The Search Light Newsletter
The Search Light Newsletter
  Guiding your site to the top of the search engines... | 30 April 2006 - Vol 6 Issue #4  

In this issue...

A Three Day Marketing Plan for Better Google Rankings

FAQ1: Why isn't Google picking up my title and description tags?

FAQ2: Does a link need to be underlined to be search engine friendly?

FAQ3: Has Google banned our site?

FAQ4: What can we do about click fraud?

FAQ5: What is the best way to redirect old urls to new urls?

Yahoo Linked to Spyware Click Fraud

A Three Day Marketing Plan for Better Google Rankings

By Melissa Brewer
If you're reading this article, you've probably discovered that simply building a website is not enough to ensure success with your small business. Competition on the web is fierce. Rising to the top of the search engines is often a combination of web-savvy marketing, link trading, and understanding the intricacies of complex ranking algorithms for search engines.
You may have already spent a great deal of time optimizing your pages, creating content, and building your email lists. It's easy to get overwhelmed in your web marketing endeavors, especially if you're a small business or a business moving online from a brick-and-mortar location.
Don't worry - the marketing tools that you're about to work with will enhance your search engine rankings AND attract more visitors, and they don't require any extra coding or hard core marketing. You can accomplish a lot in three days - maybe enough to take the rest of the week off!
Day #1: Use Craig's List.
This is a simple, but rarely used, tool for those that are not so tech-savvy. If you're not familiar with Craig's List, here is a bit of information: it is one of the most highly-trafficked websites for thirty-something's and twenty-something's on the web. CraigsList announced last year that they were currently serving over 75 million page views per month. The site is ranked among the world's 125 busiest websites (Alexa). Almost all ads are free (only employers pay to post "help wanted" ads in some areas), and highly trafficked in major cities such as San Francisco, New York, and DC.
Craig's List adds instant link popularity - a friend of mine started a literary website and found himself with over 800 hits a day from several well-constructed CraigsList ads that were "googled".
How to Do It:
Step 1: Write the ad first. 50-100 keyword-rich words work best, along with a link using your target keywords. Craig's List accepts html tags and allows you to upload images. If you are an online retailer, consider advertising one product as a test with a link to your website's entrance.
Step 2: Decide which region you are posting in. If you are a national company, try out a major metropolitan area. If you are regional, stick to the area you service.
Step 3: Find the appropriate category for your ad. Don't spam the forums, the Craig's List Counter Culture will resent you! If your website advertises a massage business, choose "therapeutic services". If you offer classes, choose "lessons". If you don't fit into a specific category, choose "small business ads".
Step 4: Write a specific, keyword-minded headline - don't try to be too vague or clever. If you offer freebies or coupons, mention this in your ad.
Step 5: Post! And make sure you check your email to confirm the ad. (You can always tweak the ad as long as you keep the email.)
If you have time, create an additional ads. You'll have to change most of the content. CraigsList's software is intelligent with recognizing duplicate content. If you are compelled to place a second, third, or 30th ad, change up your keywords and rewrite the ad. Craig's List erases ads after 30-60 days, so be prepared to post again in a month or so. It's worth the effort - if not for the direct response, then at least for the link popularity. Craig's List is one of the first websites in line for the infamous "Google dance."

Day #2: Become a Vendor
Okay, you're probably thinking, I already AM a vendor. My question to you is, "Why aren't you listed as one?" I'm not talking about the internet directories or link exchange websites that list thousands of vendors under the term "resource directory". What I'm referring to, specifically, is what associations, trade publications, and commerce websites term as a "vendor list". (Sometimes also called a "vendor directory".)
Vendor lists and directories are great tools to market your website, services and products to a specific niche. The best part is that most of these places don't require a link-back and your listing is permanent. The resources listed are provided as a service to their members. In fact, many of these companies will also send out a yearly print version of their vendor list.
Your link popularity will be affected as well, since associations and other professional organizations are typically linked to by their members.(making them a "popular site" in the eyes of the search engines.) It really doesn't matter what you're selling - a quick Google search will turn up links to a plethora of vendor lists in various industries and niches.
How to Do It:
Step 1: Using your keywords, prepare your descriptions ahead of time. If you've worked with link exchanges, you'll probably already have a few descriptions in mind. The link title should contain your primary keywords. (Not necessarily your website or company name!) for example, if you sell magic supplies, you'll probably want to use the word "magic supplies" in the title.
Step 2: Find the directories. Keep in mind, a lot of government website use these terms as well, which is great if you have a service or products to sell to the government - you can print out the paperwork to do later. Otherwise, ignore the .Use Google (of course!) to find specific niches. The following terms will help you find what you need. Substitute your market or service for the word "keyword" to find the directories you need.
- "vendor list" keyword - "keyword" vendor list - "keyword" supplier list - "supplier list" keyword - "vendor directory" keyword - "keyword" vendor directory - "supplier directory" keyword - "keyword" supplier directory
Some of the website will require you to email the information, while others simply have a form to fill out and wait for approval. It may seem a bit tedious, but if you turn on "auto fill" through your browser, you'll find it easier to fill out a lot of forms in little time. Remember, a permanent link from a respected authority is a powerful thing!
Day 3: Get Froogled
If you sell a service or information product, it's time to try out Google's newest feature: Froogle. Froogle allows you to upload images, product descriptions, and physical store information to its search engine within 24 hours. And remember, as a Google product, your website unofficially has a chance of increased ratings - after all, Google googles Froogle! (say that ten times fast!)
How to Do It:
You can find all of the step-by-step information on using Froogle at its respective homepage.
If you don't sell specific items, however, Google isn't going to approve your listing. If you're a service provider, you MAY be allowed to create listings. For example, you can't list vague graphic design services but you may be allowed to use a "logo design package". You may also be able to publish a report or eBook and market it alongside its print competition.
If Google doesn't accept your product feed, it may be worth it to open up an eBay store. Ebay stores are automatically added to Google's feeds, and although they cost a little extra money a month, it may be worth it considering the sheer numbers of searches Froogle is already claiming.
Once you've put these powerful tools into motion, keep a eye on your rankings and your website statistics to see what's working and what isn't. Take a breath before you get back to your enormous to-do list. Congratulate yourself for being ahead of the game. After all, up to 70 percent of small businesses are still without a web presence. Take some pride in building your business in a global market.
And get back to your weekend, instead of your work. :-)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ About the Author
Melissa Brewer is a freelance copywriter specializing in original web site content. Her articles have appeared across the web and she is available for hire through her website

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   Dear Reader,

A little humble pie never hurt anyone. And this month I'm eating it.
In last month's feature article Top 10 AdSense Tricks to Boost Your Commission, I suggested using arrows or images next to the AdSense code on your pages to draw attention to the ads.
A few days after the article was syndicated, the Google AdSense team sent me a polite email advising me that the use of arrows or symbols to draw attention to ads is NOT in compliance with their Program Policies. So please make sure you avoid the use of arrows or symbols in this way.
Sadly, this is still not explicitly explained in their Program Policies, but it was specifically mentioned in their email to me. So the arrows are gone from my sites and I've altered my article to avoid confusion. The link above now leads to the corrected article version.
The jury is still out on the use of other images (e.g. photos or clip art) next to ads but given that their own AdSense optimization demo promotes the site as a succesful AdSense case study and THAT site uses images to draw attention to AdSense ads, I'll let you draw your own conclusion on that one. Plus they reviewed and approved all my pages once the arrows were removed, so I'm assuming the other images I left on the pages must be okay.
Anyway, clarification of any kind from Google is a rare thing and so I encourage you all to go and review your AdSense pages in light of this new information.

Meanwhile, this month's guest article is about how a couple of days spent carefully marketing your site now can really pay off in Google rankings later on. And don't miss the story below about Yahoo! being connected with click fraud.
Enjoy this issue and remember to visit the daily Search Engine Advice Column to check out my answers to frequently asked search engine questions or submit one of your own.
Till next time - wishing you high rankings...

  • FAQ1: Why isn't Google picking up my title and description tags?
  •    Dear Kalena...
    Firstly, I would like to commend you on your newsletter. A friend recently recommended it to me and I have been extremely happy with the informative and pleasing layout of the content since.
    I have been trying to optimize my new site for a couple of months now. I see that yahoo has listed my site but google for some reason does not pick up my title and description tag text and so I assume my keywords are not being crawled either. Do you know why that is?

    Dear Marco
    Google generally chooses to display a snippet of text from your web page that includes the search query, rather than your Title element or META Description tag. Sometimes they will display tag content, but that's usually only if they don't find a relevant snippet in your site text. In the case of your site, they have used a snippet from your home page text.
    Google has indexed 12 documents from your site, including web pages, PDF files and Flash files. But because your site is relatively new and has not yet built up link popularity, you'll find you will experience Google's aging delay before you'll see it appear for target search queries. This is pretty standard procedure for new sites so I suggest you use the waiting time to build more quality content pages.

  • FAQ2: Does a link need to be underlined to be search engine friendly?
  •    Dear Kalena...
    I overheard a client state that in order for a link to be "search-friendly" it needs to be underlined. Now call me crazy, but I always thought that the visual format mattered little to search engines and that they are concerned with the markup. Who's right?

    Dear Adam
    You are right. Search engines will find a link on your page whether it is visually underlined or not because they index the code, not the visual aspects.
    What your client may have been referring to is site usability. Research has shown that people are used to links being underlined and instinctively recognize words that are underlined as links to other pages. Therefore, usability experts recommend that you underline all links in your web pages and don't use underlines for headings or word emphasis as it can cause confusion.

  • FAQ3: Has Google banned our site?
  •    Dear Kalena...
    Found your wonderful site and hope you can enlighten me on the intricacies of Google. Our site recently used to rank very highly for most yoga keywords, particularly involving "private yoga" and all London postcodes. Now it has disappeared altogether. Although our more recent which points to the original domain is still in there.
    I now suspect that Google has taken a dim view of our "cloaked" text which you will see if you "select" near the bottom of any page on the site. I wasn't aware until I had a proper look at the guidelines that Google was against this practice. Is it possible that they have simply banned us or something? How can we redeem ourselves? Hope you can help.
    Many thanks

    Dear Robin
    It's pretty simple really. Your sites contain identical content and Google has simply decided to index one and ignore the other.
    In your case, Google has decided that is the main site and is the duplicate. Your UK domain has a Google Toolbar PageRank of 4 out of 10, around 14 backward links and 23 pages indexed by Google, while your "main" domain has a zero PageRank, no backward links and no pages indexed.
    Strangely, neither site is showing in the Google cache but I can't see any caching references in your code. It might be something to do with your domain hosting set up. It also looks like you've removed whatever "cloaked" text you are referring to - that's a sensible thing to do.
    To solve your duplicate content issue, I would implement a 301 redirect from your "main" domain to your UK domain as soon as possible, or make sure both sites are on the same IP address, with one parked and redirected to the other.

  • FAQ4: What can we do about click fraud?
  •    Dear Kalena...
    We have been overwhelmed by click fraud, we now are forced to pay a higher click rate, because I have my people pausing our campaigns at night and restarting them in the morning to run during the day.
    I do not know what to do any more with this matter other then to put up useless sites and fill them with adsense ads. I cannot bring myself to do other people because I know how I feel about the issue at hand.
    Trying to prove click fraud is an almost impossible task, I have copied logs and traced IPs and emailed them to google about this and they still say it is not possible.
    Now I am really in the dark as my desk lamp just bit the dust.

    Sorry to hear you are in the dark (literally!) about click fraud. It is a worrying topic, especially when recent research has thrown a light on possible connections between spyware, fraudulent clicks and large pay per click providers.
    Putting up lightweight sites stuffed with AdSense ads is not the answer. If you have genuine concern that click fraud is impacting your account, you should do one or both of the following:
    1) Subscribe to a click-fraud detection service. Some I am aware of include AdWatcher, ClickLab, Who's Clicking Who and Click Detective. Most of these offer a free trial period or trial version. Of these, I have only trialled WCW and I have to admit that I was bitterly disappointed, partly because I couldn't get their code to work on my site and partly because they made promises on their site that just weren't true. Regardless, I read good things about these type of programs, so they must work.
    2) Phone Google and ask to speak to an AdWords account manager about your suspicions. Make sure you research your account and have the "proof" in front of you. If you are concerned enough to call them direct, they may take your reports a little more seriously and spend more time investigating your claims.
    Good luck!

  • FAQ5: What is the best way to redirect old urls to new urls?
  •    Dear Kalena...
    Thanks to your great tips, my site is doing terrific in the search engines.
    I rearranged some directories on the site and now have some url's which should be changed. Can I do redirects from the old url's to new url's? Regardless of the time and effort involved, what is the absoulute best way of doing this without losing any ranking? Thanks as always,

    Dear Lisa
    Glad to hear of your site's success! Thanks for sharing it with us.
    Regarding redirecting your old URLs to your new ones, there are a couple of ways:
    1) You can set up 301 Permanently Moved redirects from old urls to new urls from within your hosting control panel. Simply login to your panel and look for a link under "Site Management" called "Redirects". Enter the old url in the field prompt and the new page url you want people taken to. This will automatically create the redirects in your .htaccess file. If you don't have access to your hosting control panel, your hosts should be able to set this up for you. Read the article Turn Harmful 404 Error Pages Into Helpful 301 Redirects for more information on this technique.
    2) If you don't need visitors to be re-directed to a unique page, but simply don't want to lose traffic via outdated page listings in the search engines, then create a custom 404 error page with a link to your home page, site map or site search tool on it. You can see an example custom 404 page here on our site.
    That way, whenever a visitor clicks on an outdated link in a search engine or non-existent URL from another site, instead of arriving at the standard ugly white 404 error page, they are taken to an actual page on your site and encouraged to dig deeper rather than to click away.

  • Yahoo Linked to Spyware Click Fraud
  •    Some years ago, I closed my Overture pay per click advertising account (now owned by Yahoo! and re-branded as Yahoo! Search Marketing) in protest over Overture openly undertaking ad-testing with notorious spyware manufacturer Gator (now re-branded as Claria). If you're unfamiliar with the terms "spyware", "scumware" or "thiefware", catch up here.
    I have since resurrected my account with Overture/Yahoo! as it was my understanding that the deal with Gator/Claria was dead. But today I learned of an alarming report by Ben Edelman linking Yahoo! to click fraud via a current syndication arrangement with not only Gator/Claria, but with "many dozens" of spyware companies. Even more alarming was the revelation that Yahoo! provided 31% of Gator/Claria's income in 2003!

    This is serious stuff folks. Anyone with a Yahoo/Overture pay per click account should study their traffic logs carefully (don't rely on the reports from Yahoo) and lodge a formal complaint with Yahoo! if spyware connections are involved as outlined in Ben's report. Don't take click fraud lying down! Especially when it's lining the very pockets of the company that denies it exists.

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