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What Does Themeing Really Mean


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16 replies to this topic

#1 razzle

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 11:18 AM

Hello,

Just wondering what peoples opinions are of themeing and whether it is worth completely re-organising your site to try and up your themeing. There are so many differing opinions on this that I hear and indeed so many different definitions of what it really is.

If anyone could enlighten me on what themeing methods they use or perhaps whether they really make a difference I would be eternally grateful as at times the whole concept gets a little confusing!! :eek:

Thanks in advance!

#2 Jill

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 11:28 AM

Welcome, Razzle! :eek:

My own thoughts about theming is that it's not important, and nothing you have to worry about.

Each page of your site should have a specific focus on two or three keyword phrases, and they should also appropriately link to the other pages of your site.

But your site as a whole does not need to be "themed" in any particular way for any given page to rank highly for it's keyword phrases.

I'm sure others will heartily disagree, but I have never done anything to "theme" a site, and don't seem to have a problem with rankings.

That said, most sites are naturally "themed" anyway, as it's much more usable to the person visiting the site, as opposed to having a site that is all over the map talking about a wide variety of things.

Jill

#3 razzle

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 11:42 AM

THanks Jill :eek:

I was hoping that you would say something like that. My sites seem to do fine on the search engines but here always seems to be a niggle at the back of my mind that I should be paying more attention to this area of optimisation. I guess you are never really satisfied and always want to improve your rankings.

#4 Farhan

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 11:59 AM

Ah I too wanted to be get this straight. :D

Till date what I understand from 'themeing" a site is something like this:


Search Engine Optimization Home > Keyword Research Home > keyword research article 1
Search Engine Optimization Home > Keyword Research Home > keyword research article 2
Search Engine Optimization Home > Keyword Research Home > keyword research article n


Search Engine Optimization Home > Link popularity Home > Link popularity article 1
Search Engine Optimization Home > Link popularity Home > Link popularity article 2
Search Engine Optimization Home > Link popularity Home > Link popularity article n

Is this like creating a themed site on search engine optimization?

#5 markymark

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 12:34 PM

My understanding of themeing accords with Jill's. In fact, it is a bit of a myth perpetuated by SEOs who read too many white papers, spend a lot of time talking rubbish on forums and who never test their ideas properly.

The only search engine that has any 'themeing' type component to their algo is Teoma and even this has little to do with 'themed' websites and more to do with communities of related sites.

My advice is - themed sites are a nonsense; forget about it.

Kinda wish Mike Grehan was a member here. His book certainly makes mincemeat of the 'themes' idea.

#6 markymark

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 12:36 PM

Farhan, what you are describing is just good site architecture, IMO.

#7 Jill

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 12:50 PM

Mike is a member here, Mark! I'd ask him to chime in, but his post may fill up my quota of disk space.... :D

Just kiddin! Kinda. Sorta. :)

Jill

#8 markymark

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 12:54 PM

Ah, I didn't know he was a member. That's excellent. I think his input would be good, though. Particularly, as I just managed to finish that book of his and my head hurts.

#9 Farhan

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 04:50 PM

Farhan, what you are describing is just good site architecture, IMO.

Okay then themes are nonsense! Agreed :aloha:

#10 Ron Carnell

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 05:13 PM

Opinions are always good to hear. Evidence, however, would seem to be even better. Can anyone supply a highly ranked page on a fairly generic term that does NOT relate to the overall theme of the web site where it originates? That's really all it would take to prove theming is a myth.

Theming doesn't really relate to the SEO normally discussed these days. Everyone, after all, usually talks about targeted keyword phrases and studiously avoids going after the more generic single-word keywords. If someone types in blue widgets california, theme isn't really an issue and I wouldn't expect the search engines to give it much weight. If someone simply types in widgets, however, I think theming becomes more important. As a searcher, would you rather find a single page that mentioned widgets fifty or sixty times (keyword density) or would you rather find a whole web site dedicated to widgets?

I honestly don't know if the current crop of search engines takes theme into consideration or not, but I think for some generic keywords they probably should. Back in 1997-1999, Excite pretty much invented theme and used it to eliminate a lot of garbage from their SERPs. In those days, uniques were the name of the game, whether targeted or not, and it was fairly common for people to optimize one page for Michael Jordan and another for Pacman, just to get the most hits to a site that had nothing at all to do with either. I guess $35 CPMs can instigate that kind of stuff. Then, for very generic and popular terms, Excite started looking at the whole web site instead of just a page, and the SERPs improved dramatically.

As Jill said, for most sites, this really shouldn't be an issue. If your whole site is about widgets, then it's pretty much themed. In my case, however, my site was about poetry, a pretty generic term, but every poem was about something entirely different from every other poem. I had to struggle to develop a theme Excite could understand. I always ranked well on multi-word searches, where theme didn't matter, but had to really fight for the generic ones. I succeeded, but I think only because every other poetry site faced the same problem. For us, theme was hard to determine. And as well as I did, I never was able to beat a naturally themed site like poetry dot com (I still can't bring myself to type that in a way a search engine might find it.) :aloha:

Again, I don't know about today's SE's. I haven't launched a new site in two years and I've never launched one since my first that wasn't pretty naturally themed. All I really know is that theme, for some keywords, makes a lot of sense.

#11 awall19

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 06:38 PM

Opinions are always good to hear. Evidence, however, would seem to be even better. Can anyone supply a highly ranked page on a fairly generic term that does NOT relate to the overall theme of the web site where it originates? That's really all it would take to prove theming is a myth.


I do not think that any page could honestly stray too far from that of its home and still rank high for generic terms, unless all of its competitors are not very creative. I created a webpage about the navy reserves, with essentially no pagerank on a website not about the reserves that has pretty decent listings for the term "navy reserves" in Google, but this is mostly because those in the Navy Reserves want to feel distinguished and refer to themselves as the Naval Reserves.

The whole concept of following a theme should come naturally. The only way to bypass this is just to have an execeptional knowledge base on a particular subject within another site. In a sense though, the origin page of that knowledge base will "act" as a homepage. IF that became more popular than the rest of the site it would be logical to consider breaking that off from the rest of the site using either a subdomain or a new domain.

From a usability standpoint, a site should be organized. If it has little organization it looses credibility quickly. That is a major fault of my current site design (on all my sites) MUCH WORK TO DO :aloha:

As far as running a theme it is best to do what the search engines say, and do what the usability experts say, what the copywrite experts say... just make great content for the user and all other things will eventually fall into place.

Eventually search engines will become more advanced and be able to use more algorithmic inputs (such as using more off page criteria). To make an engine more complex without adding benifit to the end user is not the goal of any search engine. Clustering will eventually be an important role in any competitive search engine. As stated above, Teoma already is perceived as the current leader in this technology. Others are working on similar technology Kaltix aritcle from News.com

Kaltix is a web personalization spinoff from the Stanford Pagerank Advancement team.

#12 Matt B

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Posted 12 August 2003 - 08:06 PM

Themes are an interesting debate.

IMO a well designed site will naturally have a theme, at least one that can be distilled into a 2-3 word description. As the semantic web becomes a reality, i believe that themed sites (for lack of a better term) will become much more popular as a means of creating a consistent message for a website.

I guess my definition of a themed site would be one with a solid amount of consistent content and good architecture.

#13 markymark

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Posted 13 August 2003 - 02:33 AM

Can anyone supply a highly ranked page on a fairly generic term that does NOT relate to the overall theme of the web site where it originates? That's really all it would take to prove theming is a myth.


OK, then. Do a search in Google for 'sex' (without the quotes). Second listing is from HBO.com and is about the programme Sex and the City. I'm pretty certain that the overall theme of HBO.com isn't sex.

Actually, I'd forgotten about Excite - it was already dying a death by the time I came to do this professionally, so I"m not really in a position to comment on it's themeing element.

I don't believe that any search engine would want to rank an extremely informative article on tigers lower simply because it appears on a site about coffee production. It just doesn't make sense to me. Indeed, the whole point of PageRank is to reward pages that are considered important, regardless of the nature of the site they appear on.

#14 Ron Carnell

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Posted 13 August 2003 - 07:06 AM

Circa 1997-1998, AltaVista supplied its results to Yahoo and Excite to AOL, and they were pretty neck and neck in driving traffic. It wasn't until @home bought Excite that the rigor mortis you noticed set in. ;)

That's a good example, Mark. Further down the SERP, I even found a page listed from the Texas Dept. of Public Safety pointing to a database of sex offenders. I'd certainly agree neither is themed. My initial reaction was that maybe PR did away with the need for theming. As you say, why penalize a very popular page just because it doesn't fit into a theme? The HBO page you reference has a PR of 6, as does the ninth ranked Texas page, and presumably both have a lot of off-page anchor text using the search term.

I find myself wondering, though, whether the results are entirely relevant. If you were searching for widgets, would you be happy finding a television show about widgets? It's clear, I think, that Google isn't referencing theme, at least for these results. But maybe they should?

Interestingly, none of the results on this first page (I didn't go further) include the kind of lurid adult sites you would have probably seen on Excite or AV. I'm still trying to figure out, from the searcher's POV, whether that's good or bad?

#15 Tenyque

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Posted 13 August 2003 - 07:59 AM

I don't believe that any search engine would want to rank an extremely informative article on tigers lower simply because it appears on a site about coffee production.  It just doesn't make sense to me. Indeed, the whole point of PageRank is to reward pages that are considered important, regardless of the nature of the site they appear on.


I too agree that current search engines are not examining sites for strong themes, but perhaps someday in the future and for some terms the search engines might decide to sarifice the tiger-page-on-the-coffee-site situation in order to fine tune searches like "sex".

It seems to me that a little themeing would go a long way in taming sites with high PR mentioning a term, like the interlinked bloggers.




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