June 9, 2004
~~~IN TODAY'S ADVISOR~~~
----> The 100th Advisor!
*Search Engine Marketing:
----> More PageRank Mania
*This Week's Sponsors:
----> 2ndSite for Business - Free Invoice Service
----> IBP Award-winning SEO Software
----> Links Are Good for Business
*Stuff You Might Like:
----> Free Google AdWords Teleseminar
*High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week:
----> Google Reinclusion Service
*This Week's Sound Advice:
----> The Difference Between Search Engines and Directories
----> Mind the Gap
Welcome to the 100th High Rankings Advisor! I'd like to thank all
30,725 (oops...that was this morning...now it's 30,747!) of you for
opening the newsletter, reading it, learning from it, and sending me
your feedback and questions. It's been a great run since March of
2002, and I'm looking forward to the next 100 issues! It's amazing to
think that these 100 issues combined with the 80 I did through Rank
Write means I've been broadcasting to you on pretty much a weekly
basis since June 16, 2000. Come to think of it, next week will be my
4-year anniversary! Join the celebration here:
drinks are free until next week! <grin>
Also, I just wanted to mention that I'm once again in need of guest
articles. They have to be specifically written for this newsletter,
not something that you already have hanging around on your site. If
you'd like to write one, please pitch me your ideas and approximately
when you think you can have it written. If accepted, you'll get
exposure to over 30,000 interested Web marketers who will hang on your
every word. Are you up for it?
Okay, on to the good stuff! - Jill
~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~
++More PageRank Mania++
I have a small business and I am trying to increase my Google PageRank
on one of my pages in particular. I currently have 4/10 or sometimes
3/10 and I recently submitted a piece of software to 350 or more
software archives. Most if not all of these download sites link to
the page. Is this a significant amount of links? What should I
expect my PageRank to become after this?
Also, if there is anything else I should be doing, please let me know.
My initial response to David was simply, "Why do you care about your
Apparently, Google recently updated the toolbar PageRank on tons of
pages and it has put people back in PageRank mania mode. Our forum is
full of threads on it, with everyone all in a tizzy. I'd say this is
as good a time as any to revisit my "PageRank Mania" article. I've
edited it to address today's PageRank concerns. Enjoy! - Jill
++PageRank Mania Revisited++
Every day there are numerous forum posts asking how to increase
PageRank, and every day I and the other moderators ask the posters the
Why do you link to the sites you link to? Is it because they're
useful and informative and might be worthwhile to your site visitors?
Or is it because you hope you'll get a reciprocal link, which just
might boost your PageRank? Perhaps it's some combination of these
things, or other reasons altogether.
Everyone likes having links to their site; that is a given. When
they're from appropriate sites, inbound links often bring a lot of
high-quality traffic. In fact, the Web was founded on the practice of
linking, which is why it's called the "Web." Without linking, I guess
it would be just a list. Welcome to the World Wide List. Doesn't
have a very good ring to it now, does it?
As soon as people realized that search engines such as Google were
placing an emphasis on who's linking to whom in their ranking
algorithms, all hell broke loose as far as I'm concerned. I'll never
forget the feeling of dread I felt when I read the first post in
I-Search many, many years ago that went something like, "Hey...I've
got a great idea! Since the search engines are counting the number of
links to sites in their ranking algorithms, why don't we all link our
sites to each other?" Whoohoo! Witness the birth of the link farm.
It didn't take "savvy" Webmasters long to realize that they could
create whole bunches of sites for one company, and link them all
together to *artificially* inflate their link popularity. If there's
a way to trick the engines, you betcha plenty of people will figure
out how to do it. But this is old news.
Google's done its best to put a stop to this sort of manipulation.
Many sites that belonged to old-time link farms found their PageRank
scores disappearing and their backward links vanishing. Without any
real links, rankings in the search results are difficult if not
impossible to obtain.
For awhile, link farms became a thing of the past. However, the
latest craze is to buy "text ads" on any and all sites, regardless of
the relevancy of the content. In many cases this works beautifully
because it's pretty difficult for Google to figure out the difference
between a true link that is a vote for a site and a paid-for ad that
is simply there to manipulate PageRank. However, even this house of
cards is starting to fall. We're starting to see many of the sites
that were successfully selling text-based link ads suddenly not
passing any PageRank to the sites they link to. I heartily applaud
Google for their efforts on this. I do wish they could move a bit
faster though, as it's still working on most sites that use this
Unfortunately, the spammers have again ruined things for regular old
Webmasters who just want to do the right thing. People are completely
confused and dazed as to the best way to obtain links to their sites.
Suddenly, there's a mad scramble to try to figure out "safe" linking
procedures. Everyone is scared to link or get linked to because of
the fear of penalization. More and more people are asking what the
criteria are to safely link sites together.
The answer is simple -- don't buy or trade links with irrelevant sites
just for the PageRank value and don't build bunches of sites for the
sole purpose of linking them together.
That said, if you already own multiple sites (that weren't created for
the purpose of link popularity), of course you can link them together
if it makes sense to do so from a usability perspective. In other
words, if it adds value to the user to have a link from one of your
sites to another of your sites, then of course you should do it.
That's what linking is all about. And no, you don't have to pretend
that the sites all have different owners by placing them on different
servers and obtaining different IP addresses. You only need to do
that if you have something to hide, which of course you don't.
The search engines understand that regular, normal businesses often
have numerous Websites.
I refuse to believe that Google or any other search engine is looking
for ways to make fewer sites show up in their search results. They're
not interested in banning sites that provide great information. They
*are* interested in maintaining the integrity of their search results,
however. Therefore, I suggest you don't ruin an otherwise great site
by attempting to trick the search engines. You may not get caught
today; you may not even get caught tomorrow. Heck, you may never get
caught. But if you do, you'll have to start over from scratch in
order to redeem yourself.
Sadly, it appears that PageRank is often the driving factor in how and
why people link to each other, and that is just plain wrong. When a
site owner refuses to link to a great site that might be useful to
their visitors simply because it's only a PR3 or 2 or even zero, then
we've got a huge problem. To me, links are not a commodity to be
bought, sold and traded, even though I realize that they most
definitely are being used this way. I link to other sites and
discussions when it's appropriate to do so, and not with the caveat
that I get a link back. If it's helpful, it's helpful whether or not
they link back to my site.
Like I always say, search engine optimization is all about making your
site the best it can be. When we become so consumed by what sites we
can and can't link to, or even whether we can link at all, then we're
not making our site the best it can be. We're letting other factors
dictate our site content, and that's just not right.
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++Links Are Good for Business++
The following article is another oldie but goody. It was written some
time ago by my London roomie, Scottie Claiborne. It's a great
follow-up to the PageRank Mania article, because it gives you some
great ideas for real-world linking. Scottie is also working on a
follow-up to this article, which I'll be publishing in a future
Take it away, Scottie! - Jill
Links Are Good for Business
By Scottie Claiborne
Read the advice on SEO boards and tutorials these days and you will
find a lot of information about linking. There are debates and
"facts" on whom you should link to and whether reciprocal links are
good or bad. The reality is that the Web is made up of links and you
should link to sites that your users will find helpful.
Without links, the Web would be a lonely place. Only those that could
afford to buy advertising banners and pay for placement in the search
engines would ever see any traffic.
The Importance of Linking
I have a small moonwalk rental business that was a part-time venture
until last spring. When I decided to do it full-time, I turned to our
Web site to help establish and market the brand. Some attention to
search engine optimization paid off, and the site was soon #1 for our
What I did not expect was the national and international traffic.
Before long, I had phone and email inquiries from all over the
country. Even though our region is clearly identified, people wanted
to know who rented moonwalks in their area. As a service, I started
to make a list of rental companies that I could refer others to. In
order to lessen the calls and emails I was receiving, I posted my list
on the site and invited other companies to send me their information.
I started an aggressive search to identify as many companies as I
could, and added them to the directory. When I listed them, I emailed
the site owners to ask for a link back. Some did, some didn't, but
since the focus was to provide a service to users, I did not enforce
the reciprocal link.
Some of the links are from sites Google isn't aware of, some have a
low PageRank (PR), and a few rank well. Some are well designed and
some are really ugly. Many listings do not have Web sites at all. I
did not take PR criteria into account when building my list. The focus
was on creating a comprehensive resource for users.
While the intention of the directory was not to influence my search
engine rankings, the site is now #1 on Google for its most important
keyword phrases. How did that happen?
I believe the site (and the directory page in particular) have been
designated as a hub and an authority. An authority is a site with
many pages linking to it, and a hub has many similarly themed outbound
links. The tight theme of this page and the content that includes
both text listings and links have made it spider-friendly as well as
There are many ways that this directory has helped my business:
1) Not only are local customers able to easily find our site, they are
impressed that we offer a national-level service.
2) We don't waste time answering the phone or emails from people who
want us to help them find a rental company. And we don't have to say,
"No, we can't help you."
3) We have begun a moonwalk sales business as well, and companies who
are pleased with the referrals we have been sending them are eager to
make their next equipment purchase from us.
4) We are building a reputation as an authority in the industry, and
can bank on that in the future -- however we choose to use it. We have
even been asked to sell franchises.
5) If we ever decide to implement paid listings, the current members
already know that there is excellent value in being listed in our
6) We are building awareness of the moonwalk industry by getting
companies noticed who might never have been found on the Internet
Content Is King
Is your site or industry appropriate for a directory of this type?
Think about it from a user's standpoint and decide why they are
visiting your site. The best way to determine how your site can be
improved is to listen to the comments you receive through feedback
forms, emails or phone calls. If you don't have a feedback form,
you're missing an excellent free market research opportunity.
The easiest way to improve your site, traffic, rankings, and business
conversions is to simply give people what they are asking for. You
don't need a high-priced consultant or an in-depth study. Go find some
customers and ask them what they want!
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~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~
++Google AdWords Teleseminar Admission++
Need to boost your paid search results? Buy anything from
MarketingSherpa (even a $9 case study or perhaps my SEO Copywriting
Kit <grin>) and you'll get a ticket to the "Top 7 Google Adwords Pain
Points" teleseminar on June 23rd. You'll also get the teleseminar PDF
of the "pain points" along with teleseminar admission (a $129 retail
For more info, visit MarketingSherpa here:
This offer ends at midnight ET on June 22nd, so please check it out
now before you forget!
~~~High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week~~~
++Google Reinclusion Service++
New forum member "T Bill" wants to know why Google has no formal means
of getting your site back into the index after it's been banned.
Read and participate in this thought-provoking thread here:
++The Difference Between Search Engines and Directories++
(This audio recording changes each week.)
That's it for today. If this issue helped even just one of you see
search engine marketing in a new light, then I am a happy camper!
Last week in London was great fun. It was the first time I actually
got to do a little bit of sightseeing with friends. I didn't do a
whole lot, but I was sure to mind the gap and fear the pie, so all was
It was interesting to see how many more people (as compared to last
year) in my conference session were newsletter subscribers. At the
American conferences, there's usually a good portion of the crowd who
read the newsletter, but it took a bit longer to catch on across the
pond. It was wonderful to see so many of you there, and I hope to see
you again next year!
Don't forget to join my 100th issue / 4-year anniversary celebration
at the forum:
See you next week! - Jill