By David Bell (c) 2005
Once you have established the keywords for which you should optimize your site for the search engines, it is time to figure out how you can get a high ranking in the search engines for those keywords. Should you create those everybody-hates-it-but-everybody-does-it doorway pages?
Well, yes and no. Doorway pages are great in theory but can be an administrative nightmare. Since each search engine uses a different algorithm to rank pages, you will need to create doorway pages for each keyword and for each search engine. Since the search engines frequently change their rankings, you’ll need to constantly change those doorway pages in order to ensure that they continue to obtain top rankings. Furthermore, if you are targeting a reasonably high number of keywords, you can easily bank on creating hundreds of such doorway pages. Can you imagine the sheer administrative difficulty in keeping track of all these pages? You’ll soon be spending more time on search engine optimization than on carrying on your normal business activities!
The method that I recommend is two-fold. Initially, don’t worry about the differences in the algorithms between the search engines. Just assume that all the search engines use the same algorithm while determining the ranking of pages. At this stage, you should create what I prefer to call “Keyword Rich Pages” (KRPs). Each of these KRPs are optimized for one keyword and are intended to rank highly in all the search engines. Once you have created these KRPs, and once the search engines have spidered these pages, find out which (if any) of the search engines have not given a high rank to these KRPs.
If you have created the KRPs properly, there shouldn’t be too many such search engines. Once you have determined the search engines which have not ranked the KRPs properly, create doorway pages which are optimized for these individual search engines. This method allows you to get top rankings in all the search engines by minimizing the number of pages that you have to create.
1) The first thing to remember is that some search engines don’t recognize the Meta Description tag. These search engines will often simply take the first few lines of text in the body of your page and display that as the description. Hence, you must ensure that the first few lines of text in your page are attractive to human beings.
2) Ensure that each sentence or every other sentence that you use contains your target keyword once. The keyword shouldn’t just be placed on an ad hoc basis – the way the keyword is placed in every sentence should actually make grammatical sense. This is not only important from the point of view of ensuring that your readers don’t get a bad impression of your site, but also from the point of view of search engine optimization – the search engines may penalize your page for spamming if they find that you have randomly repeated the keyword throughout the page.
3) Make sure that your paragraphs are not too long – each paragraph should be no more than 3 or 4 sentences long. This is because people on the web simply don’t have the time or the inclination to read long paragraphs.
4) Try to ensure that the page contains links to other pages with the keyword being present in the text under the link. This can often lead to a higher ranking for your page.
5) If possible, link to other pages which have the keyword in the file names. This can again lead to a higher ranking for your page.
6) There is no hard and fast rule regarding the total number of words that should be present in the KRPs. As a rule of thumb, try to ensure that there are between 500-600 words. However, if the number of words falls short of or exceeds this limit, don’t worry too much – it’s not that important.
Once you have created the page, ensure that the name of the file in which it is saved contains the keyword and that the individual words of the keyword are separated by hyphens. For example, your file name could be travel-to-australia.html. This will get you a higher ranking in the few search engines that give a lot of emphasis to the keyword being present in the URL.
Once you have created the KRPs, how do you ensure that they are spidered by the search engines? Do you simply upload the KRPs to your server and then submit each of the individual KRPs to the search engines? You can do that, but you may get a higher ranking if you allow the search engines to spider your pages by following links to them, rather than by submitting them manually. Furthermore, the search engines also take a rather dim view of pages which only contain outgoing links to other pages but do not contain any incoming links from other pages. The search engines will often recognize these pages as doorway pages and may penalize such pages.
What you should do is to provide a link to these KRPs from the home page of your site. You don’t want people who are seeing the home page to actually follow these links to the KRPs – you only want the search engines to follow these links. However, you can’t create links with hidden text (i.e. text with the same color as the background color) in your page since the search engines will almost certainly penalize or even ban you for doing this.
What you should do is to create a small image which has the same background color as the home page. Then, name this image with the same file name as the name of the KRP you have created. Hence, in this case, you should name the image travel-to- australia.gif. Then, add this image to the end of the home page and have it link to the KRP. Also, in the Alt tag of this image, add the keyword that you are targeting once. Furthermore, you should explicitly set the border of the image to 0 (add border =”0″ to the img tag of the image). Otherwise, when you get the image to link to the KRP, a border may be visible.
That’s it! When you want to target another keyword, create another KRP for it, make a copy of the image that you created for the first keyword, rename it to the file name of the new KRP, add the image to the home page and then link it to the new KRP. Repeat this process for every keyword that you are targeting. Once you have created all the KRPs and once you have got the home page to link to each of them, submit your site to the search engines. Don’t submit any of the individual pages in your site – submit only the URL for the home page of your site. While the search engines may take a long time to spider all the internal pages if you don’t submit them individually, I would still recommend not submitting them individually as this may get your KRPs a higher ranking in the search engines.
Follow all the rules that I have outlined in this article and you can soon see your search engine blues disappear for ever! I hope this helps in your future marketing decisions.
About The Author
David Bell is Manager, Online Marketing, at www.WSPromotion.com, a leading Search Engine Optimization services firm and Advertising Agency.