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Buddy Links Refresh Newsletter

10:58 pm on Feb 24, 2000 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 21, 1999
votes: 12

Hi Buddy Linkers;

In another emails are fresh set of links pages for your Buddy Links pages. We have seen exceptional growth since the last refresh. Currently included are 360+ links on six pages this time.


There is some confusion about filenames.

PLEASE, read carefully:

Your first page filename is your base links page filename. Your second page is the same filename with a "2" prepended before the file extension:

For example:

Base Links Page : "here.html"
Page Two : "here2.html"
Page Three: "here3.html"
Page Four : "here4.html"

Notice that there is NOT a number 1 used! We go from the base "page.html", straight to "page2.html" and "page3.html". There is no numeral 1 involved.

In the links pages emails, I have attempted to show actual url and filename for that page. If your links page filename as listed with Buddy Links isn't accurate, then the example won't be either. I've hand looked at about 50% of the generated examples and those look ok.

If you are on AOL, or using a email program that manipulates the pages and you can't cut & paste the links, you can always stop into the example page of links, then "view source" to the six pages.

New Encrypted Hash Key Comments:
These links are in random order and now include an encrypted HASH key comment. Hash keys are unique for every page, please leave it on each page. Keys are unique and the numbers in comments are untraceable and ignored by search engines.

2 Requests:
o Please put a link somewhere else on your site to one of your buddy links pages.
o Once you put up your pages, please submit it to the major search engines for indexing (even if you checked "auto submit" on the signup page).


Mime Encoded Email:
I am holding on the miming (attachment) style email this time. There are many considerations to this that are were not first apparent. If done improperly, there could be lots of problems. So it will be tested to death before we go that route.

Survey Results:
Q1) Which of the following do you most agree with? respondents: 129

21 I would like the email links mime encoded very much.
58 Mime or no Mime, it is fine by me.
12 I wouldn't like it but I would do whatever it took.
7 I would hate it and probably drop out of the program.
31 What's a mime?

Q2) What email program do you use? Respondents: 127
41 Outlook Express 5.x
26 Forte Agent 1.x (1.7 is the most popular)
21 Netscape (many versions)
12 Microsoft (Older Outlook Express, "other unspecified microsoft")
7 Eudora
6 Pegasus
5 Web based email
4 The Bat
2 Yarn
1 Notes
1 Tin
1 Opera 4 Elektra

Q3) If buttered toast always lands buttered-side down, and cats always land on their feet, what happens if you tie a buttered piece of toast to a cat's back? respondents: 19

9 Cats *always* win.
3 Both would land on side.
2 Toast: if a cat doesn't land feet first, it *is* toast.
1 Laws of physics would be broken - be afraid, be very afraid.
1 Cat would jump on counter and ask for eggs and a side of bacon to go with the toast.

And get well soon wishes to David Grant at http://www.corisande.com:

David Writes:
Our cat was not at all happy when I tied the toast to her back, but I can report the cat providentially won over the toast every time. However I got so scratched that I can only type with one hand now

Whats A Mime?
A mime encoded email, is just an attachment style email. (like email pictures). The problem with it, is that there are many, many ways that it can be done, and many ways that email clients can interpret the data. Mime Encoding html is not as easy as it appears. With email clients now supporting HTML encoding, a new level of complexity is added and I want to avoid causing more problems that solving before going ahead with the encoding.

Scaling up:
December: 150 sites x 2 links pages =300 total pages emailed
Feb 21: 400 sites x 6 links pages =2400 total pages emailed
June 1: 800 sites x 12 links pages =9600 total pages emailed.

As you can see this program from a management stand point gets multiplicably more difficult as we increase the number of sites. Not only in simple emailings but member relations as well. We are a group of the more advanced webmasters on the web - that makes us all email experts (think about it I do appreciate all the feedback. This program started in late Sept 99 and my Buddy Links folder has over 22,000 emails in it now. I try to get to every one, but as you can see, it is more than a full time job.

Next Refresh:
The next refresh will be at least April 15. In the intervening time, I am working on the context sensitive setup, deleting spam, and walking every site in the program.

Anyone else want in on the first round of testing, please let me know. [searchengineworld.com...]

Buddy Links Forum: (yep, I just keep pushing that Forum

Thank You:
Thanks to everyone for participating. And thanks to Ralph at http://www.fantomaster.com for helping me to finish out the ideas on context sensitive linking and some great programs.

Program Changes:
One big change coming in the next Buddy Links refresh is a page of context sensitive links. With atleast one page of context sensitive links, we can increase relevancy for the entire set of sites. In order to understand what effect this can have on search engines, we need to first understand how search engines are now working.

(The following is excerpted and edited from an upcoming article in the Search Engine World quarterly.)

Search Engine World Quarterly, Q1-2000

Analysis and Disection of the Theme Based Search Engine

By Brett Tabke

One of the biggest changes in search engines in the last year, has been the adoption of "theme" based indexing.

Theme engines determine a sites' "themes" by indexing the entire site as a whole. As a page is added to a search engine, it goes back to its database, pulls out all pages from that domain and indexes the entire set of pages as one.

Theme Based Search Engines:

- Altavista recently admitted what we already knew, that it was working from a "theme" algorythm with link popularity weighting.
- Inktomi made the switch early last spring to a theme algo in support of its intelligent directory system.
- Google has been using themes since its first days.
- Excite is the original theme based engine and the prototype for most of the others.
- Lycos does to a lesser degree, but those routines are really bad.
- Infoseek is *trying* to use one, but they haven't had much success at it so far.
- Fast does *not* use a theme engine, but they are rumored to be working on one and I look for major changes at Fast sometime this summer.
- Webcrawler uses the same algo as Excite, but it is generating totally unpredictable results. How this engine is generating results is a complete mystery. It has been "stuck" in the same mode since last fall.

Theme Determination:

- The theme indexer first pulls out titles and indexes that data,
- then it indexes meta tags,
- then major headings on a page,
- then the text content of all the pages,
- finally it looks at all the links on the site.

When I say "indexes", it first strips all HTML code, common words, and then looks at the density of the remaining words. The last thing it does is compare the highest ranking words to one another. By using root word stemming and extrapolation it can determine your sites theme with pretty good accuracy.

Theme indexing is part of the reason why we have seen the return to full page indexing and the dropping of filtered or stop words by search engines. Altavista, Google, Infoseek, Excite, and Inktomi have all returned to Full Page storage so that they can now "theme extract" a site at will.

It is also why sites with "split personalities" of multiple subject content can get very bizarre referrals from some engines. They most often fail when there isn't enough pages in their database to accurately reflect your site.

Take for instance, Search Engine World and Excite. I have just a handful of pages in Excite. One page is about Exotic Keywords. There was also a promo advertisement on that page for Exotic Cars when Excite spidered that page.

Excite now had determined that Search Engine World is about Exotic Car Engines. Last week we were #1 under Porche, Ferrari, and Lambo Engines - and my logs were full of one hit wonders. All it took was resubmitting another page on search engines to get Excite to reindex all the pages it had for Search Engine World - and now I'm back to getting search engine related referrals.

Themes and Link Popularity
Search Engines can use their assembled theme data to detect links that are in or out of context. If Alta has determined your site is about "rocket ships" and you have a set of unrelated links, they won't give those links near the weight in the algorythm. This has the effect of thwarting what we are trying to do here to a small degree.

A few coming changes in our program are to address these valid concerns and make the program work to the best of its ability.

The first change is building at least one content sensitive set of links page for your site. With at least one set of links that are in context for your site, we can be somewhat assured that those links will get a full measure of credit in the theme engines.

To do this, the first thing we have done, is to categorize sites. We have added a drop down category link on the edit page for sites to categorize themselves. This replaces the "keyword category" option that existed before.

When we send out links next time, there will be one page that is built entirely from the same category as your site. This will give the engines some food to munch on, and should raise the relevancy of links and your popularity. I also expect your links page itself to start ranking higher.

I have used my own resources page on Search Engine World as a test bed. Our SEW page of resources receives about 50 referrals a week. While our Buddy Links pages of links receives about 10 referrals a week. That is the difference in the search engines viewing our "search engine resources" page as within our sites theme and them viewing the Buddy Links set of links as "out of theme".

Working the Theme Engines to Build Your Own Rankings:

The new theme engines have made the transition in such a subtle behind the scenes fashion, many people don't realize what has happened. Much of what has happened at Altavista over the last six months has been the transition to theme based indexing.

In order to adapt your site to the new theme based engines, you need to stop worrying so much about one single page and start viewing your entire site as a single entity. The days of single keyword pages is fastly coming to an end, and the start of single keyword domains is here.

To make the transition, start by thinking up ten top keywords that relate to your site. Stay ON THEME when you think these up. Be careful not to contaminate your keywords with closely related but "obfuscative" keywords. If your site is about "rocket ships", be careful not to put "oars, rudders, or sails" on your site or search engines may decide your site is about boats.

Once you have your ten keywords, make sure they are in EVERY meta keyword tag on your site. Try to hit every keyword you can in your content with one page of content dedicated for each keyword. Submit those pages to search engines. Again, be very careful what you submit these days. Don't give the search engines an excuse to decrease your sites relevancy due to your own obfuscation of keywords.

Ok, so how well does all this work?

We had taken a little site from nothing to over one hundred thousand hits a day in six months. The site whithered away in obscurity for most of last year until we started to see what Inktomi and Altavista were up too.

As most discoveries occur, we stumbled upon the power of the theme system by accident. A part time employee accidently submitted pages intended for Excite to Altavista. Within a week, the site was generating a few thousand referrals. The Excite optimized theme pages did 50% better on Altavista than our Altavista optimized pages were doing! (btw: that part time Stacy is now full time and I start the day asking if shes has any accidents planned for the week.)

After picking my mouth up off the keyboard, we threw everything out and started from scratch off the Excite optimized pages. We started playing hard, very hard, 24x365. After establishing a full round of submissions, we were amazed when the exact same pages started to do well across the board. (this hasn't happened in 4 years). There was a ripple effect that rolled back over to Excite, Infoseek, and even Lycos due to the themes.

From mid november until the first of February, we'd beaten the powerhouse mp3.com under the four top mp3 related keywords on Alta for several months. The same happened on Excite (until this last update). We also had somewhat similar results under several lethal competitive real estate and used car keywords. It was all done by using Themes and sticking "on theme" no matter what.

For clients we worked out 8 keywords we wanted to target, built domains from scratch, put up 80 pages of content related to the 8 words, put the 8 words on every page, in every content, every tag, and atleast one in every major heading. It worked.

The best thing about it is that I've about thrown away my keyword density analyzer - like buggy whips, they are just about a thing of the past. Engines still look at density, but it is density across the entire site now, not just the page.

A few people are beginning to understand this new nature of SE's. It is a difficult thing to work out because it defies traditional SE page-by-page testing. It has gone from being page-by-page testing to site-by-site testing. You heard it here first.

If your rankings are good right now, I wouldn't recommend wholesale changes just yet. Obviously something you are doing is working with the new algos. Take some time to consider it before your next schedueled site tuneup.

Thank you for being a Buddy Links Member Site.


... Manuals come out, only after all possible keystrokes fail.