Surviving the Search Wars ? Local Directories
The pursuit of online information has become an increasingly dynamic and competitive marketplace during the past three years. Global heavyweights such as www.google.com, www.yahoo.com, and www.msn.com are backed by massive resources, making it nearly impossible for new companies to even attempt to compete. It would seem for new start directories it is almost impossible to aim for the "catch all" approach, as there are simply bigger companies out there with larger budgets ? who are going to dominate the market for years to come. However, there are still a number of innovative directories evolving which are capable of surviving in this ultra-competitive landscape. The key to this survival is undoubtedly focusing upon a niche and making sure your site stands out from others.
When performing a web search, users have the choice between search engines and directories. Directories tend to be categorised by webmasters or a group of subject experts ? such as the directory http://dmoz.com. When using such a directory, the user has the option to either type in a word to facilitate a search through the directory listings, or they can choose a subject heading, for example "travel". After clicking on this category, users are faced with lists of several subtopics such as "hotels" which would then be further split into geographic regions, then the individual hotel names.
In contrast, a search engine uses automated programs called robots or spiders to search through its database of websites. The user types a query into a provided dialog box in the form of a keyword, or string of keywords. The search engine then uses the robots to follow links and indexes of various websites in order to form an organised list of results in the user's browser. The world's most popular search engine, Google, currently has a database of 8,058,044,651 web pages.
With this colossal searching power, it is amazing that any directories are capable of surviving against the heavyweight search engines. The solution is perhaps to avoid trying to compete in the first place. For example, if a local directory run by people familiar with an area is marketed properly, then it can offer a real service for users, as one of the main problems people have with search engines is the difficulty in finding local services relevant to them.
Usually this problem stems from a lack of understanding of how to use search engines correctly. The majority of surfers searching the web for products/services will expect to find a local supplier just by typing a generalised term, and then cannot understand why they are faced with 300,000 results ? many of which are based in a foreign country. This is where a regional directory can offer more relevant results, without the searching knowledge required to make best use of the larger directories, and hopefully provide the information the person was looking for. Instead of performing a basic search, users are guided step by step through the categories.
One new directory which is taking a very innovative approach to the market place is the-best-of.com ( http://www.thebestof.co.uk/ ) which promotes itself as a "UK directory run by local people for local people". The idea is that individual people will take control of a geographical area which they know well and provide users with their "local knowledge" on local businesses and services. Although still in its early stages, this is an example of a directory which has found a niche in terms of the service it offers and isn't trying to tackle the big global players ? a strategy which has destroyed many directories before they have even started.
It is perhaps as a result of this market gap that Google has recently launched the beta version of "Google Local". Google Local's results are a combination of using business-directory information from third-party providers and integrating it with information about individual businesses from Google's existing database of website information.
When using this new service, users type both the product they are looking for and their geographic location. Results are then displayed in three columns, including business name, address, and URL (if relevant). Clicking on the link to a business name displays a business reference page with details about the business, a map, a button to get driving directions, and Web pages related to the business found in Google's main index. The new service also offers a degree of personalisation, allowing users to specify a home location, which is stored on a cookie set by Google.
Overall, it seems that that the ways and means we search for information on the web is set to continuously evolve over the coming years. This landscape is almost certainly going to be dominated by the big players such as Google and Yahoo. However, it is clear that as long as you have a quality, comprehensive directory that doesn't cast its net too wide then it is possible to survive and even compete in this dynamic marketplace.
Peter Scott is a researcher for the internet marketing company Optimiser and a regular contributor to discussions on search engine marketing and directory building.
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Search Engine Musical Chairs
News broke this week that Yahoo has purchased the Inktomi search engine for around US$235 million. This is an interesting development in the search engine industry that may impact greatly on exactly where sites get their traffic from. Another new development in the past few weeks is the change to the HotBot service but first, I'd like to look at the ramifications of the Yahoo/Inktomi deal.
SEO #5: Analyzing the Top Ranked Website on Google
Yesterday you should have read the forth course out of 6 courses that will help you get a TOP rank in the search engines and get EXPLOSIVE LASER TARGETED TRAFFIC for Free. Today we move on to course #5 and study analyzing the Top Ranked Website on Google. Please read today's course very carefully and take some time to test what I'm about to tell you on your own webpage. Alright let's start!
Understanding Google - What You Need To Know To Conquer This Search Engine Giant
Use a keyword density of about 1 to 2%. Use to be that you could rank high with 5% to 15%, but not any more. Google will call that "over optimizing" and penalize you.
Torpedo and Sink the Ship SS Search Engine Ranking
I was recently contacted by one of my best clients who askedme what I thought of his decision to make a major change toone of his highly ranked pages. His initial concern was thatvisitor sales conversion ratio was low. At almost one percent,it was just below normal, but I'm always happy when a clientwants to improve. Conversion and rankings though, are verydifferent beasts and his concern was overly focused on theformer to the total exclusion of the latter.
Why Does The Link Page Have A PR Zero?
For beginners, link exchange campaigns can be a minefield of problems. For example, here is a question I was asked:
Reciprocal Linking Scams, What to Look for and How to Avoid Them
Reciprocal linking scams have increased immensely during the past year. Initially we thought that this problem only related to gambling and casino related websites but an audit of our commercial link partners suggests that it is a serious problem within the broader online community.Over the past eighteen months, we noticed that our page rank was slowly declining despite the fact that we were continually adding new link partners to our link directory. We had slipped from a five down to a two before we finally identified the exact cause of the problem.Out of the first 100 links on our anchor site, only seven were still being reciprocated. We recrawled the sites where no link was found with a second spider and got exactly the same result. Then we started manually checking the sites where no link back was found and started discovering patterns of deliberate link fraud. The scams in order of popularity amongst the scammers ?1. The link on the home page to the link directory remained but clicking on it or specific directory links produced a template style page with a few casino banners or simply a page with no directory content ? This scam was most popular with the owners of multiple domains with the .co.za and .co.uk suffixes2. The link on the home page to the link directory remained but clicking on gambling or casino related links returned a list of links to sites owned solely by the same person or company. The worst offenders in this group preferred domain extensions of .biz, .us and .md3. The link directory index page remained but the link directory had been severely pruned and most remaining links were to the site owners other sites or to casinos. This one is common across all suffixes.4. Links not clickable ? links to the directory and various pages within the directory remained intact. At the time of their link exchange campaign, their links were clickable but at some stage after that the code that makes the link clickable was removed and the site name was placed in bold text so at a glance it appeared to be a legitimate clickable link. This scam is most favored by sites that place a miniature screen shot of the index page of your site beside your back link.5. A variation of the previous scam. When you run your mouse pointer over the page, the 'links' change color but no URL displays in the search bar at the bottom of your browser window. Right click has been disabled on the page so that most people looking at the page cannot see the code. If you use Dreamweaver MX or later, highlight the part of the page you want to look at and then using Control C copy it to the clip board and then use Control V to paste it into the design side of a basic Dreamweaver page. When you click on code you can see what they were attempting to stop you seeing. It may work in the later versions of similar authoring programs. Worst offenders are a poker room and a media company operating out of India.6. One way link exchanges ? usually you are contacted by a search engine optimization company or the SEO person for a large group of websites offering you multiple one way link exchanges with half of their sites if you will link back to the other half of their sites. After a few weeks or months the links to your sites are deleted. The worst offender in this group is a prominent search engine optimization company located in India.7. Your link starts out on a page with fair page rank usually attached to a domain with high page rank. But after a few weeks is moved to a boon docks page with no page rank that will never be indexed. ? common amongst higher PR sites.8. The link directory is on another domain with no page rank. When you click on the link to the directory on the home page, always watch the bar in the bottom of your browser window and see that the link you clicked is in fact on the domain with which you are exchanging links ? watch especially for domain names that are very similar e.g. one letter different in the spelling or a .net instead of a .com and link pages that are hosted on the domain of a link management company. Also watch for redirects. If suspicious go back and click the link again. Often the redirected URL flashes up for only an instant or it just takes an inordinate time for the page to load compared to other pages on the site. If in doubt search for a site map - very popular with some owners of multiple bingo sites. 9. Sub domains of domains with no page rank. Sub domains are supposed to always rank lower than the parent domain. (Of late I have found a few sub domains with up to PR3 attached to a domain with no page rank) If the parent domain has a page rank of zero then link pages attached to that sub domain will almost always be zero so why trade a good link for a dud link?10. We have never fallen for any in this group but many novice webmasters do so regularly. Beware of high PR sites offering you a link exchange on one of their inconsequential internal pages with the same PR as your index page in return for you placing a graphic link to their index page on your index page. This is a deliberate attempt to steal your hard earned traffic. A variation of this one is they have a number of new sites listed on their index page each month and visitors are encouraged to vote for the site they consider to be the best and you are asked to ask your visitors to vote for your site at the high ranked domain. The purpose is still the same as in the first example in this group.11. We no longer trade links with sites using Linksmanager unless the link to our site is to be on a hard coded page. You can search in their search box for their link to your site and if they are still linking to you, your URL and site description will be returned but no information to show which page your link is on. Google usually indexes only a few pages in each category of dynamically generated link directories. If your link has not been added to an indexed page, it is unlikely to ever end up on one. When we had a large number of indexed back links, no link manager links were ever returned in a back link querry. 12. Be wary of link exchange requests from webmasters using anonymous e-mail addresses because when they delete your back link they also delete the anonymous e-mail address.13. Beware of webmasters with PR 5 or above sites offering you a link exchange with a high PR site and an inspection of their link directory suggests that your link will end up on a non indexed page i.e. a useless link that is unlikely to ever improve. If the link exchange was with a PR 2 or 3 site there is at least reasonable potential for the PR of the page to increase if the link directory has been fairly constructed.Reduce exposure to link scams To reduce your exposure to such scams it is essential to carefully vet all potential link partners in the first instance. Enter link back partner details in a database. As an absolute minimum, enter their URL, the location of the link back on their site, the page rank of the page on which your link is located, the date of the link exchange and a real e-mail address for the contact person.Use a good link checking program monthly and contact offenders as soon as you find your link is missing from their site. This is now essential to keep link partners honest. This problem is a direct consequence of the current page rank system and fierce competition for top rankings. It is easier to retain existing link partners than to continually find new ones. Points to look for when Assessing Potential Link Partners Before trading links, look carefully at the other site ?1. If there is no link to the link directory on the index page ?Reject. You will get no traffic from that site.2. Look at the structure of their link directory and count the number of clicks from their index page to where their link to you is likely to be located and then deduct that number from the PR of the site's index page. If that page is PR3 and there are three clicks to get to the page on which your link will be located, that page will have a PR0. That link will be worthless unless the site gets a minimum of a PR4.3. If you have not already done so, download Google's tool bar. If the page rank bar is grayed out, when you are looking at a site, never trade links with that site. The grey bar is said to indicate that the site is banned by Google. I do not know if that is true but I have only ever seen two sites produce grey bars. 4. A growing number of sites with dynamically generated link directories have no page rank on any link pages even though the directories are often constructed in such a way that you would expect the page to rank to be 2 points below the home page. I do not know how most are achieving this. The visible way is to have multiple folders and index pages leading to the links pages and the number of clicks from the home page destroys any potential page rank for the link page. A rare method is to add a no index command for the link directory in their robots.txt file. Just remember links to such sites are one way links from your site to their site. You give them a good link and they give you a worthless link. A link on a page with a PR0 is a non indexed link and carries no value regardless of the page rank of the index page of the site to which it is attached. When you do a back link check on your domain in Google, you will notice that very few links to your domain that are on Google indexed pages with a PR of less than four are returned in your list of back links. This is why I and others consider that Google now discounts the value of such links. For indexed pages, count the number of links on the page. The first factor in determining the value of the link is the page rank of the page on which it is located. The second factor is the number of links on the page. The value of the link to you is roughly the page PR divided by the number of links. Of course no one outside of a chosen few at Google knows the actual formula but that is a rough approximation and the reason most webmasters will not trade links with sites with more than 40 links to a page unless the page has a very high PR. A link on the bottom of a good content page is always better value than a link on a directory page as more people are likely to click on it. When on the receiving end of a link exchange request, do not hesitate to ask for your link to be placed on a specific page and do not hesitate to reject link requests from sites that do not adhere to basic acceptable linking practices.When considering link requests from new sites, look at any other sites that belong to or have been built by the webmaster proposing the link exchange. Most importantly, look to see if existing link pages have been indexed and the structure of the directory. This will be a good indicator of what to expect for the new site.When you create your own link directory, consider a hand edited directory with the links at the same level as the rest of the pages on your site. That way your link pages will be only one point below your index page and you will attract more link requests because of that. Many high PR sites will not trade links with you unless you can place their link back on a minimum of a PR4 page. That way you can start shooting for the top once your index page makes a 5 as opposed to a 7 with the way many link directories are set up.When you are shooting for the top, it helps you get those high pr links you need to make it to the top.
Creating A Search Engine Copywriting Plan
Search engine copywriting has become an extremely important part of the overall search engine optimization process. However, in addition, search engine copywriting has developed into a misunderstood craft.
The Easiest Way to Your Google Sitemap
Google Sitemaps is a new tool for website owners and publishers, released by Google themselves. It allows you to submit a sitemap (a document that contains links to every page of your site) from your own homepage in .XML or in plain .TXT format that will help Google to spider your pages. This again should result in a faster indexing process of your site and could therefore even result in better search engine placements. You can learn more about the program and sign up for a free account here.
Finding Profitable Keyword Phrases
So you have a site concept developed that you are ready to start writing great content for.
Are Your SEO Efforts Going To Waste?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a long and complicated process that can be highly rewarding if done correctly. SEO is not a waste of time, but can be if your site doesn't appeal to visitors or function properly. Your potential customer will be turned off if your site lacks trustworthiness, an eye pleasing color scheme and easy to use navigation. Why lose visitors and possible sales because of a small design flaw or unappealing color scheme? Those visitors could have resulted in sales if those small imperfections were fixed.
60 Day Sandbox for Google & AskJeeves; MSN Indexes Quickest, Yahoo Next
Search engine listing delays have come to be called the Google Sandboxeffect are actually true in practice at each of four top tiersearch engines in one form or another. MSN, it seems has theshortest indexing delay at 30 days. This article is thesecond in a series following the spiders through a brand newweb site beginning on May 11, 2005 when the site was firstmade live on that day under a newly purchased domain name.
The Search Engine Optimization Secret that Everybody Ignores
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Companies Cash In on Your Search Engine Ignorance
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SEO for CEOs ? Search Engine Optimization Unmasked for CEOs
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Google Zombies Need To Wake Up
Over the last couple of weeks, I've received more e-mails in response to my article, "Google's Trap, DMOZ's Nap, And Yahoo!'s Crap," than any other article I've ever written. And that's saying a lot because, I've written close to forty articles.
How to Make Better Use of Web Site Page Titles and META Data
We got down to the basics with web site page titles and META data as part of a new study on how manufacturers use natural search engine optimization (SEO). Businesses of all types could benefit from the following case studies that show how poor titles and META data can be improved from an SEO perspective.
How and When Should I Submit My Website to Google?
As soon as you register your domain name, submit it to Google!
Click Click Boom: a Linking Strategy that will Blow Away Your Competition
Web marketers, do you hear what I hear?
The Modern Day Search Engine
The first task most netizens do when they log on to the internet is to visit their favorite search engine to find information on various topics. Over the past few years the search engine has evolved to do more than list available websites on an entered subject. The modern day search engine has tools to help the user accomplish a vast array of everyday task.
10 Things to Expect from Your SEO Copywriter
From the perspective of a business owner, webmaster, or marketing manager, the change exhibited by the Internet is profoundly exciting, yet profoundly disturbing. The information (and misinformation and disinformation) it offers, the business benefits it promises, and the rules it is governed by change at such a rapid rate that it's almost impossible to keep up.
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