March 10, 2003
~~~IN TODAY'S ADVISOR~~~
----> Happy New Advisor Year
*Search Engine Marketing:
----> Keyword-rich Links
*This Week's Sponsors:
----> Business Filings
----> Powerful Copywriting Combo
----> Search for Survivors
*Other SEO News:
----> Search Engine Marketing Basics Seminar
*Stuff You Might Like
----> Recap of Past Stuff
----> Creating Directory Descriptions
----> Keep on Chuckling
Hey everyone! Welcome to the High Rankings Advisor's second year of
existence. It sure is growing up quickly. Why, it seems like only
yesterday it was still a little baby just learning to crawl. Look at
it today -- just one year later with over 17,600 subscribers and
gaining 200-300 a week!
I don't usually bother to mention it, but I'm always looking for new
sponsors. Past advertisers have been very happy with their return on
investment, so if you've been wracking your brain trying to think of
other ways of attracting new customers or clients, shoot an email to
email@example.com and I'll fill you in on the particulars. I
also have space available in my Atlanta seminar booklet for sponsor
ads, and a limited number of spots open for premiere sponsors to meet
and greet participants at the actual event on May 16th, 2003.
Enough about sponsors! Let's move on to the good stuff. - Jill
~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~
From: Dave Lerner
I'm a long time subscriber, so I'm pretty sure I'll owe you some
chocolate for this one.
My question is about links on other Websites pointing to you. I know
the wording of the link can be pretty important, but my question is
how far to extend the link. If I want to get better rankings for the
phrase "widget" should the entire hotlink be Buy widgets at
www.greatwidgets.com, or should the words "buy widgets" be plain text,
and only the URL be the hotlink? Also, should we separate the words
"great" and "widgets" in my example so that we would improve our
ranking under the word "widgets"? That would make it "Buy widgets at
Great question. Many people haven't realized the importance of
keywords in hyperlinks yet and they're really missing the boat!
First, it's important to discuss why keywords in hyperlinks are
helpful to the search engines. To do this, we have to do my favorite
thing (besides eating chocolate), which is to think like a search
engine. So everyone put on your magical search engine hats for a bit
and pretend that you are Google (or your search engine of choice).
Tie it up nice and tight and close your eyes.
Okay, so you are Google and you need to figure out which sites to spit
out when someone types a keyword phrase in your little search box?
Once you've decided which sites, how do you decide in what order they
belong? You could do it alphabetically (like directories used to do),
but then everyone will start naming their sites things like "AAAAAAAA
Widget Company." Or even worse, "!!!!!AAAAAAAAA Widget Company."
(Don't laugh, but back in 1994 my company name was "!Whalen's Web
Whiz!" for this very reason. <g>)
Alphabetical is out...so what's in?
Well, the information in the Title tags should provide some clue as to
what that site's all about, so we'll definitely use that.
We should also look at what's written on the pages, as that's gonna
surely help us figure out which sites are the most relevant.
Certainly a page that talks a lot about "large purple widgets"
deserves to show up under a search for that phrase.
There's got to be more than just the Titles and the words on the page.
Okay, so let's look at how other sites describe the one we're
currently looking at. Surely if lots of other sites say that this
site is about "large purple widgets" then that must be what it's
about! So off to the other sites we go...
But hold on...where should we look on these other sites to figure this
Let's see what information we can find in and around the hyperlink
that points back to our original site. If the link is just a URL or
the name of the company, we can still gather some clues by looking at
the text near the link. Is there a descriptive sentence or two that
might be using the same keyword phrase as we found in the original
site's Title tag and copy? If so, it looks like we've found a good
But wait! Here's a site where the clickable hyperlink actually uses
the exact keyword phrase we were looking for. The words "large purple
widgets" are in fact the clickable link back to one of our first
sites. So now we've found a page that has "large purple widgets" in
its Title tag, talks a whole lot about "large purple widgets" in its
visible text copy, PLUS has a whole bunch of links from other sites
confirming that this site really is truly about large purple widgets.
We don't need to take *just* the site owner's word for it any more,
because we have verification of this fact through (presumably)
impartial outside sources.
Using all the information we gleaned about these sites (in a matter of
seconds...cuz we're such a great search engine), we are now better
equipped to rank them by relevancy to the keywords being used in the
search query. Those pages that have all the basic factors going for
them (keywords in the Title tags, copy and links) should generally
rank higher than those that only have some of these factors.
Okay, you can take off your little Google hats now. Wasn't that fun?
(Google, if you're reading, I'm still waiting for my REAL Google
hat -- but thanks for the way cool pen!)
Back to the original question.
The absolute best link would be to have *just* the keywords in the
hyperlink. (As an aside, I've changed Dave's keywords from "great
widgets" to "large purple widgets" because you should generally stay
away from superlatives in your keyword phrases.) Therefore, if at all
possible, you'd want the clickable link to your site to simply say
"large purple widgets." For example:
Dave's Widget Emporium has a huge supply of _large purple widgets_.
(Pretend that "large purple widgets" is underlined and
clickable...we're text-only here so we have to keep using our
You are probably thinking that it's not always possible to get other
sites to link to you that way, and you're correct.
Using *just* the keyword phrase in the link is your ultimate
super-terrific best bet IF it's possible. If you have control of the
link, do it. If not, don't make a big deal out of it. The engines do
look at the words near the links also. So even if the clickable link
has to be "Dave's Widget Emporium," it's still fairly obvious that
this link points to a page about large purple widgets. That link
won't help as much as the link John's House of Widgets got, which did
use the keywords in a hyperlink, but it will help nonetheless.
I recommend against using URLs in hyperlinks on a Web page because
they are ugly. Most site owners don't describe your page by putting
your URL in the hyperlink. I also recommend against having extraneous
words in the hyperlink. It's more helpful to have *just* "large
purple widgets" hyperlinked than it is to have "Click here for our
huge supply of large purple widgets" all hyperlinked. Hyperlink
*only* the keyword phrase if possible.
You may also be interested in my newsletter article "Keyword-rich
Domain Names": </issue016.htm#seo> and the
follow-up to it here: </issue017.htm#seo1>.
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Today, Mike Banks Valentine takes an interesting look at the twists
and turns in the wacky world of search engines, including the recent
buyouts and partnerships that seem to occur every time we turn around!
If you get a chance, you may want to also take a look at the SEO
articles Mike's compiled here:
++Search for Survivors++
Search for Survivors
By Mike Banks Valentine
The ground moves with a confusing shift sideways, followed by a bump,
then a lurch and finally a massive rumbling explosion that splits the
earth and swallows whatever is in its path on the surface. This
happens with disturbing regularity lately and aftershocks knock
formerly solid firms off their strong foundations. Infoseek, Go.com,
Direct Hit and Excite collapse.
Yahoo! swallows Inktomi, Overture absorbs AltaVista and Fast Search in
quick succession as AskJeeves subsumed Teoma and LookSmart encircled
and enclosed WiseNut in those previous SearchQuakes. The devastation
is immediate and stunning to those standing on what they thought was
solid ground before the quake struck and shook the searchscape beneath
This shifting and rumbling landscape is not a place for the timid.
Search engine optimization specialists [SEO's] scan and survey the
wreckage and dig through the resulting rubble to find the surviving
strategies that will pull their clients to the top of search results
and out of that rubble to the surface. There is often a dazed
stillness that follows such natural disasters while survivors sort out
what to do now that everything has changed with one sweeping event.
SEO's are rescue workers on scene clearing debris and rebuilding.
Admittedly, it's not all that dramatic for most small-to-medium-sized
businesses on the Web. But it does mean that they need a professional
on the case for keeping them abreast of changes. The earthquake
analogy probably only applies to those deeply involved in Web
business, almost as though Web businesses live on the other side of
the planet from the disastrous shift in the search landscape --
jerking portal partnerships and often disastrously disturbing other
industry alliances that had settled into working relationships.
Everyone is nervously checking to see if any damage is done to their
own partnerships and who may be injured.
Unlike earthquakes, searchquakes seem to occur with reasons, but still
tend to be unexpected and sudden. Directories buy up crawler-based
search engines in order to have an in-house solution to provide backup
results when unable to provide results from the directory database.
Overture's pay-per-click engine now provides PPC results to organic
[free] search engines. Everyone wonders what effect their purchases
may have on existing partnerships Overture maintains with search sites
that previously saw themselves as competitors to both of these
acquisition targets, Fast/AllTheWeb and AltaVista.
Existing partners are beginning to fret that Overture is threatening
their territory of crawler-based search. Yahoo! stated in their press
release that the paid-inclusion facet of Inktomi was attractive and
contributed to that purchase.
The paid-inclusion facets of both AltaVista and FastSearch through its
partnership with Lycos are now part of Overture. Yahoo! paid $235
million for Inktomi. Overture will spend about that amount for both of
its acquisitions combined. So we are looking at deals in the search
industry of nearing one-half trillion dollars! Rarefied territory
above the valley at the foot of Search Mountain!
Google previously provided back-up results to Yahoo! and now may be
dropped as a search partner due to the perception that they are
becoming competitors with PPC and shopping search. MSN looks warily
at Inktomi wondering whether they might be a threat. Indeed, MSN might
be the only search provider that has failed to swallow competitors in
an odd twist that leaves them with little to offer outside their
MSN dropped their support of RealNames, and essentially killed them
and even though new so-called 'Navigational Keyword' competition is
heating up with players iGetNet.com, NetWord.com and UDDI.org - the
paid navigation schemes are like bubbling mudpots compared to volcanic
activity of the Webs' biggest search properties. For more on these
tiny geysers and mudpots, view Danny Sullivan's articles below.
It will be interesting in the long term though, as each engine buys up
competing services to become more independent. Will any of those
search properties need each other when every one of them has their own
paid-inclusion, pay-per-click, shopping search, news search, image
search, blogger search, directory, financial channel, auto channel,
auction channel, music channel, etc.? Aren't they headed back toward
the mostly failed portal model that commentators are pointing to for
the reason AltaVista failed, the reason Yahoo! wobbles under its own
sheer size and weight, the reason they each had for becoming more like
Meanwhile, Google purchased Blogger recently in a move that many
search industry pundits are still analyzing for its effect on the Web
landscape. Whatever the result, one thing is quite apparent in the
shifting and eroding scenery of search engines. The conclusion can
only be that search matters on the Web. It matters to all businesses
that require visibility in the ever-narrowing canyons and soaring
peaks of the search landscape.
Just like the natural disaster of earthquakes, it all seems so
senseless sometimes. We'll all dust off and move on now. But you've
got to wonder if there's an end in sight to the ever-shifting
territorial lines in this treacherous SearchQuake-ridden terrain. ;-)
Mike Banks Valentine
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~~~Other SEO News~~~
++Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO)++
Barbara Coll (WebMama) and many other search engine marketers have
been working hard to create a professional organization they can call
their own. I crashed their meeting last week at the Boston Search
Engine Strategies conference (not really...it was open to everyone) to
learn what they were up to.
Currently, it's very much in the planning stages and they are looking
for as much help as possible to make the organization a success.
Here's the mission that was presented in Boston:
SEMPO exists to:
* Increase the awareness of the definition of and effectiveness of
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) to businesses and others involved in
* Provide a forum for discussions about search engine marketing
tactics, programs and professional practices.
* Serve as a professional body of SEM companies and practitioners
organized to stimulate development of SEM.
SEMPO will do this by:
* Promoting SEM as a viable marketing method.
* Providing a forum to define and develop the emerging field of SEM.
* Presenting a common front for SEM professionals to interface with
the search industry.
Want to be involved? Email mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org to sign-up for
the Yahoo SEMPO discussion group where they will be making decisions
on how to proceed with the next phase.
Good luck, Barbara and SEMPO!
++Search Engine Marketing Basics Seminar++
Mark your calendars for Friday, May 16, 2003 if you're one of the many
who expressed an interest in attending my half-day SEO seminar in
Atlanta. It will be held at the Sheraton Colony Square hotel from
9:00-11:45 AM. We've arranged to obtain a block of rooms at the
incredible rate of only $89 per night, which apparently is a great
deal for this part of Atlanta. If enough people come the night before
the seminar, perhaps we can have a little get-together at the hotel
lounge. I'll have more hotel info on my seminar page soon here:
</seminar> (agenda info is already there).
In the meantime, if you know you'll be staying overnight, please call
the hotel directly at 1-866-912-1171 and mention "Search Engine
Basics" when you reserve your room.
We're still working out the kinks on the registration system, and
should hopefully have it up and running by next week's newsletter.
I'll keep you posted!
~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~
++Revisiting Past Stuff++
Yep, just revisiting past stuff again this week. I have read some new
stuff, but so far nothing has caught my fancy as being good enough to
recommend to you. I guess I'm just too picky!
Anyway here's some past stuff that did make the cut. You can be sure
you're getting something worthwhile if you purchase any of these:
"21 Techniques to Maximize your Profits on Google AdWords Select" by
Andrew Goodman - a special report that shows how to do exactly that
"Search Engine Optimization Fast Start" by Dan Thies - an SEO ebook
for very busy people </issue013.htm#stuff>
(and you can read my interview with the author at
"Search Engine Optimization" Report by Mike Grehan
</searchenginereport> - This is the one
that's rocking the search engine world by providing solid facts on how
search engines work. While the rest of us have been using trial and
error to determine how to get high rankings, Mike's been interviewing
the people that invented search engines! Read my full review here:
"Search Engine Yearbook 2003" by André le Roux - an attempt to
compress the entire search engine world into a book
"Step-By-Step(tm) Copywriting Course" by Karon Thackston - a
full-blown copywriting course disguised as a PDF file
"The Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines" by...me - a
report to teach you where to place those pesky keyword phrases within
your visible page copy:
Please note that most of those are my affiliate links and I get a
of any sales that may result from your visits using the links. It's a
nice way for you to support the Advisor and also gain some extra SEO
This week's search engine optimization audio clip is "Creating
That's it for today! I hope you learned a little something, and
perhaps even had a laugh or two while you were at it. I found myself
chuckling a bit while writing this one for some reason. (Probably
just lack of sleep!)
It was great seeing so many of you at the Boston conference last week.
I ended up stuck in my room for a lot of it in order to prepare for
the "From Start to Finish" session. It seemed to be worth it, as I
think it went well! If you happened to attend that session, I'd be
very interested in hearing your feedback on it to know if it's
something worth doing at future conferences, or even at my own
seminars. Feel free to drop me a note to let me know what you
Gotta go order what's becoming our traditional Wednesday-night
take-out. No time to cook while working on this newsletter all day
Catch you next time. - Jill