May 15. 2002                 Vol 2, Issue 1a

Top Tips from Some of the Best SEO's in the Business
by Robin R. Nobles

Learn from the Pros in this Informative Article!

Have you ever wondered what types of strategies the top search engine optimizers use for their own sites or the sites of their clients?

In an industry like the search engine industry, where no one can possibly know everything, it's important to learn from trusted experts in the field. So for this article, I interviewed some of the best SEO's in the business in an effort to share their winning strategies with you.

Important facts about these tips
Please remember that these tips aren't necessarily the fundamental strategies that should always be used when working on a Web page, such as including your keyword phrase in your title tag or capitalizing on headline tags or link text. Instead, many of these tips are meant to be applied to the top of the basic strategies in an effort to give you an edge over the competition.

Also, these tips aren't in any particular order of importance. The first tip in any category isn't necessarily the most important, and the last tip certainly isn't the least important.

I've identified each tip with the SEO who wrote it. Then, at the end of the article in alphabetical order, I highlighted the various SEO's who participated in this article, along with brief information about their qualifications.

Enjoy these tips from some of the best SEO's in the business!

* Stick to the basics of search engine optimization for your existing Web pages (i.e. optimized titles, header content, keyword density, the order your text is presented in the code, etc.), before you move into supplementary techniques like doorway pages, doorway domains, and the like. The odds are that if you have not mastered the basic skills to optimize your existing Web pages, you are not going to be able implement supplementary techniques successfully. (J.K. Bowman with Spider Food

* My advice to everyone is always to remember the basic, simple things that have not changed rather than get lost in details that may change on a regular basis. I find that even very advanced people sometimes need a reminder of the basics to see the forest from the trees. (Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Watch

* Focus on building useful "research content." Remember that the Internet is constantly being used for all types of research. Take advantage of this and develop content that will appeal to the people who are doing the research. What is it that people want to know? People are looking for "how to" articles, "inspirational" articles, reference material, financial advice, technical advice, comparison charts, phone numbers, historical information, serial numbers, and the list goes on and on. Don't just do up a general page on a topic. Do a little research. Talk to some real people and see what it is that fascinates a specific group. Look for a newsgroup and see what they talk about. From your research, try checking a few keywords in WordTracker. From WordTracker, you can discover trends that people are using to conduct research. If you have a garden center online, perhaps you'll want to build a content rich doorway page that offers detailed blue prints for building a birdhouse or an article on "How to attract hummingbirds to your garden," etc. If you have an online jewelry store, perhaps you'll want to offer articles on how to determine the real value of a diamond or a tutorial on Victorian gemstones. (John Alexander with Search Engine Workshops

* If your site makes heavy use of graphics and has no substantial real text content, this will severely impact your ability to get good search engine listings because there is nothing for the search engines to read when they index your Web site. You should consider redesigning some of your pages to include real text rather than graphical text. (Paul Bruemmer with Web Ignite

* Customize content for each page. Every URL is a potential entry point. Keep content in the header tags focused and terse. Simplicity is so important in search engine optimization. (Marshall Simmonds with

* Use cgi-based date scripts to keep the site fresh. (Ginette Degner with

* Submit to the major directories, which will give your site visibility as well as boost your link popularity. Search for vertical engines and directories in your topic area and submit to them as well. You'll find a list of some of those engines/directories at (Robin Nobles of the Academy of Web Specialists and Search Engine Workshops (

* Get listed with the human-powered directories of Yahoo, LookSmart and the Open Directory. If this is all you do, you'll get plenty of traffic. All either gets lots of visitors or "power" other sites that get plenty of visitors. In addition, getting listed with them helps crawler-based search engines locate your site and perhaps help it rank better, because of the link importance these sites provide to you. (Danny Sullivan with Search Engine Watch

* It's important to experiment and diversify your optimization strategies. The algorithms of each engine change frequently to keep content fresh -- so should your techniques. It is important to abide by all the rules and regulations as set forth by the engines to avoid spamdexing. (Marshall Simmonds with

Due Diligence
* First comes content, then optimizing your pages for the search engines, checking your HTML code, etc. Next comes the submission of your pages to the search engines. Possibly resubmit your older content, depending on ranking and various other factors. (Introduce at least some minor changes before you do.) Follow the rules of the craft. Later, check your logs daily. Learn how to recognize search engine spiders to see if your submissions were successful. Check out all search engine generated hits to determine: a) your ranking, b) what people are really searching for and finding you under -you may be in for a surprise or two on that score. (Ralph Tegtmeier, a.k.a. Fantomaster

* Read, read, read - learn the trade from scratch. Test out stuff - your mileage may vary immensely from the gurus' -every Web site is different, or, at least, should be. (Ralph Tegtmeier, a.k.a. Fantomaster

Frames, JavaScript, and Dynamic Delivery Systems
* Framesets need NOFRAMES content added to the FRAMESET section. Also, sites using frames, image maps, or JavaScript navigation do not get properly indexed by search engines because the frame containing links to other pages within the site gets overlooked. A remedy for this is to create a redundant set of text links in as many of the frameset component pages as is practical, such as at the bottom of your main content page. (Paul Bruemmer with Web Ignite

* Build crawler-friendly. Avoid using frames or dynamic delivery systems, and ensure that you have good internal linkage between your pages. (Danny Sullivan with Search Engine Watch

* Consider putting your JavaScript in external files. This also will streamline your source code and make your pages load faster and more search engine friendly. (Bill Gentry with Look Sharp Designs

* Know what you want to be found for. You should know the top two or three terms that are most important to your Web site and have incorporated them into a 25-word description that doesn't use marketing hype, which can then be submitted to human-powered directories. You should also know a list of the top 10 to 100 terms you'd like to be found for and ensure that you have pages within your Web site with good, solid content for these terms to please the crawlers. (Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Watch

* Research your search phrases. If you can, also check your referrer logs or other traffic tracking program to help you. If you don't have referrer logs, install a traffic tracking program such as Web Trends Live on your site and let it gather stats for you for a couple of months before you decide on your search phrases. A program such as this or your referrer logs will tell you which search phrases are currently bringing you search engine traffic. You might want to use some of these for your optimization, since you already know that people find you using these. Then, check your rankings for the search phrases that you researched from WordTracker, or other search phrase research tools, as well as those from your traffic tracking program or referrer logs. I suggest this because you may find that you are already doing fairly well with some phrases and you may not want to mess with those. (Bill Gentry with Look Sharp Designs

* Build focused pages around "real world" queries. Use phrases exactly how they are typed into a search engine, such as "How can I" and "Where can I." You will notice that sites with FAQ pages like this can end up garnering an awful lot of top placements and traffic. (Ginette Degner with

* Searching for the key phrase in Yahoo and noting the Yahoo Categories returned can suggest key themes and words useful to the site for optimization as well as showing the quantity and quality of the competition. (David Johnson and Annam Manthiram with Position Research

* I like to thoroughly explore all possibilities when researching keyword phrases. I like to think of keyword phrases as "fuel" for specific topics. After much study using a resource like WordTracker (one of my favourite tools), I like to identify several "high performance" keyword phrases. Then I try not to simply settle for the first ideas that come to mind for how that topic might be employed. I try to "think outside of the box." Learn to develop topical content with a unique spin on it, always keeping the visitors in mind. In a nutshell, understand your visitors' demand for useful topics and then give them what it is they are seeking. Focus should not just be on how to get tons of general traffic to a page. Use page optimization strategies to create useful pages with content that is "in demand" by a target audience. When you start thinking this way, it has a wonderful compound effect on making actual sales or achieving your site objectives. Isn't this why you started a Web site in the first place? (John Alexander with http://www.beyond- and Search Engine Workshops

* Check log files for user country location and most often used keywords in search engine search. This may demonstrate the need to offer the site in another language (or to provide a link to Alta Vista's Babelfish or the Lycos equivalent) if there are a lot of hits from another country. Knowing the keywords used to arrive at the site helps to decide on variations and changes to the site theme. (David Johnson and Annam Manthiram with Position Research

* Did you know that the KEI Factor used in WordTracker is an excellent guideline to follow? According to WordTracker, an excellent keyword phrase has a KEI (Keyword Effectiveness Index) of 400+. Are you having trouble finding appropriate phrases with high KEI factors? Try using one single word (appropriate for your site) in the "comprehensive search" feature. I very often extract excellent phrases with a KEI level well into the thousands or even into the hundreds of thousands. Always ensure that the search phrases you select are solidly related to site content. (John Alexander with Search Engine Workshops

Link Popularity
* Submit to link popularity-based engines LAST after you have had a chance to build your inbound and outbound links up. (Ginette Degner with

* Examine your internal link structure carefully. Even for large Web sites, to the extent that it is possible, you want every Web page linking to every other page. Complex linking structures will work to your disadvantage. (J.K. Bowman with Spider Food

* Build links. Search for the top terms you want to be found for. Review the sites that come up. Visit those sites and ask the non- competitive ones if they'll swap links with you. These sites are important because the search engines themselves are telling you they are important, by ranking them highly. That means links from them can help you in link analysis systems. It also means that if these sites get visitors, you may get visitors who follow links out of them. (Danny Sullivan with Search Engine Watch

* Link exchange with other like sites, and be sure to interlink your pages. (Rocky Rawstern)

* Develop your inbound link popularity the old fashioned way, one link at a time. An investment of just 10 minutes per day to this with a personalized e-mail to Web site owners of similar and significant sites will produce immediate results. And you will never have to worry about the risk associated with link popularity programs. (J.K. Bowman with Spider Food

* Upgrade your site to an info hub by offering prime outgoing links - such as a search engine portal. This will help boost your site's ranking with the search engines. Contrary to popular opinion, linkage counts both ways, incoming and outgoing. Check out this free distributed search engine portal: The signup page is here: Link to lots of useful sites not directly competing with yours. Request reciprocal links. Create more domains and interlink them all. Avoid mere link farms - there's a ongoing witchhunt targeting those currently. Also, check your linkage regularly. (Ralph Tegtmeier, a.k.a. Fantomaster

Make it a Game and Have Fun!
* Make a game of it. I like to akin SEO to playing chess. It's a matter of thinking three steps ahead of your competition. For those who do this, the nip and tuck battle for the #1 spot can be quite fun. In fact, it's addictive! So, when you think about SEO, don't just think about it in terms how much money you might make. If you truly become interested in the art and competitive element of search engine optimization, you will be incredibly more successful. (J.K. Bowman with Spider Food http://www.spider-

Newsletters, Forums, and Lists
* The best thing you can do to help your search engine efforts is to stay informed via newsletters and forums. Some of those will cost a great deal of money, and others will be free, but staying informed of search engine developments is important. (Brett Tabke with Webmaster World

* Participate in discussion forums. Promote on Usenet via your sig file if you can answer (or ask) questions in areas you are either proficient or at least interested in. Contribute to mailing lists. (Ralph Tegtmeier, a.k.a. Fantomaster

Online Marketing
* Generate lots of fresh, useful content. Keep your blatant marketing activities on economy drive (pardon the pun), be subtle about your promotion. People will notice, and will favor, less dumb hysteria, more openness, and honesty. Admit to mistakes if you make them (as you're bound to), but don't cringe and don't give the impression of reacting self-assertive or self- deprecating for the heck of it. If you can, issue a newsletter of your own. Never mind if you only have yourself, your wife and your stepmother for subscribers - put it on site and submit it to the engines. They simply adore that sort of all-text stuff! (Ralph Tegtmeier, a.k.a. Fantomaster

* Search engine optimization in only one aspect of a well rounded promotion campaign. That campaign should slowly broaden into more traditional avenues. Search engines aren't the formula for long term site success - it's up to your site to produce repeat visitors. (Brett Tabke with Webmaster World

* Make sure your top scoring pages include a call to action. This is not difficult or time consuming but it can make a real difference in getting results. You can easily provide a visitor with some sort of reason to take action now. If it is done well, you can even have customers place a order from a doorway or gateway information page. Every business is different of course, but if you don't believe it, give it some thought and try it. At the very least, experiment with placing your toll free phone number (if applicable) on your top ranking pages. I have a number of clients that do a really great business with a toll free number displayed prominently on their top ranking pages. One of the easiest ways to prompt action is to purposely leave an important piece of information off of your site. At first this does not sound too professional, but really think about it. If they are impressed with your site content, obviously the depth of your content has gained you some respect and credibility with the reader.... so just leave one vital bit of information out. This may start more phone calls and e-mail responses than you expect but it's one of the easiest ways to trigger response. You see, from those e-mails and phone calls, you can now enter further dialogue with the visitor and this will often result in the visitor becoming a customer. (John Alexander with and Search Engine Workshops

Pay Engines
* Open your wallet. If you have the money, paid placement and paid inclusion programs can be a fast, easy way to get good listings or better representation. But even if you have money, don't forget to do all the basic things that can help you get plenty of traffic for free. (Danny Sullivan with Search Engine Watch

* Focus your Web site down one narrow path, if possible. Then, taking it a step further, focus each individual page in that site down a narrower path. Make sure that you use your keyword phrase in its entirety in numerous places on the page and place it toward the beginning of all tags and at the start of your body text. Begin with TEXT, and not a graphic, since the engines can't "see" or "read" graphics. Use link text containing your important keyword phrase to link to other pages both within your site or to other related sites on the Web. Don't stress over keyword weight. It's not nearly as important as it once was. So, consider it a piece of the pie, just like you do your other SEO strategies. (Robin Nobles of the Academy of Web Specialists and Search Engine Workshops (

* For best positioning, content should be placed at the top of a page. However, for splash pages or pages without any content, content can be added at the very bottom and the scroll bar can be hidden to prevent a visitor from reading the optimized content. (David Johnson and Annam Manthiram with Position Research

* Keep the graphics low and the content high. All engines do two things: index text and follow links. Give the spiders the opportunity to do just that. Keep the content as high on the page as possible and give relevant links to quality content either on or off-site. The HTML title should be focused and accurately represent the content of the page. (Marshall Simmonds with

* Keep things simple. Write good content and titles, and use text links either as your main navigation or in conjunction with graphic buttons, image maps or flash menus. It's ok to use Flash animation on your site, but if you use it on your index page, be sure to integrate it with content so the search engines can index your home page. Also consider making your Flash animations smaller where possible, such as banner size. They are much easier to integrate into a page with content. Flash does not have to dominate the page to be effective or add pizzazz to your site. (Bill Gentry with Look Sharp Designs

* Did I mention keeping things simple? General optimization will get you good results without a lot of extra time or effort. (Bill Gentry with Look Sharp Designs

Site Maps
* Web Ignite recommends the creation of a site map page that includes plain text links to as many pages within your site as possible. This will increase the ability of search engines to spider your site and can result in more of your pages being listed. A plain text link to the site map should appear on all pages. (Paul Bruemmer with Web Ignite

* AltaVista has been vocal lately with the statistic that approximately 95% of all submissions are spam. Therefore, take the time and effort to learn what search engines consider spam and do everything in your power to avoid these violations. It will save much grief if optimization and submission are done properly the first time. (Marshall Simmonds with

* Consider using a stylesheet to redefine html tags and define custom classes. Also make this an external .css file and link to it in the head. Doing so will streamline your source code and make future site-wide style changes much easier. Also, consider using layers instead of tables to further streamline your source code. Streamlining your source code will make it more search engine friendly and your pages will also load faster. (Bill Gentry with Look Sharp Designs

* Use linked Cascading Style Sheets creatively. Using CSS, you can custom define how your HTML tags display text and links, which is a powerful optimization advantage. (J.K. Bowman with Spider Food

* Properly done TITLE and META tags at the top of the homepage HEAD section are crucial to your SEO efforts. When applicable, all frameset component pages should contain those tags as well. Properly done ALT text tags are suggested for images. (Paul Bruemmer with Web Ignite

* Take one minute, at least, and eyeball every page in your site when you make it, in order to write a descriptive 7-15 word HTML title. Think newspaper headlines! You want to grab the readers' attention when they see this title in search engine results and convince them to click through, though you don't want to be misleading. Look at the page, think of the top 1 or 2 terms you'd like it to be found for, then incorporate those words into a title. Don't worry if you go longer than 15 words or shorter than 7. Those aren't limits; just guidelines from my experience on making your titles attractive to readers. What about meta tags? Use the first sentence or two on your page for your meta description tag's content, and in the meta keywords tag, list any important keywords you think the page should be found for and which ALSO appear in the HTML copy of that page. (Danny Sullivan with Search Engine Watch

* You need to create titles and descriptions that are focused on getting that click, not just on keyword density. The more clicks you can get, I guarantee you the more popular your site will be. (Ginette Degner with

* Before you touch one line of code, make sure that you have diligently defined your Web site. You should be able to say, "My Web site is about _____ ______ ______" without any hesitation. You will be able to optimize for many keyword phrases, but this single one, two or three keyword phrase theme should resonate on every page. (J.K. Bowman with Spider-Food http://www.spider-

* Use lots of text on each page [over one hundred words], specific to one extremely narrow theme. (Rocky Rawstern)

* The primary technique for good positioning is rich, robust visible text. A theme page is much better than a doorway page, since it emphasizes relevant body copy. (David Johnson and Annam Manthiram with Position Research

* Create a themed mini-library that pays off in big numbers of targeted traffic! Using WordTracker, find an appropriately related "hot topic" for your Web site. What I like to do is to build a little group of information rich, top ranking pages and fashion them into a little mini-library (6 to 20 pages), all with slightly different variations of that hot topic. They are all linked together with a separate topical index page. The key to success is to first research the best keyword phrases (high KEI values), then build quality content (the stuff that folks love to learn about). Only use topics that appropriately apply to the overall theme of the site. Each content-rich "library page" should also employ creative text links into different parts of your main pages. You want lots of horizontal "click throughs" to your entire site. Make sure each optimized page within your themed library is for a DIFFERENT or slightly different phrase. Also ensure your library pages are not just slapped together from a template. Each library page should have a unique layout and differing content to avoid penalization with anti-spam filters. The result is a flood of targeted traffic to the "library" which can then move throughout your entire Web site. (John Alexander with and Search Engine Workshops

* One of the biggest mistakes that SEO's make is to strive for #1's and forget everything else. If those #1's don't bring in traffic, and if that traffic doesn't convert to sales, the optimization is useless. So, be sure to watch your log files and analyze the statistics. Which pages are your top exit pages? What can you change on those pages that will keep potential clients from leaving? Which spider are visiting your site? What keywords are being used to find your site? Log analysis programs like WebTrends can analyze your traffic and help you make your site more effective, thereby increasing your sales. (Robin Nobles of the Academy of Web Specialists and Search Engine Workshops (

Web Design
* Design the Web site with the search engines in mind. Use text links especially if you have image maps or frames, etc. (Ginette Degner with

A special thanks to the following Search Engine Optimizers who were willing to share their tips for this article (listed in alphabetical order):

* John Alexander is a Professional SEO who conducts 3-day on location search engine workshops in various areas across the country through Search Engine ( John also owns Beyond- (, a Web site devoted to professional SEO's looking for tips beyond the basics.

* J.K. Bowman is the Editor of (, one of the largest tutorial resources on the Web for search engine optimization and Web site promotion techniques. He currently lives in Mississippi, where he also provides consultancy and positioning services.

* Paul J. Bruemmer is CEO of Web-Ignite Corporation (, a search engine traffic agency. Founded in 1995, Web-Ignite provides search engine traffic for Fortune 1000 dot-coms and for B2B and e-commerce sites.

* Ginette Degner operates Service Brokers (, a Web Optimization and Marketing Strategies firm providing expert search engine placement and consultation services since 1993.

* Bill Gentry is a Professional Search Engine Marketer and the owner of Look Sharp Designs, a Web design and optimization firm located in Las Vegas.

* David Johnson and Annam Manthiram are Search Engine Research Specialists with Position Research (, a search engine optimization firm that considers "research" an integral part of optimizing Web sites.

*Robin Nobles, Director of Training, Academy of Web Specialists, ( has trained several thousand people in her online search engine marketing courses ( and is the content provider for (GRSeo) Search Engine Optimizer software ( She also teaches 3-day hands on search engine marketing workshops in locations across the globe with Search Engine Workshops (

* Rocky Rawstern is a Senior Search Engine Analyst with a prominent search engine optimization company on the West coast.

* Marshall Simmonds is the Director of Search for About, Inc. (, a division of parent company PRIMEDIA Inc. Marshall is responsible for maximizing search engine exposure for About's 700 topic sites which cover 1,000,000 articles. He also oversees search engine strategies for Primedia's online properties, such as and

* Danny Sullivan, Editor of Search Engine Watch (, is often considered the Internet's "search engine guru." He has been helping Webmasters, marketers and everyday Web users understand how search engines work for half a decade.

* Brett Tabke of PHD Software Systems is also the owner of Webmaster World Forums ( and Search Engine World (, extremely popular informational sites designed "by Webmasters for Webmasters."

* Ralph Tegtmeier is the co-founder and principal of Ltd. (UK) and GmbH (Belgium) (, a company specializing in Webmasters software development, industrial-strength cloaking and search engine positioning services. He has been a Web marketer since 1994 and is editor-in-chief of fantomNews, a free newsletter focusing on search engine optimization, available at:

This article was written by Robin Nobles, a professional freelance writer and the Director of Training of the Academy of Web Specialists, where she has trained several thousand people in her online courses in search engine marketing strategies. She also teaches onsite search engine marketing workshops with John Alexander (, and she has written three books that can be ordered through Amazon.

Copyright 2002 Robin Nobles. All rights reserved.
Printed by Cyberspace HQ with permission



In This issue:
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Interview with SEO's
Learn what the best SEO's in the business are doing to produce top rankings on the search engines.

































































































































































































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