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High Rankings Advisor: Getting a Great Google Description -

April 14, 2004


*Introductory Comments:
---->   Just Do It! (SEO Seminar in Chicago)

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   Getting a Great Google Description

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   SmartSearch Marketing
---->   High Rankings Apr. 23rd Chicago Seminar

*Guest Article:
---->   Growing Your Own PPC Agency

*Stuff You Might Like:

*High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week:
---->   Can Jump Links Be Spidered?

*This Week's Sound Advice:
---->   Using Keywords in Link Text

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   Jill in the WSJ Again

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Just a quick reminder that our High Rankings search engine marketing
all-day seminar in Chicago is next Thursday!  I'm looking forward to
meeting many of you there.  If you have been waffling on whether to
come, just do it! We still have some seats left, and can't wait to
start teaching you the tricks of the trade.  Here's the link to learn
more: </hra94seminar>.

Got lots of good stuff today, so let's get straight to it! - Jill

~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

++Getting a Great Google Description++

Hi Jill,

I agree with your recent newsletter
</issue093.htm> that high rankings are not
all it takes to build a successful site. But it sure is hard to do
without them!

Now that Google has stopped using [DMOZ descriptions] it is even more
important which fragments of your copy Google chooses to display. The
Webmaster fully controls the title tag and the URL, but those lines in
between are a key factor when a potential customer decides whether to
visit your site or the one below it.

Searching for "Search Engine Optimization," I noticed that Google
chose to display the description from your index page
(, whereas other sites have just fragments of their
copy displayed.

I assume lots of your readers would like to know more about how to
influence Google's description, so maybe this would be a topic for an
upcoming newsletter. Questions I would like answered include:

- How or under what circumstances will Google choose to display the
description instead of just fragments of the copy?
- Is Google more likely to choose the description from pages/sites
with a high PR (credibility)?
- If Google chooses to display fragments of the copy would it be wise
to alter those parts of the copy (slightly) to make them look more
appealing in the SERPs? I realize that you shouldn't alter the
keywords, but the words around them might not be as appealing as one
could wish. Google mostly does a good job at selecting relevant parts
of your copy, but still!

Yours sincerely,

Henrik Ranch

++Jill's Response++

Henrik, those are all great questions, and I'm sure others will also
be interested in the answers.

First, it's important to note that Google will display a different
description in its results pages, depending on the keyword phrase that
was searched for.  Because of this, it's impossible to completely
control what will show up as you have no way of knowing every single
keyword phrase that someone might use to find your site.  The number
of different phrases people find your site with is often quite
surprising, which makes it a good idea to check your server logs

So let's look at what circumstances cause Google to display your Meta
description as opposed to a plain old "snippet."

It's actually surprisingly simple, yet elegant:

If the keyword phrase searched upon by the user is included in your
Meta description tag, then this is what will show up in Google,
instead of the usual snippet.

This is why when you find my site on the first page of Google for the
phrase search engine optimization, my Meta description shows up --
that phrase is used within my description tag.  As long as the *exact
phrase* being searched upon is contained in your Meta description tag,
it will show up in the search results.

It's as simple as that, and doesn't have anything to do with the
PageRank or the authority of the page in question.  The same thing
should happen for every site under the same circumstances.  This is
why Meta description tags are still important to use on all of your
pages.  They don't actually boost your rankings, but they allow you to
have better control of the description that shows up for your
optimized keyword phrases.

Does this mean you should create really long Meta descriptions that
have every conceivable keyword phrase in them?  Of course not!  If you
have a long Meta description, Google will then just show a snippet of
your Meta description that contains the searched-upon phrase.
Theoretically, you could create a 10- or 20-sentence Meta description
tag that used every conceivable keyword phrase you might be ranked
highly with, but you wouldn't get any real benefit from that.

So what happens when the searched-upon phrase *isn't* used within your
Meta description tag?

You'll notice that if you do a search for search engine rankings in
Google, you'll still find my site in the first page of results, but
this time my Meta description tag *doesn't* show up.  Instead, you'll
see the following snippet: "When performed by a qualified, experienced
search engine optimization consultant, optimizing your site for high
search engine rankings really does work!"

It's not my Meta description, but it's a darn nice marketing statement
nonetheless.  So, how'd I do it?  Well, I waved my magic wand and said
"ala peanut butter sandwiches" and poof, there it was!  Don't worry,
for those of you who don't have magical powers, you can achieve the
same thing through other means.  In reality it showed up as it did
simply because that sentence was the first (and in this case the only)
instance of the phrase "search engine rankings" within the copy of my
page.  Pretty neat, huh?

I didn't purposely optimize my snippets as I'm really not smart enough
to think of such things, but there's no reason why you can't or
shouldn't optimize yours.  There are definitely things you can do to
get the most benefit out of your Google listings, once you realize how
it works.

The best (and most obvious) thing to do is to make sure your two or
three optimized keyword phrases are being used in your Meta
description tag.  However, if there's a phrase you happen to be
getting found for that you can't or don't want to use in your Meta
description tag, then just make sure that the *first instance* of that
phrase is part of a nice call-to-action marketing statement within
your copy, and voila -- that's pretty much all it takes!

On a related note, if you happen to check to see if your page is
indexed by Google, and search for it by company name or by the site's
URL, you'll often find that this brings up the copyright notice at the
bottom of the page, or some other strange, ugly snippet in the search
engine results page (SERP).

I've had frantic emails from people concerned about this, but there's
really no reason to be worried.  Your site's description only shows up
that way for that particular search, not for the real searches people
do to find your site.  Since the copyright notice at the bottom of
your page is often the only place that mentions your company name or
URL, it becomes the Google snippet by default!

If you're not a big brand that people are searching for by company
name, then you don't need to worry about it.  However, if people do
indeed search for you by name, then simply control the snippet by
making sure you put the company name in your Meta description or in a
nice marketing sentence closer to the top of the page.

So you can see, although those descriptions at Google never seemed to
have any rhyme or reason to them, they actually do!  You'll find that
the more you learn about search engine marketing and optimization, the
less mystifying it becomes.  Most of the time, the things that seem
really strange on the surface are actually very logical.


___________SmartSearch Marketing_____________________adv.

(Free) Search Marketing Resource Guide

"Killer Tips & Tools for Search Marketers"
70 essential resources you should know about!

This invaluable guide from SmartSearch Marketing contains
market information, tools, resources, how-to-guides, and more.

Free download:  <>
You'll wonder how you ever got along without it!

~~~Guest Article~~~

++Growing Your Own PPC Agency++

Catherine "Cat" Seda has written today's guest article on developing
your own pay-per-click agency. Cat is the author of the new book
"Search Engine Advertising" <>, a
conference speaker, a freelance writer and owner of the Internet
marketing agency Seda Communication.

Take it away, Cat!  - Jill

Growing Your Own PPC Agency
By Catherine Seda

Your clients are all patiently waiting for their SEO campaigns to kick
in, right? Wrong! They want to be #1 now! If you're not already
offering a PPC service, consider adding it soon. You'll give your
clients the instant positions and traffic they want. Then you can
strike the balance between SEO and PPC to help your clients generate
the highest number of sales at the lowest cost. And they'll love you
for it!

Fortunately, it's easier to jump into certain types of PPC than SEO.
When people refer to PPC they often mean pay-for-placement (PFP)
advertising (paid inclusion falls into PPC but that's a different
animal left for another article!)., Google AdWords and
Overture offer PFP programs. Choose your keywords, set a per-click fee
bid, submit an ad listing (title/description) for each keyword or
group of keywords, and designate a landing page for each keyword or
group of keywords. Presto! Within days, or hours, your clients'
listings are live.

Your first challenge is fending off client competitors in bidding wars
since a one-penny bid moves an advertiser above another. Fees are only
charged when consumers click the ad listings, but without being in a
top position, your clients' listings won't be displayed across the
entire distribution network. That's critical.

For clients with hundreds or thousands of keywords, bid management
tools offered by BidRank and PPC Pro can keep you sane. Services by and GO TOAST will even manage bids by the client's
cost-per-order goals. Can I hear an "Amen!" please?

Your second challenge is constantly modifying clients' ad campaigns
for more profitable results - because you can. It's a vicious cycle:
test, evaluate, modify, rinse and repeat. Well, ignore the rinse part.
The point is, your clients' results are in constant motion and by
tweaking their keywords, ad copy and landing pages you'll achieve more
cost-effective results for them. Jill would kill me if I turned this
into a 2,000-word article so I'll just share a few copywriting tips
for improving click-through rates:

1. State a benefit or solution.

Describe what your clients' product or service helps their customers
achieve. Saving time, making money, improving health or happiness are
all compelling promises to consumers.

2. Offer an incentive.

Consumers will see competing ad listings. What'll make your clients'
listings stand out? Offer consumers a reason to buy right now. Free
shipping, an order discount or a bonus gift are some options.

3. Promote your clients' competitive advantage.

Keep an eye on your clients' competitors. Play off of their copy. For
example, if they all promote free shipping, then offer that and a
30-day money-back guarantee, if possible.

You're probably wondering how to charge for PFP, or what your
competitors are charging. Rates, like with SEO, are all over the map.
Agencies might charge a percentage of the total media cost (15%-30%),
a flat monthly fee, a per-click rate, a per-keyword rate or any
combination of these. The cost of paid listing tools may or may not be
included. You could also offer options to your clients, or assign the
option that you feel covers your time best once you analyze a client's
needs. Set a decent minimum because you'll earn it.

Don't worry, you don't have to manage the hundreds of
pay-for-placement search engines. Feel free to start with Google and
Overture because they cover a significant portion of U.S. Web
searches. If those keywords get more than hundreds of searches per
month, then your client might find better deals on,, (ah-ha) and others. Check out and for ratings on PFP
search engine programs and articles on managing paid listings.

Both of those sites offer free newsletters too. And it's a really good
idea to attend seminars that address PPC because the search engines
continually introduce new features and tools, which means successful
techniques are always being developed by advertisers. You'll be able
to ask questions and share ideas with search engine representatives,
tool vendors, and your fellow PPC marketers.

Catherine Seda
Seda Communication

[FYI, I've been reading Cat's "Search Engine Advertising" book over
the past few weeks and really like the chapter dedicated to improving
ad click-through rates.  She also includes tons of paid-listing tools
and resources throughout.  You can purchase it directly from her site
or through my Amazon affiliate link here:
</sea>. - Jill]

_______High Rankings Seminar - Friday, April 23rd__________

Only a week away! Don't miss out.  Meet Jill and the gang in Chicago!

Learn search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, SEO
copywriting, link building and how to measure the success of your
search marketing campaigns.

Register here: </hra94seminar2>

Before the seminar, meet us Thursday night in the Oasis
Lounge at the Four Points Chicago O'Hare Sheraton at 7:45 p.m.
Registered seminar participants can have a drink or two
courtesy of The Karcher Group!

~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~

I haven't had a chance to review anything new and exciting lately, but
this is a good opportunity to invite you to visit my site: <>.  It's
where most of my past reviews live, making it a nice place to learn
more about various Web marketing products and ebooks.

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

++Can Jump Menus (Links) Be Spidered?++

Some directories list your site using a redirected link ("jump link")
for tracking purposes.  Are these links getting spidered?

High Rankings moderator Ron Carnell has been watching this for awhile
and has the answer here:

~~~Sound Advice~~~

++Using Keywords in Link Text++

(This audio recording changes each week.)

~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

Just found out I was quoted in today's Wall Street Journal in an
article about Yahoo's new paid-inclusion Site Match program.  (I was
not in favor of it! <grin>)

Also, as I mentioned last week, I'm moving forward with my plans to
partner with a local Boston marketing/advertising firm, and we're
ready to take on some business.  If you've been wanting a spiffy new,
fully optimized redesigned site, now's the time to ask!  We can do the
whole kit and kaboodle from logos and tagline creation to back-end
programming and design, traditional publicity, advertising and of
course full search engine optimization.  Our rates are competitive and
well within the reach of medium-sized to larger companies looking for
a one-stop marketing agency.  Just shoot me an email with what you're
looking for and we'll see what we can do.

That's about it for today.  Next week is the Boston Marathon, school
vacation, and the Chicago seminar -- yay!  I'm not leaving for Chicago
until Thursday, so I'll still have a newsletter for you on Wednesday.
See you then. - Jill
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