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Saturday, October 29, 2005

Duplicate Content Penalties on PPC Landing Pages SEO No-No

Avoid Duplicate Content Penalty on PPC Landing Pages!

Copyright © October 30, 2005 by Mike Banks Valentine

There are recent posts in marketing forums worrying over "duplicate content" penalties concerns when creating pages intended as Pay-Per-Click landing pages. First a couple of definitions:

1. PPC landing page: A page created to perfectly match the content of a pay-per-click ad so that PPC ad is created for "IBM Selectric typewriter repair" then the visitor is directed to a "PPC Landing page" created to exactly reflect only that brand repair, rather than sending clickthroughs to the home page which discusses generic typewriter repair.

PPC landing pages should have photos of that brand, maybe an IBM logo and a link for shipping instructions. You'd then create a different page for each brand you repair, switching out the photo and the logo for each brand. This leads to higher sales conversion and it works very well. But it has a drawback related to search engine ranking ...

2. Duplicate Content Penalty: Repeated pages with keyword focused phrases created to rank well in organic search results are seen as a spamming technique. A paragraph with generic reference to typewriter repair is written so that the brand name is swapped in and used multiple times on a single page. Those are seen as duplicate content and are penalized in ranking algorithms because it has been widely abused by sites attempting to rank well for each brand by repeating text on dozens of pages with only the brand and model different on each page - thus labeled as duplicate content and seen as bad by search engines.

What do you do to avoid the duplicate content penalty while creating effective PPC landing pages for higher conversion?

Duplicate content on a single site is a BIG problem if done in the way a PPC landing page would be - just swapping out the brand name in a paragraph or two of text and repeating that same text dozens of times on different pages.

But you are creating those landing pages for PPC and NOT for organic listings and don't want them ranked organically. So make the PPC landing pages all off limits to the spiders with a simple tag in the < head> of each separate brand page:


That will keep custom tailored PPC landing pages out of search engine indexes when you only have a few pages. But if you run an extremely large PPC campaign with hundreds of custom landing pages, then solve the problem by putting those PPC landing pages within a single directory like:

Then create and post a robots.txt file that tells spiders to stay out of that directory

User-agent: *

Disallow: /PPC/

For organic SEO you would always make brand focused pages with UNIQUE content about each of the brands by discussing peculiarities of each brand and specific known problems with those brands that often require repairs and optimize for organic SEO and encouraging spiders crawl and index them.

The key is to tell spiders to stay away from the repetitive PPC focused pages. That way, you have PPC clickthrough pages that reflect EXACTLY the ad visitors clicked on but won't suffer the duplicate content penalty. Because you WILL be penalized in organic rankings if you put up dozens of pages with only brand name differences in the text - even if you didn't intend it as phony spider food done just for organic ranking purposes.

Keeping the spiders out of PPC focused pages is wise for another reason - You may want to create PPC landing pages for short term sales, close-outs, one of a kind items that will sell out or if you stop repairing a particular brand. You don't want those pages indexed and then later delete them from your server because when spiders return to find that page deleted later, you suffer in rankings because you have missing pages without redirects.

Best to keep the spiders out of PPC landing pages entirely if they are only there for PPC purposes. If you are using the multiple page technique for organic ranking purposes, then you WILL be penalized. Best mark PPC pages with the < META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOINDEX,NOFOLLOW"> tag or...

Create a PPC section on your site within a PPC directory and then post robots.txt file telling spiders to stay out of a directory like:

User-agent: *

Disallow: /PPC/

The search engine ranking game gets more complex as your site grows and PPC marketing campaigns can conflict with organic search engine ranking strategies. Avoid duplicate content penalties by restricting PPC landing pages from spiders and prevent them ever being indexed.

Mike Banks Valentine blogs on Search Engines developments from and operates a small business ecommerce tutorial from and content distribution site at:

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Search Engine Watch Forums Live - Disneyland

Search Engine Watch Forums Live! Live Up to Title - Involving the Audience

Search Engine Watch Forums Live! was promoted on the Jupiter Media site like this:

"This informal, half-day event offers attendees the opportunity to meet several moderators of the SearchEngineWatch Discussion Forums in person, network with local peers, discuss the hottest topics and latest news in the search industry"

Before attending, I wondered whether the audience would be made up more of local SEO consultant or in-house corporate - it turned out that it was pretty evenly split among the represented (approximately) 150 to 200 attendees based on a show of hands.

Search Engine Watch Forums Editor, Elisabeth Osmeloski asked for that show of hands as she opened the event. That proved to be a common theme among each of the moderators as they made presentations, to check in with the audience by asking for a show of hands to measure representation for their opinion or status. Osmeloski turned it over to Nacho Hernandez and he immediately checked in with the audience asking them "How many of you are marketing in just one language?" That intro lead to the segue, "one segment is not enough." Hernandez will lead the first Search Engine Strategies Latino conference in Miami next July.

Hernandez' presentation was titled "Where can you apply Multilingual tactics? Opportunities for SEM/SEO" and of course he strongly recommends marketing to multiple international markets, his specialty is in Hispanic markets. He showed powerpoint slides representing worldwide language, ethnic market segmentation, and reach, penetration and growth stats for each. He moved on to show comparative pay-per-click rates showing bids for popular and competitive English language search terms that were ten-times the cost of Spanish language bids.

Hernandez is a proponent of local search markets as well as international and suggests optimizing for each of those markets in organic SEO as well as the PPC campaigns. He wrapped up and passed the podium to Joseph Morin, moderator of the SEW Google Search Rankings forum and enterprise SEO specialist who emphasized the dramatic importance and value of careful web analytics study.

Morin opened by asking the audience how many have attended other Search marketing events, most had, and a majority of those had been to Search Engine Strategies conferences. He asked who were members of the forums, and while few raised hands to that, he continued with, "What is your reason for optimization and SEM?" Typical reasons were listed, ROI, increased sales, increased traffic. He continued with more questions asking how many audience members represented enterprise vs. medium vs. small sites. The majority seemed to be working on medium to large enterprise site SEO and SEM.

Morin used examples of major enterprise search clients to illustrate how best to interpret and analyze log files to determine additional income streams for web sites based on visitor behavior in both organic and PPC situations. He listed vendors of analytics software and gave examples of how he had done research to increase value and ROI of client site traffic. He several times indicated the use of analytics to determine where to find additional income streams for client sites based on highly saleable leads generation for external partners.

Alex Bennet of Beyond Ink was next to present "Getting the second click". Analytics were again recommended to increase usability and conversion. Single access page views entry page views were emphasized as powerful clues to improvement of any site based on search terms used to find a site as well as PPC ad clickthroughs that brought other visitors. She recommended backtracking organic search phrases used to find pages by doing a little forensic detective work on those pages getting single access with immediate departures.

Bennet recommended doing those same searches as visitors did to land there, looking at the text snippet displayed by the search engines on the search results pages and trying to understand what made them click on your result before landing on and quickly leaving your page. The suggestion was that they may have arrived expecting something you can actually deliver to convert them to sales by offering appropriate services or products to match the phrases used to find your pages. She emphasized the critical importance of site navigation, site search, and custom 404 pages with links to sitemap and major sections of a web property.

Final presentation was made by Jennifer Slegg of with Google Adsense vs. Yahoo Publisher Network (YPN) comparisons. (Yahoo Publisher Network was a sponsor of the follow-up cocktail session and networking event.) She mentioned that YPN has made a recent change to make their ads appearance very similar to Google Adsense ads. Probably the most important comparison to content publishers was that YPN is reportedly earning more, something that got many audience members' interest, so she duly noted that YPN representatives were in the audience, asked them to stand and suggested everyone interested in trying the alternate to Adsense see them after the presentation.

Slegg further compared the two networks by pointing out that Google offers "Smart Pricing" on Adsense ads which sometimes means that poorly performing sites get lower priced ads displayed on their sites. Public Service Ads on Adsense publisher sites mean that those publishers don't earn anything if those ads are clicked on - but not on YPN as they have NO PSA’s on their network. She then expanded on increasing value of ads by emphasizing the importance of ad placement. Proximity of ads to body text and what is around the ad units affects clickthrough ratios. She counseled publishers to remove borders, place ads front and center, integrate them into site design, never to use default colors, and to use channels for tracking and reporting.

Elisabeth Osmeloski then resumed as moderator and reassured the audience that even though she had not asked anything of Search Engine Watch editor Danny Sullivan who was sitting on the panel, that she was not ignoring him, but rather that he was vacationing here and had decided to attend the event while he was in town. Sullivan had no prepared presentation, but was happy to speak and opened asking, once again, by quizzing the audience, "How many of you are here to discuss the latest Google Update, Jagger?" No hands immediately went up, so Sullivan quipped “Good we don’t have to talk about it.” (Although it did come up later, raised in the question and answer session.)

Sullivan did have other things to address though. He lamented how often financial analysts are asked by major media and newspapers to discuss the search engines stock value, performance, future and their strategies - when those analysts understand very little about the search industry, competition or how search works. He pointed out the dramatic disparity between the Google stock price of $340 per share versus Yahoo at about $40 per share and that he didn't see the reason for that difference, but that the two companies were very different and difficult to compare beyond them both being "media companies".

Sullivan also discussed recent developments in the industry, such as Google Base and how it might affect the industry and other players in the classified industry such as Craigslist. Ultimately we'll just have to wait until true launch of that service to see what it brings, he suggested.

With that, questions were solicited from the audience by moderator Osmeloski.

Audience questions included
Q. Where to find a "Best practices document" for SEO
A. Thread SEM101 at Search EngineWatch and

Q. Best forum when you have no time to read forums?
A. SERoundtable

Q. What to do about 301 redirects that seemed to have gotten the site dropped entirely from the Google index?
A. Contact Google. Try Google sitemaps or Yahoo Site Explorer

Although I'm not big on forum participation, the next SEW Forums Live event to come to my home turf will probably see me in attendance again. There is plenty to be learned from Forums whether participating or analyzing and reporting.

Mike Banks Valentine blogs on Search Engine news developments from RealitySEO and operates a small business ecommerce tutorial from WebSite101

Search Engine Watch Live Forum - Disneyland Hotel

I'm about to head out to the Search Engine Watch Live! forum being held today at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim to meet eight of the SEW fourms moderators and hear their views on the hottest topics in SEO. If they offer good wireless from the meeting, I'll try a little live blogging here. Danny Sullivan is scheduled to be there and I'll be sure to pass on any gems gleaned from he or the forum moderators. Not sure what type of attendees to expect at this event - probably local SEO's, both freelance and corporate.

The event runs from just after lunch time until dinner time so maybe I'll work up an appetite for forums that I haven't developed a taste for as yet. They are great places to get advice on individual issues if you can wade through the one line cryptic comments from forum members who post endlessly with commentary and opinion.

The gems make forums a place for me to search for answers to specific issues, but so far, not a place to participate much. Let's see if this event can help me develop a taste for forums. The moderators will no doubt have much to share with attendees who have clear questions on concise issues, so I'll look to pass those on if they surface. I'll be covering the event for WebProNews and will pen an article or two on the session.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Blogs with Purpose - SEO of Course!

Below is the second half of an article by Robin Nobles explainging the best reasons for having a blog. My top reason is simply because they are the easiest way to gather my thoughts as I write articles and share those thoughts with the SEO community or small buisness webmasters looking for the latest, greatest ideas to implement on their own sites. Robin has a few more examples.

Blogs with a Purpose Part 2

By Robin Nobles

(Continued from Part 1)

Five Example Blogs with a Purpose

3. Horseback Riding Tours

Bayard Fox of Equitours Worldwide Riding Vacations has a unique way of using his blog. After one of his horseback riding vacations, he writes an online journal, complete with pictures, and posts them to his new blog.

The guests who attend his vacations can visit his blog and link to it, and then tell their friends and family members to visit to read more about their recent vacation.

These vacations are in very exotic places, like Africa, India, and Uruguay. In other words, reading about them and seeing the pictures certainly makes you want to take a riding tour as well.

Why do people want to visit his blog? If you had taken a horseback riding tour in Africa, wouldn't you want to visit a site that had pictures of your trip, as well as a journal that documented the whole thing? Wouldn't you want to link to it?

What good does this do for Bayard and his company? It's obviously a perk for his customers, and we always want to take care of our customers. Plus, as the site gets more exposure in the search engines, more and more people will visit, outside of his existing customers.

His existing customers will pass along the link to friends and family members, and he'll pick up new customers that way. He'll gradually build link popularity from the blog as time goes on.

Tip: Be sure to link to additional pages of your site from your blog posts, so potential customers can read more information about products or services you mention on your blog. Use absolute links with keyword phrases in the link text. On your product pages, link back to the blog. In Bayard's case, he would be linking to each riding tour's page.

If you have a newsletter, promote your blog through the newsletter. Be creative! Ask your customers to post their opinions about a new product line in the blog. Offer a 10% discount to those who post.

In Bayard's case, he could mention a recent riding tour, and give the URL of the blog where newsletter readers could see the pictures and journal entries.

4. Threadwatch

For this category of "blogs with a purpose," I wanted to list a blog that serves a purpose similar to that of an online forum.

Numerous ones come to mind, but none more appropriate or effective than Threadwatch.

Nick, the owner, takes great pride in his site, and it shows. What makes it different from other blogs of the same sort is that Nick has added a "twist." Here's Nick's concept:

"Finding the signal amongst the noise of internet marketing media takes too much of what we all value most: TIME. cuts through the chatter and produces a clear signal for the time starved professional Internet Marketer."

In other words, he distills information from other forums and posts that he feels are the best and most useful posts. Rather than your having to sort through mountains of information yourself, go to Threadwatch and let Nick do it for you.

What's in it for the visitor? You don't have to run all over forum land to learn SEO and Internet marketing information. It's all consolidated in one handy place: Threadwatch.

What's in it for Nick? He's has an extremely popular site now with a very loyal following. His link popularity is excellent, and I'm sure his visibility is as well. Congratulations, Nick!

Tip: Can you follow in Nick's footsteps and add a twist to a popular concept? Look how well it's worked for Nick!

5. Cup of Sunshine

In the final example, the entire Web site is a blog. This Web site is for a coffee house in Abbotsford, BC, Canada, which also sells antiques. They didn't want to have to learn HTML to post to their site. They wanted something easy and non-technical.

So, their SEO set them up with a simple blog in about an hour. Now, they have a Web presence and can even sell their antiques online.

The blog is loaded with character, as you can see. They'll certainly have a lot of fun adding to it as time goes on.

The purpose of the blog is to be a Web site!

Now is the time for you to be creative.

Here are your goals for your "blog with a purpose":

* You need a reason for your buying audience to visit your blog.
* Your blog needs to be special to your audience in some way.
* Is your blog bookmarkable, and will people want to link to it?

Any business can set up a blog. Making your blog a "blog with a purpose" takes it a step beyond normal blogs. It gives it purpose and meaning. It gives it power.

Give it a try, and good luck!

Let me know if you have a successful blog with a purpose. It's helpful to see examples of real sites who have succeeded in setting up effective blogs. I'll write another article using your examples.

Robin Nobles conducts live SEO workshops ( in locations across North America. She also teaches online SEO training ( Localized SEO training is now being offered through the Search Engine Academy. (

Copyright 2005 Robin Nobles. All rights reserved.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Search Engine Discussion Returns!

The following is a copy of my first post to SearchReturn discussion list, posted today for the next issue.

First let me say welcome back to discussion Detlev! I-Search was always my favorite and I missed the great discussion topics after you left the list. Andrew Goodman did an admirable job for awhile, but then it ended entirely when AudetteMedia sold. I've missed this type of search engine forum and I wish you continuing success with it!

On to the topic that got my attention from Digest #003:

I get a steady stream of link requests for three of my own sites and a half dozen others that I manage for clients. For about the last year, I've had a standard template reply that I send to all link panhandlers. Basically, I require that the link requester submit articles on the topic they are targeting in order to be given a link from the site they are targeting.

If the topic exists on the site they link-begging for, I will consider an article for inclusion on my own - or for client managed sites. The article must be good and it must stand on it's own merits. This creates a new page on our site and means it must gain it's OWN PageRank over time. Since it usually goes in a subdirectory of that particular topic which already ranks well, it usually doesn't take long to rank well itself.

Needless to say, 99% of the link panhandlers don't reply or submit articles. Those that do usually get published and linked. Most of them rank pretty well in a short time, therefore giving the submitter pretty good PR links, and increasing the content and relevancy at my site (or clients) and increasing the value of the links to the article submitters.

This is my strategy to get links for myself and for clients as well. Submit my articles (and sometimes ghost written ones for clients) to those sites we want links from. Many do publish them and if they won't include the article, they very often DO include the link from their links directory anyway. Win/Win. I've been a long-time advocate for article marketing and use it extensively to rank well for myself and others. Offer something of value in exchange for links instead of panhandling for them - it works wonders.

The thing I don't understand is sites that are full of articles and WON'T accept one from a particular client or from me because we are perceived as competitors. That is shortsighted and paranoid. The clear reason is that an article serves as a perfect sales letter of sorts.

They are horrified that anyone who reads it on THEIR site will actually click through to my site from the reesource box and hire me over them. What often happens instead is that people read the article and look up at the existing site navigation, then click through to the sales page and hire THEM. I've actually just done a sales job for the competitor by having my article on their site.

Well I'm so busy right now, I say more power to them.

Article marketing works to increase visibility and PageRank for BOTH of us, so many are willing to host the articles and link to me (or clients) from those articles. They are the smart ones. You will never be found in a link directory. Humans don't look at them and search engines are devaluing them anyway.

Do I need to tell you that this is on my blog and will be an article soon?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

SEO is Dead! Makes for Wonderful Discussion Topic!

Monday I got my LED discussion list and I had to laugh out loud when I read the LED headline, "SEO is Dead" :-D from Ken Evoy of SiteSell fame. That line seems much like VERY good discussion generating bait and seems to have worked.

It's difficult to believe that someone who talks so much about search engines on their site could actually believe that line. As a matter of fact, it is clear that Ken Evoy does NOT believe SEO is dead with the following coming from the webmaster page of his own site

"SBI! provides "single click" keyword analysis for each page, tracking over 30 parameters critical for high Search Engine rankings (ex., keyword density, keyword patterns, keyword prominence, TITLE and HEADING tags, META tags, etc., etc.). SBI! gives specific modification recommendations to make SEO quick and easy."

The Sitesell system constantly recommends extensive content for SEO purposes on dozens other pages and sections. Obviously, if you are making SEO recommendations and claims for your own system and to all your own affiliates, you can't believe that SEO is dead. Nice discussion bait though.

Fortunately we had a level headed response from Shari Thurow, one of the best in the business and recognized expert on the topic at ClickZ and speaker at top web conferences and the SES (Search Engine Strategies) shows worldwide. Danny Sullivan of SearchEngineWatch is likely to disagree as well.

Speaking of Danny Sullivan, I hope to meet any of you attending his upcoming special Search Engine Watch Forums Live! event in Anaheim, California, at the Disneyland® Hotel on Thursday, October 27th, from 1:30pm - 6pm. (Or any of eleven SES events worldwide from Milan, Italy to Tokyo, Japan to Nanjing, China over the next 10 months)

If you miss that one, maybe you can make it to the WebMasterWorld of Search event in Las Vegas on November 15-17 at the LV Convention Center.

By the way, Detlev Johnson, formerly of Audette Media's I-Search is launching a new discussion list on that dead industry.

For a something so dead, it sure has a lively industry. Nice discussion bait though. ;-) Maybe we'll soon have CTPM (Content, Traffic, Presell, Monetize) conferences? ;-) Nice ebook too. I was glad to see you mention "Reality" so often in that ebook you shared with us. It's where I spend most of my time focusing.