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Bridge pages

Once you’ve got your bridge page set up, make sure you have links to your bridge pages buried somewhere on your site, and get as many other sites as you can to do the same ? it’s not important that the other sites linking to your bridge pages have similar content to yours. They can even be “free for all” links pages. The whole purpose of this activity is to make up for the gap between your main site’s “link popularity” (which will be based partly on reciprocal links) and the relatively low link popularity of your bridge page. See our article on increasing link popularity for a comprehensive program.

As we said already, this trick does work. We highly recommend that you take advantage of its relative obscurity now, and register a few domain names with as many keywords as you need. It should be relatively easy to make a deal with your hosting provider (if you’re on a virtual server) or set up the additional domain names (if you have a dedicated server) to serve up a few bridge pages. It only costs $60 to register a domain name. You’ve got your list of keywords made up, so start here to find out how many you can cram into a 67-character domain name.

Keyword laden

So, what are these long, keyword-laden domain names good for? Well, if you’re scratching for that extra edge in the search engine wars, this may well put you over the top, especially since so few website operators appear to have figured it out. How? They make great domain names for bridge pages. Try this trick out yourself, it really works!


As you recall from the “doorway and bridge pages” article (read it now if you haven’t already), these are pages which exist solely for the purpose of ranking high on a search engine. They’re usually set up for one keyword or phrase. You use the keywords in the title, place it in the META tags, and it’s heavily woven into the bridge page’s content. Since everyone else is doing this, how do you put your bridge page on top? By registering a domain name full of keywords, and using it for all of your bridge pages, you’ll bump your relevance up just a little bit more.

Using Domain Names to Improve Keyword Results

One of the most powerful factors influencing search engines is the domain name itself. Registering additional domain names that contain one or more keywords or phrases will do wonders for your search engine rankings. You can register multiple domain names, and have the same site under each domain. You can submit each domain separately for indexing. This is a great strategy for creating successful doorway and bridge pages.


You may think that all of the good keywords are already being used in domain names, but consider these two important facts:

Domain names up to 67 characters are now legal on the Internet. Although there are few of the old 23-character names left, there are plenty of opportunities to register a domain name with your keywords in the new domain name system. With 67 characters, you can come up with some real impressive names, like “” ? it’s not pretty, but don’t worry, you’re probably not going to use it for your main web site.
Search engines aren’t looking for a logical-sounding name ? that’s a human thing. If you’re selling dog food, and someone else already registered “” (somebody did?), you can register something like “” and still come out better than many sites. As long as the keywords appear in the name (and the earlier the better) you still benefit.

Keyword strategy

When you implement the full keyword strategy we’ve described throughout our site, you have at least a slight chance of moving up far enough in the rankings for it to matter. However, winning and maintaining a good search engine ranking can become a full-time job. Everyone with a site similar to yours is trying to rank high on the same keywords you are, and sometimes completely unrelated sites will rank higher no matter what you do. For example, searching for “printers” on any search engine may give you the home pages of small printshops, or it may give you reviews of inkjet printers.

Other META tags you may want to include are:

to let search engines know to index all pages.
to advise the search engine to reindex monthly.
for general audience sites.

You should also consider getting a PICS rating tag set up, for Internet Explorer users who are using the built-in content control features of that browser. This will be especially important if your site’s intended audience includes children.

Although META tags are important, some search engines don’t even look at them! However, if you follow our strategy all the way, you’ve probably done everything you can to win a good ranking, except for one thing ? getting links from other sites. One of the most important factors search engines use in evaluating your web site’s relevance is its “link popularity,” or the number of sites that link to yours. For more help on getting other sites to link to yours, see the Marketing section.

Improving Search Engine Position with META Tags

Once you’ve decided what keywords you want to use to maximize your search engine ranking, it’s important to understand how the search engines rank your pages. In addition to the page’s title, the URL, and contents, two META tags are used by all search engines to index your site. These are the “keywords” and “description” tags.


For those of you who have never dealt with META tags, they are special HTML tags that are intended to provide information about web pages, as opposed to describing the page’s layout. META tags are included in the heading of the site, between the and tags. The format of the META tags is:

Keyword Tag:

Description Tag:

It’s important to keep in mind that your keywords should really appear in both the “keywords” tag and the “description” tag for maximum impact. The top-priority keywords (those you’re trying to rank highest on) should be listed first in the “keywords” tag on your main page, because many search engines will only look at the first 150-200 characters in the META tag’s contents. Be sure to use different variations, such as “website promotion” and “web site promotion” to catch as many searches as you can. On your other pages, place the most relevant keywords for that page’s content first in the META tags.

Doorway page

A bridge page is different from a doorway page. Bridge pages are set up solely to fool the search engines, by cramming keywords into a single page. This page is just a “bridge” between a search engine (in many cases, it will be targeted at a single search engine) and the rest of your site. When a visitor clicks on the link from a search engine, they come to the bridge page, and then (you hope) they click through to your site.

In the past, it was possible to use a special META tag, called a “refresh” tag, to automatically redirect visitors from the bridge page to the site. Nowadays, search engines will not index pages with refresh tags, to prevent such tactics. In response to this, many web site operators use a “bait and switch” strategy, where they create a bridge page, submit it to the search engines, then replace it with another page as soon as it’s been indexed. This allows them to get high rankings for a page loaded with keywords, then replace it with the page they want visitors to see. Another reason for pulling this “bait and switch” strategy is to prevent other sites from “ripping off” the META tags and content from a high-ranking page ? by changing the tags out as soon as the page is indexed, you ensure that anyone who tries to copy your META tags will get the phony version.

In our opinion, creating and submitting doorway pages is just common sense. All of the doorway pages we submit are highly focused portals, through which all of our site’s relevant content is available. There’s no reason you shouldn’t do the same thing. We don’t use any bridge pages, though, because it just doesn’t seem honest to us. They’re just another trick to fool the search engines. As they say, your mileage may vary ? if you are desperate for high rankings, a bridge page may be the only way to pull it off.

Create High-Ranking Doorway Pages

Since the main page of your site won’t rank high for every set of keywords you want, you’ll end up submitting multiple pages from your site. There are two special kinds of pages, called doorways and bridges, that can provide a little boost to your search engine rankings. They do this by allowing you to focus on additional keywords beyond those on your main page, or even focusing on the same keywords as your main page in ways that you couldn’t do otherwise. You will often see “doorway” and “bridge” used interchangeably on other sites, but the definitions we use will hopefully make more sense to you.

For our purposes here, a doorway page is any page on your site that makes sense as an entry point ? for this site, the home page and the entry pages for the four main sections (Marketing, Search Engines, Improve Your Site, Toolkit) are also doorway pages. Even the articles, in this sense, are considered doorway pages. Your goal with a doorway page is to have it rank high for a particular keyword or phrase, using all of the methods we’ve defined in this section.

Concessions in order

If you’ve had to make concessions in order to get a reciprocal link, such as displaying a banner in exchange for a text link, you’ll want to monitor such arrangements very closely. If your site is consistently sending more traffic to the other site than you receive, it may be time to reopen the negotiations. This time, you’ll be playing from a position of strength, since you’re the one delivering the traffic.


Don’t forget, though, that you may have been on the receiving end of a lot of traffic during the initial stages of the relationship. Make the deal fair to both parties, and you will be successful. You don’t want to lose a good relationship by becoming greedy.

Even if you just trade links with anyone who agrees to it, and never manage your reciprocal linking program at all, your site will benefit from your efforts. However, a little management effort goes a long way. For sites with fewer than 100 visitors a day, checking once a month is probably plenty. As your traffic builds, though, you’ll want to spend more time managing this part of your marketing efforts, and do so more frequently. Decide how many links you want to carry, and only carry those that return a good benefit.

Link partners

If one of your link partners is failing to return any traffic, there may be several causes. The site may be of poor quality. You should think twice about trading links with a site that isn’t up to your own quality standards? your visitors view the link as a recommendation on your part, and your site’s reputation will suffer.


If the other site is of poor quality, few of their visitors are going to see the link to your site, because they’ll be off to search for something better long before they get to the links page. Would you trust the links on a poorly designed website with bad content?

On the other hand, the link to your site may never have been set up, or it may be in a poor location. If it hasn’t been set up at all, or has been removed, politely remind the other site’s operator about your reciprocal linking agreement. If it’s in a poor location, ask if it can be moved. It helps in such cases if you can show how much traffic is moving, in each direction, from the links that have been set up. Sometimes, web site operators simply have too many links ? if there are hundreds of links on the other site, ask to be placed near the top of the list, or set apart somehow. If all else fails, you can always cancel your arrangement. This should be a last resort, however.

Managing Your Reciprocal Linking Program

After you’ve spent all that time and effort getting other web sites to trade links with you, you may be tempted to just leave it alone, and let it work. There are a lot of other demands on your time, after all. The email has to be answered, the phone might even be ringing, and you’ve got a big banner ad promotion starting next week. Only you can set your priorities, but reciprocal links are not a one-time activity. You’ll do okay if all you do is set them up, but you’ll do a lot better if you actively manage your reciprocal linking program.


We strongly suggest that you monitor all the traffic, coming and going, for each of the reciprocal links you set up. You’ll want to reward those who send you the most traffic, and take action if one of your link trades is turning out to be a one-way road leading visitors away from your site. It’s relatively easy to set up scripts on your site to count click-throughs from your links, and you can also use scripts to keep track of the source of incoming traffic. If you’re looking for an even simpler method, though perhaps less effective, your web server’s “referrer logs” will also tell you where your traffic is coming from. If you use a web statistics provider like Hitbox, that type of information is all part of the service.