|Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Information|
Yahoo Dopey, MSN Goofy, Google is Mickey Mouse Lost in a Sandbox
Seventy-two days ago Googlebot first showed up and crawled over 250 pages of a brand new domain in an experiment that has had an odd cartoonish character to it, where unexplained things happen with sometimes dark foreboding, a kind of Fantasia online.
If you're unfamiliar with the Disney animation classic, Fantasia, Mickey Mouse plays a sorcerers' apprentice who wreaks havoc one evening as he dons the bosses magic wand and merrily destroys the castle. Comparing Google to Mickey Mouse is probably not often taken to mean low quality or amateurish in the pejorative use of the name. If I were to compare Google to Mickey Mouse, it would be as Jimmy Carter did, saying, "Mickey Mouse is the symbol of goodwill, surpassing all languages and cultures. When one sees Mickey Mouse, they see happiness."
I'd suggest that most webmasters see Google the same way Carter sees Mickey Mouse. We're very happy to see Googlebot (Mickey) wandering through our pages and he definitely brings happiness - if and when he ever indexes our pages. But for the past 72 days Google has seemed more like the dark character "Chernabog" from the same movie, a nocturnal demon who holds power over various restless souls whom he summons from their graves. That is how those buried deep in that evil sandbox imposed by Google on new sites must imagine the search engine - we'll be summoned from our graves one day. Google crawls after each article in this series, but has yet to index any of the several hundred pages it has spidered.
This consignment to a "Neverland" of invisibility by Google has only seemed to plague sites with content in tightly competitive markets. The category that this new site fits might be considered competitive since it's all about internet business. There are no shortage of sites addressing internet marketing & ecommerce. Peter Pan probably couldn't fly if not sprinkled by a little of Tinkerbell's Google Pixie Dust. The same is true of Sandboxed web sites.
The long sandboxing in this case may be proof of the long time rumor circulated among webmasters that new sites are indexed very quickly for obscure or unpopular terms, while those seeking entry into tough markets take longer to get indexed. The question every webmaster asks in this scenario is, "How long Mickey?" After the first two articles in this case study series were published, one webmaster after another wrote to say their site was fully indexed in 30 days if targeting terms such as "Grow Bananas in Pots."
But those in hotly contested areas, targeting competitive market segments have found themselves in limbo for as long as six months before release from the Google Sandbox. Guidelines would be nice. Doing that daily search at Google using query operator "site" to find how many, if any, pages are indexed at the search engine gets tiresome after ten weeks of looking. Those who suggest that it only takes a few links to get indexed by Google can do a link search at both MSN (369 links) and Yahoo (7950 links). A result of the intense interest focused on this story by webmaster ezines & online publications.
The second installment in this case study series ranks at #23 for the Google search "Google Sandbox" from the webmaster site: WWW Coder
How long Mickey?
A few words about the other three players in the search engine game... AskJeeves has also not yet released this site from their own version of the sandbox. Playing Sleeping Beauty here Teoma?
Yahoo is now showing 8,210 pages indexed, though they had done the inexplicable and CHANGED THE URL of over 8,040 of those pages sending visitors to error pages until we programmed a special 301 redirect just for Yahoo to change all of them back to those they crawled on the site. This is just plain Dopey behavior and earned Yahoo the Dopey Dwarf role in this Disney Sleeping Beauty toon.
Yahoo also earned the Dopey moniker by being very slow once the pages were crawled to post new pages. We're seeing old versions of the site, versions of pages that haven't existed for over 8 weeks now since Slurp first crawled back in May. Some new pages are indexed, but they make up a tiny portion of those listed.
We've found that Yahoo shows several hundred broken links to an email masking directory we've excluded them from in our robots.txt file - weeks after we banned the Slurp crawler from that directory. Dopey, you're so cute, but real sloooooow.
MSN now indexes 6,162 pages and is crawling the site like mad after each of these sandbox case study articles is published. Their index increases by about 1000 pages per week on a rather regular schedule. We've christened MSN "Goofy" for the bizarre search numbers shown with a "site:Publish101.com" query operator.
MSN shows, across the top of the page on the day after each new update, first a very low number of results, then a higher number of results after clicking in five pages, then a lower number of results after the sixth page. THEN after going to page 25 of search results, it stops showing more results pages. So no matter how many pages are indexed, Goofy shows you only 250 of them. In a search done right before completing this article, MSN shows 220 pages indexed on that "site:Publish101.com" query - as do pages 2 through 4. But if you click page 5, it suddenly shows 6,941 results. Page six (links at top & bottom of results pages) then shows 6,721 results. No more after page 25. Goofy, just plain Goofy.
Dopey Yahoo does this as well, first showing 8,210 pages, then dropping back to 8,040, then 8,020, then 7,980 down to 7,770 at result page #100 where you'll see a link at the bottom of that page saying, "In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the ones already displayed. If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included." But if you click that link, then click page 10, results drop to 5,700 pages, until result page number 100, which shows 3,140 pages indexed and STILL you can't look beyond 100 results pages - 1,000 results.
Very Dopey, very Goofy and very Mickey Mouse!
Copyright © July 26, 2005
Mike Banks Valentine is a search engine optimization specialist who operates WebSite101
Previous Google Sandbox Case Studies are at the following URL's
Google Tests Expanded Search To Include Printed Works
Google Labs is currently testing Google Print, which returns results from within scanned printed books along with Google's standard web search results. The searcher doesn't have to do anything special - the printed work results are already included in the Google database. Searchers have the option of narrowing their search by including, for example, the word "book" in their search terms. For example, a search on "home repair" might return a variety of web sites, online merchants, etc., while changing the search to "home repair book" will help filter the results to include more material scanned directly from books.
Search Engine Optimization SEO Made Easy
SEO is a never ending battle! So is SEO over-rated? I don't think it is. Some say that Google's automated PageRank? system and Alexa's Traffic Rank system are losing ground. This may be may be true to some point but the fact still remains that we want at the top of the search results. And to achieve this we need to educate ourselves and do the work or hire someone else to the work for us. Search Engine Optimization "SEO" is a term we see all over the net. For those of you that are unsure exactly what is meant by SEO, it's simply adjusting many characteristics of your website to conform with what the major search engines deem important. That's where the simple stops. It's complicated only because no one other than the developers themselves know all the rules and even then the rules are constantly changing. What I'll try to do here is cover the basics that have fairly consistent lately. Keep in mind however there will always be inconsistencies when it comes SEO. For example, I recently read an e-book that said to imbed a few of your primary keywords in the "alt" tag of your logo graphic. The same day, I was reading an online article of equal quality and this author cautioned against such a tactic due to possible penalties by the search engines. So which did I do? See for yourself by hovering your mouse over the logo. I don't mind a little risk as long as the risk is low and there may be nice benefits, but don't get carried away. We certainly don't want to get banned by any search engines. I get the heebie-jeebies just saying it. That would simply end many of us. Because Google's PageRank? and Alexa's Traffic Rank systems are really two different animals, I will focus primarily on Google's PageRank? system for now. So lets get started in no particular order. Link Popularity: I guess we can start with the hardest part of search engine optimization. Link popularity. The ultimate goal here is to gain the respect of the search engines. And how we do that is by who we know or at least associate with in the spiders eyes. We want as many quality incoming links as possible with as few low-ranked outbound links as possible. We need to consider several factors when we approach any site to request a link exchange. 1. First of all, we want to focus only on sites that compliment ours. By that I mean directly on indirectly are in the same category or field or relating field as our site without necessarily competing with our site. I say not-necessarily because personally I have no problem linking to competitors site as long as we both mutually agree benefits. Some fear they'll lose some of their site visitors but I feel the best way to keep visitors on your site and get them to return is by providing a high quality site with great original content. 2. Second we want to pay attention to their Google page rank. To do this if you haven't already done so, download Google free toolbar http://toolbar.google.com/ Once installed, you can see the PageRank? of any site you go to. You want as many sites as possible with high PR's. Set a goal of getting a few PR6 or PR7 sites. This will do wonders to your rank. In fact one PR7 might do more for you than hundreds on no or very low PR sites. 3. Third, the engines like to see incoming links from what they consider on authoritative site. So aggressively go after well established, high ranking sites that share the some focus as your site. 4. Fourth on our list are the sites to stay away from. Sites that generate artificially created links. Link farms and even huge link exchange sites can even get your site banned. I don't mean to make anyone nervous here. The fact is, if you are generally doing the right thing for the right reasons, you probably have nothing to worry about. If you find yourself trying to hide something or hoping an search engine doesn't catch something, then you may want to re-evaluate your strategies. Requesting a link. The first thing you should do when requesting a link exchange is little research. Glance over the site in question and consider where your site link might hold the most relevance one their site. This will benefit both parties. And then don't be afraid to offer the suggestions when you contact the site administrator. I have had sites accept my link on a suggested page even though they have a section designed just for outside links. I have even accepted links that I would have normally rejected because the fit would have seemed wrong if they hadn't shown a better fit. Always add their link to your site before you make the request and include the page url of the link when making contact. Keep track of the contacts you've made and if you haven't received a reply. Do a simple search on there site to see if they added your link and forgot to reply. At most, send one more request and be sure to include the words link exchange in the subject line so they don't delete your mail as spam. Then if you still don't get a reply within a week simply remove theirs from your site and move on. Don't send any more mail. Consider the lack of response as a rejection and accept it. Don't take things personal and send a negative e-mail. I have actually received a couple of these and there's really no point. If you do get a reply and a link send a short thank you note. Always include the exact text of the link you want on their site. Again, before you do this it helps if you look at other links on their site. If they have a 3 or 4 word description with each link, you don't want to send a whole paragraph in your links description. What you do want to do is include your best key words. In fact, a short description with the right key words can benefit you far better than a watered down version. Keep it short and sweet. Make things as easy as possible for the webmaster. Include the html code of your link so he/she can just copy and paste if they decide to.
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