66 thoughts on “On Page SEO Questions

  1. I was told, and it didn’t seem possible, that search engines can tell if the content from one web site, has been copied into another. Like product descriptions from a manufactures site used in a suppliers site for content, and that would hurt the ranking of the suppliers site…even as I type it it sounds out of the realm of possibility.

  2. Robert, I’ll have an article coming up on duplicate content. Part of the problem is that search engines have a hard time identifying the original, vs. the copies.

    One of the people I work closely with has a retail business, a wholesale business, and an affiliate marketing channel. They’ve pretty much had to create 3 different product descriptions for these 3 channels.

  3. One of my clients uses a Co-op system, so how does this effect dealer sites that have duplicate information about their products and services?


  4. I am interested in how you optimize a page for a term that people use for search when the term is not appropriate to use as a main heading for a page or as the text in links pointing to the page.

    For example a website I optimize sells hiking tours in a particular region and people will search using terms such as (with the name of the region included):
    *hiking tour
    *hiking vacation (American market uses the term vacation)
    *hiking holiday (British market uses the term holiday)
    *Guided hiking tour
    *Trekking tour
    *Trekking vacation
    *Guided walking tour

    Now the company involved already has brochures selling their tours with agents all around the world so they do not want to change the name they give to the tours. Besides the tour names they have are nice sounding and quite appropriate (although would never get searched on unless a person had already heard of it) so I do not think changing the name of a tour to “The (Region name) hiking vacation”, etc would be appropriate. Also having category pages called “Hiking Vacations” and then another category page called “Guided Hiking Tours” would start getting confusing to visitors when each category name essentially means the same thing.

    Anyway if you could give me legimate techniques to work such search terms into the main headings for these types of pages and into the text of links pointing to them then that would be great.

  5. Leanne, if I were a dealer I would try to add content, or rewrite some of the descriptions. If they are all duplicate, some of those pages will just be ignored or filtered out of search results – not a disaster for the parent company, but not the best situation a dealer could set up for themselves.

    Greg, I would think about the overall structure first. If you had, for example, a second tier based on regions, then it would make sense to have multiple articles within each of those sections on different topics, which could all promote the tour packages but use different main keywords.

  6. How do you suggest dealing with sites that have exact same content on multiple domains. The main reason there are multiple domains is because of the pricing issue: US$, CAD, BPS, AUD, etc.

  7. Nima, there are a lot of options. Geographic targeting is the simplest solution – if a visitor comes in from Canada, you show CAD, etc. You can do this with multiple domains (Google does this) or you can do it with one.

  8. Dan,
    Your book is awesome. Thanks for putting it out.

    Interesting thing about learning SEO, and I have been busy studying for the last six months, your understanding of what you learn in the first month doesn’t make deep sense until you have a larger picture. Your book really clarifies things I’ve been trying to implement in a very thorough way.

    My question is about multiple links within your own site. I have several categories on my left menu that hold the same set of items. Widgets, Thingamajigs:Widgets, Really Big Widgets. Does this duplication of sets under different classifications hurt internal ranking?

    Ben W

  9. Ben,

    If you have identical pages, then those are duplicates. If you have some products that appear in more than one category, you have a more usable site. As long as your site is mostly unique pages, it’s not going to be terribly harmful to have a few duplicate pages. The only problem is that the search engine, not you, is deciding which duplicates to keep and which to drop.

  10. Dan, I have some pages ranked on page 1 that are discontinued items and will not be coming back in stock.
    Do you think it is good practice to leave the pages up and
    add 3 items above the fold and say “Other items that may interested you”?


  11. Dan, sounds like a plan.

    Since those pages are already in-place, and have 2-4 keywords in the title, I think I will dig deeper on my keywords, and dump most of the titles. This way the new 3rd tier will have more overall weight on the page.


  12. Oops… I meant dump most of the words in the title. Not the entire title since the url’s reflects the name of the product (wish I could have done a quick edit..hint (:)

  13. I have a friend who runs a classified ad site for a specific niche. The sellers add content but the problem is many of these sellers advertise on different classified ad sites, so the content is duplicate.

    What can he do to make sure its his ads that get indexed and not filtered due to duplicate content?

  14. Hello Dan,

    I noticed you removed my question from the Welcome page (as I already suspected and you’re right ofcourse). Would you like to make a comment on my initial question regarding the so called “product scroller” on my Joomla / Virtuemart site? I am not sure if this scroller (wich is seen and indexed on every page by the Google spider) does the site and ranking any good.

    Your comment on this will be highly appreciated.

    Kind regards,
    Rob Nengerman
    the Netherlands

  15. Dan,

    It is a module wich is displayed on every single page on the site. I am bit worried it might distress the googlebot from the real content of the product page eg: http://www.testjezelf.nu/ovulatietesten/ovulatietest.html This is a page explaining the Ovulation test we are selling, but seen through the eyes of the googlebot (because the product scroller (on the left of the screen) is producing a lot of code with links and anchors etc.) I wonder if the real content on this page would be “underrated”.

    Kind regards,

  16. Rob, with that plugin you are definitely adding quite a bit of (identical?) text to each page. If you want to see what it looks like to a spider, you can use something like the Web Developer extension for Firefox – anything that will let you disable CSS and Javascript.

    Since you’re writing pretty lengthy copy I wouldn’t worry about the scroller too much. You have bigger problems to solve:

    1) Your product links are on the images, not the text, so no link reputation is passed. If you style it right, you can actually wrap the same anchor (a) tag around both the text and the image.
    2) You are using very small type size on your pages – I’d bet you a donut that a larger type size will help with conversion.

  17. Dan,

    Thanks for the comment, I will look into the type size. I assume you mean the product info pages or should I change the format on all of the pages? Including the info pages etc.?

    Since I like the scroller and since it won’t do that much harm, I will let it scroll….

    About your first suggestion; you are talking about the product links and the anchor tags being on the images, not the text. Could please specify which product links you are referring to? Do you mean the clickable links from the Categories to the products? Or the link from the manu on the right side of the screen, or the clickable links from the pictures in the scroller?

    Please advise me where I should go on this one.

    With kind regards,
    Rob Nengerman

  18. Claudia, duplicate content and thin pages are the main reason for pages in supplemental. It can also be from your linking structure. If you have too many frames & images on a page & little content, that can overwhelm the page too.

    Dan frequently discusses doing product rewrites using R.A.U.C.(Real Actual Unique Content). In additon, you can offer unique articles to sites holding your article.


  19. Not much in images and no frames on the site.

    I also notice that while articles can be duplicate content because they are in article directories (i know we need to change these pages out)…

    All my recent new pages have ended up in supplemental. About 4-5 pages that “shouldn’t” be there, are. The site ranks well otherwise for the local market (all that is important here). What would cause this sandboxing in this new light?

  20. Another question…will submitting an xml sitemap to the major search engines rectify the sandboxing?

    All titles and descriptions have been updated to be UNIQUE, and would like to submit a sitemap.

    Any comments on this?

    Thanks all for feedback. This has really been great!

  21. Sandboxing, is a filter Google introduces on new domains, so it is difficult to rank for competitive keywords. Having the xml sitemap won’t resolve the sandboxing, but it might help with the supplemental pages.

  22. Your Welcome Claudia!

    If you haven’t already, consider Dan’s recommended directories in the SEO Fast Start book (pages 72-74). A few backlinks and a little deep linking can go a long way…

    If the pages are linked correctly and are long tail, they shouldn’t take too long to get ranked. Try working those links off of a 2nd tier page on your site.


    P.S. MSN BCentral is no longer available.

  23. Question about company names in page titles: In or out of page titles? Does having it in dilute rankings significantly?

    What’s more effective for
    A) Ranking

    but also for
    B) Clickthrough (or phone calls)

    Wedding Bagpiper – New York NY

    Call John Doe, expert wedding bagpiper in New York: 555-555-1212. Marriage ceremonies, receptions and events.


    Wedding Bagpiper – New York NY – John Doe: 555-555-1212

    Bagpiper for weddings, marriage ceremonies and receptions. Call John Doe: 555-555-1212

  24. James, the two relevant limitations on the title tag (SEOFS, p. 55) are:
    1) 10 words that you can expect to have indexed
    2) 65 characters that will be displayed on SERPs.

    I doubt you would see a meaningful ranking difference between the two titles. Click-through rate (and phone calls in this case) would depend on the search term and the searchers’ intent.

  25. I have a blog on my site, which is where I write content, optimised for specific keyword terms, and link through to the 2nd and 3rd tier pages. The blog is search engine friendly, i.e. using permalinks, good unique title and description tags, unique content etc.

    Would your advise be to continue with this method of create static HTML pages and link them from the homepage.

    I am following the advise of having two pages optimised for the same keyword terms to get one page on top of each other in the results.

  26. Would your advise be to continue with this method of create static HTML pages and link them from the homepage.

    >> I meant the blog OR, static HTML pages.


  27. Hello,
    Can anyone comment on the search engine simulator at http://webmaster-toolkit.com/ ?

    I notice that big junks of main content are dropped out on some of my main pages. Yet these pages will show up on main keywords in the SERPS. Does anyone know what’s going on here?

    Maybe I’m missing out on other keywords where the content drops out.

    Thanks everyone. This portal is really humming with activity. I’m working feverishly and lots of questions arise. Took me 2 days to get back here!

  28. Claudia, if you have minor HTML errors (tags nested badly, oops forgot to close an li tag, etc) a lot of “spider simulators” will choke on that, but real spiders are a lot more tolerant. You may want to run an HTML validator on the page and look for errors (“warnings” are less important and may drive you crazy).

    If Google has a cached copy of the page, you can also look at just the text, there’s a link on the cached page.

  29. Sorry Dan, I didn’t explain myself very well there – I should really stop reading this portal in the early hours [UK time!]

    I am writing content to get links, and to improve SEO, is there any different adding this content on to blog posts, or creating HTML pages? Which would you advise, or does it not really matter?

  30. Is anyone using the below combination for a membership site?

    WordPress and plugging in WP Board; aMember and tying in Joomla; VisionGate; Member Script and lastly MemberGate. MemberGate is a turnkey solution but is also the most expensive at 4K.

    I was just talking with the “Goal Guru” Jill Koenig at my trainers and she recently launched a site using aMember. I am unsure of the functionality of aMember vs. the above options.

    Any thoughts would be helpful.


  31. Dan,

    (Maybe this goes under linking?)

    I have a section/Tier 2 page that I want to rank for widget consulting, widget consultant, and widget consultants. I’ve found that Google treats these terms very similarly since they have a common word-root, but Google does distinguish among them, and they each get different search volume and have a different number of competing pages.

    So the core strategy is to use all those terms on that page (correct me if I’m wrong).

    Now how about linking? Currently I link to that page from 30 or so pages with link text “widget consulting.”

    Would it be helpful/detrimental to change it so 10 link with “ing”, 10 with “ant”, 10 with “ants”?

  32. Dan,

    Due to the structure of my site, a fourth tier is important. I see on page 40 (top paragraph) of the fast start guide that you mention “special steps” that may have to be taken to get the search engines to find the content.

    Basically my site nav looks like this:

    Widget Category -> Vendor specific widgets -> Vendor list of widgets -> Specific widget

    It might look like this if I were in the outdoor furniture market:

    Wooden chairs -> Vendor A chairs, Vendor B chairs -> Vendor A high-back, Vendor A low-back, Vendor A no-back -> low-back product A, low-back product B, low-back product C -> low-back product C sales/order page.

    So it is 3-clicks to get to the fourth tier… the product page. This is necessary (at least I think it is) because I’ll be carrying 100s of products that are manufactured by many different companies which are similar and people do search for specific names of products and/or the vendor name, along with more generic terms.

    I can tell you that my tier 4 pages, although in the SI, are indexed so I’m assuming I can ignore “special steps”. Am I right? Just what are the “special steps”?

    Thanks Dan.

  33. And it should have read…

    Wooden chairs -> Vendor A chairs, Vendor B chairs -> Vendor A big one, white one, black one, brown one -> brown one sales/order page.

  34. Dan,

    If there are two sites with exactly same content, for example

    site1.xyz.com and site2.xyz.com and both have same content
    Is this going to make any positive or negative impact on search?

  35. Finally, after 24 hours of technical stuff and proxies… an easy question! Thanks, James!

    The easiest way to think about the link text is to look at is as if it were added to the bottom of the page. (It’s not of course, but it’s easier to think of it that way).

    If you added three phrases to the bottom of the page, it wouldn’t hurt your ability to rank for any of them.

    Link away.

  36. How about the other way around?

    Currently I link to this page consistently, with “widget consulting”–so if I change to 3 different link texts would it help me rank for “consultant” and “consultants”?

    Or would the effect be negligble?

  37. You’d be removing a little bit of “consulting” in favor of “consultant” and “consultants.” You don’t have to do it all at once – change a few, give ‘em a couple weeks, and see how things are moving.

  38. Hi All,

    Thank you Dan for your book and all advises.
    I have dupplicate
    reprinted articles and science news on my web site and maybe that is why site page rank is very low. It almost does not exist. What is strange that a page with duplicate article
    http://www.healthstairs.com/migrain.php has rank 0.1 (in browser page runk bar) and pages with my original articles
    have no page runk.
    Could you please take a look and advise what is wrong.
    I would be very grateful.
    Thank you. Sergey

  39. Dan,

    Can you recommend a shopping cart or out-of-the-box ecommerce solution that gives the user enough control to implement the Fast Start process. I’m concerned that solutions like Yahoo Store and others are not spider friendly.

    Do you know of any that provide the use full control of internal linking, setting no-follow tags, etc.

    Thanks for you help.



  40. Dan,

    2 test-sites with the same content: domain1 and domain2.
    They got indexed because I wasn’t careful enough.

    Meanwhile, I finished the site and set it up on domain2 but it has different URLs from when it was a dev site.

    I found out today that both dev sites got indexed 10 days ago. I put robots.txt files on both sites now to disallow Googlebot access.

    Do I have to wait with the launch until both sites are removed from the index and only then allow indexing again, or is there anything I can do to speed up the process?

  41. Capitalization in URLs:

    Does google treat these two URLs as different pages?
    (note: the server serves it with and without–you don’t get an error if you change the caps)



    My guess is that it would because it makes a difference for Apache servers?

    If you accidentally have some links going to each version, it could mess things up?

    I am thinking to use all lowercase just to be safe.


  42. Hey Dan,

    I’m almost done finishing the pages on debtmanagementguys.com but do you think I would be better off having a structure like

    debtmanagementguys.com/debt_management/debt_management_plans.html or just a debtmanagementguys.com/debt_management_plans.html
    as a better benefit for PR and over seo showing/ ranking better?

    I’m a college student with a year to go and trying to throw all the SEO factors I’ve learned from you and stompernet into this site. Any advice is welcomed!

  43. Would you always recommend placing NOODP & NOYDIR in robots file? Does it affect your rankings if you force them to use your meta description for the words the user searched? What about click through ratios?

  44. No doubt, I have done that. I was asking should you put those two items in the robots file so it forces them to use the mega description you have in place & not the directory description or is this something they already do by default?

  45. It doesn’t “force” them to use the meta description, it just tells them not to use the Y! or DMOZ description. Currently they would use the meta description, but that behavior could theoretically change in the future.

  46. Dan, could you please provide and example for this recommendation you made on page 49 of SEOFS.

    Because of the way that search engines handle link reputation (anchor text), I
    recommend using a format that allows you to include some keywords in every
    page’s FIRST link to the home page, but also having a “Home” link in your
    navigation somewhere.



  47. Hello, we are optimizing our site and need to insert some photos.
    My question, is it necessary to use original photos?
    This because we are developing some locations details pages and intend to download some photos from internet.
    If no, can we still use not original photos and have a way to go around this?
    Grateful of Soure reply

  48. Hello Dan,

    All of my iner pages are in following format

    Title:keyword phrases
    url:keyword phrases

    Plus all backlinks , lotsa of them , are targetted for that particular keyword phrases too , singular+plural form


    Title: Best Payday Loans
    Backlinks : best payday loan and best payday loans

    Will Google devalue my inner pages for doing this?. Do you consider this as over optimization?


  49. Hi Dan,

    Thanks for all the help you give on this site and with your books. I have a question about links that are used in the footer area on every page of my site because of the fact that my site is built with templates and I have links in the base template. Does this duplication of the same links on every site page create problems for page rankings?

    Thank you.

  50. Really useful Dan – and thanks for taking the time to answer all these questions. Mine is hopefully simple – I have a number of online dating sites, and dating is a very competitive term. Should I concentrate on long tail phrases ?

  51. Dear Dan, thanks for your book! Great information!

    Regarding internal links … my forthcoming website will sell a very specific line of consumer products plus offer free access to a library of original articles, FAQs, and other background information (added to regularly) on topics related to this specific product area. Is there SEO value in linking my primary “keywords” as they appear in the body text of these articles/info to my home-page or product-line page?

    Also, is there SEO value in having my primary “keyword” … say “widget” … in the actual urls of all my subpages, as in: http://www.widgets4all.com/wideget-article/top-10-widgetbenefits.html or http://www.widgets4all.com/widgets/bluewidgets.html.

    Thanks! Rob B.

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