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WHAT IS SEO? | SEO Tips and Tutorial 2014

What is SEO?

What is SEO?

What is SEO? - SEO Tips and Beginner's Tutorial

What is SEO? Learn what SEO means and discover SEO Tips for on-page & off-page search engine optimization in 2014: definitions, videos, free How-To examples.


What is SEO? Definition

SEO means Search Engine Optimization. It is an all-encompassing term which is defined as:

1. SEO is the use of techniques within the programming code, the Web content strategy and the Web marketing of a website or webpage to achieve top rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs) for specific search queries (keywords).

2. SEO is the critical element which determines whether a website or webpage will be found by searchers in the vastness of cyberspace or sink irretrievably into a black hole.

3. Search engine optimization is both a science and an art. SEO is the science of discovering the algorithms search engines use to determine which sites are listed in answering queries and in what order they are listed (ranking); SEO is also the art of designing a website or webpage to be the best answer for specific search queries, above all competitors.

In this guide you will learn what SEO is and discover SEO tips which are valuable and easy to apply for high rankings on SERPS in 2014.

Table of Contents - Jump to Section

I. Search Engines

II. What is Google SEO?

III. SEO Tips – How-To for 2014

III. B. SEO Tips for Off-Page Optimization

III. B. 1. Backlinks: SEO and Google PageRank

III. B. 2. Backlinks and Anchor Text

III. B. 3. Identifying Backlinks

III. B. 4. Link Spam and Scam

III. A. SEO Tips for On-Page Optimization

III. A. 1. Keywords

III..A. 2. SEO Content

III. A. 3. Meta Tags

III. A. 4. SEO Web Design

III. A. 5. On-Page Links

Search Engines

Search Engines

Black Hole in Cyberspace

Black Hole in Cyberspace

I. Search Engines

The Goal of SEO

The goal of SEO in 2014 is to generate free website traffic which will convert into customers for a website's products, services, advertisers, or non-profit mission. This is also referred to as conversion rate optimization.

Without search engine optimization, a website is solely dependent upon paid advertising and referrals to send visitors. With expert SEO: If you build a website, they will come. The search engines will send them to your site in droves. In 2010, Search engines fielded more than 120 billion searches worldwide, per month. At the end of 2013, searches from the Google search engine alone exceed 1,200,000,000,000.

Once optimization is in place, traffic from search engines is free, dependable (though not always consistent in volume), and measurable.

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According to a forecast report from Forester Research Inc., in the year 2014, spend for SEO services in the U.S. alone will exceed $5 billion.

Google reports a skyrocketing number of search queries for SEO since 2004. The chart below represents these worldwide searches from the Google search engine through the close of 2013.

Searches for SEO from Google Search Engine: 2004 – January 1, 2014

Searches for SEO from Google Search Engine: 2004 – January 1, 2014

SEO Cartoon: I just got a big promotion to SEO of a large ecommerce firm … wanna be my administrative assistant?

SEO Cartoon: I just got a big promotion to SEO of a large ecommerce firm … wanna be my administrative assistant?

"SEO is talking to a robot."

"SEO is talking to a robot."

Search Engines and SEO

Search engines use software programs to copy, store and analyze webpages from the World Wide Web for their indexes. These programs are often called robots, bots, spiders, or crawlers. (The Google crawler is known as GoogleBot.) When a search query is entered on the search engine's site, the engine sorts through its stored index to determine the most relevant and most trusted answers.

"Search engine optimization is talking to a robot."

– Writer Fox™

Sometimes there are literally hundreds of millions of possible results. Out of these, search engines select up to 1,000 webpages to offer the searcher.

Most searchers never look beyond the first 10 results. The majority of people never look beyond the first three results. The top three positions on a SERP (Search Engine Results Page) for a highly searched word or phrase represent the most coveted real estate in Internet marketing.

SEO Video: How the Google Search Engine Works

Google Search Results Page

Google Search Results Page

Ranking on the displayed results is said to be ranking for natural search or organic search (as opposed to ranking for paid advertising placement). SERP-referred website traffic sent from organic search far outpaces that from paid advertising.

Top ranking for organic search is the critical mission for a website's SEO strategy. Improving a site's ranking for hundreds of queries is an ongoing process for the search engine optimizer (referred to as an SEO).

Google SEO

Google SEO

II. What is Google SEO?

Increasingly, search engine optimization means 'Google search engine optimization.' Although there are many general Web search engines, there is little real competition among them. According to industry figures, at the beginning of 2014, Google's search market share represented 77.74% of global Web searches. In a distant second place is Bing/Yahoo. (Yahoo has been powered by Microsoft's Bing search engine since August, 2010.) The Chinese language search engine Baidu is in third place.

Search Engine Market Share

Search Engine Market Share January 29, 2014

Search Engine Market Share January 29, 2014

1999 Production Server at

1999 Production Server at

The Google search engine has located over a trillion webpages and stores billions of them in its index. It is the most comprehensive index of the World Wide Web and its search results are the most trusted.

Google founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, created Google Inc. in 1998 with this stated purpose:

"to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."

With the introduction of its AdSense content-targeted advertising program in 2003, Google became more forthright with website owners and SEO consultants about its system for ranking websites. Since advertising is its primary source of revenue, Google has every reason to help webmasters develop effective sites for Google search engine optimization in conjunction with its advertising program.

Google launched its Webmaster Central SEO Blog in 2005 and has allowed talkback comments since 2007. It also reaches out to webmasters via its posted Google SEO Webmaster Guidelines and Google Webmaster SEO Forum.

Google also offers private information to website owners about their sites at Google SEO help. Though Google will never reveal all of its secret sauce for site rankings, its considerable outreach to search engine optimizers and to webmasters is superior to other search engines.

Google PageRank

The Google search engine's ranking of websites was originally based only upon a patented mathematical formula, or algorithm, for determining the importance of a webpage based upon the number and quality of links to it from other webpages.

Under the algorithm, every link is seen as a vote, but each carries a different weight depending upon the quality of the incoming links to the referring page, and the quality of the referring pages' referring pages, and so on. This system of ranking is called PageRank, and the term is a Google trademark. It was named after Larry Page, co-founder of

Google Toolbar with PageRank Meter

Google Toolbar with PageRank Meter

Every page on a website has its own PageRank, which indicates Google's opinion of links pointing to the page. PageRank is only about links and nothing else. The true PageRank of a webpage is known only to Google, and it is recalculated as Google continuously crawls the Web. But an estimate of Google PageRank, over an approximate 3-month period, can be obtained for every website by installing the Google toolbar for SEO on the Firefox browser or installing a free PageRank developer app for the Chrome browser. (In 2013, the Google Toolbar was only updated twice.)

The green bar will display a number between 1 and 10, with 10 being the best PageRank. If the bar is grey, it means the webpage you are viewing is not ranked for PageRank in the Google index. This could indicate a new site or a site banned from PageRank, probably for severe violations of Google's Webmaster Guidelines. If the bar is white and the rank is 0, it means the site is in the index, but it either has no value according to Google algorithms or is too new to show the most recent update for public display of PageRank.

Google PageRank Meter Close-up

Google PageRank Meter Close-up

The green bar will display a number between 1 and 10, with 10 being the best PageRank. If the bar is grey, it means the webpage you are viewing is not ranked for PageRank in the Google index. This could indicate a new site or a site banned from PageRank, probably for severe violations of Google's Webmaster Guidelines. If the bar is white and the rank is 0, it means the site is in the index, but it either has no value according to Google algorithms or is too new to show the most recent update for public display of PageRank.

n the video on the right, Google spokesman Matt Cutts explains that ordinary Web users have the PageRank meter installed on their browsers and use the information to evaluate the authority of webpages as they surf the Internet. In that sense, the PageRank of a webpage is part of the user experience as well.

Although it is no longer the only factor in Google's current algorithm for search results rankings, PageRank is still a significant factor in the ranking formula. According to Google:

"Webpages with a higher PageRank are more likely to appear at the top of Google search results ... The underlying assumption is that more important websites are likely to receive more links from other websites."

It will continue to be a significant factor for high-rankings on SERPs in 2014. However, because it is only one of over 200 criteria used by Google to find the best webpages to answer a given search query, the site with the highest PageRank is often not the very first listing on a SERP.


Website Magazine

Website Magazine

Website Magazine

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Google tweaks its algorithms for displaying search results more than once a day; therefore, the difficulty of Google optimization increases daily. In December, 2009, Google accelerated its use of personalized search, which customizes the search engine results page based upon 180 days of a specific user's search history. Google also customizes site ranking on its SERPs based upon the IP address of the searcher.

Someone searching for insurance from Omaha, Nebraska, will receive different search results from someone searching from New York City or from Tokyo. Thus, ranking on Google now depends upon who is searching and from where.

According to Google, as the year 2014 began, there were over 60 trillion pages on the World Wide Web. Of those, Google stores more than 40 billion in its index.

Competition among webpages is increasing astronomically. The Google index in 1998 stored 26 million pages. In 2008, Google software engineers Jesse Alpert and Nissan Hajaj stated:

"The number of individual webpages out there is growing by several billion pages per day."

SEO Tips

SEO Tips

SEO Tips

SEO Tips

III. SEO Tips: How-To SEO for 2014

In the ever-changing environment of search engine optimization, defining 'what is SEO' is a moving target.

The SEO Tips below are the most significant things to address for high search rankings in 2014. Almost all of these tips are easy to apply, but don't let their simplicity fool you. Each step in this how-to SEO guide is a critical element for the overall success of a webpage on search results.

These SEO Tips are arranged in two categories:

On-Page Optimization

Off-Page Optimization

On-Page SEO

On-Page SEO

III. A. SEO Tips for On-Page Optimization

Answering the question What is SEO? for 2014 begins with on-page SEO. The majority of optimization techniques apply to on-page search engine optimization and these are all things which the webmaster totally controls.

Most of the work of search engine optimization begins before a website or webpage appears online. The common mistake amateurs make is to visit a programming company first, have a site developed, launch the site and then visit a search engine optimization expert 'to optimize.' What happens most of the time in that scenario is that the site has to be redesigned and relaunched.

Google's advice posted on its Google Webmaster Central site is:

"If you're thinking about hiring an SEO [search engine optimizer], the earlier the better. A great time to hire is when you're considering a site redesign, or planning to launch a new site. That way, you and your SEO [search engine optimizer] can ensure that your site is designed to be search engine-friendly from the bottom up."

This How-To SEO guide to on-page SEO addresses the internal issues of the website and the webpage:

1. Keywords
2. SEO Content
3. Meta Tags
4. SEO Web Design
5. On-Page Links



SEO keyword research is the discovery and analysis of search queries.

III. A. 1. Keywords

All search engine optimization begins with keyword research. Wanting to rank number one on a Google SERP is a vague desire. For what term(s) do you wish to rank number one on Google? This is the question that must be answered. The choice of keywords to target can make or break a website's goals.

SEO consultants use several data bases to determine what searchers are searching for, how many searches are made for specific terms and how many webpages are competing for those terms. Most of the best data bases are by subscription only, at a cost of several hundreds of dollars per year, per data base. Google and Bing also provide tools for keyword research based on their advertising programs. A keyword can be a single word, such as Internet. Or, it can be a phrase, such as: 'Quotes About the Internet.' The majority of online searches are for a phrase of three or four words.

Longer queries are referred to as long-tail keywords, such as a query for: How do you get Internet on your ipad?

A site which is already online has the additional advantage of gathering information from its analytics programs and server logs to find the keywords which are actually bringing visitors to the site and further optimizing for those words.

Simply knowing the number of searches for a given keyword is not enough information. For example, in the image below, a search on Google for the term Internet showed that at least 1,570,000,000 webpages were stored in the Google index for the term.

Google Search Query

Google Search Query

Keyword Search Queries

Keyword Search Queries

The odds are impossible that a new site could quickly, if ever, rank on the first 10 search results for that keyword. Evaluating the competitiveness of a keyword is an integral part of SEO keyword research and selection.

The ideal keywords will have a large volume of searchers and very low competition from other websites targeting the keywords. There are several mathematical formulas that give a prediction of the success of a given keyword by analyzing the number of competitors. One such formula was invented by Sumantra Roy and is referred to as the Keyword Effectiveness Index (KEI):

KEI = (Monthly Searches ÷ 30)² ÷ Competing Webpages

The higher the KEI, the better the chances are for ranking your page for that keyword.

The ideal keywords will have a large volume of searchers and very low competition from other websites targeting the keywords.

If a website is totally dependent upon Google AdSense or similar keyword-targeted, contextual advertising, the keywords chosen should also have a high number of advertisers purchasing ads with the targeted keywords, high click-through-rates, and high bid prices.

Keywords used in the URL (domain name or website address) of a site can greatly influence search engines to rank that site for queries using those keywords. This applies to the homepage and to all interior pages of the site. (Recently, however, Google has cautioned against throwing up quick, shallow-content websites with exact match domain names for competitive, long-tail keywords.)

In the evaporating waters of keyword-rich domain names, it may not be possible to find the optimal URL for a site, but you can absolutely create the best URL's for your site's interior pages.

For example, the word SEO is not found on the homepage URL of the webpage you are viewing, but it is in the URL of this specific page.

Keyword research can also assist in monetizing a website by revealing income opportunities such as products and services people are searching for, which are related to your site's main subject. In this era of targeted, contextual advertising, keyword research also uncovers opportunities to monetize the value of keyword-driven, website traffic (using the Google AdSense program, for instance). Understanding the vital role that keyword research plays in search engine optimization is critical to developing an effective plan for SEO in 2014.

Google Hummingbird Algorithm

Google Hummingbird Algorithm

Google Hummingbird Algorithm

Google applied a new algorithm beginning in August, 2013, called Hummingbird. The company made the public announcement at its 15th anniversary celebration on September 26, 2013.

This new algorithm affected 90% of all websites stored in the Google Index.

This new formula for ranking websites for SERPs goes beyond the actual words used in a search query (keywords) and deciphers the meaning behind them. It determines the user's intent for a search query and gives additional attention to the user's location. It rewards website content which gives more comprehensive answers.

Keyword Density

The keyword density of a webpage is determined by calculating the number of times a keyword phrase is used on a page compared to groups of words on the page with the same number of words. To find the keyword density of a five-word keyword phrase used six times on a webpage of 1,500 words, this formula is used:

Keyword Density

÷ 5
= 300

÷ 300

= 2

Keyword Density = 2%

The video on the right explains Google's opinion of keyword density.

SEO Content

SEO Content

Writing SEO Content

Writing SEO Content

III. A. 2. SEO Content

SEO content for a website should be based upon the keyword research. Ideally, the menu navigation and the main categories of the site should use optimal keywords. The potential audience for your site can tell you precisely what information your site should contain by the terms used in search queries.

When the main categories for a site have been identified, keywords should also drive the decisions made regarding what webpages within the site should be created. This content architecture is the SEO blueprint of a website.

After making a list of proposed webpage titles, a sub list of keywords should be developed for each title. These keywords should be used to generate subheadings (heading tags) on the page. The content strategy for each webpage provides the outline structure of an article for the SEO Web content writer.

The SEO content strategy, based upon keywords, might also include videos, e-books, images, charts, maps, widgets, tutorials, forums, blogs, news, products, services, etc., that searchers want to find and that your site could provide.

The most successful content plans for SEO include one or two creative ideas that may or may not be discovered from keyword research. Every effort should be made to find the exceptional, unique ideas for content that will set a site apart from all others. This content will be essential for securing inbound links for off-page search engine optimization.

The actual website content writing will be the decisive factor for your success with visitors to your site, both humans and search engines. Carefully edit your Web content according to the Google Panda algorithm.

Meta Tags

Meta Tags

III. A. 3. Meta Tags

Meta Tags (meta elements or meta data) are programming code statements which give information to search engines about the content of a webpage. Several types of Meta Tags are significant for search engine optimization. The following Meta Tags are the ones most important for search engine optimization.

Robots Tag

The Robots Tag gives search engines permission to crawl a site for indexing. Blocking the robots with this Meta Tag means the site will never appear on a search results page; it's an SEO killer.

Meta Title Tag

The meta Title Tag (page title) should use targeted keywords and a lure. The Title Tag appears at the top of the browser (the blue heading in the image below) when a webpage is loaded. It also titles the webpage listing on the search engine results page and, therefore, should be written to persuade a searcher to click on your listing.

Title Tag

Title Tag

In this example from the homepage, the targeted keyword is Find Deals and the lure is compare prices, read reviews & save money. (Savvy marketers will note that the word buy is not used. People don't like being told to buy something, but they love to shop and to compare prices!)

The meta Title Tag should be no more than 60 characters, including spaces. More characters than this limit will not appear online. Google's advice is:

"These 60 characters are an opportunity to tell both users and search engines what the focus of the page is. There's no need to go past this many characters, as most search engines will display ellipses ( ... ) after this limit. Also, search engines may give less weight to words after a certain point."

The title is used by search engines to identify the content of the page. The content writer must write a unique title for every page on the website. The targeted keywords should always appear first on the Title Tag. The Title Tag for a site's homepage should also include the business name, organization name or domain name.

Meta Tag Description

The Description Tag appears on the search engine results page just below the page title. Google calls this the snippet. The SEO copywriter will spend a disproportionate amount of time writing the words (no more than 160 characters, including spaces) for a Description Tag. A top listing on the SERPs is of little value if nobody clicks on the link to visit the website. The Description Tag must persuade the click-through. It is, then, the ultimate sales pitch challenge and opportunity.

The description should focus heavily on verbs and keyword nouns. Forget the adjectives. It should also attract the searcher by outlining the benefits he will receive by visiting the site.

A description that motivates the searcher to click is valuable in another way. More and more, Google is using the click-through rate (CTR) to determine organic website rankings on the SERPs. It is part of the Google formula which evaluates if the correct search results are given for the search query, i.e., if there are fewer clicks on the site ranked first and more on the site ranked second, then Google perceives that the site ranked second is the answer preferred by humans. The more the Meta Tag Description successfully encourages searchers to click-through to your webpage, the more your page moves up in the rankings.

SEO Description Tag Example

Meta Tag Description

Meta Tag Description

Notice how this short Description Tag for the homepage is loaded with highly-searched keywords: comparison shopping, product reviews, merchant ratings, deal alerts, coupons, compare prices, read reviews, top brands. These words aren't in there by accident. The skilled SEO writer, armed with keyword research, weaves the keywords into the description with a natural flow.

The verbs in this snippet tell the searcher what he can do on the webpage: compare, read.

The close is the call to action. In this example, the call to click is: Compare prices and read reviews on top brands.

There are times when the search engines will pull another description from the copy on a webpage and display that instead of the one in the Meta Description Tag. When that happens, the Google search engine has found specific copy on a webpage that is more appropriate to the query and it serves that as the description. In effect, the search engine is showing the searcher why the webpage was chosen.

This practice has increased in recent years as searchers enter queries which Google has never seen before and, for the most part, no webpage has specifically targeted with an answer.

According to former Google Vice President Marissa Mayer (now CEO of Yahoo):

"A quarter of all daily searches on Google have never been seen before."

For SEO purposes, well written alternate descriptions should be seeded within the copy surrounding subordinate keywords and potential keywords. This is done naturally by a skilled Web content writer.

Like the Title Tag, the Description Tag must be unique for each page on a website.

Alt Tag

The Alt Tag (Alt attribute or alternative text) is a short description of an image which provides an alternative to the graphic for the visually handicapped, for the text-only browser, and for slow-loading Internet connections or hosting servers.

The Alt Tag also gives content information to search engines, which can't see images either. Use of Alt Tags is the means of optimizing images for targeted keywords.

In the video to the right, Google engineer Matt Cutts explains the importance of the Alt Tag to search engines.

For SEO purposes, images provide added content and interest to a webpage, achieve organic ranking on their own on a SERP, and are specifically searched for on search engines – all of which are traffic generators.

Alt Tag

Alt Tag

The Alt Tag should be a short description of the picture, not just a title. Most search engines will not read beyond about 10 words of an Alt Tag.

Alt Tags should be used for every image on a site, including the company logo and images used as links. On a webpage, the alternative text will appear in a box when the cursor mouses over an image (try that on any of the images in this article). In this example from, notice the full description in the Alt tag. In this example, the ten words which search engines will index are on the first line and the internal Amazon category is on the second line.

Heading Tags

Heading Tags

Heading Tags

Heading Tags (heading elements, Header Tags, or H Tags) are actually document elements and not meta data. Heading Tags for SEO purposes delineate the most important parts of a webpage and flag them for search engines. There are 6 grades of tags, with H1 representing the most important. For webpages of less than 1,000 words, there should be only one H1Tag used on the page and it should be identical to the Title Tag.

The subordinate Heading Tags follow the same hierarchy used as in an outline. The use of Heading Tags will change the font size on the page with the H1Tag displayed in the largest type and the H6 Tag in the smallest, though this can be adjusted by a programmer. Most webpages don't need H Tags lower than the H3 level.

Heading Tags are used by search engines to evaluate the categories of content on a webpage, the importance of the categories and the relevancy to a search query. The keywords used and their emphasis (according to the number on the H Tag) should be carefully evaluated for SEO when the content plan is developed for each webpage.

Keywords Tag

The Keywords Tag is used to identify the specific keywords targeted on a webpage. It is used by directories, minor search engines, and on-site search features (including the Google Search Appliance) to identify relevant content. The words used in the Keywords Tag can also be used as blog posting tags and press release tags. Only keywords specific to the page should be used in the tag. The one exception to this is on the homepage, where main keywords used throughout the site may be listed.

It should be noted that the Google search engine no longer uses the Keyword Tag in determining search results.

The Keywords Tag should be written by the Web content writer when a webpage is created, because the writer knows exactly what words were targeted. To create these tags after 100 pages have been written is a tedious endeavor and fraught with error, since many keyword phrases might be missed. The Keywords Tag generally contains between 5 and 25 words and phrases.

SEO Web Design

SEO Web Design

III. A. 4. SEO Web Design

SEO Web design usually refers to programming. Programming errors in code or in decisions can derail the best-laid SEO plan for a site. Most website designers who advertise that their services include SEO are speaking only from the programming side of the SEO equation.

If you ask a Web designer, "What is SEO?", the answer will be that SEO Web design means clean, crawlable code. This is essential for search engine optimization. If a robot cannot crawl the site, the site will not be properly indexed. A website's code can be validated with a free tool from the source of Web standards, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), at: Coding for SEO. Also, Google offers a free SEO Site Check called Fetch as Googlebot, which allows you to view your website as the Google robot sees it.

Code is Poetry

Code is Poetry

SEO Tips for Web Design

To facilitate SEO, programmers must avoid:

*slow page load speed

*hosting down time and hosting load limits that prevent thorough crawling by robots

*page sizes in excess of 100K

*flash or Java script navigation

*dynamic URL's and session IDs

*CSS, Ajax and JavaScript that is on-page instead of in an external file


*drop-down menus

*site intro pages

*webpages without text in the tag

*hidden text and links

*broken internal/external links


*navigation in Flash, Java or JavaScript instead of text

*duplicate content pages, especially from print page applications

*malware, cloaking, JavaScript redirects, doorway pages

Programmers can make valuable contributions to the search engine optimization of a site by:

*choosing a canonical URL and redirecting all others with a 301 redirect

*using breadcrumb navigation

*creating an XML Sitemap according to the protocol established by (instructions at SEO XML Sitemaps) and submitting it to the organization's members, such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing.

*creating an HTML Sitemap for use on the website

*optimizing images for fast download

*using the NoFollow attribute on advertising links and irrelevant links (more about this below)

*viewing the website in multiple browsers, including text-only browsers

On-Page Links

On-Page Links

On-page links are a valuable tool for search engine optimization. These are links on a webpage which point to other pages on the same website or which point to pages on external websites. There are four aspects of on-page links:

1. Internal Links
2. Anchor Text
3. External Links
4. Paid External Links

Internal links are used primarily for site navigation. The importance the webmaster places on these internal links is picked up by search engines. For example, if every page on the site links to the homepage and to the top menu categories, these are given the most significance by search engines in determining the featured content within the site. Conversely, placing links on every page for minor categories such as about us, privacy, terms of use, copyright, etc., drains attention away from the main content and can bleed the PageRank of more important pages.

Internal links for SEO purposes can also be effective in drawing attention to specific pages deeper within the site. Main category pages should link to every webpage within that category.

Any page on a website that is buried more than a few clicks away from the homepage will probably not be crawled by search engines. Internal links provide search engines with the pathways to crawl a site.

Internal links are also a way to point visitors to related articles within the site.

Internal Links

Internal Links

Individual article pages should link to important, relevant content in other articles. The image on the right was taken from an interior article page on Notice that other top stories are suggested. This use of internal linkage is not only useful for visitors, but it is a method of boosting PageRank for interior pages.

It is important to remember that every page on a site is given an individual PageRank by Google. PageRank is determined by links and internal links play a vital role in the formula.

Internal links give a webmaster full control over this opportunity to boost a webpage's search ranking. Strategic use of internal links should be a factor in the overall SEO content plan.

Note this SEO tip: Google reviews the content surrounding the internal link and uses that to determine the content of the linked page. Links in the CBS News example don't just have a link, but also include a description of the article.

Anchor Text

Anchor text is the use of words for a link instead of the URL. The most effective internal links for SEO purposes don't display a URL to be clicked, but rather give a description of the content on the page linked. In the above example from, notice that the URL is not the link, but the news headline is the link. Part of the Google algorithm notices the anchor text used in links, especially keywords, and it is even possible to rank for a search term based solely upon the wording of the anchor text used in incoming links.

Anchor text used in links should be no more than 10 words or 65 characters with spaces. The code to create anchor text is:

Anchor Text

Anchor Text

On-page external links (or outbound links) are links that point to other websites. For search engine optimization, providing relevant, quality information through outbound links identifies a site as a resource for its subject. Here, too, anchor text is important. Anchor text for outbound links should describe the targeted site by using keywords.

In June, 2009, Google engineer Matt Cutts revealed on his personal blog that the Google search engine does use outbound links as a factor in evaluating a website. He wrote,

"Parts of our system encourage links to good sites."

You will notice many, high-quality external links in the page you are viewing. In listing other valuable, on-topic references, this page becomes a resource of information and is seen as more valuable in the eyes of Google. Also, the Google bot hates 'dead end' pages – pages that don't send it crawling to other sites in cyberspace.

As Google rewards sites for quality outbound links, it will ban sites from its index which link to spam sites, to sites without related content, to irrelevant sites owned by the linking site, or to sites which violate its Webmaster Guidelines. Google considers an outbound link to be an endorsement and a reflection of the quality of the linking site. Linking to a bad neighborhood identifies the linking site as a bad neighborhood.

Paid links are outbound links that have been purchased on a website. Google now considers all paid links to be advertisements and requires that they be marked as such. Failure to disclose paid links is a violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines and can result in a site being banned from the Google index. Paid links can be indicated by using terms such as sponsored links, advertisement, ads, and the like. They must also use the NoFollow attribute.

The NoFollow attribute was introduced by Google in January, 2006, as a method for webmasters to properly label advertising and affiliate links and also to prevent unintentional endorsement of links within comments – especially in blogs and on forums – and other user-generated content. Until the attribute was introduced, blogs, forums, and Wikipedia pages were hotbeds for link spam. Google advises all webmasters to use the NoFollow code for comments sections.

External Links

External Links

Wikipedia now uses the NoFollow attribute on most outbound links. The image on the right is taken from the footnotes on a Wikipedia webpage. The links highlighted in blue are followed and are all to internal links to pages on the Wikipedia site. Links highlighted in pink are NoFollow links to external sites. While the NoFollow outbound links do generate traffic, they do not influence the PageRank of the linked sites and are not followed by Google. The Facebook website is another example of a link which might bring traffic to a site but, because it is NoFollow, it will not pass PageRank.

The code for a NoFollow link is:



The NoFollow attribute should also be used when linking to sites which you do not fully endorse. For example, you might want to link to an article to show an example of bad medical advice. The NoFollow attribute will tell Google not to consider your link as a vote for the article and not to give it PageRank value for the link.

The Google search engine recommends a limit of 100 internal and external links combined on a single webpage. Any link in excess of that number is unlikely to be crawled nor factored in calculating PageRank.

Off-Page SEO

Off-Page SEO

III. B. SEO Tips for Off-Page Optimization

The SEO tips for off-page optimization involve links.

Off-page SEO refers primarily to techniques used to acquire followed backlinks (also called inbound links, incoming links, inlinks, off-page external links, or link juice) to a website's homepage or internal pages. Backlinks are links from other webpages to pages on your site. The process of acquiring these links is referred to as link building.

These four topics for off-page optimization are discussed below:

1. Backlinks: SEO and PageRank
2. Backlinks and Keywords
3. Identifying Backlinks
4. Link Spam and Scam

Backlinks for SEO

Backlinks for SEO

The quantity and quality of inbound links are the major factors determining the Google PageRank of a webpage, and that, in turn, influences ranking on the SERPs. There is a correlation between a site's homepage PageRank and the number of pages within that site which Google will crawl to be indexed. For SEO purposes, the higher the PageRank of a site's homepage, the greater the number of the site's interior pages which can rank. The more ranking pages = the more targeted keywords for searchers to find.



In the video to the right, Google's Matt Cutts explains that PageRank is Google's opinion of the reputation of a webpage.

In a Stanford University research paper, You Are Who You Link To by Lada A. Adamic and Eytan Adar, data from Stanford personal homepages was used to create a graphic (above image) of the University's social structure. In much the same way, search engines traverse the World Wide Web, charting its interconnectivity through links on websites.

Like the center of a galaxy, hub websites are hotspots of links from major and minor websites in a specific subject category, each transmitting some of its reputation to the hub site.

Valuable content from a reputable source naturally attracts backlinks. New or lesser known websites need a more direct approach to link acquisition, using online marketing and old-fashioned, offline promotion.

Backlinks to interior pages of a website are called deep links. The homepage is more of an index to the website; the hardcore information is found on the pages within the site and natural, inbound links reflect that. The key to building quality deep links for a site is simply to have quality content: to have something other people will want to give a referral to with a link. The unique, the exceptional, the hilarious content provide backlink fodder (link bait).

When link building, seek links from webpages which:

1. have high PageRank

2. are related to your topic

3. don't require a reciprocal link

4. don't require payment

5. have few external links on the page

Google Penguin Algorithm

With the implementation of the Google Penguin Algorithm on April 24, 2012, websites have been penalized for spam backlinking strategies. These include mass submissions to low-quality directories, forum and blog spam comments, and links from webpages with non-related topics. The video on the right is a humorous illustration of the new realities in acquiring backlinks.

Backlinks and Anchor Text

Backlinks and Anchor Text

The anchor text of an incoming link signals search engines about the content of the linked site and why it was referenced. Natural, organic linking will have an assortment of anchor text. Anchor text with desired keywords is the most valuable for search engine optimization.

A website owner can control the anchor text in links from press releases, social sites, professional biographies, syndicated articles, and the like. Every opportunity to use keyword-targeted anchor text should be exploited. A 'my website' or ''click here' link is of much lesser value. However, recent Google algorithm updates (Penquin) have discounted websites with excessive, repetitive, exact-match keywords in anchor links and this is considered spam in the eyes of Google. Building thousands of links with the exact anchor text to boost ranking will produce the opposite effect.

Also, Google takes into consideration the context of the anchor link, evaluating the words in the text surrounding it and in the linking webpage itself. Therefore, a website which sells hardware shouldn't solicit an anchor text link from a site selling children's clothing, but a site selling plumbing fixtures would be considered relevant.

Identifying Backlinks

Identifying Backlinks

Website owners can view Google-indexed backlinks to their sites by logging into their accounts at Google Webmaster Tools. Most of the backlinks will be recorded there.

Some websites with very low Google PageRank scores show literally tens of thousands of backlinks. When this happens, it means that most of those links are disregarded or are considered of little value by Google in its ranking formula (and probably by Bing, too).

Identifying backlinks for competitor's websites can provide important information regarding their PageRank and can also identify possible backlinking opportunities for your site. You can find some backlinks by using free and paid tools such as: the SEO tools on the Blekko search engine, Moz Open Site Explorer, Ahrefs, and Majestic Site Explorer. None of these tools will list all of the backlinks, but the information they do supply can be useful.

Link Spam and Scam

Link Spam and Scam

In an amateur effort to boost a site's rankings on the SERPs, webmasters will sometimes fall victim to link schemes that promise thousands of inbound links for a few hundred dollars. In almost all of these schemes, the links are obtained by the use of automated software programs. The links are from insignificant sites, not relevant to a site's subject, and are usually traced to common ownership. The links are worthless, and they are detrimental. Not only will these links not be indexed by Google, but sites participating in linking schemes will be penalized for violating Google Webmaster Guidelines.

Other linking arrangements considered to be link spam by Google include excessive reciprocal linking (even if routed through a third website), link exchanges, link wheels, automated link systems, undisclosed paid links, cross-linking of sites under common ownership or hosted on a common server, blog comment spam and forum spam.

SEO is an ever-changing art and science. The rewards of learning effective search engine optimization are well worth the effort. Following are related resources which give additional SEO Tips:

Google Panda

Google Panda

Learn how to optimize your webpages for the Google Panda Algorithm:

Google Panda SEO


Google Penguin

Google Penguin

Read about the Google Penguin algorithm and what to do if your site has been penalized:

Google Penguin SEO



Learn how to write content for your website with search engine optimized copy in this informative, How-To article:

Website Content Writing


Duplicate Content

Duplicate Content

Find out about Google's duplicate content penalty and how to avoid receiving one.

Duplicate Content Penalty


News Release Headline

News Release Headline

Learn how to optimize your company's press releases for search engines in this article:

SEO Press Release Headlines


Map of the Internet

Map of the Internet

Read over 100 quotations about the World Wide Web, including quotes about SEO and quotes from the founders and employees of

Quotes about the Internet


The Writer Fox

The Writer Fox

Share don't copy.

Photos are courtesy of Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Museum, and, unless otherwise stated, other images are via Shaul Sofer, Ltd., and used with permission.


Connect with Writer Fox™ on Google+.


Paola Bassanese from Ireland on August 20, 2015:

Brilliant article - it might be worth revising it every year though as SEO strategies can change so quickly

Arun Dev from United Countries of the World on August 14, 2015:

That was lengthy............... And instructive! Voted up!

Writer Fox (author) from the wadi near the little river on June 23, 2015:

Hi Trudy. Glad to hear from you again. I really should update this article and hope to have to the time to do that soon.

Trudy Cooper from Hampshire, UK on June 22, 2015:

Hi Writer Fox, excellent hub, you certainly are a very inspirational writer! I will make a point of trying to get my head around it! If only I had the time. Lovely to hear from you again.

Writer Fox (author) from the wadi near the little river on June 22, 2015:

Hi Venkatachari. I appreciate your comment and hope you will have much success online.

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on June 17, 2015:

Very excellent and awesome presentation. I hope to learn a lot by going through this hub step by step in a detailed manner. Thanks for sharing this useful information.

Voted up, useful and awesome.

Writer Fox (author) from the wadi near the little river on June 15, 2015:

Hi Skperdon. I'm glad you found this information useful.

skperdon from Canada on June 12, 2015:

Hi Writer Fox! Thank you for sharing this teaching hub. I'm going to read it a few times to be sure I understand SEO. I'm quite illiterate when it come to it. But your hub is what I need to start with.

Audrey Selig from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on May 06, 2015:

Hi Writer Fox - I sure do appreciate your info, as it is always right on target. It takes so long to learn all the ins and outs of SEO. Someday, I may be smarter, if I take it one step at a time and write notes on your hub. Blessings. Audrey

Writer Fox (author) from the wadi near the little river on May 06, 2015:

Hi Audrey: Unless the photo is the intro to an entire section on your Hub, it should NOT have a title, because that automatically gives it an H2 tag on HP and too many of those are considered spam if they do not really designate important sections of a webpage.

Audrey Selig from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on May 02, 2015:

Hi Writer Fox - I am reading this again. Do you need titles for the photos in addition to the caption at bottom? Great article for SEO reference. Audrey

Writer Fox (author) from the wadi near the little river on April 02, 2015:

Hi PinoyMom and Tlcs. Learning SEO takes time, but anyone can learn a few important techniques very quickly. Thanks for commenting.

Trudy Cooper from Hampshire, UK on February 25, 2015:

Hi writerfox, really knowledgeable hub. I found it very indepth, I have a real problem with seo and keywords, I will need to read this article more than once and hopefully take something from it. I really struggle in this area, but it is nice to know that I can refer to what you have written hear and hopefully one day it will click!

Shiela Gerona from Philippines on February 13, 2015:

Thanks to the heads up. I didn't know that tags are being seen as spam by search engines

Writer Fox (author) from the wadi near the little river on February 13, 2015:

@ David (Dwelburn) – The thing about comments and forum posts is that you post them yourself, so they are not really links recommending your webpage. At best, search engines will just ignore them. At worst – especially if there are hundreds of them using the same anchor text – they will be considered spam. Both can be good for generating traffic, but they must be used prudently.

@ Mary (Aesta1) – I think you are on the right track now. SEO is central to generating traffic and income online.

@ Marcy – There is a learning curve going from print to online writing. Fortunately, it is easy to adapt once you know the formula which works for addressing search engines with SEO.

@PinoyMom – That is a useful program for blogs using Wordpress, but I would advise against using tags. Tags were really just a fad and can be seen as spam now by search engines.

Shiela Gerona from Philippines on February 06, 2015:

I need time to understand how SEO works. Thank you for all the details. In Wordpress, I find SEO by Yoast as a helpful tool when creating a post. I already know how to create tags but still I need to know more.

Marcy Goodfleisch from Planet Earth on December 30, 2014:

This is so helpful, Writer Fox! I wish I'd had this information about three years ago - I've had to redirect my thoughts on titles and subheads from my magazine and newspaper background to the world of SEO.

Thanks, as always, for sharing your great experience with us!

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on December 06, 2014:

I have not really given SEO much attention until recently and your hub explains it well for me. I just need to apply it now.

David from Birmingham, UK on November 07, 2014:

When you talk about blog comment spam and forum spam, how does Google recognize the difference between this and a genuine useful comment left on a blog or forum with a link back you your site (using your name as the link of course)? And is it in fact useful to do this?

LindaSmith1 from USA on November 03, 2014:

Good to see you are ok WF. You have had a lot of people worried about you. I don't know where I read it, but I did read that Google sees a large amount of new content as spam, at least not a good thing. Then with the grace period allowing that content to be accepted as is, was not a good move since quality is important. I may be wrong here, but that is the way I understand things

Writer Fox (author) from the wadi near the little river on November 03, 2014:

@Ologsinquito, I think you're on the right track now and I hope it works out.

@Linda, All of the new content has not increased site traffic. I think other content sites are learning a lesson watching the results.

@Trigalak, I'm glad you appreciated this article and thank you for leaving a comment.

Sasa Sijak on October 29, 2014:

Great article! You really addressed all of the most important key points for SEO. Thank you.

LindaSmith1 from USA on October 25, 2014:

Makes me wonder if this move of content was a smart one!

ologsinquito from USA on October 25, 2014:

Thanks Writer Fox, I may have to think about changing titles and also maybe think about taking out some of the links to my blog. I know you have the stats to back up your advice.

Writer Fox (author) from the wadi near the little river on October 25, 2014:

Hi Linda,

Google knows when the URL for a webpage has changed, even without a 301 redirect. Google has stated many times that you cannot avoid penalties (among other things) by changing the URL of a page or of an entire website, because it tracks the actual words in an article. So, to answer your question, putting "2 years old" on a page doesn't influence Google one way or another. But, the search engine does know where and when the content was first indexed. The ramifications of moving all of that content, many pages on the same topics already well saturated on HP, go well beyond the dates articles were first published.

LindaSmith1 from USA on October 25, 2014:

WF: I am sure that you can address this one. I have noticed new members from Suiddo with hub pages listed as 2 and 3 years old even though they have a new HP account. I wonder how Google is viewing this since they are not 2 and 3 years old on Hub Pages and how it is affecting hubs on same topics that are not 2 or 3 years old.

Writer Fox (author) from the wadi near the little river on October 25, 2014:

Hi Linda,

Maybe that method will work out for you. On HubPages, it wouldn't work for the miscellaneous content I post here.

Hi Ologsinquito,

I'm sorry to hear about the loss of traffic to your webpages here. If the traffic loss happened all at once after September 23, it was probably due to Google's Panda algorithm update.

Traffic to the site plunged again yesterday to a low which hasn't been seen since April. I posted a statistical analysis of the content acquisition from Squidoo two days ago in the comments section of this article:

There are about 980 articles on HP right now about narcissism. I don't know how many of these are newly imported vs. the ones which were here before. But, Google will not show more than two results on page one of search results for a search query from the same website. I don't know what keywords you are targeting with each of your articles, but they should target entirely different keyword phrases and not have 'exact match' titles. If you have 50 articles on that topic, you would do better posting them on your own website (not a blog). One of my new websites just hit a million page views for the month of October.

Your external links can also be a problem if they look self-serving or spammy. (I don't link to any of my Web properties from HP.)

Finally, don't listen to SEO advice from people writing on HP unless they have posted new Hubs in the past year and have the traffic accolades to support their opinions.

P.S. Prayers said facing Jerusalem are heard.

ologsinquito from USA on October 24, 2014:

WriterFox, Unfortunately, my subdomain did get hit in this latest update. Before that, I had been reasonably happy with my traffic. Now, I'm trying to correct what needs to be fixed and I have two thoughts.

One thought is that I might have too many closely related articles on malignant narcissism. The other is that I might have too many links pointing to two of my blogs. Do you think this could be hurting me?

Thanks so much for your continued awesome advice. I'll pray for you and share this article.

LindaSmith1 from USA on October 23, 2014:

There is more to consider, of course which he did not cover. I found it interesting because of the sales rank being so high on many of the products. Now, at least I understand Amazon stats a bit better. I am going to start testing it. Who knows, maybe there is another hub in the works. Thanks for taking the time to review it.

Writer Fox (author) from the wadi near the little river on October 23, 2014:

Hi Linda: I watched part of the video and that sounds like one method for choosing products. If you post your question on the forum, you'll probably get a lot more ideas as well.

David from Birmingham, UK on October 23, 2014:

Thanks for the clarification Writer Fox.

LindaSmith1 from USA on October 23, 2014:

WF: I don't want to put the link here, without your permission, but I have a URL to a you tube video about choosing Amazon products, that I would like your opinion on.

Writer Fox (author) from the wadi near the little river on October 23, 2014:

Thank you, Shyron and DDE.

@EasyLearningWeb: I'm glad to know that it worked out for you. There are actually several articles here about creating a Table of Contents, so that might not be a good topic to write about.

@Dwelburn: On HP, the Title of your article is coded with an H1 tag and the system does not have an option to add another H1 tag on a Hub. (Most webpages only need one.) On your own websites, however, there might be a page where you want to use more than one H1 tag. I would only recommend doing that on very long articles that really have two distinct parts.

David from Birmingham, UK on October 21, 2014:

This is an excellent hub and I'm gradually working my way through it. It will take a few days. But there are some things I still don't really understand. For instance you say "there should be only one H1Tag used on the page and it should be identical to the Title Tag". But I thought the H1 tag WAS the title tag (i.e if you write a title to a post it becomes the H1 tag). So please could you explain what the difference is? Thank you.

Amelia Griggs from U.S. on October 20, 2014:

Writer Fox: I figured out how to create the internal link to jump to another location within a hub. For now, I added one "jump" link to the end of my WordPress hubpage, but I plan on adding more. I might even create a hub to explain this step-by-step.

Thanks for your help!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 20, 2014:

Interesting about SEO and I learned lots from you here. I came across this hub while shared and so glad to have spotted it. Thank you for a well-researched and a very important information.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on October 19, 2014:

Wow,so much information to go through, I will be back often as I need the information, this is awedome.


Writer Fox (author) from the wadi near the little river on October 18, 2014:

Hi Sandy. I didn't erase a comment from you, but you did make a nice one on my article for writing website content. Glad you read this one, too.

Sandy Mertens from Frozen Tundra on October 18, 2014:

A lot of helpful information here. I thought I had left a comment before. But don't see if unless it was erased. We can all use help with SEO.

Writer Fox (author) from the wadi near the little river on October 18, 2014:

Hi EasyLearning. Take the URL for the forum and add this to the end: 113669#post2419013

You'll find my instructions there. Let me know if that works for you.

Amelia Griggs from U.S. on October 16, 2014:

Quick question: How did you set up the internal links (the jump to links at the top)? I know how to set them up in an HTML page with "a name" links but I don't see a way to set them up on Hubpages?

Writer Fox (author) from the wadi near the little river on October 16, 2014:

Hi Phyllis, Paula, Nell, Victoria, and EasyLearningWeb: I thank you all for your comments and votes.

Amelia Griggs from U.S. on October 16, 2014:

This hub is magnificent! I have bookmarked it and will be using it as a reference tool. Thank you very much for all the helpful tips and information. :-)

Victoria from Long Island N.Y on October 14, 2014:

Thank you so much for these important tips! It's extremely appreciated.

Nell Rose from England on October 14, 2014:

Phew took me a while but I get it! lol! thanks for your help on the forum, I get tags now! thank goodness for that! I am going to go into my hubs and sort out the photos now, thanks again, nell

Suzie from Carson City on October 14, 2014:

Fox.....It's established. You are brilliant. Such a fully clear and informative hub. Like several others here, I'm definitely going to need to go over this a few more times. It's a lot to digest.

I'd like to say I'm very serious and focused on SEO......but I'd be lying. It makes perfect sense to get serious if we're truly looking for the income.

I'm guessing so many writers just don't "understand" (like me, for instance).....which makes me grateful for you and other hubbers who write these tutorials.............Thanks, Fox....UP++

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on October 13, 2014:

My gosh! I had to bookmark so I can come back and finish absorbing all this excellent information. I often put off reading comprehensive articles about the internet, SEO, SERPS, bots, etc - all those things I really should learn more abou - however, I find your hub so ell written that I am really understanding and enjoying reading it. I am really impressed, Fox, not only with your educational article, but the fact that I understand things now jmore than I did before. Thanks. I will be back.

LindaSmith1 from USA on September 21, 2014:

I usually do that and then build on those 2 words such as dog beds, then best dog beds, dog beds for small dogs, etc.

In fact, some of the ways I used dog beds had no information on Google adword tool, just if I searched using them in Google search.

Writer Fox (author) from the wadi near the little river on September 21, 2014:

Usually, you need to search for a phrase with more than 2 words.

LindaSmith1 from USA on September 21, 2014:

When did they start that? A few years ago, there was a way to tell but they didn't have ad next to them like they do now.

I just looked up dog beds and stopped after 3 pages which are nothing but big retailers and one for Etsy.

Writer Fox (author) from the wadi near the little river on September 21, 2014:

The ads are always identified as ads, not that searchers care.

LindaSmith1 from USA on September 21, 2014:

Thanks WriterFox. At least I was taught that much correctly. The ones at the top pay to be at the top.

Writer Fox (author) from the wadi near the little river on September 21, 2014:

Don't look at the ads at the top of SERPs, just the site listings.

LindaSmith1 from USA on September 21, 2014:

Okay thanks WriterFox. I have been going with low competition, below 10,000 and above .99

I guess I have been doing it wrong. Competitors are usually those at the top who pay, chain stores, and Pinterest.

Writer Fox (author) from the wadi near the little river on September 21, 2014:

Hi Linda. Basically what you want is the highest competition and the highest dollar amount, because those figures have to do with the number of advertisers bidding on given keyword phrases and the typical amount paid for a click.

You want the monthly page views to be high enough that you aren't wasting your time trying to attract the audience with your writing.

But, you also need to check out the number and quality of competitors by searching directly on Google.

Writer Fox (author) from the wadi near the little river on September 21, 2014:

Hi Availiasvision. I'm pleased to know that you found this information useful. Almost everything in this tutorial can be applied to your writing on this website. Thanks for your comment.

LindaSmith1 from USA on September 21, 2014:

Maybe another idea for you!!

Okay, if I go to Google Keyword Planner and look up a couple of keywords, do I want or not want keywords with this information

Monthly USA Views Competition Bids

27,100 Low $1.26

1,600 Medium $0.90

Jennifer Arnett from California on September 20, 2014:

This is the best and most thorough SEO guide in have come across. Thanks for such a labor of love. Looks like you put a lot of time into it.

Writer Fox (author) from the wadi near the little river on September 14, 2014:

Thanks, Aerospacefan. SEO is ever-changing, so this article is frequently updated. Check it again from time to time.

John Lannoye from Chicago on September 13, 2014:

What a fantastic AMAZING hub. I never a lot of what appeared in this hub. Voted up!

Writer Fox (author) from the wadi near the little river on September 03, 2014:

Cool, DealForALiving. You're welcome and if you ever have a question, just ask it here. (It's more private than the forum.)<