December 14, 2005
~~~IN TODAY'S ADVISOR~~~
----> A Stroll Down Memory Lane
*Search Engine Marketing:
----> The High Rankings Year in Review
*This Week's Sponsors:
----> SEO Copywriting Combo
----> SEM Kit
----> Reciprocal Linking vs. Mutual Linking
*Stuff You Might Like:
----> Interviewed by Seobuzzbox
*High RankingsR Forum Thread of the Week:
----> Link building Consequences
----> New Computer - Yay!
2005 was a busy year for me and the High Rankings Advisor newsletter.
Writing a weekly newsletter for over 4 years finally got the best of me, and
after surveying you and assessing my own work issues, I finally cut back to
a biweekly schedule. I have to say that it's been a huge load off my mind.
I once again look forward to those Wednesdays when it's a newsletter day, as
opposed to dreading them. Today, I'm taking you on a little trip down
memory lane, 2005.
Let's get straight to it! - Jill
~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~
++ The High Rankings Year in Review++
We often hear people say that SEO is an ever-changing discipline, and what
works today may not work tomorrow. They are adamant that one needs to keep
up with the search engines and all things SEO in order to stay one step
ahead of the game.
But is that really true?
There are certainly incremental bits of knowledge that one can gain by
staying in the thick of things at SEO forums, but I contend that the
fundamentals of SEO don't change very much, and certainly they don't change
Let's travel back in time and look at some of the questions and answers that
were in the Advisor newsletters in 2005 and see how much (if anything) has
In the very first Advisor of 2005
(exactly 30 issues ago!), a reader named Stuart asked about whether "using
rotating images on a web page helps to keep a site 'fresh' for search
engines." We still get questions like this a lot on the forum, and the
answer is still that it's not helpful, on so many levels. Unfortunately,
there's still a whole lot of misinformation out there on this subject from
other sources, which certainly doesn't help matters.
The second Advisor of the year
gave us Scottie Claiborne's first of many articles discussing Google's
"aging delay" for new domains. Later in the year (June), Scottie wrote an
important article that I often
point people to which provides instructions on how one can change their
domain name and avoid the aging delay. That issue is so critical to so many
businesses that I've never been able to figure out why her article didn't
seem to catch on with the SEO masses.
In the last issue of January we
saw the age-old question that every newbie asks, i.e., "How does one
register keywords with the search engines?" The answer of course is that
you can't, and you don't. This always bursts many a site owner's bubble
very quickly. I can't help being slightly amused when people just naturally
assume there's some easy way to tell the engines to "rank me for this word,
that word, and that other one, please"! (Wouldn't it be nice?) In a way,
that speaks to the issue of "Realistic SEO Expectations," which I recently
wrote about towards the end of October.
In February </issue130.htm>, we saw the first of
my SEO FAQ, which kept me busy through much of the first half of the year.
I've since pieced all the questions together and placed them in a nice SEO
FAQ section of my site. As you
may recall, I often started the questions with things like "My son's
preschool teacher told me..." I've had so many people ask me if those were
questions from real people. The answer is that they were more of an
amalgamation of questions from real people. But the "characters" were made
up just to make you laugh. (My favorite was "the parrot at the pet store
told me..."! hehe)
February also covered a lot of PPC ground with Amy Edelstein's series of 6
interviews with Did-It founder, Kevin Lee. The last in the series was
published in March and was one of
my favorites, as it was about "The Power of the Written Word."
February and March also saw the introduction of Google's "Auto Link" on the
toolbar. That seemed to be the beginning of Google's slide into telling us
what is good for us, whether we like it or not! On page 3 of our forum
thread on that topic, I
related my in-person auto link discussion that I had with Matt Cutts at the
NYC SES conference.
In April I wrote my SEO and the Zen Factor article which was also the inspiration
for my new blog, "Inspired SEO." The tagline
is "You'll never learn SEO by just reading about it." Unfortunately, I've
got only 2 posts there so far (neither of which is very inspiring!),
although I have a good idea for a third if I can ever get around to it.
In May I wrote about what SEO clients should expect that they'll have to do
once they've hired an SEO firm.
SEO is unfortunately not the type of thing you can just hire out and forget
about. You have to be a partner in the process for it to work correctly.
This has been true since the beginning, and I can't imagine it could ever
change. (I would worry if you've hired an SEO firm and you're *not* a
critical member of the SEO team.)
In June I got tired of hearing from people who claimed they had "good
content" on their site, only to find out that they had no concept of what
good content actually was.
In July I talked a bit about SEO pricing models, and we also heard from our
Keyword Research forum moderator, Dan Thies, regarding keyword research,
competition, and selection.
August saw me mostly rambling on about nothing in particular (hey...it was
hot!). But we did have a good guest article from Leann Pass on how to use
keywords that provide a solution to a problem.
In September I talked about dynamic site issues, and also tested a teaser
subject line as per Karon Thackston's guest article.
In October, my friend David Temple provided us with a nice review of the
awesome keyword research tool, KeywordDiscovery. I also finally updated my "10
Tips to the Top" article.
Which brings us practically up to date with some practical advice in
November for small SEO companies regarding contracts.
All in all, I'd say it was quite a prolific year for me, as well as the
numerous guest writers who so generously provided me with great newsletter
content. From browsing through the past issues, it certainly doesn't appear
that much has changed in the SEO biz this past year. But the fact that I
felt a compelling need to completely revamp my 10 Tips to the Top article
this year does signal that things do indeed change -- eventually -- in SEO.
(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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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.
Today's guest article was written by our frequent contributor, Scottie
Claiborne. I can always count on Scottie when I instant-message her on
Wednesday morning and say "Hey...you got any articles that you haven't
published yet that I can use?" She never fails to come through for me. Now
that's a true friend! Enjoy! - Jill
++Reciprocal Linking vs. Mutual Linking++
Reciprocal Linking vs. Mutual Linking: What's in it for the Visitor?
Some of the advice floating around regarding linking for your site can be
pretty confusing, especially when it comes to reciprocal linking. Is it
something you have to do? Can your site succeed without reciprocal links?
Will you be penalized for reciprocal linking? There are so many conflicting
theories.let's try to clear the subject up a little.
The founders of Google worked off a premise that has been active in academic
papers for years: citation authority. They found that the more academic
papers cited another's work, the more likely that cited work was to be an
authority on the subject. Similarly, when a lot of sites link to one site,
it's likely that site is an authority for the topic. The "topic" is
whatever those links say it is.if 25 sites link to another site with the
term "oak shelving," it's likely that page is an important page for oak
Manipulation of Links
It didn't take long for people who wanted to rank well for certain terms to
figure out that they needed a lot of links with their chosen keyword phrases
to improve their rankings in the search engines. Many schemes were born,
including mini-sites, site networks, link farms, and reciprocal linking.
At the most basic level, reciprocal links are links you trade with other
sites (you add their link, they add yours) in order to build link
popularity. There are online services, group exchanges, and software
available to help you link up with more like-minded webmasters, fast. As a
result, many sites have grown sizeable directories on topics that have
nothing to do with their area of expertise, simply because those other sites
were willing to trade links with them.
Does this work? At the moment, it does seem to work. The engines (except
for Teoma, which analyzes link communities) tend to count a link as a link,
regardless of the subject matter of the originating site.
Will it continue to work? Who knows? As the engines look for more ways to
determine which sites are truly expert and which ones are simply
manipulating their way to the top, link relevance is sure to come into play.
Some say it's already starting to affect rankings.
I like to separate mutual linking from reciprocal linking. Mutual linking
is where the content of each site actually benefits each other's sites. If
you sell shoes, you may want to recommend other sites for replacement
shoelaces and still other sites for shoe cleaning supplies. You may even
maintain a directory of regional shoe repair service shops. This is useful
information for your visitors, who are likely to need these services as
well. It makes sense for these sites to also recommend your shoes and link
to your site. While it's technically still a reciprocal link, it has a
mutual benefit for both sites.
While you can make a case that visitors to your shoe site might actually
need weight loss formulas, like to gamble, or are concerned about the size
of certain body parts, it really isn't likely that links to these sites will
be clicked and followed by your visitors.they only make your site look
unprofessional. The links you trade with these sites may or may not
actually be helping you in the engines, but they're definitely not helping
you to make more sales.
Will I Be Penalized for Reciprocal Linking?
You might. I don't say that to send you into a panic, but the truth is if
you link to a site that is considered a "bad neighborhood" by the engines,
it could negatively affect your site. That innocent-looking pet accessories
site may be cloaking, hiding links or text, or participating in other
linking schemes and just hasn't been caught yet. Why risk it for a link
that probably won't even bring you traffic? Sure, people who wear shoes
often have dogs, but if you're just linking to them for the link, it's
probably not a good idea.
Be very aware of whom you link to. You control where your site links to and
that could come back to haunt you. Link only to the sites that will help
improve your credibility and your sales!
Should I Hide All My Outgoing Links?
Absolutely not. There have been many people who feel that since Google's
Florida update (in Nov. 2003), adding relevant outgoing links seems to have
a positive effect on rankings. Besides, if you hide or block their links,
and they hide or block yours, what's the point of participating in a
reciprocal linking program at all?
So.What Will Happen if I Do Reciprocal Linking?
While no one knows for sure what the future of link relationships will be
with each search engine, I tend to think that as soon as they can figure out
how to do it most effectively, off-topic links simply won't count anymore.
If you pin ALL your link popularity on trading links with whoever will trade
with you, you could find yourself starting over from scratch at some point.
If you are looking to build long-term rankings (and real business links that
can attract customers), it takes more work and creativity than just sending
out automated emails or joining a linking program.
Give your site an advantage by giving people a reason to link to it -- a
helpful tool, a guide, an industry-specific directory, or some other useful
content that people will feel good about recommending on their site. If
your site is worth linking to, you won't have to rely as much on swapping
links as a promotion strategy.
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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: </semkit>
~~~Stuff You Might Like~~~
++Interviewed by Seobuzzbox++
I thought you might like to read the interview that Aaron Pratt from
Seobuzzbox conducted with me this week. Mr. Pratt asked some very
interesting questions about High Rankings, white hats, and black hats, as
well as more personal stuff like being a stay-at-home mom. You can read the
interview here: <http://www.seobuzzbox.com/interview-jill-whalen.html>.
~~~High RankingsR Forum Thread of the Week~~~
++Link Building Consequences++
This forum thread fits in nicely with Scottie's link popularity article. It
was posted because apparently Matt Cutts from Google has stated that Google
doesn't like artificially created links. Umm...haven't we known that for
like 5 years?
Anyway, it's an interesting read on the forum here, if for no other reason
than to read Scottie's great example of how one might get some links for a
fictional Chia Pet site! You can read it here:
That's all for today!
Last week's conference in Chicago went really well. It was nice to meet many
of you there. The big news this week is that I finally got out of the Stone
Age and purchased a new desktop computer! The main desktop that I'd been
using was getting so old that when it would check email, I'd sometimes hear
it clunking. (I don't think it's supposed to do that!) The new one arrived
last night from the "present truck" (UPS), and I've got it all up and
running smoothly. Currently, I've got my old one right beside it and I'm
grabbing what I need through the network. I figure that over the weekend,
I'll move any important stuff for real.
The part I forgot about, and the reason why I dislike getting new computers,
is that they always change stuff with the new software versions. I had been
using Office 2000 for so long, and had my Outlook set up exactly as I liked
it. With Outlook 2003, they went and moved everything around on me. :(
I've figured most of it out, but it wasted a ton of time that I should have
probably been working on this newsletter and/or other work! (I could have
worked around it, and yet, I couldn't...if you know what I mean!)
I'm not sure when the next newsletter will be. I will be around next week,
but that's supposed to be an "off" week for the newsletter. The week after
that is when we take our annual trip to Florida to visit my grandmother, so
definitely no newsletter that week. I believe there should be one the week
after that, however.
Catch you then! - Jill