Copyright 2006 Antonio De Giovanni
The idea behind this article arose from a simple observation: joining with my web page fattori arcani ( in English arcane factors ) a Seo national contest, I have been able to explode doubts and gossips about Google that have been going around for a long time in the SEO sphere and had the chance to test in a good lab what really affect Google spider (Googlebot) and what leaves it totally indifferent.
The reason why this experience revealed itself so much fruitful is very simple: normally when you work as a SEO you find yourself in a competitive and confused scenery, competitors pages can be studied and analysed, thus giving you a hint of what worked and what did not. Nevertheless, you must deal with a silent speaker since the competing Seos are anonymous names hidden behind their companys logo.
The backlinks have been accumulated in years and it is difficult to state with certainty what really revealed itself effective and what did not. You go through the page code trying to grasp its secrets, but often you end up crediting some elements with an enormous weight though their influence is nearly irrelevant.
Joining a contest like this, however, a dialogue is established among opponents which work together to learn which factors produce a serp rise. They assist to the sudden expansion of the serp to thousand of results in few days where first had been only desert, and, at the same time, check the creation of new backlinks thus controlling their actual influence on the serp.
This long premise is necessary to understand the scenery in which my web site was developed: the home page has been created in just twenty minutes (as can be seen by the particularly raw look of the page) with the single purpose of conducting a test on search engines, particularly Google,which is a reference point to the positioning studies for any website because of the enormous share it draws. The result of the tests and studies has been a progressive and continuous review of the pages in the semantics and in the structure, a surgical job that slowly took it to the highest rankings on the serp of Google.
A successful experiment hence, from which arose the idea behind this article: the idea of sharing with others my conclusions, in accordance with the principle of community behind the contest and the net. I will try to unfold in this article the stage and the factors that have brought this site to be top ranked in Google (and other search engines).
When the contest began Google only returned a handful of results for the combination of keywords fattori arcani (arcane factors): few results in the serp and mainly pages devoted to the topics magic and tarots. It was obvious that the search engine had associated the query to the thematic (and semantic) area of occultism. Immediately, in a sort of mass hysteria, the competitors rushed to record dominions composed with the words arcane and factors. As far as my experiences are concerned, I made a false start since I was too slow to register the best dominions and had to choose a second-choice dominion.
In a couple of days the trend of the contest (and the doom of the new pages, mine included) seemed to be already set: Google showed in its serp only pages with a high degree of “seniority” and/or backlinked by high-PR-websites (obviously of ownership of the competitors), most of them related with the occultism topic. If it had all came to an end this way, there would not have been any article and in this moment I would be in some SEO forum complaining about the faulty working of Google. Fact is, in the following days the scenery changed completely and brand new pages began to climb serp: among these pages there was also my own
But a technical digression is highly needed: what happened behind the scenes of the websites and of Google to cause such a revolution? Two essential things happened:
1) Google started expanding its queries associating the combination of the keys arcane factors to the topic of positioning and optimization as well.
2) Competitors pages had been slowly reviewed and edited along these two thematic and semantics areas, magic and SEO positioning.
But the main question is: How was it possible that my web page was shifting from the status of search engine ghost to the highest positions of the Google serp? We have to keep in mind that I did not have any backlinks from own web sites because I did not want to soil clients and corporate pages for a personal, playful contest. Furthermore I had a brand new dominion and I had to pay attention to another issue: contents. It is very difficult to create interesting subjects in so few time, in order to induce other websites and directories spontaneously to backlink to your website. Who could take an interest in recommending a nearly empty page, featuring just a recurring and obsessive use of the words factors and arcane. I had to develop a double strategy: one for backlinks, the other one for optimization.
Studying my (visually poor) own web page I almost immediately noticed that it had a potential element of interest for the visitor: it represented, indeed, a sort of real-time surgery operation on search engines, as it was itself an experimental web page created for the only purpose to climb the serp, I could take advantage of this element, taking updated records of what had been changed. It was itself a page that can be also a storyteller producing itself information about the contest, explaining the techniques while using them. This simple idea gave me the opportunity me to create interest ( which means backlinks) from pages and directories that would have otherwise overlooked my webpage. It is a simple lesson: the cleverness of a SEO can neither be measured by his networks of connections nor by the extension of his promotional only sites. The imagination of a SEO is also of high importance, showing thus how much he is skilled in coming up with elements of real interest for pages which, originally, had nothing really captivating. I could come up with many other examples but the most important thing is to grasp the concept of creative web marketing and to keep it always in your mind.
I had found a solution for the backlinking problem (external optimization), yet I had to deal with the internal optimization of the webpage. This is a main issue when your goal is to meet the ranking standards of Google and other search engines. I had to make my best effort to optimize the page, beyond the well-known principles of the SEOs science. The quality in the optimization of a web page is not only determined by the meta structure or by keyword stuffing. We are dealing with advanced search engines, capable, such as Google, to quickly expand the thematic area of a query deducing by the supply (the web pages) associated with that keywords what the navigators demand should be.
Even if it is possible, at least theoretically, to deceive the search engines with technical trickeries as spam and keyword stuffing (dizzy repetition of key words), it is advisable to do more and better than that: You should present the text in a readable and grammatically correct form and, above all, you should identify the topics and semantics that fit best the search engine query .We should always keep in mind, as we tweak our page for internal optimization, that Google uses thesaurus to find synonyms and create term classes that fit the combination of keywords. In the example of arcane factors the thematic areas are two: positioning and magic. Starting from this observation I decided to get the most out of this idea and to exasperate it, playing with the synonyms and the semantic areas to positively impress Google. There is another lesson in this experiment: instead of stuffing your webpages with endlessly repeated keywords, try to understand what is the true question asked by Google, what thematic (and semantics) area it associates to your keywords.
The most peculiar thing about this test is that it exposes a lot of common beliefs such as that a webpage cannot climb or even appear in the serp of Google before a period of at least three months, that Google rewards the advertisers, that a backlink from a Pr5 page will necessarily bring you on top of the ranking.
There is, at last, another important lesson, perhaps the most important one, that can be drawn from the experiment of the contest arcane factors, a thing that should be obvious but that even the best SEO often forgets: Google has become the internet colossus that is now thanks to a good algorithm and to excellent ranking criteria that are held more secret than the Coke recipe, that in the turn of a few years revealed themselves superior to those of the competitors. It is evident that the years elapsed have not been wasted and the algorithm has grown in complexity and effectiveness. Let us write it on the computer, let us pin it on our clipboard, the important thing to keep always in mind is: It is nonsense treating Google as a antediluvian search engine degrading ourselves to childish and naive tricks. Instead we have to learn to treat Google as a serious and sophisticated engine: certainly it will reward our efforts.