April 3, 2002
~~~IN TODAY'S ADVISOR~~~
----> Have You Seen My Creative Juices?
*Search Engine Marketing Questions:
----> Key Phrase Density
----> Securing Top Directory Rankings
----> Overuse of a Keyword?
----> Submitting Multiple Domains
----> More on Multiple Domains
----> Questions About Web Position Gold
*This Week's Sponsor:
----> Search Engine Guide
*Other SEO News:
----> Teoma Relaunch
----> LookSmart Small Business Listings
----> Jill the Hunter
Okay, I admit it...I'm copping out this week. Last week's PageRank
Mania article really seemed to drain my creative juices, and they're
still not flowing! Since I know I can't keep up the same intensity I
had in the past four Advisor issues, today I'm taking a little
breather. But don't go hitting that delete button too quickly;
there's still some good stuff here. In fact, you may even learn a lot
from this issue.
What I've done is post a whole pile of questions I received over the
past few weeks, along with my original answers. Most of them are
short and sweet and to the point, but nonetheless informative.
They're the types of questions I get all the time, so some of them
will probably hit home with you. (I answered some of them before
finishing my morning coffee some days, so read at your own risk!) Let
me know if this type of Q&A works for you, and I'll continue to use it
on weeks when I've run out of steam. By the same token, if you think
it sucks, feel free to let me know too!
Happy Reading! - Jill
~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~
++Key Phrase Density++
From: Tony Summers [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Thanks for all the great tips; you've really helped unlock the
"secrets" to good (I mean great!) SEO! I now know how to research
phrases properly, how to include them in the copy and where else to
place them for maximum results.
However, there is one area that I still can't seem to find a
definitive answer to - key phrase density.
Is there an optimum density that will work across all search engines?
Is more always better? If so, what is the maximum amount of
repetition that won't get you banned? Also, are there different ideal
densities for 1, 2 and 3 word key phrases? Finally, does key phrase
density apply solely to the body copy, or does it include code as
I look forward to being enlightened!
Hereford and Worcester
Chamber of Commerce and Business Link
As far as keyphrase density goes, I don't personally use any
particular numbers. My feeling is to use your keyphrases within the
text as much as it makes sense to do so. If it reads well, you're
doing okay. If it sounds stupid, you probably went overboard.
Although others may have particular numbers to give you, if you look
at the various results in the engines, I truly think there are no real
numbers. Use common sense and do what works for your copy. That's
how I've always done it and it always seems to work!
++Securing Top Directory Rankings++
From: Brian Raynor [email@example.com]
Some SEO experts talk about "securing top rankings" at Yahoo! and
LookSmart. Don't directories just give you alpha listings? -- Or have
I missed something here?
If you *can* do something to influence your "rankings" in the
directories -- apart from inclusion of keywords in the description,
that is -- please tell all!
Marketing Unlimited -- delivering bankable results
Brian, sure, you can get top rankings at Yahoo! (not sure about
"secure them"). It's not just alpha listings, as most people do
searches and get results. I don't think the average person drills
down through the directory. They do a search just like at a search
engine, and results from the directory show up in some sort of ranked
order. So yeah, you do have to do things to ensure yours comes up
(hopefully) near the top.
>>If you *can* do something to influence your "rankings" in the
directories -- apart from inclusion of keywords in the description,
that is -- please tell all!>>
Those ARE the things you can do! It's important to do those things
right the first time. As you know, what you do on your page won't
have an effect on directory rankings.
I wrote a bit more on how Yahoo ranks sites in Rank Write Issue 066:
++Overuse of Keyword?++
From: Margaret Walsh [GizmoPoppy@cs.com]
I have a problem that plagued me when I first wrote my Web site and I
want to avoid this from happening for my new rewrite.
My topic is Louis Wain who created Wain Cats (recognizable by traits),
at the turn of the last century. In writing my home page, to say what
was needed I used the two key phrases "Louis Wain" and "Wain Cats." I
ran it through Net Mechanic's optimizer many, many times and Net
Mechanic kept telling me I was using "Wain" too much. Both of these
keywords are crucial to my site, and I could not eliminate them any
more than I did without losing the content of the page. How can I get
around this? It is absolutely necessary that both of the above
phrases are keywords. Any suggestions?
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My advice is to ignore NetMechanic and write what sounds good and
makes sense to you. If it makes sense to a person, it will make sense
to the search engines.
++Margaret's Follow-Up Questions++
Thanks for your quick response. Just two more questions -- (I
How serious are these engines about description and title length? I
try to follow the advice that I've read about, e.g., AltaVista likes
descriptions of 150 characters. That's a little low compared to most.
But again, if I exceed that for page optimization, Net Mechanic will
nail me. Is it better to exceed the length for title and description
or follow Net Mechanic's advice?
Last question -- There are sites which just repeat word for word an
old article about Wain and that is all; yet they get higher rankings.
So when a page concentrates on just one item and has a few key words,
it surpasses a more generalized index page, which needs more of a
variety of key words. What can I do?
I told you, ignore NetMechanic! End of story.
Create your tags in a way that makes sense to you without counting
characters. Once again, if it makes sense to a person, it makes sense
to the engines.
As to your second question, every page of your site has a chance to
rank high for whatever words you're targeting. It doesn't matter all
that much what's on the other pages. Make sure that the links to each
different page describe that particular page only. You cannot have
any "generalized" pages on your site and expect them to rank highly.
Every individual page of your site must be tightly focused on the two
or three keyphrases it's optimized for. As soon as you start to get
too general on a page, you'll lose in the rankings game. Where search
engine optimization is concerned, a tight focus is key.
+++Submitting Multiple Domains+++
From: Alex Demeyere [firstname.lastname@example.org]
I have a question about submitting different domain names for the same
site. I have a customer who has a site with a domain name that
mentions his company name. Now he asks if he should register a second
domain name with 2 important keywords in it. I have always read that
submitting multiple domain names for the same site will get you
penalised or banned from the search engines.
Can it be done without using any "illegal" workarounds? Would it be
useful to register a second domain name for the same site but without
submitting it to the search engines?
Thanks for your time.
Personally, I don't believe in using different domains for the same
site for search engine optimization purposes. For one thing, the
search engines will only index one of them if they contain the exact
same information on them. For another thing, having a domain name
with keywords in it really doesn't gain you much as far as rankings
go. You can read more about my feelings on this matter in Rank Write
issue 031: <http://www.rankwrite.com/archives/issue031.htm>.
++More on Multiple Domains++
From: Michael Pedone [email@example.com]
Is it okay to create another Web page for a company that already has a
Web site (but is not ranking well), that is "keyword phrase specific,"
and then have it link to their main Web site? Example: Let's say the
keyword phrase is: "Web development in Florida." I create a Web page
that is specifically optimized for this phrase, and all the links from
it go directly to their main web site. Is this okay with the human
directories out there? The Web page that would be created for the
specific keyword phrase would have its own URL and a different
ISP/host from the "main" Web site.
I hope this makes sense, and I look forward to your response.
Michael J. Pedone
Well, my question to you would be, why not simply make the main site
rank well instead of going to the trouble to build a new site? The
fact that you are thinking about hosting the new domain with a
different host sounds like you already know what you'd be doing
probably isn't something the search engines and directories would
If all the links go to the other site, the site will be seen as the
doorway domain that it is, and will most likely have trouble getting
into the engines. You don't really think you're the first person who
came up with this idea do you? Many others have done this for years,
and the engines caught on to it long ago. It might work for you for a
little while, but eventually your site would get weeded out and/or
The human-edited directories are also aware of this sort of "trick,"
and you'd possibly end up losing your submission fee with nothing to
show for it if you tried it with them.
The bottom line is that you need to make the original site the best it
can be by changing it however is necessary to do so. At least that's
what I would do!
++Questions About Web Position Gold++
From: Meghan Schlueter [Meghan@SyllogisTeks.com]
A couple of co-workers and I attended a Search Engine Strategies
conference in August (2001). We learned a lot about improving our
rankings, but I still have questions about Web Position Gold. We
attended a roundtable class where someone brought up WPG to the Google
rep., and asked why his sites were being blacklisted after using WPG.
Google said they would not comment on their relationship, or lack
thereof, with WPG.
This scared our company into not using the product to submit our
sites. We want to know if WPG could actually hurt us more than it
could help us rank on the search engines? Could you tell me some of
the pros and cons of using WPG to submit sites? What about
SubmitWolf? Is it a reasonable alternative to using WPG? We have
both products and are unsure as to which product will get the job
done. What do you think?
Google states somewhere that they don't allow automated queries to
their search engine. When you check your rankings at Google (or any
other engine) with a program such as WPG, you're essentially sending
out an automated query to them. If you do this and get caught, they
don't ban your site, but they ban your ability to do searches at
Google (either automated or by hand). I know, because I was probably
one of the first they banned! When it happened to me I had to beg for
forgiveness, and promise never to do automated queries at Google
again. Once I did that, they unbanned my IP and I could once again
perform searches there.
That's the major problem with using WPG to check ranks at Google. It
has nothing to do with using WPG's other functions such as their
PageCritic or PageGenerator. These modules have totally separate
issues. Personally, I only use the Reporter function of WPG (this is
the one that performs the automated queries). I don't use it at
Google anymore though, because I promised them I wouldn't. I do use
WPG at Yahoo Web Pages, which essentially gives you the same results
as Google (it's a similar database). Then I tell my clients that
those results are similar to what they're getting at Google. Most of
my clients aren't obsessive over their positions, so this works fine
As for the Submitter function of WPG, you really don't need it. The
engines practically ignore all submitted sites in favor of finding
them on their own anyway. As long as you have some links pointing to
your site from other sites (especially directories), the engines will
usually find yours. Or you can use the paid-inclusion programs and
submit that way. (As an aside, I've recently started using some
paid-inclusion programs, and I've gotta say, you can't beat seeing
those top 5 results within a few days of submission!)
By the way, it's not just WPG automated queries that Google doesn't
like, it's any automated queries. If you use any software such as
SubmitWolf or TopDog, you're going against Google's terms of service
and will run the risk of losing your searching privileges. These
software products state that Google can't tell the difference between
their automated and manual queries, but you know what? Google is
pretty darn smart from where I'm sitting...therefore, I wouldn't be
Hope this helps!
~~~Other SEO News~~~
++Teoma Relaunches with a New Look++
Gary Price, librarian and all-around Internet search guru, recently
alerted me to the fact that the Ask Jeeves owned search engine, Teoma
<http://www.teoma.com>, has relaunched with a new look, new logos and
new slogans. They're also now delivering "Sponsored Results" from
Overture (how original!).
Personally, I found their search results page to be way too cluttered
for my tastes. They've got four different quadrants of results,
"Sponsored Results," "Results (relevant Web pages)," "Refine
(suggestions to narrow your search)" and "Resources (link collections
from experts and enthusiasts)."
You can read more about the new Teoma at WebmasterWorld:
<http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum2/91.htm> and Search Day:
While you're visiting Search Day, check out Chris Sherman and Danny
Sullivan's hilarious April Fool's Day edition:
you didn't know they were such amusing guys!
++LookSmart Small Business Listings++
Lucky me! As a "valued LookSmart customer," I got a preview on Tuesday
of their "great changes"! I feel so special! (What's that you say?
The rest of you who've ever submitted a site to LookSmart got the same
Well, for those of you who aren't so special, the scoop is that
they're "merging and enhancing the benefits of their 'Submit' and
'Site Promote' products into one product called Small Business
According to the email I received, Small Business Listings will give
you the opportunity to get:
* Even more traffic from LookSmart's entire network of partners.
* Better-targeted traffic by selecting relevant keywords.
* On-line click reporting for your listings.
* Performance-based pricing - a flat price per click-through to your
* Exact control over your monthly traffic level.
Oh boy. Just what I wanted...pay-per-click LookSmart listings. So
now the better I optimize my directory submissions, the more I'll get
to pay. Yipee! (Wish I had received this email a few hours ago
before I submitted a client's site to them.) Oh well, I'll reserve
any other judgments 'til it's all up and running. They say it will be
launching in a couple of weeks. Can't wait.
Thanks for all the great feedback on the PageRank Mania article last
week! It was interesting how many of you thought I was writing the
article because of something you personally asked me about. I was
expecting a whole lot of negative feedback on the article, but was
pleasantly surprised by mostly positive comments. (Well, there was
the one guy who called my "drivel" unreadable, but perhaps he just got
up on the wrong side of the bed?) Oh yeah, I also need to tell you
that I really wasn't sharpening any spurs! I received a nice note
from someone explaining that spurs are not supposed to be sharp, and
in a rodeo or competition, you can get fined and/or banned if you
sharpen them! (Guess it's kinda like cloaking or something!)
At any rate, the weekend at the ranch was pretty fun! I got to
sharpen my archery skills (as opposed to my spurs), and have the
blisters to prove it! I think I must have been a hunter in a previous
life...thwack! Riding the horses was fun too, but Western style
riding does a number on your back and neck. Time to call my
Have a great week! - Jill