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High Rankings Advisor: What is SEO? - Issue No. 083

January 7, 2004

*Introductory Comments:
---->   More Stuff on the Way

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   What Is Search Engine Optimization?

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines
---->   Search Engine Yearbook 2004

*Guest Article:
---->   Visibility in Italian Search Engines

*Stuff You Might Like:
---->   How To Prosper With the New Google

*High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week:
---->   Web Site Load Time

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   Kamikaze Bird

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hope you all enjoyed your time off the past few weeks.  If you didn't
take time away from work, I hope it was at least quiet for you!  The
week between Christmas and New Year's is eerily quiet. Things still
seem very quiet around here, but that's nice as it gives me a chance
to catch up on all the things I was putting off.

Last year I got lax when it came to reviewing new things for the
"Stuff" section here.  Well, not so much lax as that I just didn't
have enough time to download and test things out.  I'm going to try
hard to do that more this year, and have plenty of things waiting to
be reviewed.

Okay, enough chitchat...on to the good stuff! - Jill

~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

++What Is Search Engine Optimization?++

What is it about the phrase "search engine optimization" that makes
people go crazy?  Is it because the phrase itself doesn't really make
sense?  As Bob Massa from SearchKing is fond of saying, we don't
optimize search engines, we optimize Web pages.  So perhaps that's
part of the reason why people have a hard time agreeing on what SEO
actually is.

More likely it's because there are as many ways to optimize a site for
high rankings as there are optimizers.  Yes, that's right -- SEO is
like a snowflake -- no two optimizations are alike!  In fact, I've
sometimes looked at a page I optimized a month ago and thought that
the client must have changed it because "I would never have done it
that way."  But when I go back and look at the file on my hard drive,
there it is, just the way it appeared online.  (Dontcha hate when that

I know some optimizers who can get high rankings simply through the
power of links.  Doesn't even matter what it says on their pages --
with the right links and link text they can do amazing things.  Is
this search engine optimization? Sure, if it gets high rankings for
the site.

Others work their magic through trusted XML feeds.  They know the
exact information to place on their spreadsheets, and they know how to
push it to the engines.  I even hear that some have figured out how to
do something similar for Google (although I believe it's something
Google would not be pleased with). Is this search engine optimization?
Of course it is -- it gets high rankings for the site.

If you've previously read anything I've written, you probably know
that my particular method for optimizing pages involves rewriting or
editing the visible copy that people read when they browse the site.
That's not *all* there is to my method, but it's true that it's the
main component.  I do it this way because it works for me.  After nine
years of practice, it's pretty much second nature these days.  Is it
search engine optimization? You bet -- it gets high rankings!

This is not to say that my method doesn't have its limitations.  All
SEO methods have limitations.  I generally know the limits of what I
can and can't do through my optimizations, and I don't claim to be
able to optimize any site for any keyword or phrase.  The fact remains
that it is definitely possible to get high rankings through the
methods I discuss here and in my forum.  It's not only possible, it's
highly probable if you go about it the right way.

In fact, thousands of you reading this now know it works because
you've done it for your own sites and your clients' sites.  I receive
hundreds of emails every week that confirm to me that this method
works.  So why would some people insist that this type of work isn't
search engine optimization?  Beats the heck out of me!

Just always keep in mind that if you truly want a successful Web site
and online business, it will take some effort and lots of time.  The
people that often run into problems are those that start a new
business and Web site by simply trying to figure out a good way to
make money online.

That's exactly the wrong way to go about it.

Instead of doing that, use Ken Evoy's method, i.e., let your business
choose you!  (Not sure if he actually puts it that way, but if you've
read his stuff, that's pretty much the end result.)

By that I mean that you should start out by doing something you love
and are passionate about without worrying about how you can make money
out of it.  There will be ways to make money later, once your blood,
sweat and tears have been depleted!  No, you can't do things this way
and become an overnight success.  (And no, it's not the only way to be
successful, just one that I happen to be talking about at the moment!)

When you think about it, there really isn't anything in life that is a
real overnight success.  Nor is there a whole lot of luck involved in
successful endeavors.  Take movie stars and musicians, for instance.
Many of them are said to be an overnight success by the press because
it makes for a good story.  However, 99% of the time if you check what
those successful stars were doing before they were "discovered,"
you'll find that they were plugging away at their artistic endeavors
for years and years.

So keep on plugging away at yours too.  There will be setbacks at
times (like when Google decides to lower the boom), but don't give up.
If someone like me sitting at home staring at my computer monitor all
day can become successful, so can you!

Good luck!


__________Nitty-gritty SEO Writing Handbook______________

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~~~

++Visibility in Italian Search Engines++

Today's guest writer is Sante Achille, from in Italy.
I had the pleasure of meeting the bilingual Sante in London last year
when we were speaking at the Search Engine Strategies conference.  He
is the founder of SINTESI, an Italian start-up totally devoted to the
Web, with a main focus on search engine optimization.  He specializes
in positioning clients' sites in the Italian search engines, and is
here to give us some tips and ideas on how to go about it.  - Jill

Visibility in Italian Search Engines
By Sante Achille

Visibility in Italian search engines is a matter of content, design
and organization just as it is in the English-language engines. As
Jill often points out to us, the better your content is, the more
targeted traffic your Web site will generate.

If you believe your business could use a local presence in Europe, in
particular in Italy, then the first thing you will have to do is set
up some pages in Italian. This is the most important phase of the
project: you'll need to be sure that whoever is doing the translation
for you is fluent in Italian (or any other language, for that matter,
if you are looking at local presence in other European countries).

The translating will have to take into account the Web site content,
the existing keywords, the building of new pages that reflect the
Italian way of approaching the Web, while also the targeting the
English equivalent of your keywords to achieve top positioning on
major Italian search engines.

Once you have found the right person to perform the translation for
you, make sure they carefully read your Web pages to fully understand
all aspects of your business and what your objectives are. You'll then
have to go through the process of building your Web site once again,
so this step is important.

Your translator should look up typical Italian keyword searches using
the following tools:

The Italian Overture tool:
The Espotting keyword search tool:

This way it is possible to fine-tune your keywords and embed them into
the translation.

As for the search engines themselves, there are two major players in
Italy: Virgilio <> and Arianna

There are more details about these two very important Italian search
engines on my site here:

You can see how results from different databases blend using this
complete map of the relations between the search engines at
MotoriDiRicerca.IT <>.

Just like on your side of the Atlantic, be prepared to spend a few
bucks on pay-per-submission and directory registrations.

Sante Achille

___________Search Engine Yearbook 2004_______________adv.

The New Yearbook is here!  The New Yearbook is here!

"If you love all things about search engines, SEO, SEM and
whatever other acronyms are cropping up, you'll want a copy of this
reference ebook.  At just $39.95, this monster 300-page guide is
worth every penny." - Jill Whalen, in Advisor 082

Search Engine Yearbook 2004 by André le Roux

~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~

++How To Prosper With the New Google++

How are your rankings doing since the big Google shake-up?  Are they
starting to come back?  Did they never even take a dive?  Or are you
still trying to figure out what went wrong?

SEO Research Labs founder (and High Rankings Forum moderator) Dan
Thies has been researching the Google search results since the changes
first took effect in November and has put together a well-written
special report on the matter.  Not only that, but it's free!

The report gives you an overview of the changes, as well as some
specific advice on understanding the new algorithm.  The gist of what
Dan has discovered through his extensive research is that Google is
now using what's known as "topic-sensitive PageRank" along with
something called "CIRCA" technology to help compute rankings.  I can't
even begin to try to explain it to you, so your best bet is to
download the PDF report and read it for yourself here:
<> (it's
about 100k).

My favorite part of the report is Dan's rumor-busting section.  I get
so much mail from people who think that Google is conspiring against
them and/or free trade, etc., so it's great to read Dan's researched
comments in response.

Here's Dan with a quick peek at a couple of the hottest rumors from
the report:

Google Rumor-busting
By Dan Thies

Rumor: Google wants to force commercial sites to use Adwords.

I believe this rumor was born about 12 minutes after the November
update started. The idea is that Google has dropped sites that weren't
paying for Adwords listings. The other rumor was that sites that did
pay for Adwords were getting dropped.

The fact that there are two conflicting and equally implausible
conspiracy theories should tell you all you need to know. In reality,
Google has deliberately kept the "paid advertising" and "free search
results" separate, and there's no reason why they would do something
like this. Google doesn't need to "force" anyone to buy advertising.

The folks who believe in this rumor may not have a whole lot of
business experience. For a business, the decision to purchase
advertising is based on the ability to make a profit from that
spending. If it is profitable to use Adwords, businesses will use
Adwords. This decision has nothing to do with whether that business's
web site appears in the free search results.

I wouldn't stop using Adwords just because Google was listing my site
in the free search results, nor would I start using it because my site
wasn't showing up in the free results. I'm not going to stop using
Adwords if my site gets dropped from the free listings, for that
matter. I am in business to make a profit. I advertise because the
advertising pays for itself.

Rumor: Google is punishing "optimized" pages.

The rumor here is that Google is trying to drop "optimized" pages. Not
only does this not hold up under close scrutiny, it doesn't make any
sense to begin with. Another way to describe an "optimized" web page
would be "a well-structured page that clearly indicates the relevant

Does Google penalize dirty tricks like hidden text, over-stuffed HTML
tags, etc.? Of course they do, but that's not optimizing, folks,
that's spamming. Penalties for spamming are nothing new.

Dan Thies
SEO Research Labs
"How To Prosper With the New Google"

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

++Web Site Load Time++

Does Web site load time affect SEO?  Read what the forum experts
think, and be sure to give your own two cents on the topic while
you're there!


~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

That's it for today, hope you enjoyed it!

Next week I'm doing some consulting work in Calgary, so I'm going to
have to skip the newsletter.  But I'll be back in business the week
after if I don't freeze my butt off first!

Speaking of freezing...earlier today I heard a loud clunk at my office
window that made me jump out of my chair.  I looked out to see what
had happened, and apparently a bird kamikazied himself right into the
glass.  I'm thinking that he was so cold, he just wanted to put
himself out of his misery.  It's pretty weird, but I have heard these
birds crashing into my window many times since I've built this new
office.  This is the first time I ever looked and saw the evidence.
Kinda gross, actually, but I don't imagine it will be around long with
all the animals that live in our area.  Just thought I'd share that
little tidbit of my day with you.

Catch you in 2 weeks! - Jill
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