Latest Bytes on Search Engine MarketingWritten by David Gikandi
The search engine world is always changing. They are always up to something new, using new technology, coming up with new requirements and rules, and, of course, running into new glitches. As a web site owner, you need to know exactly what they are up to at any one moment so that you can get your site well placed in their indexes. After all, search engines deliver bulk of traffic most sites get, so you cannot afford to ignore them. So let us have a look at what exactly is going on with various engines and how we can us this knowledge to our marketing benefit.
Tip: Use unique IP addresses for each site
Consider using a unique domain name and IP addresses for your doorways. Once in a while, it can happen that you go too far in your efforts to use various kinds of gateway pages (doorways, information frames, etc) to get higher placements on search engines. For example, you may be using too many keywords that are too alike and thereby ending up with duplicate pages or a cluster of high rankings for same keyword. AltaVista is especially watchful for such mistakes. The penalties for such an error are usually just penalization of offending page, or at worst case search engine may block any new submissions from offending site. To make sure that such a mistake will have no negative effect on your web site even if your gateway pages do spam an engine due to improper use, it is highly recommend that you get a unique domain name that has its own IP address (those numbers that look like 206.67...789 that your hosting service tells you point to your domain name). Get two domain names, one for your site and one for your web promotion material such as doorways. For best effect, ensure that these domains are hosted by different hosting services. That guarantees that each domain name will definitely have a unique IP address. If you want to stick to one hosting service, ask your web hosting service to make sure that each domain name is assigned an IP address that is unique to it. While you are at it, get your hosting service to ensure that (a) IP address given to you is not shared by other sites on their server and (b) it has not been used before by a previous site that was on their server. Any of these situations can cause you to get penalized by engines by spamming done by sites that share your IP address or one that used to own it.
Another good reason to have two domains is that AltaVista and Infoseek seem to have a limit on total number of pages you can have indexed from one site. Infoseek supposedly limits this to 600 pages per domain. AltaVista's limit is much higher, if they do have one. So having two domains and splitting your pages among them can be a good idea if you have many pages.
Finally, for most of major engines, having links to your main site from another domain adds to your rankings. So your main site will rank better if doorways pointing to it are from a different domain than from within it. Yet another good reason to get a new domain name and hosting account just for your doorways.
While you are at it, try to get a long domain name for your doorways that is made up of your most important keywords. For example, if your site is about real estate in New York, you might want to get name www.realestatenewyorkapartmentshouses.com or something like that. Keywords in domain add to higher rankings.
How-to: How to submit to search engines
For all major search engines, it is highly recommended that you only submit your home pages and hallway pages (hallways are pages that contain links to all your site's pages so search engines can find them). Let search engine crawl and find your other pages. Make sure that you wait at least 30 minutes in between each submission (e.g. if you want to submit a home page and two hallway pages to Hotbot, submit home page, wait at least 30 minutes, submit hallway page, wait again, then next hallway page). For best results, submit these pages manually using search engine's submission page. Do not submit your other site pages. This is in line with latest recommendations issued by search engines. In fact, on some engines you may get tagged for spam review or get extra submitted pages ranked lower if you submit anything other than home and hallway pages. For all engines, re-submit your home and hallway pages once every fortnight to ensure that they remain indexed.
Tip: Infoseek submission
Infoseek's Add URL function had been down for quite a while but is now back up. However, it seems to now take about 5 - 7 weeks for newly submitted sites to get indexed. Also, it now only accepts submissions for home page and not any other sub page. Fortunately their crawling seems to be good and eventually spider will come to your home page and follow all links it finds on home page to index sub pages. So forget about submitting other pages on your site - just submit home page and make sure that all other pages on your site can somehow be reached from home page by crawler.
Infoseek also uses channels as a search option. If you merely submit to usual Add URL link for general search engine, you wont be found in channels. So browse Channels on Infoseek and find one suitable for your site and submit your home page there.
Tip: Excite delays and subdirectories issue
Excite is still, in our experience, slowest of major engines when it comes to getting new pages indexed. It takes months to get pages indexed at times. We hope this is going to improve soon. We are sure a negative image is not what they want so we are betting that they are working on fixing this. The point to note is that Excite seems to be indexing every few months, talking in pages that were previously submitted before. So you should go ahead and treat it as if it works - submit your site as usual and re-submit every fortnight. When they do index again, at least you will be in queue and get indexed.
Search Engine Positioning Going MainstreamWritten by David Gikandi
Lately, using doorway pages to gain top search engine positioning has become a major topic in Web circles. Doorway pages, also known as entry or bridge pages, are Web pages designed specifically to rank highly on unique ranking algorithms of each search engine. They are often identified with spammers - at least until now.
Danny Sullivanís Search Engine Watch (www.searchenginewatch.com) recently featured use of doorways by State Farm Insurance, leading US auto insurance firm, to get to top of search results for insurance related searches. State Farm did get top positions, securing first and second positions for "auto insurance" on Excite, Infoseek, HotBot, and Lycos, plus first and second positions for a number of other phrases like "life insurance", "boat insurance", "home insurance", and "car insurance". Everything was going great for State Farm, its doorway pages generating an extra 100,000 unique new users in 11 months. This being first time that a major corporation has been publicly exposed for using techniques associated with spamming, many Web promoters were curious to know what search engine companies would say about it. What they heard was best piece of good news they have had in a long time.
According to interviews with search engine executives in Search Engine Watch, search engines seem to have adopted a whole new healthy attitude towards doorway pages! As long as your doorway pages do not promote keywords or phrases that have nothing to do with your Web siteís content, and that you do not submit too many doorways with same keyword and clog up search results, you are free to go for it! In other words, if your doorways help search engine users to find what they are looking for without being deceived, no one will penalize you. (Watch out for Infoseek, though. It doesnít like it when your doorways redirect users to a new location without their intervention, e.g. using META refresh tag or a CGI).
The reason doorway pages are such a hot issue is that:
Over 95% of Web users find what they are looking for by visiting top 6 search engines. Yahoo alone handled over 55 million searches and page views in December 1997. Everybody knows that even a few good positions on even one or two important keywords or phrases can drive thousands or hundreds of thousands of quality visitor traffic to a Web site per day. The search engines are over-flowing. They have too many pages in their indices and they do not do a very good job of giving users what they are looking for. Often, a good Web site may be ranked low by a search engine, and a very bad Web site in same subject area ranked high! Sometimes only way good site can rank higher is by using doorways. Research has shown that people hardly ever go past top 30 search results for any one search. The top 10 results receive 78% more traffic than those in position 11 to 30 do. The top 30 results get over 90% of search traffic. This alone explains why some sites do so well and others so disappointingly, and why it is so critical to be ranked highly. Creating doorway pages is one of those elusive things in life. It can be done, but it no longer is easy to cheat search engines as it used to be back in 1995! It now takes some considerable time studying, tracking, testing and reverse-engineering search results. Those that get it right are handsomely rewarded! Coincidentally, this interest in doorway pages heightened just as we were launching SearchPositioning.com Web site (www.searchpositioning.com), which features an online Automatic Doorways Generator, plus other tools, software, information, and resources useful in search engine positioning. We developed, through reverse-engineering many search results, a system that creates optimized, professional doorways for Web site promoters. By developing a system that easily allows webmasters to serve themselves online, we were able to drive costs down and provide automatic doorways generation service at an affordable $34.95 per year for unlimited doorways and keywords. Our goal is to enable any webmaster to responsibly position their site highly on search engines. The few services that did this before we stepped in were offering customized services that are beyond financial reach of most webmasters, well in thousands of dollars.