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Trying to increase Google rank for "Starting a bed and breakfast business"
2010-03-02: So, to get a Scarborough (or nearby) bed and breakfast business to pick up on my offer, I decided I wanted to increase my Google rank for "Starting a bed and breakfast business", which means I want to appear on the first page of Google.co.uk for a search on that term. Currently I don't appear anywhere.
I could find a candidate another way, but I don't want to try to reach someone through social media because I don't want to prejudice the choice. Finding someone that way would find me someone familiar with social media, so they'd already have a head start in marketing their business online. If there's someone who isn't doing any Internet marketing, that might (just might) be more interesting. So if someone's looking up "Starting a bed and breakfast business" in Google, I want to be there because of my experiences with marketing Scarborough's B&Bs online.

So what am I going to do to increase my Google rank for that search term?

First thing is to check Google has found my page by entering the page address (URL) http://www.johnallsopp.co.uk/blogViewer.php?blog=1877 into Google. Turns out, at the time of writing (1 March 2010) it hasn't.
Is that because Google is maybe a week behind or so? Not really, it's not listed http://www.johnallsopp.co.uk/blogViewer.php?blog=1867, 1857, 1847, etc. (again at the time of writing).
OK, so when I wrote this, if I searched for http://www.johnallsopp.co.uk it showed my site in the search results, so Google knows my site is there, and there's a link to 'show more results from www.johnallsopp.co.uk'. When I clicked that and then maybe 'all results' I could see there were some blogViewer.php?blog= results, Google had spotted one here http://www.johnallsopp.co.uk/new/blogViewer.php?blog=624 but ah .. it was in /new/ which was where I was developing this facility before making it 'live'.
OK, well the first thing was to password protect that directory, that stops Google getting in there. Google has made big efforts to handle duplicate content and likes to credit the first appearance of some content. So yes, that location is all wrong because the RSS feed there isn't up to date.
So now I'm a bit concerned that there's something Google's not liking about my blog index. It knows about the page .. if I search for "Top five at Retro 36" which is a line on that page, Google finds it. But if Google were following all the links on that page and indexing them, we'd know from the tests above. It could be the site's HTML doesn't verify (I haven't checked it yet and to be honest, I threw this site together as another one of my bootstrap games so it's seriously bare bones stuff under the bonnet) or maybe Google has something against pages with loads of links. Google doesn't usually go public with its rules so these things usually just feed rumours and it's hard to find out the truth without testing and if we don't know what's true we waste time and in my case if this were for a client it would be my clients time I'd be wasting. Best not to dive into that pool.
So proceeding on the basis of science and what we do know, what I decided to do was to give Google another route around my blog entries. At the end of each blog entry I decided to put a link to the next and previous blogs, and of course I decided to make that a text link containing the blog title, so I would be creating keyword-rich links. I then went off to do that ..
.. and it took just half an hour's time to implement, yet it gives every blog entry two extra keyword-rich inbound links, it helps people navigate around my blog and catch up if they've not been for a while, and it's completely automatic.
I left this blog thinking: let's see if Google prefers that to my big index page. (Note to myself: Another good thing to do might be to automate the creation of my RSS feed and automatically pinging the various RSS indexes, tackle that in a future blog).
So now it's the next day, the morning of 2 March, and amazingly Google has now dropped the 'new' directory listings and knows about 3,250 blog entries (compared to none yesterday). Not, interestingly, the most recent ones though. Nor is it showing my blog entries in its search results in any big way .. it usually takes a few days for what the spider finds to be processed and find its way into the search engine results. Nor am I completely convinced I've written 3,250 blog entries, but hey .. actually, it's close.
It's far too early to say what difference that might make to my traffic, but here's a very early indication. Yesterday 56% of traffic from Google to my site arrived on a phrase containing "cam" .. they were looking for my Scarborough webcam.
Today, it's just 22%. Which suggests I'm starting to get traffic on other things .. like perhaps search phrases linked to my near 7 years of blog entries. That suggests that Google has started to process my blogs into its search results.
I'm pretty chuffed. Correct diagnosis of the problem, a fix that took just half an hour, and the results the next day. How cool is that?

By John Allsopp
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