Tag Archives: google search results

Google Update and Writing Online for Money

One of the keys to making money by writing online is to get enough traffic to your money making websites. Ranking highly in search engines for frequently searched terms is one way to accomplish this. While Google updates the algorithm that chooses how to rank websites on their search engine results pages (SERPs) on a frequent basis, most of those tweaks can be ignored by writers looking to profit by writing online. However, when the big updates come out, it is important to at least check and see how you are being affected.

Google Counting Links

There are really only two main parts to Google’s search ranking algorithm. The first part is how closely a particular webpage fits the phrase searched. In this case, the best thing is an exact match to the title tag of the webpage. Or, if there isn’t one of those, then an exact match to a header tag, and so on. Of course, a close match comes next, and so on.

search engine updates

In a place as big as the internet, there is a pretty good chance that for any given search term, there is more than one page that matches. When this happens, Google essentially counts how many links point to each page that matches and then ranks the one with the highest number of incoming links at the top.

Everything else Google does is basically a tweak to the above formula in order to keep people from cheating. Many of the supposed 200+ ranking factors at Google are nothing more than the increasing or decreasing the value of incoming links. Links that are nofollowed count a little less than those that are do follow. Links from comments are less valuable than those in the middle of content. Links from higher ranking sites count more than those from tiny abandoned sites, and so on.

As a writer building online websites to earn money, you probably check to see what you rank highly for, and how much traffic that drives to your website. For the most part, changes in these rankings come slowly and infrequently. That’s because, your site and the other sites that rank don’t necessarily gain a bunch of incoming links, without you (or them) doing something to manually boost them. When, that happens, it generally only happens to one page, so you’ll see your webpage go from ranking 4th to ranking 5th. That’s just normal.

Big Google Updates

But, sometimes, Google makes a big update and that can dramatically shake up the rankings. Not only can you go from 4th to 12th, or from 8th to 1st, on one page, that same thing can happen to multiple pages across several different websites.

It’s best to keep at least one ear open for these kinds of changes. A quick check of the headlines at seroundtable.com (it stands for Search Engine Roundtable) can let you know if a big algorithm update is underway, or if it’s just strange things afoot at the Circle K.

The important thing is not to panic. These changes often lead to big movements, but wait for them to settle down and see what is, and is not, permanent. Then, maybe go through, and update and tweak the pages that you lost some ranking on. Most importantly, keep adding fresh, useful content.

If there is one static thing in Google rankings it’s that the search engine values sites that are current over those that have gone stale, and that more content means more pages to attract links and gain authority.

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Trick to Keyword Research

Whether your are new to writing online to make money, or you have been using your online writing skills for profit for a long time, you probably have put some thought into keyword research.

Keyword research is the act of looking at various keywords and key phrases to determine if they will be profitable, or effective keywords for your particular websites. Depending upon your goals, your keyword targets may be very flexible, or absolutely necessary. Either way, it’s nice to know what your task looks like before you get started.

Problem With Keyword Research

The problem with keyword research is that you already have to do something about the keywords you are after before you can do it.

For example, if you write a personal financial advice blog, you would need to already have some idea of what keywords you are targeting because just typing in “financial advice” or something like that isn’t likely to generate much in the way of usable keyword research. Instead, you’ll need to know how to narrow down large keywords. After all, you could spend a lifetime trying to rank for “life insurance” and while that would certainly, eventually, be profitable, in the meantime you could be missing out on much more viable keywords.

The trick in keyword research is that so much of the information out there focuses on how to refine, or pick from, an already well generated keyword research list. But, how do you get to a good keyword target list in the first place?

keyword research google planner

One common tool many people use is the Google Keyword Planner. It is technically a tool to find the keywords for paid ad campaigns, but it’s also a good way to find out what people are searching for, and how many are searching for it. You need an Adwords Account to use it, but it is free (you never actually have to run a campaign).

However, the two main keyword tools require you to have some idea of what keywords you want to research, and the closer you are to the actual keywords you want to rank for, the better.

For example, if our finance blog wanted to target retirement planning, what would the best keywords be?

Just typing “retirement planning” in the Google Keyword Planner gets you a long list of keywords, but are any of them useful for your needs? For example, the keyword retirement calculator seems to have a lot of high priced searches, but is also a very competitive term with numerous retirement calculators from well-known brands out there. Your chance of ranking for that term and profiting from it with online writing is slim.

But, it is a starting point.

Now put “retirement calculator” back in the keyword planner tool. Only a handful of more specific tools come up, and each of those has a search volume of around 10 per month.

Here is the trick to keyword research. I know from experience that there are terms around the subject of a retirement planning calculator that

  • a) can be ranked for
  • b) get more than 10 searches per month
  • c) are profitable, but nowhere near the CPC listed for the keywords on Google Keyword Planner
  • (No, I won’t tell you what they are.)

So, what gives?

The issue is that the Google Keyword Planner is not designed for making money with online writing. It is made for people to start and run ad campaigns. These are two different goals.

In order to make money online with writing, you want people to find your content, visit it, and then click an ad.

In order to make money running ads, you want all the people who might buy, or otherwise do what you want them to do, to click on your ad.

See the difference?

The right ad keyword should target people all over the web if they are reading about the kinds of things that you have useful information or products for.

The right keyword to make money online is the one that gets people from a search engine to choose your particular webpage and then click that ad, hopefully after finding some good information. In fact, it would be just as good as a writer, or publisher, if people came to your website for one thing, clicked a link for another thing and clicked a completely unrelated ad.

As a smaller publisher, your best bet are what are known as long-tail keywords. In general, these are more specific keywords. These keywords are often longer. For example, “life insurance” is a high-traffic keyword, and potentially profitable, but it will take you a lot of effort to rank for it.

On the other hand, denver life insurance is slightly less competitive, more specific, and more likely to generate ad clicks. Even better might be something like denver electrician life insurance. (They get it through the union, so this isn’t actually better, but you get the idea.)

But, and this is the key, no matter what keywords you stick in the Google Keyword Planner, it will almost never come back with something like denver electrician life insurance. In fact, while four or five word keywords can be gravy in many situations, the keyword planner (and other keyword research tools) tend to stick with two and three-word key phrases.

Keyword Research for Writers

As a writer, your ace in the hole is that as you generate content, you will be able to see what kind of content and keywords bring people to your website. Leverage that knowledge to fine tune your content on various topics.

We’ll get into just how you do that next.

 

 

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How Content Mills Beat Google

There has been a lot of news lately about how spam-filled Google’s search results pages have become over the last few years.  One of the oft blamed culprits are the so-called content mills.  A content mill is essentially a website that cranks out high volumes of webpages in order to always have something ranking highly for any search a user might perform.  They are also masters at search engine optimization, or SEO.

If you believe in the Google myth that content is king and that high-quality content will eventually become highly ranked, this should be confusing.

  • How can it be that a website cranking out thousands of webpages a day gets high-quality backlinks from authoritative website linked to all of that new content?
  • How can anyone generate that much quality content so quickly?

content mills vs googleThe answers to both questions are, they don’t.

How To Really Rank High In Google Search Results

Most of the content published by content mills has no links pointing to it whatsoever from external websites. However, every page links to multiple other pages within the same website.  Based on size alone that ensures that a website like eHow has a 1,000 incoming links to each of its articles.  These links are produced automatically by the system regardless of quality, but each one counts as a link to the Google spiders who gobble them up like ravenous rats.

Part of Google’s mythology is that it distinguishes incoming links and that good links are more valuable than bad links.  However, live search results prove that whatever downgrading or upgrading Google hands out based upon the quality of any webpage’s incoming links is easily overwhelmed by sheer volume.

Imagine that Google makes an incoming link from the same domain count for only 1/10th of what an external link would count for.  That means it only takes ten same-site incoming links to score the same as one incoming link from off-site.  Each content mill webpage has hundreds or thousands of same-site income links thanks to its volume of published pages.  Couple these low-value links with the content mills’ other trick and you have a recipe to rank high in Google search results for anything.

Of course, the content mills don’t put all their eggs in one basket.  Most of them run several websites all with thousands of webpages to use to boost linking whatever content they want.

Google’s Algorithm Overvalues Title Tags

Google claims that there are hundreds of factors that go into each ranking.  In practice, there are two or three factors that make up the vast majority of a webpage’s search ranking position and the rest are small factors that rarely influence anything but the thinnest of searches.

Next Page:  Google search results filling up with spam

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How Good Are Google Search Result Rankings?

ranking Everywhere you turn people tell you the same thing about search engines; Google is the best search engine. Google is certainly the biggest search engine company. Depending upon whose numbers you want to believe, Google’s search market share is a whopping 71% or more. Google processes hundreds of millions of search queries every day and uses so many servers, computers, routers, and networking equipment that it recently got into the power business. But, does that make Google the best search engine? How good are its search results?

Quality of Google Search Results Page Rankings

Answering the question of how good Google’s searches are is not straightforward. There are numerous factors that can go into ranking websites and webpages as the best search result, or the number 38 search result. Which ones to include and how much weight each search ranking factor should be given is a matter of opinion. Some may claim that larger, better known, results should rank highest, while others would claim that the democratization of information is exactly what makes the Internet so powerful, therefore, no preference should be given to “mainstream” websites or their pages.

However, examining Google’s search results with human eyes often provides some insight into how well the company is doing when it ranks websites in the top ten search results. (UPDATE: The guys over at Search Engine Journal published a different look at what I was getting at here.)

Check out my freelance financial writer page.

Google tracks the preferences and history of most users. It uses this data to “personalize” the search results for that person. For example, if you often search for something like denver sightseeing, a search for something like tourist attractions may be skewed toward attractions in Denver, even though denver was not included in that particular search. Furthermore, if you often visit a specific website, especially by clicking on its links from searches, that site may be pumped up to a higher position in future searchers.

Many writers seeking to earn money writing online fall victim to this trap. Since they logically visit their own websites more frequently than others, they are likely to rank higher in most searches performed by the website author. Unfortunately, this often leads new writers into believing that they rank much higher than they really do for a particular search.

Always perform any searches that you want to use to see how things look to everyone else in your browser’s privacy mode. Google Incognito mode is useful for seeing unpersonalized search results and is my personal favorite, because it does not shut down your regular browsing session to go private.

Once you have launched a private browsing session, type in a few Google searches that you think would be productive ways of finding valuable information. Obviously, two word searches are difficult because there can be so much interpretation. Try better searches with three or four words. For an example, try “LCD versus Plasma”. Then try “LCD vs Plasma”.

google-search-results-quality-comparison

Despite Google’s insistence that it handles synonyms for you in searches, the differences between the results when using “versus” instead of “vs” are very different. This is technically an abbreviation, not a synonym, but the point remains that what results you get for your searches depends very much on EXACTLY what you search for. That is why writing to multiple keywords is so important.

You’ll notice throughout this site (and even in this article) I make an effort to link back for both “earn money writing online” AND “make money writing online” because it really does matter.

When you are out there writing content for yourself or your clients and building powerful backlinks to your best stuff, be sure to do the same. Otherwise, the best search engine in the world might not rank you as high as you deserve based on one tiny little word.

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