A few years ago, it was a common practice to create separate
pages for each search engine for each important keyword phrase, then use a
robots.txt file to keep other engines out of the engine-specific pages.
However, most of us have now changed our philosophy. After all, that
“old” strategy was extremely time consuming!
We can save an enormous amount of time and energy if we create a
“generic” page to begin with. Why go to the trouble to create
engine-specific pages when a generic page will work just as well?
So, let’s talk about how to work with generic pages
effectively, and then how to take those generic pages and make them engine
specific, if needed.
As any of my Search Engine Workshop students
will tell you, I believe very strongly in focus, focus, focus.
So, when working with your generic pages, you’ll want to create
one page focused on one keyword phrase only. Don’t bring in
other keyword phrases on the same page. FOCUS!
My Search Engine
Workshop students will also tell you that I believe each page of your site
- of value to your users; and,
- of value to the search engines.
If a page isn’t of value to both, the page is junk and
needs to be deleted from your site.
Creating generic pages . . .
To create a generic page, you simply optimize a page in a very
general manner, using META tags, heading tags, link text, good quality content,
and so forth. Some of the engines don’t consider META tags, and
that’s okay. Using them won’t hurt your rankings for those engines.
Target your audience by using
Wordtracker to find the
best keywords focused on the information your target audience is actually
looking for when they go online.
Remember: people use the Internet to look for information.
Provide that information, and you’re strengthening your Web site and
WebPosition Gold users, be sure to run your page through
Page Critic, choosing the
HotBot search engine. HotBot receives primary search results from Inktomi,
which still considers META tags when determining relevancy. So, it’s a
good engine to use when creating generic pages.
You’ve now got a generic page, and you’re ready
to see how it ranks across the major engines.
Once you’ve created your generic page, submit it to the
engines by using pay inclusion or letting the engines find links to the page
from other pages. I don’t recommend “free add URL” submissions,
and there’s no real reason to use submission software, except for some of
the less important engines.
Once the page has had time to settle, check your rankings. Watch
your rankings for a month or two, because depending on which submission method
you’ve chosen, it can take a while for your rankings to settle.
Then, look for holes in your strategy. Is your page doing well
across the board? In many cases, by using HotBot and creating a
“generic” page, you’ll find that the same page stands an
excellent chance at ranking well across almost all of the major engines.
If your page is doing well in some of the engines but not
others, that’s the time to begin creating engine-specific pages.
How to create engine-specific pages . . .
Take your generic page and run it through the major engines in
WebPosition Gold’s Page
Critic where you aren’t getting top rankings. Make changes based on
Critic’s recommendations for each engine, and save each page in a slightly
different manner. Be sure to make a note of which page was optimized for each
of the engines.
Try to stay away from making it so obvious that you have
engine-specific pages. For example, you may not want to name your pages:
name-your-pages-AV.html (for AltaVista) or,
name-your-pages-FST.html (for Fast)
What about duplicate content?
Let’s say your generic page ranks well with Google and the
Inktomi-influenced engines, but it’s not ranking well with Teoma or
Fast/Lycos. If you create engine-specific pages for Teoma and Fast, you’ll
now have three almost identical pages, which the engines won’t like.
Remember that the golden rule when working with content is that
the content must be of value to both the search engines and the users.
Having duplicate content is not of value to the search engines. They
certainly don’t want several versions of the same content cluttering up
To keep from getting in trouble with duplicate content,
you’ll need to create a robots.txt file and allow certain engines to have
access to certain pages, yet keep them out of other pages. In other words,
you’ll direct the engines to whichever pages you want each engine to visit
by using a robots.txt file.
Create a text file with Window's NotePad, NoteTab Pro, or any
other editor that can save ASCII .txt files. Use the following syntax:
The "user-agent" portion lets you specify which engines you want
to keep out, and the "disallow" portion lets you specify directories or file
names. For example, to tell AltaVista's spider, Scooter, not to index a couple
of pages, create a robots.txt file as follows:
By creating a robots.txt file using this information, we’re
keeping AltaVista out of our pages created specifically for Fast and Teoma.
You’ll want to do the same for each of the other engines. Then,
you’ll want to create entries for Fast and Teoma that will keep them out
of the original generic page.
That way, none of the engines will see duplicate content, and
they’ll only see the pages created specifically for them.
Save the page as robots.txt, then upload the file to the root
directory of your Web site. The “root directory” is where your
index.html (or htm) page is located.
This is a very simple example of a robots.txt file, but they can
get quite complex. One little mistake can cause an engine to find a page that
you don’t want found. Plus, you have to know the names of each
engine’s “user agent,” or spider. That’s why I recommend
using a software program that creates the file and does the work for you.
A software solution for creating robots.txt files . . .
An excellent software program for creating robots.txt files is
Pro. You can even download a free trial version of the software, which will
create robots.txt files as well as analyze the first 100 spider visits from
your log files.
One of my favorite features of
Pro is its spider analysis feature. The software will analyze spider visits
to your site, and it will let you know how far down into your site a spider has
visited, which pages it picked up, whether the pay inclusion spiders are
re-indexing on their designated time schedule, and more.
Like Wordtracker and
WebPosition Gold, this is a
“must have” software program for me personally.
We all live in a very busy world, and we don’t need to make
more work for ourselves. Therefore, it makes sense to start with a generic page
and see what kind of results we get. Then, if we don’t get the rankings we
want with the page, we can then create engine-specific pages by running the
same page back through Web Position Gold’s Page Critic for the other
You’ll be surprised at how well your generic pages will do,
and with the extra time you’ll save, you can create more high performance
pages for your site and continue to increase your traffic!
Robin Nobles is the Co-Director of Training of Search Engine
Workshops with John Alexander. They teach 2-day beginner, 3-day advanced, and
5-day all-inclusive "hands on" search engine marketing
workshops in locations across the globe. She also teaches
online search engine marketing
courses through http://www.onlinewebtraining.com,
and she’s a member of Wordtracker’s official
question support team. Robin has two books on the market: Maximize Web Site
Traffic and Web Site Analysis and Reporting.
Copyright 2005 Robin Nobles. All rights reserved.
This work is licensed
under a Creative Commons License.