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SEO Website Audit

High Rankings' Advisor: Doorways, Mirrors, and Duplicate Sites - Issue No. 013

June 5, 2002
________________________________________________________

~~~IN TODAY'S ADVISOR~~~

*Introductory Comments:
---->   What's in a Name?

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->  More on Doorways, Mirrors, and Duplicate Sites
---->  Multiple Domains To Protect a Trademark

*This Week's Sponsor:
---->   ClickPatrol

*Other SEO News:
---->   Google AdWords -- Again
---->   Class Action Suit Filed Against LookSmart

*Stuff You Might Like
---->   "Search Engine Fast Start"

*Advisor Wrap-Up:
---->   Presents and Bribes
________________________________________________________

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hi guys!  Last week's issue on doorway pages (and why they are wrong),
prompted a huge response from readers.  Many wanted to be sure that
what they have been doing wouldn't be subject to a penalty or banning.
Unfortunately, there is no standard definition of what a doorway page
is, so it can be very confusing to people.  My personal definition of
a doorway page is any page that is created solely for search engine
rankings, and is not actually integrated into the visible navigation
of your site.  However, many others call a doorway page any page that
provides information to the search engines and/or your visitors.
Personally, I just call those regular old Web pages and don't quite
understand why some label them as doorway pages.  My feeling is that
every page of your site is a doorway or gateway to the rest of your
site and there's no reason to give it any particular name such as
doorway page or information page.

Anyway, I just wanted to point out the fact that everyone's definition
is different, and when I say that doorways are bad, I'm talking about
the ones that fall under my definition.  In fact, in the "Stuff You
Might Like" section today, the ebook I mention this week uses a
totally different definition for doorway pages.  So if you happen to
download it, please keep that in mind!

On to the good stuff! - Jill


~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

++More on Doorways, Mirrors, and Duplicate Sites++

From: OnlineMarketingPro.com [info@4webmarketingsuccess.com]

Hello Jill,

My name is Jari Salmikivi, and as a new subscriber to your newsletter,
I'd first of all like to say thanks for a very good newsletter!  Your
newsletter has quickly become one of the "I can't wait for the next
issue" ones, and they aren't that many!

I'm writing you regarding your latest issue and the topic of doorway
pages.

I planned on getting more exposure from search engines to my site and
thought that making "duplicates" of my existing site, each site with a
new unique URL and unique domain, unique title and description, and
body text slightly rewritten to focus on different keywords, would be
a good idea. I also planned on a new look with different background
color and font.

Now I read your newsletter and see that you think it's a BIG no, no!
Instead you suggest creating keyword-rich content pages for my main
site.

My questions to you about this matter are:

1) Do you mean new pages or to rewrite the sales copy?

2) If you mean rewrite the sales copy, isn't it necessary that the
keywords I want to focus on are in the page's Title and META
Description?  If I want to focus on say, 10 search phrases, the title
and description would look pretty "crowded"!

3) I'd like to try to focus on different search phrases that are
related to the terms "business opportunities," "make money online"
etc.

I think it sounds very difficult to try to make, say 10, new
keyword-rich content pages and make them blend in with my current
site, since the search terms are so "general" if you know what I mean.

4) How about the companies that use affiliates and assign them with
their own affiliate site to submit to search engines?  Shouldn't a
company or any other program that uses this method of marketing, be
penalized and banned in that case?

And I know that people put up mirror sites to measure how small
changes to their site affect sales. Isn't this allowed either?

Hope you can help me with my questions and once again, thanks for an
excellent newsletter, looking forward to many more :)

Best regards,

Jari Salmikivi
OnlineMarketingPro.com


~~~Jill's Response~~~

Hi Jari,

Glad you enjoy the newsletter.  Many people have been writing in
lately to say that the Advisor is on their "must read" list, which is
really cool!

As to your questions, they are very good ones and similar to others I
received regarding last week's article on doorway pages.  It seems
that creating multiple sites and doorway pages has become so ingrained
in many SEOs way of doing business that my "don't do it" approach is a
tough pill to swallow for many people.  However, I stick by everything
I said because the more that the search engine databases get
compromised by duplicate content, the more the engines will fight
against it.  I strongly urge all Web site owners to stop thinking only
of their own search engine needs, and think about the search engines
themselves.  If SEOs as an industry refuse to work with the search
engines and continue to subvert their databases, everyone will lose.

Google has done so well because of the high quality of their results.
People like to search using Google because they know they will find
what they're looking for each and every time.  They simply cannot
afford to have Webmasters and SEOs "ruining" their results because of
their own selfish needs.  Google couldn't care less whether your site
is in the top ten of their results.  They only care that people find
what they're looking for quickly and easily, and they'll do whatever
is in their power to ensure that this happens.  If that means banning
every site that is very similar in nature to an existing site, then
that's what they'll do.  Google (or any search engine where you
haven't paid to be listed) doesn't owe anybody a listing.  It's not a
constitutional right.  It's their database and they can do what they
want with it.  This means that they hold all the cards and everyone
who would like to be listed must play by their rules.

With that in mind, I'll answer your questions one by one:

>...you suggest that I create keyword-rich content pages for my main
site.

1) Do you mean new pages or to rewrite the sales copy?<

Either way.  Whatever meets the needs of your site.  If you've already
got lots of copy, then yes, rewrite it to incorporate your couple of
keyword phrases for that page.  If you don't have much copy or many
pages, then sure, create new pages and base the copy around your two
or three keyword phrases targeted for that page.  If you create new
pages, they need to be integrated into your site as "regular" pages.
They should not be stand-alone pages that are found only in the search
engines.  They need to be *visibly* linked within your site's
navigation system.

>2) If you mean rewrite the sales copy, isn't it necessary that the
keywords
I want to focus on are in the page's Title and META Description?<

Yes, most definitely!  When I discuss creating new keyword-rich copy,
I never mean to imply that this is *all* you should do.  Your copy is
the first thing to do (after keyword research), but of course you
still have to create Title and Meta tags to match.  The key is to
write the copy first, and *then* do the tags.

>3) I'd like to try to focus on different search phrases that are
related to the terms "business opportunities," "make money online"
etc.  I think it sounds very difficult to try to make, say 10, new
keyword-rich content pages and make them blend in with my current
site, since the search terms are so "general" if you know what I
mean.<

If it sounds difficult, it's because anything you do for the long term
will be slightly difficult.  Quick fixes are a thing of the past.  Of
course it's not easy to create a great site and a great set of pages.
Greatness is never easily obtained and usually takes lots of time or
money or both.

If you're having trouble working particular keyword phrases into your
pages, then most likely you're targeting the wrong search terms for
your site.  "General" search terms will not convert your visitors into
customers, and therefore you shouldn't target those.  If you can't
write about them so that they make sense, then they're not the right
ones for your site.

Search engine optimization is not about grabbing the most traffic you
can get for any keywords under the sun.  SEO is about bringing highly
targeted visitors to your site who are looking for *exactly* what
you're offering.  It's really a beautiful and wonderful thing.  I
can't think of any other form of marketing that can do this.  People
searching for your specific products or services are already qualified
prospects.  They're searching for something to learn more about it or
to buy it.  If you've got that certain something they're looking for,
it's imperative that your site is the one they find in the search
engine results.  There's a big myth out there that says you should
bring in customers looking for things that might be similar to what
you have, and then convince them to try your product instead.  That
may work for other forms of advertising, but that's not what SEO is
all about.  Think highly targeted and think exact keyword phrases.

>4) How about the companies that use affiliates and assign
them with their own affiliate site to submit to search engines?<

The search engines *hate* those types of sites.  Companies with
affiliate programs that do this kind of thing usually neglect to tell
you this when you sign up with them.  Read any search engine or
directory FAQ and you'll see that they're not interested in those
kinds of sites because they lack "substantive value."  Try submitting
one to Yahoo! and most likely you'll lose your $299.

>And I know that people put up mirror sites to measure how small
changes to their site affect sales.  Isn't this allowed either?<

No, mirror sites are highly frowned upon.  You should use your regular
site to test your marketing copy.  You can also use pay-per-click
(PPC) ad programs to test landing pages and sales copy.  Plus, you can
test site pages through many of the search engine pay-per-inclusion
(PPI) programs since they pick up your new content fairly quickly.

I realize that this information is not what those with the "make money
on the Net in two weeks" mentality want to hear.  But the fact remains
that the search engines are moving away from allowing any kinds of
tricks whatsoever.  As I stated last week, yes, you'll still see
plenty of sites that get away with tricks; however, at least where
Google is concerned, you'll be seeing it much less often in the
future.  If the other engines want a shot at keeping up with Google,
they'll be smart to crack down also.  This is a GOOD thing for
everyone, in my opinion!


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++Multiple Domains to Protect a Trademark++

Hi Jill,

I have a client who is absolutely obsessed with having her domain in
every possible extension (i.e. .net, .com, .info etc.).  She wants to
protect her trademark.  All the domains point to the same site
content.  Is she doing herself any harm with the search engines?

Thanks!

Lee Laughlin
Principal Fearless Media
http://www.fearlessmedia.com


~~~Jill's Response~~~

Hi Lee,

Now, this is a different scenario than a "doorway domain."  There's
absolutely no problem with having multiple domain names that are all
parked at the same IP address.  It's very common for the very reason
you state.  Plus there are others who like to promote one domain to
the search engines, and use a different one on their business cards,
stationery or print ads.

The search engines usually treat all the different domains as one
site, and there should not be a penalty involved in having them.  I
personally have a number of domain names that I've purchased through
the years just cuz I like 'em.  They're all pointing to my main site,
and it's never been a problem.

Jill


~~~Other SEO News~~~

++Google AdWords -- Again++

Here's the latest in my seemingly never-ending Google AdWords saga.
Like the rest of you, I've been frustrated by the editorial guidelines
imposed by the Google Gods (affectionately known by me as GG).  Just
when you get a good ad going with a high clickthrough rate and a low
cost per click, they disapprove the ad for some reason.  The reasons
always seem to be lame, and it can be very frustrating, to say the
least.

I've long since stopped trying to promote my actual SEO business in my
ads since the keyword phrases necessary to do a good job of that are
very expensive to "bid" on.  However, I found that I could advertise
this newsletter fairly cheaply since I could focus on a whole bunch of
non-competitive, search engine related keywords.  I created a large
list of keyword phrases of things that I discuss in my articles and
newsletters each week.  Some of these included the names of the search
engines, such as Google or AOL.

Well, sure enough GG came a-callin' and disapproved those phrases
using brand names.  They said that they were trademarked names and I
couldn't use 'em.   The thing is, they missed some so I was still
coming up for a few of them.   When they finally caught their mistake
and deleted the rest of them, I had finally had enough.  I emailed
them back and explained that my ad was for my newsletter, which
specifically discussed those engines and how to submit to them, get
ranked within them, etc.  Much to my surprise, a few days later GG
emailed me back and said that they approved all the phrases and were
sorry for any inconvenience.  Wow...way to go, GG!

My happiness was short-lived, however.  A few days after the approval,
I got another disapproval email stating the same thing as the old one.
Trademarked names.  Can't use 'em.  Yada yada.  Enraged, I once again
replied and attached the previous approval email.  I asked if they
could please mark my account somehow so that I wouldn't have to keep
going back and forth on this with them each week.  Sure enough, a few
days later they once again approved my words and said that they marked
my account for future reference.  It's been another few days, and so
far no further word from GG.  Could it be that I finally have created
an ad and keyword phrases that even GG can't complain about?  I hope
so, because it's got a nice clickthrough ratio and my top bid is only
5 cents!

The point of all this is that Google does read their email, and does
seem to listen to your case.  So if you feel that your ad or keywords
were unjustly disapproved, reply to their email and state your case.
Let me know how it goes!


++Class Action Suit Filed Against LookSmart++

Thanks to Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Watch for posting the class
action complaint filed by Legal Staffing Partners, Inc., against
LookSmart, LTD.

The complaint has three counts:

* Breach of Contract;
* Unfair and Fraudulent Business Practices; and
* Deceptive and Misleading Advertising.

You can read the allegations in the text of the lawsuit here:
<http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/02/06-text.html>.  I am
personally LOOKing forward to this case going to trial, and will be
very interested in the outcome.


~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~

++"Search Engine Fast Start"++

Thanks to everyone who sent me their ebooks and articles to review for
this section.  I've got lots to keep me busy for a while!  I'm still
looking for more, however, so if you've got some great stuff be sure
to let me know.

This week I read Dan Thies's "Search Engine Fast Start: A Step by Step
Guide for Busy People."  While reading the introductory chapter, I was
thinking that it was gonna be the search engine optimization book that
I should have written myself.  Dan uses a common sense approach to
SEO, just as I do, and I was looking forward to seeing how he would
explain his method to his readers.

However, once I got into the book some more, I realized that Dan's
methods were actually very different from mine.  In fact, if I were
Dan, I would rename the book "Search Engine Fast Start By Creating a
Theme-Based Web Site."

Now I've heard of "themes" and I've read some forum posts on themes,
but I never quite understood what it was all about and how to use it
to your advantage in SEO.  Quite frankly, it seemed very complicated
and I didn't put much stock in it, as my own methods for obtaining
high rankings have always served me well.  But then I got to thinking.
Obviously Dan's theming method is working for him even though it's
somewhat different from my methods.  Yeah, there's some overlap
between our methods, but I gotta say that I have never done (nor would
I ever do) a lot of the things Dan does.  Yet we both get good
results.  So, what I came away with most from reading this book is
that there are definitely more ways to get high rankings than just my
way, and everyone needs to choose the methods that they're comfortable
with.

I guess the moral of my story is that when one SEO guru tells you one
thing, and another tells you something different (or maybe even the
opposite), it doesn't necessarily mean that one is right and the other
is wrong.  Each of their methods may work for them when put into
practice.  It's up to you to decide which method you like and feel
comfortable utilizing.  In some circumstances it may be that one
method may work for one site, but not be good for another site.  From
what I gathered from Dan's book, his theme-based method would work
best for large content-driven sites.  If you already had such a site,
you might easily be able to make some specific changes to the internal
and external linking structure, and the bulk of your SEO work would be
done.

Dan also had some chapters that would be helpful to any SEO campaign,
regardless of whether it's theme-based or not.  I especially liked the
chapter on building outside links.

If you decide to give this ebook a try, be warned that it is slightly
out of date.  References to Excite and GoTo abound, and prices for
directory submissions and paid-inclusion have also changed since
publication.  However, the general concept and methods should still be
relevant today.  If you're interested in learning about a whole other
method of SEO than I discuss each week, or are just curious what
theme-based optimization is all about, for only $29.95 there's enough
nuggets of good information to make it a worthwhile read.

For more info or to download it, here's the link:
</faststart>.  (Yes, that's my affiliate
link.)

Stay tuned -- I'm hoping Dan will agree to be interviewed for an
upcoming newsletter.


~~~Advisor Wrap-Up~~~

So I'm sitting here writing this newsletter when my doorbell rings.
It's my best friend, the guy from the "present truck" (UPS) with a
gift for me.  Hmmm...it smells good.   Whoohoo!  It's a pound of
freshly roasted whole-bean coffee.  Wow, I'm not kidding when I say
freshly roasted.  It is stamped with "roasted on May 28, 2002."  Now
that's fresh.  So what did I do to deserve this?  Apparently, Advisor
subscriber Eric Sales from Jittery Joe's <http://www.jitteryjoes.com>
was so impressed with the quick and helpful answer I gave him to a
Yahoo question last week that he wanted to say "thank you."  Well,
thanks back at ya, Eric!  Man, it smells so good that I may just have
to break my rule about having coffee only in the morning.  It should
go nicely with the Godiva chocolate truffle I'm about to eat, from
another gift I received this week.  (Thanks, Andrew!)  And for the
rest of you, all gifts are welcome (especially chocolate)!

I'm off to grind some beans! - Jill
 
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