Search Engine Tips
By Dennis Gaskill
Friday, November 14, 2003; 3:30pm EST
search engine experts have, over the years, touted all kinds of
methods for ranking higher in search engines. This has included things
such as hidden text, hidden links, meta tag stuffing, double meta
tags, page stuffing, cloaking, redirect pages, bulk-quantity doorway
pages, and other "secrets" of dubious quality.
Those techniques, and
newer techniques that still amount to trickery, can result in lower
rankings just for using them. In a worst case scenario they can even
result in your domain being banned. Once banned, it's hard to get back
in. Let's look at search engines from the search engine perspective
instead of a selfish perspective.
www.boogiejack.com, has consistently been ranking high in search
engines since it opened in 1997. The ranking will fluctuate from time
to time with each search engine, but I usually enjoy a few front page
and number one links at any given time. Try a search for "left border
backgrounds" now (one of my specialties), and see how it ranks at
several search engines.
What's my secret?
It's quite simple, I know how search engines want us to behave, and I
have always followed the rules. I do everything I legally can to
optimize my pages, but always play within the rules using only
legitimately recognized (read that search engine approved) methods.
When a search engine catches on to new trickery, you can be dropped or
banned without warning.
So what do the search
engines really want? They want to be able to help their web site
visitors find what they are looking for, and they want to give them
the best and most logical matches first. They can't do that easily
with webmasters trying to manipulate their ranking by artificial
They want webmasters
to show the search engine the same content you show your visitors, so
anything like hidden text and links, cloaking, redirects and other
tactics that show the search engine one thing and visitors another are
high risk tricks that often result in being banned.
Your web site's
content is the search engine's content, so they want sites with high
quality content above all else. They want to show the best sites
available for a search return, because if their content is helpful to
the searcher, the searcher will be more likely to use their site for
searches time and time again.
It's hard to get
search engine employee's to comment on how their engines rank sites,
but speaking on conditions of anonymity, here are the words of a
technology specialist from one search engine (...and I won't knowingly
betray a trust, so don't ask who the specialist is or what engine he
works for, I won't tell):
"Design your site so
that your text accurately reflects your content, products, and
services. We penalize sites that make obvious attempts at manipulating
our engine. No tricks, no misleading verbage designed for placement.
Link popularity is very important, so make sure the sites that should
link to you are linked to you, and you to them. This is more than the
latest buzz, this is reality. So if your site is about MP3's, you
should have links with music sites, MP3 software sites, band fan
sites, and so on.
At the very least you
should be exchanging links with non-competitor sites whose content
complements your own, and if you're not afraid to link directly to
competitors and they'll exchange links with you, all the better. We
give a little boost to sites that link directly to competitors.
One of the things
we're after with this is to have your site "pre-judged" for us by your
fellow webmasters. All links help, because it shows others find your
site valuable enough to link to you, but links from relative content
sites help your ranking even more.
I'll admit that
sometimes people find ways to manipulate results for a short time, but
sooner or later we catch on to these techniques (nobody studies our
search engine harder than we do), and we'll penalize or ban sites for
obvious manipulation attempts. Whether we ban a site or just penalize
them, is partly determined by the degree of cheating and partly by the
mood of the reviewer!
Once we've flagged
your site, you'll have a hard time getting a top ranking again no
matter how well you clean up your act. You've heard the expression,
"once a cheater, always a cheater?" So have we. And here's a dirty
little secret for you: if we catch you once, we may check other
domains you own with a fine-toothed comb to see if you're spamming or
cheating us with them too.
We don't place quite
as much emphasis on themed sites as some engines do, but a themed site
will give you a boost with us too. That's not to say your MP3 site
can't talk about your love of dogs, just that if you cover many topics
within a particular theme, you'll get a boost in rankings. You're not
penalized for addressing many diverse or unrelated topics."
So there you have it,
search engines want the same things surfers want. Quality content
presented accurately and honestly, links to and from sites with
complementary content, at least one major theme, and no dirty tricks.
Gosh, that isn't a
great revelation is it? It shouldn't be, it's the way we should all be
doing business in the first place - honestly and accurately. It is
what works best in the long term with search engines and in life, and
your site will never be penalized or banned by playing fairly.
Source of Article
Dennis Gaskill is the creator and owner of Boogie Jack's Web Depot
at http://www.boogiejack.com/ -
a popular webmasters resource site ranking in the top 1% of the most
linked to sites on the Internet. He is also author of the new book Web
Site Design Made Easy and publishes Almost a Newsletter, named the
Best Ezine of 2000.