I found this paragraph buried deep in the middle of a half-way good article on Search Engine Optimization:
The world of search engines boil down to the stereotypical high school hierarchy. Search engines pay more attention to those that are popular. In high school, teens usually become popular by having popular people associate with them. The online world is no different. But how do search engines know that popular sites are associating with you? That is an easy one – they link to your website.
What many beginning webmasters don’t understand is that Search Engine Optimization is a popularity contest. You can have a well-designed website with keyword-rich pages, but that won’t guarantee your success. The more competitive your industry, the more you’ll have to do to compete for rankings. There are many factors that go into ranking for certain keywords. Some of the ones that don’t get a lot of attention are:
- How much traffic your site gets
- The velocity at which you attract relevant links
- Synonymous keywords
How Much Traffic Should You Have?
Most people don’t think about the volume of traffic, but that does come into play in search engine rankings. The author of the above-mentioned article gives a great example with eBay. Why is eBay ranked highly for almost any query involving the word “buy”? Part of it is because it uses the word in conjunction with thousands of other products, but it’s also a well-trafficked website with the age factor going in its favor. Being a popular site is a good thing in Google’s eyes because it means a lot of people trust eBay. If a lot of people trusts a website then Google believes it deserves to be ranked well for its important keywords.
Another example is Wikipedia. Why is Wikipedia on Page 1 for almost any query? Because it is popular. That’s the primary reason. A lot of people use it, therefore Google gives it additional rank juice.
So how do you become popular? There are two ways to achieve popularity on the Web. You have to work on your search engine saturation – the number of pages you have ranked – and link popularity – the number of quality inbound links you have to your site. The way you build search engine saturation is with number of pages. You just build pages. Pick a keyword and build a well-optimized web page around your central topic using a long tail keyword that will rank your site highly in the SERPs. Then you start building inbound links. Do those two things well on a steady basis (Google likes slow growth) and you’ll see your traffic rise steadily.
The Importance Of Link Velocity
Nice segue into the next topic. If you build your links too fast it could hurt you. You might find your website in the Google Supplemental Listings until a human can examine your links to see if they are spam or real solid links. A better way to build links is to do it slowly over time. There are several methods for doing that.
- Article Marketing
- Gradual Directory Submissions
- Forum Participation
- Comments On Blogs In Related Niches
- Link Exchanges With Related Websites And Blogs
The idea is to build steady, solid links by promoting your website with a steady marketing plan. Not a one-time surge, but a steady marketing plan over the lifetime of your website.
Use Synonymous Keywords
Instead of trying to optimize your website around one keyword on every page, try optimizing each page around two or three keywords that are related. For instance, if your website is about teaching florists how to make beautiful flower arrangements then you might built a website that is focused on arranging geraniums, tulips, and lion’s tails in one vase arrangement. Your keywords are pretty obvious, aren’t they?
- lion’s tails
But you’ll also want to use “arrange” or “arrangement”, “flower arrangement”, “set”, or some other similar phrase in conjunction with your three primary keywords. The way I would do this is to make “flower arrangement” the primary keyword and each of the names of the flower types secondary phrases that support each other and the main phrase. If there is a name for this type of arrangement then that could be your primary keyword. If there isn’t a recognized name for that arrangement and you want to create a name for it, you probably shouldn’t use that name as a keyword because no one is going to know it but you. You can use it on the page, but don’t make it too prominent or it will compete with your real keywords.
Synonymous keywords get to the heart of semantic Search Engine Optimization. So many people are discussing semantic search as if it were some future development. It isn’t. It’s here now. Google uses synonymous keywords to help it identify a page’s real subject. Synonymous keywords are useful to helping each web page you build rank well for the right terms as part of your Search Engine Optimization.