Q and A : How come we see PR for password protected Gmail inner pages?

QuestionDear Kalena…

We all know that PR comprises of backlinks to a particular page or PR passes on from High Page. We also know that Google or any other Search Engine suggests to block a page by using the username and password.

If that is the case then how come we see PR for Gmail inner pages or PR for Orkut pages when logged in?

In reality the PR should never pass to the email account pages when you have logged in.



Dear Arnab

The PageRank shown in the Google Toolbar is not an accurate measure of a page’s true PR. The Toolbar PR is usually updated 4 – 6 times a year (sometimes more, sometimes less depending on algorithm changes and other search updates).

As a result of this, there are a lot of pages that will show no rank for months, which really do have a ranking hidden to the general user. Or the complete opposite where pages within a well trusted domain like Google (even non-indexed, password protected pages) will show PR that doesn’t exist.

In these cases it’s nothing more than a glitch in the Toolbar as it’s attempting to guesstimate what the PR would be based on the value normally passed down from the root domain.

You can still use the Toolbar PR as a rough guide, but for the reasons above, it’s best not to focus primarily on the Toolbar PR and use other metrics to measure the true value of a page.

Hope this helps.

Peter Newsome

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Q and A: How do we target our demographic when link building?

QuestionDear Kalena

You’ve said in your SEO 101 course to look into sites within the same industry when building links.  I have been able to talk my supervisor into letting me “play” with our company website and give her some feedback with the knowledge I have already.

One of the things I have found is a lot of broken links on our website so they are going to fix those but some of those partners will not reciprocate and post our website link on their site.  Do you find this quite common?

Also, some of the professional medical organizations we belong to will also not post our website link as they say it is against their rules.  If we just use general business directories, how do we know we’re targeting the demographics we want?  What do you suggest?



Hi Louisa

When link building, it’s not the number of links that is important, but the quality of those links. Reciprocal links are not your ultimate goal because one-way links are generally more valuable.

Unless there is a very popular site in your niche that won’t give you a link unless you link back, in my opinion you shouldn’t seek out reciprocal links and should instead be aiming for one-way incoming links to your site.

So for example, a one-way link from a medical related category on the JoeAnt Directory back to your site is generally worth much more in the eyes of Google than say 10 links from poorly trafficked sites in your industry or reciprocal links from low quality link farms. That’s because business directories such as JoeAnt, Business.com, Gimpsy and similar directories have a large audience and a long history so they have more *trust rank* in the eyes of Google.

So what you should be doing is seeking out links from sites with a similar medical theme, medical categories on trusted business directories and related sites that have a lot of traffic and preferably a high Google PageRank. One good method is to look at your major competitors and check their backlinks in Google to see what sites are linking to them and then approach those sites to see if they’ll link to you too. But remember to verify if those sites have a decent Google PageRank and suitable audience before pursuing a link.

Check these link building resources for more info:

How to Set Up a Link Building Campaign for a Web Site or Blog

How to Evaluate a Directory for Link Building

Link Building articles

Hope this helps!

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Google’s *Brand* New Ranking Algorithm

There’s been a flurry of discussion on Twitter and various SEO blogs over the past 48 hours regarding what appears to be a new ranking algorithm for popular search queries on Google.

I could go spend an hour or two to go into great detail here, but Aaron Wall stayed up all night to write this incredibly insightful post about the issue so I recommend you read his take on it.

In a nutshell, it looks as though Google is now giving ranking preference to the sites of large or well known brands in the search results for certain queries, even when those sites aren’t particularly well optimized for search engine compatibility and were not ranking well with the previous algorithm. There’s been no official word from Google on the matter one way or the other, but plenty of people are voicing their concerns about the change so it probably won’t be long.

I have to admit that if this truly is what it appears to be, it scares me. Part of the appeal for me of optimizing web sites was the fact that Google SERPS were a relatively level playing field. Even with Universal Search thrown into the mix, you could still optimize the site of Joe’s coffee house in Halitosis, Missouri and have it outranking Starbucks and Gloria Jeans for target keywords if you knew what you were doing.

Perhaps this algorithm change (if that’s what it is) is an attempt to clear up the spammy scum out of the Top 20 SERPS, but it may also handicap the authentic underdogs from being able to compete with the big brands.

What do you think? If Google really is giving more weight to brands, is that a positive or negative? Please comment below.

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It’s Green Bar Fever Time!

Yep, we’re about to hit Green Bar Fever this week!

Google is about to update their Toolbar PageRank values and you know what that means. Obsessive webmasters and SEOs panicking about the little green bar. Get ready for the fallout. 🙂

Seen any changes to your own site’s PageRank yet? Good, bad or ugly? Why not comment and let me know.

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Q and A: Why do my search positions fluctuate so much in Google?

QuestionDear Kalena

I am hoping that you can help me as this has been driving me crazy! Certain search keywords such as “buy Taser” from the Index (home page) goes to page 1 in google for ONE day, then jumps to page 13 and climbs up to page 20 or so, then goes back to page 1 for one day. So, about once every two weeks those two keywords are on page one in Google for one day!

I do not have this problem with MSN. I am totally baffled. I was running Google Base thinking maybe there was a connection, but I inactivated the product search a few days ago, so I guess that is not the problem. The site is about 9 months old. Is it because I have a yearly expiration domain and Google thinks it will expire soon? I tried so many things. Please help ASAP. Thank you SO much!


Hi Terri

Ack, I seem to be a magnet for Yahoo SiteBuilder issues this week. First up, please read my recent rant about Yahoo SiteBuilder.

Secondly, to answer your question about shifting rankings, in a nutshell it’s because Google uses different datacenters to show results and shuffles between these datacenters (they each have slightly different ranking algorithms). So on one datacenter your site might be on page 1 for a search query but then for that same query done a day (or hour) later you might be on page 4, because they are showing results from a different storage facility.

Different pages from your site and your competitor’s sites might also be stored on different datacenters, meaning that pages that normally rank well may not appear at all depending on which datacenter Google is using to fetch search results and whether or not all your indexed pages are listed in that datacenter. Your competitors may have more pages indexed by Google across all datacenters so they seem to be consistently outranking you. Or else they have simply done a better job of optimizing their pages to match search queries.

But the datacenter issue is the least of your worries. Here are just some of the problems I see with your site:

  • The Title and META tags are poorly constructed and not optimized for performance on search engines. This can partly be blamed on the tag limitations of Yahoo SiteBuilder, but mostly it is just poor keyword choices and incorrect formatting. For example, your META Description tag contains a bunch of keywords instead of a readable sentence! Your poor Title and META tags are limiting the ability of each of your site pages being found in search engines.
  • You’ve got the worse case of code bloat that I’ve seen in years, thanks to excessive code added to your HTML pages by the SiteBuilder program and the page author. Code bloat happens when unnecessary code snippets are added to your HTML code during the editing of your pages. A very common way this happens is if you cut and paste text from one program into your web editing software. For example, if you cut and paste from MS Word into your web editor, you can often find extraneous code (such as span tags) added. These snippets build up and add to your file size and can often lead to invalid code, meaning that Googlebot and other search robots may have problems indexing your pages and abandon the site, meaning fewer pages are indexed and included in their datacenters. Apart from that, code bloat impacts the ranking relevancy of your site because it impacts the keyword density of your pages. For example, if your competitor mentions “buy taser” in their page text the same number of times as you do in your page, but their page has less code to wade through, it is likely that their page will rank higher than yours for the search query “buy taser”.
  • As I suspected, your code does not validate. When I ran it through the W3C Markup Validator, it spat back 236 errors, including a missing DocType! Now Google and other engines are pretty forgiving these days when it comes to invalid code, but even if some pages are being successfully indexed, the errors could well be sabotaging your site’s ability to rank well.
  • I’m betting that Google hasn’t indexed many of your site pages. Read this post about how to get more pages indexed and how to monitor your site’s performance in Google.
  • You’ve got keyword repetition ad infinitum happening on your home page. The excessive keyword reps are almost certainly going to trigger search engine spam filters if they haven’t already. I think you’re breaking practically all Google’s Webmaster Guidelines!
  • There don’t seem to be many internal or external links pointing to your site. You should try to gain some links from other web sites in your industry as theme-based links will help boost your position in Google.

There’s lots more wrong with your site, but I think I’ve given you plenty to get on with for your $10 coffee donation. The rest is up to you. As I always say to businesses using free or cheap web design and hosting tools online, you get what you pay for. If you want potential customers to take your business seriously, YOU need to take it seriously and spend some time and money addressing your site’s compatibility with search engines.

You should consider paying a site designer to build you a better looking site that can be properly optimized. If you can’t afford a professional site design, consider installing the (free) WordPress blogging platform on your server and taking full control over your site that way. Teach yourself – it’s free – and then hire a search engine optimizer to get your site ranking better. If you can’t afford a search engine optimizer, consider posting your requirements on our Search Engine College jobs board as there are a lot of SEO students just itching to sharpen their skills on a real site.

I’d also recommend downloading the free Search Engine Optimization lesson from Search Engine College so you can better understand what makes a site rank well in search engines and take control of your own site’s destiny. Good luck!

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