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High Rankings Advisor: Crawler Friendliness - Issue No. 114

September 21, 2004
~~~IN TODAY'S ADVISOR~~~

*Introductory Comments:
---->   Last Chance for High Rankings Seminar

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   Crawler Friendliness

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   HitsLink ver. 3.0
---->   High Rankings Seminar CD

*Guest Article:
---->   Get Your Web Visitors Off the Couch!

*High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week:
---->   Sandbox Theory and PageRank Updates

*This Week's Sound Advice:
---->   Professional Search Engine Optimization

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   Partying with Presenters
________________________________________________________

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Okay guys, we still have a few seats left for this Thursday and
Friday's seminar in Natick, MA (20 miles west of Boston).  So are you
coming?  :-)

This is your opportunity to learn from the High Rankings experts in a
small classroom atmosphere.  It's much different from some of the
large conferences you may have been to.  You will definitely have a
chance to interact personally with all the presenters and ask as many
questions as you'd like, with NO sales pitches!  We really do want to
help you, and we really don't hold anything back.

Plus (and this is a biggie), we don't know when we'll be holding
another one of these.  With all the other conferences we speak at, our
travel schedules are starting to get pretty tight, and I'm personally
concerned about being away from home too much.  My speakers all have
families/husbands/wives and are finding themselves in the same
traveled-out mode as I am!  (Part of the reason why this one is nearby
for me!)  So if you're thinking, "I'll just go to the next one," we
don't know if and when there will actually BE a next one!  We are
certainly keeping the West Coast in mind, but we have no firm
commitments at this time.

If you're serious about learning the ins and outs of SEO/SEM for your
site, I promise you this 2-day seminar and workshops will be worth
your while!     (Don't forget about the 10%
forum discount which is still good.)


~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

++Crawler Friendliness++

I couldn't think of anything new to write about today, so I decided to
rerun the article I wrote last year on making sure your site is
crawler-friendly.  I used to call this "search-engine-friendly" but my
friend Mike Grehan convinced me that the more accurate phrase was
"crawler-friendly" because it's the search engine crawlers (or
spiders) that your site needs to buddy-up to, as opposed to the search
engine itself.

So, how do you make sure your site is on good terms with the crawlers?
Well, it always helps to first buy it a few drinks. <grin> But, since
that's not usually possible, your next-best bet is to design your site
with the crawlers in mind.  The search engine spiders are primitive
beings, and although they are constantly being improved, for best
results you should always choose simplicity over complexity.

What this means is that cutting-edge designs are generally not the
best way to go.  Interestingly enough, your site visitors may agree.
Even though we SEO geeks have cable modems and DSL, our site visitors
probably don't.  Slow-loading Flash sites, for example, may stop
visitors on dialup as well as the search engine spiders right in their
tracks.  There's nothing of interest on the average Flash site to a
search engine spider anyway, so it's certainly not going to wait for
it to download!

Besides Flash, there are a number of "helpful" features being thrown
into site designs these days that can sadly be the kiss of death to
its overall spiderability.  For instance, sites that require a session
ID to track visitors may never receive any visitors to begin with --
at least not from the search engines.  If your site or shopping cart
requires session IDs, check Google right now to see if your pages are
indexed.  (Do an inurl:yourdomainhere.com in Google's search box and
see what shows up.) If you see that Google has only 1 or 2 pages
indexed, your session IDs may be the culprit.  There are workarounds
for this, as I have seen many sites that use session Ids get indexed;
however, the average programmer/designer may not even know this is a
problem.

Another source of grief toward getting your pages thoroughly crawled
is the use of the exact same Title tags on every page of your site.
This sometimes happens because of Webmaster laziness, but often it's
done because a default Title tag is automatically pulled up through a
content management system (CMS).  If you have this problem it's well
worth taking the time to fix it.

Most CMSs have workarounds where you can add a unique Title tag as
opposed to pulling up the same one for each page.  Usually the
programmers simply never realized it was important, so it was never
done.  The cool thing is that with dynamically generated pages you can
often set your templates to pull a particular sentence from each page
and plug it into your Title field.  A nice little "trick" is to make
sure each page has a headline at the top that is utilizing your most
important keyword phrases.  Once you've got that, you can set your CMS
to retrieve it for your Title tags (with or without some variation).

Another reason I've seen for pages not being crawled is because they
are set to require a cookie when a visitor gets to the page.  Well,
guess what, folks?  Spiders don't eat cookies! (Sure, they like beer,
but they hate cookies!)  No, you don't have to remove your cookies to
get crawled.  Just don't force-feed them to anyone and everyone.  As
long as they're not required, your pages should be crawled just fine.

What about the use of JavaScript?  We've often heard that JavaScript
is unfriendly to the crawlers.  This is partly true, and partly false.
Nearly every site I look at these days uses some sort of JavaScript
within the code.  It's certainly not bad in and of itself.  As a rule
of thumb, if you're using JavaScript for mouseover effects and that
sort of thing, just check to make sure that the HTML code for the
links also uses the traditional <a href> tag.  As long as that's
there, you'll most likely be fine.  For extra insurance, you can place
any JavaScript links into the <noscript> tag, put text links at the
bottom of your pages, and create a visible link to a sitemap page
which contains links to all your other important pages.  It's
definitely not overkill to do *all* of those things!

There are plenty more things you can worry about where your site's
crawlability is concerned, but those are the main ones I've been
seeing lately.  One day, I'm sure that any type of page under the sun
will be crawler-friendly, but for now, we've still gotta give our
little arachnid friends some help.

One tool I use to help me view any potential crawler problems is the
Lynx browser tool that can be found here on the delorie.com site.  Generally, if your pages
can be viewed and clicked through in a Lynx browser (which came before
our graphical browsers of today), then a search engine spider should
also be able to make its way around.  That isn't written in stone, but
it's one way of discovering potential problems that you may be having.
The delorie.com site has a search engine spider simulator tool, which
is also helpful in discovering potential spidering problems.

If you think your site isn't getting spidered completely, be sure to
check out lots of things before jumping to any conclusions.

Jill
 

~~~Guest Article~~~

++Get Your Web Visitors Off the Couch!++

Sandi Smith is today's guest article writer.  Sandy advises business
owners and organization leaders on how to get more clients and more
profits from their Websites and other online strategies.  Sandi is a
professional speaker and an internationally published, award-winning
author of 3 books, 5 e-books, and over 200 articles.

Let's have a warm Advisor welcome for Sandi! - Jill

Get Your Web Visitors Off the Couch!
By Sandi Smith

You've built your Web site, you've implemented your SEO ideas, and
people are actually visiting your site.  Are your visitors turning
into clients?  Perhaps some are, but surely you'd like to have more.
Here are some tips to get your Web visitors off the couch and calling
you, sending you emails, and buying your products or services:

1. Make sure every page of your Web site has a call to action listed
at least once.

Your pages should be carefully designed to drive the visitor into
taking the action you want them to.  That could be buying a product,
calling you, setting an appointment, signing up for your newsletter,
or taking a quiz.

Calls to action look like the following:

--For more information about our work, please call or email
--Sign up for a free information session
--Register for our newsletter
--Read more
--Click here
--Add to Cart
--Register now!
--Get started today by contacting __ at __.

It might be a no-brainer to have these calls to action listed on your
product or service description pages, but what about your other pages?
Do you have them listed on your articles pages?   Right after you've
demonstrated your incredible knowledge is a perfect time to mention
things like "Do you have questions?  Email us at ___."  Or better yet,
say "This is a tip from our ebook.  Want more?", then send them to
your ebook product page.

Take a look at all of your pages and see what calls to action are
appropriate for each one.

2.  List enough information to let the visitor make a decision about
your business.

You want to list everything you can think of when you're developing
your products and services pages.  Here is a generic list:

1. Describe the product or service physically if possible, and include
a photo.
2. Include benefits, value, features, and what's different about your
product that other products don't have:
--What pain will it ease?
--Who usually buys it?
--What type of customers benefit from it?
--Is there a guarantee?
--What will the buyer experience when working with the product or
service?
--Are there instructions?
--How does a customer get started with it?
--What results will it produce?
--Is there a methodology or philosophy?
--How can a visitor learn more?

There's a reason why those long sales letters work.  In addition to
evoking emotions, they confront every objection a buyer has by giving
them more information -- enough to make a purchasing decision.

3.  Create a sense of urgency with a deadline or special offer.

If visitors feel like they'll be missing out by not acting now, they
will be more likely to get off the couch.

4.  Mention pain.

I just wrote an article last week called "Avoiding Major Pain in Web
Design."  Years ago, I wrote an article similar to "Twelve Steps to
Recovery for Executives in Denial of the Internet."  For some reason,
I get the most reader response to these negatively worded titles.
Mentioning pain that evokes guilt or greed gets people off the couch.

5.  Create actionable content.

As you write your Web copy, use phrases like "Have you thought about
___?", "You owe it to yourself," and other language that invokes
interaction on the part of the visitor.  Include lots of "you"
statements, making it about the reader.  Your reader should relate to
what you're saying and even empathize with your words.  It's all about
getting your visitor to take the first step towards starting a
relationship with you.  Then you'll have a chance down the road to
turn them into a customer.

These ideas on getting more business from actionable content have
certainly helped my clients, and I hope they will help you as well!

Sandi Smith
http://www.sandismith.com


__________________________________________________

No Time or Money for the High Rankings Seminar?
__________________________________________________

Listen to our Tampa version of the seminar on CD! ($279 +s/h)

CD includes 4 mp3 files covering my "Search Engine Optimization
Basics" presentation (approximately 2 hours), plus 3 more files
covering each afternoon session (approximately a 1/2 hour each),
all recorded live in Tampa at the end of last year.

PDF files containing full-color slides from the event are included!

_________________________________________________


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

++Sandbox Theory and PageRank Updates++

Sandbox Theory. <sigh> I don't claim to know much about it, but the
"sandbox theory" has something to do with the fact that brand-new
sites that suddenly have hundreds (thousands?) of links pointing to
them are not immediately given "credit" for those links in Google.  It
appears to be Google's response to the link brokers who have multiple
networks of sites that they can place you in, if the price is right.
(Pretty much a new twist to the old link farm, only instead of trading
links, you simply pay for them.)

If Google is actually looking for this and not counting the links, I
have to say, great job, Google!  I mean, c'mon, how many brand-new
sites come on the scene and suddenly have thousands of *real* links?

Not surprisingly, those who've been using the link-brokering method of
getting quick results in Google are not very happy about this turn of
events.

Read this High Rankings Forum thread for more info.


~~~Sound Advice~~~

++Professional Search Engine Optimization++


(This audio recording is no longer available.)


~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

That's it for today! I'm getting this one out early so that I can have
more time to party with my SEM seminar friends.  We're looking forward to
another great event.  Last chance to sign up.

If you can't make it, I'll let you know what you missed next week in
the newsletter! - Jill
 
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