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Yearly archive for 2006.

Dear Sir, We recently started a Listserve for our club and the member list was installed in the software.

Using my address as an an example the format was: ---- at instead of my actual address.

The list was on the site, which was reasonably restricted for members only, for less than 72 hours. Many seniors (members) were EXTREMELY concerned the address was available to the world and they were going to get more spam than they already were and their privacy was totally compromised. A System Engineer advised us this was next to impossible. Your comments on such a probability would be greatly appreciated!

Hi ---, That's a nice looking site you have there. I agree with your sys eng. You have three things going for you:

1. The list is restricted to members only. This means a bot is not going to 'stumble across it'. Someone would have to obtain a membership in order to harvest those email addresses. (a question to ask: how easy is it to obtain a membership?)

2. Even if they can get a membership, nobody is going to sit and manually enter all those email addresses, just so they can spam them.

3. Someone would have to specifically program a bot to convert your email address format into real email addresses. Now, if your list contained hundreds of thousands addresses, a spammer might think it was worth the bother to break in and snag those addresses. But with a much smaller membership, they probably wouldn't think it was worth their bother, even if they did get in. I hope that is helpful to you.

Best wishes!

I finished developing my website, and I want to get it included in search engines, so people will start finding it. I've gone through the submission routine at each search engine, but it's taking forever for my site to appear in their lists. Is there anything I can do about that?

This article is about search engines, and was originally written in 2006. It has been tweaked a bit to more accurately reflect current (2016) search engine practices.

Don't just sit around waiting to get into the search engines, because if you do, it probably will take a long time to get listed. Search engines are notorious for taking their jolly good time about looking at submitted sites.

But remember this: all the time you're waiting for them to get to your site, they are looking at other sites that are already listed. In fact, most of my sites get inspected by the google search engine on a daily basis. Annoying, isn't it? In the time you're waiting for google to look at your site, they've probably looked at my site fifty to a hundred times.

The reason is that my site has been in google for a long time, and it is a reliable site that is hardly ever down, and has never attempted to 'trick' the search engines. So google likes me. So what can you do while you wait?

  • Look for other "popular" websites that are willing to link to yours. Imagine if you could convince me to put a link to your website on my homepage (by the way, don't ask, because I won't do it! ;)). Now google is going to come across the link to your page every time it looks at mine! Do you think you'll get listed faster that way? You bet you will.
  • Consider paying for inclusion in web directories like Yahoo! I know, it's painful; some web directories charge up to $300, just to have one of their editors look at your site. No guarantees that they'll include it, and no money back if they don't. But if you can get into a high powered, high traffic directory, that'll help you out with the search engines.
  • Slow and steady wins the race. Don't get anxious and start engaging in questionable practices like spamming the search engines with requests. In the long run it's much more important to have a well built foundation and a solid website. Then when you finally get listed, the search engines will love you, and they'll never let you go.

* Here's a statistic to really annoy you: When I published the "Ask Doug..." website, I didn't do any search engine submission. I simply posted a link to the site on the home page of my software site. Care to guess how long it took for google to list this site? Less than 30 hours. That's right. Barely more than a day! Sickening, isn't it? But that shows you the importance of getting high profile links to your site.

Are there any special requirements for how I format the text in my hyperlinks in my web pages?

Basically, you should make sure that your hyperlinks contain text that is descriptive of the page you are linking to. This seems obvious, but if you're not thinking about it, you may do something like the following: Click here to play Diamond Slide. When you have a link like the one above, you are really saying that your page is about "click here". When in fact, it is about a game called "Diamond Slide". 

So a better link would be: Click here to play Diamond Slide

Even better would be a link like this: Click here to play the Diamond Slide Game.

Why does this matter? There are two reasons:

  • It can improve your search engine rankings. Some search engines will use the text in hyperlinks to help determine the relevancy of a page. So the first example tells the search engine your page is "relevant" for the search term "click here", while the second example tells the search engine your page is "relevant" for the terms "play" and "diamond slide." Why is the third example even better? Because it informs the search engines that the link is a game.
  • Website visitors with physical disabilities may have a hard time following links like the first example. The reason is that users with some handicaps may view a web page by "tabbing" through the hyperlinks, and looking at the text of the link.

2016 update: Remember that Google and other search engines are very complex algorithms for predicting the kinds of content people want to look at. They are complex, but they're still just algorithms, and they are prone to being duped by people who want to subvert the algorithm. The fact that link anchor text can affect a page's ranking led to something called "Google bombing," which is what happens when a large number of people all put the same anchor text leading to a specific page. For example, a group of people Google bombed President George W. Bush by making links to his White House biography that had anchor text: "miserable failure." Thus, when people searched "miserable failure," they were directed to the White House page for GWB.

I get emails all the time from companies that want me to hire them to promote my website using their automated website promotion tool. Are these services any good?

First things first: under no circumstances should you use the service of a website promotion company that spams you.

Why? Because you are only encouraging more of that behavior. And also because there is something inherently wrong in a website promotion company that has to resort to spam! I've been spammed by numerous website promotion companies, and there hasn't been one that I could find using a search engine. Does that tell you something? Meditate on the irony of that for a moment.

Now. Let's say YOU find a website promotion company, instead of the other way around. Should you use their service? Perhaps.

  • Shop around. You'd be amazed at the price variations.
  • If they promise you that their automated tool will submit your site to EVERY directory and search engine, then reject them. There are some directories that get really miffed at automated tools, and will blacklist your site for using one.
  • Do we do Website Promotion and Search Engine Optimization work here? Yes, some, but mostly for our own clients hosted on our server.

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