September 11, 2002
~~~IN TODAY'S ADVISOR~~~
----> Rage Boy
*Search Engine Marketing:
----> The Benefits of a Yahoo! Listing
*This Week's Sponsor:
----> Presage Designs Web Hosting
*Notes from Search Engine Strategies Conference:
----> Measuring Success (Part Two)
*Stuff You Might NOT Like
----> Purchasing Browser Keywords
----> Automatic Optimization Software
----> Waves of Chocolate
Hi everyone! Got a couple of things to mention this week before
digging into the good stuff.
First, as I type this, it's Sept. 11. I personally would have liked
to ignore this fact, but the media doesn't want to let me! I feel
safe in the fact that we're doing all we can as a country and as a
world to right the wrongs of last year. I don't feel like there's a
lot I can do at this point, and therefore prefer not to think too much
about it. I suppose it's important for us to remember the events of
last year so that we don't get complacent (again), but I also think
it's not helpful to dwell on it. I agonized over whether to mention
the subject here, and basically decided that it wasn't relevant to the
topic at hand but that it would be strange not to say anything. So
there you have it!
Next, I have to say that last week's issue received *more* feedback
than any others! (You can read it here if you missed it:
</issue025.htm>.) Many of you wrote to say
that it was the best one ever, and others emailed to let me know they
read it all the way to the end (like I asked)! But the bulk of the
comments were regarding Andrew Goodman's answer to the Google AdWords
question. Yikes. Some thought it was great that Andrew pulled no
punches, but most of them felt that Andrew was a bit too harsh (and
even insulting) in his reply.
Now, I know Andrew personally and he's really not as nasty as he might
have come across! In fact, he's very nice. He writes a lot of great
stuff about the search engines on his Traffick.com site, and he *does*
know a lot about Google AdWords Select. No, he's not on Google's
payroll, as some people suggested, nor does he own any part of their
company! I think he just took the questions a bit personally, and
perhaps he was having a bad hair day. <g> I've had numerous email
conversations with Andrew since last week, and we've both concluded
that his information was sound, but he could have expressed it a bit
differently. (Hey...he wasn't called "Rage Boy" in the past for
nothing, you know!) I take full responsibility for publishing his
response without realizing that it might have come across differently
to people who weren't familiar with his writing style. And I
apologize to anyone who might have been offended by his tone.
Moving on to the good stuff now... - Jill
~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~
From: Michael Iwasaki
I stumbled across your highrankings.com web site through a number of
doors (links). I was very much interested in your site and your
articles, and see some good credibility (your references, i.e.,
Business 2.0 which I also read frequently).
Anyway, I have been trying to market our site to get a decent ranking
in all of the major search engines, particularly Google.
I would like to ask your expert advice on a couple of things:
- Would buying a $300 listing (the cost to be entered into Yahoo!
search) with Yahoo! affect our ranking in Google? Would it recognize
Yahoo! as a weighted link?
- Do many people still use Yahoo!?
- If we register with Trust-E (they seem to be credible/large), will
this weighting also help with Google?
I think on Google, we are currently coming up around 640th for [our
main keyword]! If a search is performed on [our company name] we come
up number 1, however we want to come up when someone performs a
search on our keyword.
I have been banging my head against a wall trying to figure this stuff
out (working 18 hours a day), and wow, they sure don't make it very
Anyway, any input would be GREATLY appreciated.
Glad you found me! Thanks for your questions. They are similar to
ones I receive a lot, and I think many others will benefit from the
First of all, optimizing your site to rank highly in Google is really
no different from optimizing it for any other search engine. They all
want to see the same thing -- great sites that are full of worthwhile
information. It's true that Google and the other spidering search
engines place some emphasis on the links pointing to your site to help
determine its ranking. After all, sites that *suck* generally don't
get linked to by other sites.
Theoretically, Yahoo! doesn't list poor-quality sites in their
directory, and therefore engines such as Google assume that a link
from them means something. (Whether this is true is a debate for
another time!) So in answer to your first question, yes, a listing in
Yahoo! may very well have some positive effect on your Google ranking.
A listing at Yahoo! can very often bring a ton of traffic in its own
right. Yes, there are still many people who use Yahoo! for all their
searching needs. They've got a decent directory and for backup they
have Google results. Yahoo! always rates very highly in every
published survey I've seen regarding top search properties. A good
listing in Yahoo!, i.e., one where you rank highly for your important
keyword phrases, can bring a ton of traffic to your site. On the
other hand, a poor listing brings hardly any Yahoo! traffic.
Unfortunately, there's no tried-and-true method of ensuring that you
get a good listing.
A new phenomenon I've noticed is that newly added sites seem to get
placed at the end of the results, even though the important keyword
phrases are being used in the site description. (If others have
noticed this same thing, please let me know, as I've been trying to
figure this one out.) I recently had a site listed in Yahoo! that's
showing up after tons of other sites that don't even have the exact
keyword combination anywhere in their title or description! Totally
irrelevant sites are coming before the relevant sites. It's almost as
if Yahoo! is using the search parameter "or" when two or more words
are being searched for, as opposed to "and," which should be the
default. I hope this is just a temporary glitch, because it doesn't
give new sites a chance to fairly compete with the old sites.
But back to the questions at hand!
Regarding TrustE and whether you should register with them: if you
feel it's a worthwhile organization to register with, you should do
it. It may give some site visitors a feeling of trust in your site,
and that should be your motivating factor. As far as I know, the
search engines don't give any extra boost to sites that are registered
with such organizations, however. It's important to do things for
your site that make sense for your overall site quality. If you do
something *only* because you believe it will increase your search
engine rankings, then you've got to change your mindset. If you do
something that enhances your visitors' overall site experience, it
will produce great dividends. Remember I said that people don't link
to sites that *suck*? Well, they do link to great sites! The best
way to increase your overall link popularity is by making a great
site. If this also helps your search engine rankings, then more power
to you. If it doesn't...well, at least you have a great site!
I wanted to comment on one other thing from the original question. I
took out the keyword for publication, but it was a one-word keyword,
and a highly competitive one at that. I can tell you for sure that
trying to rank highly for that one-word keyword is what is causing all
your ranking nightmares. There are hundreds of related two- and
three-word phrases you could and should be targeting instead. Many of
them would use the single keyword within them, thus indirectly
targeting your main phrase. Get that one-word keyword out of your
mind ASAP! First, work on creating great copy based on two- and
three-word phrases. You should have a lot of success this way, and
also a lot of traffic if you optimize the pages accordingly. Plus,
you'll be able to stop banging your head against the wall!
DISSATISFIED WITH YOUR WEB HOSTING COMPANY?
You CAN'T run your business if your Web site or email is down.
--> Are you sick of all the excuses from your current host?
--> You deserve 24/7 live support and 99.7% uptime! GUARANTEED!
Check our low prices and see what Presage Designs can
do for you: <http://www.presage-designs.com/packages.html>
All new clients get 2 months FREE with a year's contract!
~~~Notes from Search Engine Strategies Conference~~~
++Measuring Success (Part Two)++
Here's the second part of Stacy Williams' report from the San Jose
Search Engine Strategies conference for your reading pleasure. If you
missed Part One, you can catch it here:
</issue025.htm#ses>. - Jill
Measuring Success: Conversions and ROI
Last week, I covered "Rankings and Traffic" from the "Measuring
Success" sessions at Search Engine Strategies in San Jose mid-August.
For most sites, rankings and traffic are a means to an end - unless
they translate into a conversion of some type (an action taken on the
site) and positive return on investment (ROI) for the company, they're
not worth much.
That being said, as our moderator, Detlev Johnson, Managing Director
of The Ascendant Group <http://www.ascendant-group.com> put it,
conversion starts on the search engines' results pages. So a
strategic search engine marketing effort that leads to high rankings
for targeted search terms, coupled with a well-designed site including
clear navigation and a compelling offer, should lead to conversions
and a healthy ROI.
What should we measure? There's no lack of data available, but the
key metrics for most companies will probably be click-through rate,
cost per click, traffic, conversion rate, sales, sales per visitor,
and cost of sales. Note that this data should be analyzed not only on
a global basis in terms of totals, but also on a granular level in
terms of each search engine and each search term. That is, ideally,
we should be able to tell that, although the click-through rate is
twice as high on AOL as compared to Google, the conversion rate for
visitors from Google is three times as high as it is for those from
AOL. Ditto for search term A versus search term B. You'll probably
want to put most of your efforts against Google and search term A,
rather than AOL and search term B.
Ensure that the data you're measuring ties in with your business's
goals and its definition of success. If your site is one of the few
that is surviving based on an advertising model, you may only care
about the number of visitors and the number of eyeballs that see your
ads. If your goal is to get lead forms filled out or white papers
downloaded or demos scheduled rather than an online sale, that's what
you should measure.
What's an acceptable conversion rate? One that makes you money. One
where the inflow of revenue exceeds the outflow of costs. That's
something that only you can define - but you should be measuring it
and constantly trying to increase it.
How can we measure all this data? There are a number of outsourced,
ASP model services available.
Representatives of the two market leaders, HitBox by WebSideStory,
Inc., <http://www.websidestory.com> and WebTrends Live by NetIQ
Corporation <http://www.webtrendslive.com>, demonstrated their
web-based services. (I've personally investigated both of them -
they're both quite powerful, affordable, and easy to implement. The
"small- to medium-sized business" solutions for both services feature
demos right on the site that you can walk yourself through and view
Eric Peterson, Sr. e-Business Analyst of WebSideStory, showed the
audience screen shots for an outdoor sporting goods supplier's
ecommerce site. We were able to view revenue by search engine, by
keyword phrase, and by product. The system also displays the
browse-to-buy ratio so you can see what percentage of visitors
eventually make a purchase. This particular client, partially as a
result of changes made to the site due to HitBox data, experienced
sales growth of 153% in 2001 and 115% in the first half of 2002.
HitBox tracks pay-per-click rankings (bids on Overture and Google
AdWords) as well as regular search engine rankings, so you can compare
apples to oranges on one system. It also reports on zip codes (if
your site's lead or order form requires it), so you can identify which
zip codes perform the best for your company before ordering a direct
John Simpson, Product Marketing Manager for WebTrends, emphasized that
web traffic and conversion data should be used to drive both web
strategy and site design. John told us about a credit union client
that increased online banking signups to the extent that it saved
$250,000 a month in customer acquisition costs. John pointed out that
it's not only good to increase sales by leveraging web data, but it's
also great to reduce costs.
Catherine Seda, President of Seda Communication
<http://www.sedacommunication.com> included other ways to measure
success. Small business ecommerce solutions such as Yahoo! Stores
offer their hosted sites a plethora of tracking options, as well as
exclusive banner ad and keyword text link options that aren't
available to other sites. Advertising network firms like
Advertising.com do SEO on a cost-per-acquisition basis, so you only
pay for what you get. And affiliate programs also offer rich data,
showing exactly who's buying what at which price.
Finally, Mike Sack, SVP and Chief Product Officer of Inceptor, Inc.,
<http://www.inceptor.com> spoke about his company's services.
Inceptor's platform allows sites to control where search engine
traffic lands on a site, and to test different messages and
promotions. Real-time analysis is available so you can make changes
on the fly and immediately see results. The data gathered allows you
to send micro-targeted emails to prospects and customers, building
loyalty and sales.
All this data capture and analysis can be overwhelming. Kevin Lee,
CEO of Did-it.com, Inc. <http://www.did-it.com>, suggests looking at
clusters of data instead of too many disparate items. Sometimes
you've got to get granular, but other times it makes sense to
aggregate the data and look at overall trends. Bryan Eisenberg, Chief
Information Officer for Future Now, Inc.
<http://www.futurenowinc.com>, says to simply get started! There is
value in measuring, so measure something! Focus on the low-hanging
fruit - even small changes to your biggest problem areas can have a
Prominent Placement, Inc.
[Thanks again, Stacy! This is such a hot topic lately as it's so very
important to any Web site's success. Stay tuned next week for more
about conversions and ROI when Grant Crowell reports on the
"Converting Visitors Into Buyers" conference session. - Jill]
~~~Stuff You Might NOT Like~~~
Well, it's finally come to this. I needed to change the "Stuff You
Might Like" section to "Stuff You Might NOT Like" (just for today).
The reason I'm doing this is to warn you about a couple of programs
that some companies are heavily promoting via telemarketing campaigns.
These guys have great sales pitches that make you feel like you
absolutely have to purchase their products. Please be careful if you
get any calls about products similar to those below.
++Purchasing Browser Keywords++
The first thing you might NOT like is a program that sells you
keywords. They have a browser plug-in (user-installed) that overrides
the address bar of Internet Explorer (IE) when a user types a keyword
phrase into it. Instead of going to the auto-search at MSN, the
browser redirects to whichever site paid for that phrase. Remember
"Real Names"? It's similar to that. However, at least with Real
Names there was no plug-in to install. Anyone who used IE and typed a
keyword or phrase into the address bar would be potentially redirected
to a site that had purchased those keywords from Real Names.
The thing is, purchasing Real Names keywords never seemed to bring
much traffic to most who signed up with them. In fact, Microsoft
recently canceled the program altogether. The idea of a site selling
a similar program...only worse...just makes me crazy! I haven't been
approached by a salesperson regarding this program, but from what I
have heard from many of you, their sales pitch is very good. Good
enough to convince smart people to part with a grand or two of their
Think about it for a moment. The *only* people that will be directed
to your site are those that have the plug-in installed...otherwise
known as other suckers who paid for keywords. Regular people aren't
interested in enhancing their browsers with this functionality.
They're really not. So please, don't be talked into any program that
sounds like this. Save those thousands of bucks for something that
will truly help your site, like hiring a professional copywriter, or
something like that!
++Automatic Optimization Software++
For this particular thing that you will NOT like, I got the
telemarketing call myself (but have since heard that others in the biz
got the same call). It was in regards to some software that would
supposedly automate the entire search engine optimization process for
The selling point was that as an SEO I could simply plug my clients'
sites into the software and it would do the rest. Yeah, right! I
told the guy that I would never be interested in such a thing because
most of what I do when optimizing a site can't be automated -- it's
all in my head. For instance, how could this software write
search-engine-friendly copy that sells? Is this software going to
save me from hiring a copywriter? Of course this stumped the salesman
because he didn't understand why copywriting was important to an SEO
He kept telling me over and over how this wonderful software would
create marvelous Meta tags based on the information *already* provided
on the sites in question.
Huh? Since Meta tags are the least of my worries when optimizing a
site, and changing the content is the main thing that needs to be
done, I knew that there was something desperately wrong with this
I told the guy to email me more info and that perhaps I'd review it in
my newsletter. As soon as I saw the info, I knew it was a useless
product for anyone serious about achieving high rankings, and then
promptly forgot about it.
About a week later, he called me again to see what I thought. When I
told him that Meta tags weren't looked at by nearly every major search
property, he told me I was wrong! He also tried to sell me on the
fact that his software adds in all sorts of other tags. I explained
that the search engines don't look at any of those tags either!
After that he just kept on talking and talking and talking while I was
telling him that I had no time to argue the facts with him. I think
the guy thought he was speaking to some fly-by-night SEO who just set
up shop yesterday. I finally hung up while he was still blathering
on! Now, anyone who knows me knows that I'm not one to hang up on
someone. I don't like to be that rude. But seriously, I didn't have
a choice as he would not let me go peacefully!
I'm not going to mention the name of this product, but trust me,
you'll know it if you get the call! Buyer beware...that's all I can
It's been a great week for chocolate around here! I need to start
finding some new hiding places for it all, or perhaps start eating it
faster. I suppose I could share some. (Yeah, right!) I got some
Cadbury Roses all the way from Australia from a happy subscriber, plus
a number of other goodies from others who have found search engine
success by following what I prescribe here each week. Way to go,
And just when the flow of chocolate had ebbed, my friendly UPS guy
dropped off another Godiva cooler full of treats. Apparently some of
the referrals I've sent my copywriter have panned out. I always tell
those I refer to her to mention my name as I know she just *may* send
me some goodies! (I swear...I don't recommend her *only* because of
Thank you all for your delicious treats and kind words. I'm truly
glad to be able to help, with or without the chocolate. - Jill