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High Rankings Advisor: Jill's SEO Ramblings - Issue No. 145

August 3, 2005


*Introductory Comments:
---->   Should You Chase Algorithms?

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   Jill's SEO Ramblings

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   SEO Copywriting Combo
---->   IBP 8.1 Web Promotion Tool

*Guest Article:
---->   Using Keywords That Provide Solutions

*Stuff You Might Like:
---->   High Rankings Search Marketing Seminar

*High Rankings Forum Thread of the Week:
---->   Is SEO Worth It?

*This Week's Sound Advice:
---->   SEO for Local Companies

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   Home Is Where the Heart Is


~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hey all! I hope you're enjoying your summer.  Hard to believe it's
August already.  The Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose
is next week, in fact!  I'm arriving Monday evening and leaving Friday
morning, and hope to meet a ton of you there!  Be sure to attend the
new session I'll be a part of on Tuesday, which is called "Should You
Chase the Algorithm?"  It should be a fun one!

Okay, let's get straight to the good stuff! - Jill

~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

++Jill's SEO Ramblings++

Recently, I've read a lot of articles and forum posts from people
discussing what they believe to be the most important factors in
achieving high rankings.  Some I agree with, but others make me feel
like I'm in a completely different line of work!  Unfortunately, with
so much misinformation and half-truths out there, stuff gets repeated
by many who have never really bothered to check the accuracy of their
statements.  It's fine to speculate about SEO techniques that may or
may not work, but people need to remember to make it clear that what
they're saying is often just a guess or a hunch.

When it comes to SEO, those who study it often mix up cause and
effect. They notice a difference in ranking after they made a specific
change on their site and assume it meant that their change is what
caused the ranking to move.  It may have, but it may not have. The
single most important thing to understand is that your rankings will
constantly move, regardless of anything you do.  That's just a fact of
life in the SEO game.  It's very difficult to be 100% positive in
regards to the cause and effect of search engine results.

The other thing that I see happening a lot is that people may read
good articles that discuss great techniques which actually will make
sites better for both search engines and users, but they misinterpret
them.  Many people in this world want or need an exact blueprint for
how to do stuff.  They need rules and regulations and a specific
formula they can follow.  Well, guess what? When it comes to SEO,
there is no such thing!  If you can't work without a formula, you need
to find a new line of work, and you need to do it now.

For instance, you've probably heard me say a million times "Make sure
to have great keyword-rich content."

Now, I of course know exactly what I mean by that, and so do many
others.  But it is open-ended enough to confuse some people.  Does
keyword-rich content mean you should find every available spot on your
page to stuff your keywords?  Of course not!  In fact, if you are even
using the word "stuff" in the same sentence as "keywords," it's most
likely not something you want to do.  Writing keyword-rich content has
nothing to do with stuffing.  (We save all our stuffing for
Thanksgiving, thank you very much!)  To me, it's common sense that
it's a bad idea to stick keyword phrases everywhere and anywhere.  But
unless I specifically point out the exact places on a page where you
might want to put them (and might not), some people will never quite
get it.

Unfortunately, even when I do spell it out, like in my Nitty-gritty
Guide there will always be people who will take my suggestions further than they should.  They
have not learned the most important rule in professional search engine
optimization, i.e., always put your site users before the search
engines in anything that you do for your website.

The sad (and kinda scary) thing is that even professional SEO
don't always get this. I've had 2 or 3 emails just this week
from people who hired various SEO companies to do work for them, only
to have the company make recommendations that actually made the pages
of their website *worse* than they were before they hired the company.
Not necessarily worse for the search engines, but most definitely
worse for the site visitors. In this day and age, it's hard for me to
fathom that an SEO company would still be telling their clients, "You
have to do this for the search engines, even though we realize it
makes your site look dumb."

No, you absolutely do not!

There is no SEO technique that you should have to do on your site that
will make your site icky for your visitors.  Don't believe it for a
second.  There may certainly be some trade-offs that your SEO may
suggest to you, but you should be able to pick and choose the ones
that will work for your site and still get the results you are hoping

Another thing people seem to misunderstand is link-building.  Many
people think that they *must* perform a reciprocal-linking campaign in
order to achieve high rankings.  The error in this thinking has to do
with the reciprocity aspect.  They have heard the word "reciprocal" so
many times that they think it's the secret to success. Yet the only
reason people ever started doing reciprocal-linking campaigns was
because it just happened to be one of the easiest ways to obtain a
link! That doesn't mean you have to give a link to get a link.  You
don't.  There are tons of ways to get links other than trading for
them.  Many sites don't lend themselves to having a links page, and
that is okay!  Don't let an SEO company force you into creating one if
it's just not appropriate for your company.

This is not to say that you don't need links -- you very much do need
links because they bring visitors to your site, and they tell the
search engines that you have a site that has some decent information
on it. If trading links is not for you, that's okay.  You just need to
start thinking creatively.  SEO companies that will do only a
reciprocal-linking campaign and no other type are either lazy or
unimaginative, or both.  (Or you may simply not be paying them

Always remember that every site has its own unique needs, and its own
target market. I cannot stress enough that whatever you do for your
website to make it better for the search engines should first and
foremost also make it better for your users. If you're doing something
for the search engines that you really don't like, or that you think
looks stupid, then by all means avoid doing it.  Use common sense and
creativity, and you will eventually have a site you can be proud of,
which also gets found by people looking for what you offer!


(P.S. If you'd like to republish the above 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.


~~~Guest Article~~~

Today's guest article is a case study written for us by Leann Pass.
She is the SEO project manager for a company called "Increase
Ranking."  Leann has been providing SEO services and custom Web design
since 1998.

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

++Using Keywords That Provide Solutions++

After running a not-so-successful website for a few years, Charles
knew he had to do something if he wanted his business to take off on
the Web.  He had a plan all worked out which he thought was simple --
he just needed top ranking for 2 specific keyword phrases: "cat
vitamins" and "cat food vitamins" (please note that these were not his
actual keyword phrases).  I spent some time talking with Charles about
his business, his products, his target audience and the possibility of
other keywords that may work even better.  However, he was dead set on
his "must have" phrases.

What Charles didn't realize is that optimizing any site for only 1 or
2 keyword phrases is just nonsense, and we just don't do it!  I do
understand the importance of rankings.  I also know that ranking for 1
or 2 keywords should never actually be the ultimate goal of any
website.  People only want to rank for certain keywords because they
believe those keywords will help them reach their true goal.  What was
Charles' true goal?  To sell his products on the Internet.  Would
spending all my time and effort on 2 keyword phrases (even if they are
awesome) help accomplish this true goal?  No.  At least not

My discussion with Charles went something like this:

"Charles, why plan your whole Web business around only a couple of
keywords that may or may not perform well for you?  I doubt that this
is the best route for you to go.  What if these keywords fail?  Then
what do you do?  Do you quit?  Start over?"

Charles answered, "Well, Leann, I have poured my life into making this
product and I'm at my wit's end with this website.  If I can't make it
work I may have to quit.  Competitor X and competitor Y are ranking
well for "cat vitamins" and "cat food vitamins"; therefore I need to
rank for them as well.  I just can't see spending time working on
other keywords when I know these are the important ones."  Sigh...

I tried my best to get through to him. "Charles, your keywords are
just product-related and this concerns me.  Do most cat lovers even
know they may need your cat vitamin?  Your product is designed to
solve problems...let's think about this a bit more.  The cat vitamins
provide benefits to cats, so let's think along those lines.  Cat
owners are more likely to be in search of an answer to their cat's
various problems.  Our job is to solve their problems.  Let's research
the keyword phrases people might be typing into search engines if they
wanted to solve a specific cat problem, but were not really sure what
they needed.  Suppose their cat is shedding or itching, etc. -- do
they even know that they may need to look for a cat vitamin?  Probably
not! They are simply looking for relief for their itchy, shedding cat.
As you can see, the possibilities are endless when you think in this

Once Charles thought about it some more, we worked out an awesome
compromise.  I agreed to optimize his website for his "must have"
phrases -- "cat vitamins" and "cat food vitamins" -- as long as he
agreed to expand his thinking and write content for the 25 or so other
types of phrases we came up with.  It was hard work for him and for
me...but it was well worth it!

What We Accomplished and Discovered

The "must have" keywords now rank #1 on Yahoo and MSN and are
consistently in the top 3 in Google.  Wordtracker and other keyword
tools show good numbers for these phrases, so you might think this is
great, right?  Wrong!  We quickly discovered that these impressive
keywords do not actually bring traffic!  Had we focused only on those
keywords the results would have been devastating for Charles.  He
would have accomplished his goal for high rankings, but that's about

As for the other keyword phrases (i.e., cat shedding, cat itching,
etc.), well, what performers they turned out to be!  His traffic has
grown exponentially and his sales have literally quadrupled over the
past 18 months!  Charles tells me that his visitors love all the great
info he writes, too.

To date, we still maintain his must-have phrases because it makes him
feel great to see his competition eat his dust (which is fine with
me!).  But now that Charles sees things differently he can't get
enough.  He keeps writing up a storm so that his traffic and sales
will continue to grow.

Leann Pass
Increase Ranking

~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~

++High Rankings Search Marketing Seminar++

Save November 3rd and 4th, 2005 for the next High Rankings Search
Marketing Seminar.  This time the High Rankings crew will be providing
all our search marketing secrets in the great city of Philadelphia,

We don't have all the details worked out yet, but should have things
settled by the next newsletter.    This next one in Philly will
probably be similar.  

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

++Is SEO Worth It? ++

Forum member Maverick4two remarks that SEO is really hard work, and
wonders if it's worth it.  Take a look at what the other forum members
think, and share your own comments here.

~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

That's it for today!

I'm really looking forward to the conference next week.  I haven't
been away since the Toronto conference, so I'm well rested and ready
to go!  I even bought a new lightweight laptop so I don't have to bust
my shoulder carrying around the old one with the broken hinges.  Plus,
I'll be meeting up with my traveling daughter Jamie on Wed. evening as
she wraps up her Hawaiian vacation.  I played Yahoo Pool with her
online last night, and I asked her if she was ready to come home yet.
All she said was, "I am home!"  Hmmm....

Catch you in a few weeks! - Jill

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