Search Engine Optimization Strategies

Students' Questions & My Answers

Here are my answers to questions that students have sent in.

Q: Will my site be banned if I submit it too often to the search engines?

A: No, never. Otherwise it would be too easy for your competitors to get your websites banned.

Q: Do you recommend creating doorway pages with duplicate content with only the keywords changed?

A: No. Duplicate webpages simply waste space in search engine databases. As such search engines will usually ignore them. Be careful of using doorway page generation software that creates hundreds of copies of a webpage with only the keywords changed. I do not recommend this technique at all.

Q: Do you recommend adding hidden/invisible keywords to webpages?

A: No. In the old days search engine optimizers often hid irrelevant keywords and links in webpages by changing the text color to match the background color. Search engines caught onto this practice a long time ago, and will either ignore or penalize websites that use this technique. So I suggest you avoid this technique.

Q: Do search engines penalize the use of tiny text?

A: Only if you use it excessively. None of the search engines specify exactly what they consider as tiny text. I would say font size one (7.5pt or 10px) is considered tiny text. Some search engine books state that font size two or less is considered spam. However, in my studies I have found many top 10 ranked sites use font size two. So I conclude that it is safe to use font size two.

It is perfectly fine to use some tiny text in a webpage. For example, many people use tiny text for the copyright message at the bottom of pages. I do.

What search engines don't like are webpages where tiny text is the main font size. That is, the majority of the text. I guess the theory is that if people can't read it, then it must be for optimization purposes, which search engines don't like.

Q: What types of links canít search engines crawl?

A: Search engines currently donít crawl JavaScript links, search forms, Flash links, or links that requires cookies or session IDs for access. So avoid using such links, where possible.

Q: I noticed that you recommend WebPosition Gold. I also bought that a long time ago but stopped using it because I heard that some search engines may penalize it for the auto submission. Is this true?

A: These rumors are probably due to what Google state on their Webmaster Guidelines page -

"Don't use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc. Such programs consume computing resources and violate our terms of service. Google does not recommend the use of products such as WebPosition Gold that send automatic or programmatic queries to Google."

But if you think about it, all search engine optimization software and web-based services use a similar method to submit webpages and get rankings from search engines. No serious search engine optimizer would waste time submitting and getting rankings of dozens, even hundreds or thousands of webpages, manually.

The fact is, Google simply don't like ANY such programs that do any of those tasks, because it uses up their resources without them getting anything in return for it. Yet thousands (even millions) of web marketers use such programs to submit their webpages to search engines and check their rankings. Google surely cannot ban them all, and they haven't.

I have yet to hear of a single case of a site being banned because they used WebPosition Gold, or something similar.

Google actually allow advertisers to advertise the WebPosition Gold program in their search engine. Surely Google wouldnít allow ads for WebPosition Gold, if they banned websites that use it, would they?!?

I do know this. I've been using WebPosition Gold for years and have achieved thousands of top rankings without ever getting banned for the use of it. In addition, I know of many SEO companies and professionals who use WebPosition Gold.

Therefore, I wouldnít worry about using programs like WebPosition Gold. Itís an excellent time-saving program and perfectly safe to use.

Q: If I order Arelis, and get pretty good at it, how much time will it take me on the average to generate 5 reciprocal links, based on your experience? In other words, for each hour I spend, what's my average going to be?

A: It will be different for each person and website. Arelis will help you find dozens, even hundreds, of reciprocal links in no time, especially when you get Arelis to find sites that link to your competitors (a feature I suggested to the author).

However, contacting site owners and getting them to add your link will take a bit longer and don't expect everyone to reply. If you spend an hour a day on it, you should be able to easily generate 10-20 reciprocal links a week; of course it could be more. That may not sound like much, but if you do this consistently, it really adds up over time.

Q: How truly important are hyphenated URL's? Are they a must for SEO? Can I expect to fail at conquering the top ten spots for a given keyword phrase without them? Whenever I ask someone this question they kind of dance around the answer and tell me it helps sometimes, but is not necessary all the time. This kind of answer doesn't help me much.

A: You ask a very good question. The reason why most people dance around the answer is simply because they can't give you a definite answer. The main problem is that it is extremely difficult to test whether a domain with hyphen/s ranks better than one without, especially since Google only update once per month.

I believe that hyphenated domain names do affect search engine rankings, which is why I generally use hyphenated domain names for my websites.

Visit the Does Separating Domain Name Keywords With Hyphens Affect Rankings? section for more information. There you will find a case study of someone who tested hyphenated versus unhyphenated domain names and discovered that hyphenated domains out-pulled the unhyphenated domains by a ratio of almost three to one!

Q: WordTracker seems like a great tool and I'm sure I will get a lot of use out of it. I have been using Overture's Keyword tool, but this one seems better. I wanted to know which of the searches is best to use? Compressed, Comprehensive, Simple, Exact or Precise. Which do you use most? Which is the most effective? Do you ever use the GoTo or 7 Search databases? Also, which engines do you use when performing a competition search? Do you use just one or two and which ones?

A: I use compressed mode all the time. Compressed search removes unnecessary characters (+, -, ") and compresses all forms of the term to lower case. E.g. 'POKEmon', '+pOkEmon' become 'pokemon'

I do use the GoTo database when I want to build keywords for Overture. I never use the 7 Search one. I rarely use the competition search, because I don't believe that the number of competing pages is the key to success. After all, most, if not all, popular keyword phrases will have lots of competition. You won't find a popular keyword phrase with no competition. As long as you optimize your pages better than the top ranked ones, you will be ranked higher than them.

Q: Is there a limit to the size of a webpage that search engines will index?

A: A good rule of thumb is to keep webpages (excluding images) under 75k, as most search engines stop crawling when a page exceeds this limit. I also try to limit the number of hyperlinks on a webpage to 50.

Q: In your opinion, what are the best search engine tools for getting top search engine rankings?

A: The top 2 tools I would recommend are; SEO PowerSuite ( and Internet Business Promoter (