Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Gateway and doorway pages - where will they lead us?

What is a gateway page? What is a doorway page? Is there a difference between them? What is the difference?

As you can see, this could get complicated....... so I propose starting off simple - the definition of gateway and doorway pages is interchangeable; there is a difference between them, but only depending on who you listen to. What are gateway and doorway pages (and entry and portal and bridge pages....)

The common (and commonly interchangeable) definition of a gateway page is that which leads visitors into a site, offers a menu of all other pages available on the site, but may not necessarily be a structural part of the whole site. Sort of like a Gateway really, it leads visitors into a house, gives them a taste of the grandeur to be enjoyed within, but isn't actually part of the main building.

So moving on to the doorway page; this is sometimes defined as a page with the sole purpose of improving a web site's position amongst search engines, and so drawing more traffic into the site. The techniques used by doorway pages to improve the ranking of an entire site are less clearly defined, but presumably include the usual suspects (keyword placement, relevant content etc.)

Although if you take a step back from the over-analysis it is just possible that the definition of all of these pages is right there in front of you; gateway, doorway, portal, bridge,entry - they are all pages that lead a visitor deeper into a website.

So what is the difference?

Whilst I don't want to stand on the fence on this issue (we have enough furniture to deal with) it is possible that there is no absolute definition of these words. Research suggests that one of the pages could be designed to attract the visitor, and the other designed to attract the search engine.
This would be a nice definition (you can decide which one is the gateway and which is the doorway depending on your mood) if again, the two didn't basically amount to the same thing.

Unless one of these techniques involved some black hat activity (keyword stuffing etc.) to attract the search engines (which would backfire as spam anyway), or some serious graphics overload to put off the search engines (which might be ok if some relevant content were thrown in), the general consensus is that what is good for the search engine is good for the visitor.

So what is the answer?

It is little wonder that these terms are often confused, they kind of seem to mean the same thing. It gets even worse when you throw 'portals' and 'bridge' and 'entry' pages into the mix.

So the ultimate answer I can offer is this; gateway, doorway and portal pages are all ways of getting into a website. Like any published web pages they should contain keywords and be optimised for search engines and visitors alike to get maximum visibility in search engine results.

Monday, April 18, 2005

What is a podcast?

Whilst most of us are still getting to grips with blogging, a whole new world of internet technology has been created around it. Typical you might think, so here is a very brief description of 'podcasting' and what it has to do with blogging.

Where a blog allows rapid and global sharing of written information, podcasting can deliver auditory and video information across the world wide web. Essentially this means that people can create radio, and even television programmes, in their own home and broadcast them on the internet.

The technology used is closely linked to that of I-Pods and other MP3 players, but with 'Podcast' directories being established (much like a T.V. guide), the potential impact on 'traditional' media is awesome. Because the programmes are created independently by people in their homes, there is no control over content or censorship, yet, like blogs and traditional websites, a podcast has to be found before it can be viewed.

What really is blogging?

We have had a great many hesitant emails asking us, 'what is all this blogging business about?' Even though by reading this very blog you are seeing one for yourself, it can be difficult to grasp how they work and what good they do.

A blog is basically a very simple website used for sharing news, information and opinions. There are two important and exciting things about blogs (which is why they are causing such a stir):

  • They are crawled and indexed by search engines; viewed as 'news' blogs can do quite well when it comes to search result rankings, making them a useful (and often free) marketing tool.
  • Because they are websites, links from a blog can improve the page rank of another website, making them useful (and often free) marketing tools (are you seeing a theme?).
If you are considering setting up your own blog, just keep in mind the optimisation rules you would apply to a web page.
For a more detailed description of blogging visit the Web Certain Secrets newsletter.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Can I optimise my Flash site?

Alan Webb of Abakus, a leading optimiser, speaking at the search engine strategies conference in Munich has described the latest attempts to optimise Flash sites.

In general. Flash remains very difficult to optimise for and the only answer relates to generating alternative HTML pages.

Google is currently the only search engine which is capable of following links which are within a flash navigation and Yahoo and MSN remain unable to follow these links. However. this only means that Google is able to get to the linked-to page - not that the link adds any real value.

The major search engines worked with Macromedia to try and get around the problem of indexing Flash pages by inventing SDK which is a system for extracting text from Flash files - the problem with the system is that it doesn't format the text in any way and this still has to be done by hand - so in effect it doesn't help the situation. It is just as easy to create fresh HTML pages from the original content drafts.

There are various tricks to optimise Flash - but they all risk being penalised and - anyway - they just create HTML content and remove it from the user's view. It is therefore safer and just as effective to create alternative HTML which the user can also see.

Alan finished his talk by saying do you really need the flash? What about an animated Gif?

Andy Atkins-Krüger
Managing Director
Web Certain Europe Ltd
t: + 44 1904 425577

Can I optimise PDF documents for my web site?

The story with PDF is similar to HTML in that the search engines can handle the text well in PDF documents - but images contained within the documents are largely invisible. It is also important that PDF documents are created from a text system rather than a graphical software package which means, effectively that the whole document becomes an image.

It should be noted, however, that PDF documents are not particularly user-friendly and generally do not rank as well as HTML.
Andy Atkins-Krüger
Managing Director
Web Certain Europe Ltd
t: + 44 1904 425577

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Have your questions answered by Web Certain

Web Certain has launched a - search marketing questions answered blog - where questions will be anonymously answered. All you have to do is email Web Certain on and - we'll do the rest.