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High Rankings Advisor: Quick SEO Questions - Issue No. 040

January 15, 2003


*Introductory Comments:
---->   40th Issue!

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   Quick SEO Questions
---->   Hijacked Site or Google Mistake?

*This Week's Sponsor:
---->   Logo Design Guy

*Other SEO News:
---->   Gator in Cahoots With Overture, Lycos and
---->   Espotting and FAST Distribution Deal

*Stuff You Might Like
---->   Search Engine Compatibility Report

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   Upcoming Speaking Engagements

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Welcome to the 40th issue of the High Rankings Advisor.  Kinda hard to
believe I'm up to 40 of them already.  Not only that, I'm just about
to hit the 16,000th subscriber mark.  Thank you for being such loyal

Got some great questions this week, plus some interesting search
engine news.  So let's get right to the good stuff! - Jill

~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

++Quick SEO Questions++

From: Brian Stevens

Hi Jill,

Your newsletter is a godsend. Finally, information on search engines I
can understand.  Keep up the good work!

I have some quick questions:

1. What's the minimum number of words per page that you recommend to
get a good ranking on Google?

2. Do mouse-over navbars affect Web site rankings on Google?

3. Does Google require an external Web site link to get listed on
their site, and if so, what's the best way to get one?

Thank you,

Brian Stevens

~~~Jill's Response~~~

Hi Brian,

Glad you like the newsletter and can easily understand the information
provided in it.  That's definitely the goal!

Thanks for some great questions that I'm sure are on the minds of many
readers.  I'll answer them one by one to the best of my ability.

1. What's the minimum number of words per page that you recommend to
get a good ranking on Google?

For Google and any engine, there is no minimum number of words.  It
all depends on what's best for your page and the particular keyword
phrases you're optimizing for.  I don't believe in counting words or
trying to create some perfect keyword density.  Every page of your
site is unique, and each will have different requirements for its
length.  Write as much or as little as is necessary to say what you
need to say.

That said, for SEO purposes, I generally like to work with pages that
have approximately 250 words in them.  Certainly 150 words can also
work fine, and so can 400 words.  But with 250 words, I've found that
it's just about the right amount to have a good balance of sales copy
and keyword phrases.  In other words, 250 words gives you enough copy
to use your top two or three main keyword phrases a number of times
without sounding dopey.  It also gives you enough copy to pique your
readers' interest and get them to take the action you intend them to
take.  That action may be as simple as clicking to an inner page to
learn more or signing up for your email newsletter.  Whatever the goal
of the page is, you need copy to convince people to go for it.

To learn more about copywriting in general, you might want to check
out Karon Thackston's Step-By-Step(tm) Copywriting Course.  (You can
read my full review of it here:

2. Do mouse-over navbars affect Web site rankings on Google?

Perhaps you missed last week's discussion of this very issue.  If so,
you can read it here: </issue039.htm#seo5>.

One thing I didn't mention last week is that it's best to place all
JavaScript code into a separate .js file so that the search engine
spiders have an easier time finding the meat on your page.  For more
information on how to do this, see my old Rank Write article, "Design
Guidelines for a Search Engine Friendly Site," here:
<>.  There's a whole
bunch of other info in that article that may also interest you.

3. Does Google require an external Web site link to get listed on
their site, and if so, what's the best way to get one?

Generally, yes.  Occasionally you will find a brand-new site or page
that's been indexed even though it has no links pointing to it.
However, these don't last long if the page continues on as an "orphan"
page.  Again, this is generally true for all engines, not just Google.
Part of the reason is because it helps keep doorway/gateway pages
(what I call "zebra" pages) out of the engines, since it's harder for
pages that are created solely for search engine rankings to get
outside links.

The best way to start getting links is to submit to some general
directories.  I recommend DMOZ <>, JoeAnt
<> (you'll need to register as an editor at
JoeAnt), GoGuides <>, and Gimpsy

DMOZ is free, but can take a while to get listed.  JoeAnt and GoGuides
have recently instituted an express-submit option for a small fee.
They're still listing sites for free, but if you're in a hurry for a
link, you might want to go with the paid-inclusion model.  Gimpsy also
offers a paid option to be considered a featured site.  They're a bit
different from your average directory so be sure to read their help
section here: <>.

While we're on the subject of directories, last week I suggested that
if you don't find your site listed in DMOZ within four weeks, you
might want to resubmit it.  Two DMOZ editors wrote to tell me that in
reality, resubmitting actually puts your site at the back of the
queue, and you'll have to wait even longer for your site to be added.
Seems like an odd way for them to do things, but that's the word on
the street.  It seemed like important information for you to know, so
there you have it!


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++Hijacked Site or Google Mistake?++

From: Anthony DeGaeta

Hi Jill,

First of all I am an avid fan of your newsletter. Please respond to
this crazy scenario if you can. I do understand you are busy.

I am the Webmaster for  We have been number one or
two in Google for our keyword phrase for almost 3 years now.

I checked Google today and to my surprise someone copied my entire web
site and the link from Google to my site is now pointing to this
person's stolen version of my site.  I followed the links and found my
entire site recreated, each image copied from my server and put onto

I tried to contact Google through but I have not
received a reply.  If you know what I should do, please let me know.
All of the traffic from Google to what should be my site is now being
redirected. How is this possible? If anyone can do this then why
haven't I heard of it before?

You can go to Google and type my domain into the search box.  You'll
see it goes to another site when you click the link.

The crazy part is that I checked Google's cache of this copied site
and my site appears there as the cache. I understand how to copy
sites, but how in the world can you get Google to link to your copied
site instead of the original. If it is that easy, I say we copy all of
the top sites on the net, sit back and watch the traffic come in.  : )
Just kidding, I would never put another Webmaster through this.

Please help and thanks.


~~~Jill's Response~~~

Wow, this is really a strange one.  When I first read Anthony's
message, I thought it was just a case of copyright infringement, with
another site copying and pasting Anthony's text and graphics onto
their own domain.  My friend Debra and I were finding lots of that
this week with our own sites, in fact.  So I was gonna write about how
Debra contacted Google, and they sent her a very nice response on how
seriously they take copyright infringement.

But when I read Anthony's email again and actually looked for his site
in Google, I realized we were talking about a whole 'nother ballgame.
Anthony was quite right that a search for his site actually brings up
a different site's domain.  In fact, it's his biggest competitor's
site.  And yet, if you type Anthony's domain directly into your
browser, you can get to his actual site just fine.  No redirects to
the competitor site.

It seemed to me that this situation was some sort of newfangled
cloaking thingee, so I decided to ask the master of cloaking himself,
Mr. Ralph Tegtmeier, aka Fantomaster.

Here's what he wrote back:

Two possible scenarios (for want of more information I'll have to
speculate a bit here):

1. Your subscriber can access his domain as usual by entering the URL
in his browser's address field.

In this case, it's most probably a Google issue. We've seen this
before when Google pointed to an old, expired domain that wasn't
active anymore, redirecting visitors to another, entirely unrelated

This false linking can only be remedied by Google.

2. Your subscriber is being redirected to that third party's setup
even when entering his own URL in the browser address field.

2.1 This could indicate a nameserver issue, possibly on TLD level.
The reasons could be manifold, with domain hijacking being the most
likely, seeing that his content seems to have been stolen, as he

This could only be remedied by the nameserver service employed.

2.2 Alternatively, the hijacker might have manipulated the domain's
nameserver IPs with the legitimate owner's domain name provider. He
might even have transferred ownership of the domain to himself. (E.g.
if the culprit got hold of his access codes.)

This could only be remedied by the domain name provider employed.

(There've been legal precedents indicating that this would also make
for a pretty good case in court, but of course only an expert lawyer
could tell your client what to do and what his chances in a lawsuit
would be.)

All of the above are, of course, under the assumption that his domain
hasn't expired and been taken up by someone else in a regular manner.

As for copyright infringement issues, the usual rules apply: if he can
prove that his copyright has indeed been violated, and if he can
pinpoint the perpetrator, legal counsel is advised -- generally, I'd
assume that his chances in court should be pretty high. - Ralph aka
---------------------- appears that Ralph's #1 scenario is the likely culprit, as
the site can be reached through the browser.  (I left Ralph's #2 info
in there because it's good stuff and it may come in handy for anyone
who runs across a similar situation with their site.)

So if it's Ralph's answer #1 that means it's some sort of Google
mistake.  But is that really possible?  Can Google mistakenly redirect
your site to your competitor's site?

If it's not a mistake and somehow someone could manage to trick Google
into thinking the two sites were one and the same, how the heck did
they do it?

Anyone have any ideas?  Google, if you're reading, you might want to
take a look at this one!

In the meantime, I suggest that Anthony email Google at and let them know about the situation (just in
case they forget to read my newsletter this week <grin>).  As I said
at the beginning of this post, Google does take copyright infringement
very seriously.  So if it somehow turns out to be that, they will act
upon it when provided with the proper documentation.  And if it's a
major screwup by them, I'm sure they'd want to fix that as soon as

~~~Other SEO News~~~

++Gator in Cahoots With Overture, Lycos and

Apparently Gator has struck some sort of deal with a few major search
properties, including Overture, Lycos and FindWhat, to place their
intrusive pop-up/pop-under ads on competing search engine sites.  Read
the sordid details here:

Based on that article, those who wittingly (or, more often than not,
unwittingly) have Gator installed on their computer will see pop-up
ads when they do searches at Yahoo and Google, even though Yahoo and
Google have not placed these ads on their pages.

This kind of software has been dubbed "scumware" in some circles due
to the way it steals traffic from many sites on the Web through
diversionary tactics.  It would be one thing if people installed Gator
because they wanted to be diverted to other sites.  However, the fact
of the matter is that most of the time scumware secretly installs
itself on your computer without your knowledge!

If you don't think this is possible, grab yourself a copy of SpyBot
Search & Destroy <> and run it on your own
computer.  Dollars to doughnuts, you've probably got scumware such as
Gator installed and running in the background without your even
knowing it.  I'm very careful about what I install, yet I find
scumware doing its nasty deeds every now and then.  (Make sure you run
SpyBot on a regular basis to keep on top of it.)  Also, if you ever
see pop-ups or pop-unders when searching at Google, you definitely
have scumware installed.  Google is strongly against intrusive ads of
any sort.

The big question is -- why on earth would reputable companies such as
Overture, Lycos and FindWhat want to be a party to this sort of thing?
The scary answer is that apparently Gator advertising has caught on
with mainstream companies -- because it works.  One source I talked to
estimated that at least 80% of Fortune 500 companies advertise with

So I guess the only thing that can stop this nasty diversion of
traffic is to have some sort of laws against those secret Gator
downloads, and/or to make sure that the average surfer is aware of
what scumware they may have unwittingly installed on their computers.
If enough people uninstall Gator, there won't be anyone left to click
on their sneaky ads.  As long as the Gator ads work, this junk is
gonna be with us for a long time.  Blech.

++Espotting and FAST Distribution Deal++

It was announced today that Espotting Media
<>, Europe's largest pay-per-click advertising
network, agreed to offer FAST Web search results with its paid
listings.  Espotting will also provide its paid listings on AlltheWeb
<>, FAST's showcase site.

Sounds like a good deal for both companies, which should increase the
overall reach of their respective offerings.

Check out their full release here: <>.

~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~

++Search Engine Compatibility Report++

When Kalena Jordan first came out with her special report called
"Search Engine Compatibility and the Top 100 Australian Public Company
Websites" and asked me to review it, quite frankly, I didn't have all
that much interest.  What do I care about the top 100 Australian
public companies?  I'm in the U.S. and I didn't really think the
report would be relevant to me or to the majority of my readers.

But Kal's a friend, so I took it with me to the orthodontist to read
while my girls were getting their braces off last month.  While
reading, it occurred to me that the report contains some incredible
information on how to optimize Web sites for high rankings.  Not just
Australian Web sites -- all sites. In fact, the part about the
Australian companies didn't seem to be the focus at all.  Basically,
what Kal did was put together a rather comprehensive SEO training
manual, without really meaning to!  Sure, she applied what she knew
about search engine optimization to show that a good portion of
Australia's top companies are lagging in that department.  But even if
that's not where your interest lies, you're going to get a ton of
great SEO info out of this report.

You'll find that by reading what the top companies are doing wrong on
their sites, you'll get quite a lesson in how to do it right.  If
you're looking for a good guide on creating Title tags, Meta tags, Alt
tags, keyword-rich copy and more, you may very well want to check out
this report.  And of course, if you're curious what the top 100
Australian companies did wrong, then you *definitely* will want to
check it out.

You can purchase the report or learn more here:

~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

Just wanted to mention that next week I'll be in Pierre, South Dakota
on Thursday the 23rd to speak at the South Dakota Governor's
Conference on Tourism.  I'll be giving an hour-long presentation
addressing the basics of search engine optimization.  I'll probably
have to skip the newsletter, as I'll be in transit on Wednesday.

I'll be giving a similar presentation to the South Dakota one (only a
lot closer to home) on Tuesday, February 4th at 6:00 PM for a group of
Internet professionals in Hopkinton, Massachusetts called ""
If you're in the Mass. area and are interested in hearing me speak,
you're not gonna get a better deal than this.  The cost is only $15 at
the door, and that even includes pizza!  Learn more at their Web site
here: <>.  - Jill

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