Q: Are link exchanges considered “bad neighbourhoods?”
A: Depends on the link exchange, but I’d steer clear of ALL link exchanges just to be safe.
Q: Are image alt tags useful in Google bombing or is it just text links?
A: Text links are, by far, the better option in conveying to Google the context of the page being linked to. Alt tags may have an effect, but it’s small in comparison to text links.
Q: You mention that it’s bad to participate in link farms. How does one identify a link farm?
A: If you receive an unsolicited email that’s 1) offering to submit your site to thousands of directories and search engines for some amount of money, or 2) asking you to reciprocally link with a site you have never heard of, then the risk is high that you’ll end up participating in a link farm or other link scheme. Personally, I dismiss both types of unsolicited emails out of hand.
Q: If an image is used as the link, does Google consider the alt tag in determining ranking?
A: Yes, but the impact on rankings is small.
Q: Isn’t the click through rate from Google’s search results highly dependent on the displayed description which you can’t control in Google, but can in other search engines?
A: Indeed, a page with a good search listing will get higher clickthrough and the description or “snippet” is an important part of your search listing (although I would argue that the page title is more important than the snippet.)
With Google, you can’t control what’s displayed in the “snippet”, but you can influence it. One way to do so is by placing keyword-rich sentences or phrases which include good value propositions and calls-to-action into 1) the first image alt tag, which is often times your logo in the top left corner, 2) the meta description tag, and/or 3) the body copy. When doing so, incorporate the keywords most likely to be used as the search query by the Google user. Google will build the snippet out of occurrences of the user’s search keywords on the page, including the alt tags and meta description.
Q: Will a splash page block search engines from crawling your site?
A: Not as long as the splash page has any links on it that lead on to the rest of your site.
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Q: what is the best way to find out the # of people searching for a specific keyword(s)?
A: My preferred tool is Wordtracker. Note that it will give you an estimated number of searches done per day, which is based on the number of searches done over the past 60 days on the search engines Metacrawler and Dogpile. Thus, you are getting an extrapolation which is not anywhere close to being accurate. Also bear in mind that it is the number of searches done, not the number of people. So 1 person could go 10 pages deep into the search results and that would count as 10 searches.
Q: How do you know if your site is search engine friendly?
A: If 1) all pages of your site are indexed by the search engine, 2) each page has a unique title and keyword focus, and 3) your site doesn’t use frames or Flash, then you’re probably on the right track.
Q: I have a question regarding optimal site size. If I wanted to focus on let’s say 5 main keyword phrases, would I want to have 1 url that had let’s say 5 pages, each focusing on a given keyword? Or would it be better to have 5 urls and each url focus on just 1 keyword? Would Google penalize me if I had a URL with 5-10 pages and I just focused on a given keyword phrase?
A: You would not be penalized for having 5-10 unique pages on one domain, with each page dedicated to one particular keyword theme. In fact that is the right strategy!