September 17, 2003
~~~IN TODAY'S ADVISOR~~~
----> Jill's Mailbag Bonanza Again
*Search Engine Marketing:
----> Transparent Gif Links
----> Wording of Titles and Subtitles
----> Quick SEO Results Wanted
----> Useless Meta Keywords
----> Submitting Sites to Inktomi
*This Week's Sponsors:
----> High Rankings Seminar with Jill and the Gang
----> Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines
*Stuff You Might Like:
----> Google AdWords How-to Kit
*Other SEO News:
----> More Overture Ads on MSN
----> What People Are Searching For
*This Week's Sound Advice:
----> What Is Search Engine Spam?
----> Daddy's Home
It's that time of year again when I do my SEO Mailbag Extravaganza!
This is when I take a sampling of email questions I've received
throughout the week, and post them along with my answers. I always
feel like I'm being lazy when I put together one of these issues
because it's not much work for me, but most of you seem to enjoy the
variety of topics. Same appeal as the forum, I suppose
[You do know, of course, that I really only do these "special" issues
when I have no guest articles to publish! To all of you who promised
me an article at some point in the past, now would be a really good
time to send it in...hint, hint!]
Without further ado, let's get straight to the good stuff...
~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~
++Transparent Gif Links++
I am new to your list so if you have already answered this question,
please just direct me to the archive newsletter and I will get the
Most all of my clients have in the past allowed me to place a small
text link at the base of their sites which links to my site. In the
past few months, I have come to the conclusion that this form of "tag"
makes my clients' sites look less professional, and I have started to
remove the visible links and replace them with a transparent gif that
carries the alt tag with the same message and link.
This leaves the benefit of the link, but removes the eyesore. Is
there anything wrong with this practice?
What is the benefit of a link that nobody (except the search engines)
can see? Sure, it's a benefit to your site, as any link is. However,
it's not actually a "vote" for your site if the client would prefer it
not be there. The search engines have to assume that any link they
find is an actual vote of confidence in a site. If you hide a link,
you're defeating part of their ranking process, and you're obtaining
that extra link popularity through deceptive means (I stole that
phrase from my buddy Alan Perkins).
You are right to be concerned about this practice, and smart to check
if it's okay. Invisible links are indeed against the search engines'
guidelines, or at least against Google's. They may or may not be
actively seeking and penalizing sites that use these deceptive links.
Check out Google's Webmaster Guidelines for more info:
<http://www.google.com/webmasters/guidelines.html>. They specifically
state that you should "avoid hidden text or hidden links."
If you're ever unsure about a particular technique or practice that
you're using, it's pretty easy to decide whether the technique serves
a purpose other than obtaining high rankings. If it does, then it's
probably not going to get you into trouble with the engines. If it
doesn't, there will always be a risk of penalization hanging over your
I'd either make those links visible as soon as possible, or remove
++Quick SEO Results Wanted++
I'm currently VP of Marketing at a [specific type of medical center]
and I would like to hear your proposal for how we could make some
quick improvements in our search engine rankings.
We've already received a Keyword Effectiveness Index study (KEI) from
our ad agency, and we currently work with [a design company] who
proposes some minor enhancements to hold us over until we do a major
site redesign. However, we'd like results very quickly.
Please let me know if you feel you could help. Thanks.
Unfortunately, SEO is not something that can be done quickly; it's
very much a long-term proposition. If you are looking for a quick
search engine presence, I would suggest that you purchase ads from
Google AdWords and Overture. This will get you the immediate search
engine exposure you're looking for when people search for your keyword
Let me know if you have any other questions.
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Join Jill and her merry band of search engine marketing experts in
sunny Tampa, Florida on Nov. 7 for a full day of learning and fun!
Learn SEO copywriting, Titles and Meta tags, search engine no-nos,
choosing keywords, link pop., PPC, measuring success and more!
Save $50 -- Register early! </71seminar>
Still time to submit your site for review by our experts.
++Wording of Titles and Subtitles++
Hi Jill -
I have a quick question...We publish a scientific magazine (rather
than a journal) and some of our titles and subtitles are a bit poetic
rather than descriptive. For example, we recently titled an article
"The Pursuit of Shadows" when the article was about the study of
clouds, or cloud science. The article of course was filled with
keywords, but the title and subtitle were more ethereal. This poetic
approach seems to work really well in the print magazine, but I'm
wondering if this approach might be hurting us in searches. What is
You are exactly right. You'd do much better in the engines if there
were keyword phrases in your titles and/or subtitles.
How about a compromise? You could do something like this:
"The Pursuit of Shadows: The Study of Clouds and Cloud Science."
Or something to that effect. In fact, that same info could even be
used for your Title tag.
++Useless Meta Keywords++
I just subscribed today (yes, I was lucky it was Wednesday :) and
noticed on your page that some of your meta keywords are only
generally descriptive in a sense they do not actually happen to be
within the copy text itself. Is it a kind of cover-up to hide which
keywords you actually optimize in the page or is there some productive
I would never bother to hide what keyword phrases I optimize any page
for, because it would be impossible! All anyone has to do is read the
copy on my optimized pages and they can easily figure out what keyword
phrases I concentrated on. Hopefully, they don't stick out like a
sore thumb, but are still fairly obvious. That's the balance you want
with good SEO copywriting.
Since the search engines ignore and/or give very little weight to the
Meta keywords, I just have some standard ones I use for many pages of
my site. Normally I just leave them off altogether, but occasionally,
I use some that sum up the general theme of the site. I do recommend
using unique Meta description tags when you can, but don't always
bother to follow my own advice in that respect. I don't actually
count on the search engines for my business, however!
You should really try to get the whole idea of using the Meta keyword
tag in SEO right out of your head so that you can concentrate on the
things that really *do* matter, like writing for the search engines
and making your site the best it can be.
Hope this helps!
____________Nitty-gritty Special Report_________________
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++Submitting Sites to Inktomi++
Jill, I've been working on optimizing a site that is not a new site.
It's been a live site for quite some time. I was thinking of
hand-submitting it to Inktomi, but realized MSN and Hotbot have
already indexed it without me doing anything. Is it necessary to pay
to have your site submitted if it has already been indexed for free?
Is it possible that it will be dropped from Inktomi if you don't pay
Thanks for your help,
Hi Mary Beth,
The beauty of working on existing sites (as most of the ones I do
these days are) is that you don't have to submit them anywhere when
Existing sites are generally crawled on a regular basis by all of the
major search engines, including Inktomi. If the pages from the site
are currently indexed, then check the engines in 2 - 6 weeks and you
should see the pages slowly getting re-indexed.
Of course, if you don't have much time or patience, where Inktomi is
concerned, you may want to pay for inclusion to speed things along.
But if time is not of the essence, it's worth simply waiting it out,
in my opinion.
Best of luck with it!
~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~
++Google AdWords How-to Kit++
Remember about a month ago when I told you about the teleseminar
Andrew Goodman was doing with MarketingSherpa? Apparently, it went
really well! If you didn't get a chance to attend, don't despair!
Andrew's excellent Google AdWords information that he provided in the
seminar is available in the form of a transcript. MarketingSherpa is
selling the transcript along with Andrew's report, "21 Ways to
Maximize Your ROI with Google AdWords" as a special kit.
The transcript is very interesting because in it, Andrew answers
audience members' general and specific questions about their AdWords
If you're confused about Google's pay-per-click (PPC) program, or
can't quite figure out how to make it work for you, then you really
need this kit. It's only $99 and you can learn more or purchase it
[Special note to Andrew: Thanks for the limerick! <grin>]
~~~Other SEO News~~~
++More Overture Ads on MSN++
Danny Sullivan wrote an informative article this week detailing
changes regarding how MSN is now showing Overture ads. It looks like
MSN is showing more ads than ever, which is making Overture
advertisers very happy. If you have a paid subscription to Search
Engine Watch, you can read about it here:
If you haven't paid to subscribe to Search Engine Watch, you can join
++What People Are Searching For++
Danny also pointed out this cool tool from AllTheWeb which shows the
last 10 searches performed there:
<http://www.alltheweb.com/recentqueries>. Kind of addicting when you
keep refreshing it!
~~~This Week's Sound Advice~~~
++What Is Search Engine Spam?++
Thanks for reading!
My dad flew all the way in from Hawaii this week and will be heading
to my house for dinner in a few hours. No, I'm not cooking; he's
going to take us out of course! Or maybe we'll take him out. Or maybe
we'll just order in. Depends on how much homework the kids have, I
guess. At any rate, it's time to wrap this puppy up and start picking
up the troops, take a shower, and all that fun stuff.
Catch you next week, kiddos!