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SEO Website Audit

High Rankings® Advisor: No Quick Fixes - Issue No. 156

January 3, 2006
~~~IN TODAY'S ADVISOR~~~

*Introductory Comments:
---->  Happy New Year!

*Search Engine Marketing:
---->  No Quick Fixes

*This Week's Sponsors:
---->  Keyword Discovery
---->  SEO Copywriting Combo

*Guest Article:
----> Subtle Changes to Your Copy Make a Noticeable Difference (Part 1)

*High Rankings® Forum Thread of the Week:
---->  Fortune 500 Sites Use Hidden Text To Fool Engines

*Advisor Wrap-up:
---->  Lord of the Bongos
________________________________________________________

~~~Introductory Comments~~~

Happy New Year everyone!  Hope all your holidays were nice and relaxing.
Personally, I'm glad we're back to work as it gets pretty boring in the
online world when everyone is on vacation.  The forum was dead, email was
dead, and all I could do online to avoid doing any real work was play a few
games at Yahoo.  Oh woe is me!

Anyway, I've got some good articles for you today, so let's get straight to
them! - Jill


~~~Search Engine Marketing Issues~~~

Hi Jill,

I have just subscribed to your newsletter; you stated you would be happy to
answer my questions, so I thought I'd try you. I hope you can help. And just
so that you know, it's heavily appreciated.

Well I've been coming across ads and people claiming they can make you
successful online in 15 minutes to five days etc. Some may be right and some
wrong, but I figured I'm going to give them a try.  I wanted to know what
your views on such offers are.

I am looking to start an SEO company in the UK. I am looking to set up a
call centre and take on work in order to optimize sites for clients. At this
stage I am learning HTML, and have started Dreamweaver tutorials. After
which I intend to go to a SEO training course.

The company offering the SEO training course claims their teachers optimise
sites for clients, hence they will teach you the same skills. I wanted to
know whether in your opinion it would be possible for me to be able to
optimise a client's site after going to one of these courses.  What sort of
info should they offer in order for me to be able to do this? Would I need
heavy working knowledge of websites, i.e. know HTML thoroughly? Or do you
think I should outsource all the SEO work to a company, and if so how do I
choose the right company?

I am sorry for the lengthy email, I know it is asking a lot, and if you do
not have the time to offer such advice, I would understand. On the other
hand I would greatly appreciate your professional opinions.

Thank you.
Kind regards,

Nadeem

++Jill's Response++

Hi Nadeem,

Thank you for your questions and the opportunity to update and revise my "No
Quick Fixes" article.  It doesn't specifically address your questions, but
it's got a similar theme.  I originally wrote it back in July of 2000 and
have updated it a couple of times since then, the last time being May of
2004.  Reading through it to see if it answered your questions, I realized
that since it talked way too much about Meta tags and submitting to search
engines (both of which are mostly useless), it needed a complete rewrite.

Before I get to the article, I do want to briefly address your specific
issues...

Whether it's search marketing or any other business that you want to get
into, no person, book, website, or seminar can make you successful; not in
15 minutes, 15 days, or even 15 years.    Only *you* can make yourself
successful, and it can only happen through hard work, dedication, and
creativity.  Resources and teachers can point you in the right direction,
but being successful is an ongoing, lifelong process that can't be taught.
Success comes from doing and -- surprisingly enough -- from making a whole
bunch of mistakes along the way.  So stop reading those get-rich-quick
websites, and start trying your hand at doing stuff. The worst that will
happen is you'll have a few mess-ups along the way.  As long as you learn
from them, then you're on the right track.
 
As to opening up an SEO company after taking an SEO training class, I am
having a difficult time imagining any class that could get you up to speed
quickly enough to own a company that gets paid to optimize other people's
sites.    Even our own High Rankings Seminar is just a start.  You simply
can't learn SEO in a few days. You have to try things, see what works for
you and what doesn't, and then adjust from there.  Since results can take
time, you won't even know if you're really good at SEO until you've been
practicing it (hopefully on your own sites or on those of your friends) for
at least 1 year, if not longer.  

So please, don't even think about becoming another in a long line of
get-rich-quick SEO people.  The world is already way too full of them!

Which leads us to today's article.

++No Quick Fixes with Search Engine Optimization++

Wouldn't it be great if we could simply edit Meta tags and get high
rankings?

Many years ago I read Stephen R. Covey's "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective
People." One thing Covey discusses is the glitter of the "Personality
Ethic." He mentions how some people try to find some "quick and easy way to
achieve quality of life ... without going through the natural process of
work and growth that makes it possible." Then he goes on to say, "The
Personality Ethic is illusory and deceptive. And trying to get high quality
results with its techniques and quick fixes is just about as effective as
trying to get to some place in Chicago using a map of Detroit."

What Covey says is nearly identical to what I've been saying for years
regarding search engine optimization: There are simply no quick fixes.

I wish I had a dime for every potential client who came to me and said, "We
just need you to fix our Meta tags so our site will rank highly with search
engines." These people don't realize that if it were simply a matter of
fixing Meta tags, they could probably do it themselves!

Why Not Meta Tags?

Search engines don't have a whole lot to work with when trying to figure out
which sites to show in their list of results for any given keyword search.
Considering this, it's actually quite amazing how relevant most search
results tend to be, given the sheer number of pages on the Internet these
days.  

For an internal search engine that just searches through pages or products
on your site, the information provided in the Meta keyword tag can really
help to narrow down the most relevant pages that one of your site users
might be searching for.

Unfortunately, the differences between an internal search engine and a
public one such as Google are many.  For instance, with an internal engine,
there are only a relatively small number of pages or products to search
through to find a relevant page. Plus, the content and Meta tags on the site
are trustworthy, since your goal and that of your internal search engine is
to help people find exactly what they're looking for on your site.

On the other hand, with major search engines, their database contains
basically every page on the web that they know about.  They can't
necessarily trust the Meta tags they find since a site owner's goals may not
necessarily be the same as the major search engines' goal (i.e., you would
like your site to show up in the search results as much as possible for as
many keyword phrases as possible, but the search engine would like to show
the most relevant pages, whether those are yours or someone else's).  

This makes changing or adding Meta tags on your site neither a quick fix nor
a slow fix. It won't fix anything and it won't have any effect on your
search engine traffic.

What About Content?

Sure, you can add all kinds of content to your site and hope that will be a
quick fix, but writing lots of good content cannot be done quickly.  It will
generally take years of writing a little bit every day or every week, to
eventually end up with a genuine archive of truly useful information.  It's
highly doubtful that if you're somehow generating 100 pages a week, you're
actually creating good content. You're either stealing from elsewhere,
auto-generating it from some sort of icky software program, or you're some
kind of robot with too much time on your hands!

How About Links?

It is true that links are very important to helping your site gain
visibility and search engine traffic.  But quick-fix link schemes are not
going to result in long-term high rankings for your site. Everyone knows to
avoid "link farms," but nobody seems to quite know what they are.  No worry,
because it doesn't matter whether something is a link farm or a link scheme
or a link popularity bonanza software extravaganza.  If you set out to get
links for the sole purpose of increasing your search engine rankings, you're
already thinking backwards.  

Forget about link popularity and instead think about your target audience
and how you can let them know your site exists. It's really just marketing,
plain and simple. You have a website and a business that presumably is
[better] [more unique] [cheaper] [friendlier] than the others out there and
it needs to be marketed. You may even have to <gasp> spend a little money to
publicize your site. Good, old-fashioned newspaper, magazine, and even TV
ads that mention your website can really get your site noticed.  The more
visible your site is, the more it will be talked about in the right circles,
and the more links it will obtain just because.  Even PPC ads can help,
because they put your site in front of people looking for what you offer.
The point is that people have got to find your site one way or another while
you're waiting for your SEO campaign to kick in.  It's your job to figure
out how to get it in front of them as often as you can.

Regardless of how you market your site, don't count on becoming an overnight
sensation.  

This brings us back to Covey's Personality Ethic. Sure, someone can edit
your Meta tags quickly and submit to 50 billion search engines and trade
links with 90 million useless sites. However, if you haven't invested the
time up front to create a website with great content that speaks to the
reader in plain language that real people use (in other words, without
technology buzzwords), you will not see good long-term results.

How To Achieve Long-term Results

You may achieve high rankings very quickly for words that nobody is
searching for, but as Covey so aptly put it, these will be illusory and
deceptive results at best. If no one uses those words in the engine's search
box, all the #1 rankings in the world won't keep your business afloat.

It's imperative to think of the search engine optimization process as a
long-term investment for your site, so here are 5 tips to help you invest in
your future success:

1.  Thoroughly research your keyword phrases using the paid versions of
Wordtracker </wordtracker> or KeywordDiscovery
</keyworddiscovery>.  Keyword research is
completely and utterly the key to everything that is search marketing.

2. Make sure your site is not made up of graphics alone, as these cannot be
read by the search engine spiders that come a-crawling. (This is especially
true of graphics that look like text -- these are often used when a
particular font is desired.)

3. Be sure to use natural, easy-to-understand language that conveys the
message of your website and includes keyword phrases you'd like your site to
rank highly for.

4. Make sure your Title tags and link anchor text all jibe with the visible
content on the page.

5. Be patient! You knew I'd end with that one, but with Google's aging delay
in place for new sites, patience is more important than ever. It's most
likely going to be a good 9 months before you start seeing much (if any)
traffic from Google's natural results.    Don't be discouraged, but instead
use that time to constantly make your site better than the other guy's.

Remember, you are working toward the future. Good placement achieved by
doing things the right way will have staying power over time with very
little additional effort. Like everything in life, if you spend the time and
money to do it right to begin with, the long-term results will always be
impressive.

Jill

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.

______________Keyword Discovery_____________________adv.

New Keyword Research Tool -- It Totally Rocks!
__________________________________________________

"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>
__________________________________________________


~~~Guest Article~~~

When Karon asked if I'd like her latest copywriting makeover article for
today's newsletter, I had no idea it was about the Kneelsit.com
ergonomic-chair site where I had purchased my chair a few years ago.  Small
world, indeed.    In fact, I previously wrote about the chair here:
</issue058.htm#stuff>.

At any rate, the Kneelsit website is apparently cranking out orders these
days thanks to Karon's copywriting magic.  Here's Karon with Part 1 for your
learning pleasure.  - Jill


++Subtle Changes Make a Noticeable Difference++

Copywriting Makeover Part 1:
Subtle Changes Make a Noticeable Difference
By Karon Thackston

Changing a few words in your copy can lead to double-digit increases in
conversions.  If that sounds like a bunch of hype from an online
infomercial, stick around and I'll show you how it's done.

That's really all that happened with Kneelsit.com, an Australian
manufacturer of ergonomic computer chairs.  They had what would be
considered a successful site with a continual stream of orders.  All the
basic information was already included on the home page, but the owner felt
as though something was not quite "there" yet.    He wanted a fresh approach
to the site's copy, so that's what he received.  And the results were simply
amazing.

The Problems

While Kneelsit had great rankings for their key terms (normally #1 to #4 in
popular search engines), conversions were not at their maximum. Writing new
copy that would keep those rankings high, plus increase conversions,
required some attention to the SEO piece of the puzzle.   The business was
not suffering, but it did have room for improvement.  So, after receiving a
sample chair to use during the process, I set (or should I say "sat") out to
work.

Once I assembled the chair and rolled it up to my desk, I kept a notepad
nearby so I could jot down benefits as I noticed them.    In just a few days'
time, I had a long list of features and benefits to refer to.  

As I read over the original home page copy (which can be seen here:
<http://www.copywritingcourse.com/kneelsit-home-original.html>), I noticed
something else.  Many of the benefits I had on my paper were referenced (at
least briefly) in the original copy.  Some were phrased differently than I
would later phrase them, but most were there.

However, in this highly competitive industry, I wanted to be sure to keep
the uniqueness of the chair on the forefront.  Visitors needed to quickly
see that the Kneelsit was superior to other computer chairs available. The
changing of some verbiage and providing more details in some areas would
keep visitors reading and help them easily distinguish this chair from
others on their comparison list.

Once my list of benefits was completed, I began relating these options to
other kneeling chairs and to users of ergonomic computer chairs.  I wanted
to see which benefits on my list were unique in the marketplace.  I also
wanted to know about the users of these chairs.  After all, the buyer is the
center of the process and should also be the focus of the copy.

My research revealed some of the reasons users would need an ergonomic chair
and also the biggest complaints about some of the current ergonomic designs.
In addition, I discovered which benefits were common to other ergonomic
chairs and which were distinctive.

The Solutions

Armed with the research results, I started crafting the copy to speak to
that one person who was forced to sit at a computer all day, in pain, and
who desperately needed help.  This person had tried several other computer
chairs before with little to no results and was getting skeptical about
finding a solution.

I looked back over my list of benefits in search of the ones that would not
be found in the competition's copy.  I focused on one exclusive, patented
feature (the axle design) and the fact that the chair was customizable for
every body type.

I laid out a plan for the new copy including keyword selection, keyword
placement, benefits, and key points to be mentioned.

Similar in many ways to the original copy, the new version had some subtle,
but powerful, changes. The goal of the new copy was to show the true
distinction of these chairs by highlighting the most impressive benefits.  

I would also focus on incorporating keyphrases in headlines, sub-heads
(where it made sense to do so), and throughout the copy.  I had to pay
careful attention to making the copy sound natural, as I never want the SEO
factors to overshadow the message of the page.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this copywriting makeover, where I'll take a look
at what went into the rewrite as well as what results were achieved with the
new copy.

Karon Thackston

Marketing Words, Inc. - http://www.marketingwords.com/
Copywriting Course - http://www.copywritingcourse.com/


_________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.

Download both for just $128: </combo.htm>.
__________________________________________________


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

++Fortune 500 Sites Use Hidden Text To Fool Engines++

Recently, a guy named Robert Medford noticed that a whole bunch of Fortune
500 companies were basically spamming the search engines by using hidden
text on their home pages.  Yeah, I know, kind of amazing that in this day
and age that sort of thing still happens, but apparently it does.  The funny
thing is that it's spam of the stupidest kind, and most likely it was done
by SEO companies who should know better.  Not to mention that they're
probably ranking okay despite the spam as opposed to because of it.

Whether the search engines actually care is another story.  

Check out our forum thread on the topic for a very interesting conversation
about this: </forum/index.php?showtopic=19116&>.


~~~Advisor Wrap-up~~~

That's it for the SEO stuff today.  

We had a nice trip to my grandmother's place in Pompano, FL.  I know I say
this every year, but she's literally looking younger every year, and at 97,
that's quite a feat!  Once we came home, I spent a lot of time playing
Donkey Konga with Jamie and Timmy.  That's the cool Nintendo game where you
play the bongo drums and have to stay in beat with the songs.  I can assure
you that it's a whole lot easier than it looks, but since I've always wished
I could play the drums, I couldn't resist trying it.  The kids whup my butt,
but it's fun nonetheless!  I can generally get to "Super Simian" but every
now and then I am a "Rising Star."  If everyone leaves me alone and I get a
chance to practice one tune over and over again, every now and then I'm even
a "Lord of the Bongos"! Hehehe

Catch you in 2 weeks. - Jill

 
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