Feature Article: How to Make Search Engines Happy in 3 Easy Steps
By Kalena Jordan
Does your web site make search engines happy?
Despite all the negative hype lately, it's
pretty easy to design a web site that search
engines will accept with open arms. All it takes
is 3 easy steps:
1) Follow the Search Engine Guidelines
Nearly all search engines publish their own
guidelines regarding the submission of sites,
the type of sites they will accept and
recommendations for optimized content. Google
recently updated their Webmaster
Guidelines, which cover the most common
forms of deceptive or manipulative search engine
behavior that they consider to be "spam". They
also published SEO
Guidelines, advice for webmasters to heed
when choosing an SEO. Google was the first
search engine to
publicly acknowledge search engine optimizers in
It's not just Google publishing anti-spam
guidelines. You'll find them at the following
search engine sites as well:
Search webmaster guidelines
(AltaVista is a Yahoo-owned company)
terms of service
guidelines on search engine spam
(covering AltaVista and AllTheWeb as well)
- Yahoo definitions of search engine spam
(covering AltaVista and AllTheWeb as well)
/ Teoma terms of service and spam policy
- AskJeeves / Teoma editorial guidelines
2) Avoid Spamming the Search Engines
Often, webmasters will use search engine spam
techniques without even being aware that they
are doing so. Or worse, web designers can -
advertently or inadvertently - integrate
techniques that could cause a site to be
penalized in the site's rankings in one or more
engines, without the site owner's knowledge of
such penalties. The key to avoiding spamming the
engines is research.
Keep track of the various search engine
guidelines via the links above. Watch for any
changes they make to these guidelines and tweak
your site accordingly. Trawl the various
webmaster and search engine forums regularly to
ensure your site doesn't use any of the latest
methods that appear to be penalized. If you
suspect your site has been penalized, remove the
offending content, contact the engine concerned
and ask to be reinstated.
Google actually encourage you to file a
re-inclusion request via their Help
post by Google staffer Matt Cutts outlines what
should be included.
Alternatively, here is a sample email template
you can use:
Sample Re-inclusion Request Email
Dear [search engine name],
I am the owner of [your site URL]. I did not
realize that participation in [spammy method]
and [spammy SEO name] programs could cause
problems for my website. I was assured that
these techniques were search-engine-friendly by
[your source for using spammy method].
I now understand that the practices used are not
acceptable. I apologize for having allowed them
to be placed on my website. I've removed the
questionable pages and links from the site. I
promise not to repeat such mistakes.
I am asking you to please consider reinstating
my website, [your site URL] into the [search
engine name] Index.
To assist them to provide a high quality
service, search engines encourage people to
report search results they are dissatisfied
with. If you spot some content spam or
techniques that are clearly in breach of the
search engine's public guidelines, you can
report it using these links:
or via emailing email@example.com
relevancy problem report
(AllTheWeb is a
- AltaVista search results manipulation
(or via Yahoo's spam report)
or via emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
3) Build Sites for Visitors Rather than Search
The methodologies may have changed over the
years, but the same principles have always
applied to "good" or "white hat" SEO. Build
sites for humans, not search engines. Make the
site as user friendly as possible, avoid the
bells and whistles and include high quality,
Wherever possible, include text-based content
and navigation menus with simple, descriptive,
well-written copy designed to convert your
visitors into customers. Include keywords and
phrases your audience would logically type in to
search engines to find sites like yours. Only
link to sites that are relevant to your target
audience and spend some time on usability,
making sure all your forms and shopping carts work.
Remember that what pleases a visitor is almost
always what pleases a search engine too.
About the Author
The above article may be re-published as long as
the following paragraph is included at the end
of the article and as long as you link to the
URLs mentioned below:
Article by Kalena Jordan, one of the first
search engine optimization experts in Australia,
who is well known and respected in the industry,
particularly in the U.S. As well as running her
own SEO business,
Kalena manages Search
Engine College, an online training
institution offering instructor-led short
courses and downloadable self-study courses in
Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine
Enter our Funny Photo Caption Competition
Got a funny caption for the photo above? Submit
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"Judy, you play tennis as well as a man!".
"That's because I AM a man, John".
"Buy now and get TWO pasta strainers
for the price of ONE!"
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Winners announced next month. For your chance to
your own caption entry by midnight on August
Congratulations to Terrie Harrow who submitted July's
winning caption. Terrie has won herself a
Basics self study course at Search Engine
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Have a great day!
Welcome to another Search Light newsletter.
Over the past few years, I've had both clients
and blog readers consistently ask me two
questions: "How do I know if my site has been
penalized by search engines?" and "How do
I avoid attracting search engine penalties?"
To me, the answers are crystal clear. Have you
followed the search engine's own guidelines?
Have you made your site usable for visitors?
Have you avoided doing anything with your site
design that compromises these things? If you can
safely answer yes to all these questions, there
is no reason to think your site might be penalized.
Instead of repeating my answer ad nauseum, I
thought I'd turn it into an article. So, hot off
the presses, this month's feature article is
How to Make Search Engines Happy in 3
Enjoy this issue and remember to visit the daily
Search Engine Advice Column to check out
my answers to frequently asked search engine
questions or submit one of your own.
Till next time - wishing you clicks and
|FAQ1: What sort of search engine marketing salary should I ask for?|
I came across your site and wanted some advice
for my search engine marketing career. I started
doing search engine marketing in late 2004. I
took a position last October as a search engine
marketing coordinator and I currently make around 30K a
year with bonuses. I have decided that I want to move forward with my career at
in an agency environment. I am currently interviewing with two of the top
interactive marketing companies in the U.S. and
would like your advice on how much I should ask
for a salary?
Thank you so much!
I think this blog post will help you: Search
Engine Marketing Salaries: What Can You Expect?
Thanks again for your question and good luck
with the job hunt!
|FAQ2: Why is Google indexing fewer pages on our site?|
Thanks for all your great advice. My question is
We have had www.livingwithanxiety.com for
several years now. We just recently did a major
update and finally, after years, we changed our
meta tags, titles, and so on. We have been
submitting an xml sitemap
to google now for about three months. We topped
out at about 42 pages being indexed, but today,
we looked and have only 9. What happened? Is it
because of the changes? Traffic literally has
Thanks again for all you do!
I've checked and Google has currently indexed 25
pages on your site.
If you were ranking for particular keywords
before your site update, the changes you made
may have negatively impacted that. If you are
certain your new page content, META and Title
tags have been optimized well for target
keywords, it is more likely that you have been
caught up in the Google
aging delay or Sandbox
effect for re-designed sites.
You should continue to update and submit your
XML sitemap whenever you add new content, build
more incoming links and wait for Google to let
you out of rankings limbo. Be patient!
|FAQ3: Where can I search all your FAQs?|
I would like to search all your previous blog
FAQs for an answer to my question but to go
through your archive is tedious. Is there an
easy way to do this that I'm just not seeing?
Big Kalena Fan
Dear Big Kalena Fan (*blush*)
Sure! You can either use the Search This Site
box on my
blog, or you can search via question
categories in the SEC
|FAQ4: How do I change the font in AdSense ads?|
I'm delighted to have an agony aunt for my seo
woes! I've been enjoying your Google AdSense
Tips and I've followed them to the rule, except
. . . I need some instructions in order to make
the FONT in the ads match my site design. Is CSS
the way to do this? Many thanks!
Thanks for your positive feedback. I'm glad
you're making use of your SEO agony aunt!
Unfortunately, there is no current way to change
the font of AdSense ads. It seems to be set at
Arial for link units and courier new for text
units. I'm not aware of a way to make this text
follow a CSS and Google specifically instructs
advertisers not to alter the code in any way.
Perhaps you can change the font of your site to
match the ads?
You should also experiment with different ad
palettes. A change in ad color can make a huge
difference to how it blends in with your site,
regardless of whether the fonts match.
|FAQ5: Why doesn't our client's site generate business?|
What's wrong with our client's site? It's at
Our client is slow with feedback, but every now
and again they let me know not much business is
The site has been through a few changes to
attempt to enhance it and to make it user
friendly. The Itinerary planner doesn't get used
much - too complicated? The site seems to be
It's a highly competitive market and I'm about
to suggest to them that the site's ready for
another complete update. They're not willing to
Your expert assessment will be much appreciated.
Nice to hear from you again. I've had a look at
your client's site and it seems to be
well-indexed by Google as you said. I see that
479 pages have been indexed and the last cache
was updated on June 22. A couple of suggestions:
1) The site currently uses "|" symbols in the
title tags. I'm not sure if all search engines
are able to index these. Some symbols such as
"&" and "%" and "#" can act as stop signs for
search robots and can prevent them from indexing
all of the HTML code. I'd remove them and use
2) The META Description tag on the home page
isn't formatted in sentences. It's simply a
bunch of keywords stuffed together and it looks
like a META Keywords tag instead. Because some
search engines display the content of the META
Description tag on their search results pages,
you want to format the tag so that it is in
readable, logical sentences that are enticing
enough to make viewers click on the site
listing. Your current description may be putting
potential visitors off.
How new is the site? I notice it hasn't yet
built up much link popularity. If the site has
only recently been launched, you might find it
is still suffering from Google's aging delay for
competitive keyword rankings as discussed in
While you and your client wait it out,
ensure the site is submitted to niche
directories and start building on those backward
If the traffic is building but the conversions
aren't, you might encourage your client to
invest in a professional usability review to see
what's causing visitors to drop out somewhere
between click and conversion. I highly recommend Usability
Effect for providing this service. If you
mention SEC in the comment box of the order
form, you'll get 10% off your invoice.
|FAQ6: Why isn't Google indexing my site?|
My site has not been indexed in Google for the
last one month. I submitted articles, blogs to
different sites and submitted links to 100
directories. Could you please tell me what are
the strategies I should adopt to get listed in
Google? My site got indexed in Yahoo and MSN.
It would have helped if you'd included your site
URL in your question! Without that, I can only
guess at the problem. Here are my best guesses:
1) If your site has only recently been launched,
you are probably experiencing Google's
aging delay for new sites, which can last up
to 9 months.
2) You say you've submitted "links to 100
directories". If this has been done as part of
some dodgy link scheme, then Google may have
penalized you for it. Brush up on why here.
3) If only a few pages on your site have been
indexed, your site's navigation may be
preventing or discouraging Googlebot from
finding all your content. Create a search engine
friendly navigation structure and prepare and
upload an XML sitemap to Google