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Advertising -

The wild, wild, world of business is changing. If you're a large enough company, at least a fortune 500, having a professional advertising firm is still very likely the way to go for the best return on your advertising dollars. For everyone else, however, it all depends on what your product is and how much you're willing to spend. But in general, having a high-ranking website is usually good enough to compete with anyone!

Advertising your website online (or even off) has always cost a large amount of money, and historically has never had results that were half as good as a high search engine ranking could achieve. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the most cost-effective way (Being totally free, that is) to get your results found in those rankings, so it is therefore the purest & most potent form of Advertising in the new world business model. (SEM)

Of course, there are many different ways to advertise online. Programs like Google's "AdWords allow you to pay only for the people who click on your Ad, which is listed down the side of search engine results, keyed into the topic of their search. See "AdWords" below for the most popular & successful not-in-results advertising program on the web.

Pay-per-inclusion services, most notably the Precision Match program at Overture.com, allow you to bid a tiny price on your keywords, and each time that keyword is searched in most search engines, they thrust your advertisment right to the top page, or whatever spot you bid on, putting it right beside the actual search results, as a text-only link. Many find this is a great way to advertise because it puts their site right where the surfers who are looking for them will find them. (And with their "Site Match" Program, the resulting Ad can be right there inside the search results as well, instead of beside it.) However, the drawback is the loss of Return on Investment... Your ROI is diminished because you are paying money for each and every click someone makes to your Advertisment, no matter if they are serious about your concept or not. Each click that doesn't turn up a sell (the vast majority) can be a bad thing if you've had to bid too highly for your keyword! (Lowest: $0.10, Highest I've seen: $12.50 !!!)

Another very notable online advertising option is called an Affiliation program. It's best for products that sell themselves easily, but can work on any product you sell online. Affiliate merchants use software on their website that allows other webmasters to advertise their products in some form for them, expecting to be paid for the referral each time they sell one or send you a site hit. This is pretty effective because your program could induce several thousand people to advertise your product and website for you, and you'd only pay for when they are effective. The downside is, however are complication. This software isn't very easy to use and install, and it can keep you more busy than the rest of your business does!

Such problems are not as bad as "banner ads," however. If you think that static advertising like banners will help you in any way, read the "banner ads" section below.

The final word in advertising online is that there are many, many ways to do it, and finding the one that is right for your business should be your top priority. ALL businesses, however, need to concentrate on Search Engine Optimization first and foremost, as there is no better time to sell something to someone than when they are actively searching for it.

AdWords -

Google's popular advertising program, utilizing a bid-per-click technology to best place its listings. Instead of buying space for advertising, you simply create your own ads, choose the best keywords to help them match your ads to your audience. Then, you only pay whenever someone clicks on them. Unfortunately, these ads appear down the side of the page instead of in the results of a search… Meaning a much smaller percentage of people would ever look over at them than at the search results themselves.

The word 'AdWords' has somehow also come to be used as slang for the concept of "Keyword Phrases." This usage is most likely a passing fad, born of ignorance.

Alexa's traffic rank -

A company called Alexa, at Http://www.alexa.com is owned by Amazon.com, and is a very helpful website to anyone who watches the web. They include site rankings and appraisals, and can show you more website statistics than you can shake a stick at. They offer the famous Alexa traffic toolbar, which sits in your browser and tells you the popularity of all sites you visit, alongside their competing sites. It also can easily take you to the statistical & historical report for the page you're on with just one click. All for free, too, I might add.

Alexa rankings are a number which is based on a sampling of actual traffic to that domain. Alexa only ranks by domain, which means that the traffic to any page on that domain counts toward that domain's total. However, Alexa refines their counts further so that in the end, the ranking is a reflection of the unique visitors to a domain, calculated once per day and averaged on a moving basis. It is an original, if not powerful service.

ALT Tag -

ALT tags are just a short piece of text that you can include in the code of your website to 'pop-up'' whenever someone 'mouses-over' an item, such as a table or a picture. For instance, if you had a picture of a graph showing the sales of your product, and in the code, where you placed the picture, adding an ALT tag would result in code like this:

<img src="graph.gif" ALT="Our sales graph">

The reason we refer to it here, however, is that Alt text is also important to search engine spiders, who often read it. A solid strategy is to use one of your page's keywords as the name in your ALT tag. Instead of saying something so generic as "Our sales graph," why not take the opportunity to bump up your PageRank a bit by using your keyword there too? And while you're at it, try naming your image file as the keyword, as well! Does it link to another page on your site? Try naming it by THAT page's keyword, for a nice, fat, juicy, INCOMING link! Made out of your site's keywords? That's golden! Some of the tastiest spider food known. Some great pic/link/alt code would look like this, assuming the keyword phrase of 'French Fries:'

<A href=Http://www.I-sell-french-fries.com/french_fries.html><img src="/pix/french_fries.gif" ALT="French Fries, yum yum!"></a>

Automated Queries -

Any program or script that automatically runs a query on a search engine, checking your PageRank for you. This is considered a waste to server resources for the Search Engines, and they will try to penalize you for it. The more often you do it, the more they try to hunt you down. Excepting the (in)famous, sanctioned, Google API, use of any Automated Query to check your link rankings is very much against most Search Engine's guidelines. -Especially Google.

Auto-Submission -

Not to be confused with "Automated Queries," Auto-Submitting software automatically submits your site URL to the right search engines each month and can be a very helpful thing.

The worthwhile versions of this are usually a paid service, costing in the realm of $9 to have your site submitted to the best 20 search engines or so, depending on how many search engines that company offers, submitting your URL each month for a year. It can be a real time saver if you don't have the time or facility on your host to do it yourself, but basically it is something you can do for free each month, on your host or not. It's good to have the peace of mind that it gets done, and not too often. (Submitting too often can be devastating to your PageRank score!)

The one notable exception to this is the WEB CEO Freeware version that lets you submit automatically to hundreds of search engines each month, even automated, as long as you keep it running. Highly reccommended!

For more information about the Submission process, see Submission.


Banner Ads -

Oh, you know what these are, and they are annoying. Harvard university has done a study on them specifically, and their results show that not only are banner ads almost completely ineffective, but they are actually responsible for forcing surfers to ignore the top portion of EVERY page they surf, whether it has a banner ad on it or not.

The click-per-page-view of a Google AdWords advertisement down the side of a page is roughly one Million times as effective as banner ads, (OK, so maybe I didn't get that latter number from a Harvard study...) but they still don't work half as good search results do either. If anyone tries to get you to post a banner ad, remember, it's just making your site look like a sell-out, losing professionalism, and will never, ever bring you as much money as they claim it will.

Branding and Branded Domain Name -

Branding is basically the making of a company name into a 'Brand name' in the public eye. When we refer to a domain name's "Brandability," we are referring to how the name is memorable, attributed to only one company, not just descriptive of the job they do. "McDonalds.com" is obviously the web site of the particular burger joint with the 'golden arches,' while "trucksales.com" could be anyone who sells trucks.

Although this fact is not too well publicized yet, using your keyword as your domain name is usually not the best decision. This is the lesson that Goto.com taught us back at the turn of the millennium, they had even spent years trying to build up the 'brand name' of "goto.com" by that point... But still, we know this service quite well as "Overture.com" today, and they are much happier with their new name.

Bottom line; your domain name should be your company name, and your company name should be a brand name, not just a keyword that tells what your product or service is. That's just too generic, and humans, as a species, don't respond to it as well as they do a memorable name.


Cloaking -

There is a way, although we certianly do not reccommend it, to "steal" PageRank from another website. It exploits a well-known hole in the Google PageRank system, that allows a page that automatically redirects to a second page to have the same PageRank as that second page. This would be fine & dandy if webmasters hadn't found a way to start the re-direction and then stop it again, allowing people to re-direct their sites to 'google.com' but not actually take the surfer there... A few daring sites have 'stolen' a PageRank of 10 doing just that!

The consequences? Google does not allow your site to show up in its' search results, nor accumulate any PageRank of your own... You will never get a chance to build up your PR as long as you are cloaking, and when you do stop, you start at zero again, no matter where you were before. Not scary enough to deter you? Keep in mind that the re-direct action is just a simple line in a page's META Tags, namely the META Type="Redirect" tag, and it is very easy for anyone to find you out and report you just by doing a quick 'view source'... Don't have any competition if you try this!

Content - (See 'Quality of Content' or 'Quantity of Content')

Crawler - (See 'Robots')

Specific use of the word crawler means Google's secondary, continuously-crawling spider program, NOT Googlebot, but a separate program that 'crawls' for freshness continuously, at a slower pace, hence the nickname.

Cross Links -

Cross links are links from page to page WITHIN your site. Your 'about us' page linking to the index page is a cross link, and the best strategy is of course to link everything to everything else on your site, evening out your PageRank throughout. However, keep in mind that you only want to cross link to ON-TOPIC, quality content on your site, for the same reasons you want to provide such relevancy and content in pages from external links. Any time you are being linked to, from without or within, and the page is not quality stuff, a visiting spider is sure to see your lack of quality. In fact, simply never write any type of content page, linked to or not, that doesn't have quality, on-topic content on it at all. You'll be sorry if you do, those darn search engines JUST KNOW.

Since you don't want a 'superstar' page outperforming the rest of your site, (having more entry pages is a big plus in search engines) cross links are important to disperse the load, and good, rotating, keywords on all content pages are important to up your overall site score.


Description -

<META Name=Description> is a powerful Meta tag that does not actually appear on your Web page. But both your human readers and the search engines will "read" this description though. How, you might ask?

HTML turns the "META Description tag" for each page into the text that other pages use to describe this one with from any off-site searches. All search engines that use the META tag will use your Description as the loose site explanation in the listing on the search results page. The Description forms the other half of what searchers see in the Search Engine's listings (your Title forms the first half).

So all the rules of copyrighting apply on this tag. Your first responsibility is to compel the reader to click with these words. So make sure it sounds attractive, without being misleading. A gentle, good-natured tease will do well... provide a lead-in to some information that your potential visitor can't live without. And don't forget to blend in a keyword or two!

Directories -

Directories, often confused with Search Engines, are actual listings of websites, arranged by their own administrator, just as you would arrange your bookmarks folder. Yahoo!, www.yahoo.com and the Open Source directory, www.dmoz.com, are the two most influential and well known, but there are many others. Yahoo! (see the entry below for more details) is the #1 most popular website on the planet and includes personalized search portals and 100 Megabytes of free email storage. Unfortunately, they charge $299 per year to have your website included in their database. It is worth it if you make your money through that website, however the older, more friendly DMOZ allows you to insert your own listings, for free!

Perhaps the greatest thing about directories is that now that link popularity is so important to search engines, having a site as popular as Yahoo! linking to you is a no-brainer, really great in-bound link to have. Plus, it's a really easy way to get found by all of the search engine spiders in the first place.

Domain names -

A domain name is the alphanumeric name for your corner of the web. "internetoptimization.net" is our domain name, and it is nothing more than a name we are leasing for $10 a year to facilitate your arrival. Otherwise, without a domain name, you'd have to remember our IP address to get to this website... Not quite ideal for marketing purposes. So yes, even your domain name is a form of marketing and SEO.

It's obvious that you should choose your domain name to be as memorable as possible. Some go as far as inserting their Keywords into their domain name, for added Search Engine bonuses... But this has proven ineffective. For an explanation of that subject, see "Brandable domain names."

Doorway pages -

"Doorway" or "Gateway" pages are simply a web page that isn't your main (index) page, but appears to be, which links back to your main page after it has drawn more targeted searchers to their specific targets. It may sound like a sound strategy for you to use at first, but Google and the others think of it as a cyber bait-and-switch, promising surfers highly-targeted content, but delivering some that's not so targeted after all.

For example, let's say you've got a main site about airplanes. Not very targeted at all, it could be little more than a link farm about hobbyists, professionals, commercial builders, hobby builders, model builders, history, fantasy, whatever, just as long as there is some sort of plane involved. If you searched for airplane-related keywords, you're likely to find profitable ones for the specific word phrases, but never for the general ones like "plane," right?

Right. So therefore, it's unethical to build a page for each specific keyword you found, giving little or no content on the specifics, but then linking them back to your generalized site. Google and the other big search engines hate this, and their spiders are experts at sniffing this tactic out. Just don't do it!

Dynamic Pages -

Dynamic pages are a type of web page that is at least partially generated on the spot, such as the files that end in ".asp" in your browser. Although the permanent content still gets indexed by the search engines, they are discouraged, and it is Google's policy to limit the number of dynamic pages indexed on your site.

This is a shame, we know. A lot of software makes it easy to put your good content on dynamic pages instead of html... But that does make it harder for the 8-legged visitors. Oh well. Just know that you should choose to put your content on an html page over a dynamic page, if given the choice. If your site's small enough, it doesn't really matter.


Email Advertising -

An emerging advertising technique that is starting to become available for businesses is to have your message inserted into actual email messages. Hotmail and Yahoo!, among others, have been advertising themselves by putting a tagline at the end of emails you composes on their system since day one... But you and I have never been given a chance to get our Ads in emails until recently.

It may not be the very first to do so, but Google's long-anticipated G-Mail offers us the chance to do just that. Even better, they put the ads to the side of the email, instead of at the very bottom, after all the responses and headers, down where it usually would never be seen. Additionally, G-mail scans your email text for keywords, and keys their ads only to relevant topics... For instance, if you are writing to your friend about getting a new car, Big Brother, er, Google, will insert ads that feature car dealerships and accessories. Sure, it's a bit intrusive and it ignores your personal privacies, so if you can't handle that, then don't sign up for G-Mail then. They are just betting you will in order to get your free GIGABYTE of email storage space for free. Despite Yahoo!'s and Hotmail's 100MB and 250MB responses to G-mail, I bet they are right. The future of our entire society is all about target traffic.


Frames -

Using Frames on your website, (Windows inside of windows, with the code stored in other files) presents special problems. Most search engine spiders will only see the master page of a given frameset. Usually, the instructions on how to produce the frame layout are ignored, and only information within the noframes tags are read. Spiders are getting smarter and smarter, so this likely won't be a problem forever. However, it's still a formidable problem for now, so we have a couple of suggestions to help you get your content spidered.

Adding the normal Meta tags to the master page is obviously helpful, letting the visiting robots see your Keywords, at the least. Not much, but that's something helpful if you've got no other choices. See "META Tags" for more information.

For a more serious fix, adding a <NOFRAMES> tag is a better option. (providing simple text of your whole frameset's content in the meta tags) It is better because it attracts the spider to an alternate source of the same content. This lengthens and complicates your pages, but solves the problem entirely, and gives your low-tech visitors the chance to access your content. If you must use frames, this is clearly the best option for optimizing your site. The worst problem this brings up however is that surfers using the alternate page won't see the page within one of the other frameset's frames... Meaning that the lefthand, navigation menu frame, among others, will not be present. -So when building this alternate page, you must write a whole new navigation menu!

Free-for-all sites - (See 'Link farms')


Gateway pages -

A Gateway page is a page that you place somewhere out on the web, usually on a seperate domain or even server from your own, that sends users and spiders alike to your website. For instance, a company's website may have 50 gateway pages placed out on the web in various places, each page slighltly different in order to be optimized to a different keyword.

The theory behind them is simple, it's the same basic premise of entering the same raffle numerous times. Stuff the web full of what is basically your site, and your surfers are bound to trip across it sooner or later, right?

Wrong. Gateway pages are a passing fad that only have been proven to work for people who work very, very hard at it. Although Gateway pages, unlike doorway pages, do not need to rank highly with search engines in order to be found, (sheer numbers is their only weapon) the size of the web is still BILLIONS or even TRILLIONS of pages now, so the improvement from your 100 versus only 50 pages being stumbled upon are not going to make the chance of getting found significantly higher at all.

Furthermore, since Spiders know how to do a "deep crawl" and index the pages of your site more dynamically, they know when they are leaving a server better now and aren't likely to be fooled. Google will catch it every time, any many others are learning too. Although it's not technically cheating, they see it as such and take away 'ranking points' for this.

Summation: Gateways are simply not worth the time and effort anymore, unless maybe you've got no other options.

GIF Optimization -

Optimizing image files such as a GIF or JPEG file, has nothing to do with Search Engine Optimization, although you may find the option to do so nearby on the menu of your host site. Optimizing image files is simply the process of reducing the color count and therefore making the file size smaller.

Google -

In case you've been living under a log, Google, Http://www.google.com is by far the most successful and popular search engine in the history of the internet. Webster's dictionary actually now includes the word "Googling," which means to look someone up by searching for their name in Google. All other search engines are affected by Google in some ways, even if they tried hard not to be. In July of 2004, Google was responsible in some way for roughly 86% of ALL searches on the internet.

If you create your page to rank well in Google, it can pretty much rank well in any engine, mainly because more and more engines are writing their algorithm to act more like Google's, with it's famous PageRank Algorithm, which is kept a tight secret. To rank highly for your keyword in Google, there are many factors to take into account. The most important are Keyword usage, content quality, and the PageRank itself, which is a calculation of the popularity of a page, as defined by the ratio to the popularity of pages linking to it by those linked to it from other websites. See "PageRank Algorithm" for more detail about that.

Bottom line for ranking well in Google? Choose your keywords carefully, provide great content, and have lots of popular websites of your related topic linking TO you.

Googlebot -

Google's primary spider, sent out every month since the turn of the millennium. Treat this little guy as your site's most valued house guest! Look for Googlebot in your server logs each month to see when it arrives, and make sure you do your cleaning just before that time next month.

You clean up your house when important guests come over, right? Well this visitor is the most important your site is likely to ever have!

Google Toolbar -

Not far from the main page of Google, you can download a free tool they provide that fits inside your browser while surfing. You can also go directly to the download site here:

This one and Alexa's toolbar are the two most used tools on the web for those who care about Search Engine Optimization. The Google toolbar provides the PageRank score of any site you're on at the time, (as a little bar, showing a score of 0-10) has a pop-up blocker built in, and of course provides you with a Google search box, all for free.


Headers -

The word 'headers' is in general reference to all the code on your website pages above the <body> tag. Most people think of the <Title> and Meta Tags only when they hear the term. If used specifically, though, it means everything between your <head> and </head> tags, which could also include javascript and other instructions.

See "Meta Tags" for more information about what goes on in the Header of a page. -Important stuff for SEO!

Heading -

The 'heading' or 'headline' of a page, not to be confused with the "Headers" of a page, is usually the top-most text of a page, which is written in the largest font. You always should start each page with one, making it a larger-font, bolded, & even center it if appropriate. Most of the time, this line of text ranks higher than any of the following text for keyword placement. Also, your 'top-of-the-page' headline is the first thing that humans will read on your web page. So make it compelling!

Many search engines give more weight to the keywords in your headline than to your regular body copy. Since these are the first words on the page, the Search engines interpret it as being the most important copy on the page. Only the TITLE tag has more important text. Also...

Some, not Google but a few, search engines will not use your Description in their listings on their search results web pages. Instead, they use the first 150-200 characters on your Web page to construct the description in your listing. That means that they'll use your Headline plus the first sentence or two from your opening paragraph.

Headline - (See Heading)

Host server, Hosting services -

A web site host is a company that administrates the actual server(s) that your web site resides on. Very few webmasters anymore, unless they are running extremely large, corporate sites, own their own web host servers and host the site themselves. It's just not worth it anymore since a hosting service can sell everything you need for a site for $10-$25 per month. Hosting companies also do things that you wouldn't want to take the time to do, such as run daily back-ups and pay out the nose for very expensive high-bandwidth connections to the Internet Backbone with Multi-thousand dollar router setups.

Hosting services have many different features, rules, services, and policies. If you are choosing a hosting service for your website, then you have to make sure that they have all the capabilities you'll ever need, ahead of time. Also, tech support is vital, and almost never, ever available 24/7 to answer your emergency needs. I sincerely wish you good luck on finding one that is.

The main thing you'll need from your site host in terms of Search Engine Optimization though, is tracking facilities. You'll need much more than a simple 'page hits' number, so make sure you get robust tracking results & statistics that shows you where all the surfers came from, what they visited, how many times, which page the left from, where they went, if they came back, what they clicked on, which keywords they used to get there, etc., etc., etc... This is all very important for planning your future SEO and site growth strategies.


In-bound Links -

These are the links to your site from other sites. This is the most controversial, if not the most important aspect in computing your web page's PageRank. Getting lots of on-topic, high-ranking in-bound links is not easy to do, but it is the very core of Google's PageRank Algorithm.

The normal way one goes about getting in-bound links is to first get the site listed in all of the directories they can, and then they make a visit to their keyword section of those directories to find NON-COMPETING, but relating sites. After finding a list of such websites, they simply write a personal email to their site admin asking to exchange links. The more, the better, unless the other site's PageRank score is lower than theirs.

A great tool for seeing who is linked to who, at least in Google's eyes, is simply typing "linkto:yourdomain.com" in the Google search field. Put your own domain in there to see who Google knows is liked to you already. This is a good way to see how well Google has spidered your site.

Internet Marketing -

Internet Marketing is a general term covering any product or service promotion you can make on the world wide web. In 1992 there was no such thing, but today it makes up the Majority of the world's advertising. -No small thing.

The most important form of internet marketing these days is Search Engine Optimization, simply because there is no better time to sell something to someone than when they are looking for it. This trend is sure to only increase, and in some sci-fi writer's opinions, will be the only legal form of advertising in the future.

See "Search Engine Marketing (SEM)" for more on this subject.


Javascript -

Since a simple site is a simple-to-archive site, (makes for easier indexing by spiders) then naturally Java & javascript are good at messing your page indexing process up. As a general rule of thumb for proper SEO, readable text on your page should outweigh the rest of your content. That means not too much Javascript, got it? But more than that, keep in mind that any text INSIDE your javascript tags is not read by the spiders as well. When they see the <JAVASCRIPT> tag, they parse out everything up to the </JAVASCRIPT> tag. It doesn't exist to them. Some claim that spiders ignore the nearby text surrounding the Javascript too, so stay clear!

As for Java applications, of course there is no content inside that code can read either, and certainly not if it's off-page. As the web becomes a faster & faster place, things that slow you down such as Java application and Flash movies are becoming obsolete. Best bet for SEO: just say no.


Keywords -

Keywords are small, verbatim word phrases that you choose to associate with your site, so that you can be found in the search engines when they are searched for. The selection of your keywords is easily the most important decision to make concerning Search Engine Optimization. Research them well.

This is a huge topic! Check out the eight or so entries below this one for some specifics.

Keyword Demand -

Keyword Demand, as in 'demand and supply,' is a important concept to know for any website owner. This is usually a number of how many people searched for the exact keyword you are targeting in the last month. There is no way to know the exact, to the number, times that a particular, verbatim, keyword phrase was entered into all the world's search engines over any given period of time, but thanks to the popularity of Google, and the inter-linking of Yahoo! and Overture as well, we can now find that number with 98% certainty. -Good enough for me!

Try the Overture.com Keyword Search" tool:

More advanced tools for ranking your keywords can be found on our SEO tools page.

These tools allow you to know, in depth, all about the Demand for your keywords. If you have the highest page rank in your class of competitors, and this keyword attracts only people searching for a site like yours, then that's the number of people you would have gotten LAST month from using that keyword alone.

This number is a lot like a stock's value. From month to month, I find, the number can jump up or down by 0%-25% normally, or much more if it is a seasonal or event-driven keyword. ("Christmas party" is always searched a bit more in December... "Kim Basinger" will be searched more when she's in a big movie coming out... etc.) Guessing at these exact search terms is the same as guessing at people's thought processes, so there is absolutely no guarantees, just like the stock market.

If you sell something on your website, make sure you pick a keyword that is right from your customer's standpoint, not your own. Pluralization shouldn't matter that much, because a search engine sees "Truck" and Trucks" as the same word. However, if you think about it, combinations of words is what is really influencing keyword selection for surfers. Example: A used car salesman wants to sell "some used cars." But you, the surfer, won't be searching for SOME, but just one "used car." Again, it's not the "s" at the end of a word, but the rest of the language that they include to agree with that pluralization that messes it all up.

So what about the keyword's "Supply?" Well, the demand without the supply is only half the equation, so be sure to read the section below entitled "Keyword Supply."

Keyword Density -

Keyword density refers to the amount, by percentage, that you've listed your Keyword phrase on a page of content. This is important because a spider like googlebot will want to ignore your page if you list a keyword and then never use it in your page at all... "That's not relevant," it thinks, and moves your Keyword ranking down into obscurity. Even if you have a huge PageRank score, it wouldn't rank you highly for a keyword if it feels your site isn't relevant to that keyword, and this is the main way it determines relevancy.

So, how do you know how dense to place your keywords? Good question. When it really matters, such as if you and a competitor are neck-and neck for 1st place on a single keyword in Google, then you should seek the services of a professional SEO company. However, 9 out of 10 websites don't need to go that far just for this area alone, so I recommend that you just try to use your keyword as much as you can in your content, as if you can't think of any synonyms for their meaning... "Slightly more than sounds like proper English" is a phrase that I've heard from various sources.

There is a little more to it than just the numbers though. Strategic positioning is also important. In a page of 200 words, for example, you'd place your five keywords throughout it 5 times each, at a minimum. But since the spiders don't pay as much attention to the middle of a body of text as it does to the beginning and end of it, you should move them out of the middle, into the first couple sentences or paragraph, and into the last 3 sentences as well. Think of an hourglass shape, thin in the middle, widest at the ends. That's what the spider sees, despite it's having 6 more eyes than we do.(Stupid arachnid...)

Also, try to place your primary keyword, (the one of the five that is the most relevant to this page) at least TWICE as much as the others. And include it everywhere else you can, like links, picture file names, ALT tags, heading text, in the Title, and on every single Meta Tag line. It's the one you want to really push, so don't worry about overkill on that one word. (As long as it's ethical. No white text on white backgrounds, ok?)

Not to say that you can't spam the engine and be penalized. Using your primary keyword 8-14 times in the text of a short document like only 200 words is Ok though. 50 times in 200, that's not. As long as you speak coherently, not repeating a word 10 times where it could only be used once or twice, you should be fine.

Keyword Density Analyzer -

A software program that checks your page text and computes how dense your writing is with your chosen keywords. There is an upper limit on how much you should repeat it, by percentage of words, before a search engine will reject it as spam, so if you need to use a Density Analyzer, make sure you get one that knows that limit.

Usually people only need this program when they are serious about getting every last point of PageRank that they can, such as when they and their competitor(s) are neck-and-neck for 1st place. Otherwise, just try to use your keyword as much as you can in your content, making it sound like you can't think of any synonyms for their meaning... Read "Keyword Density" above for more information on this topic.

See our "Keyword Density Tools page for a selection of free KDA's.

Keyword Phrases -

These word phrases are basically a small group of keywords put together, searched as one. "Taco" is just a keyword, but "grilled chicken taco" is a keyword phrase that would be smarter to use for a Mexican restaurant serving chicken tacos... Using Keyword Phrases therfore implies that you are more specifically targeting your customers, and that you'll have a better chance at success with them over simple keywords alone. It is common, however, to refer to whole "Keyword Phrases" as just "keywords" though, but not the other way around.

Keyword Positioning -

Not to be confused with "Keyword Ranking," this term has nothing to do with the demand or supply of your keyword. Keyword Positioning is simply referring to where on your page you have placed the keywords, and how many of which, in what order.

Five (yes, just 5) keywords is the new general rule. The number one mistake of webmasters, and I see it on 99% of the pages out there, is to include way too many keywords in their Meta tags. The more you 'back up' that keyword by repeating it in the text or other form of content on your site, the more your site is relevant to that keyword as far as search engines are concerned. That's good positioning.

But adding more than five keywords is a mistake, unless you've got enough PageRank to pull it off... Sites with a PR of 8 or 9 can use some more, and alternatively, sites with only a PR score of 1 or 2 should stick to only three or four keywords in their Meta Tags, per page.

The optimum formula for your page needs to be calculated by a professional, but as a general rule of thumb, try to get 5 great keywords for you page, use them all a few times throughout, choose a primary one out of them, and use it twice as much as the others. Also, make sure it's included in links, file names, ALT text, and all of the other Meta fields. -See Keyword Density for more on this topic.

Keyword Profitability (ratio)-

Once you know how many people searched with a given keyword last month, and during that same time, how many related sites came up in a search for that keyword, you'll be able to make a ratio between the supply and the demand for that keyword, which always indicates a good keyword above 1:1... However, that doesn't take into account the other very important factor, which is Relevancy. Once such an algorithm is run on your keyword, and that number is factored in the above ratio of supply & demand, you'll have a number that represents your keyword's profitability. -No small thing. And of course that number is constantly changing from month to month, but if you ever do get the chance to look at the profitability for your industry's keywords, grab it and run. There is no better way to rank a keyword that will tell you how useful it is to your needs. Unfortunately, computing a true profitability requires expensive software, and human time as well. You're not likely to find such numbers for free. Everyone dreams of finding the magical keywords that were searched for a million times last month, but no one was using the keywords for. (1,000,000:0) What a great hole on the web to fill, getting a million hits a month with no competition! Back in reality though, it's not very likely. But 1000:1 has been spotted before, and there are plenty of 100:1s out there for the finding. Yes, the great gold rush is over, but there is still plenty of gold up in them thar' hills. (Or webs, at least.) Just don't forget you're site's relevance to the topics!

Keyword Ranking -

Not to be confused with "Page Ranking," (See "PageRank" if you're not sure what that is.) Keyword Ranking is a term meaning how likely you are to being the site chosen in search results for a particular search term. For instance, if you are using the keyword "Dog" on your page, and someone searched for just the word "Dog," and you came up as the top result, then your keyword Rank is #1. -Just an example folks, not going to happen... A keyword like 'Dog' is so generic that you'd be competing with, oh, let me check here... 54,600,000 websites. With 977,600 people last month searching those 54 mil sites, you'd need a page rank of 9 or 10 to get up on page one...

Anyway, having your keywords ranked to ensure their effectiveness over time is a tool who's day has come. A free version of this can be found on Digital Point's tools page:http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools. It does, however, require that you sign up for Google's API though, but that's free too. They've got a lot of useful tools there for this and other SEO use.

Keyword Supply -

Keyword Supply, as in 'demand and supply,' is a very important, albeit it overlooked concept to know for anyone serious about Search Engine Optimization. It simply means how many sites come up in a search for your exact keyword phrase. After you know the number of Demand for a specific keyword, (See "Keyword Demand," above) you still don't really know if that keyword is truly good for you to use or not. Even more importantly, you won't know how good it is against the other keywords you've come up with.

That's where finding out the supply comes in. There are currently no good free ways to find out the supply for a Keyword, mainly because search engines are fed results from Pay-per-inclusion services like Overture. The best you can do without spending money is just to search the keyword phrase in Google, and see how many results it returns. -Those are rounded off, too, by the way. Finding a SEO service that accurately weighs the Demand and the supply of each keyword is by far the best way to gather your keywords, that is, if you are serious about getting the most hits.

Anyway, the cool part comes in when you've got your two numbers for a keyword, and you find that your Demand number is larger than your Supply. That's a great keyword! If you properly follow the rules of SEO, and get your site listed in the directories and indexed by Google, you're pretty much guaranteed to wind up on the first page of rankings! You won't even need to have a high page rank, because there is not enough competition!

See "Keyword Profitability" for more on that subject.


Landing Pages -

Are little more than the actual web pages on your site that you expect or allow your incoming surfers to arrive on. This is indicated by the link you suggested to use for your site from other websites, including search engine submissions. The most common landing page is your home page. (index.html) For SEO purposes, however, we'll include any and all pages on your site that have valuable content on them, that surfers might be searching for. (NOT your "contact form" or "About us" pages... No matter how interesting or necessary they are.)

There is no reason to optimize a page that isn't as such a Landing page.

Link farms -

Also called "Free for all" sites, these are terrible, terrible, horrible, scourges of the net. Have you ever mistyped a domain and came across a page with about 5,000 links on it, one for every possible topic under the sun? That's a link-farm, and you will be sacrificed without reservation by Google and the other Search engines if you try to put one up. I don't think there is anything that search engine robots penalize more seriously that a topic-free site. I've never been to one yet that isn't ranked at 0 out of 10 by Google's PageRank scale.

There are also other forms of link farms and free-for-all sites that aren't just randomly placed out there... Some are more aggressive! However, they all have the same thing in common; Not theme or content, just tons and tons of links. "Topic Directories," (see below for a full explanation) on the other hand, have tons of links, but are all centralized around a solid theme, and an editor also weeds out the bad links.

Link Popularity -

Since a website will rank higher in the major search engines that have lots of other sites linking to theirs, the name "Link Popularity" was coined, referring to how many links point to a given website, from any other websites. So basically, it's a good thing to have... And it's one of the most important aspects of the Google PageRank algorithm.

To find out how many sites link to any given site, thus determining it's link popularity, type the following into the Google search field:

linkto:yourdomain.com - Put your own domain in there to see who Google knows is liked to you already. This is also a good way to see how well Google has spidered your site.

For more on this subject, see "In-bound Links," above.

Logs, or Web Logs -

Log files that your host server generates to report on all aspects of your site traffic are generally referred to as your 'logs.' These are very important, yet small files for any business, as they are the only record of how many people came to your site, clicked on a link, left from which page, used 'X' search phrases, etc... They literally record all types of data on your site's visitors, be they friend, foe, or spider.

See Tracking for more details.

Logging, or Web Logging - (See 'Tracking')


META Tags -

Meta tags, specific code snippits up in the heading of most HTML pages, is very important for Search engine optimization. one of these Meta tags, the 'Keywords' Meta tag, is the place that tells all spiders what your intended keyword phrases are, which is without a doubt the most important thing you can put on your page for proper SEO. The other, the 'description' Meta tag, tells both the spiders AND your human searchers what your page is all about, like your advertising blurb, or your 'tagline.'

After your title tag, but still in within the Heading tags, that's where your meta tags all go. Keep in mind that other than the Description META tag, all Meta Tags are for spider's eyes only. They are really good for facilitating searches, and their whole potential has not yet been harnessed.

Here's an example of the two tags your page can't live without:
<META Name="Description" Content="Insert your awesome tagline here. Make it compelling!">
<META Name="Keywords" Content=" Primary keyword, second keyword, third keyword, fourth keyword, fifth keyword ">

Remember, the title of your page comes up in your search results too, so DO NOT simply repeat your title in your description field... Not only will a search engine find that a little questionable, but any human seeing your page in a search result will see the same line twice! (Talk about a waste of Ad space....)

See "Keyword Positioning" for more information about the Meta Keyword tag, and also see "Description" for more on the description tag.


Newsletters -

Outside of Search Engines and eMail advertisements, Newsletters is a good way to get your message heard and even your link clicked on. Webmaster who offer a monthly newsletter for free from their website all rave about the effectiveness of their newsletters in drawing repeat business.

For one thing, writing your own newsletter makes you a sort of an authority on a subject, and people who surf your website are likely to be interested in that subject. But what's even more impressive about newsletters is that without them, even a person who's fairly interested in your topic can easily surf right off your site and never be heard from again... While a site with a free newsletter sign-up, easily available from the main pages, has a fair chance of catching that customer for monthly visits!

Letting a potential customer surf right off your site without hearing what you've really got to say is always a shame. Sites without a newsletter have no choice but to just hope those surfers return one day to hear the rest of the message. Great content will always be the best way to get traffic to return, but a good newsletter probably comes in second place.

The downside is, of course, having to write new, interesting content every month. (Or whatever frequency you so desire.) You're not guaranteed to catch a good percentage of your traffic either, but I've often heard reports around 1% of all repeat surfers sign up... Which actually is quite a lot once you've got some decent site traffic.

Think of it this way. Without one, the situation is; "Don't call us, we'll call you." With one, a good number of them ask you to 'call' every month.


One-way Links -

A One-way link is an incoming link to your site from another site which is not returned. Due to the Google PageRank Algrithm, these are the most highly desirable type of links, and the more of them your site has, the better your PageRank score will be. Not only do these directly push up your score in the major search engines, but they are obviously useful in other ways as well such as how they help your site by receive direct traffic from people who click through the links. There are several methods to attempt to get One-way links.

  • Develop great content, making an interesting web site so other sites will want link to it. This is by far the most successful method to use.
  • Give away something for free, such as e-books or 'white papers' that contain links to your site.
  • Submit your site to major directories, such as Yahoo! and DMOZ.
  • Submit to several Topic Directories. (2nd best mentod!)
  • Join any business associations which list their members' sites online. (Local BBB? Chambers of Commerce?)
  • Write articles and submit them to newsletters which are then archived online.
  • Search for sites that complement yours and ask them to publish your articles.
  • Buy bulk text-link ads. To find them, try a search in Google for "text link ads."
  • Write news releases and submit them to topic-related web sites and Internet news wires such as PRWeb and Business Wire.
  • If you give away any ebooks, submit them to ebook directories.
  • If you sell any software, create downloadable software which contains links to your site embedded into the software iteslf. Also, you can tell other sites, newsletters and forums about it and ask them for a link to it.
  • If you give away any downloadable software, be sure to submit them to software directory sites, such as Download.com & Tucows.com. Make double sure to include your site Link in the description!
  • Create a blog and get it listed in a blog directory.
  • Create a PHP-based content syndication feed (RSS feed) and include a link to your site. Do not use Javascript to do this or search engines will parse out your headings and all links!

Open Directory -

There might actually be other, smaller open-source (meaning that anyone can add themselves for free) directories, but DMOZ, "the Open Directory Project,' located at: www.dmoz.com , is by far the best known and most useful. In fact, Yahoo! and DMOZ are the only two directories you need to list yourself in to get listings everywhere else, even Google. Yahoo!, which costs $299 to get a listing, is larger and more influential, but DMOZ has always been free, and was there in the very beginning of the web. -The grandfather of all directories.

Once your site is optimized, make sure to add yourself in it. All submissions will have to be reviewed by the staff, of course, before they are officially posted, but it really doesn't take them that long, a couple of weeks at worst, and then you'll have a link from a awesome directory with a Google PageRank of 9! -Not too shabby for free, huh? Also, anything posted in DMOZ and Yahoo! are a shoe-in to get crawled by the very next googlebot after it's showing... Most search engine spiders start their journeys at these two directories. So think of it as the fast track to get indexed.

See "Directories" for more about directories in general. And then go post your site at www.dmoz.com/add.html !

Optimize -

In our case, we are referring to Search Engine Optimization, which in the verb form of the term, we just call "Optimizing." See "Search Engine Optimization" for more detail.

Out-bound Links -

Whenever you ask someone to link to your site, it is only polite that they would want a reciprocal link in return. However, the PageRank Algorithm clearly says that I want fewer outgoing links than incoming links. Therefore, I think of this as budget, game, or a savings challenge; I want more links in-bound to my site at all times than out-bound. An of course, all new sites will start with a deficit, as it's hard to make a website with no links out at all...

So how do you get in-bound links without providing return links? Offer other things in return. Perhaps you are a loyal user of their product. Maybe it's a good friend and they wouldn't ask for one in return. Or best of all, although they are rare, you can find someone who has no desire for anyone to link to their site in the first place.

Just remember, if someone asks you for a link to their site, check their Google PageRank first using your Google toolbar, and make sure their site ranks as highly as yours does, or preferably more. If googlebot catches you linking to lots of lower-than-thou pageranked sites, your score WILL go down. Never, ever link to Link farms or anything similar, they can do even more damage. Topic directory listings are ok though, so that's ok if you must. Otherwise, try not to link to off-site much at all!

Organic SEO -

Calling your Search Engine Optimization campaign "Organic" simply means that you aren't going to use any other type of online marketing, such as pay-per-click methods. When viewing search engine results, the "Organic" part of the page is the result listing that the engine generated, not including any paid-for advertising at all.

So basically, Organic SEO means optimization for search engines with no cheating, no payment for bypassing, or anything else but just the right thing to show the search engines that your site is important. This website is almost all about Organic SEO, excepting only the instructional page on Pay-per-click advertising. (That we suggest to only use WITH Organic SEO, on hard-to-compete-for keywords.)

Overture -

After Google and Yahoo!, Overture is probably the most important company influencing searches on the web. They originally started out as Goto.com, and then realized that their name needed to be more brandable to be memorable, about at the turn of the millennium.

From day one they have always sold a unique service that you bid on your keywords, ebay-style, and then whenever someone searches for those keywords in any search engines, they'll slap your ad into the search results. They even let you bid on which number you want yours to be on the page... If only one company cares enough to outbid you for your keyword, then you simply bid on the #2 spot... And that way you can pay less, but still be on the very first page of a searcher's results.

That service, which they now call their "Precision Match" service, is what is known in many companies as a pay-per-inclusion service. No, overture is not the only company offering this kind of service, but it is by far the most popular and influential. Many businesses out there don't even use SEO at all and strictly get all their traffic from Overture's service.

So what's wrong with that? Actually, quite a lot. Overture is a tool, like all other tools, and should not be used for every job on the web. If you only use that one tool, then you're missing out on all the FREE referrals you'd have from the search engines the rest of the time. Why pay for each and every referral when you can just do proper SEO and never pay for them? Your Return on Investment (ROI) is just not going to be very good on using Overture or any other pay-per-inclusion service, alone.

One great tactic I've seen used is when you have a pool of many good, profitable keywords for your site topic, put half of them, (the half with the fewer supply to compete with) on overture, and use the the other half as the primary keywords for your site. Use the first half on your site too though, or the relevance just won't be enough to match much of the time.

The only other good thing I hear about such services is the speed in which they can get new sites into search rankings... No waiting for googlebot to visit, no waiting for directories to review your site. Just depost your money and within 48 hours have increased traffic.

Some so-called "SEO companies" offer a service of just managing your Overture account for you. While it can be useful, it's not really Search Engine Optimization, it's actually Search Engine Bypass-ation. And half-your-ROI bypass-ation too, for that matter. If ROI is important to you at all, or if every click matters, make sure you Optimize your site first and get as good a ranking as you can before you even think of using a pay-per-inclusion service!


Page Depth -

Two Levels deep is the page depth from your top directory in which you want all your content to reside. For example, a spider will usually get to your site through your index page, or some other starting page you've submitted. That's the entry page, and the spider will index all links to the next level down, which are all the pages linked from the index page. That's one level, and it doesn't matter if that was just one link, or 100, the spider recorded them. It will continue to do the second level as well, indexing all the links for each page in found on the 1st level. This is where it goes wonky, however. There is no guarantee that a spider will ever go to the third level down. On smaller sites, it may. But no promises. Even if you got a 7 page site, two or three pages is all you're guaranteed to get indexed if they are all IN-LINE. So try to keep most of your site on level one or two, that is if you want all pages to be indexed.

Page Rank -

PageRank is a Google-inspired ranking of popularity, specific to a particular page on a particular website, and is dependent on the number of links from other pages on the web that point to that page. It should be mentioned, however, that it is highly skewed in favor of pages that Google considers 'important' - Which Google defines as pages that are already known to have high PageRank. See PageRank Algorithm, below, for an in-depth detail.

PageRank Algorithm -

Google's creators, Sergey Brin & Larry Page originally formulated the (in)famous PageRank Algorithm in their 1999 Cornell paper entitled "The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine." This academic paper basically pointed out that the importance of a web page can be judged by the number of hyperlinks pointing to it from other web pages. A system of websites "voting" for other websites, which increases their 'popularity score' accordingly. It is really important to note here that although no other search engines have the exact PageRank Algorithm that Google has, it is apparent that the closer a given Search Engine's results are to Google's, the more popular that engine is! This is the reason Google keeps the specifics of their Algorithm under tight lock and key. Or maybe they don't even have the key anymore.

How does the algorithm work exactly? Well, here's the mathematical formula driving it:

Google's PageRank Algorithm

PR(A) is the PageRank of page A.
PR(T1) is the PageRank of Page T1.
C(T1) is the number of outgoing links from the page T1.
D is the 'dampening factor,' always between 0 and 1, usually set to 0.85. (As it was in the original publishing.)

In case you're not so mathematically-minded, not unlike myself, it says in a nutshell:

The more incoming links, from the higher PageRanked pages, the better.
The fewer outgoing links, to the higher PageRanked pages, the better.
That they also include a "dampening factor" number that they keep secret, which is like their secret ingredient.

Considering the importance that Google places on your page's links, they make them seem like nothing else but page rank and linking counts towards your site showing up in their results. But how can that be? Don't you know of a site ranked better than yours with fewer incoming links?

You're right, it can't be. We haven't taken in one, all-powerful factor yet, which is above and beyond everything Google does to rank a page. It's the only thing that Search engines did before Google came along, and it's still the single most important thing you can do for your site to rank well: "Relevance." Provide the most relevant content for the keyword phrase.

The moral of this story is to first provide the most relevant content for the best relating keywords to your site, and then second, to get lots of high-ranking websites to link to yours. Do that, in that order, and you'll be ranking high within one or two spider visits.

Need another reason that this Algorithm isn't the end-all-and-be-all of getting your results found, even on Google? Consider this: Most websites don't have many links to them at all yet. If all sites had thousands of incoming links, then link popularity would be more practical & effective. Scoring a high PageRank is relatively more useful if you are trying to win for a too-tough keyword like "e-commerce" or "Sex."

Think of it this way: It's like the golf pros on a PGA Tour. They are all so good, that the difference between any two of them is paper thin. Billions of sites are trying to rank the #1 spot for "e-commerce," so the smart webmaster shouldn't even try to include that keyword on their page at all. He should be more specific to his product. Therefore, picking the right keywords is much more valuable than having lots of incoming links.

PageRank Calculator -

An application or program that calculates each of your web pages' probable PageRank in comparison to the other pages on your site, taking into account such things as number of linking pages on site and which they link to. It can also be used to rank entire sites against each other, such as finding the PageRank of Google, Yahoo, and Altavista by pitting them head-to-head. (With a few million of their closest friends) Such a calculator uses the Google PageRank Algorithm, and if done right, they will even let you modify the dampening factor when calculating.

We have a great one for you to use freely in our Our SEO Tools section, on the SERP & PR Tools page.

Page Size -

Other than meaning the number of words on the page, can also mean the size, in kilobytes, of the file. This doesn't concern your human readers so much, except that the bigger the file, the longer it takes to download. However, the smaller the page size, the easier your job of Search Engine Optimization is, especially when you get to step #8, when you spread your Keywords around. Human visitors aren't patient, and your 8-legged visitors have limited memory. So always try to shoot for 10 kilobytes of text or less. 5 KB would be ideal. Some experts go so far as to say that 200 to 500 words is the maximum suggested that anyone would to read in a page without clicking away, however the truth is that if you make it interesting enough, they'll stay as long sa it takes!

In short, the smaller the page, the better. Human visitors aren't patient, and 8-legged visitors have limited memory. If you can keep it under 20 Kilobytes with two small images, or maybe 15 kilobytes with only 1 image, then you'll be fine. Always try to shoot for 10 kilobytes of text or less. 5 KB would be ideal. 200 to 500 words is all anyone wants to read in a page without doing something like clicking around, anyway. Remember, 75% of your surfers are likely to be at 56K or possibly less!


Quality of Content -

There is no doubt that great Quality of Content is the best way to get a high score from Google. This is precisely why Link farms will never have a PageRank higher than 1 out of 10.

Quantity of Content -

Is the general a number of pages on your web site with content on them. A page itself should be small, but your overall content, in order to get ranked highly in a Search Engine like Google, should ideally be big. How big? A good example of a well-ranking website that is optimized for a Search Engine in every conceivable way would have one hundred (100) pages or more, but each page composed of only 200-450 words. Scary, huh? This page you are on certainly fails that test, with over 2,000 words... So don't take this rule too seriously, it's true that you can uses those guidelines to win a very close competition between you and one other site that is incredibly close in ranking, but in most cases, it makes too little difference to worry over.

This is different than the page size. A page should be small, but your content, in order to get ranked highly in a search engine like Google, should be big. How big? A good example of a website that is optimized for a search engine in every conceivable way would have one hundred (100) pages or more, but each page composed of only 200-450 words.

Each of those 100 pages should be different enough to deserve its' own page, ideally with a different set of keywords. Perhaps five keywords could be used in a different order on each of five pages, making a different one of them the primary keyword for one page each. So 100 pages would need 100 keywords to be done perfectly, each one having a different primary keyword and the rest jumbled as your site needs to match them to the content.

Don't worry if you've only got enough content for 10 pages, or like Amazon, could go all the way up to a million pages… It's just a guideline for the BEST way to optimize your site, and doesn't matter too much after all is said and done.

Want to add more content, but need some inspiration? First, remember, it's all about the keywords. If you can get your paws on a list of 'profitable keywords' in your topic or industry, try to write a page on each and every one! After those have dried up though, consider writing pages that contain articles about your industry, related industries, or even putting back-issues of your newsletter online.


Relevancy -

The topic of Relevancy is the most under-rated in the whole Search Engine Optimization industry. Everyone seems to think that only PageRank matters for getting your site found, as if you have good PageRank, you'll never need anything else. But one must keep in mind that if your entire set of keywords aren't searched for, what's the point in even having a PageRank?

If your site is about fruit, how relevant is the keyword 'bananas?' Quite. But you really can't assign a number to like you can with a keyword's Demand and supply. Considering the complexity of the entire internet, trying to assign a number to that level of relevancy is like assigning a number of "wetness" to a single drop in a bucket of water... So we have to basically bypass that process for now and just use our human intellect in each case to decide how profitable each keyword is for your site or page.

This isn't so bad. Many of you are looking for the most scientifically perfect, flawless algorithm to perfect your process, I know. But no one can really do this any better. No software has been written that can come up with relevant keywords better than human minds do. So you're stuck with the same problem that everyone else is, namely that you have to depend on your own knowledge of your organization to come up with the most RELEVANT keywords. Just like everyone else.

So how important is it in the scheme of all SEO? I'd say It's the very most important thing, but that is, sorry to say, RELEATIVE to your web site. No pun intended. It's higher than PageRank in most cases, and sumitting, METAs, incoming-links, and all the rest are just peanuts, comparitively speaking. Obtaining a high PageRank is how you get picked out of search results if your competing with lots of competition. The higher your PageRank, the more competition you can edge out. Relevancy, on the other hand, trumps PageRank simply because your topic must be searched for first before the competition begins... So if you haven't properly guessed the mindset of the searcher and put that resulting phrase all over your page, then no amount of awesome PageRank will help you achieve your ideal niche... You'll really be after someone else's niche!

In case it's not crystal-clear with all the subtle implications in your head yet, let's go with an example. Yes, it's that important! Let's say you have a website about a Trucker's union. A general keyword to be found by would be "Trucks," of course, however the keyword Phrase "Truckers Union" would be much more targeted and therefore relevant to your needs. With such a targeted phrase, you may only be competing against 127 other websites, so a better-than-average PageRank score of 6, for example, is likely to put you right at the top of your specific topic. That's a good, solid, 200+ surfers to your site, per month, (for example) just for using your specific word. (assuming you have followed the other SEO steps and have achieved SOME pagerank first, of course.)

But alas, you, as everyone else does too, wants to reach more and more people. Many have reasoned in the past to shoot for the higher PageRank, and then compete for more and more general terms. Sound Like a good way to go? Sure, at first maybe. If your PageRank was pulled up from a 6 to an 8, for instance, which is quite a big jump, it still wouldn't help you win the competition for such a general keyword as "Trucks." You'd not only be competing with the 127 Union sites, but with 100,000+ truck manufacturers, 100,000+ Truck detailing businesses, a million or more monster truck fan and event pages, a half-billion truck retail dealerships, etc., etc., forever... The solid 200+ you would have wrangled just got watered down to nearly nothing, and in the end, even the ones that do find and click on your site are not going to be as targeted to your site's concept as those original 200+ surfers were. So raising your page rank would easily put you up on the very top of your 'home-court' topic results, but you can never count on a ranking increase to OVERCOME the obvious drawback of using more general keywords.

See "Keyword Phrases" for more information on how to pick the right keywords for your site.

Robots -

Robots, Spiders, Crawlers, Web crawlers, and Ants are all names for the same sort of thing, with slightly different connotation. These are programs that can search and index the internet, and bring back the indexed results which the programmer queried for. Search Engines use a robot on a regular basis to index the entire visible internet. If an indexing robot knows about a document, it may decide to skip it, depending on it's instructions, but usually it inserts it into its database. How this is done depends on the robot: Some robots index the HTML Titles, or the first few paragraphs, or parse the entire HTML and index all words, with weightings depending on HTML constructs, etc. Some parse the META tag, or other special hidden tags.

Google's famous Robot, which runs on a monthly cycle, (but takes 2 whole weeks) is known as "Googlebot."

Robots.txt file -

Webmasters who do NOT want robots indexing a page on their site, or the whole site itself, create a "Robots.txt" file and leave it in their server's home directory. This small file is actually checked by all forms of robots that visit your site first, and follow its' instructions if it is present. This file can give specific instructions for the robot such as "Index all pages but these," or it can tell the robot to totally not index the site at all! (Not exactly the best way to get your site ranked…)

If your server doesn't allow these files, or if you don't have access to your home directory, there is another way you can give commands to your robotic visitors: In the meta tags. For instance:
If you don't want an HTML document to be indexed, include the following tag into that page's heading:

Or, if you just don't want links on that page to be followed:

This command cannot, however, help you to increase your PageRank score… Google's figured out that trick already.

Unless you have a specific reason to hide a page or a set of links from the search engines, it's probably best to ignore this entry altogether.


Search Engine -

A search engine is a program that searches through some data, usually on the Internet. In the context of the Web, the word "Search Engine" is most often used for search forms that search through databases of HTML documents gathered by a robot. It then provides listed results, sorted by relevancy.

However, since a good web Search Engine such as Google or Hotbot will usually find thousands of results for most queries, They also factor in PageRank as well, making the more popular results move to the top of those found.

Search Engines are NOT to be confused with Directories, such as DMOZ and Yahoo. Their interface may be the same, but Search engines are Aggressive in nature, Directories are passive. BOTH should be planned for to get your website found online.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)-

Not to be confused with "Search Engine Optimization," below, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Positioning (SEP) are the trade names for Advertising on the web. It specifically means "to advertise using Search Engines," but it can include pay-per-inclusion programs and even Search Engine paid advertising like Google's AdWords program.

See "Advertising" above for more of the specifics on this topic.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)-

To optimize your website for Search engines to find you, there are many, many different things to consider, and many strategies that you can use. In all cases though, it means perfecting your keywords and content to be the most attractive to the search engine spiders, and to bring up your PageRank the most.

This entire knowledgebase is composed of terms used in the industry of Search Engine Optimization. (SEO)

Search Engine Spam -

Spamming the search engines (or spamdexing) is the practice of using unethical or unprofessional techniques to try to improve search engine rankings. It's not as specific as email spam, but amounts to the same thing in the public's eyes. Search Engines, on the other hand, will penalize you to a point where you'll never be found -at all- for just one or two small offenses!

The most common types of 'spamdexing' are: hidden text, cloaking, using doorway passages, starting link farms, and checking your link ranks with automated queries. Just don't do them.

In fact, a webmaster these days must even be carefully to not accidentally do these. A famous example, one which I HOPE they've cleared up by now, is just because spiders aren't smart enough yet. Webmasters were being labeled as spammers because they had pages with a white background, a blue table, but writing in white text inside it… Infoseek actually called this spamming of their engine without even knowing it! All their spider saw was white text and a white page background, concluding that their background color and your page color are the same… Whoops!

Search Portal -

A Website "portal" is just the start page that your browser opens up to every time you start out on the web. It looks like a link farm, but is usually filled with links that you care about or put there, and has news that interests you as well. All the popular portals these days are actually Search portals, like my.yahoo.com or one that your ISP set you up on. The vast majority of all search portals use Google to power their search results. This is quite ironic, considering Google doesn't seem to offer a portal themselves.

SERP Check -

The process of finding your Search Engine Ranking Position on a particular keyword. For instance, if I wanted to know how highly my site ranked in Google for the keyword "Apricots," I'd run a search on the word 'Apricots' in Google, and my position in the organic listings would be the resulting answer.

SERP checks can also be more in-depth, using programs designed to find your sites' rankings on a whole range of keywords, or to see your results in a lot of different search engines. We have a great selection of free SERP-checking programs in our SEO Tools section, on the SERP & PR Tools page.

If the web itself is a contest, SERP checks are the scoring system.

Simplicity -

Achieving simplicity in page design, ease of use, amount and complexity in code, and in everything else that makes up your web pages is important. Spiders have limited memory with which to report back their findings. Humans have limited patience for navagational menus, among other site bottlenecks, and more importantly, they have a limited attention span when it comes to your content itself.

When writing content on the web, it's always best to imagine that you're presenting to a room full of six-year-old ADD kids... Assume no one has the patience to hear your whole speech, or keep up their train of thought. It's a pessimistic truth about the human condition, I know, but it's only human, and that's you're target audience, afterall.

When coding everything else on your site, keep in mind that simplicity is also key for making sure your spiders see everything you want them too. They skip an awful lot of things you'll take for granted. They don't look in the header except for the meta tags. They don't look at any java script or any java applets. They're horrible with Frames, Server Side Includes, and could care less about flash or video. Any applications you run from your page are light-years beyond them. Just consider them 'readers of the text,' seeing even LESS than a human visitor would. And anything else on the page is just something else in the way of them and their food... So don't clutter it up!

Site statistics - (See 'Tracking')

Speed -

Website speed isn't just important, it's Vital. Having a complex site, especially one with Java Apps or Flash presentations, is just begging to make half or more of your surfers hit the "Back" button before it gets a chance to load. Really, I don't care how cool your presentation is, if it takes a whole second to load, you've lost a big percentage of those who would have seen it!

Even if your site is just a few simple pictures and some text, always be conscious of the files size... Pages larger than 20 kilobytes run the risk of loading too slow, and probably will with that 75% of the net that is still using a 56k modem!

Read the "Simplicity" and the "Page size" entries for more details on this subject.

Spider food -

This curious internet slang word indicates any and all of the things that Spiders may find appealing about a web page or site. For instance, good content, high-demand keywords, keywords used in the page title, heading, links, ALT text, etc… These are all considered 'tasty spider food' because they were written for the sake of the search engines, not for the humans, to read.

Is it still considered spider food when you've included low-demand keywords or followed poor advice about their placement, which eventually hurts your ranking? Yes. Any attempt to feed the robots or spiders is spider food. That's just considered "Yucky spider food," and is a waste of everyone's time.

Spiders - (See 'Robots')

This is, however, the most popular form used these days for robots that are on the web.


Server Side Includes are another of a SEO enthusiast's worst nightmares. These are dynamically generated pages, with existing content on the pages themselves, but the pictures and the rest of the page in another file on the server nearby... Spiders look at these and usually decide to skip them, even if there's written content on the page.

Watch out not to confuse this term with "SSL," below.


Secure Socket Layer, not to be confused with "SSI," above, is actually just a security protocol on the web, and has little to nothing to do with SEO.

Stemming -

When a Search Engine looks at word and is able to associate it with it's root or with other suffixes on it, it has the ability to Stem. If you have "water" on your website, the search engines with this ability will also associate "watering" and "watered" with your page. We note this here because Google & Yahoo can recognize stems of your keywords, but some of the other search engines & directories cannot. Also, Google would rank a keyword higher if it is the same form (unstemmed) of the word, although it still allows the stemmed forms later on down inthe results.

Submission -

Submitting your website URL to the search engines and directories is a very important step in SEO, at least if you care when the spiders finally make it to your site. A crawler like Google's could take four months, possibly more even, to find your site just be linking around the web, if you haven't been submitted to directories and into it's own inclusion.

There are many places that offer free submission to the top 'X' number of Search Engines, (where X is a number between 8 and 1,500) and they are probably worth doing if you can make sure you don't submit to any one of the engines any more than once a month. -Almost all search engines take exception to submitting too often.

Probably the most sound strategy for submitting your site these days is to:

  1. Make sure your site itself is optimized, and the Keywords are profitable and fresh.
  2. Submit your site URL to DMOZ, and if it is cost-sensible, to Yahoo! as well.
  3. Submit it to any relevant topic directories you can find in the DMOZ and Yahoo! listings under your topic.
  4. Submit it to Google, HotBot, Altavista, FAST, WiseNut, Teoma, and DirectHit.
  5. Wait four to six months, watching your traffic & keyword tracking application the whole time.
  6. At the six month mark, you can start fiddling with your keywords and resubmitting to the search engines again, but never, ever more than once per month.
Also in that time, you should have built a lot more content to your site and convinced many other related-topic sites to link to you. If all went well, your page or site should be showing up in 1st page results on any search engine!

If you are interested in having someone automatically submit your site URL for you, please read Auto-submission, above.


Title -

The title of a webpage, indicated in the heading by having <Title> </Title> tags on either side of it, is very important for ranking purposes. Even though your human surfers don't normally see the title at the top of the whole browser window, the Search Engines give special emphasis to these words when ranking for relevance. When they return their search results to the searchers, they display your Title, exactly the way you write it, as the link to your page.

So the Title is critical for how the engines rank search results for your keyword, and it also helps a bit by convincing potential visitors to click through to your page when they review search results, instead of to your competitor's sites.

Topic Directories -

For just about every topic out there, someone has gotten the idea of making a directory of that industry or general topic. There is no clear boundary to the definition, but basically, topic directories can cover anything as general as 'the Internet,' or as narrow as "Hex-head bolts." They are not like Link Farms, which have no topic to center around at all, so it is usually a good thing to get your site listed on a topic directory. Just to be safe though, check their site PageRank score with your Google toolbar first to make sure it's not lower than yours. As long as it's a higher number than yours is, get your link on right away, it will usually always bring you traffic, with or without affecting the search engines.

Tracking -

The use of application on your server to track the number of page views and site hits, links clicked, and any other website statistic you can think of is called Tracking. It is VERY important to your continued survival on the web, because without these numbers, you have no way of what your surfers liked and disliked, how to improve, and which keywords were most effective.

Optimizing your site without tracking the results afterwards is a lot like spending thousands on landscaping for your yard, mowing it once, but not touching it again all summer long. YOu can make it rank great for a short while, but the web is ever-changing. You've got to watch your traffic to know how to respond.



Your URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is your website's address. (http://www.yourdomain.com) It is no more than a way for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (Http://) to assign you a name in place of your IP Address.

Unique Views -

This is probably the most important tracking statistic that you need to know about your website. Hopefully you've chosen a server host that provides you with this statistic, which is composed of the number of page hits on a site minus the duplicates from the same IP address. It should be a very realistic accounting of the actual number of people (plus spiders) that view your website.


Visitor -

A person, or program emulating a person, (such as a spider) surfing your website. They may access one or many pages on your site, creating from one to near-infinite hits. They may even come back with a different IP Address, so your web log analyzer won't know that they are the same person. Visitors are what everyone wants, not hits. Count them carefully.


Web host, hosting -

A Website Hosting company rents out space on their servers like an apartment complex for websites like yours to have a home in cyberspace. Web hosts keep our websites on their 'server farm' which is usually hooked directly to the internet backbone with a very high-bandwidth router, for fast & reliable public access. If you are paying for a company to host your website, make sure they provide redundant backups, fast and friendly support, access to your full logs, and cgi, PHP, and/or ASP script access and support. We have a great tool on our Keyword Tools page to help you choose the right web host for you.

Webpage -

A single HTML document, usually accessible on the world wide web. (Although it may only reside on your LAN or PC at first, they are at least INTENDED to reside on the web.) One page on a website, not the whole site. You may Optimize a webpage, but that doesn't mean your page or site will start showing up in Google with better rankings... You must optimize a whole website, which is a hundred times more difficult, in order to get higher rankings.

Website -

A website, like the one you are on now, is simply a collection of web pages (HTML, PHP, ASP, or other, same or mixed) linked together on a single topic or for a single business, located on the world wide web. Your whole Website, not just the web pages themselves, is what you want to optimize for the search engines in order to rank highly.


Yahoo -

Definitely the world's most popular directory, Yahoo! is also the World's Number 1 highest-ranking website, beating out the mighty Google itself. Not to be confused with a search engine, Yahoo! is primarily a directory listing, much like your browser's bookmark folder. Unlike that folder, unfortunately, Yahoo! costs $299 per year (or $600 for adult sites) to be included in their directory!

Being included in Yahoo! may be worth it though, even if your site isn't a traffic-dependent business. Being included in this database not only can get your results showing up in Search Engines like Google, but it also increases your PageRank a nice bit as your site will be linked to by the world's #1 website! (Unless you think your page ranks higher than a 10 out of 10, this is a good thing!) For those who need the extra ranking and more placement in search engines overall, the $299 each year pays for itself easily in added business.

See "Directories" for more about the nature of Directories.

It may also be important to note that the modern Yahoo! service these days includes a search engine too. They let you submit your site to be crawled for free, but they plainly tell you that it will be several weeks before they do it, and even then it will be no more than a typical spidering. -This is clearly not a way into their main directory, but it may be a way to get your site in the results of anyone doing a Yahoo!-powered search.


Zip file, Zipped -

"Zipping" a normal file is to compress the information inside it, making the program smaller by actually deleting some common information. To use a file that has been zipped, you must "unzip" it first. Windows 98 and later MS Windows versions can automatically unzip files, but for other operating systems you may need to download a separate, free program in order to do so. Visit Winzip.com if you need further help, or to get the program yourself.

If you have any suggestions for entries, or if you would like to point out a possible mistake for correction, please send an email to us at: Library@InternetOptimization.net, and we will be happy to consider your request.

Editor's Note: Definitions on this page are all derived from various sources. ION makes no claim that this is all content that we originated. This knowledgebase includes, but is not restricted to, the written experience of the members of ION, and also includes excerpts from the various source books and websites on the subject of Search Engine Authorization, as well as submissions by helpful readers. ION can claim Copyright of all material on this page as it has been re-worded and added to from it's original form.

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