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What are you doing to your favorite site to soothe your SEO ego?
skipfactor




msg:121038
 9:14 pm on Dec 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Florida put me in the mood for some early spring cleaning, and I must say it has helped me remain calm and has given me a new “I'm the master of my domains” attitude, not Google, nor any other search engine. I'm building sites to SELL. If the SE wars get in the way, I’ll slap www stickers and a loudspeaker on my boat and tell everyone to come to my great boat site. I will survive.

Though what I've done could be interpreted as de-optimization, I see it as optimizing for user retention and perhaps the future of Google and others. Moreover, I’m not condoning de-optimization per se, as clients’ sites that I did long before I knew what a keyword was have dropped off of the radar screen too.

Specifically, I'm focusing on what I’ve done that’s keeping me smiling through these troubled times about a site that's my bread-&-butter because it brings money straight to my mailbox for a change. I’m in on this one for the long haul:

Hosting
No more Virtual IPs on sites that count for me. With traffic down for some, now might be a great time for a move to that dedicated IP you've always had your eye on. The moving trucks are at my house as we speak.

Page/File Size
It's dreary work, but I re-optimized all images, made thumbnails even a little smaller, and spit out a few less products on each page. Additionally, I trimmed up my lazy, in-a-hurry, resource-hogging "SELECT * FROM.." to just select what I need for each page. I've also started to chant Brett's words every morning when I wake:
The smaller the better. Keep it under 15k if you can. The smaller the better. Keep it under 12k if you can. The smaller the better. Keep it under 10k if you can - I trust you are getting the idea here. Over 5k and under 10k. Ya - that bites - it's tough to do, but it works. It works for search engines, and it works for surfers. Remember, 80% of your surfers will be at 56k or even less.

Folder Maintenance
I created a new local folder, downloaded everything from my bloated images folder into it, viewed as thumbnails, deleted the long unused images, deleted the remote images, and uploaded my cleaned images folder. Take out the trash. It saves resources all around.

Validate
Ouch, this hurt more than Florida, but knowing every single page on a for-profit site validates for the first time ever is a feeling of satisfaction that every Webmaster should feel at least once in his or her lives. Additionally, JavaScript is now used only when absolutely nothing else will do; new chromeless windows are good at focusing the user, but I'm taking my chances with '_blank'. Knowing Grandma can see my product on her 'Model T' browser that's only driven to church on Sundays makes me see dollar signs when I close my eyes.

Duplicate Content
I had several pages sometimes for each product, all with different photos but same basic content. Lazy old messy design that I consolidated to one page and 301'd the other 3 pages. It saves bandwidth, lets the bots focus on more crucial things, and most importantly doesn't feed my customer duplicate content.

Internal Anchor Text
Mine is now optimized for the user. Sure you use it where it counts, but I've tossed 'kwd kwd homepage', etc. within the header & footer hocus pocus. My guess is most people leave your site at the header or footer--make it count and tell the spiders to take a hike. Same with the site map, that's my help desk. If somebody's there, they're probably lost or confused; don't make it worse and lose them forever.

Product Descriptions/Keywords
How many times have you had the credit card out and find that product you're salivating for, and the DB guy has a a bunch of meaningless kwd phrases or a couple of words pasted that you've already seen on the manufacturer's site? Guilty here, but I've turned those lazy few phrases I pounded out into several eloquent, concise, flowing paragraphs that's my best attempt (after a few glasses of wine) to seduce them into having no other choice but to click 'Buy Now'. I also authored my new content in an app that doesn't have copy-&-paste. The keywords should come naturally if you know a little about marketing and writing. If you can't write, pay someone who can. It's cheap.

Content
I thank WW (and Google) for seeing me through the Florida drought with the stellar performance of my sub pages. Competitors that have 5 page sites must be reeling right-smart about now in my favorite industry at least. I've gone back and given every single one of those pages much more of an effort at user retention instead of bot attraction. And of course ad new quality pages, not bot food you’ll be embarassed by and end up re-authoring later.

Stats Analysis
My new favorite sorts now for site stats are 'Length of Visit' and 'Views per Visit'. Retaining that user that stumbles onto your site from a directory is now more important than ever; optimize for it!

Well that's what I've done so far in an attempt to soothe my deflated SEgO. What have you done to one of your sites to help you sleep better at night with regard to your target audience, not your target SE? I'm hoping comments on just one site will keep this from straying into another fruitless link strategy, de-optimization, algo-filter anchor text analysis runaway. Think SELL.

 

willybfriendly




msg:121039
 9:23 pm on Dec 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Cleaner copy. Too much of the copy was written in SEO gibberish. Really don't need to repeat the same 2-3 word phrase 15 times on a page. Reads smoother.

Have considered redoing on-site anchor text, but it isn't that far off, so that is still just a possibility.

Mainly copy...

WBF

superscript




msg:121040
 9:30 pm on Dec 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

Has anyone considered doing nothing?

The decision to do nothing is equally powerful in the decision-making process as the decision to do doing 'something'. And in cases where you have no idea what this 'something' is - doing nothing would appear to be the clear winner!

[edited by: superscript at 9:32 pm (utc) on Dec. 4, 2003]

markis00




msg:121041
 9:30 pm on Dec 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

I've found the easiest way around the new OOP filter is to remove the keyword from your filename, use a h3 tag instead of h1, and make sure that your keyword only appear in the title tag and the h3 tag. It can appear in your text as long as it's not bolded.

I've started to change all my pages like this and Google is liking it..putting my pages back into the top 10!

However, my homepage is simply dead for keywords. oh well.

DylanW




msg:121042
 10:17 pm on Dec 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

I modified the navigation one of our site's main section home pages, without trying to use whole key search phrases as much as possible. Seems to be more readable, breaking them up and using the whole phrase only where appropriate.

Felt good, like there weren't any boundaries I had to design within. Plus, if there's anything to the whole "over-SEO filter" theory, it could help us in the long run.

nippi




msg:121043
 12:47 am on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

do something

google will nto roll it all the way back

synergy




msg:121044
 1:00 am on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Nice post skipfactor.

superscript




msg:121045
 1:01 am on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

skipfactor,

I've printed out your post - I might as well be doing something while my business crashes! Seriously though, these quiet times can be useful - my sites have been in need of some spring cleaning - and you have some good suggestions.

nakulgoyal




msg:121046
 3:57 am on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Nice and well organized info skipfactor. Thanks. :-) Can I keep a copy of it in my "My Documents". :-)

skipfactor




msg:121047
 7:29 am on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Cleaner copy

Too much of the copy was written in gibberish

quiet times can be useful

Felt good, like there weren't any boundaries…

Right on...reads like an old English prof’s red scribble on various papers. :) His favorite word was ‘cope’ & he had it engraved into the wall of his classroom (military school). Funny how a crusty old English prof can teach you more about business with one word than anyone you’ll ever know.

Another great thing he taught me was to write something and sit on it for a night. This can be especially critical with client/potential client relations via the written word. I know I can post something here thinking it sounds OK, only to peruse it again the next day & damned if it doesn't sound overly harsh. When time allows and especially when things become heated: reply, save, sit, think & review after a few hours(preferably after a good night's sleep)--then hit 'Send'.

why2kit




msg:121048
 7:36 am on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

What a great thread - why should we **** about Florida (which was very kind to me) and Google, lets just get on with the job. Lets face it any SE, including Google, is just another tool to get the visitor (or potential customer) to our site.

Once the pre-xmas traffic has died down, the office parties have destroyed my liver and the kids have destroyed the house I'm going to take skipfactor's advice.

Miop




msg:121049
 8:58 am on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Very frustrating, having a tool but not knowing how to use it.
I had a look at my site and there isn't much I can do with it really.
Frustrating that nearly all the other SE's like my site enough to list it within the first 3 pages, but not Google. I never had much in the way of H Tags or anchor text links. I keyword stuffed a few pages once but those are still there!
I've sat on the fence for 3 weeks now since the site went out of Google for main kw searches, and now I haven't got a clue what to do next.

davidpbrown




msg:121050
 10:17 am on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Good post skipfactor, refreshing.

(Miop, if I've learnt one thing it is that there is *always* more you can do. Try looking at validation, remove the tables within tables.. something about your homepage takes a minute to download/render.. and I'm in the UK with a reasonably fast link.)

dpb

jbinbpt




msg:121051
 10:56 am on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Great post skipfactor......

Content Adding as much as possible

Dictionary Saw a thread about adding dictionary terms for google to collect. I think this could be a winner.

I appreciate the tone of this thread. I'm tired of the grassy knoll theories. More than once every 40 years is too much.

jb

trillianjedi




msg:121052
 11:29 am on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Double-checking that every single page does indeed validate to W3C.

W3C is my bible.

TJ

superscript




msg:121053
 11:59 am on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Something I did the other day was redesign my 404 'page not found'. I have quite a few pages listed in SERPs that no longer exist - now there's something friendly to point the user back into the site.

davidpbrown




msg:121054
 12:18 pm on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Getting a (surprisingly long 150+) list of 404 links from
google's "site:w.com -nonsense" and then 404 reports, I've now added a php script heading my 404 that matches and redirects all these to valid pages.

Now 404 appears only for truely nonsense requests rather than simply for pages that were moved.

That and a few 410 for pages that were vaporised in the last spring clean.

grandpa




msg:121055
 12:55 pm on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thanks skipfactor, as already pointed out, why not do something. I've been doing the same work on the site
that I've been doing for the past 4 months, learning.
Personally, I'm breaking into new areas, like marketing
and tracking. It represents a change, and a challenge.
I don't like changes and I prefer to pick my own challenges so I'm not a happy camper, so what. :-)

grandpa

Miop




msg:121056
 1:12 pm on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

This morning, Google is spidering all my old missing pages - perhaps they are clearing out the index.

Miop




msg:121057
 1:15 pm on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

davidpbrown - I think it's the card logos- they are fed from Worldpay. I'll put them on my site.
Thank you for the advice! (I didn't know it was slow...)

Miop




msg:121058
 1:21 pm on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hmm..if that page is slow...it's not going to like my new php shopping cart at all...

Chndru




msg:121059
 1:51 pm on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

skipfactor, Da man! Yup, moving on is a good thing to hear for a change :)

dragonlady7




msg:121060
 2:03 pm on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

This is refreshing. I do like the idea of an opportunity for housekeeping. It might help to take a look at all the theories about stemming, as well-- I've seen some people reporting that internal pages are getting huge traffic spikes from searchers using more refined queries, possibly in response to Google's different results. So it might be a good time to re-evaluate what your target market is really looking for-- independent of "money" keywords-- and start re-focusing your copy to embrace those things...

But it's nice to see such a thoroughly positive thread, that's not Pollyanna-ish or "I did fine so quit your whining"-ful. (Mmm... making up words... such fun. Not going to optimize for made-up words, though.)

So, best of luck, everyone.

jaylark




msg:121061
 3:39 pm on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Dictionary Saw a thread about adding dictionary terms for google to collect. I think this could be a winner.

We are in a field that deals with a lot of complex terms and ideas so we put up a glossary of definitions for most of the common terms. We get more hits for people searching for these terms then we do off the entire rest of our site.

skipfactor




msg:121062
 7:51 pm on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Saw a thread about adding dictionary terms for google to collect.

remove the tables within tables

Two new things to do today, thanks. :)

bzprod




msg:121063
 8:00 pm on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thanks skipfactor for the great post. I, however, will do nothing in regards to the search engines anymore. I am happy with the way my site is. What I AM going to do is finally roll out an affiliate program for my site. Once I have a couple hundred affiliates sending me quality traffic, I won't have to worry about Google :)

guynouk




msg:121064
 8:03 pm on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

bzprod
did u know Google declared war on the affiliate over 2 years ago and does everything in their power to destroy us (for obvious reasons)?

bzprod




msg:121065
 8:25 pm on Dec 5, 2003 (gmt 0)

I run two ecommerce sites. One that relies on search engine rankings (was greatly affected by Florida), and one that relies on my affiliate traffic (this is also a membership site).

My site that has affiliates selling my product is doing just as great now as it was before Florida. I have over 400 affiliates promoting and sending me traffic. Some affiliates are sending less after Florida and some are sending more after Florida. Overall, however, I am still seeing a steady increase in affiliate traffic.

I don't promote affiliate products, I offer an affiliate program on my site. I now plan to have both sites rely on affiliate traffic. This is something that has proven a winner for me since December of 1997, when I first managed my own affiliate program. It works, because with so many affiliates, the eggs are in so many different baskets. Some affiliates promote to their newsletters, repeat visitors, etc. My top affiliate was hit hard by Florida and is no longer sending me great traffic. However, another affiliate that was just "ok" is now doing great in Google and sending me great traffic.

When you have hundreds of affiliates selling/promoting your site, then it doesn't really matter what the search engines do cause when someone goes down, someone else must go up.

(* I would also highly recommend people to start unique membership sites. If it wasn't for the guaranteed income of my membership site, I would be very very scared right now.)

Miop




msg:121066
 2:06 pm on Dec 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

Here's something - regarding comments about tables...I have just noticed that the top 6 results on two of my best keywords show sites whose entire page content is inside a table and tables within tables - - one of the sites consistently at the top appears to have no spiderable text at all - it is a dynamicaly generated page which only shows the title and description. The latter confused me until what DavidPBrown said that about tables and I had a look today.
Tables within tables is common on shopping mall/links pages, and is also present on other non-mall sites showing high.
Does anyone else notice this in their field?
Have those of you with dynamic sites remained at the top?

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