by Andy Carroll, 24 Oct 2011
In the last article in the series "I want to be no 1 on google - Part 1" I highlighted the two ways which search engines determine how a page is ranked in results for a related term or keyword. One is relevance and the other is authority. Google algorithm has a well earned reputation for displaying the most relevant pages, but search also has context, which is another of the factors that affect the search results.
If you search the word "windows" there are a number of possible things you could be looking for. Even though you probably have a clear idea what you want to find the search engine has to guess or at least provide a mix of the possible types of results. This might include links to glazing brands, glazing fitters, software stores or software tips.
Adding more words into the search box helps to remove ambiguity and provide context for the results to better match your expectations. But even if you have clearly defined the type of "windows" you could still want a more specific result - news about windows, screenshot images, video or product price comparisons.
Besides your search phrases goggle now also uses other clues to help work out what you are most interested in. Your geographic location, your language, your last search phrase and past search history can affect your search results.
This context is important for your site's search engine strategy because it will help you focus on the words that are likely to perform best. Asuming that you can out perform the competition, imagine developing you site for an ambiguous generic phrase such as "windows". This might get you many visitors through the door but most may be looking for something other than your product or in a completely different location. This will have the effect of a high "bounce rate" which is effectively a measure of the visitors who leave after seeing only one page. In website traffic analytics your visitors will be high but conversion rate low - you have basically invited the wrong people to the party. If you optimise for the right range of phrases and provide the right information, your visits will be less but "bounce rates" low and "conversion rate" high. In combination these three data points can help you find the right balance. If you dont already have visitor analytics, google analytics is free and should take just a few minutes to setup if you have access to your site pages or content management system.
Be number one for the right phrases and don't judge performance on traffic numbers or search rank for a poor performing search term. Instead your key performance analysis should be actual sales or enquiries then bounce rate and conversion rate. Once these are stable you can try to generate more or the right visitors keeping in mind they need to be your target market.