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Some basic questions...

A challenge for the moderators of WmW

     
10:00 pm on Mar 1, 2001 (gmt 0)

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OK...

Sometimes I read through these forums, and I feel ... lost. So let's go through some basics.

Let's say I am a HTML coder just given the task to figure out why a site is not ranking well. It is a simple site made up with HTML and some javascript.

This is a site that has been submitted to search engines by the person who made it and is no longer working at the company I now work at, but the rankings on these directories and search engines is pitiful. In the past, I have only worked with HTML/ javascript made in an authorware type environment like DreamWeaver, and I have never worked with Perl, or any other type of scripting language.

Where do I start?

-G

10:16 pm on Mar 1, 2001 (gmt 0)

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>where

The first thing I'd do is get the js out of the headers and off the pages into external js files. I once clobbered one of my best performing sites by top-loading it with js functions.

10:25 pm on Mar 1, 2001 (gmt 0)

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>Where do I start?

Keywords.

10:39 pm on Mar 1, 2001 (gmt 0)

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Look at the site content/purpose and answer these questions:

What information/services are you offering?

What questions/words would people be using in their searches that your site could answer?

Do the site's pages have a lot of informative text that helps answer those questions?

Does the site's text use those target search words (keywords)?

Make sure the site's text answers your target market's questions, and includes your target market's keywords/search words.

10:59 pm on Mar 1, 2001 (gmt 0)

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One of the big shifts over the last year or so is in the realm of links. With the success of Google's "Page Rank" algo, lots of changes have happened on many top search engines with the importance of links and how they affect ranking.

So I would immediately survey the inbound link situation, making sure that directories (especially ODP, Yahoo and LookSmart) actually show a listing for the site, and that the major search engines have indexed that link. I would also make sure that other links around the web were still accurate and not generating 404 errors. Where possible, I would suggest appropriate link text to any sites that are linking to our site.

I would try to eliminate any links that look like off-topic link spam (i.e. old link farms and so on). And then I would look at my site's internal linking. Try to apply the rule of three -- can I get from any spot to any other spot within three clicks. If not, neither can a spider.

The rule of three isn't good enough for the site's key pages. Try to have them one or at most two hops away from the top. And make sure they are cross-linked like crazy all throughout the site.

11:28 pm on Mar 1, 2001 (gmt 0)

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>The first thing I'd do is get the js out of the headers and off the pages into external js files.

How do I do that? What is the command I use?

>Keywords.
Explain that, NFFC. What do you mean? How do I do it? How do I know the keywords that are being searched on?

-G

12:47 am on Mar 2, 2001 (gmt 0)

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If you see something like this in the header.

<script="javascript">
ar plat = navigator.platform;
var name = navigator.appName;
var vers = navigator.appVersion;
vers = vers.substring(0,1);
etc .....
</script>

Copy what is between the script tags and save it as a new text file and name it somename.js

Now substitute all that javascript within the header with
<script src="somename.js"></script>

Make sure you save a backup of the original files.

1:06 am on Mar 2, 2001 (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

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>keywords

That is a start. It will tell you want kind of content people are after in your topic area.
[searchengineworld.com]

However, if you are taking over the optimization on a premade site, there is a different set of rules. It is more of a cleaning process. I'd go through and look at each existing pages:

- html: does it validate? If it doesn't, there is no garantee that the search engines will be able to read it. Is the code fairly clean and small? (90k of html to 4k of text isn't a good thing)
- title: does each page have a quality title with a keyword in it that reflects the page? Does it have "click me now" value when viewed in a search engine list?
- meta keywords: loads of info on them. Use up to 10 of the best kw combos around the kw used in the title.
- meta description: short but descriptive with more of the old "click me now" value?
- page headers: does it have some? Even a h3 or h4 main page header type line on the page in large print?
- page layout: the simplier the better. SE's are not fond of deep html, javascript, or other non-textual info. The less non-content code, the better. Keep tables a max of 3deep or less.
- site arrangement: is it logical? Can search engines "crawl" your site? (is it well linked within the site from page to page). Is the content close to the root directory? Content less then 3 directories deep?

1:31 am on Mar 2, 2001 (gmt 0)

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All great info above. Look over your site content and make sure it is well written, easy to navigate and user and engine friendly as well. Keeping it simple with solid, quality written content works well. Gotta have a reason for people to stay instead of click away.
2:16 am on Mar 2, 2001 (gmt 0)

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Study study study!

Read as much material as you can in the time that you have, even if it is off work hours. It will improve your career experience none the less.

Then Research!

Look at your competition out there on all the search engines. Do a few obscure yet semi-popular searches to see what put those pages at the top. As long as they are not cloaked nor placed there from another source. You should be able to gather some good info and then you can plan your strategy.

3:26 pm on Mar 2, 2001 (gmt 0)

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Grnidone,

reading all the great responses you received from everyone I really have nothing left to add except...

As My dad use to tell me. " Son, There are no stupid questions"

I know that there are people reading this post and really don't beleive that they have anything to share. I beleive that the day you say you can't learn anything new is the day you need to leave the net. The net changes daily and the SE Algo's Change so fast that some of us have to scramble (ME) to catch up every day.

Thanks for bring us back to basics as that is where it all lies.

Regards

Dr. Bill

3:46 pm on Mar 2, 2001 (gmt 0)

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That's funny DrBill. My dad used to say, the only stupid question is the one you didn't ask.
4:26 pm on Mar 2, 2001 (gmt 0)

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> I beleive that the day you say you can't learn anything new is the day you need to leave the net.

So true! Same idea as the older you get, the smarter your parents become. ;) There are many times my head spins trying to sort out posts.

4:46 am on Mar 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

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Brett, WebRookie,

yea i find that my folks are getting smarter and Smarter every day. I remember being 18 and thinking that I knew it all. Now 10 years later and I think I was DUMB not to have listened LOL :)

5:54 am on Mar 5, 2001 (gmt 0)

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don't forget THEMES...

try to focus on a niche, and have every page of the site revolve around one theme and one main keyword...break content up whenever possible into tightly focused pages...if this means registering more URL's, it's probably worth it, considering the importance of themes...this also plays in with the rising importance of link popularity...