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SEO Website Audit

High Rankings Advisor: Home Page Redesign Issues - Issue No. 148

September 14, 2005

*Introductory Comments:
---->   Tons of Good Stuff

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   Home Page Redesign Issues

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   RedAlkemi
---->   Text Link Brokers
---->   SEO Copywriting Combo

*Guest Article:
---->   Make It Easy for Your Visitors To Interact

*Stuff You Might Like:
---->   High Rankings(tm) Seminar Philly in Nov. - Registration Open!
---->   Winning Results with Google AdWords

*High Rankings™ Forum Thread of the Week:
---->   Paid Inclusion for a Non-optimized Site?

*This Week's Sound Advice:
---->   What Is Search Engine Spam?

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   What Was I Gonna Tell You Again?

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hey everyone! I've got tons of good stuff for you today, so let's get
straight to it! - Jill

~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

++Home Page Redesign Issues++

Hi Jill,

We have a very large B2B site that offers a variety of products and
services.  We're in the midst of a complete redesign, where some of
the goals are to simplify the home page somewhat and to clearly show
that we offer services as well as products.  (In the past, the focus
of the site was more product-related.)

We have come up with a couple of potential ways of accomplishing these

One way is a "gateway" method which would simplify the home page by
focusing only on the 3 areas of the site that we feel are the most
important (products, services, about us), and letting people choose
which one they're interested in to learn more.

The other way we've thought about is more of a "portal" method, where
the page is still more simple than our current design,  but focuses on
links to our main category sections within both the products and the
services areas.

In your opinion, would either of these methods be preferable in terms
of search engine rankings?



++Jill's Response++

Hi Ray,

It's critical to keep in mind that the search engines often judge how
important any given page within a website is by how it is linked to
within the site itself, as well as by external sites.  Other sites
often link to home pages as a recommended resource.  This tells the
search engines that this site (and more specifically the home page of
this site) is extremely worthwhile.  This "vote of confidence" is then
factored into the overall ranking algorithm of the search engines,
with more worthwhile pages being given more weight in the rankings.

Part of this weighting goes beyond the sheer number of links pointing
to any given page, and other factors are also looked at.  For
instance, since home pages by their very nature are considered more
important than the average inner page of a site, home pages have the
ability to pass on some of their importance to whatever pages it links
to. This importance can affect the ultimate search engine ranking for
that page.

So if you have certain main category pages that you want to be easily
found in the search engines, it would definitely be a good idea to
link to them from home page, as well as every other page of your site.
These links tell the search engine that these pages are important.

On the other hand, if you were to choose your gateway method that
links to only 3 major areas of your site, you're basically telling the
search engines that only those 3 areas are important, and again, they
will rank your pages accordingly (only this time, all those category
areas that you didn't link to directly will be given less weight).

To put it simply, the fewer clicks from the home page that any user
has to make to get to any particular page of a site, the better it
will be for your ultimate search engine rankings.  Pages that are 1
click away will be given the most weight; 2 clicks away will get some
decent weight; 3 clicks away would get less weight; and 4 or more
clicks away starts to bury pages and makes their indexing somewhat hit
or miss.

With this in mind, I believe it would be most beneficial for you to
choose the "portal" design that emphasizes  your main categories and
sections.  I feel it would be most helpful from a search engine
standpoint as well as from a user standpoint.  From my understanding
of website usability, people don't want to have to "dig" for the
information that they are interested in.  It's preferable to provide a
variety of choices right on the home page (as long as you can do it in
a way that is not too cluttered or confusing) than to force people to
keep clicking deeper and deeper into the site.

That said, if your heart was dead-set on the gateway method that
listed only 3 major areas of the site, it certainly wouldn't ruin your
rankings completely. You would simply have a little extra work ahead
of you.  One easy workaround is to use a sitemap to help keep your
pages as few clicks away from the home page as possible.  It's not as
good as a link straight from the home page, but it can still be

I know some out there are now going to add links to every single page
of their site from their home page after reading this.  That's not at
all what I'm telling you to do!  As with everything in SEO, it's
important to balance all of the different website issues involved such
as usability, the overall professional look of the site, the goals of
the company, and of course the search engines.


(P.S. If anyone would 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.)


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~~~Guest Article~~~

++Make It Easy for Your Visitors To Interact With Your Website++

High Rankings™ forum administrator Scottie Claiborne writes today's
guest article about calls to action.  Longtime readers are certainly
familiar with Scottie's articles but may not have seen her latest
tongue-in-cheek endeavor with fellow forum moderator "ProjectPHP"
(Mike).  They have created a blog called "In Search of Stuff" that
provides a hilarious look at the SEO community. Latest blog entries
include the announcement of a new organization for "underpanters" and
a satirical look at convoluted linking schemes that you NEED NOW!
( aren't already using the Trapezoidal Linking Matriflux(tm)
for your link-building campaigns?)  If you are even slightly connected
to the search marketing industry, you will LOVE this blog:

Without further ado, here's Scottie on a more serious (but still fun!)

Make It Easy for Your Visitors To Interact
By Scottie Claiborne

Imagine a salesperson trying to get you to buy a car.  He tells you
all about the benefits and features of the car and you are sold.  You
want to buy!  "I'll take it," you tell him. Great! He then sends you
to the secretary, who sends you to an inside salesperson, who says
he'll go find the manager.

What happened? Don't they want your money? Why do they work so hard to
sell you, but then make a mystery out of the purchase process?  It
doesn't make sense.  However, many websites inadvertently make the
same mistake.

You Need Clear Calls to Action

Calls to action are typically "buy now," "subscribe," and "download"
links -- the things you want the people who are visiting your site to
do. They are the keys to unlocking the actions you want visitors to
take. It's amazing how many sites hide links and buttons; it's almost
as if they don't want you to find them!

Even the sites that do a good job of putting the action links in
obvious places sometimes make the mistake of expecting too much of
visitors.  "More info" and "details" links are often missing, and the
user is expected to click on the picture or product title.  You'd be
surprised how many potential customers give up and move to the next

An Example: Land's End

Land's End is a retailer known for their descriptive marketing copy.
They describe the joys of reinforced taped collars in such a way that
you just know you are getting the very best of the best when you buy a
golf shirt.

However, their online shopping process is terrible.  I'm going to save
their navigation issues for another time, and focus on how you
actually buy something once you've found it.  This sample page for
kids' moccasins <> gives us a
picture, a brief summary of the benefits, then a list below with
colors and available sizes listed next to each color.  Lower on the
page we see a sample of the copy that Land's End is famous for...but
no purchase button.

We can get assistance by phone (and I imagine that is how most people
end up placing orders) and we see the privacy link...but it doesn't
tell us HOW to buy a pair of these shoes.  The button under the price
is actually a size chart and not a purchase button.

If we read everything on the page (and most people won't bother) we
find this at the top of the color and size chart:

INSTRUCTIONS: Click color for larger view. Click size to select item.

Click the size to buy the item?  Yes, that's how it works.  This is
okay for Land's End because they are primarily a catalog/mail order
business, but I think they'd be shocked at the savings they would reap
in customer service support if they made it a little easier to buy
online.  People expect to select their size and color, then click an
"Add to Cart" or "Buy" button. Why? The majority of e-commerce sites
are set up that way -- it's become the norm.

Your links may be obvious to you, but not to everyone else.

I run a few niche directories and was surprised to realize that I made
this mistake myself recently.  The advertisers in the directory were
finding that those browsing the directory didn't seem to realize that
when they saw a business listing, they could click on the business
name and be taken to the advertiser's website.  The advertisers were
getting lots of phone calls from their listing, but not much website
traffic.  Obviously, they would prefer that potential customers visit
their site first to have basic questions answered!

As it turned out, the brightly colored, bold text I was using for the
business names was not clearly a link to many people.  My assumption
that if people were savvy enough to be using search to find a
business, they were smart enough to recognize the typical attributes
of a link was simply wrong.

Once we added instructions to the page ("Click the business name to
view the company's website") as well as their URL hyperlinked at the
end of each listing, clickthroughs have more than doubled.

CLICK HERE Is Still Useful

When in doubt, it's a good idea to just tell people flat out what you
want them to do.

Click here to subscribe, it's free!
To buy now, click here.
For more information, click here.

Don't hide your links by coloring them the same color as the text.  If
you don't like underlines, consider adding an underline as a hover
effect so that there's no doubt that the text is a link.

Increasing Interaction

Include your call to action in 2-3 places on a page if possible -- a
graphic button at the top and bottom of the page as well as a text
link in the body of the description ensure that wherever your
visitor's eye wanders, they will know how to complete the transaction.

Could you increase your sales, subscriptions, or memberships by
something as simple as moving the buttons and links to more obvious
spots, putting them in several places, and/or changing their
appearance?  Yes, it's very possible!

You are probably too close to your site to see the issues, though.
Run a few user tests with people who haven't really used your site
before to see where they stumble.  Shoot for 5-7 people and be careful
not to coach them -- just observe them trying to process a
transaction.  Better yet, make some changes on a test page and gauge
their reaction to the new and old pages. What you learn could make a
significant impact on your site's performance, so it's worth a few
hours of your time!

Scottie Claiborne
Successful Sites:
Right Click Web Consulting:

 ______________Text Link Brokers______________________adv.

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Our free analysis will show you which sites are in the top 10 at
Google for your keywords, the links that helped them get there,
and how you can get there too.

Sign up for your free SEO report and start increasing your traffic
and search engine rankings today!


~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~

++ High Rankings™ Seminar Nov. 3-4 in Philadelphia++

Registration is now open!

I know that November seems like months away (oh wait, it is!), but
it's never too soon to start planning what seminars you will attend
over the next few months.  If you're like me, your schedule is filling
up fast with client work, personal vacations, and just general stuff.
Make your plans to attend this informative search marketing seminar as
soon as possible so that you don't miss out.  I was pleased to see
people registering the very day after I opened it up last week.

Here are my top 10 reasons why you should sign up and register NOW:

#10 The price goes up an additional $200 after Oct. 7th (and that date
will be here before you know it).

#9 We are offering a full 25% discount to all High Rankings(tm) Forum
members. Learn more about this discount here:
</forum/index.php?showtopic=16649>.  I
don't suspect we will be taking that down by any particular date, but
you never know!

#8 If you refer a friend or colleague to the seminar, you will get an
additional 10% off of your registration and so will your friend!
(Your referral has to sign up within 2 days from when you did, and
they need to mention that you referred them.)

#7 You will learn search marketing from the ground up by the smartest,
nicest group of true experts in the entire industry.  Our
speakers/teachers are all High Rankings Forum moderators who have
many, many years of experience in their chosen niche.  These are not
people who teach but don't do.  They are in the SEO/SEM trenches every
single day, living, breathing, and eating search marketing!

#6 You will get to rub elbows with the SEM experts you've previously
only read about.  (We are all just "regular people" and that will show
through very clearly once you meet us and spend some time with us.)

#5 This seminar is a unique opportunity to learn more about search
marketing than you could ever imagine, PLUS have a great time while
you're at it.  Seminar participants and speakers have made many
friends and contacts from previous events, which you just can't put a
price on.

#4 Even though you may think you know SEO/SEM well, it's unlikely that
you know as much as each individual expert who specializes in a
particular area of it (e.g. link building, usability, copywriting,
PPC, keyword research, and measuring conversions).

#3 For those who know barely anything about SEO/SEM, we teach
everything in such a way as to be easily understandable.  We use
language you can understand, and we don't try to make ourselves look
intelligent by using big words that have no real meaning.

#2 You can't afford NOT to come.  You can pretty much bank on the fact
that the info you learn will pay for itself over and over again in the
work you will do when you're back at the office.

And the #1 reason you need to register for the High Rankings seminar
right now is:

You rarely regret the things you do, but you do regret the things you
didn't do. This kind of opportunity comes around only a couple of
times a year.  Don't miss out on this one because you just can't
decide, or are too lazy to register, or feel you can't afford it.

No excuses -- we'll see you there!

Learn more and register here: </seminar>.

++Winning Results with Google AdWords++

Have you heard about Andrew Goodman's new book, "Winning Results with
Google AdWords"? </adwords>

This is not an ebook like his previous ones, but a real live paperback
book that you can buy at Amazon or the bookstore of your choice.
Pretty cool, huh?  I've been browsing through my copy of it, and I'm
amazed at how much info it contains.  I've been outsourcing our
clients' PPC campaigns, but figure that eventually we may want to
offer it as an in-house service.  I know this book will be required
reading for anyone we may hire for that task!

Andrew was kind enough to offer free copies of the book to 3 lucky
High Rankings Advisor subscribers!  We thought it would be fun to have
you answer a few trivia questions in order to be in the running for a
free book.  If you're interested, please send Andrew
( your answers to the following questions:

1. What did Brin and Page call the prototype Google project before it
was called Google?

2. What big distribution deal *really* put Overture (then called on the map?

3. founder Bill Gross has launched a new search engine called In a past life, a portal site called was "snapped
up" by the interactive division of a major TV network. What was the
ticker symbol of this interactive company? (Begins with an "N.") What
was the ticker symbol of another online destination that was acquired
by the same interactive company (ends in OOM)?

Good luck!


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

++Paid Inclusion for a Non-optimized Site?++

Forum member "madisonsdad" asks if [Yahoo's] paid-inclusion will
improve the search results for an unoptimized site.  Read more and
share your own comments here:

_________Powerful SEO Copywriting Combo______________

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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.

~~~Sound Advice~~~

++What is Search Engine Spam?++

(This audio recording changes each week.)

~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

That's all the SEO stuff for today!

It's funny...during the week, I do all kinds of interesting things,
meet nice people, and think about all sorts of cool stuff, and say to
myself, "Self...remember about this as it will make good fodder for
the newsletter wrap-up."  Then when it comes time to write this part,
I can never remember a darn thing!  I think it's mostly because I'm
burned out after working on this all day, but who knows.  Maybe I'm
just getting old.

Oooh...I just remembered some of it!

I was going to mention the good time I had in Minneapolis last week
doing some in-house consulting with FindLaw.  I met some great people
and caught up with a few friends whom I had met before.  It was nice
to see a company that understands the importance of doing things "the
right way," and I felt like I was mostly there to confirm to them that
they actually are.

The other cool thing I was going to mention is that my husband and I
got to see Dr. Wayne Dyer speak the other night in Boston!  Remember
when I mentioned how I loved his "Power of Intention" book
</powerofintention> a couple of months ago?
Well, guess what?  Someone from his publishing company is a subscriber
to this newsletter!  Small world, huh?  It was awesome to get to see
him in person, although I didn't want to act like a groupie so I
didn't actually go up to meet him.  I feel that some day I may get a
chance to do that, but this just wasn't the right time or place.  I
like watching him speak, as it gives me ideas for bettering my own
public-speaking skills.

In fact, while listening to him and constantly nodding in agreement
with everything he said, I couldn't help but apply his info in a weird
sort of way to what I do.  I came home and immediately bought the
domain name ""!  I think that name really sums up the
kind of SEO I have been doing for years now, so I'm sure I'll
eventually find something interesting to do with the domain!

Okay, I think that's all I can remember at the moment, so I'll catch
you again in 2 weeks! - Jill
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