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High Rankings Advisor: Search Engine & Directory Questions - Issue No. 055

May 14, 2003
________________________________________________________

~~~IN TODAY'S ADVISOR~~~

*Introductory Comments:
---->   Nice To See You

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   Search Engine & Directory Questions

*This Week's Sponsor:
---->   Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines

*Guest Article:
---->   Avoid Surprises by Playing Detective

*Stuff You Might Like:
---->   Recap of Past Stuff

*Other SEO News:
---->   In Memory of SEM Pioneer Jim Wilson

*This Week's Sound Advice:
---->   Measuring SEO Success

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   The Gals of SEO Storm Atlanta
________________________________________________________

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hey everyone!  Nice to "see" you.  Today I have a bunch of questions
and answers about submitting to the search engines and directories,
plus the last article in our usability series.  Next week, I'm hoping
to have a guest article from Shari Thurow on optimizing PDF files
(hint, hint, Shari!), so stay tuned for that.

On to the good stuff! - Jill


~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

Advisor subscriber Lia Gonzalez had a number of quick questions for
me, so instead of posting her entire email and repeating the questions
twice, I've simply posted them with my answers underneath each one.

Q. Do search engines crawl other search engines' databases to "steal"
their directories in order to enhance their own?

A. Search engines do crawl through directories such as Yahoo, DMOZ
(The Open Directory), GoGuides, Gimpsy and JoeAnt and often add those
results to their own.  Any search engine or directory that does not
want their results to be crawled should place a robots exclusion in
their robots.txt file on their server.  I believe that most of the
major search engines have these in place.  (See Google's here:
<http://www.google.com/robots.txt>.)

Q. Will being well placed in a top engine like Google help the site
eventually make it into the others?

A. Being placed in directories such as the ones mentioned above will
eventually get you listed in the other spidering search engines such
as Inktomi, AltaVista, Lycos etc.  However, being listed in other
search engines probably won't help.  That said, many search engines
share the same database.  For instance, once you're listed in Google,
those results are picked up by AOL and Yahoo, because they have a deal
with Google to use their listings.  The FAST database is used by Lycos
and many international search engines, as well as their own
AllTheWeb.com site.  The Inktomi database is used by MSN, and is also
"backfill" for numerous directories and search engines.

Q. Is there a "back door" to appear in DMOZ?  It was easy to submit in
Google and impossible to submit in DMOZ; its interface just stagnates.
I have tried to contact their Webmaster but never got an
acknowledgment from him.

A. No, there's no back door into DMOZ.  Unless you can find an
unscrupulous editor, of course!  Hopefully, most of them have been
removed over the years.  By the way, DMOZ doesn't have a "Webmaster"
to contact about your listing.  DMOZ is comprised of thousands of
volunteer editors.  If you have a problem getting listed, you should
contact the editor of the category where you submitted your site.
However, please note that it can take many, many months to get listed
in DMOZ, and many times you will never be listed.  Be sure to read
their guidelines very carefully, and create your titles and
descriptions just as carefully.  DMOZ is inundated with "spam"
submissions and it takes them a long time to separate the good from
the bad.  Personally, I don't worry about DMOZ too much any more.  I
believe they are on their way out.  The site is down most of the time
when I try to visit it, and it seems that perhaps AOL has given up on
them completely.

Sure, a listing with DMOZ is still a great one to have, but don't
obsess over it if you can't seem to get listed.  Submit to one of the
many other fine directories instead.  Try JoeAnt
<http://www.joeant.com>, GoGuides <http://www.goguides.org> and Gimpsy
<http://www.gimpsy.com> for starters.  Make sure you follow their
rules and don't spam them or your submissions will be ignored or
rejected.  (Please note that some of these directories charge a fee
for expedited review, and/or require you to become an editor before
you can submit your site. Oh, and watch out for the GoGuides' new
colors; they nearly blinded me when I visited the other day.  Yuck!)

Q. Which engines are the best to submit to?

A. You don't have to submit to any spidering search engines. They will
crawl the Internet and find your site as long as it is listed on other
sites such as the directories mentioned above.

Q. Won't the engines that ONLY add paid submissions to their databases
lose credibility from users?  Users will get results not from the best
sites, but from the richest that can afford to be included.  As a user
I would not consider using any search engine that has a
paid-submission database.

A. There are no major search engines that I know of which *only*
accept paid submissions.  Plus, it's not necessary to pay for
inclusion to any of the current crop of search engines, as long as you
don't mind waiting to be added the free way.  If you're in a hurry,
then pay.  If you want to tweak your pages every 48 hours, then pay.
If you don't mind waiting 6 - 8 weeks to be spidered and you won't be
making changes that often, then wait for them to find your site.  The
spiders are doing a very good job of crawling these days, which is as
it should be!

I agree with you that search engines would lose credibility (and
relevance) if they only allowed paid inclusions. This is why all of
the major search engines still add pages for free.  They understand
that having a database of only paid sites won't be very good for their
users.  Certainly, the search engines have to make money too, however,
and it's nice that many of them offer a paid-inclusion option for
those who don't want to leave things to chance.

Hope this helps!

Jill

__________________________________________________

Ding-dong!   Meta Keywords are DEAD!
__________________________________________________

So where do I place my pesky keyword phrases?

In the copy, silly!

Purchase the "Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines"
by High Rankings Advisor editor, Jill Whalen.
Only $49 </nittyhra55>.
__________________________________________________


~~~Guest Article~~~

++Avoid Surprises by Playing Detective++

Our usability series of articles with Kim Krause concludes today with
the interesting topic of what you need to do before uploading your
site to the Internet.  Kim likens her website usability reviews with
having good communication skills.  She recently told me, "Whenever I
must communicate my thoughts on a sensitive subject, I remember my
favorite rule of thumb - 'Is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?'"
Since search engine positioning is crucial to most sites, Kim uses
those same guidelines for her final walkthrough of a website -- with
one small but important change: "Is it true, is it necessary and is it
going to rank highly in search engines?"

As an aside, I've been including a usability report from Kim with all
my site review reports for the past 6 months or so, and they have
always been extremely enlightening.  It's amazing the little things
she can dig up while playing detective, which can make a huge
difference to a site's usability and search engine rankings.  My
clients have really appreciated the extra knowledge that these reports
provide.

Here's Kim with the rest of the story...

Being Tops with Your Users and the Search Engines - Part 5
Avoid Surprises by Playing Detective
By Kimberly Kopp Krause

Throughout this series of articles I've recommended taking a few steps
backwards to view your site from the user perspective and from the
perspective of the search engine spiders.  I've stressed tracing every
element you place in the site back to your original specifications.
The reason why this is so crucial is so you don't go off on tangents
and frustrate your users. A website about weddings could have sections
on travel, clothing, home buying and parenting, but does it really
make sense to tackle all that? Wouldn't customers prefer a site that
specializes in that one special day and not necessarily everything
else that may follow it?  The search engines will also appreciate it
when you stick to the topic at hand, because it helps them determine
what your site is all about.

Before rolling out your website to the public, make sure all clues
about finding and using it are directly built in.

Checking Under the Hood

When testing a website, the first thing I do is look at the source
code itself. I check to see if Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are tucked
away in a separate file instead of filling up the homepage with
useless code.  Whenever I see preloaded images and a mouseover
JavaScript, I know right away the page will likely contain a universal
navigation bar at the top of the page, which spiders may ignore. If
easily finding the website in the search engines is a business
objective, it would have just failed one of my tests.

Since Title tags are so important, I assign a poor score when a site
has a Title tag that states,  "Welcome to My Website Name."  "Welcome"
is not a keyword customers use to find sites.  I check for keyword
placement (or lack of it) throughout the source code including
content, behind images, in link descriptions and navigation labels.
By this time, I have my Sherlock Holmes cap on and am hunting for all
the clues I know are needed by search engines to help return accurate
search results.  I also look for signs of bad SEO advice that might be
incorporated into the design such as hidden text, bloated Meta tags
and keyword-density overload.

Is There a Path To Follow?

After analyzing the source code, I look at the page layout on the
homepage and attempt to figure out where I'm supposed to go next.  The
objective for consumer-oriented sites is to sell something or to
generate leads. With ecommerce sites I may find myself wandering into
a maze of catalogs and product descriptions, or (if they designed a
store with departments) I might be guided in an organized fashion. If
the online store bombards me with offsite ads, I assume they don't
want my money or they wouldn't be sending me away.

Next I look for opportunities for site abandonment.  The most obvious
reason is the user may be overwhelmed with options and not know what
to do when they first arrive.  The site should ease them into its
inner sanctum through some introductory content, and clearly labeled
links to the main sections.  There should also be clear click paths to
hot areas they may want me to visit. For example, if your website
offers discounted items, you might suggest the user go there first and
then guide them to other product categories while they're there. If
your navigation makes your user feel confident they will arrive where
you say they will, they'll keep clicking.

Informational websites are often cluttered so it helps to break
resources and news into categories. Place the most popular ones above
the "fold." Once inside, it's easier to branch out into sub-sections.
By preparing topic-specific web pages you've naturally made them ready
for search engines and directories.

If You Don't Visit Your Website, Who Will?

What will entice people to return to your website?  Here are some
ideas:

1. When presenting news, use RSS feeds and Blogs. Search engines love
them and visitors will rely on you to keep them informed and
entertained.
2. Offer contests and incentives.
3. Enter contests.  For instance, I found sites that were worthy of a
return visit (and sometimes even a link) while I was a judge for a
website contest.
4. Partnerships. Team up with websites that add value to yours.
5. Articles. Share knowledge, hire a columnist, submit or solicit
articles.
6. Create opt-in email notifications for announcements.
7. Write and sell an e-book and let others sell it from their site as
an affiliate.
8. Join forums. Volunteer to moderate in areas you specialize in.
9. Newsletters. If you write it well, they will come.
10. Expertise and customer satisfaction. The key to continued sales
and referrals is happy customers. The key to repeat traffic is
providing a valuable website.

Before putting your website online, try using it from the perspective
of searchers and customers.  Put yourself in their moccasins.  This is
the best test of all. It amazes me how many times I have to put on my
reading glasses to magnify the text so I can view a page without
straining.  I often wonder if the people that own websites with teeny
tiny text ever try to use them.  Then there's the website I tested
that had no content at all. It was made up entirely of graphics,
including the text. No search engine could crawl it, special-needs
users would struggle with it and slow modems would choke to death
loading it.

Don't expect to upload web pages to a server and then walk away and
miraculously make money or be famous.  It takes a lot of hard work as
well as testing, testing and more testing!

Kimberly Kopp Krause
Cre8pc.com:  http://www.cre8pc.com
Cre8asiteForums:  http://www.cre8asiteforums.com


~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~

++Recap of Past Stuff++

Here's a quick recap of some past stuff I've told you about, with
links to their full reviews:

* Sound Advice for Search Engine Optimization CD (US & CAN only):
</issue048.htm#stuff>

* Step-By-Step Copywriting Course (revised and updated):
</issue049.htm#stuff>

* Search Engine Marketing (all new 2nd edition) - The Essential Best
Practices Guide: </issue018.htm#stuff>

* Search Engine Optimization Fast Start:
</issue014.htm#stuff>

* Search Engine Visibility:
</issue041.htm#stuff>

* Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines:
</issue043.htm#stuff>

* Search Engine Yearbook 2003:
</issue038.htm#stuff>

* 21 Techniques to Maximize your Profits on Google AdWords Select:
</issue006.htm#seonews2>

In June, I'll be creating a new Web site, "StuffYouMightLike.com," in
which I will place all the product, ebook and software reviews I've
written about.  It should make it easier for you to find what you're
looking for all in one place, rather than forcing you to search
through all the archived newsletters.   I'll let you know when it's
ready for prime time!


~~~Other SEO News~~~

++In Memory of SEM Pioneer Jim Wilson++

SEO pioneer Jim Wilson, founder of JimWorld <http://www.jimworld.com/>
passed away Tuesday, May 6, 2003, following an 18-month battle with
heart disease and multiple strokes.  Jim opened up the first SEO forum
(SearchEngineForums <http://www.searchengineforums.com>) many years
ago, paving the way for the many other SEO forums that we have today.

You can pay your respects and visit the Jim Wilson memorial Web site
here: <http://memorial.jimworld.com>.


~~~Sound Advice~~~

++Measuring SEO Success++

</soundadvice>


~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

Looks like I'm gonna have to get dressed over the next few days since
it's finally time for my Atlanta SEO seminar.  And I don't mean get
dressed up -- I literally mean "get dressed"!  I pretty much sit at my
computer in my jammies on most days.  Hope my clothes still fit.
<sigh>

The best part of this Atlanta trip (besides getting to meet a bunch of
my subscribers) is that some of my best online buddies will also be
there.  You may remember Scottie Claiborne, Debra Mastaler and Karon
Thackston from guest articles and mentions in this very newsletter.
Chris Churchill, a founder of NetMechanic, will also be joining us.
We're going to have a fun night on the town after the seminar.

Watch out Atlanta, cuz the gals of SEO are a'comin!

If you want to make a last-minute trip, we've still got room for you
in the seminar.  Please sign up here:
</atlanta55>.  See you there! - Jill
 
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