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High Rankings Advisor: Optimize or Advertise? - Issue No. 110

August 28, 2004

*Introductory Comments:
---->   Upgrade in Progress

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   Keyword Phrases in URLs
---->   Browser Keywords -- Again
---->   Hits vs. Visitors

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   Search Marketing Resource Guide
---->   HitsLink Private Label Partner Program

*Guest Article:
---->   When To Optimize and When To Advertise

*Stuff You Might Like:
---->   Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

*High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week:
---->   Utterly Disillusioned with SEO

*This Week's Sound Advice:
---->   Site Maps for Search Engine Success

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   Mom and Dad Are Famous!

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hey everyone!  Our new subscriber list upgrade is finally in progress
after a few technical difficulties.  Many of you have already
confirmed your subscription, so thank you for that.

One of the good things to come out of all this is all the email I've
received from those of you who just felt the urge to write in and tell
me your success stories of how the High Rankings Advisor has helped
you.  That's really been cool!  I also received many SEO questions
yesterday and today due to the opt-in request which have kept me busy
as well.  There's nothing like answering questions 2 minutes after
receiving them to really freak people out...hehehe!  Since I received
so many, I decided to put a bunch of them in today's newsletter.

Regarding the new subscriber list, I'm a little concerned because so
far, I don't have nearly as many subscribers confirmed, as I should.
If you haven't received your request for confirmation, please sign up
for the new list here: </subscribe.htm>.
Again, you'll have to double-opt-in, but the process is simple.  Just
be sure to look for the email and click the confirmation link that's
in it.

Okay, it's time for the good stuff! - Jill

~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

++Keyword Phrases in URLs++


Thanks for the newsletter.  I loved the piece on Wordtracker vs.

Quick question: How do you rate keywords repeating in internal links? index page links to:
.htm etc.

Is this a no-no or is it good practice?

Thanks in anticipation.

Steve R

++Jill's Response++

Hi Steve,

Personally, I think having long, keyword-rich URLs look bad and are
hard for a real person to remember.  Plus, they pretty much tell the
search engines, "Hey look, I've optimized this page!"  As much as we
hate to think it, the engines would most likely prefer *not* to have
our help.  They feel that they don't need us to optimize pages for
high rankings.  (See my recent article "The Art of SEO"

That said, if you find that you like those kinds of URLs, then I would
at least recommend using dashes (hyphens) instead of underscores, as
that's the character the engines treat like a space.  Underscores are
not effective for this.


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70 essential resources you should know about!

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

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You'll wonder how you ever got along without it!

++Browser Keywords -- Again++


Texas greetings to you. I just got your email to re-confirm my
subscription to your newsletter....thanks...I truly enjoy getting it
each week. It has helped me graduate from Internet Search Dummy to
Internet Search Freshman. Unlike some of my classes back in my old
college days, I always look forward to your weekly SEO lessons.

As a student of your SEO lessons, I have become optimistically
skeptical about the various methods used to get noticed on the
Internet. Thus, my inquiry to you today regarding a keyword buying
process. Our company is considering using [a browser keyword company]
to steer some Web users to our products. In this pursuit, I have been
charged with the task of "looking into it."  I reviewed their Website
and other materials regarding their service and I think I have a
reasonable grasp of what they do and how they may help us, but I
wanted to filter this concept through an experienced SEO Professor
like you. What are my key considerations in evaluating this service?

Thanks for the continuing education...

Best Regards....

Jeff W.

++Jill's Response++

Hi Jeff,

Glad to have been able to help in your SEO education, although I've
never been called a professor before!

Regarding the company in question, you need to run away as fast as you
can.  It's one of those silly browser keyword scams that I wrote about
nearly 2 years ago.  You can read my "Stuff You Might NOT Like"
article here: </issue026.htm#stuff>.

Please don't waste any money on this completely and utterly useless


++Hits vs. Visitors++

Good morning Jill,

I just wanted to pass along to you how much I enjoy reading your info
on SEO.  I became familiar with you and your site via Site Pro News.
Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

Years ago, someone told me that .01% of all websites ever reach the
5,000 hits a day mark.  I have had one other site do it, but it was a
one-week spike and never happened again.  I have a site now that has a
24-day average of 5,042 hits/day.

Have you ever heard a statistic on the number of sites reaching this


Carl F.

++Jill's Response++

Hi Carl,

If you're really looking at "hits" then you are looking at the wrong
metric.  Hits aren't a good indicator of your site's traffic, as they
simply tell you how many of every single item on your page are
downloaded (looked at).  For instance, if you have a page that has 20
graphics on it (due to navigation buttons perhaps) when anyone looks
at that page in their browser, it would show up as 21 hits in your
logs:  1 hit for the html file and 20 for the images.  So 5,000 hits a
day really isn't very much once you look at it that way.

What you need to look at instead is the number of unique visitors to
your site.  I agree, 5,000 *unique visitors* per day is definitely a
decent number of visitors.  For comparison, my site gets between 2,000
and 4,000 unique visitors a day (10,000-20,000 "hits"), which includes
my forum.

I don't have any statistics with the averages for all sites, however.
You might check with JupiterResearch, as they might have that

Hope this helps!


~~~Guest Article~~~

Patricia Hursh of SmartSearch Marketing writes today's guest article
on when to use SEO and/or PPC.  Patricia speaks at the Search Engine
Strategy conferences and we finally had the opportunity to meet for
lunch in San Jose a few weeks ago (at previous conferences, we kept
missing each other).  SmartSearch Marketing specializes in PPC
campaigns, and they really seem to know their stuff.  In fact, my new
company, Search Creative, LLC, is already working on some partnerships
with them.  I'm also looking forward to perhaps doing some sightseeing
in Stockholm with Patricia when we're both there for the next SES
conference in October.

Take it away, Patricia! - Jill

++When To Optimize and When To Advertise ++

When To Optimize and When To Advertise
by Patricia Hursh

Are you struggling with how to combine search engine optimization and
pay-per-click advertising? In this article, you'll find tested
guidelines and business scenarios to help you plan a successful,
integrated campaign that is aligned with your business goals and
market situation.

Which Elicits More Clicks?

One of the questions most frequently asked of search engine marketers
is, "Which do searchers click on more frequently: natural search
engine results or paid ads?" Recent studies have verified that the
answer is a definitive..."It depends!"

Searcher behavior varies greatly depending on the demographics of the
searcher (men vs. women, experienced Internet users vs. novices), the
type of search a person is conducting (information-oriented vs.
purchase-oriented) and the engine where the search is being conducted
(Google vs. MSN).

To reach the greatest number of prospects and maximize the results of
your campaign, you must be visible in natural results *and* sponsored

Here are six prioritization guidelines for you to follow when setting
up your search engine marketing campaign according to your company's
unique business goals and market characteristics:

(1) Limited Ad Budget
If budgets are tight or nonexistent (meaning you can't afford to pay
for website visitors, even after taking into account the value of
their desired online action), then you will want to place a great deal
of emphasis on effectively implementing search engine optimization

(2) Website That Can't Be Modified
Optimization typically involves modifying a site's design, content,
and navigation. For example, heavy reliance on Flash, frames, or
graphics may need to be changed in order to incorporate more optimized
text.  However, some businesses feel that an optimized website does
not provide the multi-media experience their customers require or
expect. If your business falls into this category, then advertising
may be the only way to achieve results.

(3) Need Immediate Results
A basic Google AdWords campaign can be up and running -- driving
visitors to your site -- in a matter of hours, while significant
improvement in natural rankings may take several months to achieve.
Therefore, if you require immediate results, make pay-per-click
advertising a top priority.

(4) Guaranteed Top Placement
If you absolutely must guarantee consistent top placement on
high-volume keywords in a competitive market sector, you will likely
need to rely heavily on advertising (assuming your budget can
accommodate it). Investigate current bid rates. Can you afford top
placement on the highest-volume words? If not, expand your keyword
list beyond the obvious, most popular search queries and advertise
across a larger number of less popular, more cost-effective words and
phrases. Ultimately, focus on the keywords that work best, based on
conversion results.

(5) Need To Control Ad Content or Timing
If you need to control or frequently change the content of your ad, to
place seasonal offers or to respond to current events, for example, or
if you want to turn your advertising on and off, you will need to rely
on the control and flexibility offered by pay-per-click advertising.

(6) Ad-Adverse Audience
Lastly, if you believe that your target audience is very
Internet-savvy and is unlikely to click on information that they
realize is a purchased advertisement, then the credibility associated
with a high natural ranking is invaluable. In cases like these,
optimization should be your main focus.

The above guidelines will help you assess the relative priority of
optimization and advertising, but how should you implement each
method? Simultaneously? One at a time?

Here are four business scenarios and recommendations for blending
optimization and advertising campaigns:

Scenario #1: Money is tight; you can afford to wait for results.
Recommendation: Focus on a full-bore optimization effort first. Take
the time required to maximize your natural ranking for a select set of
very important search phrases. After several months, supplement your
optimization efforts with paid advertising only if and where needed.

Scenario #2: You need immediate and long-term results, but you have a
limited budget.
Recommendation: Launch both efforts simultaneously and spend
proportionately more money on pay-per-click during the first few
months until your natural rankings improve. Then reduce your ad spend
over time, especially in less critical areas where you've already
achieved a high natural rank.

Scenario #3: You need immediate results and have a decent budget, but
you're not sure how to best optimize your site.
Recommendation: Initially, launch only a robust pay-per-click
campaign. Use campaign data to quickly improve landing pages, increase
conversion, and learn which search phrases deliver the best results.
Then, use these findings to launch a targeted optimization project
that will support your most important search phrases.

Scenario #4: You need maximum results and have no budget limit as long
as return on investment is there.
Recommendation: Go full-steam-ahead with both approaches
simultaneously. Make sure that you know what a website conversion is
worth and that you know the costs (hard and soft) associated with
optimization and advertising. Strategically test and measure results
to optimize your efforts.  Invest as much money as possible as long as
you are satisfied with the volume of conversions and your return on

Today, most marketers realize that website optimization and search
advertising is not an "either/or" proposition. To reach the greatest
number of searchers, marketers should blend both natural and paid
listings, capitalizing on their complementary strengths and weaknesses
for a well-rounded and effective search marketing campaign.

Patricia Hursh
SmartSearch Marketing

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~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~

++Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?++

As part of our Boston High Rankings Search Engine Marketing Seminar
</110seminar>, we are planning an optional
dinner event on Thursday, Sept. 23rd.  We've decided to open this up
to the general SEO/SEM community as a way of getting to meet those of
you who can't attend the seminar and workshops.

We'll be meeting at the John Harvard's Brew House at Shopper's World
in Framingham, MA at 7:00 PM.  The price for seminar participants is
$35 and for non-seminar participants it's $40.  There will be a
separate room set up for us, and we'll have a special menu with some
of their most popular dishes.  Drinks and appetizers will be charged
separately (unless we can get someone to sponsor this aspect...hint,

I also want to remind those of you thinking of attending the seminar
and workshops that time is running out on the early-bird registration.
After August 31st (this coming Tuesday), the price goes to its normal
level.  So if you're cheap like I am, be sure to sign up some time
this week.  There are still plenty of seats left, but they are limited
if we get a full house, so please don't delay!

More info on this event including the agenda can be viewed here:

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

++Utterly Disillusioned with SEO++

Forum member "BungleBob" asks, "Is the Internet becoming

Lots of thought-provoking discussion is contained in this thread.
Grab your favorite beverage and have a read.  Be sure to share your
own thoughts before you go.

~~~Sound Advice~~~

++Site Maps for Search Engine Success++

(This audio recording changes each week.)

~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

OK guys, that wraps up another one!

As I type this, I've got house painters peering in at me while they
get the house prepped for its new coat of paint.  Apparently I'm not
the only one in the family doing some home renovations.  Check out
this article from the Honolulu Advertiser that my parents just sent me
regarding their recent kitchen remodeling:
Guess I'm also not the only one who gets quoted in the press! <grin>

Don't forget to sign up for the new list and for the Boston seminar!

See you next week. - Jill
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