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
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
Day #1: Use Craig's
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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
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
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
AskTheBuilder.com 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
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?|
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
and pleasing layout of the content since.
I have been trying to optimize my new site
www.gbintel.com 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?
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
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
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?|
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?
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
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
|FAQ3: Has Google banned our site?|
Found your wonderful site and hope you can
enlighten me on the intricacies of Google. Our
site www.breatheonline.com 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
www.breatheyoga.co.uk 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.
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
www.breatheyoga.co.uk is the main site and
www.breatheonline.com 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
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?|
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
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
1) Subscribe to a click-fraud detection service.
Some I am aware of include AdWatcher,
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
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.
|FAQ5: What is the best way to redirect old urls to new urls?|
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,
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
|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.