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SEO Website Audit

High Rankings Advisor: SEO FAQ Part 1- Issue No. 130

February 9, 2005

~~~IN TODAY'S ADVISOR~~~

*SEO FAQ:
---->    Missing On Google
---->    Where Do I Place Keywords?
---->    Is Content Really King?

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

*Guest Interview:
---->   Why Test Your Landing Pages?

*Stuff You Might Like:
---->   High Rankings Seminar in Seattle
    (Register Now To Save!)
---->   Free Pass to SES NYC

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

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   Go Anthony!
________________________________________________________

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hey everyone!  Recently I realized that I've been seeing the same SEO
questions over and over again, both in my email and at the forum.
I've been thinking about putting together a FAQ of these so that I can
easily direct people to them, but just never sat down to do it.  So
this morning, I compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions
and didn't budge from my computer until I had answered each and every
one of them.  Surprisingly enough, even though there were over 15, it
really didn't take me that long.

Instead of boring you with all of them at once, I'm going to use my
hard work to create content for upcoming newsletters and dish them out
a few at a time.  In the end, we'll all have a nice FAQ we can refer
to when these questions crop up again, and again (as they inevitably
will!).  I will be posting them in my forum, as well as a prominent
place on my site for future reference.  My son Timmy suggested that I
also link to them when someone new signs up for my newsletter, which I
think is also a great idea!

Today I've got the first 3 frequently asked SEO questions for you,
plus the next installment in the PPC landing-page interview with Kevin
Lee.  Enjoy! - Jill


~~~SEO Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)~~~

++Missing On Google++

Q. My site is showing up for my major keyword phrases in Yahoo and MSN
but I'm nowhere to be found in Google.  Why does Google hate me?  (Or
alternatively, my site was doing well on Google but its rankings have
suddenly plummeted. Am I penalized?)

Jill: If you're going to be in the SEO biz, or even if you're just
trying to get your own personal business site more exposure in the
search engines, you need to realize that rankings (and the traffic
they may bring) are not static.  You may get comfortable seeing your
site rank highly for your most coveted keyword phrases, but don't ever
assume it will remain there forever.

Sites do not get penalized or banned unless something has been done
which deceives the search engines.  Deception generally comes in the
form of hiding stuff or trying to artificially inflate link
popularity.  If you're not playing games with the engines, then you
don't ever have to worry about penalties.  If your site is suddenly
gone, it's most likely because of a major algorithm shift.  The search
engines are constantly tweaking their algorithms, and new sites are
always being created, so ranking fluctuations are part of the normal
course of business.

Because of this, it is crucial to optimize your site for lots and lots
of related phrases.  This will ensure that when some phrases go AWOL,
the others will perform well for you.  I can't stress enough how
important this strategy is to your SEO campaign, as well as your piece
of mind.  Never be married to any 1 or 2 specific phrases.  Yes, it's
cool to rank highly for the most coveted ones, but if they're that
important to you, then you should purchase PPC ads that are triggered
by them.

The best advice I can give you is to change your mindset from
"rankings" to "targeted traffic and conversions."  I know I sound like
a broken record with this, and it may even seem like a convenient
excuse; however, if you don't want to make yourself crazy, it's best
to ignore rankings, and instead work hard at making your site better
and better.  While your various keyword phrases are on an emotional
roller coaster at Google, you won't even notice a blip in your traffic
or sales if you've got all your bases covered.  It may be cliché, but
it really does work and it does pay off in the long run.


++Where Do I Place Keywords?++

Q. I heard from the dogcatcher that I need to place my keyword phrases
in:  [bold] [italics] [H1s] [alt tags] [Meta tags] [anchor text]
[Title tags] [body text] [the first few words on my site] [the first
paragraph of my site] [the last paragraph of my site] [my cousin
Vinnie's site].  Is this true?

Jill:  The most important places to utilize your researched keyword
phrases (anywhere from 3-5 of these per page) are 1) your Title tags,
2) in the visible copy that people read, and 3) in onsite and offsite
links (aka the "anchor text").

Whether they're in the first paragraph, first words, last words, or
whatever really doesn't make all that much difference.  I've long ago
stopped worrying about specific places and coding and simply use them
where they make sense from a reader's perspective.  I would definitely
avoid using them in "ALL the right places" such as listed in the
question above, however.  This is because if you pull all the tricks
out of your SEO bag, your page will simply reek of SEO.  If it makes
sense to have a headline that uses a keyword phrase, then go for it,
but don't feel that you have to create headlines where none were
needed.  If it makes sense to describe a graphic with a keyword
phrase, then you shouldn't hesitate to do it.  The important thing is
not to do anything just because you think you have to in order for the
search engines to like you.  There are very, very few "have to's" when
it comes to SEO.  This is because SEO is an art, not a science.  (See
my previous article on this topic here:
</issue105.htm#seo>.)


++Is Content Really King?++

Q. If you're so smart and keep telling everyone that content is king,
then how come the top pages for the keyword [insert any word here]
don't have lots of visible content?

Jill: I do believe that content is king, because that's what the
people who visit your site are looking for.  However, content doesn't
necessarily mean 250 words (or whatever) of text.  Content means
different things for different sites.  Content can simply be your
product offerings.  For instance, sites from well-known brands very
often have no visible copy on their home pages, but still rank highly
for some very general keywords.  This is often due to their strong
brand, which brings in tons and tons of natural links to the site.

Natural links are those that people add to their own websites just
because they found them relevant to whatever point they were trying to
make.  Bloggers do this often, and so do people on forum threads.
Let's face it; well-known brands are talked about a lot, both in real
life, and online.  It makes perfect sense that if you're searching for
something general like "pizza" that Pizza Hut and Domino's will show
up at the top of the results.  It's not necessary for them to say all
over their site that they are all about pizza because that's a given.

For those of you who don't have a big brand, you can certainly create
a home page that doesn't describe what you offer in clear words, but
you'd better be prepared to put all your faith in a link-building
campaign.

Always remember that there are tons of ways to obtain targeted search
engine traffic, and the methods I espouse are just one way.  They
happen to work for my clients and me, and I like them because they
focus on making the site better overall.  However, every site is
unique and you have to decide what the best overall strategy is for
YOUR site.  There's no sense in compromising your message for search
engine rankings, as you'll be less apt to convert your visitors into
taking your desired action.  On the other hand, if you have no
visitors, it really doesn't matter what your message is, now does it!

(P.S. If you'd like to republish the above Q&A article, please email
me your request and where it will reside, and I'll send you a short
bio you can use with it for your site.)


_________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.
</combo130>
__________________________________________________


~~~Guest Interview~~~

++Why Test Your Landing Pages?++

Here's the fourth installment in Amy Edelstein's interview with PPC
guru Kevin Lee.  Hope you like it! - Jill

Q=Question, KL=Kevin Lee

Q: Why aren't more companies testing their landing pages? Is it the
old "If you build it, they will come..." wishful thinking? Is it
because more people haven't understood the real value of testing and
refining a landing page? Or is it because they simply don't know where
to go to get valid tests done?

KL: There are a variety of reasons, and of course, the reasons will be
different for different companies. One of them is that everybody, from
the assistant marketing manager all the way up to the marketing VP, is
already stretched pretty thin. Just strategizing and supervising this
landing-page testing process takes an investment of time and energy.
Often, marketing managers would love to do it but they feel "I'm too
busy, I can't get around to it." This may be a mistake. If there's
some lift in efficiency, landing-page testing may end up being one of
the most powerful things you can do.

Then, there's the fact that they perhaps haven't recognized the
importance of testing landing pages. If they did recognize it, they'd
make time. They'd stop doing something else and reallocate the time to
this. Some companies also work on very strict budget methodology. So,
in other words, if it wasn't in the 2005 budget that we agreed upon on
October 15, then we don't have the budget to hire the staff to manage
it, the designers to design it, the third-party organizations to
facilitate it, and the use of the technology to manage the process,
etc.  In this case, they either have to figure out a way to rob Peter
to pay Paul, or take from some other project that was already
approved, or they say, "All right, we'll put it in next year's
budget."

But in all those cases, if you're in a situation where your
competitors have embraced landing-page testing and you've pushed it
off until next year for whatever reason -- too busy, no budget, don't
understand it -- your competitors could eat you for lunch in the
meantime! And that's where it can get really scary, because you may
not even understand what's happening. You may not see it or recognize
it or understand it. All you know is, you look at reports from
industry analysts or you look at reports from Comscore, Nielsen, or
Hitwise, and all you see is "Wow, they just keep getting a bigger and
bigger share of the market! I wonder why that is!"

Q: What kind of tools do you recommend for landing-page testing?

KL: We're of course biased because we've built our own proprietary
system.

Q: Now's your chance to plug it. (laughs)

KL: We think we've done a really great job of building a platform that
tests landing pages with respect to paid search. And not just testing
it. Our system then adapts the search marketing campaign automatically
to whatever's winning in the test. We didn't build our system like a
web analytics platform might -- to run the test and look at the
results. We built it more from a marketing user's perspective. As soon
as we get the landing pages tested, we can then implement changes to
our campaign strategy and run a more efficient, cost-effective, and
better campaign.

A lot of web analytics firms have products that can be used for that
as well. The top ones are well-known names such as Omniture,
Coremetrics, HBX, ClickTracks, Urchin, or WebTrends, if you want a
downloadable tool. Then there are some organizations like Optimost
that are building landing-page testing platforms that would work with
any media. We at Did-It.com can coordinate with them. We're somewhat
agnostic -- if you want to use our platform, you can; if not, we can
work with other platforms like Optimost or Poindexter and then analyze
the results of your testing.

[Next week: "Campaign Strategy Refinement"]

Amy Edelstein
Ascent Copywriting
http://www.ascentcopywriting.com

Kevin Lee, CEO
Did-it.com
http://www.did-it.com


~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~

++High Ranking Seminar in Seattle Mar. 31-Apr. 1++

Early registration is open for our Seattle Search Engine Marketing
Seminar and Workshops!  You can learn more and register here:
</seminar130>.

Be sure to register before the end of February to save money!



___________Can't Travel to Seattle This Spring?____________

Buy Now! High Rankings Seminar CD - Half Price While Supplies Last!
__________________________________________________

Listen to the MP3 audio files of our Tampa full-day search engine
marketing seminar from November '03 -- was $279, now $139.50!

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

Also includes complete PDF presentations from the speakers.
</cdhra130>
__________________________________________________


++Free Pass to SES NYC++

I'm speaking at the Search Engine Strategies conference coming up in
NYC on Feb. 28th - Mar. 3rd and have a free pass to give away to one
lucky newsletter subscriber.  If you can pay for your travel and
lodging, etc., and would like to be considered for this pass, please
email me at freepass@highrankings.com to let me know why I should give
it to you.

To learn more about this SES conference, visit their site here:
<http://www.jupiterevents.com/sew/winter05/>.  Hope to see you there!


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

++Bored with SEO++

Reading and answering the same old SEO questions over and over again
has started to get kind of old for some of us at the forum.  Scottie
started an interesting thread on the topic which you can read here:
</forum/index.php?showtopic=12520>.

So how about you?  Excited or bored by SEO?  Leave your comments in
the forum!


~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

That's all for today!

Are any of you American Idol fans?  There's this guy named Anthony who
has blonde hair and glasses, and looks eerily to me like my son Timmy
might look when he's that age.  Interestingly enough, he sings a lot
like him too.  We're totally rooting for him to win the whole thing.
Go Anthony!

Look for the abbreviated version of the newsletter next week.  - Jill
 
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