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SEO Website Audit

High Rankings Advisor: Paying for Inclusion - Issue No. 008

May 1, 2002
________________________________________________________

~~~IN TODAY'S ADVISOR~~~

*Introductory Comments:
---->   Clearing up the Confusion

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   Paying for Inclusion

*This Week's Sponsor:
---->   AltaVista's Web Marketing Services

*Other SEO News:
---->   Google to Power AOL Search
---->   Overture Ads to Continue on Yahoo
---->   Looks Like Hoodlums

*Advisor Wrap-Up:
---->   English People Rock!
________________________________________________________

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hi Advisor gang!  I've got a great issue full of interesting
paid-inclusion information for you today.  Before I begin, I wanted to
clear up some confusion regarding Rank Write, the High Rankings'
Advisor and The Ascendant Group's Tagline.

Those of you who've been with me for a while know that my newsletter
started out in June of 2000 as Rank Write, which was written in
partnership with Heather Lloyd-Martin.  In March of this year, Heather
and I parted ways and decided to produce our own newsletters.  Mine is
this one, the Advisor.  Heather's is Tagline and it's produced with
Detlev Johnson through their new company, The Ascendant Group.  When
we split the Rank Write newsletter, we each kept the subscriber list
and put it into place for our new separate newsletters.  As soon as
that happened, they became two separate databases of subscribers.
Therefore, those who newly subscribe or unsubscribe to my newsletter
are not subscribed or unsubscribed to hers, etc.  Other than the
original Rank Write connection, our newsletters and companies have no
connection; what I put in my newsletter is no reflection on hers, and
vice-versa.

Apparently, many people were confused about this once her newsletter
started up a few weeks ago, as I've received many emails and phone
calls with questions concerning this.  Hopefully, this clears things
up for you!

Jill = High Rankings' Advisor (What you're reading now - no relation
to Tagline.)
Heather = The Ascendant Group's Tagline.  (No relation to Advisor.)

And with that out of the way...it's on to the good stuff! - Jill


~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

+++Paying for Inclusion in Directories and Search Engines+++

It seems that everywhere we turn these days, we are constantly hearing
the phrases pay-per-inclusion (PPI) and pay-per-click (PPC). There are
now a number of ways that the search engines and directories are
collecting funds from people trying to get their Web sites listed.

The most important thing to note when discussing this topic is that
money spent on PPI programs goes solely towards getting your site into
the search databases, and that's it. You can pay them all you want,
but PPI is not going to give you a higher ranking. Remember this
before you fork over your hard-earned money.

Paying for Directory Listings

If you have a business or any type of commercial site, you have to pay
Yahoo! just to consider your site for inclusion. Once reviewed by
their editors, they'll add your site only if they believe it's worthy,
but keep the fee regardless. (Yahoo!'s review fee is currently $299
per year.)  According to their Terms of Service (TOS), they hold all
the cards and you are at their mercy. That said, Yahoo! is fairly good
about adding most submitted PPI sites as long as you're not trying to
deceive them somehow.   (Deception includes, but is not limited to,
submitting duplicate sites, doorway domains and other sites that add
no value to their directory.)

Once an editor decides that your site is up to their standards and
adds it to the database, you get no special treatment in the rankings
department.  This is why it's necessary to prepare a carefully crafted
and extremely succinct keyword-rich description before you submit. If
you're not happy with the description you end up with (they often
change it), you should send in an email appeal detailing why their
description is inaccurate. Depending on the scope of changes requested
and the reasons behind them, they may or may not make your changes.
After your one appeal, what you see is what you get. (It's possible
that with Yahoo!'s new annual-fee program you will be given a chance
to edit your listing at renewal time. However, this hasn't been laid
out very clearly in their current TOS the last time I checked.)

As far as your rankings go, it appears that the more popular a site is
on the Internet in general, the better chance it has for a high
ranking in Yahoo! also. So once again, it's important to make your
site the best it can be! (Please read my article "Submitting to
Directories" </directorysubmit.htm> for
more information on this.)

With the LookSmart directory, the situation is even more convoluted.
In fact, their latest change to a combination of PPI and PPC is so
outrageous that I don't recommend submitting to them at all anymore.
With their new business model, it doesn't appear that many sites will
see a worthwhile return on investment from them at this time. Plus,
LookSmart has a habit of changing their terms of service any time they
feel like it, and therefore can (and do) take your money and add your
site, then remove it at a later date. If all that isn't bad enough,
their clickthrough reporting does not appear to be accurate (at the
time of this writing) when compared to actual server log statistics,
and therefore it's possible that you'd pay for clicks you never
actually received from them. All of these things add up to a company
that I personally want nothing to do with. Don't take my word for it,
however; please take a look at their product offerings and decide if
it makes sense for your business. Just be sure to read their TOS very
carefully, and remember the old adage, "buyer beware"!

The Open Directory (ODP aka DMOZ) does not offer a PPI program, and
both business and non-business sites can be submitted for free. I know
of no plans for a PPI program at this time.

Paying for Search Engine Listings

Along with directory PPI, nearly every spidering search engine has a
PPI program in place (Lycos/FAST, AskJeeves/Teoma, AltaVista and all
of the Inktomi-based engines). These programs ensure that specific
pages within your site will be added to a search engine's database
within a specified period of time (usually between 48 hours and seven
days), and will also be respidered on a regular basis. Prices vary by
engine and program from about $12 to $78 per URL for one year of
inclusion.

Search engine PPI differs from directory PPI since the search engines
gather the information from your actual Web page, as opposed to simply
using the title and description that you submit to them. As with the
directories, however, paying their fee will not affect your rankings
in the results pages; it will only ensure that your page is somewhere
in their database. It could be top ten, or it could be number one
zillion and 12. It's up to you to optimize your site using all of the
goodies I discuss in my search engine optimization articles and this
newsletter.

The good thing about these PPI programs is that your optimization
efforts can be rewarded very quickly if you know what you're doing.
It's a pleasure to be able to see the fruits of your labor in a mere
48 hours! These PPI programs also give you the opportunity of
"tweaking" your page in hopes of improving your rankings.

Pay-Per-Click Ad Programs

Along with PPI programs, we also have PPC programs such as Overture,
FindWhat and Sprinks. These programs are actually advertising
campaigns, as opposed to traditional search engine optimization. You
bid on certain keywords, and if you're among the top bidders, your ad
will appear in the sponsored/featured section of many search engines
and directories. Since many searchers believe these ads are actually
relevant search engine results, they can bring a lot of traffic. Even
those who understand that they are ads may still click on them if they
are highly relevant to their search query.

Google has its own unique PPC program called "AdWords Select." These
ads appear along the right-hand side of the results pages. Bidding for
keywords at Google is quite a bit different from programs such as
Overture, although many of the basic principles remain the same. Now
that Google has announced a deal with AOL to run their AdWords
starting this summer (read more on this below), you may want to brush
up on your AdWords skills. For more information on running a
successful Google AdWords Select campaign, I've been recommending
Andrew Goodman's special report entitled, "21 Techniques to Maximize
your Profits on Google AdWords Select"
</pagezero>.

The downside to PPC programs is that you'll need to spend a lot of
time managing your bids to ensure that you're getting the best
possible click price. It might be worthwhile using a program such as
ClickPatrol </clickpatrol> to manage your
PPC accounts. It's also worth mentioning that once you stop paying for
PPC keywords, your site will no longer be shown in the
sponsored/featured listings, and you'll lose all your PPC traffic.
Because of this, if you do choose to go the PPC route, you may also
want to optimize your pages to appear in the "regular" results. This
way if the expense of managing your PPC campaign is too high, you'll
have your regular listings to fall back on.

(This article is an update to an old article of mine and is also
posted at: </payforplacement.htm>.)


_________________________________________

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_________________________________________

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_________________________________________


~~~Other SEO News~~~

+++Google to Power AOL Search+++

Big, big news for Google and AOL today!  It was announced that Google
would soon be powering the search results at AOL and their other Web
properties such as Netscape and CompuServe.  This is not only great
news for Google, but also for AOL searchers, as they will finally be
able to easily find what they're looking for on their first try!

Google AdWords ads will also be making an appearance at AOL, which
explains why they've cracked down on their editorial guidelines in
recent weeks.  For those that aren't in the program, many ads that
were running fine for weeks were suddenly disapproved.  My own ad,
which had been getting tons of clicks for over a month, was recently
disapproved for using ALL CAPS and improper punctuation (an
exclamation point!).  This didn't seem to make any sense given the
AdWords box-like format; however, it makes perfect sense in the
AOL-sponsored listing format.  It appears that AOL is already
replacing Overture ads with Google ads in the "Sponsored" section at
AOL as of this writing.

I guess my friend Andrew Goodman was right on the money in his recent
Traffick article, "Google Eschews Editorial Intervention... Or Do
They?" <http://www.traffick.com/article.asp?aID=70>.  In the article,
Andrew said, "The painstaking detail of all these new editorial rules,
and the suddenness and rigor of their enforcement, suggests to me that
Google is in hot and heavy negotiations with a major portal like AOL
to syndicate AdWords results to the big guys."  Way to go, Andrew!
Can you look into your crystal ball and tell us how long LookSmart has
to live?

You can review Google's Editorial Guidelines here:
<https://adwords.google.com/select/guidelines.html>


+++Overture Ads to Continue on Yahoo+++

Although Overture lost the AOL account, they just signed up for a
three-year extension to supply ads to Yahoo! so don't count them out
of the game by any means.   See this article from C|Net News for more
info: <http://news.com.com/2100-1023-892770.html>.


+++Looks Like Hoodlums+++

Once again, I hesitate to give LookSmart any more attention, but as
more is revealed about their new "business model," they look scummier
and scummier in my eyes.  Perhaps they're just working out the kinks,
but here are some things they are allegedly doing (either purposely or
by mistake) that look very, very unethical to me:

* Changing their Terms of Service at their whim.
* "Upgrading" sites that paid a one-time fee and forcing them into
their convoluted pay-per-click model.
* Refusing to issue refunds to those who don't wish to be "upgraded"
even if they paid their "one-time fee" just hours before the new
business model took place.  (This one happened to me.)
* Registering clicks to sites, yet those clicks don't show up in
server logs.
* Temporarily de-listing sites that refuse to pay beyond the small
amount of "free" clicks LookSmart has so <cough> generously provided.
* Giving a lower ranking to sites that refuse to pay.
* Attaching affiliate links to URLs in their directory, so they can
get paid twice.
* Showing Espotting pay-per-click listings mixed in with the regular
LookSmart UK results for keywords that Espotters did not purchase (yet
are unwittingly paying for).
* Apparently redirecting some Inktomi results through LookSmart's
pay-per-click program by attaching the LookSmart redirect link where
it really doesn't belong, effectively charging per click where there
should be no charge.

Who knows what the upcoming weeks will reveal?  Perhaps everyone who
has noticed these things has simply lost their minds.  At any rate, as
I stated in the "Paying for Inclusion" article above, you won't catch
me EVER doing business with LookSmart again.  Hopefully I'm through
writing about them also, but somehow I doubt it.

(Much of this LookSmart info was found through the many informative
posts in the LookSmart forum at IhelpyouServices here:
<http://www.ihelpyouservices.com/forums/f12/s>.)


~~~Advisor Wrap-Up~~~

Aside from the fact that I couldn't fall asleep until 4 AM each night,
last week's trip to London was great fun for me!  The conference went
really well, and I met a whole bunch of wonderful people.  If all
English people are as friendly as those I hung around with, then you
Brits have quite the country!  I look forward to heading back out
there soon.  Next time, I'll definitely take a few extra days to do
some sightseeing.  I still wanna see those guards with the big, furry
hats and red coats at that castle thingee... (spoken like a true
American, eh?).

Catch you next week! - Jill
 
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