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High Rankings Advisor: Paid-inclusion Questions - Issue No. 079

November 19, 2003

________________________________________________________

~~~IN TODAY'S ADVISOR~~~

*Introductory Comments:
---->   Google Going Whacko

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   Paid-inclusion Questions

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   All New IBP 3
---->   Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines

*Guest Article:
---->   Creating an Industry News Section

*Stuff You Might Like:
---->   Nitty-gritty Teleseminar

*High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week:
---->   Flash Sucks, It's Official

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

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   Happy Thanksgiving!
________________________________________________________

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Before getting to the good stuff, I'd better comment on the recent
algorithm changes at Google.  I've had numerous frantic emails from
subscribers wondering why their previously highly-ranked homepages had
suddenly dropped off the face of Google.  The short answer is that I
really don't know!

Apparently in an attempt to stop the spammers, Google made some big
changes in how they decide what's relevant.  Unfortunately, it appears
that in some cases they goofed big-time!  For instance, all those
spammy results I had previously seen for the phrase "email marketing
consultant" are still there, but for other search queries, the
relevant "non-spammy" pages that used to be there are gone.  In their
place are pages that just barely touch on the subject being searched
for.  It's pretty wild.

The interesting thing is that it doesn't appear to be the same across
the board.  In many cases it appears that keywords in the Title tag
have been devalued, and yet I find other cases where they still appear
to be highly valued.  In some cases it kind of seems that backlinks
with keywords in them might have lost importance, but again, this is
certainly not true across the board.  I get an uneasy feeling that
pretty much any page that Google senses has been "SEO'd" has been
somehow downgraded, but again, that conclusion flies out the door when
you look closely at some of the results.

So what should you do if your page or pages have dropped off the map?
Right now, I'd have to say do nothing at all.  If you do some
searches, you'll see that the relevancy of the results is pretty
crappy in many cases.  There's no way that Google's real searchers
will be happy with what's showing up.  I imagine they'll be hearing
from the searching public about this if it lasts. Google wants their
searchers to easily find what they're looking for.  I haven't tested
it enough on real searches to see if that's still happening, but my
gut is telling me that it's not.  Of course, I may very well be
looking at things too much from the SEO perspective, so who knows!

At any rate, try not to panic, and give things another month to work
things out.

With that out of the way, on to the good stuff! - Jill


~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

++Paid-inclusion Questions++

From:  D Fraser

Hello Jill, a quick question if your time permits.

I have read so many conflicting things about pay submissions to the
likes of Yahoo, LookSmart, Teoma, Inktomi, and others. It is getting
really expensive but we are considering doing it "just in case" it
affects our rankings with engines.

Many feel your site will not get spidered at all without paying the
ferryman (yearly) and yet, I know you feel submissions for existing
sites are not always necessary.  My question is, are these pay for
inclusion fees required to attract spiders properly, and also, do you
feel these submissions (and the payment accompanying them) will affect
a site's ranking on a search engine, such as Yahoo.

Thanks for your great newsletters for those of us that cannot yet
afford SEO firms.  I now own the business I was managing and we are
trying to rank better.  You are a genuine help for us as we work hard
to remove ourselves from the pay for fraud, oops, I mean pay for
clicks, world.

Regards,
D Fraser

++Jill's Response++

There's no easy answer for you, because there are many different
factors that may play into your decision to pay the search engines.
For instance, Yahoo, Looksmart, Teoma and Inktomi are completely
different animals when it comes to paid inclusion.

At Yahoo you can pay to be included in their directory (currently $299
per year for the US version), but if you're in Google's database,
you'll show up when someone searches at Yahoo anyway.  If you already
rank highly in Yahoo when your keyword phrases are plugged in, then
you'd be throwing away your money.  Even if you don't rank highly for
your search phrases, a listing in their directory will not necessarily
help in that department.  It may, because it will give you an
additional link to your site, which will add to its total link
popularity; however, it may not, because one link to your site isn't
the "be-all end-all" if your site isn't properly optimized.

LookSmart is completely different from Yahoo in that your listing with
them is on a pay-per-click basis.  This means that as soon as you stop
paying, your site stops showing up.  Currently, a LookSmart listing
can help your site show up in a search at MSN, but their contract is
up in January, making a listing with them not worth very much at that
point.  Certainly, you could pay for a listing with them up until they
are dropped by MSN if you are currently having problems being found in
MSN.

Inktomi's and Teoma's paid-inclusion programs are fairly similar to
each other.  You basically pay for each URL you would like to be
included, and they will remain there for one year.  Inktomi results
are shown at MSN and Teoma results are shown at AskJeeves.  If you'd
like to get your pages into these search properties quickly, and/or if
you want to tweak your optimization to see how it affects rankings,
then paying for inclusion may certainly be worth your while because
the included pages will be frequently reindexed.  If/when Yahoo
switches from Google to Inktomi, things will need to be reevaluated
accordingly.

The bottom line for me is that pages are still being included for free
and that paying for inclusion does not equal paying for rankings.  It
does give you the ability to test and then hopefully improve your
rankings through those tests, but it doesn't put you in a special pile
of sites that will automatically shoot to the top.

On the other hand, if you have a really large site (over 500 pages),
trusted feed can apparently give you a boost in the rankings because
you have more control over what the search engines see and index.  The
feeds can be highly focused on your keywords, and don't have to match
exactly what's on your pages.

Regardless of any of that, you can't pay to be included in Google
anyway.  Many sites get so much traffic from Google that they don't
even worry about the other engines anymore.  Not saying you should
ignore them, but if you can get in for free, well, why pay?  Always
check to see if your pages are already included in any engine before
you send them your money.

Jill


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____________________________________________________

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Learn 8 powerful reasons why the award-winning next-generation
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___________________________________________________


~~~Guest Article~~~

++Creating an Industry News Section++

Serge Thibodeau, the President of Rank for $ales
<http://www.rankforsales.com/>, wrote today's guest article for us.
Serge's company works with Fortune 500 companies as well as with
small- and medium-size businesses, and has been performing search
engine marketing since 1997.  Serge noticed that when he created
industry news sections on Web sites, it had a great impact in the
search engines.  He's here today to teach you how you can do the same
thing for your site! - Jill

Creating an Industry News Section
By Serge Thibodeau

One of the most overlooked ways to boost a site's popularity is to
incorporate an industry news section. No matter which industry you
happen to be in, people search for news and specific events that
affect them, are important to them and that they can relate to.

Therefore, when I design a website I like to include an industry news
section. On top of creating added visibility in the search engines, it
also helps my users stay better informed. If they like to stay
informed, some will bookmark it and others will return to it daily. A
well-designed industry news section can account for 30 to 40% of the
daily Web traffic to a site.

If your website has a news section that is frequently updated and that
is very relevant to your industry, there's a good chance it will show
up in the search engine results pages (SERPs) when people search for
your industry-specific keywords.

How To Create a News Section That Will Work

In order to create an industry news section, it's imperative to do it
the right way if you wish to reap the maximum benefits. As with any
site implementation, every step is crucial in the final rankings it
can have on your site.

The first step is to create a subdirectory called "news." Google
places a lot of importance on sites that have this subdirectory.
Always remember that Google and many of the other search engines like
to get fresh content that is updated regularly. Having a news
subdirectory in your site structure confirms to them that your site
does have such an area.

To find appropriate news, you can simply do some manual research using
Google News <http://news.google.com>.  When you find good articles,
you then place a couple of summary sentences and an appropriate title
in your news section with a link to the original story.

Additionally, I suggest that you put your newest 3 or 4 headlines
right on your homepage. To conserve some precious real estate on your
homepage, you should remove the old headlines when you add new ones to
the top. In your news section, however, be sure to leave all the
headlines intact as they will make up your permanent news archive
section.

Currently, Google's spider (Googlebot) refreshes many sites every 24
to 48 hours, depending on certain conditions. It is my observation
that sites with news sections appear to be refreshed more often --
anywhere from 6 to 8 times a day. One way to verify this is to check
your server log files. If you see Googlebot in them, or if you see a
Google 'crawler' with an IP address that looks like 64.68.xxx.xx or
something similar, then you're in business!

There are 2 ways you can implement your news linking mechanism. One
way is to group them by month so that your users have an easy and
convenient way to go back in time to a particular news story that is
important to them.

Or you can group them like this:

Date:
News headline link
Descriptive text of a few lines

The way you do it is entirely up to your own preferences. What is
important is consistency in the look and feel of your site.

In order to make it easy for people to find the news stories they are
interested in, you may also want to implement a local search box on
your site.  I suggest Atomz Search <http://www.atomz.com/>, which is a
free local search engine that can be used on sites with 500 pages or
less. For sites with up to 1,500 pages, you can use the free Pico
Search <http://www.picosearch.com/>.

In conclusion, an industry news section that is updated many times a
day can do wonders for the visibility and popularity of any website.
An added bonus is that some will want to link directly to your site
without your even asking, further increasing your link popularity in
the search engines. When all of this is done correctly, it is possible
that your site will become an "industry news hub" or an important
industry resource that will benefit your visitors and clients.

Serge Thibodeau
Rank for $ales
www.rankforsales.com


_____________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!
</nittyhra79>
__________________________________________________


~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~

++Nitty-gritty Teleseminar++

Keep December 12th from 1:00 to 2:30 (Eastern) open, if you're
interested in getting in on a teleseminar with yours truly (in
conjunction with MarketingSherpa).

I'll be reviewing the information in my "Nitty-gritty of Writing for
the Search Engines" report, as well as looking at real-life examples
of how you can edit your existing copy to make better use of keywords.

The teleseminar includes all of the following: a copy of Nitty-gritty,
answers to questions submitted beforehand, a page of your site
evaluated during the class, plus a transcript of the entire thing when
it's over.  Not bad for just $149!  (If you've already purchased
Nitty-gritty, the price is just $100.)

Here's the link to learn more or register for the teleseminar:
</ngteleseminar>.


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

++Flash Sucks, It's Official++

This forum thread is based on a MarketingSherpa article that stated
that 80% of people hate flash intros.

Agree? Disagree?  You can find a link to the original article and
discuss it here:
</forum/index.php?showtopic=2012>.


~~~Sound Advice~~~

++The Future of Search Engines and SEO++

</soundadvice>


~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

That's all for today!  Next week is Thanksgiving in the US and I'll be
on my way to the Villa Roma <http://www.villaroma.com/> in New York on
Wednesday, so there won't be any newsletter, I'm afraid.  I'm sure
many of you will be off visiting family anyway, and won't even miss
it!  We've never been to this place before, but it certainly looks
like there will be plenty to do there, so I don't think we'll be
bored.

I'm still taking emails to freepass@highrankings.com for those who
would like a free pass to the Search Engine Strategies conference in
Chicago next month.  All you have to do is tell me why you're my only
logical choice to win it, and also assure me that you can cover your
own travel and accommodations.  Oh yeah, and I also have another pass
available for one lucky High Rankings Forum member
</forum>.  Send me a private message
through the forum and I'll put you in the running for that free pass.

Have a great week, and I'll see you in two.  - Jill

 
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