and Videos.

IAC Competition to find the Best Club Website 2011

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Page updated on 19 January 2011
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