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Search Engine Optimization Demystified-Part 1

I am so tired of the many SEO (short for Search Engine Optimization, which in turn denotes the tasks you do to influence your website's ranking in search engines such as Google ™) myths floating around and fooling people everyday that I finally decided to take up the banner against all the "SEO pedagogues"! ;)

For goodness's sake, I have divided this article into "God knows how many" parts! :D

Part 1 is presented below:

A lot of SEO gurus would merely rattle all that they know or rather, "believe to be true", and offer you very little scope to express your views. But, since I am not a closed-minded SEO guru (in fact, I am not even a 'guru' to begin with), I will give you the chance to prove me wrong on each of the points discussed below!

Don’t think that I would censor your comment if it happens to be contrary to my opinions. I always believe that if there are "rules", there are also "exceptions" to those rules. Each person would inevitably have a different kind of experience, be it with SEO or medicines. So, if your results are different than what I am going to say here, then you are welcome to discuss them at length in the comments section below!

However, keep in mind that you should post only "RESULTS", rather than some blindly held belief or opinion! Everything I say in this article are stuff gathered from experience. If you wish to prove me wrong, take action, check the results of your action, and then post them below! Heck, I am even going to tell you what to do to prove me wrong! :D

First off, I ask you to read about Google's Pagerank technology, straight from the horse's mouth (numbers in parentheses indicate the numbers of footnotes that follow):

"PageRank Technology: PageRank reflects our view of the importance of web pages by considering more than 500 million variables and 2 billion terms. Pages that we believe are important pages receive a higher PageRank and are more likely to appear at the top of the search results (1).

PageRank also considers the importance of each page that casts a vote, as votes from some pages are considered to have greater value, thus giving the linked page greater value (2). We have always taken a pragmatic approach to help improve search quality and create useful products, and our technology uses the collective intelligence of the web to determine a page's importance.

Hypertext-Matching Analysis: Our search engine also analyzes page content. However, instead of simply scanning for page-based text (which can be manipulated by site publishers through meta-tags), our technology analyzes the full content of a page and factors in fonts, subdivisions and the precise location of each word (3). We also analyze the content of neighboring web pages to ensure the results returned are the most relevant to a user's query."

Source: http://www.google.com/corporate/tech.html

Footnotes:

(1): Indicates that your website or webpage must be something Google considers "important"-meaning that it must have quality, useful content!

(2) Backlinks from authority websites are given greater weight than those from ordinary, low pagerank websites. It is something I might discuss in later parts of the series! ;)

(3) I don’t know if I have already discussed it somewhere, but meta tags are somewhat passé! Again this is something I would keep for future discussion!

On to the SEO myths-

SEO Myth#1 - All links must point to my homepage: There is no better way to screw your backlink building campaigns and waste your time than pointing all your backlinks to your website's homepage! You see, it doesn’t matter how much PR (short for Google Pagerank™) your homepage has, if the other pages of that site have few or no incoming links, they would rank poorly in SERPs and you would be screwed. If you think that you could influence the pagerank of other pages by linking to them from your homepage, you are dead wrong!

Ideally, pagerank should flow naturally from one page to next; it cannot be manipulated artificially.

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Nuttie Guru Suggests:

Focus less on pagerank and more on building backlinks and content. Before you start building backlinks for your website, group all the webpages of that site in order of importance, so that pages of higher importance get more backlinks pointing to them than those of lesser importance.

Check the following diagram. The rectangular red shapes indicate the important pages of my website, while the green oval shapes indicate the relatively less important pages. The white triangle denote the website's homepage.

The white numbers within the thick black arrows indicate the number of backlinks I would build for a certain page, depending on its overall importance, the assumption being that the total number of backlinks available to me is 30 (Note: All figures and numbers are hypothetical). The thinner arrows that run from the oval and rectangular shapes towards the triangle indicate the pagerank juice flowing from all the "sub-pages" of a website to its homepage.

It means that even if your homepage has 0 backlinks pointing to it, it would still get a PR boost due to the effect of the backlinks pointing to the 'sub-pages" of your website!

The diagram is not artistically great or anything, but I hope it helps convey my point successfully. Whatever else you do, please don’t laugh at the diagram! :P

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Usually, I point most of the backlinks available to my website's freebie pages, sales pages and article pages! However, some webmasters won’t allow you to point links to commercial pages, and it is only on those websites that I linkback either to my "About" page or the homepage, both of which are usually free from commercial content!

You would be surprised to know that one of my site's homepage has very few backlinks pointing to it, but due to the influence of the incoming links pointing to the "sub-pages" of that website, it has gained a considerable pagerank boost; to give you an idea, many of the sub-pages have PR2 or more, while the homepage has PR1!

How to prove me wrong: There is no better way to prove me wrong than taking ACTION. If you are already a member of Angela's backlinks membership, you can try out the following test:

Take up two websites for your backlink building campaign:

a) For the first website, have all the backlinks pointing only to your homepage!

b) For the second site, follow my advice above.

Keep doing this for at least 3 months, because SEO takes time to bring results, good or bad! At the end of 3 months, check which website is bringing you more traffic and sales; you see, unless your business model is that of "link exchange" or "selling one way links", all you should be concerned about is traffic and sales – no more and no less!

You may post your results below!

Personally, I don’t think pagerank of a website influences its incoming traffic in a big way! Organic traffic, if you talk about permanent and ongoing traffic that is, can be generated only with the help of solid content and a proper backlinking strategy! I have websites where some pages have lower PR than others but they receive more traffic overall!

I am not saying that pagerank doesn’t matter at all, but it is not necessary to stick your eyes all day long on that little green bar of Google toolbar! :D

SEO Myth#2 - I need to buy a new domain for each new niche I enter into: Not necessarily! Don't forget the "sub-domains". If the "new niche" is merely a sub-niche of a broader niche, save your cash and use sub domains!

One thing to note here is that you are not going to find good, keyword-rich domain names for each and every sub niche topic anyway, especially if the main niche is quite crowded. With sub domains, you don’t have this limitation!

I have a domain with more than 20 sub domains under it, and each of these sub-domains is dedicated to a different niche topic. In my case, even though none of the sub domains are related to each other, it hasn't affected the SERPs of these sub-domains negatively!

However, I suggest you don’t follow what I did! I am saying this not out of any SEO concern but keeping in mind the visitor's point of view! You know, an expert is supposed to specialize in a couple of topics instead of being a "jack of all trades". People prefer visiting and paying to 'specialists" and not a "jack". The mistakes I have made in the past cannot be rectified, but I have learnt from my mistakes for sure!

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Nuttie Guru Suggests:

I suggest you use sub-domains for sub-niches and domains for broad niches Say you are working in the weight loss niche; it is a huge niche with several sub niches under it. Buy a keyword-rich domain that indicates that your site is about weight loss and related topics! Don’t fret in case you don't get a keyword-rich domain; you can always go for a generic one.

When buying a domain name, make sure that it is not too long to remember and doesn't have too many dashes, underscores or numbers in it! In fact, a domain name bereft of dashes, underscores or numbers is probably the best deal! When typing a domain name in their browser's address bar, casual internet surfers often forget to insert the numbers, dashes or underscores in the correct order; if you have these things in your domain name, you may actually end up losing valuable traffic to your competitors!

I know that some SEO gurus say in order to achieve better SERPs, you should always buy domains containing two or more top niche keywords, separated by dashes or underscores! I don’t give a damn to such bogus advice! You know what, earlier in this article when I mentioned that "I have a domain with more than 20 sub domains under it", that domain is actually a generic one! For me, a domain name should be short first, memorable second, and keyword-rich third!

BTW, Google treats an underscore differently from a dash! If two words are separated by an underscore, such as "good_bad", Google takes it as a single word. On the other hand, if those words are separated by a dash, such as "good-bad", Google takes them as separate words! If you are wondering why, launch your favorite HTML editor, create a new HTML page, and type the following two words in it:

John__Doe

John—Doe

Save and preview the page in your favorite browser and see how the words look like!

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UPDATE: As Mahesh a.k.a "Review Boss" later commented at my blog, you CANNOT register a domain with underscore; only dashes are allowed! In fact, when you try to register a domain with an underscore, any decent domain registrar would remove the underscore before searching for domain availability! Apologies for the goof on my part and thanks to Mahesh for pointing that out! :P

While you are free to use underscores in a sub-domain, I would not suggest its use for reasons best explained here!

Related reading: I highly recommend you read Matt Cutts's opinion on using underscores and dashes: Dashes vs. underscores

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After buying the domain name, explore the sub niches under the weight loss niche and build an individual site per sub-niche using sub-domains. Once you are done, you can link all your sub-domain sites to your main domain. In essence, you would end up building an authority site on weight loss!

A good tool for creating a lot of keyword-rich sub-domains fast is Instant Empire Builder; that is the software I use for this purpose! All you need is to type your keywords and the software would build individual sub-domains for each keyword. However, you must have a Cpanel™-based control panel for the software to work!

A related tool is the Article Site Power Kit – you can use it to build your content sites if you wish! This is not something I use often, not as often as Instant Empire Builder anyway, but that is just my personal preference!

Something else I wish to point out is that the TLD (top level domain) extensions of a domain such as .com, .info, etc., matter little in SERPs. I can say this because I have gotten equal rankings for a .com website as a .info one! Still, I recommend you try to buy a .com domain, especially if you have a plan to build a large commercial business in the respective niche. There are a few reasons behind it:

a) Most browsers have an "automatically search from address bar" feature, meaning that in case you forget the TLD of a certain domain name, the browser would search for it and take you to the one it thinks to be the most relevant! Since a browser typically searches for a .com extension of a domain name at first, you are at a greater advantage with a .com TLD extension than others.

b) A .com domain is indicative of online credibility: Many people believe that a domain with a .com extension is more credible and trustworthy than say, a .info domain. This is not always true, but that is the way most people are programmed to think, particularly the novice internet surfers! If your domain has a .com TLD, you may receive a lot of traffic from such casual surfers! At the end of the day, any [free] traffic is good traffic! ;)

c) Some people (such as me) have a habit of throwing arrows in the dark, meaning that in case they don’t remember the whole domain name of a website they visited a while ago, they would merely type whatever they could recollect, add the .com extension to it, and let Google do the rest! It is simply a matter of instinct!
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Well there are many more myths I have got to debunk, so stay tuned for the next installments of this series! But before that, you need to tell me what do you think about this article, or else I may not write the next parts, hehe :D (just kidding!)

You can post your comments below!

To be continued

14 Comments

  1. Jim DeSantis

    Excellent detail and food for thought. I, too, have many subdomains under my TLD, however, there is one little problem I run into when submitting articles to directories. They want the TLD only, not subdomains or folders at the TLD.

    Jim DeSantis

    1. Arindam

      Hi Jim,

      It has been more than a year since I have submitted articles to EZA (just fed up with their “rules” that change with every new reviewer) but when I did I never had a problem with subdomains. Are you trying to redirect the visitor directly from your sub domain to your affiliate link? That is not allowed in EZA, not to speak the method is really old and inefficient (much like using the Direct linking method in Adwords). Anyway, if you want to use a “redirect”, you need to buy a domain, but it doesn’t have to be a .com one. You can buy .info domains which r very cheap at Namecheap. Namecheap even offers coupon codes for domain registration every month; just keep an eye on my blog and you would know! ;)

      On another note, EZA doesn’t offer the same benefits as they used to say, 2 years ago, as far as SERPs are concerned. Cannot blame them for this. When every Tom, Dick and Harry doesn’t care to look beyond EZA and Goartciles these sites are bound to become oversaturated and impotent over time.

      Fortunately I have found several high PR blogs and article sites which offer better SERP WITHOUT the stupid restrictions of EZA. I have a plan to come up with a (paid) report on these sites. My results with these sites have so far been satisfactory, but I would need some guinea pigs for more tests! Hope u won’t mind if I ask you to be my guinea pig when the time comes! ;)

      My short suggestion is to build content sites using sub domains, and then advertise your affiliate links in a “contextual” manner. You can also put BOLD affiliate ads at the top and bottom of your sub domains. That is how all my niche sites are structured and it is really efficient. Content pulls in traffic from Google, and you can build a list from this traffic. Remember that you won’t be an affiliate forever, coz real money is in product creation. When you turn into a product creator, the list will come to your aid!

      Content doesn’t have to be in the form of “information articles”; it can be product reviews too-HONEST reviews, that is!

  2. Rangarajan

    Hi Arindam,
    Great post. Your analysis, leading to focusing on good content rather than on seo, page rank etc, is very educative.

  3. Post Office sms

    From the little I do understand about SEO is that certain variables remain the same and other are constantly changing at Google’s discretion.Therefore no one can have a full understanding of what goes on.
    Until reading your post I was not aware of SEO in relation to sub-domains.That was of interest.With regard to backlinks would I be correct to assume that a site with high PR are the one’s to go for?Also the fact that the site is relevant and recently cached.

    1. Arindam

      >>With regard to backlinks would I be correct to assume that a site with high PR

      Yes

      >>Also the fact that the site is relevant and recently cached.

      As for theme, there are two things to note. For one, you would be hard pressed to find HIGH PR, authority sites thematically related to your site. I mean, say you want to build 200 backlinks, and if u r lucky then you may get 100 high PR, relevant sites. For another, you can rank equally well with backlinks from unrelated sites as well. The flip side of using backlinks from unrelated sites is that u would get little direct traffic from the sites themselves. But probably that won’t matter to you because your aim is to rank well in Google and get traffic from there, which you WILL get!

      No idea about the “cache” thing.

  4. RB

    Good points Arindam,

    I think it’s not possible to register a domain name with underscore (_) in it. Hyphens (-)are allowed. Keyword stuffed hyphenated domains were ranking well on MSN and Yahoo earlier. But slowly they are trying to copy Google’s SERp algorithm.

    I’m not a big fan of sub domains. 2 years back I built a sub domain site on one of my well established site. But Google refused to rank it….so I dropped sub-domain site ideas. Maybe I should try it again :)

    PS: In my opinion EZA is a useless crap filled with 1000′s of pages of dumb worthless content! It makes money for the owner curtsy of Google…

  5. Robert Fricks

    Arindam,
    Thanks so much for some rarely found truth about SEO. Everybody and their brother will be glad to take money from you to sell you better page rankings; but, it is rare when someone like you comes along and shares the truth with no price tag attached.
    Thanks Again,
    Robert Fricks
    admin AT sec-world.com

  6. Arindam

    @Robert,

    Thanks for your kind words :D

    Note: Edited your email address to protect it from spambots

  7. Jeremy

    Hi Arindam,

    Thanks for your kind of advice. I didn’t wonder that the difference of dash and underscore in domain name would serve as different meaning.

  8. Emma

    Hi Arindam,
    I’m sure that reading Matt Cutt’s article a few years ago on dashes vs underscores has done me great favours* in the search engines.

    Whenever I create a new website, I first plan the structure and make sure that I name the html pages according to relevant keywords separated by dashes. I try to keep to just one or two words in each page title otherwise it’s suddenly not so visitor friendly.

    I’ve had one or two websites that I’ve written for local businesses on the first page of Google (admittedly they’ve not been targetting a huge niche) and domain and keywords really do make a difference to the SERPS in my mind.

    I hadn’t thought about sub-domains though – I guess if you treat each one as a separate domain for SEO and backlinking purposes, that could work really well for splitting bigger niches down.

    Many thanks!
    Emma

    * p.s. I spell the British English way – it’s not that I can’t spell!

    1. Arindam

      Hi Emma,

      Different things work for different people, and there is nothing unnatural about it. Personally, long domains names have never worked for me, dashes or no dashes. I had the “good” fortune of selling several of my “keyword-rich” domain names, many containing dashes, on the DP forum for peanuts, coz even though they were keyword rich, they were flops for me! So I try to keep my domain names short and memorable.

      You would notice that Google is famous for being “Google” and not for any keyword. Tremendous value, great service, and continuous technical innovation are primarily what made it the leaders of Yahoo and MSN (even though Big G is probably the youngest of the three SEs).

      Let me give you another, humbler example, my own ezine. The domain “nuttiezine” hardly means anything to anyone except me and its subscribers. In fact I would say the domain name is completely meaningless if you go by “keywords”. So I would guess that its 200+ subscribers, including you, were all attracted by the content I giveaway for free rather than the domain name, am I right? ;)

      Now I am not saying keyword is not important. In fact I would suggest you try to get the best of both worlds: a short, keyword rich domain name! Even if you use dashes, try to keep the domain name as short as possible. It is not easy to find, but if you brainstorm enough, you may get a few! In fact, in one of my earlier issues, I discussed about a free tool that generates good keyword rich domain names for you! Another good thing about short domain names is that if you decide to sell your sites in future. your domain name would count a lot on how much you could charge for your site and how fast it would sell out!

      For example, say you are working in the health niche. How about a domain called: healthtips.com? I am sure you would agree it is keyword-rich! ;) Now this niche has several sub-niches under it. For each sub-niche, you build a sub-domain, such as:

      fitness.healthtips.com
      infections.healthtips.com

      and so on!

      So that is just my view. If dashes have worked for you, great! At the same time, if you have spare time, you may build one little website based on what I or Matt Cutts say! Don’t spend too much time or money on this site. Treat it as a “test” site, so that even if you fail, you would lose little and gain a load of experience. On the other hand, if you manage to make more money than you have so far, then I look forward to your success story! ;)

      Good luck in all your ventures!

  9. Darren

    Hi Arindam,

    I am a subscriber to Angela’s backlinks and I read your Tiny Guide pdf that was included in this month’s pack.

    It contained some great advice which is why I subscribed here.

    You do offer some fantastic info above, and I look forward to the next installment.

  10. Arindam

    Thanks Darren! I try to… ;)

  11. Eddie Note

    Dear Arindam – I finally had a few minutes to read this and am sure glad I did. I’ve already used the NameCheap coupon you provided (thanks!)and will be updating my notes and ongoing education with this information. I really like the concept of TLD and sub-domains to build an “authority” site. Thanks for the stimulating thoughts.