June 30, 2004
~~~IN TODAY'S ADVISOR~~~
----> Gotta Do What You Gotta do
*Search Engine Marketing:
----> Getting Banned Due to Spam
*This Week's Sponsors:
----> New HitsLink ver. 3.0
----> Host Web Hosting
----> The Magical Keyword Density Formula
*High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week:
----> Forum First Anniversary Guessing Game
*This Week's Sound Advice:
----> Using Title Tags to Your Advantage
----> Enjoy My Fireworks!
Hey everyone! I've got a great article today written by my friend
Karon Thackston regarding the ever-elusive keyword density formula.
Unfortunately, my own article wasn't really a fun one to write. It's
something I was hoping not to ever have to write about, but I felt
that I really didn't have any choice. The more people that are aware
of what goes on in the SEO world, the better.
Read on to see what I mean...Jill
~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~
++Getting Banned Due to Spam++
I spent this weekend trying to find out why my website is no longer
showing up on Google or Yahoo. Through an article from WebPro News I
was lucky enough to find your email signup. I sure hope you can give
me some info to help me get my site back to where it was, and tell me
why we are no longer even listed?
Looking forward to reading your newsletter.
Most weeks I would have assumed that Linda's site was probably just
temporarily down when the search engines came a-crawlin'. But this was
not a normal week.
I knew from recent forum posts and email that a new round of search
engine spam had recently been caught and banned. Tons of unsuspecting
site owners who had put their faith and trust in one particular SEO
company had woken up one morning to find that their sites had
completely vanished from Google, and in some cases, Yahoo. On SEO
forums throughout the Internet, you could almost hear their anguished
cries of "What have I done?"
What they had done was believe the sales pitches of slick-talking SEO
Instead of listening to their gut (which was telling them that if
something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is), they put
their sites -- and in many cases their livelihood -- on the line for
the chance of quick-fix high rankings.
It seems that most of those who were banned have the same story to
tell. The code and pages that they were asked to upload to their
server (or that were uploaded for them) seemed kind of fishy, but the
SEO company said it was necessary. They said that this was what you
*had* to do to get high rankings, and that "everyone" did it.
Apparently, they even have results from clients with which to back up
their sales talk.
What these site owners didn't know was that results obtained through
these methods are short-lived and dangerous to the long-term success
of a site. Basically, it only lasts until the next round of bannings
takes place. When one technique gets banned, they simply find a new
way to spam the engines on your behalf. This gives the company a
constant supply of short-lived high rankings to show potential clients
in order to convince them to sign up to become their next guinea pig.
So when I received Linda's email and looked at the HTML code of her
site, I wasn't surprised to see the telltale footprints of the
notorious spam company, "Traffic Power."
I wrote the following to Linda:
"Looks like Traffic Power strikes again?
"You have all sorts of search engine spam that was finally banned by
the search engines. You'll have to remove it all and then request
reinclusion. At the bottom of your home page are hidden links to all
the spammy doorway pages that redirect to your site.
"You may want to think about some sort of lawsuit against the company
who spammed the engines on your behalf, or at least try to get your
Linda was stunned that I knew right away which company was responsible
for her banning. The ironic thing is that in the past I've had people
ask me about Traffic Power, and since to a certain extent they are a
competitor of mine, I haven't felt it was my place to speak out
But not any longer.
I'm tired of sitting on the sidelines while good people who have a
lapse of judgment (or just can't resist a good sales pitch) get taken
to the cleaners.
If Traffic Power ever contacts you -- hang up immediately! They are
like those evil Sirens in the Odyssey. If you listen to them, you'll
be sucked in by their spell. Don't give them that chance.
If you have a site that has been "optimized" by them (and I use the
term loosely), then check to see if your site is banned already.
There's a chance you escaped this round of bannings, but that doesn't
mean you're safe. You need to remove every trace of spam from your
site as soon as possible. That means you need to take all the doorway
pages down, remove the invisible links to them and any mouseover
still getting high rankings from their spam, you NEED to get rid of
it. Yes, you will take a hit in your rankings, but you were enjoying
ill-gotten gains anyway.
Take this opportunity to fix your site up the right way. Make it the
best it can be for the search engines as well as your users. Read my
articles and the past issues of this newsletter, and participate in my
forum. There is never a good reason to hide pages of your site. If
pages have info that is good for the search engines, it should also be
good for your users.
Here are some additional resources for those of you who were burned by
this horrible, horrible company that gives SEOs everywhere a bad name:
A thread on my forum from one man who fell prey to Traffic Power and
is now paying for it in Google:
A WebmasterWorld Forum thread where a representative from Google
explains what to do in order to get your site reinstated:
An area of SEOconsultants.com dedicated to providing advice for site
owners who were burned by Traffic Power:
A law firm that is gathering facts in order to possibly start a
class-action suit against Traffic Power:
The sad thing is that for many years there has been a ton of
information written on the Web regarding the bad practices of this
company. Had any of the site owners who've been banned done the
slightest bit of homework, they would have known that paying this
company to spam the search engines on their behalf was absolutely not
a good idea! In fact, some of them did know this, but the lure of
easy high rankings was too strong to just say no.
I hope that the information I'm providing here can at least keep a few
people from falling victim to this scam. Please feel free to forward
this to others or point people to it once it's up in the archives on
my site. The URL will be:
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++The Magical Keyword Density Formula++
Looking for some magic keyword density numbers? See what SEO
copywriting pro Karon Thackston has to say! - Jill
The Magical Keyword Density Formula
By Karon Thackston
When it comes to SEO copywriting, this has to be one of the most
talked-about subjects. Why? Because keywords are the very foundation
of search engine copywriting. Without keywords we wouldn't even have
SEO copywriting. Since keywords (or more accurately, keyphrases) play
such an important role in search engine copywriting, it would make
sense to have certain rules and regulations or formulas that should be
It might make sense, but I'm sorry to say the mystery... the magic...
is more like a myth.
I have a guess as to where these magic formulas come from. Someone
brags to their friend that they got a #1 ranking for a particular
keyphrase. The friend studiously looks over the site and starts
taking notes. "He used this phrase 8 times in a 500-word piece of
copy. He put the keywords here and there and over here, too. That
means you have to put keyphrases in these places and reach a keyword
density of 1.6% in order to get a #1 ranking." Not so! Let me
explain why keyword density formulas don't fly.
Copywriting Is One Piece of the Search Engine Optimization Formula
Copywriting, in my opinion and the opinions of respected search engine
optimizers, is 1/3 of the puzzle; but there are other pieces to the
puzzle, too. What about coding and linking? Those are two extremely
important factors that also come into play.
If copywriting were the sole factor, then maybe -- just maybe --
keyword density formulas might be a reality instead of a fable. But
alas... they aren't.
Keyword Density Formulas Are Unproven
Go to any search engine and type in your primary keyphrase. Look at
the results that fall into the #1 through #5 slots. Do they all have
the same keyword density? No. Some have higher levels and some have
If keyword density formulas were carved in stone, every single site in
the top 10 would have the same keyword saturation levels. But
All Keyphrases Aren't Created Equal
Think about the competitiveness of the various keyphrases on the
Internet. You have some like "search engine marketing" that are
exceptionally competitive. Then there are others like "sushi
restaurant in Charlotte, NC" that aren't. You have to take into
account how many other sites you'll be battling with when you write
search engine copy.
Positioning of Keyphrases
In addition to the number of times a keyphrase is used, you need to
pay attention to *where* your keyphrases are used. While it has not
been proven to my knowledge, it is strongly suspected that keyphrases
that have special formatting carry additional weight. By special
formatting I mean bold, italics, in bulleted lists, in <H> tags, etc.
As I said, this has not been proven. Again, go to your favorite
search engine and type in a keyphrase. If formatting and positioning
were a carved-in-stone rule, all the sites in the top 10 would be
using these tactics. But alas... they aren't.
Why the Myths?
I understand why people want formulas. Having hard-and-fast rules to
follow means that if you apply the formula, you know you've done the
job right and you can't fail. The problem is there isn't just one
right way to create search engine copy. There are as many ways to
write SEO copy as there are sites on the Web.
Am I holding back? Am I trying to protect my highly classified
industry copywriting secrets? Not at all. In fact, go to my site at
<http://www.marketingwords.com>. Visit the portfolio section. If I
had a fiercely protected secret that I was holding out on, all the
sites with SEO copy in my portfolio would have the same keyword
density. But alas...they don't.
What DOES Work?
So after I've dashed your dreams, the least I can do is give you some
insight into how I write SEO copy. I don't do any or all of these in
any particular order. I don't do them all every time I write. I am
NOT saying that you should do all of these things every time you
1) If possible, I try to include keyphrase(s) in the headline and
sub-headlines. If it doesn't make sense, if it sounds odd, I don't
2) When it flows, I include keyphrases roughly once or twice per
paragraph. Do I count words? Do I run keyword density ratios?
Never! I just eyeball the page to see if it looks right.
3) This I do EVERY time I write... I focus on natural language. If
the copy sounds forced after including keyphrases, I scrap it and
start over. Read your copy out loud. If it sounds stupid or
redundant to you, it will sound stupid and redundant to your site
visitor. Don't compromise the flow of natural language for the sake
of search engines. What good will #1 rankings do if as soon as
visitors get to your home page they click away because the copy is so
awful? All the #1 spots in the world won't pay your grocery bill.
You ultimately have to have sales and that means winning over your
4) If possible, I try to include keyphrase(s) in bold, italic,
bulleted lists, or in other text that is specially formatted. If it
doesn't make sense, if it looks funny or sounds odd, I don't include
So that's it. Do you feel like you did when you were a kid and
learned there wasn't a Santa Claus or an Easter Bunny? Sorry. I
truly am. But it's for your own good. If you're going to be an
effective search engine copywriter, you have to learn the truth.
Relying on myths will only hold you back. Now pick yourself up, dust
yourself off, and get moving on that next #1-ranking page.
Copy Writing Course
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~~~High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week~~~
++Forum First Anniversary Guessing Game++
The High Rankings Forum will officially be 1 year old on July 31st.
Moderator ProjectPHP has decided to start a forum thread where people
can guess exactly how many registered users we'll have on that date,
as well as how many posts.
Come join the fun and make your predictions!
++Using Title Tags to Your Advantage++
(This audio recording changes each week.)
That's all for today!
Can you believe I actually wrote this newsletter on Tuesday -- a whole
day early? I know what you're thinking, that I must be sick or
something. Jill would never do something an entire day before she
needed to...so what gives? It's really no big deal, but now that I'm
trying to be a grown-up company, I actually have to go to meetings and
stuff, and one was scheduled for Wednesday (of all the nerve! Don't
people know that meetings can't be on Wednesdays?). Oh well, no
biggie. Looks like I was able to get the newsletter prepared on
Tuesday without a problem, but I just know it's going to screw up my
whole week. I'm surely gonna be a day ahead of schedule for the rest
of the week!
And would you look at that...next week is the Fourth of July -- my
birthday! Hope you enjoy my fireworks! Catch you next
Tuesday...erm...Wednesday! - Jill