search engine experts have, over the years, touted
all kinds of methods for ranking higher in search engines.
This has included things such as hidden text, hidden links,
meta tag stuffing, double meta tags, page stuffing, cloaking,
redirect pages, bulk-quantity doorway pages, and other
"secrets" of dubious quality.
and newer techniques that still amount to trickery, can
result in lower rankings just for using them. In a worst
case scenario they can even result in your domain being
banned. Once banned, it's hard to get back in. Let's look
at search engines from the search engine perspective instead
of a selfish perspective.
My site, www.boogiejack.com,
has consistently been ranking high in search engines since
it opened in 1997. The ranking will fluctuate from time
to time with each search engine, but I usually enjoy a
few front page and number one links at any given time.
Try a search for "left border backgrounds" now
(one of my specialties), and see how it ranks at several
What's my secret?
It's quite simple, I know how search engines want us to
behave, and I have always followed the rules. I do everything
I legally can to optimize my pages, but always play within
the rules using only legitimately recognized (read that
search engine approved) methods. When a search engine
catches on to new trickery, you can be dropped or banned
So what do the
search engines really want? They want to be able to
help their web site visitors find what they are looking
for, and they want to give them the best and most logical
matches first. They can't do that easily with webmasters
trying to manipulate their ranking by artificial means.
They want webmasters
to show the search engine the same content you show your
visitors, so anything like hidden text and links, cloaking,
redirects and other tactics that show the search engine
one thing and visitors another are high risk tricks that
often result in being banned.
Your web site's
content is the search engine's content, so they want
sites with high quality content above all else. They want
to show the best sites available for a search return,
because if their content is helpful to the searcher, the
searcher will be more likely to use their site for searches
time and time again.
It's hard to get
search engine employee's to comment on how their engines
rank sites, but speaking on conditions of anonymity, here
are the words of a technology specialist from one search
engine (...and I won't knowingly betray a trust, so don't
ask who the specialist is or what engine he works for,
I won't tell):
site so that your text accurately reflects your content,
products, and services. We penalize sites that make obvious
attempts at manipulating our engine. No tricks, no misleading
verbage designed for placement.
Link popularity is very important, so make sure the sites
that should link to you are linked to you, and you to
them. This is more than the latest buzz, this is reality.
So if your site is about MP3's, you should have links
with music sites, MP3 software sites, band fan sites,
and so on.
At the very least
you should be exchanging links with non-competitor sites
whose content complements your own, and if you're not
afraid to link directly to competitors and they'll exchange
links with you, all the better. We give a little boost
to sites that link directly to competitors.
One of the things
we're after with this is to have your site "pre-judged"
for us by your fellow webmasters. All links help, because
it shows others find your site valuable enough to link
to you, but links from relative content sites help your
ranking even more.
I'll admit that sometimes
people find ways to manipulate results for a short time,
but sooner or later we catch on to these techniques (nobody
studies our search engine harder than we do), and we'll
penalize or ban sites for obvious manipulation attempts.
Whether we ban a site or just penalize them, is partly
determined by the degree of cheating and partly by the
mood of the reviewer!
Once we've flagged
your site, you'll have a hard time getting a top ranking
again no matter how well you clean up your act. You've
heard the expression, "once a cheater, always a cheater?"
So have we. And here's a dirty little secret for you:
if we catch you once, we may check other domains you own
with a fine-toothed comb to see if you're spamming or
cheating us with them too.
We don't place
quite as much emphasis on themed sites as some engines
do, but a themed site will give you a boost with us too.
That's not to say your MP3 site can't talk about your
love of dogs, just that if you cover many topics within
a particular theme, you'll get a boost in rankings. You're
not penalized for addressing many diverse or unrelated
So there you
have it, search engines want the same things surfers
want. Quality content presented accurately and honestly,
links to and from sites with complementary content,
at least one major theme, and no dirty tricks.
Gosh, that isn't
a great revelation is it? It shouldn't be, it's
the way we should all be doing business in the first
place - honestly and accurately. It is what works best
in the long term with search engines and in life, and
your site will never be penalized or banned by playing
About the Author
Dennis Gaskill is the creator and owner of Boogie Jack's
Web Depot at http://www.boogiejack.com a popular webmasters
resource site ranking in the top 1% of the most linked
to sites on the Internet. He is also author of the new
book Web Site Design Made Easy and publishes Almost
a Newsletter, named the Best Ezine of 2000.
mailings, click here