Hi Roger ~
Before I address this question and to refresh your memory, I'll refer
you to the answers to questions you have asked previously. I've
included links to them below:
August 13, 2003 -
November 8, 2003 -
November 9, 2003 -
That information on how to design your site (and that means each page
within your site), plus Google's recommendations, suggestions and
warnings on what *not* to do, are becoming increasingly important.
What you are presently seeing in Google's search results may not
necessarily be the greatest or most relevant results for your specific
search terms, "learn drums", "learn to play drums", and "drum
lessons"; but the average searcher looking for that information is
probably unaware of a deterioration of Google's results.
If you want to be included for those results, you have to design your
site with "good", user-friendly and search engine-friendly html, rich
content and have relevant links to your site. There really is no
substitute for that combination.
And when you get to the top, you have to add content and improve your
site's content, or your competitors will overtake you with better
content, better user-friendly design, and better relevant links.
Coincidently with your question, Jill Whalen's current newsletter,
"High Rankings", included a discussion about the latest "shakeup" in
Google's SERPs. As Jill astutely points out:
1. The average searcher isn't really noticing any lesser quality
in search engine results.
2. Google has hired some of the most intelligent brains in the
industry; and if the results we're seeing is a mistake, it
will be fixed. If it's not a mistake, then it's one step
closer to improving and delivering the most relevant results
for a search query.
3. If you rank well in the other search engines, you don't need
to worry too much about making major changes. If you don't -
this is the best time to pull out the Guidelines and make
sure your pages measure up to the recommendations and sugges-
you can read Jill's answer to the question, "++It's All About Keyword
Focus++" in today's High Rankings newsletter here:
Pay particular attention to this advice she gave David:
"If you were in need of a redesign or whatever anyway,
then go for it. Just don't do it because your site
is missing from the rankings this week..."
She also pointed out that if you do have troubles with your site, now
is "definitely the time to fix them".
"If your site is ranking well in all of the other
search engines, then you've probably got a good,
relevant site and I wouldn't recommend changing it
at this time."
I mentioned all of the above as a preface, because it is relevant to
your current question.
The answers to your previous questions are as good at this moment as
they were then. I am glad you were moving up in the rankings, but I
also notice that you still have duplicate content on another site, for
If this is showing up in search engine results and I can find it, so
can the search engine crawlers. Eventually this will come back to
haunt you, especially in light of Google's admonition against
duplicate content. (Google's "Quality Guidelines - Specific
You are still using links like the one below for "Products for
Keyboard & Piano", which are choking search engine crawlers.
There are better ways to link to the material, but this way is
definitely NOT to your benefit. This is also covered in this week's
High Rankings newsletter in Mike Banks Valentine's article, "Don't
Play Hide-and-Seek with Search Engines."
The article also has two excellent links to how to link better,
Taking Jill Whalen's advice, I searched the following search engines
for the phrases you asked about. The results are listed below.
drum learn learn to
Search Engine lessons drums play drums
==================== ========= ========= ==========
Open Directory Project
www.dmoz.org Not listed
All The Web
www.alltheweb.com 3d page 1st pg 1st pg
www.altavista.com 4th page 2nd pg 2nd pg
www.hotbot.com 70th place 5th place 11th place
Yahoo! not in not in
www.yahoo.com first 100 46th place first 100
www.msn.com 65th place 5th place 10th place
As you can see, you're ranking in most of the search engines, although
you're not listed in DMOZ.org.
It is a fact of life that there are sites ranking higher than yours.
If that concerns you, consider what they're doing that you're not.
Combine that with understanding what visitors are actually seeking -
and then provide it, and you should have no problems.
In answer to your question, "Wouldn't it be fair for more companies to
have a single listing than for a few companies to dominate the best
In a perfect world, this might be the case. On the other hand, you
must remember that search engines deliver web PAGES in response to
search queries, and it is not unusual to see a page from within a site
ranking higher than the site's "home page".
Since you can't cover everything in depth on the home page, this is
not unusual. If there is more than one listing for a particular web
site, it is usually because those PAGES (plural) contain relevant
information, which is determined by the various search engines'
Rest assured it isn't personal ... when you're indexing over 3.5
billion pages, there's nothing personal about it at all - it is merely
a complicated, weighted set of criteria that measures which pages get
presented. And those criteria for all search engines include the
combination of user-friendly and search engine-friendly design,
relevant content and relevant links to those sites.
Taking a look at one site, DrumBum - they rank so well and so
consistently for many reasons. Among those are the simple html design
engine crawlers; there are 192 high ranking links to the site and over
6,000 other links which aren't included under Google's "link" tool,
and there is a lot of content, even if a lot is about links to other
The above, plus what I am sure is an aggressive campaign, is what
ranks them highly. This didn't happen overnight, but it is actually a
good example of what can be accomplished with a determined campaign.
I noticed that overnight you have a new site design. You might want to
change your all caps text to upper and lower case, it's easier to read
and less irritating to your visitors. It helps, too, to add a blank
line between paragraphs. Remember the advice from Google and every
reputable SEO expert, make your pages user friendly.
Lastly, to reiterate, if you're satisfied with your listings in the
other search engines, I'd not worry too much about the results of this
last Google algorithm change. I doubt it is permanent, and my own
opinion is that it is a part of the continuing process of perfecting
their algorithms to bring the most relevant returns for a search
Search terms used:
Besides the specific searches listed above, I relied on material used
in the regular course of business.
Roger, I can see you're working to increase your ranking, and you've
done pretty well since last year. I suspect this particular shakeup is
merely a temporary "glitch" or perhaps a part of the continuing
process of presenting relevant pages in answer to search queries. As
Jill said, if it is a mistake, it will be fixed.
If there is some other reason, I am sure it is ephimeral. Google has
too much at stake to leave results that are less than ideal. Annoying
as it is, the best I can offer is to "hang in there".
Google Answers Researcher