Weekly SEO news: 28 February 2006
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

This week, we're telling you what you can do when your web page rankings have dropped.

In the news: Ask.com reveals its new look, search engine marketers neglect other search engines, some people speculate about behavioral targeting and more.

Table of contents:

We hope that you enjoy this newsletter and that it helps you to get more out of your website. Please pass this newsletter on to your friends.

Best regards,
Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. Facts of the week: What can you do if your rankings have dropped?

Some webmasters face the problem that their good web site rankings have been dropped or that their web pages have not been listed at all. If your web site rankings have been dropped, you can do the following:

1. On-site optimization factors you should check

It is very important that your web pages are spam free. Maybe you have changed something on your pages that search engines might consider spam. Even if you didn't want to cheat, search engines might get the impression if you use certain elements on your web pages.

Make sure that your web site doesn't use keyword stuffing, hidden text, cloaking or redirections. If you use any of them, search engine might tag your web site as a spam site. In that case, all other optimization efforts are pointless.

If you have new web pages that aren't listed, make sure that your web pages have enough text. Search engines need text to index web pages. Don't use frames because some search engines won't index your pages then.

Even Google has difficulty to index dynamically created pages. If you must use dynamically created pages and if your web page URLs contain questions marks, the & symbol and other special characters, consider rewriting your URLs so that your pages look like static pages (that's the way Amazon does it). Your webmaster can help you to do this. Dynamically created pages are often the reason for bad rankings.

Make sure that your robots.txt file allows search engines to index your web site. A broken robots.txt file can send search engine spiders away.

It's also important that you have plain text links on your web pages. If you only use image or JavaScript links on your pages, chances are that search engine spiders cannot follow the links so that it looks as if your web site consisted of only one page. Plain text links help search engines to spider your site.

Search engines analyze many different elements of a web page when they determine the ranking of a page. It's important that you check all of these elements.

You should also make sure that your web pages have valid HTML code. While most HTML errors don't cause problems, some of them can prevent search engine spiders from indexing your site.

2. Off-site optimization factors you should check

The number and the type of web sites that link to your site is very important. If you want to get high search engine rankings, try to get as many links from related web sites as possible. It's not only important that many other web sites link to yours. It's also important that the links are from related sites and that the link texts contain keywords that are related to the keywords for which you want to have high search engine rankings.

If you did have good rankings that suddenly dropped and none of the on-site factors mentioned above apply to your site then it is very likely that the search engine has re-evaluated the links to your site. In that case, the search engine either thinks that the links to your site are not from related sites or other web sites now have better links than you so that they are listed higher.

Note that the other web sites needn't have more links than you. They just need better links that are related to the keyword for which you want to have high rankings. In that case, you should try to get new links from related sites that contain your keyword.

3. General things that can influence your rankings

Make sure that your web server is fast and reliable. If your web server doesn't answer fast enough when a search engine spider tries to visit your web site, then your web pages won't be listed in search engines. For that reason, it is important to choose a reliable host. Don't go for cheap, go for quality.

Another important thing you should consider is that Google will put your web site into the sandbox if you have a new web site or if you change your web pages. That means that it can take up to six months weeks until you get regular rankings for your pages on Google. The phenomenon is explained here. Other search engines have similar filters.

It's hard, but the only thing you can do is to wait. If you have optimized web page content and good incoming links, you will get high search engine rankings. It just might take a while until you're out of the sandbox. It will happen.

In addition, it takes some time until search engines pick up new pages. Search engines have to visit your web pages, they have to evaluate the found pages, they have to build a new index and then they have to publish the new index. Depending on the search engine, this might take 4-12 weeks. If you already have other pages indexed by a search engine, new pages might get indexed faster but that's not always the case.

If your web page rankings have dropped, don't panic. Sometimes, search engines are just testing new ranking algorithms. Wait 2-4 weeks to find out if your rankings have really dropped.

If your rankings have really dropped, take a look at the list above and make sure that your web pages have all elements that are needed to get high search engine rankings. You will get your rankings back then.

2. Search engine news of the week

Where's Jeeves? Ask.com unveils new look

"Besides the revamped Web page, Ask.com also is rolling out several improvements, including a new mapping feature that will provide walking directions to a desired destination in addition to the standard driving directions.

Some of Ask.com's earlier improvements helped it increase its share of the U.S. search engine market share from 5.3 percent at the end of 2004 to 6.3 percent in December, according to comScore Media Metrix, a research firm."

Editor's note: Ask Jeeves has also closed the Teoma site. The new Ask.com version is already supported by IBP.

JupiterResearch finds many search marketers are missing out by neglecting alternative engines

"40% of search marketers are missing out by using only Google and/or Yahoo! for their campaigns. [...] Even though search engine usage by marketers has broadened in the past couple of years, marketers are still slow to test the newer search providers. [...] Lack of management tools and relatively low traffic volume are the biggest deterrents."

Yahoo limits advertising with competing trademarks

"Yahoo plans to stop allowing advertisers to buy ads against searches on their competitors' trademarks. But Google continues the practice, and lawyers say it's undetermined whether the ads are legal."

Search engine newslets

3. Articles of the week

Warning: behavioral targeting is next big thing in search

"Understanding which keywords lead to more conversions with female versus male customers, for example, will help advertisers determine how much to pay for certain keywords [...]

Search marketers at least should develop a basic profile of their customers and conduct research on keyword trends so they know which terms are most popular with their customer base."

More marketers concerned about click fraud

"Three times as many online advertisers and search engine marketing (SEM) firms said click fraud was a serious issue in 2005 compared to the year before."

Google and MSN disagree on future of search

    "'Search engines have shot themselves in the foot by providing a search box,' says MSN. Google, though, has another view."

Verklin: search crucial to marketing

    "It's hard to overstate the importance that search plays in marketing and advertising campaigns. [...] Our job as advertisers is to put our clients' products in the path of search behavior."

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4. Preview of the next ARELIS version - part 4

We're currently working on a new ARELIS version. The new ARELIS version will have many new features and many improvements.

We think that it will be the best and most complete link exchange, link popularity and off-site web promotion solution. In the next few weeks, we'll show a preview of some of the new ARELIS features in this newsletter.

Part 4: Benefit from a much improved link checker

The new ARELIS version will feature a much improved link checker:

advanced link checker

Among many other things, the new link checker will allow you to specify many different URLs to which your link partners can link back and it will allow you to check links only for special categories or statuses.

In addition, the new ARELIS version can check if your link partners use the "rel=nofollow" tag (that tells search engines that they shouldn't consider the link) and it allows you to specify a user agent for the link check (so that you can make sure that search engine spiders really see the link to your site).

The new ARELIS version can also search the web pages on your link partner's sites for a link back to your site if it cannot be found on the initial page.

It's a free update for registered users

The features above are only one of many new features that will be available in the new ARELIS version. The new ARELIS version is planned for this quarter. We'll announce its official release in this newsletter.

Although the new version will have many more features than the current ARELIS version, it will be a free update for registered users of the current ARELIS version.

If you haven't tested the current ARELIS version yet, you should do so now.

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5. Recommended resources
"My site has jumped to page one."

"I wanted to let you know that since beginning use of IBP my carpetbuyershandbook.com site has jumped to page one for more than 1350 targeted keyword phrases and we now see 3000+ unique visitors each day. [...]

We now have a wait list for «carpet» advertisers on the site and each pays a «premium» for ad space. Thanks for a great program!"
Michael Hilton, www.carpetbuyershandbook.com


"I couldn't have asked for better programmes."

"I use ARELIS and IBP 8. With them, plus some timely help from you when I first started to use them, I finally got my website uploaded and then applied your two programs.

I followed their instructions pretty closely and started accumulating links a couple of weeks ago. At the same time, I submitted to the search engines via IBP 8.

It took a lot of emailing to collect some really good links, but I stayed with the big names in the genre I was working within and the links slowly started to accumulate.

It hasn't been a month since I submitted to the search engines, but just for the heck of it (actually, I needed a break from typing e-mails - don't use a template, every contact is an individual letter) I checked for my keywords on the bigger and more popular engines, with the results as follows:

  • Yahoo: 1st
  • MSN: 1st
  • AltaVista: 1st
  • AlltheWeb: 1st
  • Google: Spidered but not indexed yet

I couldn't have asked for better programmes to work with and I couldn't have dealt with nicer people. Many thanks."
Bill Onslow, www.bioelectricbook.com

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