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"Data -> Information -> Knowledge -> Wisdom"

List Moderator: Eva Rosenberg

Published by: AudetteMedia

June 5, 1998 Issue # 149

"Are Mirror Pages Penalized by Search Engines?"
~ Rod Aries

Subject: Are Mirror Pages Penalized by Search Engines?

I would ask for members' feedback to a possible way to boost  a site's visibility to search engines. For about 5 keywords I  am thinking about creating nearly identical mirror pages.

Daniel addressed mirror pages and then Rick Bier (as he frequently does <g>) commented

What you are describing are called doorway, portal, or gateway pages. For *some* SEs their are an effective way to obtain good positions.

I would like to offer additional commentary on the gateway/portal/doorway topic, and search engine ranking in general.

The search engine algorithms change frequently. At one time a "gateway page" could be ranked near the top if that page was a "100% relevant" for a specific term. In example, say an insurance broker has a page, and the meta tag was "car insurance" the words on the page was "car insurance," the title was "car insurance" and so 100% of the words were "car insurance," yielding 100% relevancy.

But the internet changes, and these "gateway pages" which once had 100% relevancy, now read like the garage sale classifieds of a 6 week old newspaper, and they are having their scores lowered because they are "too relevant" (i.e. spamming). The search engines (Infoseek in particular) are penalizing pages with too high of a density. If you research (science) the keyword density in the various engines you will find top ranked pages with 5-11% density. Of course a page with 11% density may score well with one search engine and awful with another.

Back to the gateway issue, I know that some of you are saying, "I have a gateway page and it is working perfectly (luck?)." A few reasons why this may be:

1. That search engines still doesn't penalize for "too high of a density"

2. The web page just hasn't been periodically spidered, yet, but its time is coming

3. The date and the size of the file hasn't changed since it was last spidered so it is not being re-indexed by the engine because it hasn't changed. Of course, there is a dastardly way to make the engines read the "offending" page...

As you are aware, an internet month is equivalent to about one human year, so a partial "for the moment" solution is to go beyond gateway pages. Remembering that content is what drives the bulk of search engines "value" of your site, work your content, make your content appealing to users (it is an art). And, for the search engines, provide the necessary html structure required by the search engines for a "high relevant ranking," coupled with a healthy dose of the carefully honed, unique keyword placement throughout your content, title, meta tags, meta description and alt-tags.

Search engine placement is sorta' like a sprint race in the Olympics. You can have someone finish a race at 10.071 seconds, which was last years world record, and yet still finish fifth to the 10.048, 10.055, 10.061, 10.063 runners; the 10.071 is out of a medal even though she ran a great time. Now, expand this "Web ranking - Olympic race" concept not to 10 or 20 people, but to hundreds of thousands of pages on a single topic (each and everyone expecting to be listed in the top 20); you can sculpt a 98% relevancy page, and, much like the Olympic runner, still not be in the "medals"... And once you crack the top, the algorithm changes again (was that a loud curse I just heard?)

So back to the real underlying question - search engine positioning. Is it a science? Is it an art? Is it luck? Well, yes, yes and yes. Try and understand existing high ranking pages (they had some luck-hey, it is a tight race), using analytical tools (science-training) and skillfully craft (art) your web page.

At your service,
Rod Aries

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