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THEMES...The Next Evolution of Search Engine Optimization

By John Buchanan
Posted Thursday, July 1, 2004

Themes...many cringe at the mere word, being taken back to a time
of term papers and book reports, however, in the field of
search engine optimization and search engine positioning, "themes"
are beginning to play a CRUCIAL role in the long term success
of online businesses.

So what exactly are "themes" and why are they becoming so important?

To understand this we have to look at why the search engines
implemented this new indexing technique.

With the incredible growth of the web, the search engines are
constantly look for new and better ways to serve up relevant
results while still maintaining a manageable database.

They have implemented filters to get rid of duplicate content and
invisible text. They have reduced the importance or stopped indexing
META tags completely as well as many other tags, and still they
have been falling behind.

They have begun counting click-thru's, added link popularity and
link quality to their ranking algorithms and much more and still
find themselves falling behind.

This has led to the new concept of "themes".

Theme indexing takes into account most of what I previously
mentioned, but instead of looking at each page as an individual
entity, it takes the "theme" of the entire site into account.

An engine that incorporates "themes" into its ranking system, looks
at the content as well as theme of the page, the overall theme of
the site, the link popularity of the site, as well as what other
sites are "saying" about that particular site. All these factors
put together determine the "theme" of the site and page and
thereby the ranking of the page in question. The narrower and more
focused the theme of a site, the better the site will rank in regards
to a matching search term.

Now trust me, this is an extremely simplified description of themes
but my goal here is not to go into the technology behind it but it's
impact on search engine optimization and positioning in general.

More and more search engines are incorporating the use of themes
to at least some extent into their ranking systems, and because of
this, it is crucial that any webmaster who wants to continue to
succeed on the internet understand themes and how to use them to
his or her advantage.

Now that we understand a bit about themes, the question becomes
how does it affect you and your web site.

Quite simply, it means that we have to reevaluate the way in which
we design our sites. The days of the all-purpose site are quickly
coming to an end.

Think about it. If you offer a wide range of different products
and/or services, when a theme indexing engine visits your site, what
will it determine to be the overall theme of your site?

If a visiting engine can't determine a specific theme for your site
you will have little or no hope of coming up well for the search
terms you are shooting for.

To thrive in this new world of search engine technology, you must be
able to describe the content or "theme" of your site in two words and
three at the VERY most.

Can you do that? Can you describe the content of your entire site in
two words?

If not, you need to begin rethinking the focus of your site. You
might consider splitting your site into separate sites. Using the
same look and feel for each site, only different domains for the
different categories of your site. In this way, your visitors will
still feel as if they are on the same site, but the engines will
see different sites, each with their own "theme".

If you can describe the focus of your site in two or three words
your already well on your way to having a very themes friendly site.

The next step should be your homepage. The homepage of your site
should focus on the overall, two word theme of your site. The same
two words you used to describe your site. These should be the focus
of your homepage.

All of the subpages on your site, should focus on a narrower version
of the same theme you targeted on your homepage using an extension
of the same two word description of your site. If your two word
description was "computer hardware", then your subpages should focus
on keyphrases such as "ibm computer hardware", "toshiba computer
hardware" etc.

The key is to always have the same two word description as part of
the focus of your subpages. This keeps the overall theme of the site
pure and focused, and easily picked up by a visiting engine.

A good example of an implementation of this would be an electronics
store. A smart owner of an online electronics store would give each
section of his store its own domain name. This could include a
domain specifically for cell phones, another for televisions, another
for stereos, etc. In doing this, he could then focus individual pages
within each domain on specific types of those devices.

Let's look at an example.

Primary domain - (

cell phone domain - (

cell phone subpages:

stereo domain - (

stereo subpages:

televisions domain - (

televisions subpages:

As you can see buy using the above technique you can focus the overall
theme of each web site. The cell phone portion of the site may deal
with different types of cell phones on each page, but the overall
theme is still "cell phones" because this phrase would be found on
each and every page.

When dealing with a themes based engine, focus is key. If all other
things are equal, the site that is most focused around the specific
search term, will come up on top.

About the Author
John Buchanan is the author of the book "The Insider's Guide to
Dominating The Search Engines", and publisher of "The Search Engine
Bulletin", a FREE monthly newsletter. Visit him at
( for more information or to sign up for
the newsletter.


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