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SEO Website Audit

High Rankings Advisor: Magic Secret to Google - Issue No. 056

May 21, 2003
________________________________________________________

~~~IN TODAY'S ADVISOR~~~

*Introductory Comments:
---->   A Little Bit of Everything

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   Magic Secret to Google

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   LogoDesign.com
---->   SEO Copywriting Combo

*Guest Article:
---->   Why the Heck Do You Have a Website Anyway?

*Stuff You Might Like:
---->   SEO Research Labs

*Other SEO News:
---->   Oh That Crazy Google
---->   Effect of Changing Servers on Rankings

*This Week's Sound Advice:
---->   The Future of Search Engines and SEO

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   Jill Whalen Exposed
________________________________________________________

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hey everyone! I'm back from Atlanta and using all my excess energy to
give you a great newsletter today.  I've got a little bit of
everything for you, from the magic Google secret formula, to a
common-sense guest article, then on to some awesome "stuff you might
like."  Enjoy! - Jill


~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

++Magic Secret to Google++

From: Reggie

Okay - what is the "magic" to getting listed at the top of Google?
I've done a keyword search and then tear apart the sites that pop up.
Most have several things in common, one of which is this in their
header:

<.meta name="GOOGLEBOT" content="NOARCHIVE">

Or they may have:

<.META NAME="robots" CONTENT="index,follow">

As a newbie to Web page design, what are these telling the robots to
do, and does it help in the rankings?

Thanks!

Reggie


~~~Jill's Response~~~

Hi Reggie,

As I told my seminar participants the other day, everyone knows that
the magic secret to ranking highly in Google is to simply place all
the secret ingredients into a big pot, mix them all together, wave
your magic wand, say the magic words and -- POOF! -- you'll have high
rankings for life!  Who needs some stinkin' code when you have a good
magic wand?  (I'll be selling my designer magic wands at the next
seminar so be sure to be there!)

All right...lest some of you green newbies think I'm serious... of
course, I'm just kidding!

But the truth is that the code you mentioned is no more the secret to
success than my magic wand.

The first code you mentioned, "noarchive," could actually do you more
harm than good.  That's the tag you use when you *don't* want Google
to place your page in their cache.  (There's a little cache link next
to most pages in Google's results, which brings you to Google's latest
copy of your page.)  Most site owners don't care if their pages are
archived and show up in Google's cache and therefore they don't use
the noarchive tag.  Those that might care are ones who feel that
Google is somehow infringing on their privacy or copyright by storing
their pages in the Google cache.

The others who would prefer to have their pages stay out of Google's
cache are generally those who are doing something sneaky that they
don't want the good people at Google to find out about.  Those who are
using cloaking methods to show the search engines one thing and the
users something else will often use the noarchive tag to make it less
obvious what they are doing.  However, since most people *don't* use
that tag, those that do open their sites up to some scrutiny.  Which
is why I said that it might do you more harm than good.

What happens if Google finds that 90% of the pages using that tag are
cloaking?  There's nothing to stop them from deciding one day that
they won't index any page that uses the noarchive tag.  Remember, it's
Google's index and they are a private company.  Now, I know that
Google would prefer to have all legitimate pages in their database,
and therefore, I doubt they'd go to that extreme.  But if you want
your pages indexed, I would avoid using the noarchive tag at all
costs.

The second piece of code you asked about also has nothing to do with a
page's high rankings in Google (or any other search engine).
Supposedly that code is there to tell the search engine robots that
it's okay to index the page and to follow the links to the inner
pages.  However, the default for the robots is to index all pages
unless they are told *not* to do so.  In other words, you might use
the robots Meta tag if you *didn't* want the search engines to add
your page to their database for whatever reason.  And in that case,
you'd say "nofollow" and "noindex" in the tag.  Under those
circumstances, to be on the safe side, you should also put up a
robots.txt file on your server which excludes the robots from wherever
you *don't* want them to go.

You can learn more about how to use these tags at this Google help
page: <http://www.google.com/remove.html>.

In the past, I couldn't understand why anyone would want to keep the
search engine spiders out of their site, but I have found a few
reasons for this over the years.  For instance, if you have a
downloadable product page that needs to be paid for before one is
allowed access, you'd want to exclude that page or directory from
being spidered in your robots.txt document.

When using the robots.txt file for exclusions, be sure that you don't
list actual file URLs you want excluded, and instead place the file in
an excluded directory.  Otherwise, you're actually giving hackers a
roadmap to your juicy stuff.  Anyone can visit a site and look at its
robots.txt file. It's pretty fun actually, as you can find all sorts
of interesting tidbits that nobody wants you to find! Try it by using
your favorite site's URL with /robots.txt tacked onto the end.

Happy hacking!

Jill

P.S. If you want the real secret to high rankings, you'll just have to
read all the articles and past newsletters on my site.  (Or come to my
next seminar, or buy my special report and/or Sound Advice CD!)  But
here's a hint to get you started (please keep this under your hat!):
It's all in the choice of keyword phrases, the body text copy, the
Title tag and the keywords in the links that point to your pages.
Shhhhhhh!


_______________________________________________Adv.

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_______________________________________________

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You've seen our work on TV, in print and on the Web.

We've designed logos for Microsoft, the NBA and Hilton Hotels.
Let us design a company logo for you today!

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_______________________________________________


~~~Guest Article~~~

++Why the Heck Do You Have a Website Anyway?++

Yeah, why do you?

That's what my friend Scottie Claiborne of Right Click Web Services
<http://www.rightclickwebs.com> wants you to think about.

Scottie is a woman after my own heart.  She's got common sense down to
an art, and uses that to her advantage every chance she gets.  And why
not?  Common sense is what life on and off the Internet is all about.
I was lucky enough to meet Scottie in person last week in Atlanta, and
I can tell you that this woman is a little bundle of energy!  (She's
the one with the short red hair in the top left of this photo:
<http://www.jillwhalen.com/images/alltogether1.jpg>.)

Scottie's still trying to decide what she wants to be when she "grows
up" <grin>, but right now she specializes in common-sense usability
and marketing for Web sites, including SEO, copywriting, and
consulting.  If you ever get a chance to hear all she's done with her
variety of businesses over the years, you will be fascinated! She kept
a bunch of us interested and entertained for hours in Atlanta.  You
will learn a lot from this woman, and I'm sure you'll hear a lot more
from her in the future!

Here's Scottie! - Jill


Why the Heck Do You Have a Website Anyway?
By Scottie Claiborne

You've got a website. It's got some cool graphics and information
about your company and maybe even a shopping cart for selling stuff.
You read the High Rankings Advisor faithfully; you've tweaked your
copy and checked your tags, yet your visitors don't seem to do what
you want them to do.

It's time to take a step back and think about why you built a website
in the first place.

"We had to have a website -- everybody does!" This is the mentality of
many business sites.

With that mentality, inevitably you'll end up with someone in upper
management complaining that the site isn't getting enough results to
justify the expenses.  Or the CEO wants to know why the site's
PageRank is only a four, and traffic patterns don't match last year's
numbers. Suddenly, everyone's scrambling around to "fix" it.  Sound
familiar?

The problem is that many sites are built without a clear goal in mind.
It sounds silly, but it's true. It's time to take two steps back and
take a big-picture look at your website and why it exists.

So what's the goal of your website?

* To inform?
* To build a community?
* To gain valuable market research?
* To reduce support and customer service costs?
* To reach a broad audience with a message?
* To find sales leads?
* To conduct e-commerce?
* To entertain?
* To gain advertising revenue?
* To brand your company?
* To brand yourself?
* To attract attention?
* To build trust?
* To reduce paperwork?
* To reduce printing and mailing costs?

These are just some of the many possibilities. Remember, the Web is
not just a marketing tool -- it's a business tool as well.  While it
is perfectly okay to have an Internet billboard that simply contains
contact information, why settle for that when your site can do so much
more?  Even the smallest local business can utilize the power of the
Internet to be more efficient and to build revenue.   Once you start
thinking about it, it's easy to get excited about the potential for
your site.

It's important to get all the departments within your company on the
same page in order to agree on priorities from the start.  After that,
you've got to agree on some goals. Too many people have traffic as the
goal of a website.  But think about it; would you rather have 1,000
people visit your site and do nothing, or have 100 people visit your
site and take action? Does a PageRank of 7 mean anything to the real
profitability of your company? These abstract, relative numbers don't
make a difference by themselves, and should not be the ultimate goal
of any website.

More important are things like new sales leads, an increase in average
consumer satisfaction, decreased support calls, more newsletter
subscriptions or completed surveys.  These are all measurable goals
that DO mean something to your company.

Next, identify your target audience.  Narrow this definition down to
fit your particular customers. It's time to think like your target
audience.  What do they want to see?  What information do they need?
Why are they even visiting your site?  If you can't get into their
mindset, organize an informal focus group and ask them what they want.
It's that easy!  Let them poke around your current site and give you
feedback. Usability issues can be identified during this process as
well.

You may find you need a formal usability analysis, a redesign or new
content sections.  Sometimes it's even better to scrap the old site
and start over from scratch.  The important thing is that when you
build a great site that keeps your users in mind, it will be easier to
get good links, good rankings and all around good results. Your
company and your customers will benefit -- and best of all -- you
won't be as dependent on search engine rankings to meet your goals.

Scottie Claiborne
Right Click Web Services
http://www.rightclickwebs.com

_______________________________________________Adv.

Wanna be an SEO Copywriter?  Sure you do!
_______________________________________________

First, you've got to learn to write good copy. Then, you've got to
learn how to write for your readers *and* the search engines.

It's not easy! It will take lots of studying and hard work.

If you're up to the challenge, I've got exactly what you need
to proceed -- the best SEO copywriting combination on the
market today:  </combo56>.
_______________________________________________


~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~

++SEO Research Labs++

You know what?  I love Wordtracker
</wordtracker>.  Ever since that fateful
day many moons ago when Mike Mindel contacted me to test out his
brand-new keyword research software, it's made my life so much easier.
No longer did I have to guess at what keywords people might be
searching for when I optimized a site.  No more getting high rankings
only to find out that they didn't bring any traffic cuz I optimized
for stupid phrases.  (Yep, that's what used to happen before
Wordtracker existed.)

But you know what else?  Performing my Wordtracker keyword research
eats up a huge chunk of my day every time I have to do it.  At this
stage in my SEO career, I really don't have the time to spend hours
finding the best keyword phrases for my clients' sites.  And to tell
the truth, I'm kinda sick of it!  Still, someone's gotta do it.  I
can't very well trust the client to do it...ha...no, I don't think so!
I can and do have my virtual assistant do some of it, and that works
out great.  But sometimes even she has more important (and
interesting) things to do.  Plus, VAs don't work for peanuts you know.

Well, guess what?  My friend Dan Thies has recently come out with a
solution for people like me.  He's assembled a team of real people
(not automated bots) who will do your keyword research for you!  If
you're confused by all the options in Wordtracker or you're like me
and are just sick of doing that sort of thing, SEO Research Labs
</seoresearchlabs> has the keyword research
and analysis package you need.  And get this -- it's only $99!  (I
know...don't laugh.  I told Dan not to give it away so cheaply, but
he's just too nice a guy!)  Now you can have Dan's team do the stuff
you don't want to do, and spend your time on the things you like and
the things that make you some real money.

I've tried out the service for three or four of my clients' sites
already and got all the relevant phrases I would have normally found
for myself.  Dan's been extra-accommodating for me, and always makes
sure I receive my reports in the format I want them in.  I'm sure
he'll do the same for you.  In fact, the SEO Research Labs has some
cool ways of presenting the reports, all of which can be easily
incorporated into your own client reports or emails.

Check it out for one of your sites and see what you think:
</seoresearchlabs>.  I'm confident that
you'll find it well worth the money (and really...even more).  I don't
know about you, but I generally get paid a lot more than $99 for three
or four hours of my time, and that's minimally what it takes to do
good keyword research.  I feel kind of guilty when I get these reports
because they're such a steal!

Oh and yes, that's my affiliate link there, but again, this is
something I would use and promote regardless of whether I got a
kickback.  I've been looking forward to a service like this for a
long, long time.  Hard to believe no one else has come up with it
until now.  Three cheers for Dan and SEO Research Labs!


~~~Other SEO News~~~

++Oh That Crazy Google++

I figured I better mention something about the crazy results Google's
been showing lately, as everybody on the Web seems to be in a panic.
You may have noticed that results are fluctuating wildly, sometimes
from one minute to the next.

All I can say is that obviously, Google is testing out some new stuff
this month.  It sucks that it seems to be at the expense of some
people's hard-fought SEO work, but there's not a thing anyone can do
about it except sit tight until Google figures out whatever it is
they're trying to figure out.  Unfortunately, nobody knows when that
will be, and my guess is that it could still be a few more weeks.

However, since there's nothing anyone can do about it, and changing
your pages or optimization strategy over it would not be smart, my
only advice is to simply "chill" and stop watching it so closely.  Try
not to think about it if you can.  I know this is easier said than
done when your sales are at stake, but this kind of thing comes with
the SEO territory.  If you don't have the stomach for it, you should
be getting your targeted traffic from other sources instead.

Sorry, but that's the way the cookie crumbles in the ever-changing
world of SEO.  You gotta admit that there's never a dull moment!


++Effect of Changing Servers on Search Engine Rankings++

For some reason I had many questions this week about what happens to
search engine rankings when you change servers.  I think perhaps a lot
of servers have been down lately and people simply aren't going to
stand for it anymore.  I just changed servers myself (again) for the
same reason.

At any rate, I discussed this subject back in Issue 041
</issue041.htm#seo> and figured I'd point
it out to those of you who suddenly find yourself in that boat.


~~~Sound Advice~~~

++The Future of Search Engines and SEO++

</soundadvice>


~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

That's it for the SEO stuff.

For those of you wondering how my trip to Atlanta went (probably just
my mom), just picture Tony the Tiger saying his famous line!  It was
so great that it inspired me to finally put up my personal blog site:
<http://www.jillwhalen.com>.  You can see a few photos and read much
more than you probably care to read.  I haven't even gotten to the
really fun part of the trip -- the dinner with my friends when the
seminar stuff was done.

It was so cool to meet up with some of my online women friends.  I
don't socialize much around here, so it was a real treat for me.
Thanks Scottie, Debra, Lee, Karon and Chris for coming to Atlanta and
for all of you just being you!  We'll definitely have to do it again
sometime. - Jill

P.S. In the photo I mentioned in Scottie's intro:
<http://www.jillwhalen.com/images/alltogether1.jpg> the bottom row
starting from the left is Debra, Chris, Lee then me.  Standing up on
Mr. Buckhead are Scottie and Karon (doing that rabbit ears thingee
above my head...sheesh...will these gals ever grow up? <g>).

 
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