From: Paul Antico

Hi Jill,

I love your cut through the hype no nonsense, no bs style!

I am a photographer with an image based website. The pages on my site, on the third level down, use javascript to open pop-up windows when viewers click on the thumbnails on those pages. Can/will the search engines follow those links to those pages? There are no other links to those pages.

Does it matter if they find those pages? If it matters and they can't follow the javascript openwin() command, would a no frames tag be indicated or perhaps something else?

By the way, just following your basic advice in ONE WEEK my site went from being one zillion to NUMBER ONE and TWO on Google (and by default, Yahoo) on some of my selected keyword phrases!!!! Wow!

For some reason, on my other keyword phrase I show up as #65. Considering I was never found before unless someone typed in my actual name or business name, this is fabulous! All I did was change my title, add carefully written text at the top of the page where there was only a logo, adjust the description and keyword meta-tags, add/revise alt tags and link title tags and voila! Search engine success!



++Jill's Response++

Hi Paul,

Glad you like my style!

It's great to know about your search engine success. I hear similar stories almost every day from my subscribers, and it definitely makes me psyched! If more people would simply remember that the key to high search engine rankings is to use common sense and to *think like a search engine* (or a search engine programmer), they'd find it's a lot easier than they might think.

Regarding your JavaScript links to pop-up windows, no, the search engines generally can't follow those types of links. Does it matter? Only if you care whether the info in the pop-up windows is found in the search engines. If they're simply samples of your photos with no written content, there's really no need to have them spidered by the search engines.

However, if there's info contained in those pages that you definitely want spidered, you should use the <noscript> tag and place spiderable hyperlinks in it. (You would not want to use the <noframes> tag, as that's only for framed sites.)

As for the keyword phrase you're having trouble ranking highly with, most likely that phrase is more competitive than the phrases you're doing well with. By more competitive, I mean that there are more pages in the search engine's database that match the query. In other words, when you type in your highly ranked keyword phrase, there may be 5,000 other pages that show up in the search engine results pages (SERPs). But when you type in the keyword phrase you're having trouble with, you may find that there are 10,000 pages showing up. This means that there's twice as much competition for that phrase.

Many people are scared to optimize for phrases that they consider *too competitive*. However, just because a phrase is competitive doesn't mean you shouldn't optimize for it. It simply means that you shouldn't make it the cornerstone of your optimization campaign.

Think about it...if you had optimized only for that one elusive keyword phrase, you'd be sitting there thinking that you stink at search engine optimization. Since you were smart enough to optimize for some easily attainable phrases, you have gained confidence in your SEO skills.

Now that you've seen what works for the less competitive phrases, put it to work for you on the more competitive phrase. In order not to ruin what you've already accomplished, you may want to optimize other pages of your site for the more competitive phrase. The more competitive a phrase is, the more times you'll need to use that phrase within your page copy, Title tags, Meta tags, and links. Larger, more informational sites also seem to have an advantage with competitive phrases. The more pages of information you have for your site visitors, the better chance you'll have of ranking highly for your best phrase or phrases.

As long as you have optimized for a variety of phrases within the pages of your site, go ahead and shoot for some competitive ones too. Why not? You've got nothing to lose!

March 3, 2003

CEO and founder of High Rankings®, Jill Whalen has been performing search engine optimization since 1995 and is the host of the free High Rankings Advisor search engine marketing newsletter, author of "The Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines" and founder/administrator of the popular High Rankings Search Engine Optimization Forum. In 2006, Jill co-founded SEMNE, a local search engine marketing networking organization for people and companies in New England.

High Rankings is an internationally recognized search engine optimization firm located in Framingham, MA specializing in search engine optimization, SEO consultations, in-house training, site audit reports, search marketing seminars and workshops. High Rankings has a 100% success rate for substantially improving client rankings and targeted traffic.

Jill speaks at national and international conferences and has been writing about SEO and search marketing since 2000. She's been quoted in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report and The Washington Post. Her articles have appeared in numerous print magazines and online websites including CIO Magazine, CMS Focus, The Internet Marketing Report, ClickZ, WorkZ,, Entrepreneur, Lycos Small Business, WebProNews, SiteProNews and others. Jill has also appeared on many online and offline radio programs such as Entrepreneur Magazine's E-Biz Radio Show, SearchEngineRadio and the eMarketing Talkshow.

Search Engine Guide > Jill Whalen > Can Search Engines Follow JavaScript Pop-up Links?