Webcast Questions and Answers

January 1st, 2004


Q: If you want to use the Google Directory to find out your PageRank score, how do you know what category Google has put you in to start this process?

A: Simply start at the Google Directory home page at http://directory.google.com and conduct a search for your company name or brand name. If you are listed in the Directory, you’ll see the Category you’re listed in as part of your search listing. Click on that category name to go directly to that category page of the Directory.

Q: Can we better understand the measurements of success (how to know # pages indexed, etc.)?

A: Have a read of my article titled “Casing the Competition,” published earlier this year in Catalog Age magazine, available online at http://catalogagemag.com/ar/marketing_casing_competition/. It describes various
SEO success metrics and how to measure them, including number of pages indexed (http://www.netconcepts.com/urlcheck), number of links (http://www.netconcepts.com/linkcheck), and number of product pages indexed (http://www.netconcepts.com/productcheck).

Q: If I have 3 versions of the middle of the homepage that is set to come up randomly every time the page is refreshed. Is that hurting my Google rankings?

A: It depends on what that rotated text says. If it’s not reinforcing the keyword theme that you are going after and it’s a big percentage of the text of your home page, then yes, it is hurting your rankings. I say this because it would be moving your page’s keyword focus away from the keyword you are targeting to something not as desirable.

Q: You mentioned that having multiple duplicate pages could be bad. How does that relate to custom error pages??

A: It doesn’t normally. However, on occasion a web server is misconfigured so that the custom error page is not served up as ‘file not found’ respnose code of 404, but instead as a normal web page with the ‘everything’s okay’ response code of 200. That will mean that these error pages will end up getting saved into the search engine’s index – multiple times with the same content. This of course is not desirable from the search engine’s point of view, from the user’s, or from yours. You can check to see if this is the case by using the Server Header Checker tool at http://www.searchengineworld.com/cgi-bin/servercheck.cgi and then specifying a URL with of your site followed by a nonsense filename (e.g. http://www.toyota.com/asdfasdf if your site is Toyota.com).

Q: What about JavaScript drop-down menus? Are they still not good to use for very deep sites?

A: No they are not good to use on any site as the only way to get to a page, because Googlebot doesn’t execute the Javascript/Java/etc. programming code in your page that is required to operate the drop down menus. If you must use JavaScript drop-downs, then also have straight text links elsewhere, like in the footer of the page, as an alternate means for search engines to find the page.

Q: Is URL encoding search engine unfriendly?

A: No. URL encoding — where a special character like a space character in a URL is converted to %20 and a colon to %3A — isn’t a signifier to the search engines that the page is dynamic and thus is a potential “spider trap.”

Q: When using your company name in your title tag, how can you avoid having something like a pornographic site also including that so that customers get porno sites in their search results?

A: Although you can’t prevent others from incorporating your trademarks and trade names into their sites, you can take legal action and compel them to stop. Monitor your company name and trademarks as keywords in the search results with a Google Alert (http://www.google.com/alerts), so you’ll be notified when new sites show up in the top results. Then, if they are using your trademarks illegally, notify your attorney. A more likely threat is “Google bombing,” where sites link to an alternate site other than yours and use your company name in the link text.

Q: How often should you submit your website to Google? How long does it typically take for Google to index your site after you submit? Is there any way to reduce the time?

A: That’s easy: never. There’s no need for it. If other sites link to your site, then Googlebot will find you on its own. If no one links to you, then that’s what you need to work on — not on submitting. Furthermore, since a large chunk of the sites that submit themselves are spam or porn, your own site could be flagged as probable spam or porn if you submit. Once you have links pointing to your site, the process of getting into Google can take as little as a few days, or as long as several months. The higher the quantity and quality (i.e. PageRank) of those links, the more likely Google will index you quickly. And definitely don’t resubmit your site once you’re already in Google. Google will pick up your changes.

Q: Explain what alt tags are and their significance, please.

A: An image alt tag is the text that appears in a small box when you hover your cursor over an image. Alt tags should convey the key information from the image that the user would not receive if she had image loading turned off or she was visually impaired. Search engines also look at alt tags to a limited degree, so it’s helpful if the alt tag contains relevant keywords. Not all images have or should have alt tags defined. For example, graphical borders should not, as that would make for a very frustrating user experience for a blind person using a screen reader.

Q: Our site is a coupon site, password protected. Does this mean the search engines cannot get to the thousands of pages behind the password protection?

A: That’s correct. If you want those pages in Google’s index, then you’ll need to allow Googlebot access to the pages without requiring log-in or cookies. The way to do this is to provide straight text links into the protected content and then check each visitor’s user-agent and/or IP address when the link is accessed. If the user-agent/IP range matches Googlebot’s, then serve up the content; otherwise, serve up the log-in form.

Q: How many keywords should be in the anchor text of a link?

A: There is no hard and fast rule. Personally, I like to keep link text relatively succinct and tightly focused on just one keyword or key phrase. The longer the link text, the more diluted the overall message conveyed to Google in the link text. So, for example, if you wanted to do well for the key phrase “nanotechnology conferences,” good link text to the conferences page would be “nanotechnology conferences”; bad link text would be “click for a list of upcoming nanotechnology related conferences.”

Q: Are the links that are returned in a backlink check (using the link: command) ranked any way?

A: Not that I can tell. They are certainly not organized in order of PageRank score, which would have been nice. However, there’s a great free tool from SEO Chat at http://www.seochat.com/seo-tools/pagerank-search that will sort and display the links by PageRank score for you.

Q: How often is PageRank updated?

A: There is a distinction between PageRank scores that are updated visibly to us outsiders through the Google Toolbar and PageRank scores that are used within Google’s ranking algorithm. Lately Google has been very spotty with its updating of the PageRank scores on the Toolbar server. In fact, it’s been so spotty over the past 6 months that it’s no longer reliable. Prior to the last update, there wasn’t a major PageRank update in the Toolbar for a stretch of 3 months. In contrast, the PageRank scores used by Google’s ranking algorithm are certainly updated MUCH more frequently than that.

Q: If a site has no backlinks except internal links, will Google add it to the index? Or add it to the index and not assign PageRank?

A: A site with no links to it from outside websites must not be a useful, link-worthy site. Such sites, not surprisingly, tend not to get indexed by Google, or by Yahoo! for that matter. If they do for some reason get indexed, they don’t get a PageRank score and don’t rank well at all in the search results.

Q: Does it matter whether the JavaScript code is in the section or the , as far as affecting Google spiders?

A: Either place will work, but JavaScript code that’s high up in the page pushes your keyword-rich body copy lower down the page, which in turns lowers the keyword prominence of the keywords in that copy. So ideally, don’t include the JavaScript functions “inline” but instead place them in a separate .js file and simply reference that .js file in the of your page. Or, placing JavaScript code low in the towards the end of the page can work as well.

Q: How do you set up custom error pages?

A: It depends on the web server software. On Apache, you add a line to your configuration file like so:
ErrorDocument 404 /error.html

On Microsoft IIS, first you’d go to “Properties” under your website, then select “Custom Errors”, then error code 404, and then “Properties” and finally you’d specify which file is your custom error page.

Q: What books would you suggest I begin reading to get a better idea of optimizing a site?

A: I wouldn’t pick up a book for SEO. At least I haven’t yet found an SEO book that stands the test of time. Print is too remote a medium from the Internet – ideas expressed in the book could be outdated before the book is published. Plus, it’s a single view, isolated from the rest of the community of experts.

Instead, I’d suggest getting up to speed by immersing yourself in a few online communities, such as: Webmasterworld.com, Searchengineforums.com, and HighRankings.com/forum. But be careful, because there’s a lot of wrong advice as well as good advice.

I can also suggest some a few articles on SEO by Brian and myself:

The Ruby Slippers of Search
The Invisible Edge
The Search Is On…

There actually is one e-book I would recommend: Search Engine Marketing: The Essential Best Practice Guide by Mike Grehan, available online at http://www.search-engine-book.co.uk.

Q: Can you explain again where the snippet of information listed below a link in a Google search result page comes from? I believe you said some search engines use the meta description, but where else in the code should this information be placed?

A: Google pulls content for the snippet mainly from the body copy, but also from the image alt tags, the meta description, and even select lists in fill-in forms. Google assembles the snippet dynamically, based on the search query that the user searched for. Text in close proximity to the user’s search terms are much more likely to get incorporated into the snippet, particularly if that text is higher up in the page. Typically the company logo is the first image on a web page. Given that fact, consider having a keyword-rich alt tag for that image, complete with a compelling call-to-action. You may very well find that bit of text appearing in your snippet

Q: Are there any rules about the number of characters/words that should be used in meta keywords and the meta description?

A: No, the search engines have not published any rules about length of meta tags. Personally, I’d suggest restricting the meta keywords to no more than a dozen key phrases, and the meta description to no more than 30 words. Also, don’t repeat the same meta tags across every page of your site. Make them unique and specifically relevant to the web page they are on.

Q: Is once a month too often to resubmit your site to Open Directory)?

A: Yes. Resubmitting will probably only hurt your chances of getting your listing approved. If it’s been a while and you’re getting worried, first check for discussion of your submission at the DMOZ Resource Zone (http://www.resource-zone.com). If several months have passed, then consider politely emailing the editor of the category you submitted to (check the bottom of the relevant category page in the Google Directory for a link to the editor’s profile).

Q: If the name of my website is XYZ, What is the best title to put for my About Us page? “XYZ-About Us” or “About us”?

A: Neither, actually, unless XYZ is something a popular search term with your target audience. After all, no one is going to type in “about us” into a search engine. So a more descriptive, keyword-rich title would be called for here. For example, if XYZ is a widget manufacturer, then a title of “About the Widget Manufacturers at XYZ” would be appropriate.

Q: Would a site with subdomains share that site’s PageRank, or does each subdomain URL count as a separate URL?

A: Each URL has its own PageRank score, regardless of whether it is within the same domain or not.

Q: What is a good KEI score?

A: A good Keyword Effectiveness Indicator score is one where the ratio of keyword popularity (number of searches) to competitiveness (number of matching pages) is in the triple digits or greater. Bear in mind though that a KEI score is only a rough indicator of a good search term to target. Even if the number of matches returned by Google or Yahoo is small, a large percentage of the matching pages could have been professionally optimized, and in such situations, breaking into the top 10 could be quite difficult.

Q: Is it true that you should put JavaScript files in a separate directory and inhibit GoogleBot from searching it?

A: No, there is no harm in letting Googlebot access your JavaScripts.

Q: You covered a lot of material on optimizing for Google, but what about optimizing for Google Images?

A: Optimizing for Google Images, the image search engine at http://images.google.com, involves two things. First, make the image names have good keywords in them, separated by hyphens. Not too long though. Do keyword research to identify the best keywords to use. Second, make the content around the image and the alt tag for the image have good keywords in them. Before you begin optimizing, an important question to ask yourself is: Am I sure I’ll actually attract high-value customers through Google Images? It could be that you’ll end up getting plenty of traffic, but the conversion rate could be quite poor because they aren’t shopping for your product but instead just for an image of it.

Q: How do you obtain your site’s Google rankings for a list of keywords?

A: You can use the Google API (http://www.google.com/apis/) for that. Or you could use this free tool to monitor rankings:
which uses the Google API.

Q: Can I submit an XML feed of all my web pages to Google?

A: (UPDATE) Yes, Google now has a service called Google Sitemaps, where you can submit an XML feed free of charge. Further info about it is available at: http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/050602-195224 and https://www.google.com/webmasters/sitemaps/docs/en/faq.html. If you have an online store, Google also accepts an XML feed of your product catalog for their Froogle shopping engine. That’s also free of charge. Further info about that is available at:

Q: What is your opinion on hyphenated domains that contain the main keyword you are optimizing for, i.e. www.online-education-school.com (just as a sample)?

A: It looks kinda spammy to me. Personally I wouldn’t do register such domains.

Q: As for linking is there a structure that I need to have for my links page?

A: You do not need any particular structure for your links page. As long as the links use a popular keyword in the anchor text, that will benefit the linked page. Incidentally, if your question refers to a page on your site of links that point to other sites, then the benefit is to those sites you are linking to, not to your own site.

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!

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: 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: 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.

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: 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: 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: 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: 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: What are the privacy implications of the Advanced Features (the PageRank meter) option on when installing the Google Toolbar?

A: Google needs to know the URLs of the pages that you visit in order to display their corresponding PageRank scores. Google states in its Privacy Policy that it doesn’t collect names, email addresses, phone numbers, and so on. And Google doesn’t share personally identifiable information with third parties. Personally, I’m not concerned.

Q: How do you improve your PageRank score on Google?

A: By garnering more inbound links from pages that have high PageRank.

Q: If I don’t use a link farm, how can I get sites to link to mine?

A: Start by having high quality, valuable content that people find so useful they are compelled to link to it from their sites. If a site isn’t link-worthy without trading links, then the site doesn’t deserve a top ranking. Syndicate that useful content to other sites (through RSS feeds for example).

Q: What is the effect on ranking and finding of “redirect” pages?

A: A temporary redirect will not pass on its PageRank score to the redirected page. A “sneaky” redirect, i.e. a redirect done for the purpose of directing Google users to different content than what is fed to Googlebot, will probably get your site penalized or banned by Google.

Q: With respect to non-spider friendly chars, does the # char cause a problem?

A: No it doesn’t cause a problem, but everything from the # on in a URL is ignored.

Q: Would a doorway or hallway page solve the problem of having query strings within a dynamic site?

A: No, it wouldn’t — because even if it gets the page indexed, it doesn’t make all the inbound links count as votes.

Q: Please tell us how to avoid dynamic page issues (like the “?” in query strings, etc.)

A: Either install a server module/plug-in that allows you to rewrite your links or, recode your site to embed your variables in the path info instead of the query string, or if you can’t or don’t want to bog down your IT team, enlist a “dynamic feed” service like GravityStream.

Q: Does the robots.txt file help with the dynamic page issues?

A: No.

Q: Is the “title” attribute (not tag) useful at all?

A: Negligible, but doesn’t hurt (assuming you’re not loading it up with keyword spam).

Q: Would it be better to have meta tags at the end of the page and content first to improve keyword prominence?

A: No, you can’t do that. Meta tags must be contained within the HEAD portion of your web page, which is at the top before the BODY.

Q: When using text nav, where do I place the keyword(s) within the hyperlink text? Before/after a “?”…?

A: Umm… There is no “?” in hyperlink text. For example: Ford cars and trucks doesn’t have a ? character anywhere. Your keywords can go anywhere in the hyperlink text.

Q: Why do drop down menus pose a problem for Google, if you have the code within the html as opposed to calling out to the code.

A: Because Googlebot doesn’t execute the Javascript/Java/etc. programming code in your page that is required to operate the drop down menus.

Q: I’ve optimized my Website for Google, got picked up and ranked #1 for my keywords in Yahoo, but completely ignored (left-out) of Google, Why?

A: I’d need to see your site to ascertain this. Perhaps you linked to a bad neighborhood but Yahoo doesn’t care? Perhaps your dynamic URLs are overly complex but Yahoo didn’t mind as much? Could be any number of things.

Q: Can the use of style sheets, because they replace bolding, H1, H2 etc,, with style sheet references, reduce ranking?

A: Theoretically, if you’re trying to game the search engines. If you’re not doing anything spammy, then you have nothing to worry about.

Q: A site I use is Tripod based. Tripod carries Google Advertising. I can’t find my site in Google but they have clearly gone over the site because the ads they serve up are dead on. Why?

A: Googlebot and the Google AdSense advertising program operate independently. I’d need to see your site to ascertain why you are not getting indexed, but if I had to guess I’d say that your site’s PageRank is too low.

Q: You show Sears.com as an example with great text links… but what about the url string with ? and =

A: Sears indeed has search engine unfriendly URLs — a major failing for that site. One consequence is that Google is indexing duplicate pages from Sears.com, which dilutes PageRank scores.

Q: How many keywords is the right number to include in the meta keywords tag?

A: I’d suggest no more than a dozen or so. Much more than that and your page starts to look spammy.

Q: Is it true that you should not include the same word in your meta keywords more than twice? ex: Hawaii Travel, Hawaii Tours, Hawaii Hotels, Hawaii Lodging

A: I would try to avoid much repetition in the meta keywords. But there is no hard and fast rule about this. I would instead choose to formulate my meta keywords tag as follows: Hawaii, Travel, Tours, Hotels, Lodging. If the word is repeated on its own rather than part of a phrase, then that definitely looks spammy. For example: Hawaii, Hawaii, Hawaii.

Q: What is the one line of code that you can use to replace a large javascript?


Q: You suggest having a good call-to-action above the fold on every web page. What does “above the fold” mean?

A: It means viewable on the screen without scrolling.

Q: What are some of the tools to measure the success of SEO?

A: http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools/keywords/






Q: Where do you find info on indexation? Is that on the Google toolbar?

A: The number of pages indexed can be found using the free tool at http://www.netconcepts.com/urlcheck/. No, it’s not on the Google toolbar.

Q: How do we get Googlebot to crawl our site more often?

A: First, improve your PageRank score. Second, update your pages often.

Q: What is the presenter’s opinion of the SEO software WebPosition Gold? Of IBP?

A: Search engines advise against auto-submitting, machine-generating “doorway pages”, and automated querying. For instance, automated queries cram Google’s servers with useless searches and distort search data.

I’d avoid *any* automated tool that checks positions because it violates Google’s terms of service — *unless* that tool does the querying through Google’s API (which has a maximum number of queries of 1000 per day). Even if the tool you choose uses Google’s API, you’re still not “home free”… because the API’s results are not very reliable (the API results tend to differ from the regular Google search results).

If you play by the rules, that doesn’t leave much for WebPosition Gold or IBP to do for you. We don’t use either tool. I also think that analyzing your pages’ keyword density values is not seeing the forest for the trees.

Q: Do you have any suggestions for increasing the number of links to your site?

A: Improve your site’s content and functionality to make it more “link worthy.” Hire Eric Ward (http://www.ericward.com) to do a link building campaign for you. Syndicate your site content to other sites.

Q: Please explain again the “spider trap” as it pertains to pages created on the fly. How big of a disadvantage does this present? If redesigning the site isn’t an option, what can be done to lessen this disadvantage?

A: A search engine spider can get caught in a “spider trap” if it keeps bumping into links to pages that are the same content but with different URLs that are varied dynamically (e.g. where the URLs contain a nonessential variable/flag or session ID in the query string). If caught in a spider trap, the spider would download the same pages over and over again, overloading the site’s web server and cluttering up Google’s index with a slew of duplicates. To circumvent such potential problems, Googlebot often chooses to skip over various dynamic pages. This can have very deleterious results, such as the majority of a dynamic site getting skipped over by Googlebot. If revamping the site isn’t an option, you might want to consider an outsourced “dynamic feed” service such as GravityStream (http://www.gravitystream.com).

Q: Does netconcepts provide software to track conversions?

A: Yes, GravityTrack software (http://www.gravitytrack.com).

Q: Does google frown on URL’s such as /index.asp?section=10 vs of /aboutUs.asp ?

A: Google may index both URLs, but the latter is safer.

Q: We are well ranked on Google’s natural text search engine, is it worth spending on AdWords too?

A: It’s probably worth experimenting with. A recent study showed that those who had high positions in both paid and organic search results (i.e. where paid and unpaid search listings both appear on the same search results page) got significantly more traffic than just the amount expected from summing the two “channels”.

Q: What is the REAL relationship between paying for Google placement and spidering of “natural” pages?

A: Complete separation of church and state. And I say that confidently.

Q: How much, if anything, can be picked up by a spider on dynamic pages?

A: Potentially everything. Just keep the URLs search engine friendly and you should get those dynamic pages fully indexed.

Q: I have graphics as my headers on most of the pages, but I want to have text headers as well so Google can index them. Can I create a style on my style sheet called hidden and put text under the header graphic that is hidden or will that be considered unfriendly to google? What else would you recommend?

A: Trying to hide content or links within the page so it is not visible to humans but only to spiders is dangerous. For example: hiding things within noscript tags, playing tricks with div tags, or making text the same color as the background, are all good ways to get penalized or banned. A good general rule of thumb: anything that you’d feel at all uncomfortable telling Google about, you shouldn’t do. The approach I would advise in your situation is to either make your header navigation text or to add alt tag attributes to your img tags.

Q: Regarding link popularity: I just queried google (i.e. link:www.xyz.com) and found some 2,000 links to my site. But, according to Google’s results, many of those links are from within my site. Is this hurting or helping me?

A: It’s not hurting you. Internal links count as votes, and as such that can help you, but voting for yourself can only do you a limited amount of good. Linking across your entire site to particular pages (such as your Top Sellers) reinforces their importance over other pages in your site. But without good inbound links from other sites “voting” for you, your voting for yourself doesn’t mean much.

Incidentally, if you want to see how many inbound links are pointing to your entire site (not just your home page) and with all internal links excluded, try the following search on Yahoo!: “linkdomain:www.xyz.com -site:www.xyz.com” (without the quotes)

Q: How do affiliate programs play a role in optimizing search engine results?

A: Affiliate links typically run through a third-party web site then redirect. Rarely is an affiliate program set up so that the PageRank score flows through to the merchant’s home page. It’s technically challenging to achieve this, and I see little motivation for the third-party affiliate management company to do things any differently from the current status quo.

Q: How can we get products listed in Froogle? Is it similar to Google or does it have a specific method?

A: You can get your products included automatically without any effort just by having a Google-friendly online catalog site. You can also submit a data feed to Froogle in XML format on a regular basis free of charge. Learn more at http://froogle.google.com/froogle/merchants.html. It’s a good idea to submit a Froogle data feed if you are eligible (your online shop must operate in the US and in US dollars to be eligible).

Q: Could you elaborate on how a home page’s PageRank score influences the PageRank score of internal pages?

A: The home page is typically the most PageRank-endowed page of a site because it’s the most linked to. Thus the home page is the holder of much PageRank. You pass on PageRank to other pages of your site via the links contained on that home page. The links contained on that home page, and on the secondary pages that lead from the home page, is a reflection of your site hierarchy. Change your internal linking structure/hierarchy and you will change the way PageRank is conveyed to sub-pages within your site. Best practice is to think through which pages are your best opportunities and as such should be getting a bigger share of PageRank.

Q: Are php pages searched different?

A: No, because their output is HTML, just like asp pages, Cold Fusion pages, etc.

Q: Do the names of image files themselves — not just the alt tags — affect rankings?

A: Possibly you might get a small uplift, but the effect is negligible.

Q: Regarding Link Popularity: What is your opinion about tools like Arelis that can help produce link popularity. Can these do more harm than good?

A: How do you feel when you get an unsolicited reciprocal link request via email? How many of them do you respond with a “Yep, sure thing. I added a link to you.”? So why buy a tool that propagates that sort of spam? We don’t use any such tools.

Q: I understand that google reads the left hand side of the site, the top then the middle and that is what is displayed. Is there a particular code to have the spiders read the middle first.

A: Google actually reads straight down the page — in the HTML source code. If you’re clever with your HTML, you can rejig the HTML code to put the middle column on top. You can see an example of how we put the second column first in the HTML above the left column of navigation at http://www.stepbystepwebmarketing.com

Q: If we are using flash on the home page with very little content, can we include relevant content and links below the fold and will this help in search results?

A: Yes, it will help to some extent. Certainly that is better than not doing so. But it may not look that great to the user if s/he does scroll below the fold (i.e. it’s not the best user experience to repeat yourself). Better to remove content and links from Flash altogether.

Q: What are the key issues to address with meta tags and meta keywords in regards to how Google uses them in its algorithm?

A: Meta keywords and meta description tags will not have a positive impact on rankings in Google. They could have a negative impact if the meta tags look spammy. The meta description is of some value though because it sometimes appears in whole or part in the “snippet” in your search listing. Meta keywords is more for Yahoo’s benefit than Google’s.