June 19, 2002
~~~IN TODAY'S ADVISOR~~~
----> Will Work for Candy
*Search Engine Marketing:
----> Jim's Numerous SEO Questions
*This Week's Sponsor:
----> WordTracker Keyword Research Tool
*Other SEO News:
----> It's a FAST Race
----> Ask Jeeves' Site Submit Program Out of Beta
*Stuff You Might Like
----> New MarketingSherpa's Buyers' Guide to SEO
----> Off to Yellowstone
I told you I would answer questions for chocolate! Advisor subscriber
Jim took me up on my offer and emailed me a laundry list of SEO
questions with the caveat that there would be a box of chocolate in it
for me if I answered them. (Little does Jim know that I answer them
all the time for nuthin....shhhhh!) So, here are Jim's questions,
with my answers inserted in the middle. I figured that would work
better than posting all his questions and then repeating them in my
answers. Hopefully this won't be too hard to follow!
On to the good stuff! - Jill
~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~
++Jim's Numerous SEO Questions++
First off keep up the great work, I look forward to it every week!
I'll try to keep this short and sweet.
>>First Question - Yahoo! I just can't figure them out. When I first
submitted I ranked 35 for my keyword. I made a slight editorial
change to the description, which was accepted, and then I ranked 37.
So I figured I was stuck there and didn't want to piss off the editor
again by asking for another change to the description. Eventually I
was looking at my traffic and noticed some sales increasing and
traffic increasing. I looked up my listing in Yahoo thinking this is
weird because I stopped paying the Overture gods who were emptying out
my bank account faster then I could apply for a second mortgage to pay
them off. Low and behold I am ranked 4th for my keyword. How could
this be? Especially since the 3 sites listed above me don't even have
the keyword in their title. FYI: I did make changes to my site taking
it out of frames entirely and redesigning the site structure overall.
All of my pages are interlinked and I use a global header that can
bring visitors in and out of the site and back to my home page quite
easily. I also use the same global header for my products listed in
Miva, which is about 180 items. Is it possible that by making these
changes I pleased the Yahoo gods?<<
Jill: At times, Yahoo! does change their algorithm for ranking sites.
This way you're never stuck at any one ranking forever (and yet
there's nothing you can do to make it go up or down either).
Basically, once you have an accurate description, you will move up and
down depending on their algorithm at any given time. There's been
some talk in the SEO forums that your Google PageRank (PR) can play a
part in your Yahoo! directory ranking also, but I haven't studied it
enough to fully support that theory. Those that have noticed it say
that the sites with a higher Google PageRank are usually listed first
in the Yahoo! directory.
As to the changes you made to your actual site, they wouldn't affect
your Yahoo! ranking because it is not affected by changes to your
site. Yahoo! is simply a directory and the title and description they
have in their database are all they have to go on. That said, if your
changes affected your PageRank somehow, it's possible that this could
have been what pulled your site up. Click-through popularity is also
taken into account at Yahoo! and that could possibly have been the
cause. (If lots of people click your site at Yahoo! and stay there
awhile, it *may* boost your Yahoo! ranking.)
>>Second Question - I use the Google toolbar to check page rankings
and am stumped by this one. Throughout the day my PageRank
consistently changes, sometimes it's a PageRank of 3 and sometimes
it's a PR 4 for my index page. The other pages have a PR of 2, and
currently I come up in Google on page 7 or page 8 of the search engine
results for my keyword. As of yet I have no links pointing back to my
site and I am trying to establish some good credible links. <<
Jill: All of that PageRank shifting is the inaccuracy of the Google
Toolbar. It's simply a best "guesstimate" of your approximate
PageRank. Many times (especially with inner pages), the PR number is
a total guess based on the other pages within your site. For
instance, you can create a brand-new page that Google doesn't have
indexed, and the toolbar will still show it with a PR of whatever the
other pages of your site are. It doesn't mean anything, however. I
recommend not even looking at or worrying about PageRank. Please read
my "PageRank Mania" article here:
</issue004.htm#seo> for my thoughts on
>>My thinking is that I can't achieve a good ranking until I get some
good links pointing back. <<
Jill: That's not necessarily true. Perhaps it is for the very
competitive one-word keywords; however, have you done any keyword
research? There could be hundreds of related words that you could
easily get top rankings with. Of course, it's always important to
build up credible links to your site, so I'm definitely not
discouraging you there!
>>I'm thinking of investing $100 to purchase the reciprocal links
software [name deleted], which supposedly makes it a lot easier to
contact webmasters and track links pointing in to your site. Any
Jill: I don't know anything about that software, but personally, I
think your money would be better spent on hiring a link-building
specialist. For $300-$400, he or she will find you 20 or 30
high-quality links which should bring in traffic in their own right,
plus help out your link popularity. You can read more about how to
initiate a link-building campaign here:
>>Also, I was under the impression that when creating new pages or
redesigns it is better for the engines to find you than to resubmit.
Jill: It's not so much that it's *better*, it's more that resubmitting
is fairly useless. The search engines pretty much seem to ignore any
submissions that aren't paid submissions these days. You can submit
all you want, but it won't speed anything up. I occasionally still
submit a newly optimized page to Google, but only because it makes me
feel like I am taking a proactive approach. In my heart, I know it's
really just going straight into Google's trash bin!
>>So I did [resubmit], but when I looked at Google one day it had my
new site title and description listed on page 7. Then I looked over
the past several days and it is going back to my old title and
description and the new index page title/description is no longer
listed. Why are they using a cached copy which is no longer active?<<
Jill: This happens to many sites and new pages. It's nothing to be
alarmed about. It seems that Google's standard procedure is to get
your new page listed right away, but then it's gone again in a few
days. Within another few weeks it's usually back in. The good thing
is, when it's first in, you can get a good idea of how it will rank
when it eventually does "stick." If you've done a good job with your
keyword-rich copy and Title tag, you'll usually find that it has moved
up quite a few notches in the results.
>>Third Question - Dmoz has a section that my site needs to get listed
in. Problem is, it needs an editor. How did the other sites get in
without an editor? Anyway, I think I know the answer but should I try
submitting to another section only to get rejected? I tried
submitting, but since it has no editor I feel it will never get
reviewed. I also tried becoming an editor for that section but was
Jill: In all likelihood, your submissions were bumped up to the
editor in the category above yours. But you are right that it is
often harder to get listed when you're submitting to a category
without an editor.
If the site fits within the other section, then go for it. What I
have heard from my ODP editor friends is that they get sooooooooo much
spam and crap sites that it can take them forever to wade through it
all. And on top of that, the sites that might be good don't always
submit good descriptions. They're usually full of marketing hype or
are too long, or have spelling errors or whatever. When editors get
those kinds of submissions, they're apt to ignore them because they
take a lot of work on the editor's part. If they get a submission
that they don't have to change in the least, i.e., one that's short,
to the point, and not hypey or full of keywords, then it's apt to get
added faster. Of course, they have to be able to find your submission
among all the spam submissions they get. So nothing is a given where
ODP is concerned.
>From what I understand, it can be pretty difficult to become an
editor. They prefer that people start in a category that is very deep
within the directory. You're more apt to get accepted if you apply to
one of those. If you do good work there, you can then work your way
up to an upper-level category.
>>Fourth Question - I purchased WebPosition Gold (WPG) several weeks
ago and haven't used it much yet as I can't seem to find enough hours
in a day left. I understand the tool and what they recommend, but have
questions. It seems that it is designed to optimize pages for you to
rank well in search engines, but I don't want to create doorway pages
as I am hearing negative comments. I am also a firm believer of
creating pages that are user friendly, and receive numerous comments
from shoppers, which are the ones I want to rank well. So how do I
optimize pages to rank well in all the engines? i.e., index is
optimized for AOL, now I want index to be optimized for MSN but the
criteria is different for MSN. How do I optimize the same page to do
well for all the engines?<<
Jill: I personally love WPG, and have been using it since it first
came out many moons ago. However, I don't use their PageGenerator
function. I'm a firm believer that nothing can create a page for the
search engines better than a human being. To me, optimizing a page is
an art form, not a science. However, some people need to have numbers
and percentages and all that, and for them, the PageGenerator helps
them understand how many times they should use their keyword phrases
within their copy (plus a whole lot of other stuff). Personally, my
feeling is that you just write the copy so that it makes sense, and do
the same with your tags. But that method doesn't work for everyone.
I feel that WPG is a great tool for checking your ranking in the
search engines, and I couldn't live without it. But that's the only
function I currently use it for.
As to creating different pages for different search engines, I say
pooh to that! Every single search engine in the whole world wants the
same kinds of pages. That is, pages that are full of great content
and are useful to those who visit them. I'll repeat my mantra once
If you create great pages that are professionally written and that
"naturally" utilize your keyword phrases within their visible copy,
PLUS create great Title tags and Meta tags to match, your pages *will*
rank high in all the search engines. Oh yes, they will!
Sure, there are other factors such as having outside links. But if
you're targeting the most appropriate keyword phrases and you do it
through pages that the search engine can easily find, you will get
high rankings. You don't think that Google wants good pages and AOL
wants bad pages or anything like that now, do you? What would they
want that would be different? They all want pages that are relevant
to their searchers' queries. So all you have to do is make your pages
relevant to user queries and you'll be all set!
>>Lastly, is it better to have shallow pages in the same path as the
index page, or is it ok to have the pages one level below the index?
i.e., my-site.com/pages/facts.htm or my-site.com/facts.htm.
Jill: From what I've seen and heard, it's my opinion that the closer
to the root directory your files are, the better chance they'll have
of ranking high. You may have noticed that Google gives a higher
PageRank to pages in the root directory than to those in a subfolder.
That's why I believe closest to the root is better. Also, AltaVista
mentions in their Webmaster FAQ that pages should be as close to the
root as possible. That said, if you do have them in subfolders, I
don't think it will make all that much difference; given the choice,
however, I would use the path structure of "my-site.com/facts.htm."
(And I did see that article in another publication recently that says
the opposite, but I just don't buy it.)
>>If you find the time to answer these questions then expect a box of
chocolate truffles, ok?
Founder and President
Net Shoppe, LLC <<
Jill: Hope that earns the candy!
DOES ANYONE SEARCH FOR "SEO GURU"?
Not according to WordTracker!
(But they do search for "SEO Services")
Don't even *think* about optimizing your sites without
researching your keyword phrases in WordTracker.
"I couldn't do my job properly without WordTracker" - Jill
P.S. You can also research Overture keywords with
WordTracker so there's NO reason to go anywhere else!
~~~Other SEO News~~~
++It's a FAST Race++
Peter Gorman from Fast Search & Transfer (FAST) told me that
AlltheWeb.com, the company's search technology "showcase site," now
searches 2.1 billion Web pages versus Google's 2,073,418,204. So
let's see...according to my calculation, that's over 26 million more
pages. Sounds like a lot, but when you're dealing in the billions I'm
not sure if it means much. Certainly it means that FAST and Google
are in the same league where size is concerned. Of course, we all
know that size doesn't really matter though, don't we? <grin>
My question to Peter was whether all of those Web pages are also
showing up in the Lycos database, since that's the one used by real
people (as opposed to AlltheWeb.com). I have a phone conference
scheduled with some folks at Lycos next week, and will fill you in on
the scoop when I find out. Apparently they have a whole bunch of
"exciting" changes in the works, so stay tuned!
By the way, I also asked Peter whether or not FAST was going to
replace Google on Yahoo! when that contract expires any day now, but
he wimped out and told me that he couldn't discuss that. Of all da
++Ask Jeeves' Site Submit Program Out of Beta++
I just got the word that the Ask Jeeves Site Submit (paid-inclusion)
is out of its beta-testing phase. I've been using the program for my
clients' sites ever since I got a really cool Ask Jeeves post-it-note
holder at the Boston SES conference. (It makes a great coaster too!)
I think there must be some sort of computer chip installed in it that
makes me *have to* submit to Ask Jeeves or something. It's pretty
Their Site Submit program is run by Ineedhits.com and is fairly easy
to use. They take a bit longer than Inktomi or Lycos to add sites (a
week, as opposed to 48 hours), but it beats the old-fashioned way of
"waiting till the cows come home" to show clients their top-10
You can learn more about their program here:
~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~
++New MarketingSherpa's Buyers' Guide to SEO++
The new buyers' guide is here, the new buyers' guide is here!
<Picture Steve Martin from "The Jerk" dodging bullets by the gas
I'm happy to be one of the first to announce that the 2nd edition of
MarketingSherpa's Buyers' Guide to Search Engine Optimization Firms
has just been released to the public. This all-new guide features 242
pages profiling 55 US & Canadian SEO firms (including my company, High
What I liked about the old guide (1st edition) was that it was kind of
a "tell-all" in the search engine marketing industry. The original
intent was to separate the wheat from the chaff so to speak, and to
establish some guidelines for ethical search engine optimization. Of
course when you go that far, you understandably end up pissing off a
lot of people (not to mention the lawsuits!). Therefore, you won't
find any pass/fail grades in this edition, and most of the truly
sleazy companies have opted out of being listed this time. So
basically, it's a good list of 55 companies, along with some detailed
info on their services and approximate starting prices. (Please note
that *not* being listed in the guide doesn't mean that a company is
necessarily one of the sleazy ones. Many companies opted out for
other reasons, and many more have no idea that the guide exists, and
that they could nominate themselves.)
The new guide does attempt to rate companies by giving them "stars"
for some of their clients' search engine rankings. However, the
number of stars received is based on how competitive the keyword
phrases are. I very much disagree with this form of a rating system.
To me, search engine optimization is absolutely NOT about trying to
rank high for the *most* competitive keyword phrases; therefore,
grading companies on that aspect is not the best way to approach it.
I totally agree that SEO companies which are garnering high rankings
for keywords that nobody searches on are not the best; however, there
is definitely a happy medium between optimizing for keywords no one is
searching on and optimizing for keywords that are too general (but
highly searched upon). Therefore, I'd say that any company which got
three stars in the guide (yes, that's what I got!) is probably on the
right track. This is not to say that those with four or five stars
are bad, but it's also not necessarily what you need. I'd personally
rather have a company that knows how to find the best keywords that
will bring in highly targeted visitors and also convert them into
buyers. With very general (competitive) phrases, you don't always get
that. To the guide's credit, it did mention this when it explained
what the ratings mean. (I wanted to clearly voice my opinion on this
matter, because I think the SEO industry needs to move away from the
notion that highly competitive keywords is the way to optimize.)
There are also some really interesting and revealing interviews with
some search engine execs. Google reiterated their zero-tolerance
policy regarding anything even remotely related to spam, while some of
the other engines were about as clear as mud on their stance. I came
away with the impression that if you're willing to work with (read:
pay) the other engines, you can get away with a whole lot of "sneaky"
SEO tactics. I can't help but notice that Google (which speaks only
of relevance and not dollars), is the most popular search engine these
days. To me, that speaks volumes!
At any rate, the new guide is definitely worth your while if you're
thinking about hiring an SEO firm. You can purchase it for $139 here:
</marketingsherpa> (my affiliate link).
The hard copy edition can be Priority-Mailed to you for an extra ten
Unfortunately, if you purchased the old guide, the 2nd edition is not
a free update. Anne Holland, MarketingSherpa Publisher, provided me
with the following information about that:
"This is an entirely, 100% new edition with every word rewritten and
every firm re-researched. It's not just a few light changes! So,
just like print book publishers, we are asking buyers to pay
We are making a single exception -- if you purchased the First Edition
within 30 days of its going out of print - 4/15 - 5/15 2002 -- then
you get the Second Edition with our compliments, under our 100% 30-day
guarantee. (It's only fair.) Those people have already been sent
their unique user names and passwords via email- Anne"
Well, we're off to Yellowstone National Park to see some geysers, mud
pots and hot springs! My husband and I visited there with his family
over twenty years ago before we were married, and it was definitely
the coolest place I had ever seen. It makes you feel like you're on
another planet. Hopefully, my kids will be suitably impressed.
Don't worry, though...I'll be back in time for next week's newsletter,
and will tell you all about it then.
All the best,