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High Rankings Advisor: Getting Started With SEO - Issue No. 144

July 20, 2005

*Introductory Comments:
---->   Free Pass to San Jose SES Conference

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   How To Optimize a Website

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   SEM Kit for Search Engine Marketers
---->   SEO Copywriting Combo

*Guest Article:
---->   Give Spiders a Tasty Treat!

*High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week:
---->   High Rankings Forum Celebrates 2nd Anniversary!

*This Week's Sound Advice:
---->   Link Popularity and PageRank

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   Mostly Just Bored

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hey all! Hope you're staying cool.

You've got one more chance to grab that free pass for the San Jose SES
conference that is coming up next month.  If you haven't already done
so, and you're interested in attending for free (you're still
responsible for getting there, etc.) please email me at and let me know why you deserve to go.  By
the end of this week I should be choosing one lucky person to attend.
You can learn more about the conference here:

Speaking of the conference, along with my usual "Writing for the
Search Engines" session, I'm also going to be on a new panel called
"Should You Chase the Algorithm?"  I'll be turning in my white hat
during that session ;-) so be sure to be there!

Let's get straight to the good stuff! - Jill

~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

++Getting Started With SEO++

Search engine optimization (SEO) is big business these days.  If your
company has a website, chances are good that you would like people to
be able to find it when they're searching at Google or Yahoo for the
products and/or services you sell.  Many companies that have had
websites for years had never thought about SEO before -- they didn't
have to.  Suddenly they are waking up to find that their competitors
are gaining on them in the search results, and they don't like it!

Due to its rising importance, there's an increased demand for SEO
companies and SEO consultants. However, there are also numerous people
calling themselves SEOs who have just learned it very recently.  It's
true that SEO is not rocket science, and I firmly contend that it's
very much a common-sense type of work.  That doesn't mean that anyone
can or should read a few SEO articles and then decide they can start
charging people for their services.

Yet many are doing just that.

One of the easiest things to learn in this biz and probably many
others is the right things to say to a potential client that will
convince them that you know what you're talking about and can get the
job done.  The problem is that you can convince others of this before
it's actually true!  There are enough freely available articles and
newsletters written about SEO which can teach a newbie all the right
buzzwords.  If they are even the slightest bit good at sales and
marketing, we now have a dangerous combination -- someone who sounds
credible and believable, but who cannot actually do what they say they
can do.

This sneaky tactic isn't limited to one-person SEO consulting firms
either.  In fact, it may be even more prevalent with larger SEO firms
who have huge sales teams in place.  The sales force doesn't know
anything about actually doing SEO or how to gain high rankings,
increased search traffic, and more sales.  But they do know exactly
what to say to a potential client to convince them that their company
can get them all those things.  In fact, many large SEO companies have
more people selling SEO services than actually performing them!

The hardest part of SEO is not selling it; it pretty much sells
itself.  The hardest part is doing it.

So how can someone new to SEO get started in the business in a way
that will benefit themselves as well as the sites they optimize?

Aside from reading all the reputable information you can get your
hands on with regards to SEO, you may want to attend a search
marketing conference or one of our High Rankings search marketing
seminars.  (These are held approximately twice a year.)

After you have some basic education, instead of trying to set up shop
on your own, why not seek out established SEO companies, marketing
companies, ad agencies, and Web design firms who are already doing
some SEO, and see if they need an extra pair of hands?  (You may even
find these companies at the conference or seminar you attend.)
There's a good chance that if they are good at what they do, many of
them could use some additional help.  Don't get too excited though --
they won't need you for the "fun" stuff at first, but more likely they
will want to use you for the grunt work that nobody else wants to do.
Unfortunately, stuff like keyword research, competitor analysis, link
building, etc. are at the heart of a successful optimization campaign
but can be awfully time-consuming.  Most companies can always use help
in this area, if you're willing to work at a fairly low wage in order
to gain some great training.

Here are some of the benefits of approaching your SEO education and
future job security in this manner:

* It will provide you with an opportunity to learn effective SEO
techniques in a real-world setting, without making a client's site the
guinea pig.
* You can be trained by qualified SEOs who do indeed get results for
their clients.  (Make sure about this before agreeing to work for
* SEO companies are growing fast and the most difficult part is
finding smart, qualified people willing to work hard and do some of
the boring fundamental work that is necessary in an SEO campaign. They
will appreciate your help!
* It's a great way to work your way into the more interesting client
work that you might prefer doing, such as copywriting, account
management, etc.

If you follow this route, eventually, once you have learned enough,
you may wish to break out on your own, and you will now have the
knowledge, skillset, and ability -- as well as some proven methods --
to start taking clients on your own.

So don't be another in the long line of wannabe SEOs who talk a good
game but who can optimize only for keyword phrases that nobody is
actually searching for. There are companies all over the world who
need you and would love to have you work for them in-house.  Let them
know who you are and how you can help them, and that you are willing
to do whatever it takes to learn SEO from the ground up.

Good luck!


(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.)

_________SEM Kit for Search Engine Marketers____________adv.

Confused About the Best Way To Run Your New SEM Biz?

Dan Thies' new SEM Kit from SitePoint provides you with a book &
CD-ROM that includes a client-management form, SEM sales
presentation, SEM process flowchart, keyword-research worksheet,
sample agreement, proposal, pricing calculator, and a whole lot more.

And that's just the CD! The book is chock-full of SEO/SEM strategies.

Order now for $197.00 with free shipping for a limited time:

~~~Guest Article~~~

++Give Spiders a Tasty Treat!++

Got another great article from my good friend and copywriting guru,
Karon Thackston.  Enjoy! - Jill

Give Spiders a Tasty Treat!
by Karon Thackston

Mechanical spiders have to eat.  In fact, they usually have bigger
appetites than the real-life spiders you squish under your shoe.  What
spiders am I talking about?  The automated programs sent out by search
engines to review and index websites.  These "spiders" (sometimes
called "bots") are looking for a reason to list your site within the
database of their particular search engine.  It's hard work roaming
around the 'Net nonstop, and these little guys need some nourishment
from time to time.  In fact, when spiders find some hearty "spider
food" (a.k.a. a site map with some meat to it) they sit down to stay a
while. That's a good thing!

You've probably seen many site maps.  The standard ones look like the
example below with each phrase being linked to the page of the same
(or similar) name.

About Us
Shipping Rates
>> Small Appliances
------- Microwave Ovens
------- Can Openers
>> Dinnerware
------- Platters
------- Serving Bowls
Contact Us
Privacy Policy

Site maps are deemed "spider food" because they provide the perfect
place in which to crawl your site.  Because a site map has links to
every page of your site (and those link names or page descriptions
often include keywords), it is extremely easy for the search engine
spider to access each publicly accessible area with no obstacles, and
relate it to a given subject matter.  (For example, a page labeled
"microwave ovens" is most likely about microwave ovens.)

Some site owners think that's enough.  They think a page with
keyword-rich titles and links is plenty for a hungry little spider to
munch on.  Not hardly!  That's not a meal... it's just a light snack.

Give Spiders A Tasty Treat

If you really want to fill the spiders' bellies, you'll want to
provide them with a "descriptive site map" (as I like to call them).
Descriptive site maps go beyond a simple list of links to your pages.
These special versions of the traditional maps also include a short,
keyword-rich description of each page. The text only needs to be a
sentence or two in length.  An example is below.  (The links would
remain the same as in the previous example.)

HOME - Home page for XYZ Depot, a home accessories outlet.
ABOUT US - Account of how XYZ Depot became the world's largest home
accessories outlet.
SHIPPING RATES - Shipping rates and delivery times.
PRODUCTS - Complete listing of home accessories offered.
>> SMALL APPLIANCES - Exciting selection of small appliances to save
you time in the kitchen.
------- MICROWAVE OVENS - Top-of-the-line microwave ovens from brands
you trust.

Descriptive site maps work well in attracting and satisfying spiders
because they include naturally occurring keywords.  They also place
keywords in the vicinity of a link that points to the associated page.
Add these advantages to those that already exist including:

* having links in the body copy of the page
* overcoming complex navigation such as DHTML or Java
* lending quick access to pages located several layers deep within the
* assisting with usability for visitors (especially disabled visitors)
* and others

and you have prepared a huge feast for the search engine spiders that
is almost guaranteed to entice those hungry little critters to crawl
through every available page of your site.

Does every site need a site map?  It certainly wouldn't hurt.  Sites
with less than 20 pages or sites where most or all the pages have
links directly from the home page generally don't "need" a site map,
per se.  However, practically every site can reap the benefits of a
site map.

If you're creating a site map for your site, don't stop with just the
basics.  With a little added effort, you'll have a four-course meal to
serve the spiders that will keep them happy and satisfied, and
ultimately help provide you with exceptional rankings.

Karon Thackston
Marketing Word, Inc:
Copywriting Course:

_________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.

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

++High Rankings Forum Celebrates 2nd Anniversary!++

Our forum is 2 years old, can you believe it?  Come join the
celebration and free drinks in the pub!

To celebrate this momentous occasion, Scottie and I put together a
High Rankings quiz: Match the Quote with the Moderator! You can find
it here:

~~~Sound Advice~~~

++Link Popularity and Page Rank++

(This audio recording changes each week.)

~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

That's all for today!

Not much going on here this week besides the usual working, posting,
and staying inside to stay cool. Next week Timmy starts his music camp
band, so there may be some good stories to tell for the next
newsletter.  He generally plays guitar and sings lead vocals.  Should
be fun!

Catch you in two weeks. - Jill

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