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Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

SEO Answers #9: Domain Stop Words, Duplicate Web Sites, & Increasing Article Backlinks

 

Three SEO questions are answered in this Q&A article:

  1. Do search engines ignore stop words in domain names?
  2. I created a duplicate website to target my services to a different state. My intention is not to dupe Google but I don’t know what else to do. How would you approach this?
  3. What can I do to increase the number of backlinks I am getting from articles?

Question 1) ” I know search engines ignore stop words in meta tags and title tags. Do search engines ignore stop or common words in domain names? Example www.therealestate.com or www.arealestate.com ” – Corey M.

Answer: Yes, to the degree in which the keywords have any effect the more common words within a domain name would be ignored. It is, however, important to keep in mind that search engines only place a limited amount of weight on keywords in a domain name. In my opinion the only time where a site keyword within a domain name wins a ranking war is when all other elements are equal between you and near-ranked competitor.

Additional Info: I like to do my due diligence before answering any question because frankly I need to be sure the rules have not changed overnight. Here are a couple links to pages that relate to this question:

Question 2) “ Hi Ross – I just finished reading your blog… “SEO Answers #7: ” What Determines Duplicate Content SPAM? “and I have a question for you. Allow me to give you a little background: One of my clients has expanded their business into another state with a different name, but it is ultimately the same business. In order to develop a Web presence for this new, duplicate company in a new area, we created a second Website that has its own unique design, etc, but is ultimately a take off on the original site, using the same content, just minor differences to allow for the new name, geographic area, etc. The original site is optimized and of course contains the original content. The duplicate site is not optimized. In no way is our intention to “dupe” anything, but will this cause problems with the engines? We are not trying to get mileage off of the content by duplicating it… this is simply a second company that offers the same services, just in a different state. Each site is in its own domain and has its own URL. Your input? Your suggestions for a different solution? Thanks for your time.”

Answer: Simply put if you are truly not looking to get any mileage out of the content then you do not want rankings for it which implies that the site should be blocked to the search engines. I would recommend using your robots.txt file to block the spiders entirely to that website so you do not negatively affect your rankings on the original site. The fact is that duplicate content, good intentions or not, is frowned upon by the search engines and you are gambling by having the site available for spidering.

If, however, you do want the search engines to spider the content then you must rewrite it to avoid duplicate content penalties.

As a final note I would like to pose a question; did your client absolutely have to create a secondary website? In many cases I find that a client need not have created a second site; they just needed to add a new section to their site to manage the new target marketplace. The other option, which may have been appropriate in this case, is to add a subdomain to enjoy the benefits of a secondary home page on a pre-branded domain and fresh marketable URL; nearly the same benefits of having a secondary domain without the headache of marketing an entirely new website. Even in this case, however, you would not be able to use duplicate content so you would be faced with the same issues; either rewrite the content or block it from spiders.

Question 3) “Ross, in an attempt to improve my ranking in the search engines, I have been writing articles for article directories in the hopes of receiving quality backlinks. Recently I came across a site mypagerank.net, which I decided to check on my link popularity. The result indicated that I only had 18 backlinks. What can I do to increase the number of backlinks I am getting? I would have expected more as I have written many more articles and submitted my URL to many directories. Thanks, enjoy reading your articles” – Peter

Answer: First, good work making the effort to write articles, they are an excellent medium for promotion and I commend you for dedicating the time to writing. I certainly understand the significant commitment to time and research required to write usable content. Fortunately, there are a few techniques that may help you squeeze some extra benefits from your hard work:

  1. Be Clear – Request Credit
    Are you being very clear to those republishing your content that you expect a linked credit for the copy? Simply stating that you allow syndication but request credit laid out in a particular linked format will do wonders. At StepForth we clearly request credit and we occasionally troll Google looking for those who have republished our content without credit; it is usually a simple matter to have the content removed or the appropriate link added. Hence, if you see this article does not give credit and provide a link to StepForth.com then please drop me a note, ross@stepforth.com :-)
  2. Pick a Powerful, Timely Topic
    Have you noticed a topic coming up regularly in forums? Perhaps a question that appears to be asked regularly? This is usually a good indication that an article discussing the topic would do well. Remember that many of the syndication networks online are looking for topics that will get readers and ultimately provide impressions for their advertisers. As a result, picking a hot topic will make a world of difference in how widely your article will get picked up.
  3. Optimize the Title
    The title of your article needs to clearly relay the topic and should engage readers and editors alike. The title can make or break a story if it is too vague or boring.
  4. Refer to Your Own Content
    It helps to provide inline links from your article to relevant previous articles or pages on your website. With practice and once you have built up a healthy reservoir of linkable articles it will soon be second nature to refer to links in a manner that is crucial to the article; so that editors note that the backlinks are relevant and play a legitimate role in the purpose of the article. Legitimacy of backlinks is crucial to make the ‘cut’ because editors are more likely to remove a link than keep one if it appears merely promotional.
  5. Give Praise Where it is Due
    Within an article don’t be afraid to link to other sources where you have noted particularly good information, particularly other small business blogs. The fact is that some bloggers take a real shine to those who syndicate or give credit to their content and may just link back to you in thanks.
  6. Put RSS On Your Side
    If you have not already done so ensure that your articles are syndicated on your website in RSS format as well. This can be easily accomplished by using a blog to publish your articles because most blog systems include automated feed creation. Many of the article syndication networks use articles solely through RSS. So as soon as you get a RSS feed you should go out and tell the world about it. Try using Google and search for “submit feed” or ” add blog ” and you are certain to find some great sites to submit your syndication feed.

There is a lot more information on this topic so I will provide some links that should help you further:

After all this work is done, keep in mind not every proper (credited) use of your article will deliver the benefits of a backlink. The search engines are frankly too smart to give credit to every article link because of the obvious duplication and the unfortunate proliferation of article scraping sites (sites that republish articles to try and make their sites appear authoritative). That said, the links acquired from truly authoritative sites would pay off as backlinks and hopefully with the more important benefit – direct traffic.

As a final note remember that articles are meant for human consumption so be sure to proofread your work and ensure that the topic is either timely or originally written enough to be useful. I am not saying this applies to you, however, it is important that the quality of the content is high enough to merit wide spread syndication.

by Ross Dunn – CEO, StepForth Search Engine Placement Inc.
Permalink to this Article: SEO Questions #9

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