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Painful portals
The use of portals — those web sites that are designed to funnel users to other web sites and
content — as a search engine placement tool is a hotly debated topic. Many experts will start
throwing around the word “spam” when the subject of SEO and portals comes up. And there
have been serious problems with portals that are nothing more than search engine spam. In the
past, portals have certainly been used as an easy link-building tool offering nothing more than
regurgitated information. Sometimes the information is vaguely reworded, but it’s the still the
same information.
Search engine operators have long been aware of this tactic and have made every effort to hinder
its usefulness by looking for duplicate content, interlinking strategies, and other similar indicators.
Using these techniques, search engines have managed to reduce the usefulness of portal web sites
as SEO spam mechanisms.
However, because search engine operators need to be cautious about portals that are nothing more
than SEO spam, your job in optimizing your site if it’s a portal is a little harder. As with all web-site
design, the best objective for your site, even for a portal, is to help your visitors achieve a desired
result, whether that’s purchasing a product, signing up for a newsletter, or finding the desired infor-
mation. If you make using your site easy and relevant, your site visitors will stay on your site longer,
view more pages, and return to your site in the future. Portals help you reach these goals by acting
as excellent tools for consolidating information into smaller, more manageable sources of informa-
tion that users find easier to use and digest.
Too often people optimizing web sites focus on the spiders and forget about the visitors. The sites you
are developing have to appeal to the visitors and provide them with the information that they’re look-
ing for, or all you’ll get at the end of the day is hosting bills and low conversion rates. Portal web sites
enable you to create a series of information resources giving full information on any given topic while
structuring a network of information covering a much larger scope.
Though the visitor is of significant importance when building a web site, the site itself is of primary
significance, too. There’s no point in creating a beautiful web site if no one’s going to see it, and por-
tals are a fantastic tool for increasing your online visibility and search engine exposure, for a wide
variety of reasons.
Perhaps the most significant of these reasons is the increase in keywords that you can use in portal
promotion. Rather than having one web site with which to target a broad range of keywords, portals
allow you to have many web sites, each of which can have its own set of keywords. For example,
instead of trying to put “deer hunting” and “salt-water fishing” on the same page, you can create a
hunting portal that allows you to have separate sites for deer hunting, salt-water fishing, and any
other type of hunting activity that you would like to include.
On one page it is much easier to target the two keyphrases “deer season” and “Mississippi hunt-
ing license” than it is to target two keyphrases like “deer season” and “marlin fishing.” Targeting
incompatible keywords or phrases — that is, keywords or phrases that aren’t related to a larger
topic — makes it harder to have both readable, relevant content and to reach the keywords that
you need to use.
SEO Strategies
Part II
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