The Search Light Newsletter
The Search Light Newsletter
  Guiding your site to the top of the search engines... | 30 July 2006 - Vol 6 Issue #7  

In this issue...

Feature Article: How to Make Search Engines Happy in 3 Easy Steps

FAQ1: What sort of search engine marketing salary should I ask for?

FAQ2: Why is Google indexing fewer pages on our site?

FAQ3: Where can I search all your FAQs?

FAQ4: How do I change the font in AdSense ads?

FAQ5: Why doesn't our client's site generate business?

FAQ6: Why isn't Google indexing my site?

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 this fashion.
It's not just Google publishing anti-spam guidelines. You'll find them at the following search engine sites as well:
- MSN Search webmaster guidelines
- AltaVista terms of use
(AltaVista is a Yahoo-owned company)
- Yahoo terms of service
- Yahoo guidelines on search engine spam
(covering AltaVista and AllTheWeb as well)
- Yahoo definitions of search engine spam
(covering AltaVista and AllTheWeb as well)
- Yahoo content guidelines
- AskJeeves / 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 Center. This 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.
[Your Name]

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:
- Google spam report
or via emailing
- AllTheWeb relevancy problem report
(AllTheWeb is a Yahoo-owned company)
- AltaVista search results manipulation report
(or via Yahoo's spam report)
- Yahoo spam report
- AskJeeves spam report
or via emailing

3) Build Sites for Visitors Rather than Search Engines
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, relevant content.
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 Marketing subjects.

Enter our Funny Photo Caption Competition
Got a funny caption for the photo above? Submit the funniest and win a self study course of your choice from Search Engine College. Here are some examples:
"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!"
"Roger, get your hand off my skirt
or the engagement's off"
Winners announced next month. For your chance to win, submit your own caption entry by midnight on August 30.
Congratulations to Terrie Harrow who submitted July's winning caption. Terrie has won herself a free SEO Basics self study course at Search Engine College.

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Have a great day!

   Dear Reader,

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 Easy Steps.

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 conversions...

  • FAQ1: What sort of search engine marketing salary should I ask for?
  •    Dear Kalena...
    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!

    Dear Alan
    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?
  •    Dear Kalena...
    Thanks for all your great advice. My question is this:
    We have had 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 halved. Hmm...
    Thanks again for all you do!

    Dear Nashell
    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?
  •    Dear Kalena...
    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 Lounge.
    Happy Searching!

  • FAQ4: How do I change the font in AdSense ads?
  •    Dear Kalena...
    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!
    The Webwoozle

    Hi Webwoozle
    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?
  •    Dear Kalena...
    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 being generated.
    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 indexed OK.
    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 use PPC.
    Your expert assessment will be much appreciated.

    Hi Ros
    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 hyphens instead
    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 detail here. While you and your client wait it out, ensure the site is submitted to niche directories and start building on those backward links.
    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?
  •    Dear Kalena...
    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.

    Dear J
    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 Sitemaps.

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