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SEO Website Audit

High Rankings Advisor: SEM Q&A - Issue No. 091

March 24, 2004
~~~IN TODAY'S ADVISOR~~~

*Search Engine Marketing Q&A:
---->   Now You See It, Now You Don't
---->   Yahoo Directory vs. Yahoo Site Match
---->   Gone From Google
---->   Meta Tags and Comment Tags
---->   Keyword-rich Domain Names (Again)
---->   Asking Engines for Help
---->   How To Optimize Without Doorways

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   High Rankings Search Engine Marketing Seminar
---->   SEO Copywriting Combo

*Guest Article:
---->   Robots.txt - The Forgotten File

*High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week:
---->   Google Larger Than Yahoo & MSN?

*This Week's Sound Advice:
---->   Professional SEO

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   Leaving Phones in NYC
________________________________________________________

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hi everyone!  Today I've put together an assortment of search engine
marketing Q&A compiled from the emails I answered last week.  I'm sure
that at least a few of these questions will be ones that have been
nagging at some of you also.  Plus, I've got a nice little guest
article about the robots.txt file.

Enjoy! - Jill


~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

++Now You See It, Now You Don't++

Hi!  Hope you can answer this.

A friend made changes to his web site by adding headings to several
pages.  The headings showed up the first couple days. Now the site is
back to the old one in Google.

What happened?

Thanks for your help.

Jean

++Jill's Response++

Hi Jean,

You can rest assured that nothing out of the ordinary happened; that's
just how Google works.  Generally it will find changed pages very
quickly, but then it seems that they go into a different database for
a few weeks.  The good news is that you know that they have found the
changed pages.  So just sit back and relax and wait 2-4 weeks, and
eventually you'll find the latest version of your pages showing up in
Google.

Jill


++Yahoo Directory vs. Yahoo Site Match++

Dear Jill,

I am in shock right now with regards to Yahoo's [new
pay-per-click/paid-inclusion program].  We don't even begin to have
this kind of money in our business right now.  We are a very small
ecommerce business with less than a year on Yahoo.  We only began to
pay for the company with profits during and after Christmas.  In May
our 1-year contract for our listing on Yahoo is up.  What can we
expect cost-wise then?  Will they switch us over to this new [PPC]
plan or will we be able to pay our normal $300 and go for another
year?

Thank you so much for your help.

Chris W.

++Jill's Response++

Hi Chris,

Since you mention $300 and a one-year contract, I am guessing that
you're talking about a Yahoo directory submission/listing, not a
paid-inclusion submission.  The $299 you paid is for being listed in
their directory and has nothing to do with paid inclusion to the
regular spidered results.  Yahoo has a human-edited directory that
people could browse through (which is what you paid for), plus a
database of pages that their spiders/robots have found.  For people
who don't want to wait to be found by the robot, they need to use the
new paid-inclusion/PPC program, but this is separate from the $299
directory submission program.

If you renew your directory listing, you will get exactly what you
were getting before (which isn't much, in my opinion).  That is, a
listing in their directory, which works out to being a link to your
site that will help build link popularity.  Your directory listing
doesn't automatically mean you'll show up in Yahoo's regular results,
but it does help them find you.  You do not have to belong to their
pay-per-click program, nor do you have to renew your directory listing
if you don't want to.  Your pages should still show up in Yahoo's
spidered results, whether you pay or not.

I personally don't think a Yahoo directory listing is important unless
you really need the link popularity that it provides.  It's certainly
nice to have, but there are plenty of cheaper places you can be
listed.  Please note that this is my personal opinion.  Many others in
the biz certainly disagree with me on this.

I've felt that a Yahoo directory listing has been fairly useless for a
long time, and in many ways it's even a hindrance.  Here's why: If you
have a directory listing, your directory title (usually your company
name) and description show up in the regular Yahoo results, instead of
your Title tag and a snippet of text from your page.  In my opinion,
this gives your listing a disadvantage as compared with sites that get
to control what shows up through their Title tag.

The problem is that we really don't know for sure if having a Yahoo
directory listing gives you some sort of extra boost in the Yahoo
search engine results.  Many people believe it does, making it hard to
decide whether you should renew your listing or not.  The good news is
that it won't cost you anything extra to see what happens if you don't
renew.  If you find that your missing directory listing affects the
placement of your regular listing, then simply pay their $299 and
resubmit it.

If you do drop it, let me know what happens (if anything) to your
rankings, as it would be good to know.

As to the paid-inclusion/PPC program, as long as your site is
spiderable, it should get added to the regular search engine results
through the free crawl.  Most likely, your pages are already there.  I
see no reason why you should pay if you already have a listing,
because as I mentioned last week, why pay for something that you
already have for free?

Good luck!

Jill

_____________April 23, 2004 in Chicago_________________

Jill's High Rankings Search Engine Marketing Seminar
__________________________________________________

Everything You Need To Know for a Successful SEM Campaign!

Jill will cover the search engine optimization basics, then her
moderators from the High Rankings forum will teach you link
popularity building, PPC, writing for your target audience and
the search engines, plus how to measure traffic & conversions.

Sign up now as seating is limited to 50 and going fast.

$575 before March 25th: </hra91seminar>.
__________________________________________________


++Gone From Google++

From: Andrew

Probably hundreds or thousands of other website owners have the same
question as mine, so I'd much appreciate if you could give us some
advice.

My site used to be in the top 10 of Google for my keywords.  But since
the Google Dance, my site dropped out of sight  -- it's not even in
the top 30 pages!  I believe it might be due to my over-use of keyword
text link from other sites I own.

Since being dropped by Google, my sales dropped 45% at least!  I want
to overhaul my site so it will re-appear on Google, but my dilemma is
that my site is still on the first page on Yahoo (Web search), MSN,
Alltheweb, and some other engines.  I'm scared to death to make
changes to my site.  What if I redo my site, and it disappears in
Yahoo, MSN also?

Your advice is greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Frustrated Site Owner

++Jill's Response++

Hi Andrew,

I'd wait to see what happens with Google.  Your site is fine, as
evidenced by the fact that it's ranking highly elsewhere.  Google is
tweaking things right now and their relevancy is starting to be
compromised again.  Sit tight, and your site will probably show up
soon enough.  I told this same thing to people a few months ago when
the first nasty Google changes happened, and sure enough, the sites
that didn't touch a thing all came back.  (This is assuming that you
feel you've done a good job with your current site optimization.)

In the meantime, you might think about buying some Google ads to get
back the missing traffic until they sort themselves out.  I know that
feels like extortion (as my sister whose page is also missing for one
of her keyword phrases keeps telling me), but so what?  If you can
make money off your ads, then you'd be crazy not to do it just to
"spite" Google!

That said, I'm a bit concerned about what you said here:

>>I believe it might be due to my over-use of keyword text link from
other sites I own.<<

Google is trying very hard to find sites that are excessively
cross-linked.  If you have a legitimate reason to have many sites, and
to also have those sites linking to each other, then it shouldn't be a
problem.  However, if the sites are there simply to gain extra search
engine traffic, then chances are this is why Google has trashed your
site.  They don't want to list sites that try to trick them, for
obvious reasons.

A good way to decide if what you're doing is right or wrong is to
decide your reason for doing it.  Does it really make sense from the
point of view of your site's users?  Your answer to that question
should let you know what you should do.

Whether changing things will affect your listings at other search
engines is hard to say.  No search engine likes to be tricked, so if
tricks are involved and you remove them, it can never be a bad thing
in the long run.

Good luck!

Jill


++Meta Tags and Comment Tags++

From: Vani

Hi Jill

I'm making Meta tags for web pages on my site, and I want to target
some of the important keywords.

The content on those pages isn't much, and I can't really change the
text of those pages.  So should I put the related text in comment tags
on those pages? Will it help me to get a listing for those important
keywords?

Can you suggest some other tag or alternative way, if the comment tag
won't be useful?

Looking forward to your reply!

Thanks
Vani

++Jill's Response++

Hi Vani,

Neither the Meta tags nor comment tags will get your site listed for
the words you put in them.  You need to put them in the Title tag, the
visible copy on the page, plus in the links that point to the page.

I realize that you said you couldn't change the text on that site, but
I'm gonna have to say -- yes you can -- just do it!

Jill


++Keyword-rich Domain Names (Again)++

Jill,

Here's something there doesn't seem to be a good answer for:

It's known that if you can somehow get your preferred "keyword phrase"
into your domain name, the search engines will reward you with higher
rankings for that search term -- that's right isn't it?

The question is, how should the domain name appear?  Should it be the
keywords all together or should they be separated by a hyphen?

Do the search engines look at these differently?

Thanks,

Ken

++Jill's Reply++

Hi Ken,

>>It's known that if you can somehow get your preferred "keyword
phrase" into your domain name, the search engines will reward you with
higher rankings for that search term -- that's right isn't it?<<

Nope, that's not right, in my opinion.  There are at least a hundred
factors that go into the rankings.  Yes, the domain name may be given
a tiny bit of weight, but only when people link to the site using its
domain name, instead of the Title of the site.  That makes it like
having keywords in the link, which is indeed helpful.

Most likely any site you see that has keywords in the URL has also
been optimized for that phrase. After all, why else would they have
keywords in the domain, unless they were attempting to rank highly for
those keywords?

Instead of going into a big rant on this, I'll just point you to my
previous article on the subject here:
</issue016.htm#seo> and the follow-up to
that one here: </issue017.htm#seo1>.

If you really feel the need for keywords in your domain, then you
should separate them with a hyphen, as it's treated like a space by
the search engines.

Personally, I would go with the company name in the domain instead.
It's extremely silly for a name brand to have a URL with keywords in
it. If your client's company site has a name, that's what you should
use.

I'd much rather do what's best for the humans visiting my site.  Your
domain name is part of your brand, and you shouldn't waste that
particular spot for keywords.  That said, I've optimized hundreds of
sites, 90% or more of which didn't have keywords in the domains.  The
other 10% already had domains with keywords in them when they came to
me.  In my nearly 10 years of optimizing, I don't believe I've ever
purchased a keyword-rich domain for optimization purposes.  It's just
not necessary, and I personally think it looks dumb.

Best,

Jill


++Asking Engines for Help++

From: Frank

I have a web site that I'm trying to get traffic to and obviously I'm
working the crawlers, spiders and robots as best I can.

I was wondering if there is some kind of way to find out from the
search engines why they don't rank you higher for your keywords? (Or
rank you at all for that matter.) I suppose you could talk to the
human search engines about it but I'd really like to know from the
"spider's" perspective.

Frank

++Jill's Response++

Hi Frank,

Unfortunately, there's no way to ask the search engines why you don't
rank higher. They really are not interested in you and your site; they
are only interested in providing relevant results to the people
searching at their engine.  Although your site is probably the best
one in the world to you, to the engines it's simply one in a million.

That said, the engines do have specific guideline pages for Webmasters
that can give you some clues, but really...they don't like the idea of
people trying to rank higher and "working the spiders" etc.

Your best bet is to read the past archives of this newsletter, visit
my forum and read the threads there, and just start learning how to
make your site the best possible site it can be so that it truly
stands apart from the millions of other ones.

Jill


++How To Optimize Without Doorways++

From: Clyde C.

I am at a loss on how to get multiple similar key words ranked without
using doorway pages.

Currently my text is weak but even if I strengthen it I don't know how
to handle all the relevant key words without a page for each one.

Can you point me to some discussions of this issue?

Clyde

++Jill's Response++

Hi Clyde,

Doesn't your site have more than one page?  You simply optimize each
page of your site for two or three different keyword phrases.  Don't
try to optimize for one-word keywords as they will be too general, not
bring targeted traffic and be nearly impossible to get rankings for.

Instead, do keyword research at Wordtracker
</wordtracker> and find the most related
phrases that people are searching on.  Then choose two or three of the
phrases for each page of your site and optimize them accordingly.
That means rewriting the copy to utilize the phrases, as well as
optimizing the Title tags and the links that point to the pages.

There are more ideas in this past issue of the Advisor:
</issue013.htm#seo>.

Also, I would highly suggest that you look into hiring a professional
SEO copywriter.  It will be worth every penny, as they generally only
charge a few hundred bucks per page.

Good luck!

Jill

__________________________________________________adv.

Your site's only as good as its copywriting. You need the "write"
skills.
__________________________________________________

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speak to your target audience with each and every word you write.
At the same time, keeping your keywords featured prominently is
a bit of a juggling act.

Save $10 on the most powerful copywriting combo available today!

Karon Thackston's Step-By-Step Copywriting Course & Jill Whalen's
Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines.  Click the "Buy Both"
button on this page:  </combohra91>.
__________________________________________________


~~~Guest Article~~~

++Robots.txt - The Forgotten File++

Today's guest article was written by my friend Matt Bailey.  Matt is
the Web Marketing Director for The Karcher Group, a Web design and
Internet marketing agency.  Matt is a regular speaker at Jupiter
Media's Search Engine Strategies conferences, as well as a moderator
at my High Rankings Forum.

Let's give him a warm Advisor welcome! - Jill

Robots.txt - The Forgotten File
by Matt Bailey

During our review and analysis of a new client's Web site, we
discovered that the major search engines were not indexing many areas
of the site.

After investigating further, we discovered that the site had been
redesigned more than a year ago.  During the update, the robots
exclusion file (robots.txt) had been overlooked and had not been
updated to reflect the new architecture. Without the company realizing
it, the robots.txt file was blocking the search engines from indexing
large portions of the site!

What Is Robots.txt?

The robots exclusion file is a simple text file that tells a search
engine which pages or directories to exclude from its database, so
that those files or pages are not found in search results.  However,
it does not guarantee that the files won't be found; it is more of a
"gentleman's agreement" not to list them.  Many "bad" spiders are not
compliant and ignore the robots.txt file altogether.

In a perfect world, robots.txt-compliant search engines such as Google
and Inktomi (the latter of which provides results to Yahoo and MSN),
use the robots.txt file as a map of places to avoid when indexing your
Web site.  Before making a page request, the search engine spiders
check the robots.txt file to be sure it is allowed.

Too often, this file is mistaken as a security measure.  However, it
provides no security and can actually draw more attention to the areas
of your site you don't want people to see.  Anyone can simply look at
your robots.txt to see what areas you've singled out for exclusion,
then go take a peek.  If security is a concern, a password-protected
authorization needs to be implemented.

Creating the File

The robots.txt file sits in the root directory of a Web site.
Usually, Webmasters only see it when they think to update it.  During
a redesign, this file is the last thing to be changed, if it is
changed at all.

So, what do you place in the robots.txt exclusion file?  Actually,
it's simple.

To allow the search engines complete access to your site, use the
following code:

User-agent: *
Disallow:

To block all search engines from your entire Web site use the
following code:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /

Notice the importance of detail.  The forward slash tells the search
engine to avoid all files and directories in that domain.

To disallow specific directories or files, use the following code:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /cgi-bin/
Disallow: /images/
Disallow: /includes/
Disallow: /pdf/admin.pdf

This code excludes the cgi-bin folder, which normally has no real
information for a search engine, as well as the images folder and the
includes folder (this last one typically houses external JavaScript
and CSS files).  Note that the forward slashes precede each directory
and also end each command.  In addition, each directory is excluded
individually.  The last command excludes a single file from the pdf
folder but doesn't exclude the rest of the files in that folder.

To disallow specific search engines from the site you can use
something like this:

User-agent: Googlebot
Disallow: /
This command excludes only the Google robot from indexing the entire
Web site.

You can refer to resource Web sites such as www.robotstxt.org for
additional information and examples.

Now that you understand how the robots.txt exclusion protocol works,
you can easily create or edit your own.  Write these commands into
NotePad or any text editor and save as "robots.txt."  All you need to
do to complete the process is upload it into your root directory
(www.your-website.com/robots.txt).  Don't forget to check this file
periodically to ensure that it matches your site's structure, and that
it excludes only those files and directories you don't want indexed by
the search engines.

Matt Bailey, Web Marketing Director
The Karcher Group
http://www.thekarchergroup.com


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

++Google Larger Than Yahoo & MSN?++

Forum member "rshilkrot" wonders why his high rankings at Yahoo and
MSN don't produce much traffic for him.  You can read and add to the
discussion here:
</forum/index.php?showtopic=4869>.


~~~Sound Advice~~~

++Professional SEO++

</soundadvice>


~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

Did you make it to the end?  Seemed like a long one today, but it was
easy for me because I had already answered the questions during the
week.  Now if only I could get this newsletter done ahead of time
every week!

Hey...at least I don't leave stuff at restaurants and other places.
My 17-year-old daughter, Corie, is in NYC on a drama field trip.  I
got a call today from a waiter at the Red Lobster in Times Square
saying that she left her cell phone there when she had lunch.  So I
called one of her friends' phones to let her know, but it looks like
it will be too late for her to be able to pick it up.  Who knows how
we'll get it back now.  She gets the "leaving stuff at places" thing
from her father.  Well...now that I think of it, there have been a few
things I've left behind at places over the years.  But I swear he does
it way more than I do!  (If you ever see me at conferences, you may
notice that I don't carry a pocketbook/purse but use a "fanny pack"
instead.  That's so I don't lose it!)

That's it for today, guys!  Have a great week and I'll catch you next
time.

Jill

 
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