SEO Frequently Asked Questions

Questions about Google’s PageRank, and ranking in general, and how to gain some points, by natural ways, without to use bad practices as cloaking and spamming and other forbidden artifacts that may lead you to the black list…

General questions

SEO tools

Improving ranking

Links and backlinks

Questions about the PageRank


Is it really useful to provide a sitemap to Google?

The site map, is a standard file in XML format to search engines that allow them to index all pages of a site. It is particularly useful when the engines can not reach internal pages by following links on the site.

The sitemap can be generated automatically by a CMS or with a script as simple map on a static site.

More: Should we generate a sitemap of our website for Google?

How do I know if my pages are indexed by Google?

If your site is called “” for example (this is impossible), type this in the search window:

Google will display your indexed pages and so allows you to check the title and description of the pages.

How to exclude a page from the index?

Insert a meta tag within <head> </head> into the HTML page:

 <meta name="robots" content="noindex" />

A robots.txt at the root of the site may also contain rules to search engines for excluding files or directories.

Is the duplicate content penalized?

Duplicate content is the presence of same contents on page in the same site or in different site, or contents indexed twice. This could happen with different URLs pointing on the same page or with copies of pages. This would be a way for a site that would try to monopolize the top or result pages, but this never happen in the real world, so it can be concluded that engines penalize effectively duplicate content.
In a post on its blog, Google has clarified the rules about

duplicate content.

Is robots.txt helpful? How does Google use it?

This file is stored at root of any website by the webmaster. He said to search engines which pages should be indexed or which pages or directories must not be added to the index.
There is no standard but common rule to follow. Even if a page is excluded in the robots.txt file, that does not imply it will be removed from the index.
More about robots.txt.

Are RSS feeds useful for SEO?

It is a way to get visitors and amounts of backlinks. The RSS file contains a list of links on your articles and it can be replicated on other sites, as well as in directories. To find out how easily achieve an RSS file, and how to use it, consult the RSS tutorial or the RSS section on this site.
The backlinks provided by the RSS feeds which are echoed by many sites are temporary, they will disappear with the renewal of the content of the feed, therefore RSS is best suited for blogs.

Is the description meta used by Google?

The answer is given by Google on his blog for webmasters, in the article entitled “Improve snippets with a meta description makeover”.
Snippets are the descriptions in search results under the titles.
The description in the meta must be unique and must give details on the page. It should contain keywords related to its contents.

Should I fill the meta keywords?

The meta keyword is not used by Google. It may be used by other search engines. Some webmasters performed a successful experience with the meta keyword and Yahoo.
If you need for additonnal trafic from Yahoo, fill the meta keyword.

The operator link in the search bar (link: site-name) is a command to display the number of links pointing to a site. In fact this command provides only a fraction of backlinks, in order to save servers bandwich.
The choice of outcome is totally random, this was confirmed by Matt Cutts in a video on Youtube. They have nothing to do with PR or with the quality of the pages, they are taken randomly.

Why a second indented link for the same site in results page?

The result of a query displays for a site, a link, and then a second, which is shifted. This means that the same site appears twice among the same search results page, in which case the two pairs title and descriptions are combined with no respect to the score of the second one.

Are internal links helpful?

Internal links, mainly on the home page, facilitate the indexing of the pages, and also tend to spread the PageRank of a page to another. Put a maximum of internal links in the content of the pages, when a term refers to the content of another page of course.
The anchor of the link must be descriptive, it helps search engines to define the content of a target page and therefore favors its rank.
Several links to the same page may be even added, as explained further.

Are social bookmark links giving less weight than other back links?

For Matt Cutts, (see interview in references at bottom), a link is a link. And so links gained from social bookmark sites have same weight as other link in regular webpages.
But the weight of a link depends upon the PageRank of the page where it is added.

Is the domain extension important for PageRank?

No, the extension may be either .com, .edu or .org, this has no importance, only the PageRank of the page is important for backlinks. Links from these sites are not more trusted and do not pass more PageRank.
Référence in interview.

Are nofollow links followed by crawlers?

It is sometimes admitted that even if nofollowed links do not pass PageRank, they are used for discovery of new pages. This is denied by Google.
– Nofollow links do not pass PageRank.
– They are not used to discover new pages.
– The anchor is not used to define the content of the linked page.
They are totally ignored.
Référence in interview.

When multiple links point to the same page, only the first is taken into account by Google. But this is not the case if the links point to different sections of the page, determined by a fragment with the #xxxxxx format.
In this case, the anchor of each link is considered to index the target page. Whether it links to another site or on the same site.
It appears even that the first link on the page and not a section is ignored.
Tests have been made by seomoz to verify that.

Javascript links are they taken into account?

If they are easy to interpret they are considered as HTML tags and may even pass PageRank to the page that is linked.
Javascript links and search engines.

How many keywords can I put into a URL?

In the directory + filename, you can put until 5 keywords with no problem. Beyond that, your URL look as spam and the algorithm weights these words less. You can get spam report with lot of keyword in URLs (Matt Cutts in references).

The guidelines recommend to put less than 100 links. You can bypass this number, technically, there is no problem as Google can parse a page up to 500 KB, but it is bad practice and it is better to split the page into smaller ones.

My page is not indexed by search engines

Perhaps the HTML format is not correct and therefore not recognized by crawlers…
Check your syntax with the validator of the W3 Consortium.
If the page is new, it takes several days or weeks for it to be taken into account. See also paragraph on sitemaps.
It is also possible that Google or another search engine decides not to index your site because robots.txt is empty or malformed.

See at robot.txt.

Can I force a Web page to be indexed?

If robots do not come frequenlty enough on your site (the date of the last visit is indicated on the home page of webmaster tools), you can still force the indexing by getting a link to the page on another site that is frequently crawled.
See the article How to obtain backlinks and similar article on this site for details.

How to improve the SEO of my site?

Several page here are dedicated to SEO, see the SEO summary.
This page is dedicated to the optimization for search engines.

Where can I get more information about Googlebot?

Googlebot is the crawler of Google. It could parse some pages on your site every day. This Googlebot FAQ gives details of how it works.

What is lemmatisation?

An expected progress for search engines to identify the root of words and retrieve pages sharing same roots of words. Do not really seem yet implemented in 2007.

What is hilltop?

A theoretical extension to the PageRank, and that could prevent manipulations by an algorithm which classifies a page solely on the basis of links from authoritative sites. This is partially used by search engines according to the Google’s patent.

What is SERP?

Search Engine Result Pages, ie results pages provided by search engines in response to a query.

How to avoid cloaking?

Cloaking is presenting to search engines text that is not visible to visitors. It may not be intentional when you add text unnecessary to visitors to index pages made of flash or images or dynamic text that are not scanned by robots. But this is not allowed.
You should use an alt attributes dedicated for images instead. And for text displayed by JavaScript and not seen by robots, it can be submitted into thenoscript tag, it is permitted.

How to type without being redirected to my country version?

When you want to access the search engine, it automatically redirects you to the regional version of the engine. This is suitable for most users but not to the webmaster or the user who wants to do a search on
To reach, type in the URL bar:

What can be placed in bookmark. “ncr” could mean “no country redirect”.

What is the bounce rate?

Definition from Google: “Specifies in what percentage visitors left the site without viewing any other pages.” The bounce is the fact that a visitor leaves the site as soon as he read the page on which it arrives. So if three out of four visitors do read a single page and leave the site without to read others, the bounce rate will be 75%.
It is generally preferable to have a low bounce rate, it means that there is interest in the content of the site and that one read so many pages, but on the other hand, when a visitor searches for something very precise he will leave the site after having found it and the bounce in this case is a positive factor!

How to improve the bounce factor

How can we overshoot Wikipedia?

Wikipedia, the big wiki, sort of online encyclopedia, tends to arrive at the top in Google, although before websites with more comprehensive article and with more backlinks!
One of the reasons is that this site is favored and another is in the impressive number of links between articles and sub-domains.
But there is room to move ahead and achieve top results in search engines. The weakness of the wiki is that all articles have a single word for name and thus anchor are also a single keyword.
The solution is to make articles based on two keywords, for example, grape + health, or health + diet. The title of the article include two keywords, as well as the file name, and the anchors of internal links…
Searches made on two keywords should return your page rather the one keyword page of the wiki.

Can I modify the snippets?

A snippet is the name that Google gives tos the description under the title of the page in search results.
It is actually possible to change this text and make it more attractive, especially with the meta description

How to improve snippets

How can I leave the sandbox?

A site enters the sandbox, because it is penalized by Google, the crawlers of the search engine have calculated that the content on the site is intended to artificially obtain a good ranking in results.
The first thing to do to get out of the sandbox is to delete from the content all possible causes of penalties, then you must work to obtain quality backlinks.

How to leave the sandbox.

What is minus thirty?

Many webmasters believe they have suffered a penalty that is called minus 30 or -30. Their site is bumped from #1 to #31 in results of Google, and it is very clear with the URL of the site. In general, a site ranks first on its name with the extension, or the sites are now found in 31th position.

My site has disappeared from Google’s index, what can I do?

The first thing to check is the robots.txt file to see if it does not block robots. Robots are blocked with a directive of the form Disallow: /
They are not blocked if nothing follows Disallow.
Then see the list of errors to not commit in SEO. If your site is in no case you must wait until it is inserted in the index again.

The link operator in the search bar (link: site-name) is a command to display the number of links pointing to a site. In fact this command provides only a fraction of backlinks, in order to save bandwich of servers.
The choice of outcomes is totally random, this was confirmed by Matt Cutts in a video on Youtube. They have nothing to do with PR or with the quality of the pages, they are taken randomly.

How to be a trusted site?

Your site can become trusted in two phases. In a first step you have to gain authority among readers. Then it will be readers who will make your site trusted for Google, by citing its content. A list of ways to achieve this objective is given by Google.

Google tells you how to be a trusted site.

Should we add content frequently?

Continuously adding new pages can it not be harmful since it increases the number of links on the homepage?

Adding content is good but you we must follow some rules of organization. The homepage does not link to all articles but only a few. Each page must have a link on the home page and links to related articles: links should always be relevant.

That said, Google promotes new content, so assuming that your new articles are related to the actuality, or your change in previous articles update them, it is good for SEO.
The changes that are not of actuality have little interest, it serves mostly Adsense which targets preferentially pages that evolve.

Which percentage of users click on the first link in search page results?

A statistical study by a university on the one hand and a leaked document from AOL on the other give an answer, at least 70% of clicks are on the first three links and about 50% over the first.

Distribution of clicks in the results pages of search engines.

How to improve naturally the PageRank

PageRank, or website ranking, is a notation from 0 to 10, given by Google to each page of a website.
The higher is this value, the better will be the position of the page in results of searches, among other pages that match the request.
A 5 points PageRank is Good. 7 points may be reached with valuable backlinks. The number of 10 points PageRank websites is very short!
The word PageRank comes both from “page ranking” and “Page” that is the name of one of the two authors of the algorithm (Serguey Brin and Larry Page).

PageRank, or website ranking, is a notation from 0 to 10, given by Google to each page of a website.The higher is this value, the better will be the position of the page in results of searches, among other pages that match the request.A 5 points PageRank is Good. 7 points may be reached with valuable backlinks. The number of 10 points PageRank websites is very short!The word PageRank comes both from “page ranking” and “Page” that is the name of one of the two authors of the algorithm (Serguey Brin and Larry Page).

Is PageRank important?

According to Google, PageRank is the more important among 100 criteria to order pages in results of searches.
Thus, it is not the only one. But for websites that match a same group of keywords, it is very important.

Is PageRank used against duplicate content?

When two pages are identical, and if the date of indexing is not sufficient to know what is the original and what is the copy, Google considers that the page with the higher PageRank is the original. This was clearly stated in an interview of Matt Cuts by Stephan Spencer and confirmed by a post on the Google’s blog about duplicate content.

How is calculated PageRank by Google?

The value of PageRank doesn’t depend upon the content of the page, but only of links to the page instead.
Links in the page towards other website is important also.
Links to a page are considered as a vote for this page. But the value of this vote depend of the PageRank of the page that emits it.
The PageRank of a page is transmitted to linked page but the added value is divided by the number of links. If a page links to ten pages, the added value of the vote is divided by ten.
The ranking of a page depends upon of ranking of backlinks, and also ranking of other pages it links.

(From the article “Deeper inside PageRank” by A.N. Langville et C.D. Meyer)

What is cloaking?

This is creating alternate pages that are read by crawlers (robots of search engines) but not by human readers. These hidden pages are full of keywords to improve search results.
When cloaking is detected the website goes to the blacklist, their pages are no longer indexed. See “” et “” affairs (same webmaster?)

What is spamming?

This is putting lot of hidden links into a web page (inside “no script” tags for example) to make more links to a friend website and improve its ranking. Once spamming is recognized, the two websites goes to the blacklist.

What is spoofing?

This is redirecting a page to a page in another website with a high PageRank, and this result in the source page to get the PR of the destination. The redirection is achieved by the use of the “refresh” meta tag. Visitors see the current page, but search engines see only the target page with the high PR.
This is known as a bug in the calculation of the PR, and is probably fixed now.

How to know my PageRank?

Just install Google’s toolbar on your browser. The PageRank of each page is displayed when you visit your website.
But this is a kind of mean as PageRank depends upon a group of keywords. To know the real ranking, perform searches with various keywords. The position of your page (when several match the request) gives the ranking: the top of list means for a ranking of 10. First page of search results means for 6-9 PR when lot of matches exists.
This website can also display the PageRank of your site.

A company guarantees me a 10 points PR.

I have been contacted by a company and it guarantees me a 10 points PR, and I want to improve my ranking. Should I accept?
According to Google, nobody can garantee a PageRank, for any position. (And I know only a dozen of big websites with a 10 PR).

Is the PageRank the first factor for the position?

Matt Cutts is the member of the Google’s SEO staff who communicates the most often on medias about the algorithm. He said in an interview published on the Stonetemple site, in Octobre 8, 2007:

I would certainly say that the links are the primary way that we look at things now in terms of reputation.

Links are the source of the PageRank, according their weight and their number, and they are the first factor for the reputation of the document, which in turn is certainly the first factor for the position in results.

What means a graybar PR? Is this a penalty?

This is not necessarily a penalty and this is not a problem with the toolbar as some think. This is not equivalent to a PR 0.
The graybar is a signal that something is wrong with the page from the rules that Google wants to see applied by webmasters. The more often a lack of content, an excess number of internal or external links compared to the content.
In practice, it prevents the spread of PR. A page is rarely grayed if it has quality backlinks, otherwise you should study it as it can contain anomalies.

How to improve my PageRank (PR)?

The PR of a page depends on the number and the quality of links from other sites to this page. It is improved by getting quality backlinks, but other criteria contribute to the score of the page.

How to improve the PR of a page.

Other factors for the position in results.

PageRank, that is based upon backlinks, is only one factor among several ones, to calculate the position of link to your website, in results of search engines.
These factors are also considered:
– The localization of the host and the language of the request.
– Clicks on the link to your website rather than other links in results. Your page must be chosen. Imagine good title and description, clear and attracting.
– The number of keywords. This is used first to select a page, and then to calculate its position in the list.

A more complete list is given in the Google patent.

Does a 301 redirect mean a lost in PageRank?

When a page is redirected through the HTTP code 301, the PageRank is transmitted with a discount. This has been confirmed by Matt Cutts. The ratio of this reduction is unclear, but we can say from experience that it is enough to lose one or more positions in results.
It is better to avoid changing the domain of a site if it is not absolutely necessary.
Ref WebmasterWorld.

When the PageRank is it updated?

The actual PageRank depends on the evolution of backlinks among other factors and is constantly modified.

But the public PR as displayed by the green bar of the toolbar is automatically changed to fixed dates, every three months, in the beginning of January, April, July, October.


PageRank, or website ranking, is a notation from 0 to 10, given by Google to each page of a website.The higher is this value, the better will be the position of the page in results of searches, among other pages that match the request.A 5 points PageRank is Good. 7 points may be reached with valuable backlinks. The number of 10 points PageRank websites is very short!The word PageRank comes both from “page ranking” and “Page” that is the name of one of the two authors of the algorithm (Serguey Brin and Larry Page).

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