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Themes and Popularity - Please Help

Themes and Popularity

     

tennisguy

10:10 am on Mar 15, 2001 (gmt 0)

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It seems that themes and link popularity are the BIG thing nowadays. However, this has put me in a dilemma.

You see, I am currently building a web directory that has about 700 interconnected niche categories
(similiar to About.com) such as Anime>Pokemon... and Hobbies>Arts_and_Crafts>Collecting>Dolls

To encourage incoming links, the plan is to have an in-house affiliate program that will pay tens of thousands of affiliates to link to the category that is most relevant for their site. So a site dealing with Pokemon will link to our Pokemon category. The way it works is the affiliate would place a link from their site to
our site. When a visitor clicks on the click, the visitor gets to a CONFIRMATION PAGE asking her to
confirm her click - don't ask me why =) If she clicks on the confirm button, she will get transported to the relevant category.

Question #1 - Is cookie-based delivery spamming¦cloaking?

We can go the straightforward route and have the affiliate links look like
"mydomain.com/affiliate_id/123 (where 123 is the affiliate id) and then redirect the user to the Confirmation Page and then subsequently to the correct directory page. However, I have heard that Link Popularity is on a Page-By-Page basis. With this method, I would have 10000 affiliates all linking to a special url that is
specific for them, but that is bad for Link Popularity?

So, with cookies, I could make the affiliate sites link directly to mydomain.com/category_page and track the clicks via cookies (set via an image tag on the affiliate's site) So an affiliate link on their site would be like "<IMG SRC=http://mydomain.com/tracker.gif?id=123><A HREF=http://mydomain.com/Pokemon>Pokemon</A>"
This technique (although convoluted) is better for Link Popularity (it is Page-based right?) as I now would have 100000 affiliate sites all linking to the same URL (please tell me if i am wrong on this). The question is that this system is designed so that a user clicking on a link from an affiliate site would get the
Confirmation Page BUT a search engine spider visiting the url from the affiliate site WOULD NOT see the confirmation page (spiders CANNOT accept cookies right?). I am not using IP-delivery or anything, but can this
selective page delivery (using server-side PHP) based on if the visitor accepts cookies be called SPAM and CLOAKING? In this case, I don't want to show the spider a different page because he is a spider, but instead want to serve the Confirmation Page only to human visitors click on the affiliate link. All other search engine
visitors and spiders alike I want them to be able to go straight to the relevant category,

Question #2 - Is 700 unrelated topics bad for themes? But is 700+ subdomains on 1 IP address any better?

With so many diverse and unrelated topics, it seems that the theme for this directory site could be terrible if they are all on one domain. However, I have the capability to create a subdomain (via a wild card subdomain) for each category as needed (i.e. 700 sub-domains). Each subdomain would be tightly optimised for a single theme. For example - pokemon.mydomain.com and dolls.mydomain.com .

However, there is very little possibility that I can get ahold of 700 IP addresses soon. So I am planning to host all 700 plus subdomains on the IP of my primary domain whose IP is only used by me. Does having 700+ subdomains on one IP address disqualify them as valid SEPARATE domains? According to Marshall Clark, you need to have a different IP for each
subdomain for the theme to see any theme benefit since the SEs use the IP# to distinguish between them. Is this still true?

Question #3 - Is Link Popularity cumulative?

If all 700 categories were placed under 1 primary domain, it would have 10000 links from unrelated sites but all pointing to content that is directly relevant to their sites. For example, a site about Dolls would point to mydomain.com/Dolls while a site about Pokemon will point to mydomain.com/Pokemon. However, if I
create a subdomain for each category to take advantage of the theme optimization, then the number of links to each subdomain would of course be much less (the Pokemon site would link to Pokemon.mydomain.com). In this case, is it better to have the first case where you have 10000 cumulative inbounding links to relevant
content on a themeless domain or a few hundred links each to 700 themed subdomains?

I know this is a very long question, but you help and advice (to any or all parts of the question) is GREATLY
APPRECIATED!

Best Wishes!

Tennisguy

4:41 pm on Mar 16, 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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Welcome to the forums tennisguy.

spiders can not accpet cookies: true
most spiders won't read or count the affiliate/cgi link: true (google will, ink will)
"mydomain.com/affiliate_id/123: that is the best route. Use mod_rewrite to handle the urls.

>700 unrelated topics bad for themes?

Yes, but you will get tagged as a "hub" or authority. This is a much better thing. Try to run as long as possible without click through counters. Let the search engines see the bare outgoing urls on the page.

>Is Link Popularity cumulative?

Every se is different. Some do, some don't - controversy rules-the-day on the subject.

tennisguy

5:55 pm on Mar 16, 2001 (gmt 0)

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Account Expired

 
 


Thanks for the reply!

>most spiders won't read or count the affiliate/cgi link: true (google will, ink will) "mydomain.com/affiliate_id/123: that is the best route. Use mod_rewrite to handle the urls.

So you are saying that mydomain.com/affiliate_id/123 is the best route? Is this even better than having affiliates link straight to the homepage i.e.
<A HREF=http://www.mydomain.com/> ? As mydomain.com/affilaite_id/123 is not a click-through counter but a confirmation page (unique to the affiliate), there will exist only ONE incoming link to that confirmation page on the web. So I guess the real question is link popularity is it page-based or domain-based (if domain-based, could it eventually become page-based). If it is page-based, then wouldn't it be better to have affilaites link straight to the homepage [mydomain.com...] (covers both bases just in case) ?

>>700 unrelated topics bad for themes?

>Yes, but you will get tagged as a "hub" or authority. This is a much better thing. Try to run as long as possible without click through counters. Let the search engines see the bare outgoing urls on the page.

Being a hub I gather means you have a lot of both incoming and outgoing links. Obviously, if I keep all 700 topics under one primary domain, the number of incoming and outgoing links will be greater. But the theme will be destroyed. If I categorize the 700 topics into its own subdomain, then I can optimize the theme on each one. Even when they are separated into 700 subdomains, the number of outoing links for each subdomain will hopefully be in the thousands with incoming links ranging from single digits to the thousands. Would it be possible to have 700 Hubs? At what numerical point does a site become a Hub? And could I destory any potential for becoming a Hub by separating each topic into its own theme-based domain?

So I guess the big question is, would you recommend keeping all topics under one domain, or separate them into 700 subdomains?

What is defined as a click-through counter? Is it a server side redirect? (i.e. Header("Location: [affiliatesite.com")...] )?
In this case, having an url like <A HREF=http://www.mydomain.com/jump/affiliate_url> would be a server side redirect (will google and ink follow this type of link and count it as an outgoing link?) If this is bad and we are sure that search engines cannot accept cookies (are they likely to do so in the future?), then I can simply output an url based on if a visitor accepts cookies. For example, if theu ser accepts cookies, we give her <A HREF=http://mydomain/jump/affiliate_url> . But if the visitor does not accepts cookies (like a spider), then we show <A HREF=http://www.affiliate_url.com>. Is this a superior tactic?

Thank you so much for your advice and help!

6:23 pm on Mar 16, 2001 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member rcjordan is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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>At what numerical point does a site become a Hub?

Not quite that easy to divine... this is still part art (and huge doses of 'gut calls')

>And could I destory any potential for becoming a Hub by separating each topic into its own theme-based domain? So I guess the big question is, would you recommend keeping all topics under one domain, or separate them into 700 subdomains?

No, I don't think you'd destroy the potential. I have one directory site with 1 domain, 50 subdomains (with their own IP), and 4,000+ pages distributed under those subdomains. I'm watching it closely right now because -while INK indexed it last August- all of its pages now seem to be elevated in the SERPS. Google also boosted them high, then reduced them, and now seems to be boosting them slowly but steadily. All this time, the site is acquiring incoming links generally "on theme." I'm hoping, of course, that it's earning it's stripes as an authority hub -it certainly looks promising at this point. I haven't resubmitted it to INK or Google since last May or June, btw.

1:10 am on Mar 17, 2001 (gmt 0)

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>>You see, I am currently building a web directory that has about 700 interconnected niche categories
(similiar to About.com)

If your goal is to build a large directory like About, then I think you should use their structure as a model. If you spend some time reviewing SERP's for popular phrases that relate to your categories, I think you'll find far more About.com sites showing up towards the top then you will equivlant content from a traditional style directory like Yahoo or ODP.

Of course, part of About's SEO success can be attributed to the fact that they have a full-time SEO specialist on staff who works to make it happen, but the overall structure also plays a big part. The subdomain system just creates an environment that generates much stronger themes.

Even if it is more work getting it setup, I think you will find in the long run that it will be well worth the effort.

4:18 pm on Mar 17, 2001 (gmt 0)

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I have a few comments. The first relates to terms. What you describe here as

Pokemon.mydomain.com

I call this a canonical. Webster’s determines as canonical: reduced to the canonical form <a canonical matrix>. Canonical form: the simplest form of something.

The purpose of creating a canonical would to develop the simplest form of your term. This will certainly help to keep you on theme. My experience with canonicals is they are recognized and accepted as separate domains, in terms of linking. I found this true for Google, Alta Vista Fast, HotBot, and MSN.

I have a tip here in developing this sort of portal. Keep your internal linking pure and on theme. Find ways to tie the site together, especially if you are using canonicals that stay on theme. In your case you might have

Pokemon.mydomain.com
Pokemon.mydomain.com/software/
Pokemon.mydomain.com/cards/
Pokemon.mydomain.com/action_figures/
Pokemon.mydomain.com/new_release/

All of those can link to each other. Then lets say you have another section called

Software.mydomain.com/
With several sub domains. You could then link Pokemon.mydomain.com/software/ to Software.mydomain.com/. The trick is to stay on theme. This works for hub/authority/portals and simple web sites.

Another hint. Think of the anchor text you will use to describe a page and stay consistent with it. Make it about what you want the page to become known for.

 

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