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High Rankings Advisor: How to Impress Search Engines and Users - Issue No. 033

November 6, 2002
________________________________________________________

~~~IN TODAY'S ADVISOR~~~

*Introductory Comments:
---->   Lotsa Good Stuff

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   Multiple Domain Names Pointing to One Site

*This Week's Sponsor:
---->   Webnautics: Custom Programming/Scripts

*Usability and Search Engine Optimization:
---->   How To Impress Search Engines and Users (Part 2)

*Other SEO News:
---->   AlltheWeb Skins

*Stuff You Might Like
---->   Words That Work

*Advisor Wrap-Up:
---->   eSuperWoman.com?
________________________________________________________

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hey guys!  Got lots of good stuff for you this week.  (Would you
expect any less?)  There's a question regarding multiple domains (one
of the most common questions I am asked) plus the second part of Kim's
usability/SEO article and much, much more.  Hope you learn something
new, and enjoy the read! - Jill


~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

++Multiple Domain Names Pointing to One Site++

From: Michele Riggs

Hi Jill -

I've only been subscribing to your newsletter for a short time, so
sorry if I missed the answer to my question.

I have heard through the grapevine that if you buy many domain names
and point them back to your home page, when the search engines find
this out they will shut you off.  Is that true at all?

The company I represent has been hounded by a persistent "search
engine expert" who seems to be willing to say anything to get their
business.  He claims he once had a client who had 50 domains all
pointing to the same front page.  The search engines kicked them out,
and they had to cut it down to only a couple of domains.  (My client
doesn't have 50 domains or even close to that.)

Because of this guy's expensive service to do "exclusive listings" on
Google and Overture, I'm not sure what to think, but perhaps I'm
missing something.

Thanks for your help.

Michele Riggs

~~~Jill's Reply~~~

Hi Michele,

The short answer is that it's very probable that the search engines
did remove the multiple domains that all pointed to one site.  Think
about it...why would the engines want to have a whole bunch of doorway
domains in their databases?  All they're interested in are the actual
homepage and its contents.

However, the long answer to the question of removing multiple domains
is that it depends.  There are legitimate reasons why a company might
have numerous domains/sites that provide unique content and
information but also happen to link back to the main company homepage.

For instance, take a corporation like Procter & Gamble.  You have the
main P&G site, but you also have hundreds of sites for all the
different products that P&G markets.  Each different product site has
its own domain name and a unique Web site that also has a link back to
the main homepage.  No search engine would have a problem with this,
as it makes sense to set things up this way.

Where companies get into trouble is when they create multiple domains
solely for the purpose of attaining extra exposure in the search
engines.  Years ago, this was a common search engine optimization
strategy (although it's one I always felt was shortsighted).  The
logic was that if one domain could bring in some rankings, just think
of how many rankings 10, 20 or 30 domains could bring in.

Another reason for doing this was the belief that keywords in the
domain name were somehow the secret weapon to obtaining high rankings!
Instead of optimizing the visible copy and HTML code of the pages,
many believed that all they needed was a keyword-rich domain (and of
course Meta tags...NOT!). Well, I'm sure many of you who tried this
technique found that this theory isn't all it was cracked up to be.
Keywords in the domain name will help you only if you're competing
against other sites that are equally unoptimized.  Most engines give
the domain name very little (if any) weight, and place much more
emphasis on keywords used within the copy.

So, Michele, I guess my question to you would be what is the purpose
of your client's multiple domains?  Do they just have one site, but
have a variety of domain names for branding purposes?  If all the
domain names are parked at one IP address, this is not going to be a
problem with the search engines, because there's really just one site.
But if they have a whole bunch of different sites that are simply
there to drive traffic to the main site, then yes, this is trouble
waiting to happen.  If the company can explain their products and
services using just one site (in other words, they ain't no P&G), then
one site is probably all they should have.  Get to work on that one
site, and make it the best it can be.

Optimize all the copy on every single page for two or three unique
keyword phrases, and create different Title tags to match.  Be sure to
remove all doorway domains and simply park the domain names at the
same IP address as the main site.  Then pat yourself on the back for
averting a disaster, and sit down with a nice Merlot!

You may be interested in some previous questions I've answered about
multiple domains.  You can find them here:
</issue005.htm>
</issue013.htm>
</issue007.htm#seo5>.


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~~~Usability and Search Engine Optimization~~~

++How To Impress Search Engines and Users (Part 2)++

Here's part two of Kim Krause's SEO/Usability article, as promised! -
Jill

Guest Article
How To Impress Search Engines and Users (continued)
Kimberly Krause

Search engines and directories are seeking "quality" pages to present
to their users. By consistently using a few simple design techniques,
you can reward them by having a site that's easy to scan and
effortless to purchase from.  If you take the time to implement the
simple navigation and coding tips below, you will present your
visitors with a user interface that is immediately understandable and
navigable.

Navigation for Usability and SEO

Never design a user right out of your Web site; do everything to keep
them there, browsing around. If you follow this rule of thumb, search
engine crawlers will also "run around" the Web site looking for pages
to add to their database.

1. Be consistent and consolidate wherever possible. "Help," "FAQ,"
"Information" and "Instructions" can be all put into one page or one
"hub" that is devoted entirely to assisting your user.  Break the info
up inside the hub if necessary, instead of having four pages that mean
basically the same thing. In addition, saying "Information about blah
blah," uses those all-important keywords, whereas "Information" isn't
helpful to engines.

2. Always use breadcrumb trails. This type of navigation is similar to
a popcorn trail. For example: Home > Hub> Bucket A > Bucket B > Bucket
C

or

Home > HubA > HubB > HubC with sub-breadcrumb trail navigation for
buckets. (See Part 1 of this article for more information on hubs and
buckets: </issue032.htm#guest>.)

Breadcrumbs are used in conjunction with regular navigation. They
don't replace it. They're nearly always text links, in a smaller font.
Large sites should have top-of-the-page navigation pointing to the
top-level pages and hub navigation on the left with breadcrumb
navigation inside, and footer navigation should be placed at the
bottom of the page.

3. The footer of your pages is also important. When all else fails,
there must be a fast way "Home" or to the "Contact" page, at the very
least. The footer is a good place to feed text-only links that are
redundant to the top-level navigation, so your user doesn't have to
scroll back up to the top of the page. Supplying this added
convenience also allows another shot at keyword insertion, and helps
users who have their graphics turned off.

4. Use keyword phrases within your main content links. These links may
go to the exact same place as top-level navigation links but they're
labeled with keywords related to the same topic. For example, a
top-level navigation link may be labeled "Search Engine Optimization,"
while a text link lower down on the page from inside a paragraph
(pointing to the same page) might say "Search Engine Marketing."
Since users and engines use both terms heavily, you're covering your
bases by taking this extra measure.

5. Always use a sitemap. Create a content-driven sitemap containing
links to the inside pages of your Web site (or in the case of huge
sites, links to the top-level pages). A Table of Contents is also
helpful in some cases. Be sure to link to your sitemap or TOC near the
top of the homepage as it will be picked up by crawlers, and also
appreciated by site visitors.  Hint: Pay to have this page included in
any search portal that offers a regular refresh, if you add new pages
on a regular basis.

Behind the Scenes

You've probably heard this before, but it's worth repeating. Be extra
careful with "What You See Is What You Get" (WYSIWYG) HTML editors.
The generic code they create will often not meet the needs of all
users or search engines.

1. Never underestimate the value of your Title tag. Each page must
have its own descriptive Title tag that matches the topic of the page
exactly. This text appears whenever someone bookmarks the page, and it
provides important information for the search engines.  Remember that
Meta keyword tags are nearly useless these days but are known to be
somewhat helpful when the content of the page strongly supports those
keywords.  Therefore, be selective with what you put in that tag.
Don't waste time calculating density and meeting Meta keyword
character specifications. Just focus on backing up the actual content
on the page, or using synonyms and misspellings.

2. Build a pyramid with your code. One of the easiest ways to satisfy
search engines and users is to quickly get to the point of a page by
designing it like a pyramid. Put the most important information at the
very top of the page, in text or text links that go to top-level
pages. Content should be placed so that the most important, useful
information is at or near the top of the page, above the "fold." The
least important information and links should be lower on the page.

3. Whenever possible put your CSS and JavaScript into separate files
rather than having the script on the page. Otherwise, it could
interfere with the crawlers' ability to quickly find keywords within
your content. Watch out for JavaScript that is used for navigation
menus that special-needs users can never see and search engines cannot
follow.

4. Get into the habit of placing keywords in your "image alt tag" text
and "link title" text. For example: <a href="seo.html" title="Learn
more about Search Engine Marketing and Promotion">Search Engine
Optimization</a>.

Who says you can't be creative while trying to adhere to search engine
optimization or usability standards?  Just remember to offer
instructions on how to work any new site features, or ask your
visitors if they had any trouble navigating, ordering, searching, etc.
Some of the best ideas are based on good old-fashioned customer
service feedback (i.e., user testing).  Though it may seem like a lot
of extra work now, with a little practice, designing for searches,
sales, traffic and users can become second nature to you.

Kim Krause
SEO/Usability/Web Site Rescue Consultant
http://www.cre8pc.com


~~~Other SEO News~~~

++AlltheWeb Skins++

Last week </issue032.htm#seonews1>, I
mentioned that FAST had some cool new "skins" you could use to
customize your searching experience at their flagship engine,
AlltheWeb <http://www.allthweb.com>.  At the time, I was annoyed
because you couldn't just click on a skin and have it automatically
work for you.  Had I read their press release more carefully, I would
have seen that the one-click ability to choose a pre-made skin was
about to kick in a few days later.

It's all up and running now, and it's very simple to use.  There are
currently 9 or 10 different designs to choose from, and I imagine
they'll add more over time.  Plus, you can always customize your own
if you have a little bit of CSS knowledge.  Have fun!


~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~

++Words That Work++

My copywriter friend Karon (of Step-By-Step Copywriting Course fame
</issue009.htm#stuff>), recently turned me
on to some really cool reports for all you copywriters and wannabe
copywriters out there.  If you've ever wanted to get deep into the
minds of your target audience when writing, you're gonna wonder how
you ever lived without these reports.

Instead of trying to explain what they are, I'm going to let Karon
tell you in her own words, because she uses them all the time when she
writes.

Here's Karon!

[Karon] Thanks, Jill!  With all the hoopla on the Net these days, I
don't get truly excited about many new products anymore.  But I have
to tell ya... these new reports I've been introduced to are simply
outstanding!

They are called "Words That Work" and they give you precisely what the
title says.  You get specific and exact phrasing to use in your copy
for specific and exact professions.

They don't teach you how to write copy using the phrases (that's what
my Step-By-Step Copywriting Course is for!), but they DO give you
in-depth information into the mindset of people who work in certain
employment categories, plus the words that positively and negatively
influence them.

I really feel these reports are truly superior, and the perfect "tool"
for any copywriter to own.  I own six of them already!  - Karon
Thackston

[Jill] Karon made me curious, so I took a look at the one that
discusses entrepreneurs and the words that work on them.  (In other
words, people like Karon and me.)  The report consisted of a sort of
psychological profile of entrepreneurs in general.  So for instance,
it starts out telling you what entrepreneurs "primarily want," and
then it gives you some words that go along with that want.  For
example, one of the phrases that works with this target audience is
"being in charge."  (Ya think? <grin>)

What's cool is that the report doesn't just give you a list of words
and leave you wondering *why* they work.  They give you detailed
explanations derived from their in-depth studies of this market
segment.  It was actually kind of fun reading the entrepreneur
report...like reading about your astrological sign!  I found it
particularly amusing when I was scrolling through the report trying to
"cut to the chase" and found this remark, "...entrepreneurs don't
trust anything abstract because -- in contrast to anything that's
thought of as concrete -- it's theoretical."  It appears that they
really do know their stuff, as there I was -- searching for the
concrete!

I would imagine that even if you've been writing copy for years, you
might not always have a clear understanding of exactly whom your
target market is when you're writing.  In fact, I've always wondered
how copywriters figured that stuff out!  If you sometimes feel that
way, I highly suggest you give one or two of these reports a spin.
There are 38 in all, and you can learn more or purchase the ones
you're interested in through my affiliate link here:
</wordsthatwork>.

One last comment from Karon (who is a professional copywriter --
unlike me, who just slaps together this e-rag!):

[Karon] I just wanted to say that I've put these to use already with
several clients and gotten exceptional results.  I highly recommend
you check them out!

[Jill] Thanks, Karon!


~~~Advisor Wrap-Up~~~

That's it guys!  Thanks for reading.  I'm running around like a
chicken with my head cut off lately.  Between the seminar I'm giving
on Nov. 18 </seminar>, this newsletter,
forum reading/posting, my current clients and all those who want to
become my clients, I'm starting to wonder which way is up!  Oh yeah,
and not to mention 3 kids and a hubby who all need attention...just
call me eSuperWoman!  (Hmm...wonder if the domain is available???)

See ya in a week! - Jill
 
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