The Search Light Newsletter
The Search Light Newsletter
  Guiding your site to the top of the search engines | 21 Apr 2004 - Vol 4 Issue #2  

In this issue...

SEO's Relationship With Website Architecture

Man Threatens to Spam Google

Yahoo Seeks Companions

Google Local Search Goes BETA

Ask Jeeves Gets Excited

Google Gets Personal

Yahoo Adds Mapping Feature to Improve Search

SEO's Relationship With Website Architecture
By Daria Goetsch of Search Innovation

Search engine optimization for today's search engine robots requires that sites be well-designed and easy-to- navigate. To a great degree, organic search engine optimization is simply an extension of best practices in web page design. SEO's relationship with web design is a natural one. By making sites simple and easily accessible, you are providing the easiest path for the search engine robots to index your site, at the same time that you are creating the optimum experience for your human visitors.
This approach ties well into the notion of long-term search engine marketing success. Rather than trying to "psych out" the ever-changing search engine algorithms, build pages that have good text and good links. No matter what the search engines are looking for this month or next, they will always reward good content and simple navigation.
Search Engine Robots
Search engine robots are automated programs that go out on the World Wide Web and visit web pages. They read the text on a page and click through links in order to travel from page to page. What this really means is that they "read" or collect information from the source code of each page. Depending on the search engine, the robots typically pick up the title and meta description. The robots then go on to the body text of the page in the source code. They also pay attention to certain tags such as headings and alt text. Search engine robots have capabilities like first-generation browsers at best: no scripting, no frames, no Flash. When designing, think simple.
Search Engine Friendly Design
Creating search engine friendly design is relatively easy. Cut out all the bells and whistles and stick to simple architecture. Search engine robots "understand" text on the page and hyperlinks, especially text links. The relationship of SEO and web design makes sense when you start with good design techniques for your visitor. The easier the navigation and the more text on the page, the better it is not only for the visitor but also for the search engine robots.
Obstacles For Indexing Web Pages
Search engine robots cannot "choose" from drop down lists, click a submit button, or follow JavaScript links like a human visitor. In addition, the extra code necessary to script your pages or create those lists can trip-up the search engine robots while they index your web page. The long JavaScript in your source code means the search engine robots must go through all this code to finally reach the text that will appear on your page.
Offload your JavaScript and CSS code for quicker access to your source code by the search engine robots, and faster loading time for your online visitors. Some search engine robots have difficulty with dynamically-generated pages, especially those with URLs that contain long querystrings. Some search engines, such as Google, index a portion of dynamically generated pages, but not all search engines do. Frames cause problems with indexing and are generally best left out of design for optimum indexing. Web pages built entirely in Flash can present another set of problems for indexing.
Depth Of Directories
Search engine robots may have difficulty reaching deeper pages in a website. Aim to keep your most important pages no more than one or two "clicks" away from your home page. Keep your pages closer to the root instead of in deeply-nested subdirectories. In this way you will be assured the optimum indexing of your web pages. Just as your website visitor may become lost and frustrated in too many clicks away from your homepage, the robots may also give up after multiple clicks away from the root of your site.
Solutions And Helpful Techniques
If there are so many problems with indexing, how will you ever make it work?
The use of static pages is the easiest way to ensure you will be indexed by the search engine robots. If you must use dynamically-generated pages, there are techniques you can use to improve the chances of their being indexed. Use your web server's rewrite capabilities to create simple URLs from complex ones. Use fixed landing pages including real content, which in turn will list the links to your dynamic pages. If you must use querystrings in your page addresses, make them as short as possible, and avoid the use of "session id" values.
When using Flash to dress up your pages, use a portion of Flash for an important message, but avoid building entire pages using that technology. Make sure that the search engine robots can look at all of the important text content on your pages. You want your message to get across to your human visitor as well. Give them enough information about your product to interest them in going the next step and purchasing your product.
If you must use frames, be sure to optimize the "no frames" section of your pages. Robots can't index framed pages, so they rely on the no frames text to understand what your site is about. Include JavaScript code to reload the pages as needed in the search engine results page.
Got imagemaps and mouseover links? Make sure your pages include text links that duplicate those images, and always include a link back to your homepage.
Use a sitemap to present all your web pages to the search engine robots, especially your deeper pages. Make sure you have hyperlink text links on your page, and a sentence or two describing each page listed, using a few of your keyword phrases in the text.
Remember that the search engine robots "read" the text on your web page. The more that your content is on-topic and includes a reasonable amount of keyword- rich text, the more the search engine robot will "understand" what the page is about. This information is then taken back to the search engine database to eventually become part of the data you see in the search engine results.

Last of all, it is very important to test your pages for validation. Errors from programming code and malformed html can keep the search engine robots from indexing your web pages. Keep your coding clean.
Check List For Success
* Include plenty of good content in text on your web pages
* Incorporate easy to follow text navigation
* Serve up dynamically generated pages as simply as possible
* Offload JavaScript and other non-text code (style sheets, etc.) to external files
* Add a sitemap for optimum indexing of pages
* Validate your pages using the World Wide Web Consortium's validation tool, or other html validator
On Your Way To Indexed Pages
The best way to assure that your pages will be indexed is to keep them simple. This type of architecture not only helps the search engine robots, but makes it easier for your website visitors to move throughout your site. Don't forget to provide plenty of good content on your pages. The search engine robots and your visitors will reward you with return visits.
To learn more about how to work around optimization problems with JavaScript, dynamically-generated pages, Frames and Flash, read the following articles:
Optimizing Pages with JavaScript and Style Sheets for Search Engines
Optimizing Dynamic Pages (Part I)
Optimizing Dynamic Pages (Part II)
Optimizing Frames for Search Engines
HTML validation tool
Stylesheet validation tool

Daria Goetsch is the founder and Search Engine Marketing Consultant for Search Innovation, a Search Engine Promotion company serving small businesses. Besides running her own company, Daria is an associate of, an Internet web marketing strategies company. She has specialized in SEO since 1998, including three years as the Search Engine Specialist for O'Reilly & Associates, a technical book publishing company.

   Dear Reader,

Well as they say, it's been a long time between drinks. Since the last newsletter, way back in January, I became a mother for the first time and took 6 weeks off work to get used to the idea.
My son Jack Fitzgerald Jordan was born on February 4, weighing 7 lb 8 ounces. In case you missed the blog entry, you can see a picture of him here.
Things are slowly getting back to normal now and I think I've finally learnt how to juggle motherhood with a thriving business. The secret is to learn how to delegate. I definitely couldn't cope if it wasn't for my dedicated husband and business partner Jerry, my Virtual Assistant Sarah and our various contract staff and outsourcing partners. Business just keeps getting busier and I don't see any sign of things slowing down, especially with the phenomenal growth and worldwide uptake of search marketing.
The demand for SEOs is higher than ever and that demand is one of the driving forces behind a new venture we are launching next month. I can't tell you too much right now, but if you've ever wanted to learn search engine optimization, you won't want to miss it. Watch this space for our big announcement!
Meanwhile, you can learn a lot about DIY SEO from this month's feature article by Daria Goetsch. Daria explains how to set up your site architecture to ensure it is as search-engine-friendly as possible.

Enjoy this issue and remember to visit our daily Search Engine News Blog for the latest industry news and gossip.
Till next time - wishing you high rankings...

  • Man Threatens to Spam Google
  •   A 32 year old man was arrested by the FBI last month after threatening to "spam" Google.
    Michael Anthony Bradley faced fraud and extortion charges in a San Jose court after allegedly attempting to extort USD 100,000 from the popular search engine firm.
    Bradley had developed software that created false clicks on Google AdWords advertisements. Google pays webmasters a certain amount per click for displaying AdWords advertisements on their sites via a program called AdSense and Bradley had already used his software to defraud the program by generating thousands of dollars for himself via false clicks.
    In early March, Bradley approached Google staff demanding a pay-off of USD 100,000 to prevent him from releasing his software to the public, threatening to sell the software to the "top 100 spammers" if they didn't meet his demands. Senior staff from Google informed federal officials and arranged a meeting with Bradley on March 10 which was secretly videotaped.
    During the meeting, Bradley repeatedly asked "where's my check?" and offered his paid services to Google to help them detect falsified clicks. When he didn't hear back from Google following the meeting, Bradley sent another email threatening to launch the software the following week unless he was paid off. Federal agents issued a warrant for his arrest shortly afterward.
    Bradley was ordered to avoid any future contact with Google and released on a bond of USD 50,000. Another condition of his release was that he not use a computer.

  • Yahoo Seeks Companions
  •   Yahoo has launched a BETA version of their answer to the Google Toolbar: The Yahoo Companion Toolbar.
    The toolbar features a pop-up blocker and a site popularity indicator called Web Rank which measures the popularity of websites via data sent to Yahoo from users of the toolbar (similar to Alexa). It also provides the ability to bookmark and store favorite web site destinations.
    The toolbar also helps Yahoo to discover new web sites faster and incorporate those sites into their database via their site crawler.

  • Google Local Search Goes BETA
  •   In response to Yahoo's SmartView mapping launch last month (see story below), Google has taken their Local Search tool out of the laboratory and into BETA testing.
    Google Local Search allows users to search for regional information such as business names, addresses and related web pages. The results are pulled from data supplied by third parties such as the Yellow Pages and regional business listings and displayed in columns. Clicking on a business listing displays more detailed information on that business, including a map, driving directions and related web pages.
    Local Search has also been integrated into the main Google search. Enter a regionally specific search query into Google and you'll now see three listings from Local Search with a link to additional matches. This will no doubt have implications for search engine marketers as the race to optimize web pages for regionally specific search keywords intensifies.
    While paid-search advertising is not yet in place on Google Local Search, the company has plans to launch this in the near future. Such a move is expected to threaten the market of traditional offline local advertising giants like the Yellow Pages and regional newspapers.

  • Ask Jeeves Gets Excited
  •   Search firm Ask Jeeves has announced the acquisition of Interactive Search Holdings, the owners of the Excite Network of web sites.
    The purchase includes the popular brands My Way, My Search, My Web Search, iWon, Excite and the MaxOnline advertising network. Under the terms of the agreement, Ask Jeeves will issue 9.3 million shares of common stock and options and pay $150 million in cash, reflecting a total price of USD 343 million. In addition, Ask Jeeves may pay up to another USD 17.5 million in cash based on various factors including Interactive Search Holdings' operating performance.
    "The acquisition of Interactive Search Holdings will be an important step in Ask Jeeves' growth strategy. This acquisition will double our market share, enhance our ability to compete in the fast-growing search market, and is expected to increase the financial returns to our shareholders," said Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Ask Jeeves.
    Following the acquisition, it is expected that Ask Jeeves' share of the search market should climb to about 7 percent from its existing position of 3.1 percent.

  • Google Gets Personal
  •   Google has launched a new look within their main search screen and integrated a BETA version of their long-awaited personalized search feature for searchers to play with. Gone are the familiar tabs on the Google home page, replaced by text links for image search, newsgroups and news search, together with a new link direct to Froogle search (Google's own shopping search engine).
    Google Labs now features a link to their Personalized Search prototype where you can get personalized search results based on your preferences. To use Personalized Search, you must first create a user profile of your interests. Then when you conduct a search, results directly relating to your interests are denoted with a small Google Labs image. You can influence the number of personalized results you see via a sliding scale at the top of the results.
    Google is the first major search engine to offer any form of search personalization. The launch is the latest in a series of moves by the search giant to improve relevancy and defend their market leadership against up and coming rivals.

  • Yahoo Adds Mapping Feature to Improve Search
  •   Yahoo has introduced a new mapping feature called SmartView as a way for consumers to search for local content on the Web in an interactive and visual way.
    SmartView enables users to pinpoint physical premises such as restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, parks, ATMs and post offices via the Yahoo site. The Yahoo Map display then customizes to the searcher's chosen location.
    Once displayed, the map features links to further information such as address and phone number, pricing, user ratings (for hotels), website address and access to driving directions.
    By typing a physical address directly into Yahoo Search, users can retrieve a direct map display in their results which then has a link to the SmartView option. The local points of interest and attractions displayed in SmartView come from content in Yahoo's network of sites such as Yahoo! Search, Yahoo! Yellow Pages, Yahoo! Travel and Yahoo! Movies.
    The technology is currently limited to locations within the U.S.

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