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SEO Website Audit

High Rankings Advisor: SEO and Micro Sites - Issue No. 106

July 21, 2004

*Introductory Comments:
---->   Jill-and-Karon Day

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   SEO and Micro Sites

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   SEO Copywriting Kit
---->   SEO Copywriting Combo

*Karon's SEO Copywriting Makeover:
---->   Making an Emotional Connection

*Stuff You Might Like:
---->   How To Optimize Your Web Site for Search Engines
---->   The N@ked Truth About Karon Thackston

*High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week:
---->   Image Alt Attributes (Alt Tags)

*This Week's Sound Advice:
---->   Link Popularity and Page Rank

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   Server Upgrade

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hey everyone!  Thanks for all those emails last week in support of
honest, non-spammy SEO!  It helps to know that there are tons and tons
of great SEOs out there who have never used -- and would never think
to use -- shortsighted "tricks" to get ahead in the search engines.

Well, it appears that it's Jill-and-Karon Day here at High Rankings
headquarters.  Karon sent me her latest copywriting makeover to use
for today's guest article, plus both of today's "ads" are for the
stuff we've done together.  On top of that, even the "Stuff You Might
Like" section features both of us!

So let's get straight to it!


~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

++SEO and Micro Sites++

I answer a whole lot of email questions each week.  Most of them can
be answered with a single, simple email.  But every now and then I
need something clarified.  Very often we'll have quite an email
exchange going, until I am able to provide a satisfactory response.
This past week, I had a little email exchange with a guy named Al
regarding SEO and micro sites that I thought you might be interested

I hope it's helpful to some of you!

Subject: In need of your SEO insights...
From: Al

Hi Jill:

Hopefully you've been doing well and are still writing for High
Rankings.  It's been awhile since we've talked but I need your
expertise once again.  I've been getting inquiries from clients
regarding the creation of micro sites and how optimization of them
could dilute positioning of the main corporate site.  Your thoughts?

My view was that the corporate site would always maintain consistent
preferred positioning overall while the micro sites will only obtain
optimal positioning around the specific promotions they support.


++Jill's Response++

Hi Al,

I guess I don't understand what the purpose of the micro sites might
be.  They're certainly not an optimization technique I would
recommend.  However, if you are using them for reasons other than
search engine rankings, then they shouldn't be a problem.


++Al's Clarification++

I guess the concern is that if we created several micro sites to
promote/focus on their various philanthropic initiatives (and we plan
to create 5) that they could ultimately gain better traction within
the search engines than the main corporate site or take away from the
focus of the corporate site because a user has to choose between
multiple sites.

Keep in mind that the micro sites will be "branded" to indicate their
purpose so as not to be confused with the corporate site.

Make better sense?

++Jill's Response++

It really shouldn't make a difference either way.  You can do it as
part of the main site, or as separate sites.  It will be all the same
to the search engines either way.

Do it whichever way makes the most sense from a corporate/branding
initiative without regard to the search engines, and then you will
definitely make the right choice!


++Al Again++

So to clarify your view...

If, say, my client was Nike.  The corp. site is and one of
the philanthropic sites was  If we were to submit
the hunger site through natural listings and paid inclusion, are you
saying that most search engines would just recognize the hunger site
as another sub-domain to like or would it
be recognized as a completely independent Web property?


++Jill Again++

Well, I'm not sure what you mean by "recognizing it."  The search
engines really don't make distinctions like that.  Every page lives on
its own merits whether it's from one site or a different site.

In the case of your example, it definitely makes sense to have a
separate domain for something like Nikestophunger, as it has nothing
to do with the normal mission of Nike.  It can and will exist on its
own as a separate site without causing any problems for the main Nike



Now I understand.  This was a big help.

Thanks again Jill...until we chat again.



MarketingSherpa's SEO Copywriting Kit Featuring Jill Whalen

Includes Jill's "Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines,"
the audio CDs and transcript of Jill's recent teleseminar with Anne
Holland, PLUS a bonus copy of Karon Thackston's new "How To
Increase Keyword Saturation Without Destroying the Flow of Your
Copy."  The teleseminar CD and transcript portion include Jill's
verbal reviews of a ton of sites belonging to the seminar

A *steal* at only $99!  </seowritingkit>

~~~Karon's SEO Copywriting Makeover~~~

Karon Thackston has another great copywriting makeover for us today!
Make sure you look at all the "befores and afters" to get a real feel
for what great copy can do for a site.  If this gets you interested in
learning more about copywriting, you might want to take a look at
Karon's newest copywriting resource site:

Take it away, Karon! - Jill

Making an Emotional Connection
By Karon Thackston

One statistic shows that over 80% of all buying decisions are
emotional.  That means your copywriting should be, too.  This is
something I firmly believe in and have preached for most of my
copywriting career.  However, all too often, I find people skipping
the vital step of making an emotional connection with their customers.
That can be a tragic, and costly, mistake.

That's why I was excited when I had the opportunity to rewrite the
home-page copy for a vacation cruise service.

The Problems

The previous copy on the Cruise Vacation Center home page faced a
couple of challenges.  (You can view the original copy at this link:
The copy was very company-oriented instead of customer-oriented.  It
talked about who Cruise Vacation Center (CVC) is, why the visitor
should buy from them, and some wonderful benefits CVC offers its
clients, including excellent bargain rates and extra discounts.
However, all the verbiage was geared toward the company. The customer
was left out.

The home-page copy also lacked emotion and was very matter of fact.  I
wanted to create a vision for the site visitors.  I wanted to give
them what they needed in order to float off into a daydream about
fabulous ports of call, thrilling adventures and warm, gentle breezes.
I also had to be sure to include the fact that CVC's business plan was
set up to be most affordable for the customer when s/he booked online.
This was an extremely important issue and a point that needed to be
woven throughout the copy.

Lastly, the page had to uphold Cruise Vacation Center's excellent
search engine rankings.  They were ranked at the top of several major
engines, and the rewritten copy couldn't jeopardize their positioning.

The Solutions

The first step was, without question, to woo the site visitors with
delightful fantasies about their next vacation.  My goal was to
conjure up all sorts of visions in the minds of Cruise Vacation
Center's visitors.  I wanted the visitors to be dreaming of exotic
places with lots of fun things to do, interesting sights to see, and
24/7 access to gourmet meals that rival any 5-star restaurant.  I
wanted their blood pressure to drop 10 points just from reading about
the onboard staff of hundreds who would pamper them with VIP
treatment.  After reading this copy, I wanted them ready to leave on
vacation today!  However, I also had to persuade them to book online
rather than calling CVC's office.

During the rewrite, I had to carefully plan the use of their primary
keyphrase, "cruise vacation," so as not to disrupt their most reliable
source of business... the search engines. After all, there is a
delicate balance between pleasing the search engines and appealing to
site visitors.

If I leaned too much toward the search engine side of the equation,
Cruise Vacation Center would get lots of visitors, but few of them
would book cruises.

If I leaned too much toward the customer side of the equation, CVC's
rankings might plummet, and they would need to find a new way to drive
qualified traffic to their site.  As is normally the case with SEO
copywriting, balance was going to be vital.

The Rewrite

Before I began writing, I wanted to really be in the mood.  I played
around on the vacation search feature of CVC's site and read all about
some of the places I have always wanted to go.  I took my time and let
my imagination run wild while reading about the ports of call, the
activities, and the ship's amenities.

When people shop for vacations they are primarily interested in what
they'll get, and price is a secondary consideration.  You usually go
on only one vacation/holiday a year.  That's why we dream.  It's a
limited experience:  something we plan for and look forward to for
months on end.  So, while a vacation planner may not choose to buy the
king-sized, master, grand suite, all-inclusive, 5-star vacation trip
around the world, s/he sure has fun reading about it and imagining it.
Why do you think shows like "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" are so

Once I'd filled my mind with everything wonderful about cruise
vacations, I was ready to tackle the copy.

Keyphrase inclusion was simple on this page.  There was just one
keyphrase, cruise vacation.  I used both the singular and plural forms
throughout the text.  My challenge with the SEO aspect of the
copywriting was to keep the balance.

Normally, when there is just one keyphrase, there is a very high
tendency by most people to ram, shove, and squeeze the phrase into
every nook and cranny of the copy -- resist that urge!  SEO
copywriting is NOT about forcing keyphrases into every possible slot.

Starting at the top, I changed the headline of:

"Planning quality discount cruises for you since 1993!"


"Book Your Exotic Cruise Vacation Online and Get Rock-bottom Prices to
the Hottest Destinations"

Next, I immediately began to entice the visitor with visions of what
s/he could expect from their vacation and from CVC.

Rather than talk about the company directly as the original copy did:

"Dreaming of a cruise but don't want to pay full price? Cruise
Vacation Center is one of the nation's largest cruise agencies."

I started the copy with this:

"Just imagine... you're walking along the deck of a grand cruise
vessel as it gently keeps rhythm with the waves. The sun is on your
shoulders and a soothing breeze wafts through your hair."

I continued to build the new copy with phrases like "wander your way
through the medieval castles," "stunning gardens of the
Mediterranean," and "oceanfront luau in Hawaii," while intermixing
statements including "deep discounts," "book securely online," and so

All the while, I was dropping reminders to book online for the biggest
savings and offering explanations about why that would benefit the

The call to action was designed to reinforce the idea that the
customer *could* get more vacation choices for their money with CVC.

The Results

It's fun to see how these makeovers turn out.  What did my client have
to say?  The response was astonishing and immediate:  "...Weekend
sales tripled! Usually around 10 online books over the weekend, [then]
last weekend had 30!  [Also, we were] re-indexed and the home page
moved up [two positions] for 'cruise vacation.'  It has a great
lead-in on the search page, too."

Man... I just love my job!

Karon Thackston
Copywriting Course

_________Powerful SEO Copywriting Combo______________adv.

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

If your site is poorly written, your sales will be slow.  You *must*
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:  </combo106>.

~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~

Not only is it Jill-and-Karon Day today, but it's audio day for both
of us!  I'd like to point out 2 great audio interviews that you won't
want to miss.  The first is a radio show I did with Bob Sommers from
"Recognized Expert" <> and the second
is an interview Karon Thackston had with Mark Ungvarsky.

++How To Optimize Your Web Site for Search Engines++

Bob Sommers grilled me on my methods for optimizing your site for high
rankings, including the top 5 things you can do right now!

Listen to it here:

++The N@ked Truth About Karon Thackston++

You know you've always wondered about that Karon Thackston gal I often
pal around with.  Well, here's your chance to learn everything you
wanted to know, but were afraid to ask!

Listen to Karon's audio interview with Mark Ungvarsky here:

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

++Image Alt Tags++

New forum member Damo2576 asks if repeating the same ALT tag for many
images causes problems.  See what the other forum members have to say,
and/or leave your own 2 cents here:

~~~Sound Advice~~~

++Link Popularity and Page Rank++

(This audio recording changes each week.)

~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

That's it for today!  If you try to visit the forum later tonight or
tomorrow, please note that I'm upgrading to a more powerful server.
They've moved all the files to the new one, but I'll have to shut down
the forum briefly while they update the database.  Then we have to
wait for the DNS to propagate.  It shouldn't cause too many problems
or outages, but you just never know.  So if you try to visit and can't
get in, please come back a little while later!

Catch you next week!

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