Q: Question on PageRank. In your book you stated, "Concentrate on getting as many different quality sites as possible to link to one page on your site, usually your homepage. Do not spread the links to different pages."

I have started a shopping directory with multiple categories; shirts, shoes, socks, etc. Each category page will target a different keyword for that particular products. Let's say I get some sites about "shoes" to link to me. Shouldn't I have them link to my shoe category? Should I have them link to my homepage? If I have all incoming links point to my homepage, then how can I improve the SERP (Search Engine Ranking Positions) for the category pages? Can you give me some advice on a good linking strategy for a site with multiple categories?

A: If you have a site that covers many topics, then it makes sense to get other websites to link to the main category pages for each topic. The advice I give for getting other sites to link to the homepage is mainly for sites that cover one or two topics. It's better to build the PageRank up on the homepage. This way the high PageRank will spread onto the lower-category pages.

For example:

Homepage - 6
Level 2 pages - 5
Level 3 pages - 4
and so on.

Whereas getting sites to link directly to lower level pages will probably do this:

Homepage - 5
Level 2 pages - 4
Level 3 pages - 3
and so on.

Your homepage cannot get top rankings for lots of keyword phrases, so in your situation, it would probably be better to get sites to link directly to subcategory pages.

Another thing you have to take into consideration is the landing page that visitors who click through on the links on the other sites land on. If you direct everyone to the homepage, they will have to find to find the category pages they are interested in. Whereas linking directly to a subcategory page, they land on the webpage they are interested in.

Q: I'm looking for software to use in my site redesign. My HTML knowledge is limited, so I'd want something that does most of that for you, but gives you the capability of doing some HTML writing/editing directly as well, as I learn more about optimizing the site. Obviously I want something that's in wide enough use so that I can continue to use it for years to come. Can you recommend anything beside something like Dreamweaver which is probably too complicated to learn for my purposes, and more sophisticated than I think I need?

A: Yes, of course. A couple of programs worth trying is Microsoft FrontPage and CoffeeCup HTML. They are both very popular programs, used by millions of webmasters, and should be around for a while. You might find the links below useful. They offer download links for various HTML software programs.

http://download.cnet.com/windows/web-development-software/ (Windows)
http://download.cnet.com/mac/web-development-software/ (Mac)

Q: I have a question regarding a section of your book, "Why I Believe Themed Web-Sites Do Not Improve Search Engine Rankings". You give two examples of your own websites where the search engines ranked highly, that are primarily based on single pages containing your "bio". What is the use of having many pages of keyword content, if the search engines are going to rank you on one page?

A: Each webpage should be targeted for one specific keyword phrase. You see, the point I tried to make in the section you refer to in my book is that search engines see each webpage individually. It doesn't matter if you have one hundred webpages under one domain, or one hundred domains each containing one webpage. They can all rank at the top of the search engines.

Q: I've been making changes to my webpages, checking the next day, making more changes, and so on… but I haven't noticed any improvements to my rankings. What am I doing wrong?

A: There is no need to make changes to the same webpages everyday. That is a complete waste of your time. I would recommend making changes once every 2 months or so, after you have given the search engines a chance update their index.

Having said that, there is a way of speeding up the entire process to a few days; pay for your webpages to be included in search engines such as Yahoo and MSN. This is known in the industry as pay-for-inclusion listings. Google do not offer this option.

With this method, you can quickly find out, within 2-3 days, whether your optimization efforts have worked or not. If you haven't achieved the desired rankings, simply modify your webpages, wait for the search engines to come around again, and then check your rankings. You can do this almost indefinitely, until you do achieve the desired rankings. It does cost money, but the investment may well prove profitable in the end.

Q: My competitors are using all kinds of illegal SEO tricks to get top rankings. Should I try these tricks to get top rankings?

A: No. Don't worry about websites that use banned SEO techniques. The search engines will catch up with them sooner or later.

The analogy I use is... websites that use banned SEO techniques are no different from people who break the law. They may get ahead quicker than law abiding citizens, and even get away with it for a while. But we all know that sooner or later, the chances are the law will catch up with them, and they will lose everything.

You have to ask yourself, 'Am I willing to take this risk?'

Are you willing to risk losing all your rankings; and consequently all the traffic you get from the search engines?

Q: With regards to Google, I have had problems with getting the wrong page of my website set as "The Page" for a particular set of keywords. How do you overcome this to get the right page indexed.

A: A quick way to stop the search engines listing the wrong webpage for the targeted keyword phrase is to remove the keywords from the page in question. Search engines typically don't give high rankings to webpages that doesn't contain the targeted keywords. By removing the keywords from the page, this should stop the search engines from listing the webpage in question.

However, that may not be the end of it. If other webpages links to the webpage in question using the targeted keyword phrase, then the search engines may still consider that page as the most relevant webpage for the targeted keyword phrase on your website.

To correct this, you should either remove or change those links, or get more text links, using the exact keyword phrase, to point to the webpage you want the search engines to consider as the correct page for the targeted keyword phrase.