Hi Roger ~
I can understand your frustration in trying to get a respectable
search engine results placement ("SERP" or "SERPs")and not getting
there; especially after "using submission services". I'll attempt to
answer your questions and give you some insight which you should find
Please understand, though, that Google Answers Researchers are
independent contractors, not employees of Google. As such, we do not
have any "inside information" on Google's closely-guarded algorithm,
or for any other search engine, for that matter. Those of us who
answer questions about Google's placement rely on experience,
knowledge and resources to give you reliable information to help you
achieve your goals.
Since you used Drum Bum as a reference, I'll use them in comparison to
your site, Power Jamms Inc., in order to understand the differences
and what they seem to be dong that you may not be doing.
1. Short Cuts
Your question, "But if there are any shortcuts to getting listed could
you tell me?", is the easiest to answer, because there are no
The Internet's top search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, and the
rest, enjoy their position at the top because they deliver 'relevant'
search engine results. If there were shortcuts, everyone would use
them, including those sites who really aren't relevant at all.
Therefore, whatever a particular search engine's technology and
algorithm, there aren't any shortcuts to getting a high placement, and
you can't buy your way in, either.
Yahoo has a for-pay submission, "Yahoo! Express", which charges a
recurring $299 a year, and they say, "Your payment and participation
in Yahoo! Express guarantees that within seven business days a member
of Yahoo!'s editorial staff will look at your site and consider it for
inclusion in the Yahoo! directory.
Please keep in mind that payment does not automatically guarantee
inclusion in the directory, site placement, or site commentary. As
with all sites suggested to us, final judgement remains solely with
Otherwise, it's the old-fashioned "Suggest A Site" method, which can
take up to three months, which is available here:
In either case, there is no guarantee your site will be listed in the
category(ies) you wish.
Google emphatically states ,
"Google does not accept payment for inclusion of sites in our index,
nor for improving the rank of sites in our results. We do offer
advertising opportunities adjacent to our results, which are always
clearly labeled "Sponsored Links." The method by which we find pages
and rank them as search results is determined by the PageRank
technology developed by our founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin."
What about "sponsored links" ?
Yahoo! offers "sponsor links" through Overture, a pay per click
advertising service, and it appears that Drum Bums utilizes this
service. You can get more information about that service here:
Google offers sponsored links through its very effective AdWords
Program, but paying for AdWords advertising will not even guarantee
placement in Google. (see above)
So, unfortunately, you must rely on other factors for a listing.
2. Submission Services &
You stated, "I have already tried several submission services with
little results." The use of submission services, especially those who
make promises guaranteeing "top search engine placement" or
"submission to a bazillion search engines" is pretty much throwing
your money away.
No one can promise top placement, although I might be able to get you
pretty high in "left-handed cat herders". Guarantees to the contrary
*MAY* get you listed high in a search term such as "learn drum" (even
though you're not in the first 100 SERPs for that term, and Drum Bums
is on the first page of results).
Of course, few would really search for the phrase "learn drum"
(singular), while those wishing to learn would be far more likely to
use the search term "learn drums", with or without the quotation
Google dedicates an entire page to and cautions about submission
services and search engine optimization services, in its WebMaster
If Using A Service - Use The Best
There are respected search engine specialists, such as
* Danny Sullivan of Calafia Consulting and editor of Search Engine
* Jill Whalen, of HighRankings.com,
* Grant Crowell and Shari Thurow of Grantastic Designs
The above are acknowledged to be among the top SEOs in the world and
have SEO services available. If this seems overwhelming, consulting
with them, whether for full service or for optimization suggestions,
might be something you may want to consider.
I would guess they were not the 'submission services' you are
Many 'submission services' will use unauthorized software, such as
WebPosition Gold, to submit sites and check SERPs. Google makes no
bones about the fact they may penalize sites using such software, even
going so far as to remove the sites. Google's Quality Guidelines -
Basic Principles states:
"Don't use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check
rankings, etc. Such programs consume computing resources and violate
our terms of service. Google does not recommend the use of products
such as WebPosition Gold that send automatic or programmatic queries
This probably wasn't done in your case, since you do have a Google
PageRank, but always make sure whoever you may hire for submission or
SEO doesn't use such software.
Meta tags, Keywords and Link Popularity
You said, "I already understand about meta tags, keywords and link
popularity." That's great, putting you ahead of the game, but those
are important factors which should at least be reviewed - especially
when comparing Power Jamms to Drum Bums.
Metatags and Keywords
To use them or not? And if so, how.
Because unscrupulous webmasters would often 'spam' metatag keywords,
most search engines, with the exception of Inktomi, don't give as much
weight to metatags as they used to.
Google states, "Think about the words users would type to find your
pages, and make sure that your site actually includes those words
within it." (See Design and Content Guidelines)
and in its "Page Rank Explained" says, "Google goes far beyond the
number of times a term appears on a page and examines *** ALL ***
aspects of the page's content (and the content of the pages linking to
it) to determine if it's a good match for your query." [Emphasis
More emphasis is placed on content - relevant content - than on
keyword density. This is discussed in several threads on
For instance a thread on keyword density as compared to titles,
headings and text in this thread:
In the interest of keywords, though, let's compare Power Jamms' and
Drum Bum's keywords to see what the page would be considered to be
Power Jamms - Single Word Density Drum Bum's - Single Word Density
Total Words: 31 Total Words: 25
Occurrences: 121 Occurrences: 139
Count Word Density Count Word Density
----- ------ ------- ----- ---- -------
14 guitar 11.57% 35 drum 5.18%
12 learn 9.92% 12 music 8.63%
10 drum 8.26% 11 gifts 7.91%
9 lessons 7.44% 10 gift 7.19%
8 play 6.61% 8 lessons 5.76%
5 books 4.13% 7 accessories 5.04%
5 items 4.13% 7 tabs 5.04%
4 drums 3.31% 6 drums 4.32%
4 piano 3.31% 6 shirts 4.32%
4 videos 3.31% 3 database 2.16%
3 instructional 2.48% 3 drummers 2.16%
3 materials 2.48% 3 drumset 2.16%
3 order 2.48% 3 hats 2.16%
3 powerjamms 2.48% 3 ties 2.16%
2 3786 1.65% 2 clocks 1.44%
2 book 1.65% 2 decals 1.44%
2 call 1.65% 2 drummer 1.44%
2 cost 1.65% 2 drumsticks 1.44%
2 high 1.65% 2 items 1.44%
2 instruction 1.65% 2 jewelry 1.44%
2 keyboard 1.65% 2 keychains 1.44%
2 keyboards 1.65% 2 novelty 1.44%
2 leonard 1.65% 2 shop 1.44%
2 lesson 1.65% 2 stickers 1.44%
2 pace 1.65% 2 unique 1.44%
2 product 1.65%
2 products 1.65%
2 quality 1.65%
2 shipping 1.65%
2 toll 1.65%
2 video 1.65%
Using Search Engine World's Keyword Density Analyzer
I find it interesting that the first phrase in your keywords is "learn
drum", yet your highest ranking word is "guitar", mentioned 14 times.
Drum Bum's first keyword is "drum", a word which appears 35 times on
the home page.
It might be surmised your website is about guitars, and not about
Drum Bum's page also has more references drum-related words as well.
Although there isn't as much weight given to keywords, there *is* more
reference on the Drum Bum's page to drum and drum-related material
than there is on Power Jamms page.
This may be a good time for you to consider what terms you want to be
found under and to change your pages to include rich content
containing those words.
Google recommends just that in its Design and Content Guidelines,
saying "Create a useful, information-rich site and write pages that
clearly and accurately describe your content."
Link Popularity - PageRank
As quoted above, Google's search engine results placement is based on
PageRank, that is the amount of links to your page.
Using the Google Toolbar, Drum Bum's PageRank is 6/10, and Power
Jamms' PageRank is 4/10.
A check using Google's link: tool, which measures links TO a site,
gives the following results:
www.powerjamms.com - 25 www.drumbum.com - 588
http://www.powerjamms.com - 8 http://www.drumbum.com - 311
http://powerjamms.com - 0 http://drumbum.com - 5
powerjamms.com - 40 drumbum.com - 692
It is pretty clear from those results that Drum Bum has considerably
more links to it than Power Jamms.
Power Jamms has a respectable amount of links FROM the site, although
you may want to keep close watch on Link Partners. Google cautions
about the use of linking schemes in its Content Guidelines - Basic
Principles, "Don't participate in link schemes designed to increase
your site's ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web
spammers or "bad neighborhoods" on the web as your own ranking may be
affected adversely by those links."
You might consider linking to more relevant sites than those who match
So What Can You Do
To Get Better Positioning?
The Basics - HTML
Shari Thurow, one of the leading authorities in search engine
optimization, and author of the book "Search Engine Visibility",
recently observed the following about HTML:
"Clean HTML is absolutely imperative for search engine indexing.
Browsers are extremely forgiving when it comes to displaying pages
with "unclean" HTML (unclosed tags, no quotation marks, etc.). Search
engine spiders are not so forgiving. Even something as simple as a
missing quotation mark on the <.a href="page.html"> can cause a spider
to not index text or a link." (See: Link Exchange Digest, July 3,
2003, "Clean HTML")
Differentiating between search engine indexing and search engine
ranking, she explained how errors in HTML can affect your ability to
be indexed, and ultimately, ranked.
Below are some HTML elements which are often overlooked or omitted,
but which play an important part in your visitor's experience when he
visits your site. A good rule of thumb is always "what's good for the
visitor is good for search engines." The following, considered
"basics" for the best visitor experience are:
1. DOCTYPE Declaration
DOCTYPES are essential to the proper rendering and functioning of web
documents in compliant browsers. It is also essential for the search
engines to understand and follow the coding contained on your pages.
DOCTYPE is explained and discussed further in "A List Apart",
and in Web Design Group's article, "Choosing a DOCtype",
Google recommends designing your site for your visitors, as opposed to
trying to design your site for PageRank. Among the recommendations are
to "[m]ake a site with a clear hierarchy and text links. Every page
should be reachable from at least one static text link."
Your navigation is pretty consistent, except for your link - in the
middle of your site navigation - to Hal Leonard Search. While you do
explain that on the first page, there is no such explanation
elsewhere, and it may be very confusing to your visitor when he
discovers himself on someone else's website.
While you may be selling Hal Leonard's products, what do your logs
show? How many people leave the site there and don't return? Could it
be they are ordering directly from Hal Leonard?
How difficult would it be to add items to a catalog on your own site?
If you are an affiliate of Hal Leonard, he should be able to help you
set it up or at least make the transition seamless.
Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. 794
and 794d, set forth the minimum government standards for
Among these standards are such items as ALT and TITLE tags (as
discussed above), and website design which will enable those with
special needs to be able to access and understand your web site.
You might want to run each page of your site through Bobby, which will
give you a full context report of any portions of your site which do
not meet the minimum standards. If you make all the corrections
suggested, it will greatly enhance any search engine's ability to
crawl your website as well.
The Bobby analysis page can be found here:
5. Aesthetics - What's Above the Fold
While not as important for search engine crawlers as it is for your
site's visitors, you should have your important content appear "above
the fold". "Above the fold" means that first screen full of
Considered to be important things that should appear above the fold:
* Your logo or company slogan to help establish your brand.
* WIIFM (What's in it for me?). A list of some benefits your visitors
will enjoy by staying on your site or buying your products or
services. This should include keywords for the search engines and
should focus on the visitors.
What is the biggest benefit to your visitors?
Your first page is in all caps, which is very hard to read. In
addition, the text is centered which only adds to the problem.
Drop the capitalization, and left justify your text. You could also
add to the content, repeating in a contextual manner those important
words and phrases you want your site found under in search engines.
6. Establishing Links
As stated, Google's PageRank is based on the number of pages which
link to your site.
"The best way to ensure Google finds your site is for your page to be
linked from lots of pages on other sites. Google's robots jump from
page to page on the Web via hyperlinks, so the more sites that link to
you, the more likely it is that we'll find you quickly." (SEE Google's
" How Do I Get My Site Listed on Google? - 2. Submitting Your site")
There are many practical ways of establishing links which are
beneficial to you in your endeavor to get respectable position
placement on search engines. These methods may take time, but they
also help in establishing credibility and help with your page rank.
Approach like-minded or complementary businesses about linking to your
site (with a reciprocal link from your own). This works without
harming search engine positioning or page rank.
A WORD OF WARNING (AGAIN):
Google specifically warns "Don't participate in link schemes designed
to increase your site's ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid
links to web spammers or "bad neighborhoods" on the web as your own
ranking may be affected adversely by those links." (See Google's
Quality Guidelines - Basic principles)
It stands to reason that what's good for Google, currently ranked as
the number one search engine is good rule to follow for other search
Articles on Link Popularity
A couple of excellent articles on how to establish the right kind of
links are available in Traffick's "Ten Steps to Building Links to Your
Site", Craig Fifield - 5/3/2002
and "The Right Way to Improve Link Popularity", By Paul J. Bruemmer -
Notice both articles offer suggestions which can be easily adapted for
use on any website without resorting to link farms. They both point
out the differences and offer easy ways to get started to the kind of
linking search engines prefer.
Consumer Web Watch and Stanford University conducted a study on
website credibility. Among those things considered necessary to
establish credibilility, whether or not they were actually read
in-depth, were a Privacy Statement, guarantees, and information about
the principals of a business. You can read the results on the Consumer
Web Watch site here:
Notice that Drum Bum offers those features, some of them on their
first page, but the others are available from every page on their
You should add those to your own website in order to add to your
visitor's peace of mind and encourage doing business for you. It only
makes you look good - and adds to your credibility as a merchant.
Some search engines gather their own listings for the main results
they display. For example, Google crawls the web itself for the main
results it shows. Other search engines use third-party search
providers for their results. For instance, the main search results at
AOL come from Google's crawler-based listings, rather than from work
Below are the top search engines as determined by Nielsen Net Ratings:
* Google -
* DMOZ -
* All The Web -
* Hotbot & Lycos InSite (requires registration)
* Yahoo! -
* Zeal -
MSN's search submit is located here:
which takes you to LookSmart, a "for-pay" listing, and can be found
If you are listed on other important engines, it is pretty certain you
will also be listed on MSN.com, or you can use the LookSmart
As noted above, there is no short cut. You need to combine the
elements of good web design, linking strategy and keep an eye on what
is happening in search engine technology to enjoy a good search engine
results placement and keep it.
An excellent way to stay on top of search engine developments is to
join Webmaster World and watch the discussion threads.
Another excellent source is Danny Sullivan's Search Engine Watch,
Knowing the rules and then keeping your site within those rules should
help you get where you want to be.
Search Terms Used
- sponsored links
- "sponsored links" + placement
- search engine submission
- keyword density
- seo + page design
Best of luck,