Muschamp Rd

More Search Engine Optimization Advice

This article is a little dated, I suggest you read my more recent posts in the SEO archive of my blog. A lot of what I said below is probably still true, but social media plays a larger part in search engine optimization than it did in 2005.

Part of my future plans for seems to be a series of articles on search engine optimization. I've been carefully observing the internet and search engines for almost ten years. I've had a homepage online for all that time and although I've never tried to monetize my homepage I have noticed the rise in AdSense ads just about everywhere else. These ads, a product of Google, are directly tied into its search engine algorithm. They represent one of the most direct ways to make money from ranking highly for a given keyword search.

I haven't added AdSense to yet, but I've given it some thought. I've also had offers to join banner affiliate programs particularly on my Nurgle subdomain. I like the clean look of my site and have so far been able to afford the bandwidth. If my site suddenly becomes ridiculously popular I may have to rethink things.

Pages in the Search Engines

One thing you need to learn if you are going to try your hand at the search engine optimization game is how to make the search engines give you the information you want. For instance, do you know how many pages of a given site are officially indexed in Google? This information is easily obtained by using the following keyword in you search site: the colon is important for my site I use In addition you can put normal keywords as well in this search, so if you want to know how many pages I have that discuss my mom you could use mom.

By using these reserved keywords in the various engines you can find out how many pages you have in the index and how many pages link to your domain. There are often more pages and links but the search engine only returns the most important ones. I prepared the following table on July 28th 2005 to see how many pages and links I have so I could monitor it as I tweak my site.

Search Engine Pages Indexed Search Term Links to Search Term
Ask 174 Muskie 212*
Google 106 9
MSN 256 12
Yahoo 126 143 link:

There are other ways to obtain this information and more of interest to SEOs.

*For links, inurl: is much more generous in counting internal links than link: There are on and offline tools to measure your link popularity, I often do it by hand as real people searching the internet use the search boxes not some special API, plus I generally just do it on a whim.

Value of a Site Map

One long missing feature from is the site map. This page contains a link to every other page on a site, or at least the most important ones. This can help both human users and search engine robots find what they are looking for. Google recently added a site map feature to their search engine. They released a python script to generate the XML site maps automatically, but I don't have shell access at my webhost. So I built mine by hand.

There are probably other tools that can generate a site map automatically by transversing your domain structure. I'm sure a pretty simple script could be written or downloaded but I want mine to be tidily boo so I did it by hand, much to my roommate's amazement.

As a result of having a site map I hope some of my deeper pages get indexed. I'll even predict that I should see an increase in my logs for the keywords Plaguemarine and Plague marine.

The Power of the Blogosphere

Unless you've been living under a cyber shell you should be aware of the rise of the blogosphere. Blogs are basically online journals. Their power over search engine results stems from three factors:

  1. They are primarily text based.
  2. They are updated regularly.
  3. They link to each other.
All three of these factors are generally considered by the search engines to indicate a relevant site. Thus many blogs written by average Joes began to wield considerable power online.

SEOs, particularly of the black hat variety, noticed this fact and this led to the rise of comment spam among other things. Mainstream marketers have noticed the blog phenomenon. Many big internet properties offer free blogging tools and big corporations often have their own blog now. As the number of blogs online continues to rise, their power has not diminished, in fact it probably has continued to increase. In order to keep the search engine results from becoming too blog dominated, the big three have banded together to implement the nofollow attribute.

As someone who has had a home page for coming up on ten years online, I thought a blog was beneath me. Blogs are for people who aren't clever enough to understand HTML and FTP right? Not necessarily, it is true there are tools available that have made publishing online so easy even the Chairman of GM can do it. Easiness isn't the point of blogs. The point of blogs is the rapid dissemination of information unfiltered by big media. Blogs are free speech. Blogs empower minorities and the marginal of society. Blogs are a niche marketers or buzz marketers dream.

If you don't have a blog, you should probably stop reading this and run over to Blogger and sign up for a free one now. Still here? Then I guess I can reveal that adding a blog to has always been on my ta do list. However little things like my MBA have occupied my time. I did look into using WordPress last summer however.

But before I add a blog, there are a few other things I have to do first. Even without a blog there are still ways to use the blogosphere to improve your search engine rankings. Although comment spam is bad, leaving comments that are on topic and providing links to relevant information is A-OK with bloggers. To that end I plan to follow several blogs more regularly and comment where appropriate.

That said my other complaint about blogs and reason I gafaufed when Ian Christie insisted everyone needed a blog while addressing our class is: most blogs suck. There I said it. I've found that the old adage that 90% of everything is crap to be true. Most blogs are poorly written drivel. I mean isn't a paragon of literature but I try to spellcheck and by most accounts provide a reasonably professional, informative, and entertaining reading experience. So as part of my vow to pay more attention to the blogosphere as it continues to grow, I also plan to find the 10% of blogs that don't suck. I've expanded the number of blogs I link to from my big page o' links but that number is sure to fluctuate. As I become bored with a blog I will banish it. If I could only recommend one 'blog' I would recommend Jeffery Zeldman Presents: The Daily Report. This page predates the whole blog scene and has been online for ten years and has consistently proven to not be crap.

Site Maintenance

It's not the sexiest aspect of building a great webpage but it is vital to both your human and robot visitors to perform site maintenance regularly. This means running a link checker now and then, fixing your spelling mistakes and typos, adding fresh content and keeping things organized behind the scenes. It was this latter task that I also recently performed that may have a negative effect on my Google Image Search aspirations. I moved some of my images into new Pictures subdirectories to keep the number of files in a given directory a manageable number.

More on my MBA image search optimization attempts

Anne DeWolfe, Jason Schultz and his wife

Here are some pictures from another MBA social event I was unable to attend due to personal problems. Our class has had a series of hashes only one of which I attended and even then I did not enjoy it. I was in a miserable mood and only went as I had gone through a lot of trouble to assemble my costume.

Anne DeWolfe, Brian Roth his girlfriend, and Sophia

One person who seems to have made it out to at least one of our hashes is Anne DeWolfe. She's in both pictures which I liberated from our newsletter. No one is sure why she came, perhaps it is because she cares about her MBA students... Although it seems Anne is not above dragging a student into the MBA Office and accusing them of a serious offence without investigating first. She seems to have become embroiled in a lawsuit where MBA students have sued UBC.

I discovered these last little tidbits by using A9. Another alternative search engine I've recently tried using is Clusty, my favourite outside the big three remains KartOO.

Me, Marlene Lau and her friend Steve

The picture of me, expressing my displeasure at being photographed with my own camera, was taken at the Enterprize benefit concert. This evening was perhaps the last happy night of my life. Note my fine choice in t-shirts. Marlene's friend Steve complimented me on it, even Marlene seemed pleased with me that evening. Having tried being Marlene Lau's friend I wouldn't want to be her enemy.

Although I've been primarily concerned with getting pictures from my website to come up for certain keyword searches in Google's Image search I recently had the brainstorm of using in image search to see just what images Google has indexed. By carefully examining the results on July 31st 2005 I was able to determine that although Google has indexed 100's of pictures from my site, the ones of my MBA classmates were not yet among them.

Several of my female Chinese classmates flex their muscles

Pictured to the right are yet more of my lovely and talented female Chinese classmates. From left to right are:

Would you look at the pipes on those gals!?!? Actually they might benefit from taking some buffing lessons from BuffMother or Maggie Wang. This picture was taken on some sort of Chinese girls only hiking expedition. Actually I'm not sure how many of those pictured actually hold Chinese passports... I have to be careful what I say about the Chinese seeing as I'm going to China and I don't want to add to my reputation as the class shit disturber. Actually I'm not sure what my reputation is among my classmates now, Chinese or otherwise, I've had more than my share of problems during my MBA.

Michelle Kang who must have taken the photo isn't Chinese at all. I lifted the photo from her online gallery. Notably absent, at least to me, is Marlene Lau. Perhaps she, Tracy Yang, and Anni Cao aren't so tight after all? Yet another point to raise next time I talk to Marlene. I haven't heard from any these ladies over the summer. In fact I haven't heard from Tracy and Anni in considerably longer.

I wrote more on SEO or maybe less about SEO and more about what I was going through at the time.

Words and Images © Andrew "Muskie" McKay.
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