August 7, 2003
The Weird World of the Web
Now I'm starting to learn the real ins and outs of search engine placement and what a Weird World the Web is. To give you an example, a few months ago I set up reciprocal links with a site but when I check my stats I don't see any traffic coming from their place. Could they have dropped our listing? I visit their site and the page where we are supposed to appear comes up blank -- no head, no foot and nothing in between. I have a look at the underlying HTML source code and there is nothing there, just an utterly blank page!
You might wonder why they haven't fixed the page and after thinking about it a bit you realize that they don't know it's broken. It's not that they are ignoring an error, the error is never generated because my hit finds a page which happens to be blank and the system dutifully sent me the requested blank page. Error code 200!
So I compose and send a "Dear Webmaster" e-mail and 12 hours later I get a "Thank you!" note and their site is fixed and now I can get traffic from them again. My site is tiny and I can keep most of the details in my head. How do they handle it with huge, multimillion hit sites?
Just a few days ago I hadn't even heard of Keyword Density. Now they are killing me! Our marina is in Venezuela. Venezuela has about one thousand miles of Caribbean shoreline, more than most Caribbean islands, yet people don't think about Venezuela as part of the Caribbean. For them, Venezuela is South America.
In my search for key words for our pages I happen upon "haul-out." Every sailor must haul out his boat every year or two to scrape the bottom and to apply fresh anti fouling paint, there is no getting around it. Sailors will search for marinas and boatyards in the Caribbean to perform this ritual. So I test Google with "Caribbean haul-out" and we are nowhere to be found. At the very top are some of the well known boatyards -- not marinas -- such as Peake's in Trinidad. Since in people's minds Venezuela is not in the Caribbean I decide to test Google with "Venezuela haul-out," surely we rank there. This time some of the ranking pages are articles written by Caribbean sailors about their Caribbean cruises. Here is a typical entry:
Here is another one:
It's enough to make you want to cry! :crying
How did these entries get such high rankings? They are lengthy articles with good content that rank high in Keyword Density.
But there are useful entries for us as well. Here is what entry No. 3 has to say:
Entry No. 2 even links to us!
But there is another side to the coin, the unexpected in your favor! The page with the second most hits after the index page is our marina directory page. After considering why this might be so I decided that it has good content and high keyword density. The content comes from the large number of marinas listed and the keyword density comes from the blurbs that accompany reciprocal links to other marina directories. It turns out that by writing advertising copy for our competitors we create "keyword density" for ourselves!
We have several other pages that can take advantage of this curious fact. Where before I was turning down advertising copy thinking it was gauche to give away free ads, now I will seek them out. Just think, for most marinas that we list I can safely state that they "haul out in the Caribbean." All of a sudden, we, who are not even considered part of the Caribbean, can have the highest keyword density for "Caribbean haul out."
Truly the Weird World of the Web!
Caracas - Venezuela
PD: Since I wrote this piece, Google has ranked us as number 1 for Caribbean haul out, and for catamaran haul out. I feel very proud of that!
PPD: Be careful with what you wish. Now this essay is ranked number 1 for Caribbean haul out and number 3 for catamaran haul out.
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Last updated June 22, 2003