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SEO Website Audit

High Rankings Advisor: Link Popularity - Issue No. 109

August 18, 2004

*Introductory Comments:
---->   Looking for a Boston Copywriter

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   Link Popularity

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   HitsLink Private Label Partner Program
---->   AdWord Accelerator

*Guest Article:
---->   Online Public Relations

*Stuff You Might Like:
---->   High Rankings Boston SEM Seminar
---->   Copywriting Course 3rd Edition Available

*High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week:
---->   Linked Sites - How Best To Do It

*This Week's Sound Advice:
---->   Splash and Flash Pages

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   OK, I'll stop blathering...

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hey everyone! I've got a few housekeeping details to take care of here
before we get to the good stuff.

The list upgrade I've been mentioning seems to keep getting hit by
those stinkin' technology gremlins.  So if you haven't received your
confirmation email yet, don't worry -- most people haven't.  Just
remember to keep your eyes peeled for it and be sure you confirm your
subscription by clicking on the link provided in the email.

My next order of business is -- drum roll please -- the official
announcement of the formation of my brand-new company, Search
Creative, LLC.

Search Creative was formed as a partnership between
and Modern Creative, Inc.  We're still in the process of designing the
SC Website, but I'll be sure to let you know when it's up and running.
Basically, we're a full-service marketing and advertising agency
located in Cambridge, MA, specializing in high-end Website design and
full-service search engine optimization.  We also offer traditional
marketing and PR services, and will soon be offering PPC online
advertising services.  I still offer my consulting services through, but all full-service SEO will go through Search

Even though I'm just announcing this today, Search Creative has been
in the works for many months.  We're already extremely busy and are
actively seeking to add another copywriter/researcher to our staff.
This is not a freelance position, as we're looking for someone to work
in our Cambridge office during normal business hours.  If you live in
this area and have solid copywriting skills and a few years of
experience, you may be just what we're looking for. Some of the duties
will include writing reports, proposals, Web pages, brochures, press
releases and ad copy, as well as some link research and other
marketing-related duties.  SEO copywriting skills are a plus but not a
requirement, as just being a great writer is the most important skill.
Of course you also have to love what you do, enjoy working as a team,
and be an all-around fun person!

If you fit the bill, please email your resume and at least 3 writing
samples to me at

Okay, enough admin stuff...let's get to the good stuff! - Jill

~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

The following article on link popularity was originally written by me
over 3-1/2 years ago in January 2001.  Surprisingly enough, I didn't
have to edit as much as one would think in order for it to be updated
to 2004.  (As an aside, I have to laugh when others write that I just
"recently jumped on the link popularity bandwagon"! <grin>)

++Link Popularity++

For years, "link popularity" and "Google PageRank" have been the talk
of the town in the search engine optimization community. However, the
definition of link popularity and how it differs from PageRank (PR),
as well as how much effect these actually have on search engine
rankings, is often misunderstood.

What is Link Popularity?

The theory goes something like this: The search engine Powers That Be
have decided that if other sites are linking to your site, it must be
a winner; therefore, it deserves a boost in rankings (when all else is
equal). If you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. People link
to good sites, not bad ones.

PageRank Does Not Equal Link Popularity

It's important to note that Google PageRank is not the same thing as
link popularity.  PR is actually a subset of link popularity.  Whereas
PR focuses strictly on the quantity and popularity of links, link
popularity adds a "quality factor" into the equation.  Unfortunately,
many people mistakenly use the terms "link popularity" and "PageRank "
interchangeably, which has served to confuse the issue further.

All major search engines place some emphasis on link popularity in
their ranking algorithms. There appear to be 2 main types of links
that work best to increase your link popularity: links from other
sites that focus on the same keyword phrases your site focuses on, and
links from relevant categories in major directories and
industry-specific portals. "Free-for-all" (FFA) sites do not
constitute quality links, so don't waste your $24.95 submitting your
site to 500 of them. Links from sites that focus on topics that have
nothing to do with your site probably won't help you win any link
popularity contests, either (although they may temporarily boost your

How Does Link Popularity Work?

Here's an example of how I believe link popularity works:

Let's say that Bob's Pizza Palace Website has a link to Joe's Men's
Clothing store site. If the link uses the keywords "men's clothing
store" in the anchor text (the clickable part), it may help Joe's link
popularity a little bit for those keywords.  However, Joe would
benefit a lot more if the same link came from a site that was more
related to Joe's site than a pizza palace.  For instance, a more
related link might be from a woman's clothing store, a men's shoe
store or any other type of store that relates to clothing in some way.

An even higher-quality link for Joe might be from "Sam's Clothing
Store Directory," which lists a whole bunch of clothing stores that
can be found on the Internet. That is exactly the kind of link that
the search engines would want to credit toward link popularity. Again,
the key is in having that common thread between the sites.

Where Do Reciprocal Links Come In?

The other popular misconception floating around is in regards to
reciprocal linking.  Since so many people think that exchanging links
with sites is the easiest way to get them (it may or may not be), new
people learning about link popularity are under the mistaken belief
that they *must* have links that are reciprocated on their site (e.g.,
"you-link-to-me-and-I'll-link-to-you"-type links).  Still others are
saying that reciprocal links are dead and you won't gain *any* benefit
from them.

Both camps are wrong.  You certainly don't *need* to get reciprocal
links, but you can if you want to.  Remember, it's links pointing TO
your site that are the helpful ones.  Links pointing FROM your site to
other sites are wonderful to have because they help your visitors find
related stuff, but if your site doesn't lend itself to linking to
other sites, then by all means, don't do it.  You need to do what's
right for your company and your site visitors, first and foremost.

Should I Care About Link Popularity?

In general, there's no need for the average site to obsess over link
popularity. Yes, you'll want to keep it in mind, and yes you should
make sure that your site is what I like to call "link-worthy."
However, from my experience (and contrary to popular belief), link
popularity constitutes only a portion of most search engines' ranking
algorithms. Arguably, Google places more emphasis than most other
engines on incoming links at this point in time.  How much these
actually boost a site's ranking is debatable and truly depends on the
site.  It also depends on the words that are placed in the anchor
text.  I have found that just a few highly relevant links with strong
anchor text can go a long way towards link popularity for many sites.

For sites that want to take it to the next level and are trying to
rank highly with extremely competitive keywords, it may be necessary
to actively seek out links from other relevant Websites. This doesn't
mean you should go out and create a whole bunch of domains yourself
and link them all together because it sounds easier than getting
others to link to you.  (Yes, that trick has been tried before!) It
simply means you should look for sites that are related to your site
in some way, and see if they might be interested in promoting your
site to their users.

Whatever you do, do not send automatically generated link requests to
any site.  Most Webmasters consider them a nuisance at best and sp@m
at worst.  Certainly, a personal email may be welcome, and it also
doesn't hurt to pick up the phone and begin a dialogue with a
potential link partner.  Remember, very often these links from
relevant sites will bring more traffic to your site than a high search
engine ranking will bring.

How To Get Linked Without Even Trying

My favorite way to get links (but the most time-consuming) is to
simply have the best site on the Internet in your specific niche.
Interestingly enough, if your site is well written, provides tons of
useful information and is constantly updated, you often won't have to
seek out links at all. Other sites will link to yours of their own

This has worked for me on my site for many years.
Without actively requesting any links (other than a few major
directories), hundreds of highly relevant sites have added to their list of recommended sites related to SEO.
Some people link to my home page, others to the main newsletter page,
and still others to my forum.  Some will link directly to an article
or newsletter they've enjoyed, and some will ask if they can republish
some on their site, while also including a link.

This is the ideal, and not every site is going to have the time or
inclination to get to this stage. However, I firmly believe that any
kind of site in any type of business can use this method if they are
willing to work at it.  I know of no other method that can even bring
links from direct competitors!  Personally, I'd rather spend my time
creating a link-worthy site than sending out repetitive reciprocal
link exchange requests...but maybe that's just me!

Your homework for this week is to think about how you can make your
site so good that others will be only too willing to link to it --
without your even having to ask for it. If you can figure it out and
actually spend the time implementing the strategy, eventually you
won't have to worry about link popularity, reciprocal links or
PageRank ever again!

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Earn up to 50% Margins Reselling Website Statistics

HitsLink website statistics are a great way to analyze your clients'
for SEO, PPC conversion tracking and more. Our Private Label
Program has been developed with the SEO and SEM in Mind.

Extend your brand, provide additional value to your clients and add
new revenue to your practice.  Sign up is free and easy!

~~~Guest Article~~~

++Online Public Relations++

Melanie Broemsen, an SEO/Public Relations Specialist for The Karcher
Group, writes today's guest article.  Melanie is a graduate of Kent
State University's public relations program and also serves on the
IABC District 7 board.  She became involved in Web-related public
relations and Internet marketing/SEO when she began working as
marketing/PR director for an online travel agency in 1999, so she has
many years of experience under her belt.

Let's give a warm Advisor welcome to Melanie! - Jill

Online Public Relations:
A Proactive, Innovative Approach to Communication
By Melanie Broemsen

Public relations is more than distributing a news release. It's the
art of effectively communicating a specific message to a target
audience.  In many cases, that audience is comprised of media
representatives that help you generate publicity. However, that
audience may also be your investors, employees, clients or community.

A good online PR campaign can help you increase your Web presence,
improve your rankings and enhance your company's image -- especially
when combined with proven SEO techniques. This might be a new concept
for some of you, but I know it works. Using these techniques combined
with traditional SEO and PPC, I was able to achieve a 400% sales
increase in only 18 months for a former employer.

Right now, I have a client that operates a business in an industry
that is a "hot topic" -- one that tends to spark media interest.  This
client was ready to start tooting their own horn, so I put together a
small PR plan for them. We put the first phase into motion with a
feature release at the end of June.  Since then, we have distributed
two more news releases.  We're also working with them to make some
small changes to the site that will enhance credibility and usability.

Anyway, I compared statistics from the week before to the week after
the first release:

* There was an 8% increase in unique visitors.
* There was a 7.2% traffic increase to the order-form page.
* Order-form downloads increased by 42%. (Conversion rate increased.)

In addition:
* Return visitors, which usually average around 30-32%, spiked at
43.4% the day after the most recent release.
* Google backlinks have increased 270% since the beginning of the
* Prior to the start of the campaign, traffic peaked with about 18,000
unique visitors per week. Since then, the traffic has been steadily
climbing, with the highest number of visitors last week (nearly

Now, we're still working on measuring the effect in terms of phone
calls and print exposure, but as you see, the results so far have been
fantastic.  Can you imagine what kind of results a long-term,
dedicated campaign might achieve?

As SEOs, I think we tend to forget that there are other ways to
generate business: we are trained to think search engines (Google),
search engines (Yahoo), search engines (MSN)! Not that it's bad -- all
Web sites need good SEO work to be successful. However, there are
other methods out there beyond SEO and PPC.  Just like you should
include the four food groups in your diet, you should be sure to
include a mix of techniques in your Web marketing plans: SEO, paid
marketing/advertising, and online public relations. The key to
maximizing your Web site's effectiveness is finding the right
combination for your business.

Of course, there are many other benefits of online public relations.
Some of the side effects include:

* increased exposure offline;
* ability to spot key trends among target audiences (before the
* higher conversion rates;
* ranking for "problematic" terms;
* improved credibility and public image;
* formation of relationships with key media representatives.

Even if you have a news section on your site, there IS more you can
do. If you have questions or need some help, feel free to contact me.

Melanie Broemsen
SEO/Public Relations Specialist
The Karcher Group

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~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~

++High Rankings Boston SEM Seminar++

Registration is open for our High Rankings 2-day seminar.  Be sure to
register early to save money and reserve your seat!  Email me if
you're interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities.

When: Thursday and Friday, September 23 and 24, 2004
Where: The Crown Plaza Natick/Boston

Please see my seminar page for more details and pricing:

++Copywriting Course 3rd Edition Available++

My good buddy Karon Thackston (who'll be speaking at the
above-mentioned seminar) has informed me that she's just published the
3rd edition of her Step-by-Step Copywriting Course.  It's the same
all-encompassing course I've been recommending for the past couple of
years, but she's combined some sections, made each lesson more
comprehensive and given an overall fine-tuning to the course. She
tells me that the SEO copywriting section got most of her attention.
In fact, it's now 3 times longer than it previously was and includes
more examples, too.

If you previously purchased the course, you can upgrade to this 3rd
edition for only $29 by using this link:
<>.  (You'll need
your previous ClickBank receipt # to use that link.)  If you recently
purchased (within the past month), Karon should have contacted you
personally about your free upgrade.

The new course is available at a discount when you purchase it
together with my Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines
handbook here: </combo.htm> or you can
order it solo here: </copywritingcourse>.

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

++Linked Sites - How Best To Do It++

This forum thread on linking sites together fits nicely with today's
link popularity article.


~~~Sound Advice~~~

++Splash and Flash Pages++

(This audio recording changes each week.)

~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

Looks like I've blathered on enough for one newsletter so I'll make
this short and sweet.  Sign up for the Sept. Boston seminar, keep your
eyes peeled for your opt-in confirmation (hopefully soon) and I'll see
you next week! - Jill

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