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High Rankings Advisor: 3 Search Engine Marketing Questions - Issue No. 076

October 22, 2003



*Introductory Comments:
---->   What Are You Waiting For?

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   Three Search Engine Marketing Questions

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   Nitty-gritty Special Report
---->   Jill's High Rankings Tampa Seminar

*Guest Article:
---->   Writing Ads Around the Christmas Holidays

*High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week:
---->   How Blogs Are Changing Publishing

*This Week's Sound Advice:
---->   Optimizing Dynamic Content for High Rankings

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   Quantum Mechanics...yuk

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hey everyone! If you haven't done it yet, it's time to sign up for my
Tampa Search Engine Marketing seminar.  Yes, that's right, it's
actually almost November.  If you've been putting it off for whatever
reason, get with it and get registered.  This one is going to be the
best one yet because not only do you get my regular morning
presentation on all things SEO, you get the added advice of my highly
respected and trusted expert friends.  There will be three additional
presentations in the afternoon, as well as real-time Web site reviews
at the end of the day.

Tampa in doesn't that sound worthwhile?  Don't forget
that we also have a block of rooms registered at the Tampa Airport
Marriott for only $99 per night.  You don't have to be a local-yokel
to attend.  Fly in or drive in or whatever, just come on down on
November 7th!  You will learn a ton about search engine marketing, as
well as have some fun with the coolest SEO/SEM geeks in the land!

Learn more and register here: </tampasem>.
(What are you waiting for?) - Jill

~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

++Three Search Engine Marketing Questions++

From: Clay Horst

Hi Jill,

I have a couple...ok three questions for you.

#1. What do you see in the future of the SEO marketing? My concern is
that with everyone seemingly wanting to fatten their wallets with paid
inclusion and PPC, that the search engines will drop the regular
spidering and go with advertising. This would only make it impossible
for the little guy to get good positioning. Will the Internet
community "allow" for this to happen and just go along with it?

#2. I have not read anything on your site about keyword stuffing the
"Alt" tags in images. I have a competitor at the top of several
engines that has stuffed his alt tags with dozens of keywords and it
never seems to hurt him. He has not fallen off # 1 in months. I
thought that was a no-no?

#3. What is your opinion on link popularity as a whole? I have a
hankering to develop a page on my site that lists several dozen of my
competitors, some linked back, some not. I have had several people
look at me funny for saying it but I thought about including a link at
the bottom of my page linked to the words "and," "but," or "the" in a
simple statement sentence, that links to this major links page. (So as
to make it not all that appealing to click on but the links are
there.) I really do not care if they do go to the page as I offer a
tremendous amount of freebies that no other site offers.

Sorry if it seems these questions came from all different angles but I
have been jotting these thoughts down for a week or two.

Thanks again,

Clay Horst

~~~Jill's Response~~~

Hi Clay, let's take your questions one at a time:

#1.  The future of SEO.

Hmm...well, that's a tough one since the search engine landscape
changes very quickly.

As long as Google is still around and still focused on relevancy we
will never have to worry about engines showing all ads all the time.
Even if Google goes public and becomes the next in a long line of
greedy search engines to totally screw up their results, another will
come along to take its place.  So, no, we will never have to worry
about there being only paid listings.

Aside from that aspect, I do see a rather bleak future for traditional
SEO in many senses.  A few years ago, only a fraction of Web sites had
even a rudimentary bit of optimization done to them.  This made it
easy for anyone with the slightest bit of SEO knowledge to come in and
obtain some decent results.  We also had many more options open to us
because there was no one search engine that dominated the searches.
If you didn't get high rankings in one engine, it wasn't always the
end of the world; you could still get tons of traffic from the other

Today, clients seem to be mostly interested in Google, Yahoo, AOL and
MSN.  Since Google powers the first three at the moment, it gives us
only 2 databases to work with.  This makes the job of an SEO much
harder, and more frustrating.  It's just not as easy as it used to be
to get high rankings.  (I know I'm partly to blame since I've been
teaching the average Joe Shmoe how to optimize for years, but deep
down I know it's better for the Internet as a whole to have more sites
optimized.)  On top of that, clients are becoming more demanding
because they're tired of spending huge amounts on PPC ad campaigns.

One thing that I know for sure is that client expectations will
probably have to be somewhat lowered in the near future, if not
already.  Optimizing for longer phrases will become the norm, and if
you want the most competitive phrases, there's a good chance you're
going to have to buy them through ads.  (See today's guest article for
more on that subject.)

The good news is that due to the difficulty in gaining high rankings
these days, many SEOs are also focusing on other aspects of their
clients' Web sites.  The reasons for this are twofold.  Firstly, even
if you get high rankings for highly competitive keywords that bring
tons of targeted traffic, if your Web site sucks, you still won't make
any money off of it.  Secondly, when you are required to focus on less
general phrases, it forces you to really take a hard look at your
site, and make sure it's truly working for you.

SEOs will need to take usability and conversions into consideration
when coming up with your search engine marketing campaigns in the
future, if they're not already doing this.  Therefore, I see there
being a much brighter future for those SEOs who are able to make the
transition.  Whether that means learning all that stuff themselves or
partnering with those who do, it's gonna have to get done somehow.
Since SEOs are generally the ones "fixing" broken sites, it makes
sense for this to become part of their regular job description.

#2. Stuffing Alt Tags.

Alt tags (technically called "image alt attributes") were definitely
not designed to be stuffed with keywords.  There's a good chance that
your competitors may certainly be ranking highly despite their alt
tags, as opposed to because of them.

I've recently done some quick tests to see if and when Google actually
reads (indexes) the image alt attributes on any given page.  Here's a
summary of what I concluded:

a. It appears as if Google does *not* index the alt attribute keywords
in non-clickable images.

b. Google can and does index the alt attribute words in clickable
images, and will pull up the page that the graphic and alt attribute
are on, in a search for those keywords.

c. Google *will* rank a page for keywords that *only* appear in an
image alt attribute pointing to a specific page. The words don't have
to be anywhere on the page that shows up in the search results, just
in the alt tag of the image you'd click on to get to that page.

#3 My opinion on link popularity.

Well, since I'm running out of space here, let me just address your
specific situation.  Putting links *from* your site *to* other sites
doesn't help your own link popularity, only the other sites' link
popularity.  Since it doesn't sound like something you want to do to
enhance your visitors' experience on your site, I see it only as a
detriment to you, as opposed to something that will help.

Not to mention that (if I remember my "Spam Police" session from the
Search Engine Strategies conferences) hiding links in words like "but"
or "the" would probably be considered spam by most of the search

Summing up my opinion on link pop. is pretty easy:  a) Create a site
that is the best in its niche; b) Link to other relevant sites when it
makes sense to do so and because your site visitors may be interested
in them; and c) Submit your site to relevant, high-quality directories
in your space.

Hope this helps!


_____________Nitty-gritty Special Report_________________

Want to learn how to write for high rankings in the search engines?

If you don't have the time or money to see Jill's Writing for the
Search Engines presentation at conferences or seminars, for
only $49 you can learn it all in her informative, quick-read report.

Download the Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines today!

~~~Guest Article~~~

++Writing Ads Around the Christmas Holidays++

Mike Rogers, who is the founder and Managing Director of Optimize
Internet Marketing Ltd., a UK consultancy specializing in search
engine marketing, wrote today's guest article.  Mike and his team at
Optimize have led many successful, high-profile search engine
marketing campaigns over the years, and I'm sure you'll learn some new
things from his article. - Jill

Writing Ads Around the Christmas Holidays
By Mike Rogers

The build-up to Christmas seems to start earlier with each passing
year. This Christmas, a record number of businesses are expected to
promote their products and services through search engine ads -- with
many campaigns already underway. Google AdWords, Overture and other
pay-for-performance (aka pay-per-click or PPC) services are expecting
a bumper holiday, but many search engine advertisers fail to
capitalise on opportunities that arise at this particular time of

Keyword Phrase Analysis is Critical for Success

As with any search engine marketing campaign, first and foremost it's
important that you identify which keyword phrases to target. However,
very often one key component is overlooked -- the number of keywords
used in your keyword phrases.

It is important to continuously add a variety of keyword phrases to
your target list, test corresponding ads, and measure return on
investment (ROI) to continuously improve a campaign. But apart from
adding plurals and synonyms to your list, there is more you can do by
simply increasing the length of your keyword phrases.

Between March and April 2003, carried out a worldwide
survey to find the number of keywords entered into search engines.
Over 45% of searchers type in 3 or more words at a time -- and over
20% of all searches carried out worldwide use 4 or more keywords. So
if your campaigns are only based around 1- and 2-word phrases you are
likely to be missing a golden opportunity to win more business.

You may find that by simply bidding on 3-word keyword phrases you will
have an advantage over your competitors, but you may also need to look
at 4-word phrase combinations to see a measurable increase in
clickthroughs. The more specific you can be, the less money you are
likely to pay for each visitor. This gives you a double-whammy -- more
clickthroughs at less cost-per-click. Since your ads are more tightly
focused, the likelihood visitors will buy your products once they
arrive at your site will also increase.

Look at your existing list of keyword phrases and see how you might be
able to include ones that contain more keywords. Your web logs may
highlight many longer phrases you hadn't considered -- or you could
use keyword analysis tools like Wordtracker or those provided by
Google and Overture.

Different Keyword Phrases for Different Markets

No doubt, the final few months of 2003 will prove to be the most
active online since the birth of the Internet. But while many
thousands of people will be searching for 'Christmas gifts', thousands
of others will be searching for 'Christmas presents'. Others will be
typing 'holiday gifts' into the search engines. In isolation, these
phrases are unlikely to be specific enough for most search engine ad
campaigns. However, you may find you can use them around your existing
target keywords to drive more visitors to your site.

For instance, additional keyword phrase ideas might be "Christmas gift
ideas," "Christmas present ideas," "holiday gift ideas," etc.  You
could even go a bit further with phrases like "Christmas stockings,"
"stocking stuffers," "stocking fillers," etc.

Don't Forget To Geo-target

As Overture states on its web site, when the geographic location is
relevant to your business, include it in your ads. You should also
include relevant location keywords within your list of target phrases.
By doing so, users will be able to see whether or not your product
satisfies their needs -- producing more qualified leads and fewer
wasted clicks for you to pay.

If you sell your products globally, then geo-targeting of your ads can
be used to great effect.  Your ads appearing in multiple regional
markets is all very well, but you may also need to adapt your ads for
each market if you want to gain an advantage over your competitors.

Specific Ads Increase Clickthrough Rates (CTRs)

Don't assume Internet surfers are only looking for categories of
products like "digital cameras" or gift ideas. Often they know exactly
what they are looking for -- sometimes right down to the make and
model of a product. So try to be as specific as you can when bidding
on keywords and writing your ads.

If you sell several models of a product, try to create an ad for each
model. A good review in a magazine for a product you sell might create
a flurry of searches in the search engines -- particularly around
Christmastime. You don't want to miss such a great opportunity.

Also, try to include brand names in ads if you are able to. Tests have
shown that when ads include brand names, clickthrough rates increase.
Plus, your business may also benefit through the association with an
established and trusted brand.

The Bottom Line

So, do these tactics work? Well, yes they do. Last year my team and I
used all the tactics I've discussed in this article during Christmas
and New Year search engine ad campaigns for Kodak UK. The campaign
objective was to sell more digital cameras and accessories online. All
in all, sales in December 2002 grew 51% from November and sales in
January 2003 were 65% higher than January 2002. From September 2002
until January 2003, there was an 8.8% increase in market share in the
UK. The search engine ad campaigns played a big part in this success.
Hopefully you can do the same for your business this Christmas.

Happy holidays!

Mike Rogers
Optimize Internet Marketing


High Rankings Seminar in Tampa with Jill and the Gang
Learn search engine marketing from the ground up!

Looking for a complete overview of search engine optimization?
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!

Register now! </76seminar>

~~~High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week~~~

++How Blogs Are Changing Publishing++


~~~Sound Advice~~~

++Optimizing Dynamic Content for High Rankings++


~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

I'm finally in my new office! Yay!  It looks a little bare still as my
desk and chair don't take up much room.  Maybe I'll go shopping for
some cool new furniture this weekend.  I'm thinking maybe a small
couch and coffee table so that the kids can still come in and chat
with me when they get home from school.

Unfortunately, I am having some problems with my wireless network
since the move.  My laptop never had a problem accessing the Internet
through the wireless router, but suddenly it's not connecting or
connecting very slowly.  I've had trouble like this with my other
computer, but I always counted on the laptop to work fine.  The weird
thing is that the signal is as strong as can be; it just has trouble
getting and keeping the Internet IP address, or something like that.
<sigh>  If there are any network gurus out there who know what all
those weird settings in my router config page mean, please let me

In better news, I had dinner last weekend with 3 very charming,
intelligent men.  Don't worry; one of them was my husband, Don.  The
others were Mike Grehan and Fredrick Marckini from the search engine
marketing firm iProspect.  What a great time we had, even if the
conversation did turn to quantum mechanics a few times, as tends to
happen whenever Don finds anyone who has the slightest idea of what it
is.  I just tuned out at that point and sang cartoon songs to myself.
<doh!>  We did have plenty of other conversations that I was
interested in, and lots of good food and wine!

Guess that's enough for today.  Catch you next week.  Don't forget to
sign up for the Tampa seminar.  I can't wait to see you there! - Jill

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