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Expert Answers to Your Search Engine Positioning Questions

by Sumantra Roy

 

 


 

 

QUESTION  1:
Do you think it is advisable to select some mis-spellings of certain commonly used keywords when I am researching the keywords for my site?
Arthur Wilburn

Answer:

Hi Arthur,

No, I never recommend that people optimize their web sites for mis-spellings of keywords. One of the things that people forget when they think of search engine optimization is that getting high rankings in the search engines is not the ultimate goal - the ultimate goal is to translate that higher rankings into higher sales. What good does a #1 position do, if it doesn't bring in any visitors to your site who buy from you?

When you optimize your site for a mis-spelled keyword, you will need to create a page which repeats that mis-spelling a number of times.  Now, there is a common misconception among web marketers that merely putting the mis-spelling in the Meta Keywords tag will itself get them a good ranking for that mis-spelling. And since the Meta Keywords tag is invisible to humans, they will never get to see that you have a mis-spelling in your site (unless they view the source code of the page).

However, the reality is, merely putting a mis-spelled keyword in the Meta Keywords tag will almost never get you a good ranking for that keyword. In order to get a good ranking, you need to use that keyword a few times in the body content of your site. 

What kind of a first impression does it create on your visitors when they see a mis-spelling being repeated in a page? Sure - they themselves inadvertently made the same mistake, but what would they think of a company which makes the same typo over and again in a page? 

They will probably not understand that you deliberately made those mis-spellings in order to get traffic for such keywords - they would think that you are simply careless. Would you want to do business with a company who is so careless? I certainly wouldn't.

The only way you can get a page ranked highly in the search engines for a mis-spelling without letting your human visitors see that mis-spelling is if you use page cloaking. And that is something I don't recommend you do either, because it can get you banned by the search engines for spamming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


QUESTION  2:
Is it true that Yahoo! only lists companies that display their full address (not even just a p.o. box no.) on their frontpage?
Richard G Lewis.

Answer:

Hi Richard,

Yahoo! requires that all commercial sites display their contact information in their site. This should include their mailing address, a phone number, an email address, and a fax number, if you have one. Now, there are two issue here:

Firstly, as far as displaying a P.O. box address or the actual physical address of your company is concerned, I would always go with the actual physical address. 

 

Although I have seen sites which display only the p.o. box address get accepted, you are better off displaying the physical address. This is important not only from the point of view of getting listed in Yahoo!, it is also important from the point of view of improving the credibility of your site in the eyes of your visitors. 

 

Because of the impersonal nature of the Internet, consumers do not get the same confidence when buying from a site, as they would when they are buying from a "real world" store. In order to instill confidence in your customers that you are a legitimate business, you need to do everything you can to improve the credibility of your site. Displaying the physical address of your site is an essential part of that process. 

 

Personally, I would never feel comfortable doing business with a site which does not display its contact information prominently or which displays a p.o. box address instead of a physical address. I would wonder what the company has to hide.

Secondly, it is not essential that the contact information be displayed in the home page itself. However, if you can do it, you should do it. If you do not want to display the contact information in the home page, you should have a Contact Us page which contains your contact information. The Contact Us page should be linked prominently from the home page.

For more information on how to submit your site to Yahoo!, see
my article on this topic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


QUESTION  3:
I have a question with regard to the alt tags present in images. Do they really influence the search engine ranking of my site all that much? 

When I initially designed my site, I did not include any of my keywords in the alt tags because I did not know too much about how to optimize web sites for the search engines. Now that I am a bit more knowledgeable about it, I think it was a mistake. 

However, my site already contains hundreds of pages, and adding keywords to the alt tags of the images present in these pages will take up a lot of time. Do you think spending this time is worth it?
Mark Symonds

Answer:

Hi Mark,

The alt tags are important - however, they, by itself, won't make or break the search engine ranking of your site. Thus, while keyword rich alt tags should be used whenever possible, you should not lose sleep over the fact that you haven't included alt tags in the existing pages in your site. 

 

My advice to you is to add keyword rich alt tags in any new pages that you create. Also, whenever you change some of the existing pages in the site, you can add some keyword rich alt tags to the images present in those pages. Since you are changing the pages anyway, you might as well take the time to change the alt tags. However, you don't need to spend the time to add alt tags to all the existing pages in your site, unless you are changing those pages in other ways as well.

Of course, while initially creating your site, you may not have added keyword rich body content to it since you mentioned that you were not aware of search engine optimization then. In this case, you would most definitely need to spend the time to modify all the existing pages in your site so that all of them contain keyword rich text. Spending the time necessary to do is worthwhile because without this, you may not be able to get good rankings in the search engines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QUESTION  4:
Can you give me an idea of the different keyword research tools available on the Internet?
Mike Averton

Answer:

Hi Mike,

Here's a list of some tools that help you research the keywords that are applicable for your site:

a)
http://inventory.goto.com/d/searchinventory/suggestion/ - Once you type in a word or some words, Goto's Search Terms Suggestions tool helps you locate keywords which contain those words. It also gives you a count of how many people searched for those keywords in Goto and its partners' sites. The main disadvantage of Goto's tool is that it doesn't recognize plural keywords. This means that for many keywords, you have to use intuition to figure out whether most people search for the singular or plural version of the keywords.

b)
http://www.domainsnow4u.com/home/wordtracker.htm -
WordTracker's keyword generation tool not only locates keywords which contain the word or phrase that you typed in but also helps you locate related keywords which may not necessarily contain the words that you typed in. Of course, it also gives you the popularity of the different keywords. Unlike Goto, it distinguishes between plural and singular keywords. It has a free trial version which has restrictions regarding the number of keywords it generates, and a paid version which removes these restrictions and also contains additional features.

c)
http://www.7search.com/scripts/advertiser/sample_get.asp - 7Search is a pay per click search engine. Like Goto's tool, once you a type in a word or some words, this tool will help you locate keywords that contain these words, and will also give you a count of how many people searched for those keywords. Unlike Goto, it distinguishes between plural and singular keywords. On the flip side, it only generates keywords in which the words that you typed in come in exactly the same order. For example, if you type in "travel australia", the keyword "travel to australia" is not generated. Also, 7search is not as popular a search engine as Goto, and its results may not be representative of the popularity of keywords in other search engines.

d)
https://adwords.google.com/AdWords/Welcome.html - Google's AdWords program is intended to help you show text ads in Google when someone searches for certain keywords in Google. When you design your ads using this system, Google will tell you approximately how many impressions a particular keyword will get if you decide to display your ad for that keyword. This gives you an idea of the relative popularity of different keywords in Google. As Google has become an extremely popular engine among users, the relative popularity of keywords as shown by Google may be representative of the popularity of keywords in other engines.

e)
http://www.iboost.com/tools/keyword_generator.htm - This keyword generator does a good job of generating keywords related to the one you type in. However, it does not give you the popularity of different keywords. Hence, you would need to plug the keywords that it generates into one of the above four tools to find the popularity of the keywords.

Then, you have a couple of tools that arrange the keywords that have been searched on in those sites in descending order of popularity. They are not as useful as the above tools because they don't allow you to discover new keywords by typing in some words or phrases. Here are 2 such tools:

f)
http://helpwaresites.com/search/hsx.cgi?show=top_searches - The keywords used in Helpwaresites.com

Apart from this, you have various "search voyeurs" which give you a real-time look at what people are searching for. These too are not as useful as the first five tools because you need to continuously monitor them on a 24 hour basis to find out some keywords that are applicable for your site. Here are a few such tools:

g)
http://www.askjeeves.com/docs/peek/ - What people are searching for in Ask Jeeves.

h)
http://www.infotiger.com/voyeur - What people are searching for in InfoTiger.

i)
http://www.metaspy.com/ - What people are searching for in the MetaCrawler meta search engine.

j)
http://www.kanoodle.com/spy/ - What people are searching for in the Kanoodle pay per click search engine.

k)
http://mopilot.com/index.htm?go=live.php3 - What WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) users are searching for on the Internet.  WAP is used in cellular phones.

Then, you also have various lists which show the most popular keywords as a whole. These too will probably not be as useful as the first five, unless some of those popular keywords are applicable for your site. Here are 3 such tools:

l)
http://50.lycos.com/ - The top 50 searches at Lycos.

Lastly, you have a company providing paid custom reports on the
keywords applicable for your site. I haven't tried these reports,
so I don't know how good they are.

m)
http://www.wordspot.com/ - They provide a 500 word custom report on the keywords applicable for your site. They also have a free report of the 200 most popular keywords and a paid report of the 1000 most popular keywords.

For more information on selecting the most effective keywords for
your site,
see my article on this topic.

 


Article by Sumantra Roy. Sumantra is one of the most respected search engine positioning specialists on the Internet.  Read more about how to get high positions in the search engines by clicking this link.


 

 

 

 

 



QUESTION  5:
I would like to know a bit more about stop words. What are the words that are considered as stop words by the engines? Do all the engines treat the same words as stop words? If not, how do I find out which engines treat which words as stop words?
Nigel Carpenter

Answer:

Hi Nigel,

Stop words are words that are commonly used in sentences, but which by themselves don't carry any meaning. Examples of stop words include "and", "the", "a" etc. Many search engines ignore such words when they are indexing a page and may ignore such words when someone makes a query containing such words. They do this in order to save storage space in their hard drives and also to improve the speed at which they can produce the results of a query.

Different search engines consider different words as stop words. I don't have a list of which search engines consider which words as stop words. The best way to find out if a particular word is considered a stop word in an engine is simply to type that word in the engine. If the search engine produces some results for that word, it doesn't consider that word to be a stop word. If it doesn't produce any results, it is a stop word in that engine.

I made a few experiments with the words "and", "a", "an" and "the" in some of the engines which have their own spiders. The results are pretty interesting:

AltaVista considered "and", "a" and "the" to be stop words but not "an".

Direct Hit considered "and", "a" and "an to be stop words but not "the".

Excite considered "and", "a", "an" and "the" to be stop words.

Fast didn't consider any of the words to be stop words.

Google considered "and", "a", "an" and "the" to be stop words.

Inktomi based engines (like IWon) considered "and", "a", "an" and "the" to be stop words.

Northern Light considered "and" to be a stop word, but not
"a", "an" and "the".

 

 


Article by Sumantra Roy. Sumantra is one of the most respected search engine positioning specialists on the Internet.  Read more about how to get high positions in the search engines by clicking this link.


 

 

 

 

 



QUESTION  6:
I have heard that Inktomi is an important engine to which I should submit my site because many search engines take their results from Inktomi. Which are the search engines which take their results from Inktomi? 

Also, I went to www.inktomi.com to submit my site, but couldn't find a way by which I could do it. Can you point me to the URL where I can submit my site to Inktomi?
Patrick Burrows

Answer:

Hi Patrick,

Inktomi doesn't provide a public search engine in a way that search engines like AltaVista or Google do. Instead, it licenses its search technology and database to other portals and sites on the Internet. While some of them display results which are taken directly from Inktomi's database, others display results from Inktomi after displaying results from another source.

Here are the major sites which use Inktomi. I have also noted how each of them use Inktomi's database.

i)
http://hotbot.lycos.com - The first few results in Hotbot are
taken from Direct Hit. The remaining results are taken from
Inktomi.

ii)
http://www.msn.com - MSN first displays results from the
Looksmart directory and then displays results from Inktomi.

iii)
http://www.looksmart.com - Looksmart first displays results
from its own directory. It then provides an option to see results
from Inktomi.

iv)
http://www.overture.com - Goto first displays results from sites
that are paying it for each visitor that Overture sends to the site.
After that, it displays results from Inktomi.

As far as submitting your site to Inktomi is concerned, Inktomi itself doesn't provide an option to submit your site. However, it makes this option available on other sites. It now has a paid submission option which will ensure that a particular page that you have paid for is present in its database for one year and that the page is re-spidered once every 48 hours. For this, you can go to
http://www.positiontech.com/inktomi/

 


Article by Sumantra Roy. Sumantra is one of the most respected search engine positioning specialists on the Internet.  Read more about how to get high positions in the search engines by clicking this link.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QUESTION  7:
I have a site which is primarily an affiliate site, in that its main function is to link to the site of which I am an affiliate.  Can you tell me whether I stand a decent chance of getting listed in directories like Yahoo! and the Open Directory?
Cyril Perkins

Answer:

Hi Cyril,

Getting listed in the Open Directory and Yahoo! is going to be very difficult for you. In order to ensure that you have a good chance of getting listed in these two directories, you need to add lots of quality content to the site. My advice would be to add many articles on the same topic as the site of which you are an affiliate. You need to de-emphasize the importance of the link to the affiliate program and emphasize more on the content. 

This means that when a human editor comes to the site, she should feel that your site is primarily focused on providing information on that topic, and that the link to the affiliate program is just a small aspect of your site. The link to the affiliate program should be context-sensitive, i.e. you should link to the other site in context of something that you have written, rather than making it appear as if the main purpose of the site is to get people to click on the affiliate link.

This is important not only from the point of view of getting listed in the directories, it is also important from the point of view of boosting your affiliate commissions. By creating an information rich site, you get the opportunity to project your expertise in that topic. Hence, when a visitor comes to your site, and reads the articles, she knows that you are an expert on that topic. Then, when you recommend that the visitor check out the site of which you are an affiliate, she is likely to do it with an open-to-buy mind, because she has been recommended to this site by an expert. All human beings like doing business with a company who has been recommended to them by a person whose opinion they have come to respect.

To learn more about how to promote affiliate programs by creating great content, I highly recommend that you subscribe to the Affiliate Masters Course, written by Dr. Ken Evoy. This is a free, 5 day email course on how you can boost your affiliate commissions by creating a content rich site. In order to subscribe to the course, send a blank email to
successnow4utams@sitesell.net


Article by Sumantra Roy. Sumantra is one of the most respected search engine positioning specialists on the Internet.  Read more about how to get high positions in the search engines by clicking this link.


 



QUESTION  8:
I have a few questions regarding positioning in Yahoo!. As I understand, there is no point in submitting the site regularly to Yahoo! (without any changes). Do you have any suggestions regarding what I can do to improve a website's ranking in Yahoo?
I have a good description of the site, a good Title, keywords in meta tags and alt tags etc. My client paid already $199 US to be listed there, but it's not enough to be listed at the end...
Svetlana Dudin

Answer:

Hi Svetlana,

I have mentioned this earlier in this newsletter, but it bears repetition. Yahoo! is a human edited directory, not a search engine. The ranking of your site in Yahoo! does not depend on your meta tags or alt tags or the body content of your site. It depends mainly on whether the Title and Description of the site's listing in Yahoo! (which is not the same as the Title tag and the Meta Description tag of the home page of your site) contains the keyword, on whether the name of the category in which your site is listed contains the keyword, and on the click popularity of your site. For a more detailed description of the different factors that influences the ranking of a site in Yahoo!,
see my article on this topic. 

As I have noted in that article, when a site has just been added to Yahoo!, it will be ranked right at the bottom of the search results for the keywords which have been included in the description of the site's listing in Yahoo!. The reason is that Yahoo! uses a factor called click-popularity to rank sites. (You can read more about click-popularity in
the article.) Since, initially, Yahoo! does not have any click-popularity data on a new site, it ranks those sites right at the bottom. However, with time, as Yahoo! gathers more information regarding the click-popularity of new sites, the ranking of these sites
improve.

Once a site has been listed in Yahoo!, there is almost nothing that you can do to improve the ranking of your site in it - it is simply a waiting game during which you have to keep your fingers crossed and hope that your site gets good click-popularity. If it does, the ranking of your site will gradually improve.

Of course, if you have not been able to include some targeted keywords in the description, you can try and get Yahoo! to change the description of your site's listing. In this case, you have to give some valid reasons as to why your site's description is not appropriate and how the new description is more appropriate - if a Yahoo! editor figures out that you are simply trying to include some keywords in the Description, the change request will be rejected. You can find out more about submitting a change request by reading the article. However, getting someone at Yahoo! to look at your change request and act on it is an extremely difficult task.

Hence, when it comes to Yahoo!, what you have to ensure is that you do everything correctly the first time.


Article by Sumantra Roy. Sumantra is one of the most respected search engine positioning specialists on the Internet.  Read more about how to get high positions in the search engines by clicking this link.


 






QUESTION  10:
I have been told that using Brand Names in Metatags is of questionable legality and can be sued for false representation. 
Not that I have seen anything go to court, but real estate clients of mine have received threats from large real estate companies. Any info on this, or cases of this sort?
Adam Pascu

Answer:

Hi Adam,

I am no lawyer, but from what I understand, it depends on whether you have a legitimate reason for using the brand names in your meta tags. 

For instance, suppose I sell toys of a certain brand. Further suppose that I find that a lot of people on the Internet are searching for that brand. Then, in order to get a high ranking in the search engines for that brand, if I include the brand name in my Meta Tags, I don't think I am doing anything wrong. 

However, if I include the name of a competitor in my meta tags in order to try and get a high ranking in the search engines when someone searches for the name of the competitor, then I think that I am liable to get sued. 

In any case, simply repeating a keyword in the Meta Tags will not help you get a good ranking in the search engines - you need to have those keywords present in the body of your site as well.

Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Watch has done an excellent job of explaining this issue - have a look at 
http://www.searchenginewatch.com/resources/metasuits.html and 
http://www.searchenginewatch.com/sereport/97/09-oppedahl.html

If you have any doubts as to whether you can use a particular brand name in your meta tags, it is best to first consult a lawyer before you proceed.


Article by Sumantra Roy. Sumantra is one of the most respected search engine positioning specialists on the Internet.  Read more about how to get high positions in the search engines by clicking this link.


 



QUESTION  11:
I have heard from some sources that the search engines are becoming theme based. Can you tell me what this means?
Arnold Walker

Answer:

Hi Arnold,

A theme based search engine is one which, instead of only looking at the content of individual pages, looks at the content of all the pages in the site. This means that instead of only creating separate optimized pages for your site, each page optimized for one keyword, you also need to optimize all the pages in your site for your target keywords. Here's how you should go about doing it:

The first (and perhaps the most important) step is to ensure that you only select keywords which are related to each other. Don't select keywords which have no relation to each other. To know more about how you should select the appropriate keywords, go to
http://www.DomainsNow4U.com/keywords-article_2.htm.  The exact number of keywords that you select doesn't matter, as long as the keywords are related to each other and are applicable for your site.

Then, create the optimized pages for each of the keywords, each page being optimized for one keyword. To learn more about how you can do this, see my article on this topic at
http://www.DomainsNow4U.com/keyword-rich-pages-article_5.htm


Once you have done that, try to repeat these keywords throughout your site. Try to repeat these keywords in the content of each and every page in your site (including your home page), as long as this repetition makes sense to your human visitors. You also need to repeat the keywords in the Title tag of each of the pages in your site. 

Since there is a limit to the length of the Title tag that the search engines will accept, what you should do is to select any two keywords from your list of keywords, and put them in the Title tag of one page. Then, select two more keywords from your list, and put them in the Title tag of another page, and so on.

Once you have done this, take a look at all the outgoing links in your site, and see whether your site links to any unrelated site. If it does, if possible, try to remove the links which lead to unrelated sites.

After this, submit all the pages in your site to the search engines, at the rate of one page per day. 

Lastly, try to improve the link popularity of your site by getting links from sites which are related to yours. In order to see how you can do that, see my article on this topic at http://www.DomainsNow4U.com/link-popularity-article_9.htm


Article by Sumantra Roy. Sumantra is one of the most respected search engine positioning specialists on the Internet.  Read more about how to get high positions in the search engines by clicking this link.


 



QUESTION  12:
I have an online store which sells hundreds of cosmetics. I have researched some of the keywords that are applicable for my site, and I find that many people, instead of searching for generic cosmetics related keywords, search for the actual brand names of the products that I am selling. 

These are the people that I want to attract to my site, because, since they know exactly what they want to buy, there is every possibility that they are going to end up buying from my site if I can manage to get them to my site in the first place. 

Now, with a normal search engine, I can create pages in my site which are optimized for the names of the products that people are searching for, and hence, I can get good rankings in them. However, what I want to do is to get a good ranking for all these keywords in Yahoo!, since Yahoo!, as I understand, is the most popular search engine. 

However, I have never been able to do this. What am I doing wrong?
Bernard Hamilton


Answer:

Hi Bernard,

Yahoo! is a human-edited directory, not a search engine. The ranking of your site in Yahoo! depends on the Title and Description of the listing of your site in Yahoo! - it does not depend on the actual content of your site.

A listing in Yahoo! tends to be useful for those sites which sell only a couple of products and services. However, more the number of products that you sell, lower will be the usefulness of a listing in Yahoo! for you. The reason is that Yahoo! generally allows only 1 page in your site to be listed, which, in most cases, will be the home page of your site. It will, in most cases, simply not list the internal pages of your site. 

As I mentioned, your ranking in Yahoo! depends, among other things, on the Title and Description of your site. The Title of your site has to be the official name of your site, and hence, there's not much that you can do about the Title. The Description of your site can't be longer than a few words. Thus, a site which sells only a couple of products can include the names of the products in the Description. However, for a site like yours, which sells hundreds of products, there is simply no way you can include the names of all the products in the Description.

Now, if your site is already listed in Yahoo!'s directory, there's simply nothing much that you can do. You can ask them to change the Description of your site's listing by going to http://add.yahoo.com/fast/change, but you have to be one lucky man to get them to even look at your change request. If they do look at your change request, you need to provide a valid reason why you want the Description changed - if they feel that you are only trying to include some keywords in the Description, they will reject your request for a change.

If your site is not listed already, you can use their $199 Business Express submission to submit your site. Since the Description is limited to a few words, my advice is to select two of the most popular product names that people are searching for, and work them in to your Description. Suppose the names of these two products are Product X and Product Y. Then, here's a Description that you can use: "offers cosmetics like Product X, Product Y, and more." Make sure you feature Product X and Product Y prominently in your home page, so that the Yahoo! editor who evaluates your site comes to know immediately that your site does sell Product X and Product Y.

For the remaining products, my advice is to try and get an excellent ranking in Google for these products, since Yahoo!'s Web Pages section is taken from Google. Also, if someone searches for a product name, and there's no site in Yahoo!'s directory which contains that product name in its Title or Description, then Yahoo! will directly display results from the Web Pages section. If you have a good ranking in Google, you can get a lot of traffic in this way.


Article by Sumantra Roy. Sumantra is one of the most respected search engine positioning specialists on the Internet.  Read more about how to get high positions in the search engines by clicking this link.


 



QUESTION  13:
Can using FrontPage 2000 to build and publish HTML code cause a site to have a poor search engine ranking? In other words, because FrontPage built pages require special files to be installed on the server (FrontPage server extensions) can these files make search engine robots miss one's meta tags? I had heard this was a problem with FP97. Is it still a problem with FP2000?
Greg Pisch

Answer:

Hi Greg,

Using Frontpage will generally not hurt your rankings in any way, regardless of the version that you use. The only thing that you need to be concerned about is that Frontpage has this irritating habit of not putting the Title tag of your page at the top of the Head section - it often puts the Title tag at the bottom or the middle of the Head section. 

Now, some search engines may expect the Title tag to be present at the top of the Head section, and hence, if it is not, may think that the page doesn't have a Title tag at all. This would tend to adversely affect the ranking of that page in the search engine. 

Hence, once you have created a page in Frontpage, you need to open the page in Frontpage's HTML source code viewer (or in any text editor like Notepad) and ensure that the Title tag is present at the top of the Head section. 

Luckily, if you now make some changes to the page using the default WYSIWYG editor of Frontpage, it will keep the Title tag at the top of the page, instead of again transferring it to the middle or bottom of the Head section.


Article by Sumantra Roy. Sumantra is one of the most respected search engine positioning specialists on the Internet.  Read more about how to get high positions in the search engines by clicking this link.


 


 

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Article by Sumantra Roy. Sumantra is one of the most respected search engine positioning specialists on the Internet.  Read more about how to get high positions in the search engines by clicking this link.




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