For years, when people thought
about search engine optimization, in all likelihood,
gateway pages, doorway pages or informational pages
probably came to mind. If you're a search engine optimization
specialist, you've probably had clients requesting
that you create these types of pages for them.
They may believe the following statements
to be true:
• Every search engine has a
different algorithm (formula) to determine the ranking
of a Web page, and therefore none of their "regular" pages
will rank highly in all of the engines.
copy that the search engines will like is not text they
can visibly put on their site where people can see it,
especially not on their front page!
• Our site needs to be on the
cutting edge and use Flash animation and/or lots of
graphics. Since the search engines can't index these
very well, I have to use gateway pages.
sites need to be on the cutting edge and use Flash animation
and/or lots of graphics, and they shouldn't have to change
this just to please the search engines.
Although there is a grain of truth
to each of the above, let's examine each point in more
detail so you'll have some ammunition the next time you
get this type of request.
Dealing with Differing Algorithms
Yes, it's true, search engine algorithms are varied and do change. There
will always be search engine ranking companies who spend many hours poring
over , results and statistics, trying to figure
out each search engine's current formula for high rankings. There have been
many software programs written over the years to help crack the algorithms
and automatically generate high-ranking pages for each engine.
One of the problems with using this
method is that as soon as a new algorithm is in place,
these carefully crafted gateway pages will often drop
out of sight in the rankings. The new algorithm must
be cracked again, and new gateway pages must be created.
It's truly a never-ending, time-consuming and expensive
process that is very much against the best-practice guidelines
put forth by the search engines.
The truth is that even though search
engines do have slightly different algorithms (and they
do change them at times), basically all engines appreciate
the same things that real people look for in a Web site:
• A simple,
cleanly coded design
• Well-thought-out, intuitive
• Well-written, descriptive
• Titles and Meta tags that
help identify relevant keyword phrases
• Links that accurately describe
what can be found at the site
It's really just common sense. Web
sites with the above features don't need to crack algorithms.
These sites have the potential to achieve high rankings
for many keyword phrases in all major search engines
for many years, regardless of ever-changing algorithms.
And more importantly, they will likely be a hit with
their site visitors.
Clients (and even some SEOs) often
justify the use of doorways and gateways by claiming
that there's a difference between good copy for search
engines and good copy for their site visitors. That is
simply not true. Good marketing copy can be written that
sounds great, stresses the benefits to the user and also
utilizes keyword phrases. There's definitely an art to
it, and you have to be a good copywriter to begin with,
but it most definitely can be done. The key is to use
a professional copywriter, not an SEO, for that aspect
of the job.
Use of Flash
Animation and Graphics at the Expense of Content
Over and over again we hear from
companies that want high rankings and lots of traffic
and sales, yet refuse to forfeit their LUGs (large useless
graphics) and Flash animation in favor of good content.
Unfortunately, these pages don't give the search engines
much to go by when trying to determine what the site
is all about. This forces the engines to figure things
out solely based on the Title tags and the links. That
may be enough in some cases, but the best indicator of
what a site is about is through the content on its pages.
Now, it's true that some search engines have started
reading the content of Flash files, but there's generally
not much "meat" contained in the ones I've seen!
Never forget that the ultimate goal
of most business Web sites is to sell a product or a
service. When you see a Flash presentation on a site,
does that make you want to purchase their products or
use their services? Sure, it might appear cool the first
time you view it, but thereafter it only serves as an
annoying distraction and/or waste of time. And if you're
on a dial-up modem (yes there are still some left!),
you probably don't want to wait around to view it. Besides,
you can have your cake and eat it too by simply using
small amounts of Flash in appropriate places, along with
your great content.
When all is said and done, most
people would rather be presented with information on
the types of products or services offered in clear, concise
language, right on the main page of the site they're
visiting. Luckily for us, that's exactly what the search
engines want to see as well!
Your Actual Site
You don't need a second (or third
or fourth) site for SEO purposes. Those companies that
are willing to create useful content within the pages
of their Web site can very often own long-term high rankings.
Plus, they won't have to rely on link popularity as much
as the low/no-content sites have to.
In years past, convincing companies
of this fact was one of the most difficult jobs we had
to do. Thankfully, as the Web matures, more and more
site owners are discovering that their fancy, cutting-edge
sites don't convert as well as the competitor's informational
site that gets right down to business. It's usually at
that point that they become more receptive to doing what
it takes to make their site the best it can be for their
visitors as well as the search engines.
Keyphrases Work for Your Site and the Search Engines" in
our search engine rankings.