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6 Newbie SEO Questions

April 4, 2007

Someone emailed me with a list of quick questions about some SEO terminology
they didnít understand. I figured if one person was looking for these
answers, many of you would be, too.


1. What is .htaccess?


.htaccess is a configuration file that is uploaded to your Apache web server
(it doesnít work with Windows servers). Itís a text file that allows you to
change the way your web pages work. For instance, you can put some commands
in the .htaccess file that password-protect certain areas of your site. You
can also use it to create a custom 404-error page or change which page of
your site will be the default home page.


For SEO purposes, youíll often hear of it being used for redirects. For
instance, if you are redesigning your website and absolutely have to change
your URLs (because youíre putting a new content management system in, for
example), then you could use your .htaccess file to set up permanent
301-redirects from the old URLs to the new. I use mine most often to turn
long URLs (like those of affiliate links) into short, easy-to-remember URLs.

Just be careful when you use the .htaccess file for your site. One small
mistake can make your entire site stop working! Be sure to always back up
your old .htaccess file before you upload a new one in case this happens to
you (and if you work with one often, most likely it will!).


2. What is KEI?


KEI stands for Keyword Effectiveness Index, which is something that was
invented for users of Wordtrackerís keyword research software. It is
supposed to help you measure the competitiveness of your keyword phrases,
but itís never been a good way to do this. I suggest ignoring KEI altogether and looking at other ways to measure keyword competition. I wrote about this in a recent
newsletter article, ďWhy Use Keyword Research Tools?ď.


3. What are supplemental results?


If a page is shown that is in the supplemental results, Google indicates
this in their search results pages (SERPs). It doesnít mean that your page
or site is banned or penalized. More often than not, pages that are similar
to other pages (or complete duplicates) are the ones that show up in the
supplemental results. Itís generally not something to worry about unless
tons of the pages on your site start showing up there. When that happens
youíll need to figure out why and fix whatever might be causing the problem.


4. What is a link farm?


There are many definitions of a link farm, but I like to go with the
traditional one. That is, a link farm is a set of websites that have all
decided to link to each other. Itís basically done through a links page
that every site from the link farm is required to upload to their site.
Every time a new site is added to the farm, it would get added to the links
page for everyone to re-upload. There have been hundreds of variations on
this basic idea through the years.


Suffice it to say that you want to stay as far away as possible from any
kind of linking scheme whatsoever. Especially one that requires you to link
to sites that you might not really recommend to your target audience.


5. When does PageRank update?


I believe that real PageRank ó the one that only Google knows about Ė
updates all the time. Toolbar PageRank, on the other hand, updates only
about once a quarter. This is why itís important never to use what you see
in the green graph of your toolbar as any true measurement of anything. But
itís fine to look at it as long as you take the information it provides with
a grain of salt.


6. What is a 3-way link?


A 3-way link is just another crazy linking scheme that some spammers dreamed
up when they thought that the typical ďyou link to me and Iíll link backĒ
scheme wasnít working anymore. With the 3-way link, you link to someone,
and they link to someone else, and that someone else links back to you.
Itís silly, and nothing you need to do. If you want a really *good* linking
scheme, the best is the Trapezoidal Linking Matriflux technique.  (I even have the t-shirt!)


(P.S. If anyone would like to republish the above Q&A article, please email
me your request and where it will reside, and Iíll send you a short bio you
can use with it for your site.)