+=+=+=+= SIM's INSIDER REPORT =+=+=+=+

July 15, 2003

E-Zine #120


SIM's INSIDER REPORT is a free bi-monthly newsletter dedicated to helping readers succeed online while saving both time and money with cutting-edge tools, tips and strategies for internet marketing, online advertising and website promotion.
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IN THIS ISSUE
==> Tip of the Week
==> Tips, Tools & Resources
==> SIM's Weekly Reports
==> Feedback & Contributions
==> Food for Thought
==> Classifieds
==> Administrivia

SIM's Insider Report free marketing newsletter

A warm WELCOME! to all new subscribers!

I've got a brand new Web Book for you guys that I'm sure you're going to refer back to over and over again. It's a compilation of 10 articles by Shelley Lowery in a series titled "The Birth of a Professional Website."

I just finished it up so please let me know if you find any mistakes. Download it here... http://startupinternetmarketing.com/birth.exe




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TIP OF THE WEEK
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Spider Friendly Content Pages

It is virtually impossible to build a site in which each page brings good search engine position. The home page, for example, will likely change frequently. Thus spiders will not find it the same when they return, which they do, roughly once each month.

Pages devoted to selling product do not often rank well. The same is true of a page where visitors can subscribe to your newsletter. Or the one you pop up to say thanks when they do subscribe. So how does one go about getting good search engine positions?

Great Content Is The Answer

So what is great content? Any information surfers may need. However, it must also be a topic that enhances your site purpose. That is, there is no room on a site devoted to baseball for a piece describing the inner workings of steam engines.

Assuming you have a clear read on who your visitors are, then it's only a matter of selecting a topic likely to be of interest to at least some of them. Given this, write the page for your visitors, not the search engines. Then do what you can to make the spiders happy.

Happy Spiders?

Not likely. It is impossible to please them all. Some see "Market," "MARKET," and "market" as separate words; others see only one repeated three times. Some see "market" as "marketing;" most require a specific match. "Markets" may be seen as "Market," but in other cases both forms may be required.

Okay, we'll include all cases in our keyword tag: Market, MARKET, market, Markets, MARKETS, markets, Marketing, MARKETING, marketing.

That's got it covered fine, but how do we make this work with a spider that considers more than three repetitions as spam? One that might even consider all of the above as 9 repetitions of one word?

You Can't Get There From Here.

Search engines are competing in a multi-billion dollar race. The winner will be the one that can most consistently present the most relevant information available in response to a query.

Be assured that with the stakes this high, the competition is fierce. They are not about to reveal their latest wrinkle to improve their listings. Which leaves us with empirical evidence and educated guesses.

Try to sort this all out for each search engine, and you'll go crazy. Not to mention constant changes which mean one or more of the carefully defined "rules" no longer holds.

Even supposing you had an accurate listing of the rules for each engine. Would you seriously consider creating a separate page for each? Not me. I have much more profitable ways in which to use my time.

Take the longer view. Spiders are getting smarter every day. And they are becoming smarter at a rapidly increasing rate. Some are now reading a page as if with a thesaurus in hand, thus being able to see house and home as having similar meanings.

Grammar checkers exist; I expect to see these and related tools implemented in spider logic. In the not-to-distant future, those keyword-rich doorway pages are going to be discarded.

Meanwhile we need to create some great content pages and try to make the spiders as happy as possible. Here's my approach.

Finding Keywords

Given a topic and a mental draft of what needs to be written, I identify 1 to 3 keyword phases. (I don't think individual words work well now.) I work at this, trying to put myself in the shoes of one who will search for this information. If I am building a major page, or one of a set of related topics, I may take the time to visit GoTo.Com to find phrases actually entered. (For details, (keywordlot@sitetipsandtricks.com)

Meta Tags

I build a rough draft of the title and description tags before beginning to write. They must serve two purposes. First the title is the headline of an ad which draws the reader into the ad copy (description). And the description must compel a click to my site. Second, though, to please the spiders, keywords need to be included, and the closer to the beginning of the statements the better. (I try not to think about the fact that some spiders will ignore both tags.)

Since Excite limits a title to 70 characters, I try to hold under this. If I go over, I try to work things out so that truncation does little harm. I try to hold the description under 150 characters, the limit at AltaVista. I use these limits because together, AltaVista and Excite dominate among search engines.

These two tags are so vitally important, that I review them often as I write. The keyword tag, on the other hand, gets little attention. This tag has been so abused, I simply can't get a handle on what works best. Some meta tag checkers still claim you ought to use all 1000 characters allowed. This seems unwise.

I include only my keyword phrases, all in lower case. But I do add the plural case and "ing" when appropriate.

The Content

When I begin to write, I think only of communicating as effectively as possible with my visitor. I keep the keywords in mind and seek to build in a theme based upon them. After editing a first draft, I will often lay it aside for a day or two before continuing. My visitors are my target here, not the spiders.

The Spider's Turn

If I can build some header tags with keywords, I will. I don't bother with ALT assignments or comments in the source, although this reportedly gives a boost with some search engines.

I work at including keywords as close to the top of the page as possible, in the first 100-200 words. For this is the part of the page in which one expects to find the subject defined, followed by further explanation and expansion. Even now, spiders also expect this.

I also work at rephrasing things to add more repetitions of keywords and to bring them as close to the beginning of paragraphs as possible.

And I make a point of repeating the keywords in the close of the page, a sort of "theme" wrap up, if you will.

One further thing I do is look for words I incidentally used so frequently they may dilute the weight of the keywords. For example, if I have used "buildings" too often, I may replace some instances with "structures" or a specific name for a type. But throughout, I absolutely refuse to sacrifice readability. To me, my visitor is far more important than any search engine.

Other Guidelines

Keyword density is the percentage of words that the keywords are to the total number of words. It is considered quite differently by different spiders. Some suggest as much as 15% of a page be keywords. To me this is nonsense, for it makes the page unintelligible to a visitor. I have never been able to get above 2% without decreasing readability, even when using three keywords. Page length expected also differs drastically. Many claim short pages are better. 300-600 words is often suggested. But Excite doesn't care how long a page is. I say what needs saying as briefly as possible and call it good.

Never Look Back

When the page is polished, I submit it to the major search engines. Then I do something you really ought to try.

I never look back. The page is up and that's that. I've got more important things to do than worry about what position it has today. Or where it may be tomorrow. If I've done the job properly, my visitors will enjoy the page. And that's the end of it.
. . .

By Bob McElwain 2001 All Rights Reserved

BOB MCELWAIN Want to build a winning site? Improve one you already have? Fix one that's busted? Get ANSWERS. Subscribe to "STAT News" now! mailto:join-stat@lists.dundee.net


Web marketing and consulting since 1993
Site: http://sitetipsandtricks.com
Phone: 209-742-6783

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SIM's "Tip of the Week" back issues available at... http://www.startupinternetmarketing.com/ezines


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TIPS, TOOLS & RESOURCES
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The Birth of a Professional Website
This free download is brand new and available from the SIM site ONLY. It's a compilation of 10 articles by Shelley Lowery that completely covers the job of launching a professional website, as only Shelley can. HIGHLY recommended... http://startupinternetmarketing.com/birth.exe
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SIM's WEEKLY REPORTS
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The Birth of a Professional Web Site - Part Four
-The Essential Components
http://startupinternetmarketing.com/tips/tipmarketing.html
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Data Delivers Credibility
http://startupinternetmarketing.com/tips/tipsales.html
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How To Write Sales Copy That PULLS
http://startupinternetmarketing.com/tips/tipbiz.html
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Creating A Radio or Checkbox Form
http://startupinternetmarketing.com/tips/tipdesign.html
~~~
Master Series Utilities for Webmasters
http://startupinternetmarketing.com/tips/tipsite.html
~~~

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FEEDBACK & CONTRIBUTIONS
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How to Achieve High Rankings in the Search Engines

A frequent question asked is "Why do some people achieve a high search engine positioning and get plenty of traffic while others do not? Simple. The people who have high search engine positions in the major search engines selected keywords that many people are searching with and placed those keywords in the body of their content correctly. This is what is known as search engine optimization or keyword optimization.

Search engine optimization will be one of the most important investments you will make. Whether you decide to take on the project yourself or hire a professional service, we highly recommend search engine optimization before you submit to the search engines.


Keywords: Do's and Don'ts

Here are some tips on how to optimize your web pages and achieve high search engine rankings for your web pages using keywords, meta tags and effective copy writing. This article is best suited for the webmaster or the author of the web site content. It is usually the webmaster who is responsible for making sure that pages are search engine ready. This article contains web page code snippets (SHOWN IN THIS TYPEFACE) given as examples to follow. Although this article is technical in nature, it is vital to anyone who wants to achieve a high search engine ranking.


Use of Keywords

Keywords and keyword phrases must occur often and near the beginning of the TITLE tag, the DESCRIPTION and KEYWORDS meta tags and the BODY of your web pages. The more frequent the keywords appear and the nearer they appear to the beginning of the tags and pages, the greater the chance of achieving high search engine positioning.


The tags that are most important for page optimization are (in the following order):

1. The TITLE tag
Example: <TITLE>Plumbing Supplies Company</TITLE>
This is the most important tag on your web page. It should begin with the most important search phrase users will enter to find your site. It is more important than the content and it is more important than the description or keywords meta tags. Users searching for "plumbing supplies" will stand a greater chance of finding your site using the above title than if it were:
<TITLE>Plumbing Supply Company</TITLE>
2. The DESCRIPTION meta tag
Example: <META NAME="description" CONTENT="Plumbing supplies for home and industry.">
Use a plain English sentence of no more than 40 words for your description. Again, the description should begin with the most important keywords. Search engines will often use the contents of this tag to display results of a search. If there is no description meta tag then the search engine will attempt to build one from the content at the top of the body of the page. Words like "Back Next Products Support" won't mean anything to users reading search results. Also do not use a list of keywords as a description. Search engines will see this as an attempt to achieve a high ranking and will probably penalize you and your site may appear much lower on the list as a result.

3. The KEYWORDS meta tag
Example: <META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="plumbing supplies, plumbers supplies, plumbers pipes, valves, pipe wrenches">
Although the keywords meta tag is important, most search engines will derive keywords from the actual content of web pages. Nevertheless, you should include the keywords meta tag in all pages you want indexed. Do not "spam" the search engines by repeating keywords. If you do you will most likely be penalized with a lower ranking or even banned altogether. Additionally, only use keywords that appear in the actual content of the page. If the search engines detect that you are trying to score a high ranking by using keywords that have nothing to do with the content of the page then you risk being penalized or banned.

4. ALT tags for images
Example: <IMG SRC="logo.gif" WIDTH="200" HEIGHT="50" ALT="Plumbing Supplies Logo">
Although having a lesser importance than the above tags the <ALT> tag should also be used to achieve sufficient keyword density.


Keyword Density and Copy Writing

Keywords and keyword phrases must occur often and near the top the body of your web pages to be indexed. The more frequent the keywords appear and the nearer they appear to the beginning of the page, the greater the chance of high search engine placement. Effective use of keywords in the body of the page is the second most important factor for high search engine placement. As discussed above the <TITLE> tag is the most important.


The Home Page is The Most Important Page

The home page should contain the greatest concentration of keywords. If a user searches for "plumbing supplies" make sure that the phrase "plumbing supplies" appears on the home page. Search engines will list in order of importance all the sites having content related to the search phrase entered by the user. If the phrase "plumbing supplies" appears in one of the pages of your site, then the search engines will place a greater importance on your site and it will stand a much greater chance of getting a higher ranking if the phrase also appears on the home page.

The goal of the webmaster is to discover the best keywords to use in your content and meta tags. Try to figure out the search words and phrases users would enter to find your site.


Don't Use an Image for the Body of Your Page

Since search engines use the actual content (words) of your page as a basis for indexing, never use an image as the main content of your page. Doing so will reduce your chances of high search engine positioning.


Use Search Phrases

Using the above tags as a guide, a user may type "plumbing supplies" in a search engine. This is a search phrase because it is more than one word. Most users use search phrases or keyword combinations, not single words.


Do Not Use Hidden Text

Never attempt to hide text to achieve greater keyword density by making it the same color as the background or use any similar "trick" to fool the search engines. Doing so only risks your site being banned from the search engines. Always be up front and straightforward in your web page design. Never attempt to hide anything from the search engines. These tricks usually backfire.


DEFINITIONS:
1. keywords The words users enter into search engines to find web pages with content they are looking for.
2. meta tags Content in a web page that the search engines can see but are not usually seen by the user when the page is viewed on the Internet. It is common to include a meta tag with a list of KEYWORDS to help the search engines properly categorize it. Two other important meta tags are the TITLE and DESCRIPTION tags described in this article.
3. tags Web pages are written in a format in which the text is "tagged" with codes that the browser can read. These tags tell the browser how to display the page.
4. spam The derogatory term for excessive and unwanted communication on Internet lines derived from the canned meat product with the same name. In this context it refers to the repeated use of the same keywords in the meta tags to try to gain an unfair advantage or to fool the search engines into giving you a higher ranking. "Spamming" the search engines can get you banned, so it is an unsafe practice.
5. alt tag This is a tag used on images. Although most Internet users have systems that can display images, some cannot. The purpose of the tag is to provide some text which these users see in place of the image.
. . .

SUE DOUGHTY is the Marketing Director of Studio1 Design and Hosting and has over 15 years experience in her field. Her advice has helped many businesses achieve success on the Internet. Visit Studio1 Design and Hosting on the Web at http://www.studio1webdesign.com, email info@studio1webdesign.com or phone toll-free (888) 414-2390.
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If you have a promotion tip to share (or an affiliate program that would be of interest to the rest of us) or if you have a web design tip, or a specific question, please feel free to post all tips, questions, or answers to posted questions here and I will add your email or URL with it. It's FREE promotion!

Send your tips, questions or answers to:
mailto:editor@startupinternetmarketing.com?subject=Q_&_A


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FOOD FOR THOUGHT
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Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.
startup marketing and website promotion--Norman Vincent Peale


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CLASSIFIEDS
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ADMINISTRIVIA
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