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SEO Website Audit

Special Relationship With Search Engines - Issue No. 135

March 23, 2005


*Introductory Comments:
---->   Good News and Bad

*Search Engine Marketing FAQ:
---->   Special Relationship with Search Engines
---->   Competitors' Traffic
---->   Using Plurals and Singulars

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   Web CEO
---->   High Rankings Seminar CD - Half Price

*Guest Article:
---->   Search Algorithms R&D

*Stuff You Might Like:
---->   Updated Keyword Saturation eBook

*High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week:
---->   Hiding Keywords

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   Mini Cooper, Here I Come!

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hey everyone!  Been a rough week here. Had some server hardware
problems that caused me to not get email for a few days and I was
really having the shakes.  If you sent me something this week, a
question or whatever, please resend, as I didn't get it.

On another note, I've got good news and bad news regarding our
upcoming High Rankings Seminar in Seattle on March 31 and April 1.  So
far, we don't have as many registered participants as we would like.
That's good for those who are registered as they will get even *more*
personal attention, but we'd obviously like to get a few more signups!

That said, if you've been thinking of joining us, now is the time to
do it.  There just aren't that many opportunities to learn SEO from
the ground up from the top experts in the world!  You will definitely
be part of a small (but elite!) group, and you will be amazed at what
you end up learning.  If you're waiting for the next seminar, I would
highly suggest that you don't -- I really can't say for sure if/when
there will be another one.  Just like last time, it all depends on how
this one goes and whether we get enough attendees to make it

Remember, you can still save with our HR Forum discount.  Learn more
about that here:
</forum/index.php?showtopic=13098>.  You
can learn more about the seminar and also register for it here:

Oh yeah, and I keep forgetting to mention that even if you can't make
it to the seminar but live or work in the Seattle area, we'd love for
you to join us for dinner at Ivar's Salmon House on March 31st!  You
can learn more about that at the seminar page as well, and also
register for *just* that if you'd like, through our online
registration form.  When we did this in Boston, we had a great turnout
and got to meet a bunch of folks we wouldn't have otherwise met.

Hope to see you there!  Now on to the good stuff...

~~~Search Engine Marketing FAQ~~~

++Special Relationship with Search Engines++

Q.  A company called me while I was cooking dinner and said they have
a special relationship with the search engines, and they will place my
site in the first position at all of them for X amount of money.  I
couldn't talk to them because my dinner was burning, but I'm curious
as to how they can do this and whether it's something I should learn
more about.

Jill: Most likely this company is simply buying the sponsored PPC ad
spots and will then resell them to you with a high markup.  Nobody has
a "special relationship" with Google, and you can't buy your way to
the top of the natural results.  I would suggest politely hanging up
on any telemarketer that tries to tell you otherwise.

++Competitors' Traffic++

Q.  Our minister told me that I can find out how much traffic my
competitors get.  Do you know how to do this?

Jill: It's impossible to find out how much traffic your competitors
get unless they somehow have their log file statistics out in the
open.  Sites such as can give you some comparative data, but
they will never give you the exact amount of traffic that your
competitors receive.  The only sites you can get that info from are
those to which you have log file access, or those on which you have
installed some tracking code. Nobody can just install this sort of
thing on their competitors' sites, as they'd need server access to do

++Using Plurals and Singulars++

Q. Both the plural and singular form of my keyword phrase are searched
upon often according to Wordtracker
</wordtracker>.  Which one should I choose?

Jill:  Both.  Keyword phrases such as the singular and plural forms of
your words, which are related, are extremely simple to use within the
visible copy on your pages. When we naturally write or speak, we use
both plural and singular forms of words, so why restrict yourself to
one or the other?

Never optimize a page or a site for just one keyword phrase.  That is
the equivalent of SEO suicide in my opinion.  Every site has hundreds
if not thousands of phrases that someone might use to find it.  Figure
out what they are, and then use them to your advantage to bring highly
targeted visitors to your site.

(P.S. If you'd like to republish the above SEO FAQ, 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.)

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~~~Guest Article~~~

++Search Algorithms R&D ++

Rand Fishkin writes today's guest article recapping the Search Algos
session at the recent New York SES conference.  Rand is the founder of
an SEO/Webdev company in Seattle called SEOmoz.  He is currently the
moderator for SEOChat's Search Technologies forum and an active
participant at the High Rankings forum. Rand just let me know that he
will be speaking at the Toronto Search Engine Strategies conference,
May 4-5, on the subject of link building and organic listings.  (You
can recognize him by his bright yellow shoes!)

Take it away, Rand! - Jill

Search Algorithms R&D Session from SES NYC 2005
By Rand Fishkin

The Search Engine Strategies Conference in New York had many new,
never-before-seen sessions. Of these, the most exciting and promising
for many SEOs, myself included, was the Search Algorithms Research &
Development Session. The focus was on the more well-known search
engine research papers and the threads from SEW by Orion (Dr. Garcia).

Three panel members were present: Mike Grehan (of, Rahul Lahiri (of AskJeeves) and Dr. Garcia

"When a client asks you 'How do search engines work?' and you say,
'Well, I don't know, they just do,' that doesn't work very well," says
Mike Grehan, introducing his presentation.

Mike's point is well taken and it's one of the primary reasons that so
many SEOs are becoming interested in this work. Mike's presentation
included a good dose of British wit and touched on some of the most
important topics in historical algorithm developments:

* Citation Analysis -- This is based on the idea that a link is a
"vote" for a particular page and the concept that if two pages are
connected by a link, they are on the same topic. Mike notes the
inventor of citation analysis was Gerard Salton (way back in 1983).

What does it mean: Search engines count links to pages.

* CLEVER (CLient-side EigenVector Enhanced Retrieval) -- Jon
Kleinberg's algorithm that introduces the idea of topic-specific
communities, further refining the concept of linking so that pages
which are cited by popular pages on the same topic rank more highly
than those that are simply cited on the Web in general. If you've ever
been outranked by a PR 8, 9, or 10 page that's not even on your
subject, this applies to you.

What does it mean: A page about cars linking to another page about
cars is more important than a page on pharmacies linking to a page on

* Run-Time Analysis -- The CLEVER algorithm can't be implemented by
search engines because it's slow. Luckily, Apostolos Gerasoulis solves
the run-time problem while at Rutgers University in NJ and becomes the
founder of Teoma.

What does it mean: Until Teoma's creation, none of the search engines
could use the concept of subject-specific links effectively.

* LocalRank & Hilltop (these are explained below) -- Krishna Bharat
develops Hilltop (the familiar concept of hubs & authorities) and
LocalRank for Google.

* Florida!!! (Google's infamous update from Nov. 2003) -- Mike's
favorite slide of the bunch. His interpretation of the Florida update
is that it was based on Google's implementation of the LocalRank
algorithm, forcing locally popular pages up the rankings and globally
(non-locally) popular pages down.

What does it mean: Mike believes the Florida update was due to
Google's use of local popularity (similar to, but substantively
different from Teoma).

The next speaker is Rahul Lahiri from AskJeeves. He's very personable
and charismatic, and he notes that many of his points are a rehashing
of what Mike has already presented. For brevity's sake, I'll introduce
his fresh material only.

* Local Popularity -- Finding sites and pages that are popular (often
linked to) from within a topical community. This differs from
LocalRank in that only the topical community sites are counted towards
link popularity, rather than any on-topic pages.

What does it mean: ranks highly for many SEO-related
searches at Teoma because other SEO blogs and sites frequently link to

* Hubs & Authorities -- The concept (taken from the Hilltop paper)
that certain pages in a community link to many of the best topical
resources, while other pages in the community are authorities on
particular subjects due to their link popularity within the
subject-specific community.

What does it mean: Linking out to many useful sites can make your page
a "hub," while getting lots of inbound links from sites in your
community can make you an "authority."

The last speaker is Dr. Garcia, who could not be present due to a
mudslide in California. He is presenting via recording, interlinked
with his Powerpoint presentation. Chris Sherman of SEW stands at the
podium to guide the audience through the notes.

* Semantic Connectivity -- Two words or phrases are connected to each
other semantically based on their associations in the search engines'
index. The more frequently the terms occur together on pages (and in
close proximity), the more connected the search engine perceives them
to be.

What does it mean: Search engines know that the words "Norton" and
"Antivirus" are related to one another because they have millions of
indexed pages where the two appear together.

* Co-Occurrence & C-Indices -- Using a formula (called the C-Index
formula), we (as Web searchers) can estimate how semantically related
the search engines believe two terms or phrases to be.

What does it mean: Using this formula, you can find out if Google
thinks "cuisine" is more related to "cooking" or "recipes."

* EF Ratios -- EF Ratios can be used to estimate the relative
frequency of natural sequences and phrases in a source. They can also
be used to examine how easy or difficult it would be to rank for a
given sequence in a particular search engine.

What does it mean: Using this formula, you can see how natural it is
for two terms to occur next to each other in the search engines'

I know that I've shared a phenomenal amount of information in a very
brief space. If you find yourself as interested in these subjects as I
am, visit the resources below for more information:

Dr. Garcia's Website <>
Search Technologies Forum @ SEOChat <>
Search Technology & Relevance Forum @ SEW
SEOmoz Tools (including C-Index tool)
Xan Porter's Weblog

Rand Fishkin

_________Can't Travel to Seattle for the Seminar?__________

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.

~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~

++Updated Keyword Saturation eBook++

I just got word from Karon Thackston that she has gone live with the
updated edition of her "Keyword Saturation" ebook.  This is the one
that has all the cool tips for how and where to place your keyword
phrases in your copy.  It's very much like my Nitty-gritty Guide
</seo-writing.htm>, but with completely
different tips.

For the new edition, Karon's added 3 more strategies, so instead of
the previous 8, you now get 11.  The best part -- it's still the same

You can learn more or purchase it via my affiliate link here:

If you're a Karon Thackston fan (and you know you are!), don't forget
that she'll be speaking and teaching a copywriting workshop at our
seminar next week in Seattle, so be sure not to miss this chance to
meet and learn from the best! Here's the seminar page again:

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

++Hiding Keywords++

Forum member "Gregse" asks if he can/should hide his keywords from his
competitors.  Read the responses and post your own here:

~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

That's all for today!

Next Wed. is my travel day to Seattle, so I'll be skipping the
newsletter.  My trip is going to mess with my new fitness regimen.  I
finally signed up at a local women's fitness center, and have been
really good at stopping in on my way home from taking Timmy to school.
I promised myself if I could get into a good routine and do it 3 days
a week for a number of months, then I'd reward myself with that red
Mini Cooper I've had my eye on!  I want to get that Mini anyway, but
I'm not one to just buy something frivolous for myself, especially
something of that caliber.  So the fitness thing seemed like a win-win
situation.  It's actually not too bad, and I've been enjoying myself.
There's a core group that is there most mornings, and I've found that
when you get to talking (or listening, as I mostly do), before you
know it, you're done!

Mini Cooper, here I come! :-)

Catch you in two weeks. - Jill
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