There are a lot of factors that affect keyword rank in Google:
- Age of website (older is better as it has a better chance to establish trust rank)
- Onsite optimization (strategic placement of keywords )
- Offsite optimization (backlinks from websites, blogs, forums, etc).
- Age of incoming links (Google doesn't pass along link juice right away)
- Your choice of keywords (3 or 4 word phrases will have less competition than 1 or 2 word phrases)
- PR (Page Rank) not as important as it used to be but still affects keyword rank.
Don't Overoptimize your KeywordsBecause of Google penalizing sites for overoptimization this last year (same exact words in title and H1 etc tags) I have started mixing up the words so they all contain the same major words but in a different order (see title in browser and H1 above) and I'm finding that I can rank on first page of results for several keywords in different arrangements including plural versions of the some words.
Benefits of SemanticsGoogle often allows you to rank when you don't use the exact same words, but similar words that would be found in a Thesaurus (a result of semantic search), i.e., I don't have the word scam on the US Commerce Association - Fraud article in my blog, but I still rank just as well for that phrase when "fraud" is replaced with "scam" anyway.
How Long Does it take?On a website that is well established with adequate PR (page rank), which is also well optimized and has addequate links, etc., it usually takes a about a week after Google indexes the page before you notice a change in rank for your keywords. It all depends on Google's indexing schedule for your website.
However, if your website is new it may take Google longer to index the new page. Sometimes Google will give a new website a boost so it ranks well for a few months but then drop it if it doesn't attract enough attention or links.
Tracking The Cache Date of your WebsiteYou can figure out how long it takes for Google to index your pages after it indexes your site the first time. Search for one of your keywords in Google and then click on the little green arrow by your search results (see red circle in image below):
Click on arrow and it will bring up Google's cache of your page and also relay the last date your page was cached (see image below):
Do this again about a week or two later, then you can tell how long it takes for Google to index your particular website. Check the cache date several times a year. If the time increases to several weeks it can indicate a problem with your page, or website, being indexed.
Tracking your Keyword RankSeo Book has a new plugin for Firefox called Rank Checker that allows you to track multiple keywords in Google, Yahoo and Live (MSN) and the data can be downloaded as a cvs file (spreadsheet). There are many other tools on the Internet but they usually charge a monthly fee.
PS. Ranking in Yahoo or Bing requires more onsite optimization and less on Google so what will get you to rank high in Yahoo and Bing may get you penalized in Google so it's hard to rank evenly in all 3 search engines at the same time.
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