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High Rankings® Advisor: Realistic SEO Expectations - Issue No. 152

October 26, 2005

*Introductory Comments:
---->   Last Chance To Meet Us in Philadelphia!

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   Realistic SEO Expectations

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   Synergy Site Manager Suite
---->   IBP 8.1 Web Promotion Tool

*Guest Article:
---->   Writing for the Press

*High Rankings® Forum Thread of the Week:
---->   Going from PR0 to PR7 in One Fell Swoop

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   Boo!

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hi everyone!

It's hard to believe our High Rankings® Seminar is just about a week
away!  We still have some room left, so if you're interested, please
sign up.  It's on Nov. 3-4 in
the Philadelphia, PA area.  We'll be starting with the SEO basics and
moving all the way through more advanced topics such as your technical
site architecture, keyword research, PPC ads, usability,
link-building, and copywriting.  The speakers will be arriving at the
Crowne Plaza Valley Forge on Wed. and we'll probably be hanging out in
the hotel bar/lounge starting at around 8:30 PM or so.  If you're in
the area, please stop by and say hi even if you're not going to attend
the seminar.  I hope to see you there!

I've got a good newsletter for you today, so let's get straight to
it! - Jill

~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

++Realistic SEO Expectations++

In Advisor Issue #140 I talked about setting SEO client expectations in terms of their role in
creating a successful campaign.  Today, I'm going to talk about client
expectations in terms of realistic results.

Those who've been in the SEO biz for a number of years know how much
more competitive it is these days as compared to a few years ago.  The
number of webpages indexed by search engines has doubled, tripled, and
quadrupled in past years.  On top of that, a good portion of site
owners and webmasters know just enough SEO to be dangerous.  In the
golden age of SEO, the vast majority of websites hadn't given a
thought to the search engines, and when they did, it was only to place
some keywords in their Meta tags. (Which, incidentally, didn't help
then either.) Those were the days when anyone who knew even the
slightest bit about SEO could easily rank highly in all the major
search engines, with very little effort.  Even competitive areas were
doable with just a little more work than their non-competitive

These days, it's almost the exact opposite.  Even keyword phrases that
nobody's searching for can sometimes be difficult to obtain high
rankings with unless you really and truly know what you're doing. And
even then, those rankings may be here one day, and gone the next. The
problem is magnified for new businesses and new websites.  If your
site isn't at least a few years old, your SEO efforts will be less
likely to provide the results you want.  This is one reason why your
website optimization should always be seen as a long-term proposition.

As we move forward in this industry, webmasters, site owners, and SEOs
need to shift their focus from that of asking how they can get this
keyword to this position in this engine to how they can get more
targeted traffic and convert it into customers.  Unfortunately, a
large portion of those looking into SEO services are still seeing the
small picture.  For instance, on the contact form on my site, I ask
people to tell me a little bit about their "business goals."  A good
portion who fill it out want something like "top-5 rankings in Google
and Yahoo for this keyword."  Huh? That's not a business goal! A
business goal is more like "Bring more people to my website who are
searching online for the types of products we sell."  (As a side note,
soon after writing this, I got an email from someone whose goal was to
have their Flash site be "#1 in all the search engines for the word
'spring.'"  I kid you not!)

Don't get me wrong, I very much understand why people would love to
move their rankings up from #11 to #1 for a highly sought-after and
targeted keyword phrase.  I'm quite sure it would very much increase
their targeted traffic and their sales (assuming they're doing
everything else right).  My frustration lies in the fact that there
are people who believe that somehow an SEO company can magically snap
their fingers or wave their magic wands and make it so. They probably
found my site at #2 in Google for search engine optimization and
expect that I can just do to their site whatever it was I did to my
site, and voila -- instant rankings!

Even the best SEOs are not magicians.  They can't simply place a site
at the top of the engines when there are hundreds of thousands (if not
millions) of others that offer basically the same thing, and provide
basically the same information.  If they could, you'd see a whole lot
more millionaire SEOs.

Does this mean that SEO is dead?

Absolutely not!  But SEO that focuses on rankings for the most highly
sought-after keywords in any given space is most definitely dying.
This doesn't mean that you have to settle for keywords that receive
few searches.  It just means that you have to broaden your horizons
and see the big picture.

Almost every time I review one of those "put me at #1" prospects'
websites, I see tons of opportunities for fixing the site in general
so that it will work better for both their users and the search
engines.  They are almost always so focused on their "money phrases"
that they completely neglect many areas of their site.  Instead they
put their special phrase on every page and never research the
thousands of others that are being typed into search engines every

Another trend I've been seeing a lot lately is the creation of content
simply for the sake of creating content.  What's that all about?  SEOs
certainly throw the words "good content" around a lot, but why is it
that nobody seems to know what that means? We now have a whole cottage
industry of companies who will allegedly write "good content" for you.
Worse, there's even one that will *rent* you content! Newsflash...good
content has nothing to do with the history of your products.  Nor is
good content a bunch of madlib spam pages where you simply substitute
keyword phrases from one page into the other.  Good content isn't
stuff you write for the search engines.

Good content is unique.  Really and truly unique.  It is creative
ideas that simply popped into your head which nobody else in your
space has thought of yet.  The key to good content is creativity.
Unfortunately, creativity itself seems to be a dying art.  Being
creative isn't looking at what your competitor is doing and copying
them.  It's being a leader, not a follower.  It's having your own
voice and your own opinions and expressing them, regardless of what
others might think.  It's pouring your heart and soul into your
website, not looking for the next quick fix.  And it's (say it with
me) making your site the best it can be for your site visitors AND the
search engines. It's what's made my site rank highly for the most
competitive phrase there is (among thousands of other phrases), and
it's what will make your site rank highly for whatever phrases relate
to it.  But it's not easy, and it's not fast.  And it can't be done
with the flick of a switch.

So please...if your pet phrase isn't ranking highly enough, don't call
me and don't email me.  In fact, don't call or email *any* SEO
company.  Instead of calling, you need to reassess your goals.  No SEO
company in the world will be able to help you unless you are ready to
forget about what you think you want, and learn more about what you
really need.  Read that last sentence again until you really
understand it.  Forget about what you think you want, and learn more
about what you really need.

And remember, there are plenty of companies that will say they can do
whatever you want them to do.  You want to be #1 for spring? Sure, no
problem.  They will happily take your money, do some work, and
promptly get no results.  Don't blame them though -- they were just
telling you what you wanted to hear.


(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.)

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~~~Guest Article~~~

++Writing for the Press++

Michael Iwasaki writes today's guest article.  Michael has been a
public relations advisor with since early 2004
and has a great deal of knowledge in this area.  For more press
release tips and resources, see Michael's tips page here:
< release tips menu.php>.

Take it away, Michael! - Jill

Writing for the Press
By Michael Iwasaki

Writing a press release may initially be very daunting.  This being
said, a well-written release may go a long way -- if you follow some
simple rules.

Content Is Key

As Jill Whalen always stresses with search engine optimization, you
should write your content for the user.  Writing a press release is no
different; write it to be read by an editor or journalist, as they are
the people you really want to read your story.  Filling a press
release with keyword content is wrong and is a waste of time.

How To Structure Your Press Release

Placing your company's name in the title of your press release will
add legitimacy to it.  In fact, if the name is not within the title of
your release, some editors/journalists will simply move on to the next

Ensure the first paragraph of your press release answers the important
questions: "who, what, when, where, and why."  Remember, you have one
sentence to hook the editor/journalist.

Keep your content accurate, easily readable, and to the point. Not
everyone will understand your industry as well as you do, so keep
industry jargon to a minimum.

A well-written press release should not be a novel.  The point of a
press release is to entice the reader, editor, or journalist to
contact you for further information on your story for possible future

Shorter press releases are preferable.  A release between 200 and 350
words tends to receive more exposure if written well.  Why? Because
many trade publications are looking to fill a spot within a column of
a magazine, newspaper, or website.  These often take the form of short
snippets within the sidebar of a magazine or down the side of the
webpage.  Guess where that information often comes from?

Do Not Embellish or Exaggerate Your Press Release

Embellishing a press release could end up being very embarrassing and
harmful to your company down the road.  Once it has been distributed
and you start to receive phone calls, if the information in your
release is not actually true you may be classified as one who likes to
stretch the truth.  This will leave a bad taste with editors and
journalists who will remember your name and company -- but in a bad

Proofread Your Press Release

A poorly written press release is a quick turn-off for everyone. This
will also be a negative reflection on your company.

Print your press release and read, edit, and re-read it many times
before submitting it. By printing it and reading a hard copy, you are
more likely to catch any errors. This works particularly well for
longer releases.

Have a co-worker or friend review your release.  Sometimes another set
of eyes may catch an error you didn't notice.  Once you and your
co-workers believe that it is perfect, then sleep on it.  Read the
press release again when you wake up to see if it still sounds the way
you originally intended.

If your release still reads well and there are no errors, you can
submit it for distribution. The best days for release are Tuesdays,
Wednesdays, and Thursdays.  For many, Monday is a "catch up and layout
my week" type of day, making it not the best day to distribute your
press release.

Write Press Releases on a Regular Basis

Distributing press releases with news about your company on a monthly
basis will keep journalists updated and people informed. However, if
you do not have anything newsworthy to write about, do not submit a
press release just for the sake of doing so.

Get Permission To Quote People

When writing your press release, you may want to quote an individual
within your company. This may look something like:

"Being partnered with PR Newswire is one of the best things that has
happened to us," said Michael Iwasaki, public relations advisor with

Having the permission (in writing) to use their quote within your
press release is extremely important.  Failing to do so could even
result in a lawsuit, so be very sure that anything you quote is
completely accurate.

Getting Actual Press

By writing a killer title, starting strong, sticking to the facts, and
using proper attribution you are sure to put together a great press
release that will have a good chance of receiving media attention.

Michael Iwasaki

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

++Going from PR0 to PR7 in One Fell Swoop++

How do you take a site from a PR0 to a PR7 in a month?  Be Google
engineer Matt Cutts is how!  This thread starts out discussing how
Matt did it without trying, but also provides some great suggestions
for really and truly getting natural links to your site.  

~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

That's all for today!  So what happened to October?  It pretty much
rained the entire month here, and now the month is just about gone.
Which means Halloween must be coming up soon...ugh...I need to buy
some candy!  Both Timmy and Jamie have Halloween / Harvest Dances
coming up on different nights.  Since their schools are a bit of a
distance from our house, that means Don and I will probably get 2
extra dinners out this week when we drop them off, then kill some time
while we're waiting for them.  We found a quaint little Mexican place
near Jamie's school and a Chinese place with a $9 all-you-can-eat
buffet near Timmy's, so we'll be livin' large!

No newsletter next week, so you'll just have to catch me at the
seminar instead!
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