Skip navigation
newsletter signup

High Rankings Advisor: SEO Myth Busting - Issue No. 120

November 10, 2004

*Introductory Comments:
---->   SEO Myth Busting

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   1P = TP
---->   Are Image Links as Good as Text Links?
---->   First Sentence Not Good for Search Engines
---->   Where To Start Learning About SEO

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   Tampa Seminar CD - Half Price
---->   SEO Copywriting Combo

*Guest Article:
---->   Value-added Negotiating for SEO Professionals

*High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week:
---->   In Search of Disclosure

*This Week's Sound Advice:
---->   Measuring SEO Success

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->    High Rankings Seminar in Seattle

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hey everyone!

Before I forget to mention it, I want to remind you that I'm always
looking for original guest articles for this newsletter.  If you've
got a good idea for an article on a topic we haven't thoroughly
covered before, please feel free to pitch me your idea.  Just make
sure your article hasn't been published anywhere already, as I am only
interested in first-run stuff.

Speaking of articles, the Black Hat / White Hat article I wrote last
week </issue119> caused quite a stir in the
forum.  There were some agreements, some disagreements, and some great
comments!  If you've got some time to spare, this thread is well worth

In today's newsletter, I've got some Q&A for you where I bust a few
SEO myths, among other things.  There's also a great guest article on
how to avoid negotiating the price of your services.  If you run an
SEO/SEM firm (or really any kind of firm), this article is a

Let's get to the good stuff! - Jill

~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

++1P = TP++

Hi Jill,

I've been getting your newsletter for years now.  I just got off the
phone with an outfit ( and I wanted to ask him if he is a Black
Hat, a White Hat, or a Gray Hat organization, but didn't have the
nerve to ask directly. They seem to have a way to rank your site by
creating a separate link, or referring site which indirectly links to
your site.

Minimum cost $5,000 for 20 keywords. I asked if this is done by
spamming, and he said no, however, I thought I would ask the expert
about what is going on here. To make a long story short, do you think
this is a legitimate outfit?

Best Regards,


++Jill's Response++

Phil, is Traffic Power's new name.  You probably read my article
(Getting Banned Due to Spam) about Traffic Power a couple of months
ago, but in case you missed it, here it is:

They most certainly are spamming and then lying about it.  Run, run,
run like the wind!!!!


++Are Image Links as Good as Text Links?++


I was under the impression that text links are much better than images
for navigation around the site. Another developer just said that as
long as the images have alt tags then they can be spidered.  They just
built a site for a client of mine with no text links anywhere on any
page.  Do you agree that this site will be crawler-friendly?

Jason O.

++Jill's Response++

Hi Jason,

I completely agree with the other developer.  Graphical links have
been around as long as Netscape, and long before search engines were
ubiquitous.  Graphical image links are most definitely not a problem
for the search engines.  Yes, you do want to be sure to utilize the
image alt attribute (alt tag).  You should put the same text into it
that you would put in your text link and it will get indexed the same
way.  Like a text link, the alt attribute information you provide will
tell the search engine (and those with graphics turned off) what the
page is about.

Hope this helps!



Buy Now! Our Tampa Seminar CD - Half Price While Supplies Last!

Listen to the MP3 audio files of our Tampa full-day search engine
marketing seminar from last November -- was $279 now $139.50!

What is covered:
SEO Basics, PPC, Copywriting, Measuring Traffic and Conversions.

Also includes complete PDF presentations from the speakers.

++First Sentence Not Good for Search Engines++

Dear Jill,

I have a big problem. I know that the first sentence on a page should
be relevant for the search engines; however, the site I'm working on
starts with a menu that contains text that is not keyword-rich (but
which is relevant for possible buyers).  Are there any Meta tags I can
use to tell a search engine to start indexing the page at a different

Maybe this is a silly question, but I heard somehow that there are
such Meta tags. Or is there a way to do this in a different way?

With respect,

Dan B

++Jill's Response++

Hi Dan,

What you're talking about is actually nothing to worry about.  It
definitely does not matter if the first words on your page are not
using keyword phrases.  You don't need to do anything special.  The
first sentence on a page is NOT given any special weighting at all.
You've been scared by yet another old wives' tale.

Just be sure to use your 2 or 3 keyword phrases throughout your entire
page of copy and you'll be fine.  No special Meta tags necessary!



++Where To Start Learning About SEO++

Hi Jill!

I have just started my own website. I have been trying to advertise
it, but I do not know where to start. Do you have any suggestions for
beginners? How long does it take to get the major search engines to
notice me? Could you list the steps I must take in achieving this
goal? I know about Meta tags and links but do not know which is the
first thing I need to do? Maybe I have started backwards or something!

Thank you!

Kimberly B

++Jill's Response++

Hi Kim,

We recently hired a new person at my Search Creative office, and I had
her start learning by reading some good SEO articles.  I think if you
read them (in the following order) you'll get a great feel for where
to start the optimization process on your own site:

1. Plant Your Site at the Top:
</mtsearch.htm> (This one is old, but still
a good overview.)

2. Ten Tips to the Top: </tentips.htm>

3. How To Write a Keyword-rich Homepage:
<> (This one was
written a long time ago by my former writing partner, Heather, but is
still a great overview of the copywriting aspect of SEO.)

4. All About Title Tags:

5. The Meta Description Tag:

6. The Meta Keyword Tag: </metakeyword.htm>

7. No Quick Fix for High Rankings:

8. Common Sense Search Engine Optimization:

9. Making Keyphrases Work for Your Site:

10. Link Popularity: </linkpopularity.htm>

In addition, if you're not completely confused, any of the other
articles on my articles page not listed above
</articles.htm> would also be worthwhile,
as would of course any past newsletters of mine which are all here:

For great copywriting articles, the ones at Karon Thackston's site
will provide tons of great info:

And for more link popularity articles, we have a forum thread that
lists a whole bunch of really good ones here:

If after reading these you have any specific questions, feel free to
email me or post a message in the forum
</forum> and we'll be happy to answer them.
The articles are pretty easy to understand and are mostly
self-explanatory.  Just make sure you devote enough time to read and
digest it all.

Good luck!


_________Powerful SEO Copywriting Combo______________

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.

~~~Guest Article~~~

++Value-added Negotiating for SEO Professionals++

Michael Schatzki, a professional negotiator and the owner of
Negotiation Dynamics, writes today's guest article. His client list
includes IBM, Loctite, Standard & Poor, Wells Fargo, and
Ingersoll-Rand, to name a few. He is widely published and is the
author of "Negotiation: The Art of Getting What You Want"

Welcome, Michael! - Jill

Value-added Negotiating for SEO Professionals
By Michael Schatzki

You are the president of an SEO company who has been approached by the
Road House Chili Company about improving their search engine rankings.
At one time Road House obtained a lot of business from search engines,
but lately their rankings have been falling lower and lower.  So you
submit a proposal at a price that you believe to be fair.

A week later you call Road House and they tell you that you've
submitted an excellent proposal, but that they have 2 other proposals
at much lower prices.

As an SEM/SEO professional, you will often find yourself in situations
where you must negotiate the price and terms of service with your
prospective clients.  There are 5 key steps that will greatly improve
your chances of making that sale while successfully negotiating to
maintain your price:

1.  Be prepared for a price negotiation but don't lead with your
2.  Think like a buyer.
3.  Be aware that the negotiation starts when you say hello.
4.  Gather key price-negotiating information as you sell.
5.  Educate the prospect as to the worth of your added value.

Let's look at each step further:

1.  Be prepared for a price negotiation but don't lead with your
wallet.  As buyers have become more sophisticated, many realize that
the key factor is not price, but total value.  Therefore, it is
sometimes possible to avoid price negotiations if the customer sees
enough value.

If you think there is a possibility that you can make the sale based
on your added value and services, don't start with price concessions
or discounts; simply focus instead on your added value.

On the other hand, with today's ferocious pressures to reduce costs,
buyers never forget that price is important.  Buyers will often want
you to add value AND reduce their costs.  As you start the process,
don't invite a price negotiation, but be prepared in case it comes up.

2.   Think like a buyer.  To negotiate effectively, take up residence
in the buyer's mind.  Try to determine what might actually be going on
vs. what they're telling you.  What they say to each other and what
they're really thinking is the key.

For instance, when Road House Chili is discussing the proposals they
received, you might imagine 2 different scenarios:

Scenario A - Road House Chili feels that the proposal from you is
great, even though it appears a little pricey.  Based on what they
feel you are capable of doing for them, however, they believe the
extra cost is worth it. The 2 other proposals have offered a much
lower price, but it's not clear that they really have the same level
of service or expertise.  Still, Road House decides to use the fact
that they've got 2 lower quotes to try to bring down your price.

Scenario B - They feel your proposal is great, but expensive.  The 2
other SEO companies have offered a much lower price, and appear to
have the same expertise.  They're thinking that any of the 3 companies
would produce the same results.  With that understanding, they decide
to negotiate with all 3 and go with whomever agrees to the lowest

The buyer will almost always want you to believe that Scenario B is
happening.  But is it really?

3.  The negotiation starts when you say hello.  If this point is the
first time you thought that there might be a price negotiation, it's
too late.  You don't have the information you need, and it's going to
be difficult to get it.  The time to start finding out who potential
competitors might be, and how your customer views them is at the very
beginning of your discussions.  From the moment that you say hello,
you need to gather key negotiating information.  At the same time, you
have to begin the process of educating your prospect about the added
value that you bring to the table.

4.  Gather key price-negotiating information.  The most important
piece of negotiating information that you need to know is how
important price is to them.  The problem is that you can't ask that
question directly, since everyone will say that it is important.

With Road House Chili, you might ask what their Internet sales are now
and what they were at their peak.  If they say $1,500 now and $3,500
at the peak, they are probably going to be price-sensitive.  Make sure
that these questions are embedded in your sales process since this
info is necessary to meet their needs.

5.  Educate the prospect as to the worth of your added value.  If the
prospect perceives all SEOs as being the same, then they will simply
choose the one with the lowest price, even if price is not their
driving factor.  If you want to sell at a price that is above that of
your competitors, you have to prove that you provide added value worth
paying for.  For an SEO company, that added value is often your
expertise and your track record.

To make a prospect aware of your added value, you should anticipate
spending at least an hour on the phone with them.  Instead of
"selling" them, use that time to start working on their case; your
expertise will be obvious. Have them type in the keywords of some of
your clients at the search engines.  The results will speak for
themselves.  Then give them the names of your contacts at those
companies to call for references.

If you can demonstrate your expertise and prove your results, the
price differences between you and your competitors will become much
less significant or even totally irrelevant.  When you are prepared
for a price negotiation, you can do everything in your power to avoid

Michael Schatzki
Negotiation Dynamics

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

++In Search of Disclosure++

Come read and discuss this research report prepared for Consumer
WebWatch entitled "How Search Engines Alert Consumers to the Presence
of Advertising in Search Results."

From the report:

"Many of the World Wide Web's most popular search engines still do not
provide clear disclosures about how their results can be influenced by
advertisers, a practice called 'paid placement,' and even fewer
explain how companies pay to increase the likelihood their Web sites
will appear in searches, a practice called 'paid inclusion,' Consumer
Reports WebWatch research shows."

Read more and discuss here:

~~~Sound Advice~~~

++Measuring SEO Success++

(This audio recording changes each week.)

~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

That's it for today!

We're busy putting together the agenda for the next High Rankings
search engine marketing seminar, which will be held somewhere in the
Seattle area in the beginning of April.  If you're thinking this might
be something you'd like to attend, we're wondering if you'd prefer a
2-day or 3-day seminar?  Would one or the other make you more apt to
sign up?  Send me an email with your thoughts!

Catch you next week! - Jill
Email a FriendPrintRSS