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SEO Website Audit

High Rankings Adviso High Rankings Advisor: Another Google Blackballing? - Issue No. 088

February 25, 2004

*Introductory Comments:
---->   I'm Back!

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   Another Google Blackballing?

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   High Rankings Chicago Seminar
---->   Nitty-gritty of SEO Writing Handbook

*Guest Article:
---->   Should You Outsource Your PPC Campaign?

*Stuff You Might Like:
---->   Mike Grehan Webconference

*High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week:
---->   Nice To See Google Back on Track

*This Week's Sound Advice:
---->   Sitemaps for Search Engine Success

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   A Very Disney Week

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

I'm back after a week's vacation.  So much seemed to happen while I
was away.  We've now got 2 great search engines spouting out great
results! Google appears to be mostly fixed, and the new Yahoo totally
rocks!  Let's just hope it stays this way for a while.  For some
reason, I'm not holding my breath.

Next week is the NYC Search Engine Strategies conference, so I'll be
skipping another newsletter...sorry!  But I hope to see tons of you at
the conference.  Please be sure to find me and say hi.  I'll be doing
my usual "Writing for the Search Engines" session with Heather
Lloyd-Martin, as well as being part of an illustrious panel in the new
session called "The Future of Search Engine Marketing."  You can learn
more and see the agenda here:

On to the good stuff!  - Jill

~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

++Another Google Blackballing?++

Hi Jill,

Is it common for Google to index a site very quickly (almost 2 days)
after being submitted and then kick it out of the index a little bit

I have one site that I submitted and after being indexed almost
immediately it was kicked out a week later. I waited for 6 months and
then moved the site to a dedicated server. I re-submitted it and it
was indexed again quickly but a week later it was kicked out again.
Has this ever happened to you?

I know it has inbound links and the pages are optimized without spam.
I can't figure out if this has to do with the program I use to submit,
WebPosition Gold, or if something else causes this. I use that program
to submit all (maybe 40 so far) of my sites and this has never
happened to any of them. I am afraid to submit it again because I
don't want Google to think I'm spamming them, but I have to do
something to get this site indexed and keep it in there. If you have
any advice I would love to hear it.


++Jill's Reply++

When I first read Anthony's email, I didn't read it carefully and sent
him my somewhat standard reply as follows:

>>"Yes, that's exactly how Google works.  In fact, submitting to
Google does absolutely nothing.  Google finds pages to add to its
database by crawling the Web through links.  As long as there are
links to your pages, Google will find them and add them.  If there are
no links and you submit, your pages won't stay in the database long.
Even if there are links to your site, the pages may still disappear
and reappear for 4 - 6 weeks.  After that (assuming you have
high-quality links pointing to your site) it should stabilize.

"If you're submitting through an automated program such as WebPosition
Gold, you should immediately cease this. It won't help you in the
least, and since it's against their terms of service, it can
definitely hinder your listings."<<

However, this morning while looking for something to write about in
today's newsletter, I reread Anthony's question and realized he said
that this had been happening to him for 6 months!  That is definitely
not normal, considering he claimed to have links to his site.

So, being curious (and wanting to further procrastinate doing my
writing!) I started to do some digging.  He had given me the URL to
his site, and the first thing I did was take a look at it.  It was for
a major hotel in Hilton Head, and the site was your typical hotel
site.  It looked nice and didn't appear to have anything spammy on it.

A good percentage of the time, when someone tells me that their URL
isn't indexed, it actually is indexed, so I was almost certain that
this one would be too.  First I right-clicked my mouse on the home
page and tried to view Google's cache of it.  (You have to have the
Google toolbar installed to do this.)  Hmm...nope, Google said it
didn't have it.  So I went to Google and typed in the domain name.
Nope, still nothing.  Then I tried an search
in Google (substituting the actual domain name for "domain-name" of
course!).  This one did bring up a bunch of pages within the site, but
still not the home page.

Typically when a page's URL doesn't show up at all in Google's
database, it's because there's some sort of mirror site or other
duplicate content that is showing up instead.  So that's the next
thing I always check in cases like this.  To do this, you simply copy
and paste a random group of words (or a full sentence) from the page
in question into Google's search box surrounded by quotation marks.
For this page, I put in the following phrase from the site: "draped
oak tree, the deep rough or the rim of a".

Bingo!  (You can try it yourself to see what came up.)  What showed up
was some really weird, long URL that was definitely not the same as
Anthony's hotel domain, yet it had the same Title and snippet from the
page.  When I viewed Google's cache of the URL, I saw that it was
exactly the same site (minus the graphics which weren't showing up).
When I clicked on the actual URL, I was immediately redirected to
Anthony's actual site.

So now the mystery was partly solved.  Most likely, since the weird
URL was already indexed, the real page appeared to simply be a
duplicate, and that's why it was not getting indexed.

I couldn't tell exactly what was happening on the long-URL page
because the redirect was happening so quickly (sometimes I can catch
it by hitting my "esc" key really fast, but it wasn't working this
time).  I was still curious, so I checked the long URL in an "Lynx"
browser.  This is an old trick to get a rough idea of what a search
engine sees.  (You can view URLs this way here:

Aha! All it showed me was the following:

REFRESH(0 sec):

A server header check (which can also be done at that
site) showed a normal 200 OK response instead of a 301 permanent
redirect response, which I believe was falsely telling Google that
this was the right URL for that page.

I was pretty sure that the existence of that weird URL page was the
reason why the real URL could not seem to stay in Google's index.  So
I wrote Anthony back with my findings, and he immediately discovered
who owned the URL and contacted them about it.  They told him about a
page that their hotel clients have which use those long URLs with
redirects on them for tracking purposes here:

Just as I thought this mystery was solved (I was already writing it up
here), I started wondering about the other links on that page above.
What about the other redirected URLs on that page? Were they all
having the same problem?  Strangely enough, they weren't.  In fact,
they were doing different things.  For some of the links, Google was
showing the right page indexed and not the weird URL, but for others,
it had them both indexed.  And for others still, Google realized that
the redirected URL was the very same page as the resulting real URL.
I could tell this because when I clicked to view the cache of the long
URL, Google said, "This is Google's cache of and not "This is Google's cache of

I haven't figured out why Anthony's real URL is not indexed and these
other ones are.  It's possible that it all comes back to the fact that
he was submitting it automatically via WPG (although I doubt it).
That along with the redirect, which may have looked spammy, possibly
could have gotten it flagged.  Or it could simply be another case of
Google getting it wrong.  They mix up redirected URLs all the time.

It's really hard to say for sure.  Hopefully, Anthony can get rid of
that redirected link altogether and eventually get the actual URL
indexed!  At any rate, it gave me something to do this morning, and
some interesting fodder for the newsletter.  I always love trying to
solve these kinds of mysteries!  And if worse comes to worst, Anthony
can email Google with this article, and maybe they'll straighten
things out by hand.


Sign Up Now for The High Rankings Chicago Seminar on April 23rd!

Yes, April seems far away, but it will be here sooner than you think.

We have *only* 45 more seats left for this exclusive all-day search
engine marketing event with Jill and her expert SEO/SEM friends.

Save $75 when you register early!  Group discounts also available.
Learn more and register here: /semhra88

~~~Guest Article~~~

++Should You Outsource Your PPC Campaign?++

Today's guest writer, Corey Creed, is from Hippo Internet Marketing.
Corey's been busy working on his eBook about PPC for beginners, which
should be available in a month or 2.

Here's Corey...

Should You Outsource Your PPC Campaign?
by Corey Creed

You probably know by now that you need to rely on more than just SEO
to bring in traffic, right?  Search engines can change quickly.
You've seen it a lot lately:  Google changes their algorithms, Yahoo
switches spiders, MSN is gaining popularity, etc.

You know you should use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, build links
and use offline advertising.  But who has the time?

So why not outsource?  After all, if someone else does this work for
you and you only pay them a percentage of the profit, you still end up
ahead, right?  Is it really that simple?  Not necessarily.

Let's examine PPC outsourcing as an example.  (The same principles
should also apply to other forms of outsourcing.)

How do you decide if you should perform your PPC campaign yourself or
if you should outsource it?

First, let's consider some of the critical components to a successful
PPC campaign:

1. Someone has to research and brainstorm keyword phrases and
variations of them.  Lots of them -- especially industry-specific
terms that you are familiar with.

2. Someone needs to write ad copy that will entice potential customers
to click it, while also deterring the non-targeted ones from clicking.

3. Once the campaign gets underway, it will need to be closely
monitored.  Someone will have to keep tabs on your bid amounts and
whether you're making any return on investment (ROI) each week
(perhaps even daily at the beginning of your campaign).

4.  And finally, landing pages will constantly need to be adjusted,
rewritten and tested, in order to elevate the ROI as much as possible.

If this seems like a lot of work to you, that's because it is;
however, the amount of work will often depend on your level of

For example, if you are selling "tuxedos for dogs" or something
equally unique, you may have little competition and not need to put as
much time and energy into it to be successful.  On the other hand,
most PPC phrases are getting very competitive.  It is not uncommon to
see businesses paying over $20 per click!

Now look again at the above four points.  Do they look like something
someone else could do for you?  Perhaps.  Just remember that you will
still need someone to understand your business, your budget comfort
level, and your customers.  This will take an outsider considerable
time, which of course means money.

Here are some guidelines and pointers to keep in mind when determining
whether you should outsource:

If you have more time than money, or have very little competition,
then consider doing it yourself.  If you go this route, make sure you
first read up as much as you can about PPC.  You'll want to learn all
the tips and tricks.  Don't make the mistakes others have already

If you don't have the time and don't mind spending the money (or if
you have some pretty strong competition), you probably should get some

If you're still not sure, one thing you can do is outsource just part
of the PPC process.  Perhaps you could have someone do the keyword
research, or the initial writing of your ads, or even just provide
some training for you.  Be sure to talk extensively with any company
you're thinking of outsourcing to before signing any contract.  Find
out what they are like and how committed they are to helping you.

Whether you choose to outsource, do it yourself, or some combination
of the two, keep this in mind:  At first, you will probably not
succeed.  You may even lose money. That is common with PPC.  You need
to try a few things and make a few mistakes before you figure out what
really works best for you.  This could take days, weeks, or months.
Consider it a temporary failure, a necessary step toward refinement.

Overall, it is not a matter of right or wrong.  Just keep the above
tips in mind.  As Dr. Phil says:  "Don't try to make the right
decision, try to make the decision right."

Corey Creed
Hippo Internet Marketing


Got great copy but not sure where to place those pesky keywords?

Making sure that your keywords are well represented in your copy
without losing its readability isn't difficult; however, if you've
done it or thought about it before, it can seem like a daunting task.

You need the Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines handbook
by Jill Whalen.


~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~

++Mike Grehan Webconference++

Hear search engine guru Mike Grehan explain how you can use search
engine marketing to drive your profits!

Mike's one-hour webconference is scheduled for Thursday, March 25th at
11:00 a.m. EST / 16:00 GMT and it looks like a winner!  (Plus, even if
it's not, there are worse things you could be doing than listening to
Mike's great English accent for an hour! ;-)

You can learn more and sign up here:

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

++Nice To See Google Back On Track!++

Will it last?

After learning that many sites which were completely missing from
Google for certain keyword phrases were able to get back on top by
simply waiting it out, I was curious how prevalent this experience

Read this interesting High Rankings forum thread here:

It kind of confirms my suspicions that Google was simply "broken."

Feel free to post your own thoughts!

~~~Sound Advice~~~

++Sitemaps for Search Engine Success++


~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

Our DisneyWorld trip and the Disney Cruise to The Bahamas were great!
Everyone seemed to have a good time.  The cruise was a nice complement
to the hectic pace at Disney.  Corie and Timmy even went parasailing!
Jamie did a lot of swimming in the pool, where she met a few other
kids.  Timmy even got to show off his singing talents during a night
of karaoke.  We've got his rendition of Elton John's "Don't Let the
Sun Go Down on Me" on video and I'll see if I can transfer it (or part
of it) to streaming video.  Watch out American Idol!

The only "bad" part was when my suitcase didn't show up where it was
supposed to when we got off the ship.  Luckily, our flight was late in
the afternoon and they managed to find it and get it to the airport
and onto our airplane in time, so it turned out to be no big deal in
the end.  We still have no idea what happened to it while it was
missing, and I guess we'll never know! Oh well...all's well that ends

See you next week at the conference.  Don't forget to sign up for my
Chicago seminar this week! - Jill
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