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High Rankings Advisor: Playing SEO Catch-up - Issue No. 034

November 13, 2002
________________________________________________________

~~~IN TODAY'S ADVISOR~~~

*Introductory Comments:
---->   Another SEO Mailbag Bonanza

*Search Engine Marketing and Optimization:
---->   Playing SEO Catch-up
---->   How To Separate Keywords
---->   Redoing a Web Site
---->   Using Country-specific Language TLDs
---->   Keyword Stuff
---->    PageRank and Its Effect on Rankings

*This Week's Sponsor:
---->   Webnautics: Custom Programming/Scripts

*Other SEO News:
---->   FAST and Lycos Get the Power of PositionTech
---->   AltaVista Attempts To Reassert its Leadership Position

*Stuff You Might Like
---->   Words That Work

*Advisor Wrap-Up:
---->   Last Chance for Jill's Seminar
________________________________________________________

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

It's been awhile since I had an SEO mailbag bonanza issue, so I
figured I could sneak one in today!  For those of you who are fairly
new to the newsletter, it simply means that I post a whole bunch of
shorter questions and answers, as opposed to choosing one or two big
ones.  It's easy for me because I just have to go through my week's
email and post the ones I answered which I feel will be most helpful
to the general subscriber base.  Plus, it's great for you, because
there are enough questions that at least one or two should be relevant
to your own SEO situation.

So, without further ado...let's get to it! - Jill


~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

+++Playing SEO Catch-up+++

From: Ros Garavaglia

Hi Jill,

It's been ages since I was in touch with you.  You were working
together with that other superwoman, delivering great advice about
SEO. I think I learned everything I know from you two.  I still
receive your very useful newsletter, and from time to time drop in on
your site in case I've missed something.

In March this year I suffered a stroke.  (No brain damage, though my
husband will disagree. Paralysis and fatigue are the bummer.)

Anyway, after 8 months away from SEO, I've come back to find the
nature of it all has changed drastically.  Adwords, big uptake of
paid-inclusions with Yahoo, etc.  I have no idea how I'm going to
catch up.  At the moment I'm doing what I used to do and am having no
success at all. I've even opted to use a submission tool, whereas
before I did it all by hand.

And now Meta tags are dead?

I know you're very busy, but if you could give me a quick rundown of
what the basic guidelines to optimise a site are these days, I'd
appreciate it.

Sincerely,

Ros Garavaglia

~~~Jill's Response~~~

Hi Ros,

Sorry to hear about your stroke.

Being away from SEO for a time may make it seem like it's changed a
lot.  Search engine and directory alliances change, and
paid-inclusion/pay-for-placement programs get introduced; however,
creating keyword-rich content that naturally uses your keyword phrases
never goes out of style!

I have actually answered your question regarding basic SEO guidelines
back in Issue 002 of the Advisor, in the section entitled "Jill's SEO
Process" </issue002.htm#seo>.

Also, my "Submitting to Spidering Search Engines" article
</sesubmitting.htm> can help you understand
where the submittal process is at these days.  Generally, there's
really no need to submit your site to search engines, as they will
find it themselves if you have links to it from a few key places on
the Web (e.g., a major directory or two).

As to Google AdWords, that's not really my forte.  I can, however,
point you to Andrew Goodman's "21 Techniques to Maximize your Profits
on Google AdWords Select."  Read my full review of his special report
here: </issue006.htm#seonews2>.

By the way, contrary to popular belief, Meta tags have always been
dead!

Good luck!

Jill


~~~Next Question~~~

++How To Separate Keywords++

From: Dave Styles

Hi Jill

I've noticed when I search for two separate words in Google, i.e.,
John Doe, my page doesn't come up (it used to be near the top).  But
when I search for JohnDoe it's at the top.  It's like Google is not
splitting the words up.

I use the joined-up name (using capital letters to split the words)
for directory and file names to help identify what the web pages
contain.

Should I use a space, which turns out like "John%20Doe.htm"?  It
doesn't seem very good for the user.  Or do search engines detect the
underscore, i.e., "John_Doe.htm."

Which do you recommend?

Great newsletter, it's the only email I print out to read on the
train.

Thanx Dave


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~~~Jill's Response~~~

Hi Dave,

I don't think that users pay much attention to directory and file
names; however, I wouldn't use a space in them as the search engine
spiders could get tripped up by the resulting percent signs (%).  A
hyphen (-) would be my first choice, because search engines tend to
treat it as a space.

Better yet, you'd have MUCH more luck if you simply put the keyword
phrases ON the page in the visible copy!  The file names have very,
very, very little weight in the rankings, and will help you only if
all else is equal or you have very little competition for your
keywords.

Glad you like the newsletter!

Jill


~~~Next Question~~~

++Redoing a Web Site++

From: Samantha Stichter

Jill,

I've just redone my website. The new site has a different directory
structure and different filenames.  I don't want to take down the old
site and have file not found messages on rankings that point to the
old pages.

Should I put a redirect on all the old pages that are listed with
search engines?  If not, what should I do?

Thanks in advance,
Samantha Stichter

~~~Jill's Response~~~

Samantha,

You can put permanent redirects at the server level that will catch
any interim traffic.  But you will eventually lose any rankings from
those old pages when the search engine spider comes a-crawlin' and
they no longer exist.  You should also set up a custom 404-error page
to catch any traffic that clicks to a bad page (if they're not
redirected).  Make your 404-error page sort of a sitemap to the new
site (or just copy your current sitemap).  That way people can still
find the information they're looking for.

There's a bit more info on this (and other things) in an old article I
wrote with Heather for Clickz:
<http://www.clickz.com/search/opt/article.php/840751>.

Good luck!

Jill


~~~Next Question~~~

++Using Country-specific Language TLDs++

From: Ben Gustafson

Hello Jill,

Your latest issue of High Rankings Advisor
</issue033.htm#seo> discussed the issue of
multiple domains pointing to the same site and their potential
deleterious effect on search engine rankings. Being the Webmaster of a
company with offices in several countries, I noticed that you did not
discuss the issue of multiple top-level domains (TLDs) pointing to the
same site. For example, my employer owns the domain and trademark for
our company name, and has the following TLDs:

www.mycompanyname.com
www.mycompanyname.co.jp
www.mycompanyname.de
www.mycompanyname.fr
www.mycompanyname.ie
www.mycompanyname.com.br

Each of these domains points to a different language version of the
site, but all point to the same IP address. Internally, the content
displayed is based on the "language ID" chosen by the browser. For
those coming to the site from www.mycompanyname.de, for example, the
language ID is set to that for German, the German content is pulled
from the database, and the links contain the language ID for German.

What is your take on how this might affect search engine rankings, and
how we should handle submitting the domains to Google? Is Google smart
enough to see the different TLDs and different content, and not
penalize us for using the same IP address for all these domains?

Thank you,

--Ben

~~~Jill's Reply~~~

Hi Ben,

I'm not all that well versed on different language sites; however, it
sounds as if you're doing everything just the way you are supposed to!

Google (and the other search engines) should have no problem if you
submit the different language sites to the appropriate international
versions of the engines.

Jill


~~~Next Question~~~

++Keyword Stuff++

From: Chris Kobsa

Jill,

How much info can I "stuff" into the <title> tag and the <meta> tags?
Surely there must be a limit. I can think of many great phrases, and
using the demo-version of "WordTracker.com" I am picking the ones with
better KEI indices. However, I am wondering how many the search
engines let me put in the tags before they say it's enough?

By the way, how do you rate the "WordTracker" software? Is there a
better product out there you would recommend?

Thanks,
Chris

~~~Jill's Reply~~~

Chris,

Read my articles on how to properly use the various tags here:

Title tag: </allabouttitles.htm>
Meta Description tag:
</metadescription.htm>
Meta Keyword: </metakeyword.htm>

We don't "stuff" keywords into *any* tag.  We choose two or three
keyword phrases per page, and use them appropriately in each page's
tags as per the articles referenced above.

Wordtracker rocks! You can sign up for it through my affiliate link
</wordtracker>.  I believe you're missing a
lot of functions by using only the free trial version.  A one-day
subscription is only about $6 and you can also sign up for a week, a
month or a year.  If you work with lots of different sites, the
one-year subscription is your best bet.  If you have only one site, a
day may be all you need.

Jill


~~~Next Question~~~

++PageRank and Its Effect on Rankings++

From: Larry Albright

Hi Jill,

I really enjoy your newsletter!

Everyone has been talking about Google PageRank.  I have been looking
at the top-listed pages for my keywords in Google.  To my surprise I
have found a few listings with PageRanks of 6 listed lower than sites
with a PageRank of 5, etc.

Am I missing something?  Aren't the sites with higher PageRanks
supposed to be listed higher than ones with lower PageRanks?  I found
this to be true only on the first two keywords I searched for in
Google.

Thanks,

Larry Albright

~~~Jill's Response~~~

Hi Larry,

You are under the very common misconception that Google PageRank
somehow equals your site's ranking in the search engine results page
(SERP) for your keyword phrases.  PageRank does NOT equal rankings in
the search engines.  In fact, if you study the Google results for
various keyword phrases, you will see very little correlation between
a site's PageRank (as shown by the Google Toolbar) and where it comes
up in the SERP.

Part of this misconception is brought on by popular media articles
that dub Google's algorithm as PageRank.  The truth is that PageRank
is just one small part of Google's algorithm.  It's actually the one
factor that you don't need to try to control.

The "secret" to high rankings is to optimize your site's on-the-page
factors to be the best they can be...i.e., choose the most appropriate
and relevant keyword phrases, write 250 words of copy on each page
based on two or three of them, and then optimize your tags
accordingly.  After that, submit to major directories and
industry-specific sites, and bam -- you'll have "instant" PageRank!

If your site is ranking well in the engines for your keywords, it's
not necessary to worry about what its toolbar PageRank number is.  For
more info on this, you may be interested in my "PageRank Mania" rant
</issue004.htm#seo>.

Good luck!

Jill


~~~Other SEO News~~~

++FAST and Lycos Get the Power of PositionTech++

So, anyone ever try the Lycos Insite Select program for paid inclusion
in the Lycos/FAST database?  Well I have, and I must say, it was
pretty confusing!  Once you used it enough times, you could pretty
much figure it out enough to do what you had to do to submit your
pages.  But I never quite understood their procedure for adding an
additional URL to your account.  I always felt like I was being
double-billed (although I trust that I wasn't).

At any rate, we no longer have to deal with their paid-inclusion
oddities.  FAST and Lycos recently announced that they have integrated
PositionTech's easy and intuitive interface into the Lycos InSite 2.0
program!  If you've ever submitted to Inktomi through PositionTech
<http://www.positiontech.com>, you know how easy it is to add and
change URLs within your account.  Now, it's just as easy over at
Lycos.  You'll recognize the familiar PositionTech look, although it
is branded under the Lycos name.

You now have the option of submitting to the FAST database AND the
Inktomi database, right there at Lycos.  Or, if you prefer, you can
submit to either or both directly from the PositionTech Web site.

The price for Inktomi submissions is the same at either site, but
here's a secret...you'll save a buck on your Lycos/FAST submission if
you go directly to Lycos!  Unfortunately, you can't merge your old
PositionTech account with your Lycos account, and vice versa.  If you
want everything to be in one place, you'll have to wait until your
URLs come up for renewal and switch them over.

This is great news for all who do paid-inclusion and of course for
PositionTech, Lycos and FAST.  I was worried about PositionTech's
heavy reliance on Inktomi submissions since Inktomi's market share
seems to be gradually slipping away.  But now it wouldn't surprise me
to one day see PositionTech as your one-stop source for all that is
paid-inclusion.  I've met CEO Jim Stob and a lot of the folks who work
for the company, and it's obvious they are a great group of
hard-working people.


++AltaVista Attempts To Reassert its Leadership Position++

Well, their press release says "AltaVista reasserts its leadership
position."  However, I'm not so sure about that.

I had a good talk with some of the folks at AltaVista a few weeks ago
when they told me about their latest upgrade, which is now up and
running: <http://www.av.com>.  It sounded like they might really be on
the right track.  They talked about "getting back to their roots" and
that sort of thing.  I was excited to see what they would come up
with.

So on Sunday my daughter headed over to AV to use their translation
thingy and exclaimed, "Hey...what happened to AltaVista!"  I figured
the new changes must have gone live.  It looked pretty cool at first
glance.  However, a few days later when I had more time to give it a
test run, I was less impressed.

The main home page looks great: no clutter and a nice, clean
interface.  Once you do a search, however, you're back to seeing
boatloads of ads.  The top four sites that show up are what they call
"Sponsored Matches" (or ads).  They are clearly labeled, but the
average surfer could easily be fooled into thinking these were
"regular" search results, as they are not offset in a different color
or in a separate box.  (Still, it's better than when they called them
"featured sites.")  Then there are more ads in Google-style boxes
along the right-hand side of the page.  Overture powers these ads and
many of the top sponsorship ads.

Under the sponsor matches, you will often see a relevant news link or
what they call a "shortcut" link.  The news comes from Moreover and is
fresh and up to date.  According to their help section, other
shortcuts you may see are "resources not available to most search
engines such as map and movie databases."  For a product-oriented
search, it appears that the shortcut may often link to their partner
sites.  For instance, a search for Sony laptops brought up a shortcut
to their partner, DealTime.

If you were looking for *more* ads, before you can click to the next
page of results at the bottom of the page, you have to scroll past all
sorts of spammy kinda stuff.  You know, the links that have nothing to
do with your search query and are often related to online gambling,
personal finance and the like. That's the part of the page I like the
least.  For crying out loud...why won't they let me easily click to
the next page?  Do these sites pay them so much that they need to
entice someone looking for gourmet gift baskets or Boston real estate
to click on some online gaming site?

As to relevancy, it seems adequate.  Some queries performed better
than others.  But even if the relevancy is as good as Google's, why
would I switch to AltaVista and wade through their ads when Google
makes it easy for me to ignore them?  (And they also label them more
clearly.)  Perhaps AltaVista thought that uncluttering their main page
was what people wanted.  But it's not the main page we care
about...it's the results pages that we need to have uncluttered!

On the bright side, their new logo is nice.

You may be interested in Kim Krause's brief usability testing that she
performed on the new AV.  You can read about it here:
<http://www.cre8asiteforums.com/viewtopic.php?p=3011#3011>.

In AV's defense, there are a lot of new features that might be of
interest to heavy-duty searchers.  A good summary of these was
published in Tuesday's SearchDay, which you can read here:
<http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/02/sd1112-av-phoenix.html>.


~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~

++Words That Work++

No time for new stuff today, so I'll just point you to last week's
"Words That Work" review
</issue033.htm#stuff> in case you happened
to miss it.


~~~Advisor Wrap-Up~~~

It's nearly time for my seminar.  By the time you receive next week's
newsletter, the seminar will be over and done with.  I'll definitely
let you know how it goes!  I'm psyched to have 66 registered
participants.  I was really scared that I might get only about 10!
There's still room for a few more if you've been thinking of
attending.  If all goes well, it's possible that I may do it again in
another city.  No promises yet, though!  For more info or to sign up
for this one, please visit here:
</seminar>.  Oh yeah, and you'll get to
speak to reps from Overture and AltaVista, plus take home some goodies
from PositionTech!

I'll also be speaking at the Dallas SES conference in December.  More
on that in the coming weeks!

Later! - Jill
 
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