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SEO Website Audit

High Rankings Advisor: SEO Questions and Copywriting Kit - Issue No. 084

January 21, 2004

*Search Engine Marketing Questions:
---->   Number of Characters in Meta Tags
---->   Title Tag Questions
---->   Google AdWords Book
---->   Importance of Backlinks
---->   Submission Companies

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   GlobalServers Virtual Private Servers
---->   Search Engine Yearbook 2004

*Guest Article:
---->   Blogs Mean Business

*Stuff You Might Like:
---->   SEO Copywriting Kit

*High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week:
---->   Site Navigation
---->   Register at the Forum and Prove Jill Wrong!

*This Week's Sound Advice:
---->   Link Popularity and PageRank

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   Getting It in Calgary

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hey all!  A warm welcome to the many hundreds of new subscribers this
week.  Over 360 of you signed up on just one day last week, bringing
the total number of subscribers to nearly 27,000!  Mighty cool.

It's time once again for one of my SEO email bonanza issues, where I
gather up a whole bunch of my emails from the past few weeks and post
the questions along with my answers.  These aren't in-depth answers or
anything, just the quickie ones I send out each day to many of you who
write in.  Sometimes a quickie is just what you need to get you
started on the right track, though!

Got a big newsletter here, so let's get right to the good stuff...

~~~Search Engine Marketing Questions~~~

++Number of Characters in Meta Tags++

Hi Jill,

I recently purchased your Nitty-gritty book on the search engines and
found it enlightening and straight to the point. I hope you don't mind
me asking you a couple of short questions.

What is the minimum amount of characters that can be used for Meta
tags when using the major search engines such as Google and Overture?
I read somewhere that it was 255.

Also, is it a bad practice to link to each of my other website pages
within the site in order to increase the number of links to my site?

Thanks for your time,

Patrick C.

++Jill's Response++

Hi Patrick,

Glad you liked the Nitty-gritty guide.

It really doesn't matter how many characters you put in the Meta tags
because they're ignored and/or not given weight with the search
engines.  (Also, as an aside, Overture isn't a true search engine,
just a place to buy ads that show up on search engines.)

As for linking your sites, certainly if it makes sense from your
visitors' point of view to link them, i.e., the link would be another
useful place for them when visiting your site, then you should feel
free to link them together.  However, if it makes no sense to send the
visitors to your other site, then it would be pretty silly to do so.
You can do it just for the link, but I wouldn't recommend it.


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++Title Tag Questions++

Hi Jill,

I just read your Nitty-gritty report and found that it clarified
things greatly for me.  What I was wondering though is about the Title
tag and whether or not you should separate your keyword phrases with

Also, is there a limit to the number of words you should use in the
Title tag?  I've heard 8 is the most you should use, but this seems
very limited.

Thank you for your time,

Janet M.

++Jill's Response++

Hi Janet,

It really makes no difference whether you use commas in the Title tag
because the search engines see a comma as a space anyway.  So your
best bet is to create your Title tag in a way that looks the nicest to
a user who might see your site listed in the search engine results

Regarding the number of words, there is no set-in-stone limit.  Just
be aware that the more words you put in the Title tag, the more you
dilute them.  This may in turn make it harder to help the page rank
highly for any of them.

Remember, your home page isn't everything so there's no need to try to
do everything with it.  If you follow my general advice of optimizing
each page for two or three keyword phrases, it becomes fairly easy to
create Title tags to match your visible body copy.


++Google AdWords Book++

Hi Jill

Thank you for inspiring me and helping my family. I have a quick
question.  Have you written any books on Google Adwords, or can you
recommend any? I would greatly appreciate it.



++Jill's Response++

Hi Milton,

I recommend Andrew Goodman's "Google AdWords: 21 Pay-Per-Click
Campaign Secrets Your Competition Doesn't Know."  He's just come out
with the latest edition, which is priced at $69, and very current.

Here's my review of the first edition:

Good luck!


++Importance of Backlinks++

Hi Jill,

Since Google's Florida update, backlinks seem to be the most important
aspect of high SERPs.  In fact, in one manufacturing area I follow,
two sites are ranking in the top 5 for services they don't provide,
and keywords that are missing in previously important tags, such as
title and headers.  Both of these sites have nearly 1200 links from 2
"directory" domains from which they have bought links.  Can you share
your thoughts on buying links, and any advice you have on link
campaign strategies?



++Jill's Response++

Hi Craig,

I disagree that backlinks have any more importance than they ever
have.  For every SERP (search engine results page) you can show where
they seem to be important, I'm sure I can show you plenty more where
they appear to be not important, or to have lost importance since the
"Florida" update.  That's what makes Google's algorithm change so
interesting.  People see something that appears to be happening with
some sites or some industries, and think that it's happening with
sites across the board.  But it's not!

I would recommend reading Dan Thies' analysis of the update, "How To
Prosper With the New Google," which I mentioned in the last
newsletter.  You can download the PDF report for free here:

As to buying links, if there are places that will list your site for a
price, which are relevant to your site's niche, then sure, it might be
worth paying for the link.  Those links can bring traffic in their own
right, plus help build up the overall popularity of your site.

As for linking strategies in general, I've had a couple of articles,
guest articles and interviews on this in the past. Here are some links
to some of these:

Should One Request Links to Inner Pages?

Links Are All About Reputation

How To Initiate a Link Building Campaign

Finding Free Niche Directories


++Submission Companies++


The submission companies out there (and there are tons of them) that
promise to submit your URL to all the top search engines and guarantee
you top placement for a fee -- are they a waste of money?  I realize I
can submit to them on my own for free but finding the time to do that
and keep it up month to month is something I simply do not have the
time for!

Roger S

++Jill's Response++

Hi Roger,

Yes, they are a waste of money for so many reasons.

Mainly because you don't need to submit your URL to the search engines
at all, let alone do it on a regular basis.  Don't waste your money on
submission companies, and don't waste your time and the search
engines' bandwidth on monthly/weekly submissions.

Instead, optimize your site for realistic keyword phrases, and make
sure it's good enough for other sites to want to link to it.  Those
links will bring the search engine spiders around to add your pages to
their databases on a regular basis -- no submitting or resubmitting


___________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

~~~Guest Article~~~

I've received many questions wondering how blogging fits in with an
SEO campaign.  Today's guest writer, Wayne Hurlbert, tells us how
blogging can be used to increase your business, plus help your SEO
efforts.  Wayne provides information about marketing, promotions and
public relations for websites and businesses at "Blog Business World":

Wayne also writes daily roller-derby commentary from a business
perspective at "Wayne's Derby World" blog:

Without further ado, here's Wayne!

++Blogs Mean Business++

Blogs Mean Business
by Wayne Hurlbert

You've probably seen them, and heard them discussed, all over the

They are called blogs.

Short for weblogs, they are a phenomenon that is sweeping the online
community. If you think they are all about navel-gazing teenagers, and
what the writer had for lunch, you haven't been paying attention.

Blogs are much more than online journals. Blogs mean business.

They also appear very highly placed on search engine results, and came
through the Google "Florida" update with flying colors. Many blogs are
sporting some very strong Google PageRanks as a result.

I'll bet that caused you to sit up and take notice.

You might consider having your business become part of the blogging
trend. You should think seriously about adding a business blog to your
marketing program.

What can a business blog do for you?

A business blog will enable you to reach your current and prospective
customers, in a new and personal way. As you write your blog entries
(and for new blogs, daily postings are best to build a regular
readership), you and your company will become more familiar to the
general public.

There should be no shortage of material for you to write about in your

Your article topics could include industry news, product information
from a consumer standpoint, various "how-to's" of using your products
and selecting vendors, and regular updates about what is happening
around your company. Linking to industry-related news stories is
another way to add additional content.

As you write new blog entries, people will feel they know you, and
your business, on a more personal level. No longer just a faceless
business entity, your business blog enables you to place a human face
on the company.

People generally prefer to purchase products and services from people
they know. Thanks to your business blog, you already have that leg up
on the competition.

Blogs and Search Engine Optimization

From a search engine optimization (SEO) standpoint, a blog is
everything the search engines dream of in a website. Blogs have tons
of fresh keyword-rich content, and incoming links galore.

Bloggers (the people who write the blogs) update their weblogs on a
very regular basis, often adding brand-new posts every day. Because
the content is so fresh, the Internet spiders (the computer robots
sent out by the search engines) crawl and index blog pages very
frequently. The search engines, including industry leader Google,
devour fresh content. Weblogs deliver that tasty morsel by the

As your newly added content is indexed into the search engine
databases, your blog will begin to appear on numerous web searches.
Since your content is likely centered on your most targeted keywords,
your blog will appear very highly in the search engine results.

It is not uncommon for blogs to appear in the top-ten search results
for some very competitive keywords. As a result, more potential buyers
for your goods and services will find you through your business blog.

Blogs Attract Loads of Incoming Links

A second aspect of blogs that makes them ideally suited to search
engines is the blog's high number of incoming links.

Bloggers are frequent and generous linkers, often obsessively so.

Bloggers link to other websites, numerous blog articles, and
permanently to one another. Links to other blogs are regularly added,
without asking for a reciprocal link in return. If link exchanges have
been a problem for your website in the past, you will be pleasantly
surprised by the linking practices of the blogging community.

The main concern of most blog writers is finding links to interesting
articles and information of interest to their visitors. It's not about
chasing PageRank (Google's measure of the importance of a web page
based on the number and quality of incoming links), or even about
search engine positioning. For most bloggers, those optimization
concerns are merely a byproduct of their daily routine.

As a result of focusing the attention on the blog's reading audience,
the blog owner achieves the goals so diligently pursued by many
webmasters. By searching constantly for articles of interest to their
visitors, bloggers create and retain very loyal readerships.

Concern for the needs and wants of the visitors is a strength of
blogging. It's simply a focus on the customer, done in a new and
interesting way. Look after your customers' needs, and your business
will prosper. Bloggers seem to know that fact instinctively.

Because of the strong customer orientation of blogs, their incoming
link totals are high. As a result, PageRanks for blogs are usually
very strong. Many blog PageRanks were increased during the tumultuous
"Florida" update. The heavy emphasis on fresh and interesting
copywriting boosted blogs to the top of many Internet keyword searches
as well.

Instead of suffering through the "Florida" update, most blogs

If you've never thought of adding a business blog to your Internet
presence, it's time to reconsider that oversight.

Blogs mean business, in more ways than one.

Wayne Hurlbert
Blog Business World

~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~

++SEO Copywriting Kit++

This brand-new MarketingSherpa "how-to kit" has everything you need to
learn how to tweak your site's copy to get more search engine traffic.

It includes my "Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines"
handbook, the audio CDs and transcript of my recent teleseminar with
Anne Holland, PLUS a bonus copy of Karon Thackston's new "How to
Increase Keyword Saturation Without Destroying the Flow of Your Copy"
ebook.  The teleseminar CD and transcript portion includes my verbal
review of a whole pile of sites belonging to the seminar participants.

You receive everything listed above for only $99.  I told Anne she was
selling it way too cheaply considering the teleseminar itself was
$149, but I guess she's not listening!

You can learn more or order the complete kit here through the
MarketingSherpa Website here:

If you've already purchased the Nitty-gritty guide and/or Karon's new
ebook, you can purchase the audio CDs and teleseminar transcript
alone, for $49 through that link above also.

You can purchase *just* the Nitty-gritty guide through that same link,
or through my own link (I get a bigger chunk of the profit though my
link :-)  </nittyhra84>.

Also, I haven't had a chance to write my review of Karon's new keyword
saturation ebook yet, but I did read it and can tell you that it's a
great add-on to my Nitty-gritty handbook.  It contains additional SEO
copywriting tips (similar to the ones I provide in Nitty-gritty) that
Karon discovered in the course of her writing projects.  My link for
that is here: </keywordsaturation>.

Enjoy all the new stuff!

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

++Site Navigation++

New forum member "4leafclover" asked the High Rankings gang for some
help organizing the product categories on his site.

Read the advice and/or chime in with your own here:

Speaking of the High Rankings forum, since its grand opening on July
31st -- with just Scottie and me as members -- it's now grown to 1,767
registered members!

Earlier today Scottie and I were discussing the possibility of having
2,000 registered members by the end of this month (which would be its
half-year anniversary).  I told her it was impossible with less than 2
weeks to go in the month, but that Scottie is a stubborn one who
refuses to believe me.  So we tried to think of some incentives to get
lots of people to register.  We thought perhaps we could tell you that
there was a secret message for registered members only; when you read
it, you'd find instant #1 rankings! <grin>  Of course, you're too
smart to fall for something like that.

So how about this instead...if you haven't already registered at the
forum, take a couple of minutes right now to check it out.  Here's the
URL: </forum>.  If you like what you see
and feel that there is some helpful search engine marketing advice
there, then please register (it's free and takes less than a minute!).

I truly don't think we can get over 200 new members by Jan. 31st...
but who knows... maybe a few hundred of you nearly 27,000 cool readers
will prove me wrong?  Are you up to the challenge?  Go on...prove me

~~~Sound Advice~~~

++Link Popularity and PageRank++


~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

That's it for today!  Hope it wasn't too much for you, but there
seemed to be a backlog of stuff since I had no newsletter last week.

I had a productive and enjoyable time in Calgary last week.  It's
always nice to work with a company who "gets it" (realizes the power
of search engine marketing) and wants to make sure they can adequately
provide it to their clients.  Way to go, Critical Mass!

Better wrap this baby up and get it out to you.  Catch you next week!


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