Reader Q&A

Reader Q&A became a semi-regular feature for Search Engine Watch members in 2003. Below are past issues of this feature for 2003 and some from previous years. Please be aware that the Q&A articles are not reedited to keep them up to date. So, information in older articles may no longer be applicable to the current situation with search engines.

Reader Q&A: June 2004
The Search Engine Update, June 15, 2004

  • I read that outgoing links are a drain on a site’s total PageRank. Is this true?
  • Where are sources to discover how much of a search share a particular search engine has?
  • The top result from Google for a query shows a page of text for less than a second, then a new page comes up. Is this cloaking?
  • Do you know where to buy a database of recent actual queries made to a top search engines?
  • Does the exact order of elements within a meta tag make a difference to search engines?
  • Is it better to have static pages instead of dynamic pages?
  • What prevents my competitors from clicking on my paid listings and costing me money?

Reader Q&A: December 2003
The Search Engine Update, Dec. 16, 2003

  • Why would anyone pay for inclusion of more than the home page for a crawler like Inktomi, AlltheWeb, Teoma and AltaVista?
  • How do XML feeds to search engines work? And do only some companies have “authorization” to submit these?
  • I have a Flash site and can’t get listed. Help!
  • Are programs that submit to over 3,000 search engines too good to be true?
  • Do search engines analyze the outgoing links from my page to determine what my page is about?
  • I have a competitor who has spammed the Yahoo Directory. How do I tell them this?
  • I have a problem with sites cloning my content to boost their search presence. Should I contact Google?

NOTE: There was no Q&A feature for November 2003.

Reader Q&A: October 2003
The Search Engine Update, Oct. 22, 2003

  • Will paid ads on Google or Overture hurt your unpaid listings?
  • Why can’t I find the submit link for an Open Directory category?
  • Do I have to pay a new submission fee if I change my web page?
  • Where can I find out the popularity level of shopping search engines?
  • Why did the Open Directory drop my sites?
  • Do search engines read the words within links?
  • How do we get Google to drop misleading and spammy web pages?
  • Is there an easy way to find out what the cost or a particular term is on the various search engines?
  • I don’t see AllTheWeb in the search engine ratings pages you maintain. Why not?
  • I am trying to find out which search engines have the most users and what keywords are used the most when navigating to sites in particular subjects. Can you help?
  • Why do you recommend search engine math commands over Boolean commands?
  • Do you know anything if Froogle will be released in the UK or elsewhere? What other UK shopping search engines are there?
  • Is the meta description tag still worth doing?

Reader Q&A: September 2003
The Search Engine Update, Sept. 16, 2003

  • Every day I am bombarded with sites claiming to get “top ten listings” etc. Have you reviewed all these companies? How do I choose? Do they really work?
  • What are DC meta tags?
  • When someone types my name at Google, I want my site to come up. As of now, hundreds of references to my books come up, but not my site. Is this possible?
  • I want to know which keywords are most popular each month or by search engine.
  • I was told search engine spiders do not handle templates used to display different items well. Is this true?

Reader Q&A: August 2003
The Search Engine Update, Aug. 17, 2003

  • How long will I keep a top listing?
  • Is there an easy way to check my rank on several search engines?
  • Are there any studies about lost opportunities due to poor site search?
  • Why doesn’t Google show all my links?
  • Do I need to resubmit pages that I’ve changed?
  • How do search engines know the language a page is written in?
  • How can I ask Google if I’ve been banned for spamming?
  • A company claims it has software built into Internet Explorer that will show my ad. Is this real or a scam?
  • Do banner links count toward Google’s PageRank scores?
  • Which search engines do NOT track or show my queries to the public?
  • How can a page rank well on Google for a term not actually used on the page?
  • Why is Lycos selling listings on other search engines?

Reader Q&A: July 2003
The Search Engine Update, July 17, 2003

  • Is paid inclusion for crawlers like AllTheWeb and Ask Jeeves/Teoma worth the bother?
  • Is Cold Fusion a problem for Google? Can it follow from a form to pages generated from it?
  • I received a bogus invoice about getting listed on search engines! How can companies like this be stopped?
  • Google’s broken! It no longer lists descriptions for many URLs. Why?
  • Google’s homepage now has porn links on it! Why hasn’t there been an outcry over this?
  • I was contacted by a company that swears they have an agreement with Microsoft to sell navigational keywords that work with the MSN 8 browser. Is this real?
  • The wrong domain name was printed on our packaging, and we can’t buy the name from the company that actually owns it. How can we solve this problem with search engines?

Reader Q&A: June 2003
The Search Engine Update, June 17, 2003

  • To be found in both UK and US search engines, do I need to pay inclusion fees twice?
  • Is there a search engine that would allow me to see web sites as they were presented in the past?
  • Is white space and JavaScript before my body copy hurting my rankings?
  • Should we use dashes or underscores in our URLs to separate keywords?
  • How can I get Google to count links to a domain that I accidentally let expire?
  • What does it really mean when Lycos InSite advertises that I’ll be shown on non-US search engines?
  • What are the best resources for finding information about search engine technology?
  • When a search engine spider crawls across your site, does it count as one unique visitor or multiple unique visitors?
  • Do frames still matter given that “paid listings” are the norm these days?
  • Where can I get software to run my own search engine?
  • Is labeling graphics with applicable keywords considered spam?
  • Why am I getting an “Internal Server Error” when I try to submit to the Open Directory?
  • How can I target Germany with pay per click ads?
  • Will search engines see HTML text that’s generated by JavaScript?
  • Do search engines consider mirror pages to be spam?
  • Where can I get software to search my Linux-based web site?

Reader Q&A: May 2003
The Search Engine Update, May 21, 2003

  • Is it better to have a homepage that is static or is it OK to have a homepage that contains product offerings that change periodically?
  • A newspaper article ranking well on Google is destroying my practice. Can I overwhelm its ranking?
  • I got my site added to the Yahoo directory but it refuses to show up in the search results. Why does it?
  • I saw a product called which is supposed to protect my web site content from being copied. It looks good, but I’m concerned that it will affect search engine rankings.
  • How do I get a little icon to appear when people add my site to their favorites list, in the way Search Engine Watch does?
  • How Google does figure out the clickthrough rate of an ad? Also, why doesn’t Google allow for cigarette ads?
  • Our domain was sold accidentally to someone else. How do I let search engines know of this error?
  • What do you think of meta robot tags? Are they crucial for getting your site indexed in the top search engines, such as Google?
  • Are multisubmit services really helping me or overcharging?

Reader Q&A: March 2003
The Search Engine Update, March 18, 2003

  • I can’t get listed in the Open Directory. Help!
  • Is blocking all pages but my home page from being indexed bad? (Yes!)
  • Why can’t I see more than 1,000 results when they have millions of matches?
  • Is Fireworks/Flash hurting my rankings? (Probably!)
  • Is using WebPosition and other page analysis and rank checking tools considered spam?
  • Should I try to make the “perfect page” for each search engine?
  • Can I be top ranked in both “organic” and “paid” listings at the same time?
  • Are there any good paid listing search engines beyond the majors?
  • Will I have a problem if another site has a domain name similar to mine?
  • Is there a way to automatically feed thousands of pages to search engines?
  • Is it legit or worthwhile to work with a third-party search engine marketing firm?
  • Is having a descriptive name about my company’s services helpful with search engines?
  • Are link farms bad?
  • How do I report spam?

Reader Q&A: November 2002
The Search Engine Update, Nov. 18, 2002

  • If a crawler finds another search engine, does the entire index of that search engine get added to its own? Also, do these search engines swap information?
  • How often can you submit your URL to search engines before it gets to be too often?
  • How can you tell the difference between a directory and a search engine?
  • What’s the outcome of having multiple keywords tags?
  • Do search engines care if more content is on the homepage versus the rest of the site? Would a site with 10-pages of text on the homepage rank higher than a site with a 1-text-page homepage and 9 other 1-text-pages?
  • Is there an easy way to find out where a particular web site ranks in a certain search engine or directory and what category it’s in?
  • Our competitors have submitted our site to an internet porn ring in an attempt to get us thrown out of the search engines. Is there anything we can do?

Reader Q&A: June 2002
The Search Engine Update, June 3, 2002

  • Have my sites with zero links been banned from Google because I used a link building program?
  • Is there one company or organization in the UK where I can report a “rogue” trader advertising his business on his web page?
  • A company that claims to have a 10 year advertising deal with where when a person types phrases into their web browser, they will be taken directly to those advertising with this company. Is this real?
  • Is having a non-frames version of my site that visitors can’t read frames can see considered spam?
  • Is there a “keyphrases” meta tag?
  • What’s the different between search.msn and
  • To be found for an exact phrase, do I have to place exactly the same phrase in the meta tags, title, headings and body copy?
  • Can search engines can navigate links from a drop down select box using JavaScript?
  • How can a page come up in a search when it has no content relating to the topic?
  • Is it still worth paying Yahoo to be indexed in Yahoo’s directory, since Google gets me into Yahoo?
  • A competitor has adding my URLs multiple times to the search engines. Will this get me removed?
  • Our web site uses .htm pages rather than .html. Do search engines penalize for this?

Reader Q&A: July 2000
The Search Engine Update, July 7, 2000

  • What are the maximum lengths for the description and keyword meta tags?
  • How often can I repeat words in meta tags?
  • Can you make search engines revisit your site more often by using the meta revisit tag?
  • Does the title tag have to come before meta tags?
  • Some search engines use the first text found within the body tag as the “description” text they display for that page. How can I control hide my page summary for these engines?
  • If I have the word, “marketing” in my meta tag keyword list, and someone enters the word “market,” can search engines figure out that “market” is contained in “marketing?”
  • If a website uses frames, should the meta tags be in each frame?
  • Where can I find the “rules” about what search engines consider to be spamming?
  • How often should I resubmit?
  • Will I get in trouble submitting other people’s pages to the search engines?
  • If I have subdomains for different web sites, will these be seen as separate web sites by search engines?
  • I’m on Tripod, and I can’t get listed on the search engines. HELP!
  • Is there a standard out there for how much search engine traffic should come from optimization efforts?
  • Do search engines read Flash content?
  • I’m moving my web server. How do I help search engines find my new files?
  • I am about to change my web hosting company. Will this effect my search engine rankings?
  • Often my log files tell me ‘no refer’ for how someone came to my site. Is there any way to tell how these people found my site?
  • What the final word on plural vs. singular keywords? Should I use both variations in my titles, body copy, meta tags, etc?
  • We use hyphens in our keywords, such as “high-tech training.” Should we leave these out, in case people search without using hyphens?
  • Does using header tags (H1, H2 etc.) improve ranking, however slightly?
  • If we buy a domain name, then forward anyone coming to that name to another domain name, which name will the search engines use for our listings?

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