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SEO Website Audit

High Rankings® Advisor: Jill's SEO Mailbag - Issue No. 154

November 30, 2005
~~~IN TODAY'S ADVISOR~~~

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->   Forum and Blog Links
---->   Dropped off the Face of Google
---->   WPG and Google's API
---->   Changing Domain Names
---->   Is SEO Enough?
---->   How Deep Will Engines Crawl?
---->   Changing Hosts
---->   What To Do With Misspellings
---->   Authority Sites

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->   MegaFeeder Shopping Feed Software
---->   KeywordDiscovery
---->   SEO Copywriting Combo
---->   SEM Kit

*High Rankings® Forum Thread of the Week:
---->   Article Distribution and Duplicate Content Bans

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->   SES Chicago Next Week
________________________________________________________

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Hey all!  I hope our US friends had a nice Thanksgiving!  This is the
first year in my entire life that I didn't have turkey on
Thanksgiving.  But not to worry, I got mine a few days later, so all
is well.

I've got another SEO mailbag bonanza for you today.  For those new to
the newsletter, these mailbag bonanza issues are some of the
interesting questions I've answered recently by email.  I try to
choose ones that are frequently asked because I know those will
probably strike a chord with many of you.

I often do these mailbag issues when I have no guest articles.  If you
have a good idea for an article you'd like to write for me that hasn't
already been written about, please pitch it to me.

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


~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

++Forum and Blog Links++

Dear Jill,

I just joined your newsletter. I have two questions in regard to
PageRank/link popularity:

1. If I include my website URL in the forums I participate in that are
related to the subject of my site, will this benefit my PageRank?

2. If I include my website in blog sites on subjects that are relevant
to my website content, will this help to raise my PageRank?

Thank you,

George

++Jill's Response++

Hi George,

First I need to tell you that you're measuring the wrong thing! You
don't need to look at increasing PageRank as it doesn't really affect
your actual site rankings in the search engines, nor does it increase
the traffic or sales to your site.

To illustrate this, search for any keyword phrase in Google and then
look at the top 20 or 30 sites that show up.  You'll notice that
they're not even close to being ranked in PageRank order.

That said, links pointing to your site are definitely important, as
they're still a big factor in how all of the search engines determine
whether you have a worthwhile site.  Therefore, any links pointing to
your site have the potential of giving your site more exposure, which
can also lead to an increase in link popularity.

I wouldn't recommend using other people's forums to gain link
popularity as it's not going to win you any friends with the forum
owners or most of the members. Forum links have been used to subvert
the search engines' link pop. algorithms for years, so there's a good
chance that the engines have lessened the amount of popularity that is
spread by these types of links.  Also, you may be interested to know
that a good number of forum signatures aren't even spiderable or seen
by search engines.  In addition, a person "voting for their own site"
through their own links probably wouldn't count as much as when other
people vote for it (assuming the engines can tell the difference).

The same applies to blogs.  I would not recommend posting comments on
blogs in order to increase your own link popularity, as that's what's
known as blog spamming.

The best way to gain links, and really the only way I would even
bother with these days, is to make darn sure that your site is really
and truly better than all the other ones that offer similar stuff to
what you offer.  You need to figure out what your unique selling
proposition (USP) is and shout it to the world.  This will garner you
more links than you'll even need for link pop. purposes.  (Yeah, I
know that's hard and takes a lot of work.  Such is life!)

Best,

Jill


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__________________________________________________


++Dropped off the Face of Google++

Hi Jill,

I have recently dropped off the face of Google for all my main keyword
phrases. I was in the top 10 before Google changed my description
snippet for my  homepage. They have changed it from the description
tag to the snippet the dmoz directory created for my web site when
they listed me.  I'm so confused and feel so defeated!!! My traffic
stats have fallen and not one sale for a week and counting. :(

If you have any suggestions or information for me - please let me know
at your earliest convenience. Thanks!

Sincerely,

Donna

++Jill's Response++

Hi Donna,

Google often uses the DMOZ description in the search results, which
very much stinks because it's usually not one the site owner would
prefer.  My hope is that they will abandon this practice at some point
because it really devalues a Google listing.

That said, I don't think that the description change actually affects
rankings at Google.  More likely, you are seeing the effects of
Google's recent algorithm change (some may know of this as "Jagger").

If you're extremely unhappy with the DMOZ description showing in
Google, you could request to have DMOZ remove your listing all
together.  They may or may not remove it, but all you can do is ask.

As an aside and similar to the DMOZ description problem, a listing in
the Yahoo directory usually means that your directory title will
supercede your site's carefully crafted title tag in the natural Yahoo
results.  This also stinks because most Yahoo directory titles are not
very descriptive and people may be less apt to click through when they
encounter them.  To combat this, when any of my clients' sites come up
for review in the Y! Directory, I recommend that they no longer renew
them.  Not appearing in the directory hasn't hurt their rankings or
traffic in the least.  Instead, they save $299 a year, plus they get
the title that they want; it's a win-win situation all around!

Jill


++WPG and Google's API Key++

Hello Jill,

I must tell you I REALLY enjoyed [your High Rankings® Seminar in
Philadelphia]. I learned a lot!  Before I went to the seminar, I KNEW
what had to be done for better search results but I didn't know HOW to
do it.

We have WebPosition Gold and I can't remember if it was you that said
we need to get a Google API key to use the program.  I was wondering
why and how it works.  I was on the Google site that talks about it
but I didn't understand how it relates to WPG.  We use WebTrends too.

I will go ahead and sign up for the Google AP I-- maybe once I get it
I will understand.

Thanks again -- great seminar!

Renee'

++Jill's Response++

Hi Renee',

The old version of WPG doesn't support the Google API.  You would want
to make sure not to use that version on Google, but only check AOL
rankings (which uses Google).  In fact, if you'd been using it
previously, this could be a factor in why you're having problems with
Google now.  (If your site is completely gone from all rankings.)

WPG isn't going to be supporting their old version much longer anyway,
so you probably want to upgrade to the new one if you are interested
in running ranking reports.  With the new version, you can put in your
API key and not use automated queries, which are against Google's
terms of service.  However, it's important to remember that many of us
in SEO are trying to get away from using rankings as a measurement for
success.  You get much better data than WPG can give you by simply
using your WebTrends information.  (Although since WebTrends owns WPG
now, it may all be integrated, which probably comes in handy.)

Hope this helps, and glad you enjoyed the seminar!

Jill


______________Keyword Discovery_____________________adv.

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__________________________________________________

"KeywordDiscovery is my new keyword research tool of choice!
I've been using it for the past few months, and each time I find
new things that it can do.  Our clients are benefiting from the
additional terms we're finding that may otherwise have been
missed.  I'll definitely be letting my newsletter readers, forum
members, and High Rankings® seminar participants know about
this tool." - Jill Whalen

</keyworddiscovery>
__________________________________________________


++Changing Domain Names++

Good morning Jill,

We recently changed our hotel name from [Hotel#1] to [Hotel#2].  How
should we set this up on our server so as not to lose our existing
search engine rankings?

Hotel#1.com pointing to Hotel#2.com?
or
Hotel#1.com pointing to the IP of Hotel#2 and place a 301 redirect for
Hotel#1 to Hotel#2?

Thank you!

JR

++Jill's Response++

Hi JR...

Changing domains is not a good thing to do right now because of
Google's aging delay.  Your best bet is to do a 302 redirect from the
old to the new (yes 302 not 301) and get as many of your old links
pointing to the new domain.  Then when you're out of the aging delay
with the new site (on avg. 9 months) you can change it to a 301
redirect, which will help to transfer the link popularity of any
remaining links that couldn't be changed.

Scottie Claiborne has a good article from a past newsletter on this
topic called "Switching to a New Domain Name Without Losing Rankings"
</issue142.htm#guest>, which is a must-read
for anyone in your situation.

Jill


++Is SEO Enough?++

Hi Jill,

I am a Webmaster and whenever it's time for me to optimize my client's
site, I take out your list -- "Ten Tips to the Top of the Search
Engines" </tentips.htm> -- and read it
again and make sure I've applied all the steps to the Web site.

My question to you is, is optimizing a Web site enough to be ranked
high with search engines, or should one also consider using
pay-per-click ads?  Is this the way search engines do business today?

I would love to receive your expert advice on this. Thank you and
please keep the newsletters coming.

Michelle

++Jill's Response++

Hi Michelle,

If you're doing well in the natural/organic listings in each engine
for every single keyword phrase that relates to your site, then
there's probably no reason to do PPC.  However, it's likely there are
some phrases where you could use some additional exposure, in which
case PPC ads might make sense.  It's also not necessarily a bad thing
to show up in both the organic and sponsored results.

But it all depends on whether you can make a positive return on your
investment.  The great thing about PPC is that it's completely
measurable.  You can track your clicks and the amount you pay per
click, then translate that into conversions and eventually learn how
much it's costing you to acquire new customers (if that's your goal).

I would say that it's certainly worth giving it a shot.  But I would
caution you to hire someone who either has a lot of time to spend
learning how to do PPC correctly, or who already understands it.  PPC
can make you a ton of money, in that each dollar you put in you can
get many more out.  But it can also lose you money if you don't track
it properly or don't know what you're doing.

Jill

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At the same time, keeping your keywords featured prominently is
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__________________________________________________


++How Deep Will Engines Crawl?++

Hi Jill

First of all, great site and newsletter!

We've recently added an online version of tour operator brochures on
our website.  There are about 20,000 pages in a tree-type hierarchy,
e.g., continent then country then area etc.

This of course means that there are a fair number of pages until you
reach an actual brochure page.  From the home page to a brochure page
it's 6 clicks.

Do Google and other search engines have a limit on how far they will
crawl?  We were hoping that within a month we'd have roughly 20,000
pages indexed, but it's been 6 weeks and we only have 300 or so pages
indexed.  Plus some of the old content is still being shown in the
results.

Would reducing the number of levels significantly improve the results?

Kind Regards,

Aled

++Jill's Response++

Hi Aled,

Six clicks away from the home page definitely makes it harder for the
spider to find, and this content may or may not eventually get
indexed.  Often it will depend on how popular your site is.  I would
keep checking each month and see if the number of indexed pages keeps
growing.  If not, you may want to look at ways of improving your site
architecture so that those pages are fewer clicks away.

When you think about it from the search engines' perspective though,
it actually makes sense.  They're simply taking their cue from your
own design.  If you don't feel that those pages are very important (as
evidenced by how difficult it would be for a person to find them) then
they have to assume it's not worth their time and effort to dig down
to retrieve them.

Jill


++Changing Hosts++

Hi Jill,

Thank you for your newsletter. It helps keep me sane.

I am planning to move our 3 web sites to a new host. Will that confuse
the search engines or worse, will they lose my site and not index us
for 6 months?

Thank you in advance.

Gunnar

++Jill's Response++

Hi Gunnar,

If you're keeping the same domain/website, the search engines won't
even notice the change in hosts.  You have nothing to worry about.  To
be sure all the DNS stuff gets updated, you may want to keep the site
on the old server for a few weeks before taking it down completely.
But most of the time that's not even necessary anymore.

Jill


++What To Do With Misspellings++

Hi Jill,

I have been using various keyword generators to help select high-value
targeted keywords.  Some great keywords are misspellings, however.
How do I use those keywords to acquire hits?  If I use them in a
visible spot such as the title or body text it makes the site look
dumb.  What do you advise?  How do you handle misspellings as
keywords?

Thank You!

David

++Jill's Response++

Hi David,

Your best bet is to use the misspellings in your PPC advertising
campaigns.  That way they don't have to show up on your site and make
it look unprofessional, but your site will still show up in the
sponsored listings when someone misspells things related to what you
offer.

Jill


++Authority Sites++

Hi Jill,

What do you know about authority sites and what is your opinion on
their importance for high rankings, your philosophy business-wise, and
how your company uses them?

Norm

++Jill's Response++

Hi Norm,

There's really not much to know.  Authority sites are those that are
considered experts on their topic.  For instance, my High Rankings®
site is an authority site on search engine optimization because it
provides a ton of free information on the subject.

It makes sense that the search engines will often show authority sites
above other sites in the search results. It makes even more sense when
you realize that no site can just become an authority overnight.  It
usually takes a lot of time and hard work.

With clients, I always recommend that they provide people with
something unique and different if they want to have any chance of
showing up in the engines for whatever it is they're selling or
offering these days.  They don't necessarily have to become an
authority, but they have to be different.  I won't even take on new
clients unless they have a unique idea, product or service anymore.
This is because there's no way to make a site that sells the same
thing as 100,000 other sites show up in the top 10 of a search engine
unless they really are one of the top 10 sites in their space.  Sure,
you can probably fake authority in one way or another, but for
long-term success you're much better off to be the real thing.

Jill


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And that's just the CD!

The book is chock-full of SEO/SEM strategies.
Order now: </semkit>
__________________________________________________


++After SEO++

Hi Jill, I have followed what I have learned from you about SEO
copywriting, meta tags, keywords, etc. and I am very glad that I did.
I am in the Boston area and I have one question that I cannot find the
answer to. After my pages are complete with the tags, etc. and they
are uploaded to my site, do I have to do anything else to get those
pages noticed? Do I have to submit them manually to the major engines,
or will they just bubble up in the rankings if they are written and
tagged right?

I hope you can answer that question. I read you have partnered with a
marketing company in Boston. Good luck! You offer great info. Thanks
in advance, Jill.

Judith

++Jill's Response++

Hi Judith,

You don't have to submit your pages to the spidering search engines,
as that won't actually do anything.  What you'll need to do instead is
make other site owners aware of your site so that they might add a
link to it on their site.  The only way to get listed in the search
engines these days is to have links from other sites that the engines
can follow.  All the great content on your site won't help one bit in
the search engines if nobody finds your site worthy enough to link to.

Jill


(P.S. If anyone would like to republish any or all of above Q&A posts,
please email me your request and where they will reside, and I'll send
you a short bio you can use with them for your site.)


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

++Article Distribution and Duplicate Content Bans++

Are duplicate pages penalized and/or banned? Most of the regulars at
the High Rankings® forum strongly believe that there is *no such
thing* as a duplicate content penalty.

Yes, duplicate content can get filtered out and put into the dreaded
supplementary listings, but that doesn't mean there's a penalty.
Sure, it could be just a question of semantics since a duplicate
content filter probably feels similar to a penalty when your site is
the one being filtered.  However, there is a difference and it's very
important for people to note and understand this.

This forum thread was started well over a year ago, but was recently
revived when a new forum poster challenged the moderators' assertions
that there was no such thing as a dupe content penalty.  It's a pretty
interesting read:
</forum/index.php?showtopic=6221>.

I'm hoping to ask a Google engineer about it at next week's SES
conference.  It would be good to put the rumors and misinformation to
rest once and for all.


~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

That's all for today!

We had a great time at the Great Wolf Lodge in the Poconos for
Thanksgiving last week.  You can see pics of the indoor waterpark
here: </photos/thumbnails.php?album=20>.
If you have kids, I highly recommend this place!

Corie was home from college, but she didn't want to miss even one
second with her friends, so she opted out.  We did get to spend some
time with her once we were all back though, so that was good.  Jamie
had a nasty cold and cough, but she didn't let that stop her from
having fun on the water slides with Timmy.  I even did some of them,
but I got bored with it after about an hour.  They had a nice hot tub
though, and an even nicer bar! ;-)

I treated myself to a really cool new coffee maker recently.  We've
always freshly ground our beans, and recently I saw a coffeemaker that
had a built-in bean grinder as well as the ability to brew the coffee,
all in one unit.  Plus, you can set it up the night before and then
use the built-in timer to grind the beans in the morning and brew the
coffee, all before you even wake up!  We've been using it for less
than a week, but already I'm completely spoiled.  What gadgets will
they think up next?

Next week is the Search Engine Strategies conference in Chicago.  I'm
speaking on 2 panels this time.  There's still time to register at
<http://www.searchenginestrategies.com>.  I hope to see you there!  If
not, I'll catch you here in 2 weeks.
 
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