Everyone is aware that Inktomi is soon likely to grow in importance due to it having been being bought recently by Yahoo! Although no firm date has been given as to when Inktomi results will be integrated in to Yahoo's search listings, it is pretty much accepted that the time is drawing close. In addition, MSN are likely (despite the recent launch of their own MSNBOT spider) to be at least 18 months away from being in a position to launch their own search engine's results, which seems to tie-in to the surprise announcement earlier this year of a lengthy extension to MSN's contract with Inktomi. Over the past few weeks, Inktomi has also been gaining new partners - most notable being the prestigious contract for the supply of results to the BBC web site (www.bbc.co.uk).

Although the future now looks quite bright for Inktomi, they have spent the last few years fighting off (and losing to) the ever growing Star of Search, Google. People tend to forget that in 2000 (a mere 3 years ago), Inktomi seemed to rule the roost in terms of search. Their results were used by many leading search destinations, from AOL to Yahoo! For a webmaster, if you couldn't get listed on Inktomi - you were condemned to almost total invisibility on the web.

Most SEOs had to cut their teeth on preparing client sites for Inktomi's spiders (Slurp - in its' various forms), as well as those of AltaVista (Scooter) and other engines. Googlebot (Google's spider) was an interesting new spider and Google a search engine with "potential" - but was largely ignored for day to day SEO purposes.

Now the situation is reversed! The majority of webmasters are focussed on optimisation for Google and many are bemoaning the fact that optimisation for Google doesn't seem to work on Inktomi (or other engines).

Fortunately, those of us who knew how to design pages for Inktomi had learnt early on, that those pages worked very well for Google (and other engines) provided the off-page factors that Google use in their algorithm were taken in to account.

In all my years of doing search engine optimisation across the widest spectrum of site themes imaginable, I have never had to prepare a different page for Google (or any other engine) to the one I prepared for Inktomi first. This rather cuts across the argument put by Ammon Johns in a recent article (sorry, Ammon) - but is my experience after the production of many thousands of pages and hundreds of sites.

So, people have asked me, why optimise for Inktomi first? Why not chase the ultimate goal of Google before turning to the others? The simple answer is PFI. By optimising a page for Inktomi and using PFI, I can adjust the page to get a decent ranking on Inktomi within a matter of days. I then know that provided I can get decent links to the site on which that page resides (Yahoo, DMOZ, and Joeant etc.) - I can be fairly certain that I am going to get a first page listing on Google without having to adjust anything for Googlebot! The rankings on Inktomi give an indication of the ultimate positions on other engines. This is far better than having to wait weeks or months to see what the results are going to be like on Google first. Due to this, Inktomi has been my "secret weapon" for SEO for all the years that people have been ignoring it!

Like any SEO procedure, optimising for Inktomi is not rocket-science. Inktomi looks for on-page content laid out in a manner which allows it to understand the page content comprehensively. The facts laid out below are "back-to-basics" SEO, but they work - pretty much every time! A page should consist of:

a)<title> tag - I normally use around 10 words incorporating as many keyword variants for that page as I can, while making it a compelling title.

An example for a car hire site could be: "Car Hire Las Vegas, Rental Cars from Auto Rentals Specialists"

The above is focussed on all forms of ways that someone is going to search for looking for car rentals Las Vegas and should appear for:

Car hire las vegas, rental cars las vegas, auto rentals las vegas, hire cars las vegas etc., etc.

b) meta description tag - I use around 15-20 words re-emphasising the keywords used in the title tag.


Great rates on car hire in Las Vegas. Check our rental cars and choose your auto rentals from the specialists at MMT Rental!

c) meta keyword tag - Inktomi still recognises this - just! If in doubt, leave it out - but I (usually as the last thing I do) add the tag for the core phrases I want the page to rank for.


Car hire las vegas,rental cars las vegas,auto rentals las vegas,hire cars las vegas

Note the use of commas and no spaces after the commas. I was always a strong proponent of not using commas in a keyword meta tag - but Inktomi guidelines state this is the way to do it - so who am I to disagree!

Now we move on to the visible body text. I usually design a page so that there is a visible page heading appearing close to the top of the HTML in an <h3> tag. This is a repeat of my <title> tag.


<h3>Car Hire Las Vegas, Rental Cars from Auto Rentals Specialists</h3>

The first sentence of the first paragraph is an edited repeat of my description in <bold>


<bold>We have great rates on car hire in Las Vegas. Use the information below to check our rental cars and choose the auto rentals for you from the specialists at MMT Rental!</bold>

Then the page should have around 200 words of text describing your services. If you are mentioning models e.g. car types, I put these in list elements <li>, with a possible link to the appropriate site section relating to descriptions of the model. This would re-emphasis that the site was about a specific type of car hire in a specific location with words in the list element getting a boost along with the use of the phrase in anchor text.

All images on the page should use alt tags with a single phrase in the tag e.g. the first image may have "car hire las vegas", the second "hire cars las vegas" etc.

At the end of the text, I add a final sentence in bold which is a rehash of the first sentence I wrote at the beginning of the body text.

The page is done - well almost!

Make sure that the page is user friendly and makes sense. It is pointless obsessing about the absolutely perfect page if it becomes meaningless to the surfer in the meantime! The idea is to incorporate the rules of optimisation in to the overall design of the site. Make sure the page is linked to by the appropriate index page.

Do not be tempted to create doorway pages using garbage content as "filler" around your key phrases. It won't work in the long term for two reasons:

Inktomi has the most sophisticated grammatical parser I have seen for detecting auto-generated content. I know, years ago I tested ways to get around it - and couldn't.

Inktomi checks for incoming links -even on PFI pages. If a page is deemed to be an orphaned doorway page with no incoming links, it will drop like a stone!

My next step is to put the page in to PFI and 48 hours later it should appear on sites like MSN. 9 out of 10 times - there it is, on the first page of the search results. If it isn't, I adjust slightly and wait another 48 hours. When satisfied, I leave it alone.

I then concentrate on ensuring the site I am working on gains the off-page factors necessary to help it in other SEs like Google. Submissions are made (if the site is not already included) to Yahoo, ODP and other directories including those which are specific to the industry being targeted. I do not look for "un-natural" links like guest books or link farms. I never, never ever crosslink - tempting as it may be! I also don't submit to Google. In fact I haven't used the Google submit button for years. The site will be found (provided you are successful with your directory submission) by all the major crawlers - and in 6-8 weeks time will start to appear on other SEs, with the full strength of the off-page factors kicking in about a month after that.

I have been successfully using this method for the past 3 years and it has worked consistently. There should be no surprises really, it is just laying out content in a manner which search engines like. It is just that on Inktomi, you can test the results of your efforts a little quicker.

Try it - it should work for you to!

July 18, 2003

Known in the SEO business as MakeMeTop, Barry is a Jim Guide for the Jim World group of internet marketing forums, a moderator on the IhelpYouServices and High Rankings discussion forums and a Senior Member of WebMasterWorld. Based in Northern Ireland, Barry has worked in the computer industry for over 20 years in the UK, Europe, Taiwan and the USA. He has been involved in the development of hardware and software products worldwide. Barry has held senior sales and marketing positions for several leading IT companies before founding the company in 1998. Barry has spoken at conferences such as Search Engine Strategies on search engine marketing and writes articles on specific aspects of the industry for information based newsletters such as HighRankings Advisor and (of course) The MakeMeTop Newsletter.

Search Engine Guide > Barry Lloyd > Optimising for Inktomi - And how it can help on Other SEs!