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How Did They Beat Me?

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Consider 2 web sites. Mine at http://www.covenantwordchurch.org and another at www.worldwide.cogop.org. We'll call mine CWC and the other we'll call COGOP just to keep it simple.


My question is how did they outrank me for the search term ["Key West" church] on Altavista.



1. They only refer to Key West because of an obituary (2 articles, one is his passing and the other is about the service for him) for one of their Bishops. It's less than 25% of the home page.


2. I have attempted to optimize my page for just such a term, they being a global organization, have not. I have used Titles, headers, meta tags, bolding the keywords (but could probably have it more in the content) but still this puzzles me.


3. The COGOP site doesn't even rate with Google. They say their pagerank is 0/10. (I know it's altavista but Google does show roughly how relevant a page is.) Backlinks to this site on Google show none.


4. If I don't quote "Key West" in my altavista search then another site at www.stpaulskw.org which was created with Front Page and not cleaned up after even rates above me. This site doesn't even use meta tags and more confusingly rates below me if I do use quotes. At least Google says they are 5/10 so they have some powerful backlinks to them.


I checked backlinks to my site and something is amiss there too because I have a couple of sites I maintain that link to them but they aren't showing as link: entries on Google. Altavista says I have 3 pages of backlinks to that site.


I also noticed that because my host lets me, I got sloppy (read inconsistent) on naming the site. One place has covenantwordchurch.org and another will have www.coven... This is true of my nav bar too. I noticed (and changed) the link to home was "\index.htm" not "http://www.../index.htm" I believe this may count as an outgoing link and would not count as a link back from my secondary pages to the main which probably has a big affect on things.



Can you guys help me understand these:

1. Why does the COGOP site rank higher than me on Altavista?

2. Why does it make a difference quoting or not quoting "Key West" in the search since all 3 sites only have 'West' after the word 'Key'? I thought it would be the same in that case.

3. Why did Google get amnesia about all the sites that link back to me?


My stock answer is that SEO is Voodo but maybe the "high priest of the church of the painfully obscurred" (Hi Scott! :) ) or one of you other fine folks could shed some light on it?



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While you are waiting on dsdemmin, I have the following to offer:


I have read that google only lists backlinks with a PR of at least 4. All backlinks are counted, but only those with PR > 3 show up when you list 'em.



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I hate to rain on peoples fire, but do take the link with a pinch of salt. It can't count the links correctley, e.g from google


It reconds that my own domain name has 4 back links to it, when in fact, typing it into google brings up 173!



Edited by Jimuni
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EEEK! And I just read that Google filters out the backlinks from sites that have a PageRank below a certain threshold... it should be the other way around. Thanks for the warning!


(It's still cool though! :rolleyes: )

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While we are still waiting for our SEO guru, I thought I would add another wrinkle.


You are not going to like this, but now you are #3 in altavista behind cogop and stpaulskw.


You are still numero uno in google, though, and that counts for a lot! :dance:


I am still holding on the position that google does not display backlinks with PR < 4, even though it still knows they exist and counts them when ranking your page.


Using the free digitalpoint.com tool to track keywords and backlinks (it uses the google API), here's the results I get for the three churches of interest:


Site (# Backlinks)

cogop (72)

stpaulskw (14)

covenantwordchurch (2)


BTW, my site shows 0 backlinks in google even though I *know* that I have some. Just none with PR 4 and above.


Just more fuel for the discussion!



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I value everyone's input whether your name happens to be Scott or not so don't feel like I'm just waiting for him to answer - although it is always educational when he does.


From my readings, Google seems to only list backlinks that have a PR of "the high threes" or better. Sorry I didn't clip the reference for that... it may have been the Google webmaster chat area.


I guess #3 on altavista is pretty good since I've been focusing entirely on Google, but I'll never "settle" for that! :) I'm going now to check on the other sites to see what else I can find that gives them an edge...

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Sorry... been away since Thursday of last week. Some thoughts:


I have read that Google only lists backlinks with a PR of at least 4. All backlinks are counted, but only those with PR > 3 show up when you list 'em.
Actually Dave, all backlinks with any PageRank helps, just at varying degrees. Backlinks that are shown via the toolbar are those with a PageRank of 3 or higher. It is obviously best to get high PRd sites to link back to you.



I hate to rain on peoples fire, but do take the link with a pinch of salt.

A large pinch! [ Thumbs Up Jim]


Google never gives me the complete listing of websites that have linked to me...
DarqFlare try: +www.YourSite.+com, this will show all sites.


Now on to you Mr. Jim:


First things first... can not compare AltaVista results to Google (or any other Search Engines). These are algos of very different color.


AltaVista really used to be a something special... not anymore. A very insignificant player (too bad). They are trying to come back but ???


AltaVista uses ranking algorithms to decide in which order to return matching documents. Among other factors, each document gets a grade based on how many of the search terms it contains, where the words are in the document, and how close to each other they are. Repeating a word over and over in a Web page (a practice known as word spamming) has no effect on the ranking and may penalize your site.
Thus, AltaVista "reads" all text that appears on a page. It "likes" keywords in the Title, Meta Tags, comments, Headers and in the first lines of text.


AltaVista shows 26 pages linking to your site.

They show no links to the number one site :huh:


You had three specific questions:


1. Review what I hinted to above and compare the two.


2. I get the same results (basically) using the exact phrase "key west" church vs. key west church.


3. Have you looked using +www.YourSite.+com ?


Final note on Google: I am still quite confident that things are not running exactly correctly at Google. I actually have learned that they are running three different algos every two weeks and working very hard to get things back to 'relevancy'. New filters are put into play routinely (and then taken out again) and what really bothers me (and I am sure Google) it the lack of periodic updates.


A lot of people (actually most SEO types) are talking about a continuous update/upgrade [referred to as everflux) and that we will never see a 'dance' again. Not to get too winded here but think about it.... Look back at the equations for calculating PageRank. One must have the PageRank of the entire index in order to have a PageRank for an individual page. The PageRank is dependant upon the PageRank of every single page that links back to it. Thus one must do many reiterations to accomplish a 'real' PageRank over the entire index. This is what occurs during the 'dance'. How can PageRank have any meaning unless Google continues to run routine updates... it can not.


Time will tell.

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Welcome back, dsdemmin!


Thanks for setting me straight on the PR level.


I used to use altavista for everything, but now I almost never check them.


Many SEO sites these days are definitely concerned about the state of google.



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Thanks for the great info, Scott!


It is interesting that link:www.covenantwordchurch.org returns different that +www.covenantwordchurch.+org but I guess that's the PR3 thing. I hadn't done that and feel better now seeing some of the links show up.


I only use the other search engines for comparisons and optimizing my web sites. Any time I need anything I go to Google without exception. I wonder if we are approaching a situation like web designers have in the past... "Don't worry about optimizing for Netscape, they are such a small crowd it's not worth it." Only this would be the SE equivalent... "Don't worry about optimizing for _____, if it's not Google it is too small to matter."


Of course there's always the AOL/MSN crowd that will use whatever's easiest.

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