Google SEO experts explain what REALLY affects search results

[pullquote]Wouldn't it be great if Google would tell you which changes will help with search results?[/pullquote] Don't you wish your site ranked better in the organic search engine results pages (SERPs)? Wouldn't it be great if you could find out from Google (well, let's not forget Bing, Yahoo! and the others, but after all, their share of the market is tiny compared to GOOG) whether or not certain changes will really make any difference? You're not alone! Most of us would like to know if some change, or some technique that we've heard about will actually make any difference. Recently five Google experts answered questions on the Digital Inspiration blog, covering such topics as page loading speed, duplicate content, sitemaps, and more. John Mueller (Webmaster Trends Analyst, Google Zurich), Matt Cutts (Webspam Engineer, Google California), Zareen Kazim (Strategist, Google India), Koteswara Ivaturi (Project Manager, Google Hyderabad) and Kaspar Szymanski (Strategist, Google Dublin) provided answers to questions common to most website owners. If you manage your own web site, or just want to know the details, the 25-question interview is available at the link above, as well as a pdf file of the entire interview.  We'll summarize some of the interesting answers here (think of it as a short version, or executive summary). Page loading speed: This is a ranking factor, though not a "high-impact" factor, so faster site loading will not guarantee better search ranking.[pullquote]faster site loading will not guarantee better search ranking[/pullquote] Pages should be optimized for fast loading by compressing files (CSS and JavaScript files), caching pages on the server, etc.,  to provide a better user experience. Changing servers may not be needed, but you can use free tools to evaluate the things which may help. Google provides a speed-related mini-site to help with this. Duplicate Content: Duplicate content on your site…

Does that directory deserve your money? (Part 2)

Most Bed and Breakfast owners realize they need to list their property on more than one directory, so this series (Part One can be found here) does not intend to present a magic formula for finding the one listing that will solve all problems. The objective is to present some guidelines to help evaluate any directory in determining whether to begin listing with them, or to continue listing with them. Some things to consider will apply whether you are deciding to try a new directory or keep a current listing. Others will apply only once the listing is in place. Some basics to consider The first thing most of us would consider is the cost of the directory, and that would not be a bad idea. However, it is important to make sure that if we compare the cost of Directory A with Directory B, that both are giving us the same features and value, or that we can see the reason for higher or lower rates. Consequently, when comparing rates (and most directories have different membership levels, with different features offered at each level), it is important to compare features, exposure via search engines, etc. Here are some of the things to consider: Base cost for the listing Cost of any additional items (such as a link to your availability calendar, extra photos, videos, etc.) Whether the directory provides links to your web site and availability listings Whether there are opportunities to post photos, videos, and other media How many photos and/or videos you may post Another consideration is how visible the directory is for the searches your guests will use. Imagine yourself in the position of a guest searching for lodging in your area. Search just as the guests would. How well does the directory show up in…

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