Things Are A-Changin' in the Search Engine World

  |  May 30, 2001   |  Comments

What does the search engine landscape look like now, and what services should be included in a good search engine positioning campaign? Starting this week, Paul will begin exploring the many changes in the search engine world.

A professional, well-organized search engine optimization (SEO) and positioning campaign for the year 2001 to 2002 is looking a wee-bit different from that proposed by the rhetorical top 10 lingo you've heard over the past 5 years. We have entered a seller's market where all portals are doing pay per click, pay for position, or pay per inclusion.

So what does the SEO landscape look like now, and what services should be included in a good search engine positioning (SEP) campaign? In the next series of articles, I'll explore the many changes that have occurred in the search engine world.

The Essentials

The first thing you want to do is optimize your home page. I've written before on how to identify your best keywords. Determine what they are and then write the best keyword-rich text you can for your home page. Don't forget to place your keywords in all the HTML tags possible, including meta tags. Not all search engines pay attention to meta tags, but there are many other HTML tags you can use.

There's something else you can do for search engine friendliness: A site map with text links and a "How to Link" page is a simple and effective way to improve your link popularity. My friend, Eric Ward, wrote an excellent article describing how and why you should design such a page.

There are other considerations, such as issues with dynamically driven sites, Java, or frame sets, and the techniques for overcoming these obstacles. I've addressed some issues in "Solutions for Dynamic Page Registration." However, each dynamic site is different; therefore, these issues are almost impossible to solve unless reviewed case by case.

Second, a well-orchestrated dual-submission plan is mandatory -- dual in the sense that nowadays we're dealing with robots such as AltaVista and directories such as LookSmart. Robot engines are significantly different from directories with regard to submission practices:

  • Robots require constant re-evaluation and potential resubmission. AltaVista receives more than 1 million page submissions per day. Inktomi offers pay for inclusion (additional fees), requiring specific optimization for Inktomi.

  • Directories require hand submission and pay for inclusion. LookSmart offers subsite listings (additional fees), requiring special care regarding category selection. Yahoo requires a home page Business Express fee.
Content Creation or Revision

Content is where it gets tough for SEO companies, because most clients want the cookie-cutter approach; however, you can't be too careful when representing clients and their content. Therefore, you need a professional copywriter with a general knowledge of the client industry and a flair for writing copy that sells. This requires a mini research project for each individual client, and there's no way around it; you've simply got to provide the best and most professional content in your Web pages, optimized or not.

If you think those logistics are tough, then you've got to place this content properly -- proper HTML tags along with very good site-management structure:

  • Site map

  • Contact us

  • About us

  • Mission statement

  • Product pages
This type of client/contractor interaction requires a staging area for the client to review and approve content and optimization. Once approved, the documents can move into a submission area. So, as you can see, the cookie-cutter approach will not work.

There are significant concerns on behalf of the client with regard to content development; likewise, interaction is required between the client and contractor on search engine friendliness. The only way to get the best results is to work together, and this collaboration takes time.

The Infamous Doorway Page

Doorway pages have received a lot of good and bad reviews. A good product page -- if you want to call it a doorway, go ahead -- is an excellent opportunity to serve a robot engine with the pure facts and deliver the user to a relevant site or offering.

The spoofing days are long gone. Internet Protocol (IP) redirect software simply falls into the hands of too many disingenuous operators who misuse and abuse the technology. IP redirects serve only to red-flag a robot engine of a possible spammer. Professional SEO companies should not utilize IP redirect software.

When a product page designed for a robot engine is viewable and properly submitted, it has a very good chance of being accepted as highly relevant content and can subsequently be found on pages 1 to 5 in the search results. This type of doorway page, when done properly, can also improve your link popularity.

The SEP Consultation

Consultation is another benefit you can receive from a professional search engine positioning (SEP) company. Such services can assist your staff in optimizing your site and are a great way of leveraging SEP know-how and eventually incorporating it into your site. Generally, these consulting contracts run a minimum of 12 months and typically include a retainer and a month-to-month billing cycle.

Some of the additional benefits to come out of consultation include a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis. It is useful to employ SWOT principles when conducting Web site layout and design before optimization, defining specific areas for improvement prior to an SEP campaign launch. Corporate decision-making and analysis tools mesh well with search engine positioning strategies and provide offline corporate customers a framework they are familiar with.

I trust these tactics and strategies will help you in either selecting a search engine positioning company or performing these SEO tasks in-house.

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Paul J. Bruemmer

Paul J. Bruemmer is CEO of Web-Ignite Corporation, a search engine optimization (SEO) and positioning provider. Founded in 1995, Web-Ignite has helped promote over 15,000 Web sites and was recognized by ICONOCAST as one of the top 10 most reputable SEO firms. Services include optimization, submission, registration, positioning, monitoring, maintenance, paid-inclusion, and paid-placement management for fixed monthly fees. Recent client testimonials report search engine traffic increased from 150 to 500 percent.

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