How To Do Portal Pages
Posted on August 29, 2000
by Tony L. Callahan
In previous articles we have discussed the importance of being
well placed in the search engines. We have discussed items such
as the fact that ninety-five percent of the surfers find the
sites they visit by querying the six major search engines. We
have also discussed the fact that if your site does not appear in
the first twenty to thirty results, it may as well not be there.
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The problem that many of us have run into is each of the six
major search engines use slightly different algorithms to
determine placement. A web page that places well in one search
engine may be relegated to obscurity in the others.
So is it possible to write one page that will place highly for
all of your keywords? I believe that the answer is no. Then is
there no hope of being well placed for more than one keyword or
phrase at a time? I believe the answer to this question is also
a resounding no! Good placement with multiple keywords can be
achieved through the use of portal pages.
Portal pages are pages that are designed to place well in the
search engine for a keyword or phrase. They can also be
optimized for one particular search engine. These pages then
provide links into the substance of your web site.
Now before someone accuses me of spamming the search engines, let
me make it clear that I am still talking about pages of value and
substance. The pages I am advocating are merely optimized to
give the page its best chance at good placement. It is
essentially having a customized entry page for each search engine
and keyword or phrase.
So how do you go about making a portal page?
The primary thing to keep in mind is this is the first page your
visitor will see. The portal page must follow all of the
principles of any other well designed page. It must be
interesting, eye catching and contain copy that compels the
visitor to continue through the rest of your site. With these
items in mind, we will now discuss techniques more specific to
First, decide what keyword or phrase you are optimizing the
portal page for. The process of creating portal pages is an
iterative one, there will be at least one page for every keyword.
The variable item in the process will be the keyword for which
the page is being optimized.
Create portal pages in directories that utilize the target
keyword or phrase. Name the file utilizing the keyword in the
name. Consider placing portal pages on other servers than the one
hosting the main website. They will have different IP addresses
and will be indexed separately but will still bring visitors to
the intended site. Do NOT flood the Web with portal pages. This
is clearly spamming and should result in the target site being
Next, the HEAD information must be optimized. This is
accomplished through the use of META tags. For this discussion,
I will cover the description, keywords, robots and title tags.
Description tag: the description META Tag is used by Alta
Vista, HotBot, InfoSeek and Web Crawler as the description
text for your listing. Ideally, the Description META Tag
should contain five to fifteen words but not exceed 1000
characters. Be as descriptive as possible within these
constraints. To boost your relevancy, use your keywords,
always ensuring that your description remains readable.
Keywords tag: place the targeted keyword or phrase in the
keywords tag. Add the plural form of the keyword, use the
keyword in a phrase. Keep your keywords tag to eight words or
less. Do NOT create a long list of keywords.
Robots tag: the robots tag can specify whether or not to
index this page and also to index pages linked to this one.
Always use the content="index,follow" tag.
Title tag: title tags are critical in search engine placement
algorithms. The title tag should contain at five to ten
good, descriptive words and not exceed 200 characters. Within
these parameters, the targeted keyword should be used,
preferably as the first word of the title. Keep in mind Alta
Vista, Excite, HotBot, InfoSeek, Lycos and Web Crawler use
the title tag as the title text for the web site listing.
Begin the copy with a heading tag. Within this headline, use the
targeted keyword or phrase. Plan to put between two hundred and
five hundred words of copy on the portal page. Some search
engines are imposing a spam penalty for pages with less than one
hundred words. Sprinkle the keyword or phrase liberally
throughout the copy. Make sure the copy is coherent and
compelling. Do NOT simply repeat your keywords over and over.
Avoid using words written in the same color as the background.
These technique guarantees the portal page will be evaluated as
spam by the search engine.
In general, avoid background images and image maps for portal
pages. If there are graphics on the page, be sure to use alt
tags. The alt tag text should contain the targeted keyword or
phrase. Use complete sentences and a different sentence for each
tag. Some search engines will also read comment tags. This is
an opportunity to use the keyword or phrase thereby increasing
the density and relevance. As with the alt tags, use complete
sentences and a different sentence in each comment.
Include two or three links to logical starting places within the
site on the portal page. A page with one link is triggers the
spam penalty in some search engines.
Avoid items that do not add content to be indexed. These items
the refresh tag. This will, without exception, trigger the
search engines spam penalty.
Portal pages are a controversial subject, some say they are spam
while others believe they are smart web site promotion.
Ultimately, every webmaster will have to decide for themselves.
Abuse of portal pages is certainly spamming. Used correctly and
in moderation, portal pages can be a valuable tool to improve a
web site's placement.
Tony L. Callahan is president of his own Internet marketing
company, Link-Promote http://www.link-promote.com. He also
publishes Web-Links Monthly, a free ezine full of tips, tricks,
tools and techniques for successful web site promotions. To
subscribe, send e-mail to: Web-Linksfirstname.lastname@example.org.