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New InSites into the FAST Search Engine (Part 3)
Interview with Stephen Baker, Director of Business Development and Marketing

By: Robin Nobles

Robin Nobles, Director of Training, Academy of Web Specialists, (www.academywebspecialists.com) has trained several thousand people in her online search engine marketing courses (www.onlinewebtraining.com) and is the content provider for (GRSeo) Search Engine Optimizer software (www.se-optimizer.com). She also teaches 3-day hands on search engine marketing workshops in locations across the globe with Search Engine Workshops (www.searchengineworkshops.com).

(Click here for part 1.)
(Click here for part 2.)

How does FAST feel about cloaking? In Dallas, Mr. Baker and I had a long discussion about cloaking and how the FAST engine feels about it. We even served on a panel where a question came up about cloaking and about responsible cloaking guidelines.

As I mentioned to him, from our position as SEO's, we see the issues from opposite perspectives. Of course, we don't have a front row seat to the parade of spam but, even so, our viewpoint is dictated by that of legitimate businesses trying to ethically compete in arenas that are often very competitive and sometimes dominated by nefarious position jockeying. Therefore, on the issue of cloaking, I pointed out instances where it's the only tool available that prevents our work from being stolen. My thinking is there's no harm done provided that a person follows all of the engine's guidelines and does not spam in any way.

Baker's response:
"Unfortunately, the 20% of sites that use redirects maliciously ruin it for the rest. Redirects and cloaks have become such a hassle that we can't afford to risk indexing them. We do work through PartnerSite IV customers to index cloaks. However, they are sent through a rigorous spam-detection process."
When I asked if we could show we're not trying to hide anything -- perhaps form a partnership aimed at quality control within the framework of cloaking? His reply, "I agree with that. That is the best option."

The rest of the our dialogue went like this...

Robin: Does it have to be PartnerSite IV -- some small companies couldn't quite afford that option.

Baker: Currently, it would be through PartnerSite IV. However, we do plan to extend that offering to the other PartnerSite versions in the future.

Robin: Since redirects are frowned upon, what should you do if you've moved your entire site, for example, and you need to direct traffic to the new domain?

Baker: It is always best to use META REFRESH tags rather than JavaScript to implement redirects if you want search engines to know about it. Most search engines do not fully parse JavaScripts to find out what they actually do. Using a META REFRESH tag tells us in a much better way what you are trying to achieve so that we can do whatever we think is most sensible with the page.

How to score at the top of FAST . . .

Now let's get down to the nitty gritty. What does it take to achieve a top ranked page with FAST?

Here are some tips from the FAST rep himself: Baker suggests,
"Good content that is unique, not general, always has the 'authoritative' effect and people begin to link to that site. This achieves good scores in the two areas we care most about:
  1. Static Rank, which is link analysis, and
  2. Dynamic Rank, which is keywords and content."
Also . . .
"Get a handful of authoritative sites linking to you. Link popularity plays a large factor in determining rank. If your site is diverse, with multiple focuses, make sure the pages are well written, keywords are appropriately placed, and have a handful of authoritative sites linking to the site."
Baker added,
"The trick, in my experience, is to get a handful of really good sites to link to a site that is non-thematic."
How important is link popularity with FAST? As with most engines, link popularity is an extremely important factor in determining relevancy.

Baker explains as follows,
"Be concerned with links in, not links out. Link score is part of the relevancy calculation and has a formulaic impact on ranking. However, if a site has no link score, ranking is negatively impacted."
I asked him, "Is link popularity is based on the entire site, or on individual pages? In other words, if one page has a high link popularity, will all the pages of a site be boosted, or only that one page?"

His reply, "Just that one page."

So, if your site has no links pointing to it, you'll likely rank poorly but the site can still be indexed provided the FAST spider can find it.

Robin: Does FAST make allowances for brand new sites?

Baker: "Not currently, but we are beginning to work with some of the new domains that are popping up."

Robin: Do links from pages on your own site count toward building link popularity?

Baker: "No . . . that would be too easy." ...he said with a smile.

Robin: How does FAST deal with asp and database-generated pages?

Baker: "As long as they are not forms and they are linked to, we can crawl them. Of course, the PartnerSite service has the ability to index dynamic pages as well."

Conclusive remarks . . .

As with most engines FAST sees spam as public enemy number one. They've identified two-thirds of the servers in the world as spam servers. The best way to gain entrance into the FAST index is to make certain that your site does not fall into any of their spam categories.

We suggest you take a few minutes to review their spam policy.

For guaranteed indexing and respidering every 48 hours, give their paid inclusion a test. The primary benefit being that you can experiment with keyword factors that boost relevancy and see the results of your tests in 48 hours or less.

Remember, paid inclusion guarantees your space in the directory and provides you the opportunity to experiment endlessly with relevancy factors within your page for a whole year.

Focus your attention on gaining high quality incoming links. Doing so will increase what FAST calls your "link score" (aka, link popularity). Remember also that sites with no incoming links are actually negatively impacted.

All other factors being equal, the freshest (most recent) page wins by an ever-so-slight boost in relevancy. There are many ways to maintain site "freshness," such as using server side includes.

For shades of things to come, keep an eye on alltheweb.com -- we'll be watching to see how query analysis develops as a
determiner of page relevancy in the near future.

© Copyright 2002 Robin Nobles. All rights reserved.

Other Articles by Robin Nobles

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.

 

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