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Jill Whalen

CEO and founder of High Rankings®, Jill Whalen has been performing search engine optimization since 1995 and is the host of the free High Rankings Advisor search engine marketing newsletter, author of "The Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines" and founder/administrator of the popular High Rankings Search Engine Optimization Forum. In 2006, Jill co-founded SEMNE, a local search engine marketing networking organization for people and companies in New England.

High Rankings is an internationally recognized search engine optimization firm located in Framingham, MA specializing in search engine optimization, SEO consultations, in-house training, site audit reports, search marketing seminars and workshops. High Rankings has a 100% success rate for substantially improving client rankings and targeted traffic.

Jill speaks at national and international conferences and has been writing about SEO and search marketing since 2000. She's been quoted in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report and The Washington Post. Her articles have appeared in numerous print magazines and online websites including CIO Magazine, CMS Focus, The Internet Marketing Report, ClickZ, WorkZ, Inc.com, Entrepreneur, Lycos Small Business, WebProNews, SiteProNews and others. Jill has also appeared on many online and offline radio programs such as Entrepreneur Magazine's E-Biz Radio Show, SearchEngineRadio and the eMarketing Talkshow.

Changing URLs

Another reason why people wrongly assume that keyword phrases in URLs are a factor in getting a page to show up in the search results is because the top results do indeed often use keyworded URLs! But (and this is a big but) websites that use keyword-rich URLs are using them because someone, somewhere is attempting to optimize the pages to show up in the search results — which means they are doing a lot more than simply putting keywords in URLs as part of their website optimization.

DMOZ Description Showing in Google

It appears the text Google is now showing [for a particular keyword phrase] is from our DMOZ directory listing. Until very recently (and while our listing position was as good as it is now) Google was showing the first few words of text from the body of our home page. Should we leave everything as is and enjoy the good listing position, but put up with the less than ideal text in the search results?

Google's Paid-link Smack in the Face

The SEO world is abuzz today with Google's smack in the face to a number of websites that are selling obviously paid-for, keyword-rich text links. The gist of it is that the toolbar PageRank number has been reduced by a couple of points (or more) for many websites.

Unoptimized Site Ranks #1

A reader writes in asking about competing with a number one listing that doesn't appear to be optimized at all. Jill points out that good rankings aren't always about the "obvious" forms of search engine optimization and offers some suggestions on how to compete.

Will Site Drop Out of Engines if Not Paying for SEO?

Should a small business in a non-competitive market pay a monthly SEO maintenance fee to their search marketing company? Jill Whalen answers a reader question about the need for a monthly SEO budget.

Search Engines and PDFs

The search engines do indeed index and rank PDF documents these days. Basically, what they do is convert them into HTML and then index the information just like any other web page.

Revisited: The Art of SEO

As much as Google *pretends* to like SEOs by inviting us to parties at the Googleplex and posting on SEO forums, the bottom line is that they don't like us -- or rather, they don't like what we do. Google wants to find the best, most relevant sites for the search query at hand all by themselves. Perhaps someday they will actually be able to do that, but for now, they still need our help, whether they like it or not.

Why Do Sphinners Love SEO Nerds but Hate Pregnancy

If you've been anywhere in the SEM/SEO-sphere over the past month, you've probably heard of Danny Sullivan's latest venture, the social news/community site "Sphinn." It’s sort of a Digg clone, but specifically for search marketing topics....

10 Blogger Types: The Good, the Bad, and the Sleazy

These past few weeks I've watched how things played out in the blogosphere after breaking the story of Google's new "unavailable_after" tag. I have to say that what I learned was extremely interesting and educational to me!...

Getting Into Google

Last night was our third SEMNE event (Search Engine Marketing New England), and we were humbled to have Dan Crow, director of crawl systems at Google, spilling the beans about how to get your site into Google. He talked for a half hour or so, and then proceeded to answer audience questions for at least another hour....

Best Place for a Blog

Our site has a blog which is www.blog.domain.com — should it really be www.domain.com/blog? If so, then do we need to do a 301 permanent redirect from www.blog.domain.com to www.domain.com/blog?...

File Names and SEO

My real question is do the underscores have an impact on how the spider crawls the site or are long file names better? I'm thinking it doesn't matter but would like to be sure. I've been trying to name my pages (filename & title) with a relevant keyword but sometimes it's difficult. Also does a file name have any impact with ranking at all?...

Meta Keywords and Descriptions

My understanding is, if you have Meta tags with keywords and descriptions, this should also be reflected in your actual page content. But what if you have an ecommerce site and a homepage that displays mostly products and very short descriptions, and a menu with category names, etc.? In other words, not so much space for text "blocks."...

Best Practices for 50 Micro-sites

I wanted to discuss the possibility of developing a best practice/checklist guide for our company to follow. Our new initiative will be to launch 50 or so micro-sites focused on our key product categories. These sites will need to be rolled out quickly....

Lost Rankings Due to Site Redesign or Spam?

We recently released our new website in Feb. and prior to release we held the number 1 position on Google for [our main keyword phrase] and the number 3 slot and number 2 spots for [additional keyword phrases]. Within days of our release our rankings fell through the roof as did the number of quality Google leads that were coming through our doors. Is it normal to fall like this after the launch of a new site?...

6 Newbie SEO Questions

Someone emailed me with a list of quick questions about some SEO terminology they didn't understand. I figured if one person was looking for these answers, many of you would be, too....

What's Important to Search Engines and What's Not

I recently had an inquiry from someone who was looking for some possible SEO consulting with me. He was in the process of a redesign and wanted to be sure not to make any mistakes along the way, which is super-smart! The time to be looking at SEO is definitely in the beginning stage of any design or redesign project....

Meta Tag Includes

I am trying to develop a way in which to use an include to allow me to place the Meta data in a separate file and then use the include to place in the head tag. I have tried this using an HTML file with the Meta tags in the file but Google does not seem to be able to pick this up on the site map verify stage....

Adding a List of Keywords

My business partner is developing our site and wants to put a list of keywords at the bottom of some of our shop pages (i.e. below the text) in the hopes that this will get the search engines to notice us slightly more....

Expanding Services and SEO

The question from an SEO standpoint is, would they be better off with a new domain name and website for the business side, or a home page that says business clients click here, individual clients click here, etc....

All About Title Tags

The title tag has been - and probably will always be - one of the most important factors in achieving high search engine rankings. In fact, fixing just the title tags of your pages can often generate quick and appreciable differences to your rankings. And because the words in the title tag are what appear in the clickable link on the search engine results page (SERP), changing them may result in more clickthroughs....

Redirecting Non-www to Www Version

I am surprised to see that your own website still has both the www and non-www version in place — no redirect to get the "link juice" from the non-www version. Do you consider this a not so important issue? Both versions have good PR....

Landing-page Dilemma

Until recently, whenever we sent out email flyers about our programs, we had the link go directly to the program's unique page on our website. Our marketing director has been trying to make a case for sending the clicker to the landing page that would then direct the clicker to a list of programs, including the one on which he or she clicked....

Why Use Keyword Research Tools?

What exactly are keyword research tools good for? They are great for finding the keyword phrases that people are actually searching for when they would be looking for your products or services at the search engines....

Wordtracker or KeywordDiscovery?

I notice you always promote both KeywordDiscovery and WordTracker. I am trying to decide which one to subscribe to. Do you have a preference? I noticed that KeywordDiscovery promotes the fact they use data going back at least 12 months, which I guess is good if you have a seasonal business pattern....

New CMS Changing File Extensions

Our web site has been around for many years and we are switching over to a content management system coded in JSP, but with extensions ending in .do as opposed to what we currently have, .asp. We have hundreds of pages dynamically code-driven from our database in .asp and I’m worried that when we switch over to the .do extension we will lose placement in the search engines....

Cold Fusion Pages

I have a client whose web site has been created in Cold Fusion. To me it seems only logical that they will have problems with rankings because of this. I have always assumed that search engine spiders read only "live site code." Is this true?...

Search Engine Using Old Domain Name

At the beginning of October we regenerated our entire site and ran into a very strange problem. All of a sudden all our search results were showing up under one of our old domain names. This old domain still exists because we have multiple domains in the same server with the same IP address. These domains are all pointing to the same content....

Fewer Links, but Better Rankings

I have better backlinks than my competitor and my site is also optimized, but why is my competitor's ranking better than mine? Our backlinks are around 90 and the competitor's backlinks are around 55. What can I do for better rankings than the competitor?...

Keep Current SEO or Take It In-house?

The issues you're having with your current SEO consultant are common, but they should not be accepted. If you are paying this consultant good money, and if you are providing them with all the info and sign-offs that they need in a timely manner, then it doesn't make any sense that after one year of working with them you have only a list of keywords, titles, and meta tags...

Characters in Meta Keyword Tag

It doesn't matter what you put in the keyword Meta tag. It won't have any affect on where your site will rank in the engines for the keyword phrases that are important to you....

Project Management eBook Site Questions

Nobody lies awake at night dreaming of becoming a project manager, so I have focused my toolkit product at realizing business benefits for the average middle manager employed in corporate life (and hence accelerating the readers career and salary ahead of their competition). Do you have any pointers with regard to keyword direction?...

Same SEO but No Rankings

It's difficult to gain a decent trust factor in competitive areas, so you'll want to think of everything you can to set your site apart from the others in your niche. The more useful stuff you can offer that isn't offered by others, the better your chances will be for search engine success....

Whom Can You Trust?

In search marketing, trust issues are further magnified by the fact that the industry is still in its infancy and there are no set rules or regulations. Let's face it, you'd be hard pressed to get a handful of SEO consultants to agree on a definition of SEO....

Keywords in URLs

Do you know if repeating keywords in the URL will help increase rankings within search engine results? If so does it have a big impact?...

Clients Who Think They Know SEO

In cases where a client is smarter than you are about SEO, insists on saturating his keyword pages at 5%, and currently consistently hits in the top 20 on his Google searches. Is there any tactful way a copywriter can tell this kind of client that he may be destroying his currently high ranking when he implements these new "search friendly" pages?...

Stats Demonstrating SEO/SEM Improvement

We are interested in determining the real efficacy of SEO/SEM as it translates into online unit sales growth or online revenue growth. I have searched through many, many sites and haven't been able to come up with any good stats that demonstrate B2C improvements in eCommerce sales after applying SEO/SEM....

Will a Soft Launch Cause Problems?

The client wants to make the landing page or homepage a login section with little to no information about his product on it except for the name of the product and login details, as he wants to keep the product confidential until the official launch....

What To Do with 3 Domains

My company currently has one main site with three URLs. The URLs currently connect to the same site and it was suggested to us by an SEO consultant to choose one of the URLs as the domain for our main site and then just 301-redirect the other two URLs to the main site....

Extra Characters in Title Tags

Do the search engines see the addition of this character: | in the title tag as words/characters, thus reducing the amount of words you should put in the title tag? I am using the character to separate the various services we offer so that they are clear to the people searching, as they are very different....

Two Companies Merging

I'm looking for some advice on the impact of natural search on two companies that have merged so I can advise on how best to proceed. They currently have two sites that perform well in the SERPS and have different content but are obviously competing on the same keyphrases and are now one company....

Google Not Indexing Pages

I created a site map for a client's website. MSN has indexed many of the pages but Google has indexed only 2 pages and I believe Yahoo has done only 5. What gives?...

Body Copy Low in the Source Code

I took a look at the source code [of a site I'm helping with] and noticed that the body copy doesn't show up until way down the page (2/3 of the way). I remember reading that this can be a problem for indexing and ranking. False? True? If so, can it be fixed?...

Marketing Your SEO Business

I have some ideas of how to go about marketing this option, but would love to hear how you market to get new clients. After scanning my local phone book to determine companies that a) spend money on expensive display ads and b) list a website, I've checked out the mentioned websites and have collected a group of potential customers. But now what?...

Ad-tracking URLs

I wanted to use a special URL in one of our ads so we could track its effectiveness. I asked our web guy if he could make a redirect and add the name of the ad to the end of our URL like this: www.oursite.com/ad1 -- but it would go to our home page....

Supplemental Results in Google

The good news is that as long as your content isn't the same as elsewhere on your site, being in the supplemental results at this time is really more of a glitch on Google's end than anything you need to worry about....

One Site or Three

Would having three separate sites help in getting more targeted incoming link PR? Or is it better to vary the incoming links if I did one site with all three product lines? Am I over-thinking this? Should I just make one mall-type site?...

File Extensions

If we convert some of our pages from XML format to ASPX format will that affect our rankings? In other words, do the crawlers prefer certain formats over others?...

Say Bye-bye to Rankings and Hello to SEO Success!

There are a zillion other things that you can learn when measuring your true SEO success through web analytics. If you're not already using a good program (and learning from it), I can't stress enough how important it is to start doing it....

Choosing an SEO Company

How does Company A, that is new to search engine marketing, assess Company B to hire them to manage their SEO programs? It seems just as complicated to pick a company as it is to actually optimize....

Keywords That Don't Show up in Logs

Your log files and the reports generated by your software can tell you only how people are *currently* finding your site, not how they might find it in the future. So if you haven't yet optimized the site, or haven't optimized it for all the keyword phrases that you were planning on, you'll never see those phrases turn up in your log files and reports....

Changing Servers and Also URLs

As long as you're not changing domain names, then switching hosts should be of no consequence. There's really no benefit to having keywords in them, and there are lots of things that can go wrong in the redirection process....

Lack of Content on Home Page

You can get your page listed, but it will be difficult because the search engines will have a hard time understanding what it's about without any text to read. You'd have to be able to tell them what it's about through the power of your links....

SEO for Real Estate Template Site

In order to set your website apart from all the others that are a quick click away, you need to put your personality into it, and you need to figure out how to make an emotional connection through the words and graphics on your pages....

Mysterious Changing PR

Today when I went to my client's website, Google told me the site's PageRank (PR) is 1. A couple of hours later, while I was on the phone I needed to call up that site again and voila, the PR had increased from 1 to 3!...

Google Is a Spammer

Recently I learned Google has tons of different domains that all point to their Google home page. I thought this was considered spamming? If this is not spamming, would the same technique work for our site?...

Writing to a Certain Keyword Density

Write great, professional marketing copy while keeping your keyword phrases in mind. If they stick out like a sore thumb, all you've done is written spammy, keyword-stuffed content, and who wants their company associated with that?...

Home Page, Links, and AdSense

I have added a title and the meta tags to the index page, and there seem to be a lot of keywords on the main page. Can I break them up and optimize each individual page with keywords, titles, and meta tags? Or do the search engines only look at the main page of our site?...

Buying Text Links

Your advertisements on other people's sites are none of the search engines' business and will not get your site banned or penalized. They will not hurt your site in any way. How you market your site is completely up to you, and you don't need to worry about the search engines if you decide to purchase text link ads....

Hyphenated Domains and Long Registration Periods

Does it help my Google ranking to register my domain name for years in advance? The guy at the hosting company insisted it's true, but a car salesman will also say you need the anti-rust coating for only an extra $1,000....

Choosing an SEO Company

At the very least, any professional SEO company should be doing extensive keyword research, making site architecture recommendations, making copy recommendations, and creating Title tags....

Dropped for Dupes

My site, which is full of good content (1500 or so pages), was dropped by Google 3 months ago. We are a small business and as a result we are close to going out of business (we rely on advertising revenue)....

Mirror Sites for Flash

My sister had a nice (Flash-based) site created for her. The web developer told her he is going to create a mirror site with HTML to deal with the issue of an all-Flash site....

Get Rick Quick SEO

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....

WPG and Google's API Key

We have WebPosition Gold and I can't remember if it was you that said we need to get a Google API key to use the program. I was wondering why and how it works....

Dropped off the Face of Google

I have recently dropped off the face of Google for all my main keyword phrases. I was in the top 10 before Google changed my description snippet for my homepage....

Forum and Blog Links

Any links pointing to your site have the potential of giving your site more exposure, which can also lead to an increase in link popularity....

SEO Contracts

Even if money is tight, sometimes you just really need an attorney because many corporate contracts are extremely one-sided. If anything goes wrong later, you could be up the contract creek without a paddle....

Realistic SEO Expectations

No SEO company in the world will be able to help you unless you are ready to forget about what you think you want, and learn more about what you really need....

Question About 10 Tips to Top Article

Jill offers up answers to some of the many reader's who emailed to ask about some of the points in last week's new and improved "10 Tips to the Top" article....

New and Improved 10 Tips to the Top

Having a website that gets found in Google, Yahoo, and MSN, etc. isn't hard to do, but it can be difficult to know where to begin. Here are my latest and greatest tips to get you started....

Online Course for Understanding SEO

Could you recommend some online courses that would be a good starting ground for understanding search engines' likes and dislikes along with some marketing information? I feel I have a good understanding of the basics of SEO work but would like to fine-tune the skills I already have....

Dealing with Dynamic Pages

Many years ago, when search engine spiders saw a URL that seemed like it went to a dynamically generated site (because it had a bunch of parameters in it like question marks, equal signs, etc.), they wouldn't attempt to crawl it....

Length of Meta Description Tag

One of the biggest mistakes people make when thinking about SEO is that they believe there are certain hard and fast rules and if you don't follow them you will either get penalized or never see high rankings....

Home Page Redesign Issues

Other sites often link to home pages as a recommended resource. This tells the search engines that this site (and more specifically the home page of this site) is extremely worthwhile....

Alexa Rankings

Why is it that one can have a higher traffic rank (according to alexa.com) than a competitor, yet the competitor has a higher ranking on Google?...

Online Course for Understanding SEO

Could you recommend some online courses that would be a good starting ground for understanding search engines' likes and dislikes along with some marketing information?...

More SEO Ramblings from Jill

How often do we hear about "proprietary technology" when it comes to SEO? And how many use scare tactics in order to keep those monthly checks rolling in? Those are not smart, long-term client relationship techniques!...

Getting Started With SEO

It's true that SEO is not rocket science, and I firmly contend that it's very much a common-sense type of work. That doesn't mean that anyone can or should read a few SEO articles and then decide they can start charging people for their services....

SEO/SEM Pricing Models

Search marketing campaigns can have so many facets that it's very hard to provide a one-size-fits-all solution. There may not be any one pricing model that will be right for every client that you work with....

Google's Patent Implications

I wasn't surprised about the stuff in Google's new patent that corresponded with Google's aging delay and its "sandbox" as I had already seen a lot of discussion on this....

Content and Search Engine Marketing

Good content is not content that is just there to target specific keyword phrases. Pages generated solely for the search engines do *not* constitute good content....

SEO Client Expectations

Many clients never think about the level of involvement they'll need to have in an SEM campaign until it has kicked off and the SEM start snagging them for things they'll need to get started....

Pay-for-Performance SEO

This potential client doesn't trust the SEO company enough to pay them their normal fee, and/or they don't trust the whole SEO process....

SEO and the Zen Factor

For those of us who live and breathe SEO, it's sometimes difficult to step back and remember what it was like when we were first learning....

Search Engine Marketing FAQ - Robots.txt and Domain Names

Jill Whalen continues answering frequently asked questions about search engine marketing by tackling the idea of robots.txt files and new domains....

Search Marketing FAQ - Graphics, Hosts and Redesigns

Jill Whalen tackles yet another round of frequently asked search marketing questions including ones about graphics, hosts and site redesigns....

Search Marketing FAQ: Special Relationships, Traffic and Plurals

Jill Whalen continues her search engine marketing FAQ and answers commonly asked questions about special relationships with the engines, traffic estimates and keyword phrases....

Multiple Domains, File Placement and the Impact of Blogs on Rankings

Jill answers a variety of commonly asked questions about search engine optimization including multiple domains, file placement and the impact of blogs on rankings....

Search Engine Submissions, Link Building and Keyword Rich Domains

Jill Whalen answers frequently asked questions about search engine submission, link building and keyword rich domain names....

Search Engine Spam Techniques That Aren't Needed

Search engine optimization, also known as SEO, may seem like some sort of black magic to those who don't understand it. It's very difficult to figure out the best strategy when you can't even figure out which articles or websites you can trust....

Using Header Tags for Search Marketing

I want to put keywords in header tags such as H1 and H2 because my mail carrier told me that this would give me high rankings in the search engines. Will I be penalized if I use style sheets to keep the font down to a reasonable size?...

Dynamically Generated Pages and Query Strings

I have a dynamically generated site which places question marks and equal signs in the URL. Do I need to create static HTML pages in order to show up in the search engines....

Frequently Asked SEO Questions

Jill Whalen tackles some of the most frequently asked questions about Google, organic optimization, keywords and developing great content....

What to do with Keywords for your Search Marketing Campaign

There is no keyword registering process when it comes to optimizing your pages for the "natural" search results. The engines have to logically figure out what keywords are relevant to your site by how they are incorporated into it, and by the links pointing to it....

Dispelling Common SEO Myths

Pat had found every SEO myth ever discussed, and then asked me about them! So I wrote Pat back and basically said that he/she had obviously gotten ahold of some really old info and that he/she should erase it all from his/her memory bank and start fresh....

Even Small Businesses Can Gain Valuable Search Traffic

Yes, there may be gazillions of sites competing for the search phrases related to your client's site, but that's what keyword research is for. What you want to do is carefully research your client's niche, then find the hundreds of phrases that people are using to search for their products or services....

Frequent Spidering Doesn't Help Rankings

There are people who think that a site that is visited often by the search engine spiders will rank higher for its optimized keyword phrases. The truth of the matter is that there's no evidence to suggest that rankings are affected by how often your pages are visited by the spiders....

Alexa Ranking

Jill answers a reader's question about the importance of a strong Alexa ranking and explains what an Alexa ranking actually means....

Black Hat/White Hat Search Engine Optimization

What those guys do as SEOs really has nothing to do with what I do as an SEO. Sure, we're all trying to bring targeted search engine visitors to our sites, but that's where the similarities end. I don't have to keep up with every tiny algorithm shift, or the latest technique that the engines haven't caught onto yet. It's completely irrelevant to what I do....

Great Sites Beget Great Rankings (We Hope!)

If you don't currently have a unique selling proposition, you need to create one right now. Think about what it is that you can do or offer that is just different enough to make you stand out from the crowd -- then promote the heck out of it! Once the rest of the world starts to agree that you do indeed offer something unlike anything else, and you've done your on-the-page optimization correctly, the search engines will start to take notice and place your site into its proper place in the results....

Is PPC an Essential Tool?

Is PPC now an essential marketing tool or can honest SEO techniques still win the day alone?...

Title Tags, Meta Descriptions and Keywords

Just when I finally stopped getting the dreaded "Do I need commas or no commas in my Meta keyword tag" question, there's been a new stream of Meta tag questions being asked. I'm not sure of the reason for the sudden interest, but it's probably because people are starting to worry about other engines besides Google now....

Link Popularity

Interestingly enough, if your site is well written, provides tons of useful information and is constantly updated, you often won't have to seek out links at all. Other sites will link to yours of their own volition....

Common-sense Search Engine Optimization

As the Web matures, more and more site owners are discovering that their fancy, cutting-edge sites don't convert as well as the competitor's informational site that gets right down to business. It's usually at that point that they become more receptive to doing what it takes to make their site the best it can be for their visitors as well as the search engines....

SEO and Micro Sites

I've been getting inquiries from clients regarding the creation of micro sites and how optimization of them could dilute positioning of the main corporate site. Your thoughts?...

Overture vs. Google AdWords

I am perplexed as to why the Overture campaign is working better. We track the campaigns on the basis of online forms from their respective landing pages, and Overture brings in twice as many form inquiries. Is Google slipping in their performance and ability to deliver?...

Slick-Talking SEO Telemarketers

Tons of unsuspecting site owners who had put their faith and trust in one particular SEO company had woken up one morning to find that their sites had completely vanished from Google, and in some cases, Yahoo. On SEO forums throughout the Internet, you could almost hear their anguished cries of "What have I done?"...

To Mod_Rewrite or Not

My theory is always "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," which is why I wouldn't recommend moving towards this solution unless you are very sure it is the only way your URLs will get indexed....

Can You Increase My Traffic?

I imagine what had happened with this guy is that his SEO company had done what they said they would do -- get him ranked highly for some specific keyword phrases -- but he was finding out that it wasn't bringing much traffic to his site....

More PageRank Mania

Sadly, it appears that PageRank is often the driving factor in how and why people link to each other, and that is just plain wrong. When a site owner refuses to link to a great site that might be useful to their visitors simply because it's only a PR3 or 2 or even zero, then we've got a huge problem....

Paying To Play

It seems that everywhere we turn these days in the search engine marketing world, we are constantly hearing the phrases pay-for-inclusion (PFI), pay-for-performance (PFP) and pay-per-click (PPC). Here is a quick primer to explain what each of those programs means....

What Is Search Engine Optimization?

What is it about the phrase "search engine optimization" that makes people go crazy? Is it because the phrase itself doesn't really make sense? As Bob Massa from SearchKing is fond of saying, we don't optimize search engines, we optimize Web pages. So perhaps that's part of the reason why people have a hard time agreeing on what SEO actually is....

Maintain Your Rankings After a Redesign

Everyone needs to redesign at some point, but the fear of losing existing rankings can be pretty scary. Don't worry; as long as you are careful, chances are you can keep your high rankings. Plus, your spiffy new design will most likely convert your site visitors into buyers much better than your dinosaur of a site from the 90's!...

All About Title Tags

The title tag is one of the most important factors in achieving high search engine rankings....

Search Engine Marketing Q&A

Google's link command and disappearing DMOZ descriptions. Copywriter credibility, punctuation, automated submittals, and more....

Evolution of a Search Engine Marketer

As with anything you set out to learn in life, you don't get from point A to point Z without touching upon all those letters in between. This is why every day for the past 7 or 8 years I see the same search engine optimization questions asked over and over again by people in the various stages of learning. The search engines may change through the years, but people just finding out about SEO all tend to go through a similar growth process....

Getting a Great Google Description

Let's look at what circumstances cause Google to display your Meta description as opposed to a plain old snippet. It's actually surprisingly simple, yet elegant......

The Role of Your SEO/SEM Company

Aside from choosing the right keyword phrases, your professional SEO company should be well versed in other Web marketing areas. For instance, once you receive targeted traffic, you need those people to take action at your site. This means that there needs to be a certain level of usability and professionalism with your design, copy that speaks to your target audience and all that other good stuff....

Search Engine Marketing Q&A

Last week's Q&A article was such a hit, I decided to do a similar one today since I still have lots of "shortish" questions to answer....

Search Engine Marketing Q&A

I've put together an assortment of search engine marketing questions and answers compiled from the emails I answered last week. I'm sure that at least a few of these questions will be ones that have been nagging at some of you also....

Overture Site Match - Yahoo Paid-inclusion - PPC

It will be interesting to see where this whole paid-inclusion/PPC brave new world takes us. Is it a sign of things to come? Is this kind of change inevitable as search engine marketing grows up? It may very well be. If so, it's our job to go with the flow and figure out how to best deal with it....

Ten Tips to the Top of the Search Engines

Having a Web site that gets found in Google and the other engines isn't hard to do, but it can be difficult to know where to begin. Here are ten tips to get you started....

Another Google Blackballing?

I have one site that I submitted and after being indexed almost immediately it was kicked out a week later. I waited for 6 months and then moved the site to a dedicated server. I re-submitted it and it was indexed again quickly but a week later it was kicked out again. Has this ever happened to you?...

The Future of SEO

SEOs will need to take usability and conversions into consideration when coming up with your search engine marketing campaigns in the future, if they're not already doing this. Therefore, I see there being a much brighter future for those SEOs who are able to make the transition....

Making Sure Your Site is Crawler-friendly

There are a number of 'helpful' features being thrown into site designs these days that can sadly be the kiss of death to its overall spiderability....

Newbie SEO Questions

I opened my store through Yahoo but just found out that they don't do anything to get the store listed on anything except Yahoo Shopping. So, I'm on my own. I did a search engine readiness check on my store yesterday and scored in the fair range. The areas where I was poor, I don't know how to fix -- maybe you could help?...

Search Engine Marketing Has Just Grown Up

The free ride is officially over. From now on, you can't just create a site by the book, trade a few links with friendly competitors and expect to be found in Google for phrases that are relevant to millions of other sites. If you want to beat those other sites, you're gonna have to work your butt off. You're gonna have to live and breathe your Web site....

Paid-inclusion Questions

Are these pay for inclusion fees required to attract spiders properly, and also, do you feel these submissions (and the payment accompanying them) will affect a site's ranking on a search engine?...

SEO at the Expense of Good Copy -- No Way!

For all you professional copywriters, the world of SEO copywriting is wide open right now. There are only a few really good people in the field, although it's growing by leaps and bounds. SEO is hot, very hot. If you're having trouble finding good writing jobs, I would strongly suggest that you learn the art of SEO copywriting and then find some SEOs to partner with. You will benefit, the SEO will benefit and most of all, the clients looking for high rankings, sales and a site that totally rocks will benefit from it!...

SEO Confusion: Keywords by Page or Site?

The easy answer is that as far as the search engines are concerned, every page of your site has its own unique keyword phrases based upon the information it provides. This means that when a search engine is determining which page in its database is relevant to the search query at hand, it's looking for the best, most relevant *page* -- not *site*. On a deeper level, however, all of the pages of your site actually do play a role in how you'll get your rankings....

Title Tags for Gift Suggestion Pages

Since the Title tag is given so much weight in the search engines, you should use whatever keyword phrases you're optimizing the page for....

Site Won't Stay Put in Rankings

This is what drives many people crazy with SEO. They want to understand exactly why their page is at a certain spot in the results, but since it's fluid, there's no way to be exactly sure. All we can do is understand and implement the fundamental things that will give our pages the best chance of showing up high in the rankings for our targeted keyword phrases. The rest is up to the search engines....

SEO Question and Answer Extravaganza

It's that time of year again when I do my SEO Mailbag Extravaganza! This is when I take a sampling of email questions I've received throughout the week, and post them along with my answers....

How To Reach All the Engines

Pages can and do rank highly on all the search engines. There's never a need to design a page for any particular engine at the exclusion of others. Make your pages the best they can be for your users and search engines in general, and your site will do great!...

What Are Links and How Do I Get 'Em?

Along with simply having a wonderful site, you also need to get the word out about it, so that people know it exists in the first place. To do this you should submit the site's URL (domain name) to any and all of the Internet directories that exist....

The Right Keyword Phrases Bring Customers

Search engine optimization is not about bringing in traffic that might be interested in your product. It's about bringing in people and traffic who want exactly what you sell. Note the word 'exactly.'...

Legitimate Search Engine Optimization Company or Not?

I am a small business owner who would like to improve my ranking. I have been contacted by a company who 'guarantees' top-10 rankings on 6 major sites within 180 days for a fee. Can you please tell me if these types of companies are legitimate, and which ones you would recommend or avoid....

Optimizing Dynamic Content for Search Engines

Over the years, the engines have tried to find ways of crawling dynamic content while avoiding dynamic spider traps. One technique they use is crawling dynamic URLs that are linked to from pages with static URLs. For example, if you give your site map page a static URL, but have links to dynamic URLs within its content, there's a good chance that the leading engines will crawl those links....

What Other SEO Books Should I Read?

Your next step is not to find more resources and books. Your next step is to go out there and create a search-engine-friendly site! You can't be successful until you take action....

ConversionRuler - Part 2

ConversionRuler hasn't made any more sales for me, but my creativity in how to present my products has. ConversionRuler just lets me know if my ideas are any good!...

ConversionRuler

It doesn't matter how many people click the link, it's the conversions that make a difference, and that's what you learn with ConversionRuler....

Where Do We Start With Search Engine Optimization?

I think that sentence sums up the crux of your problem; it appears as if you are thinking that you should be ranking highly for keyWORDs as opposed to keyword phrases. You've got to erase that idea from your memory banks immediately!...

Tips on Using Wordtracker to Find the Best Keyword Phrases

When you don't know better, you might think that the competition report is telling you how many pages are actually optimized for a particular keyword phrase in any given engine. But they're not telling you this at all! All they can tell you is how many pages show up in a search for that particular keyword phrase....

When Will Google Backlinks Show?

Roughly how long after someone adds me to their link page should it come up in a Google reverse link search?...

Hidden Links and Extra Domains

Extra domains are definitely not something you should be using for search engine promotion efforts. DO NOT buy domain names thinking you'll use them to fool the search engines or anything like that....

Search Engine Marketing vs. Search Engine Optimization

Before I can explain my reasons for concentrating on the optimization side of things, I should probably discuss the differences between search engine marketing (SEM) as a whole, pay-per-click (PPC) ads, and search engine optimization (SEO)....

Optimized Copy Still Not Ranking Well

There are two parts to the equation. The first depends on whether your pages are truly optimized as best as they can be for the given keyword phrase. The second part of the equation is the addition of as many high-quality outside links that also utilize your keyword phrase....

Optimizing Using Phrases or Words

Are phrases really important or should we, because of the way people search, stick to optimizing individual words?...

Magic Secret to Google

Here's a hint to get you started (please keep this under your hat!): It's all in the choice of keyword phrases, the body text copy, the Title tag and the keywords in the links that point to your pages. Shhhhhhh!...

Search Engine and Directory Questions

Advisor subscriber Lia Gonzalez had a number of questions about search engines and directories which I've answered in this article....

Overture Ads' Effect on Google Rankings

Does Google give me a higher ranking because of my thousands of terms in Overture and all the links that would come from there? Or just from regular sites that link to me?...

Search Engine Optimization for Pure Content Sites

Our content is dynamic and refreshes daily. All revenue is derived from advertising. How valuable is an SEO campaign when every day our content changes and keywords gain and lose value in a matter of days?...

Will Search Engine Optimization Increase Sales?

If you do everything right, you can bet your behind that a good SEO campaign will bring more sales. Absolutely, positively no question about it....

Missing Backlinks in Google

For a site that is well-established that had previously shown backlinks in Google, or one that used to show some decent PageRank but has seen it significantly lowered (more than one point), there may be cause for concern....

To What Depth Will Search Engine Spiders Go?

Actually, the spiders will go to any depth of a site. However, they don't place as much emphasis on pages within the site that take more than a couple of clicks to get to from the main page....

How to Spend a Small Search Engine Marketing Budget

I have an initial budget of about $300-$500 I can spend on advertising and promotion. Where would you recommend I invest it?...

Should One Request Links to Inner Pages?

Regarding your link building campaign, you don't need to go out and start an entire linking campaign around that one military gifts page. Having most links point to your home page is perfectly fine and works very well to build your PageRank....

Using Keywords to Optimize Titles and Descriptions for Search Engines

Every page is unique, and every optimization is unique. Therefore there will never be an optimum number of times to use any particular keyword or keyword phrase in any of the tags or in the page copy. You should use them in the way that makes the most sense for the particular page you are working on....

Keywords in Hyperlinks Improve Search Engine Ranking

It's important to discuss why keywords in hyperlinks are helpful to the search engines. To do this, we have to do my favorite thing, which is to think like a search engine....

Can Search Engines Follow JavaScript Pop-up Links?

I am a photographer with an image based website. The pages on my site use JavaScript to open pop-up windows when viewers click on the thumbnails on those pages. Can the search engines follow those links to those pages?...

Cost-Effectiveness of Learning Search Engine Optimization

If you're a hands-on kinda person and you're interested in search engine optimization, you might want to give it a whirl yourself. If you're designing your own Web site, you've already got a good start since you know some of the fundamentals of HTML and design....

Additional Domains for Extra Search Engine Rankings

This is exactly the kind of thing that the search engines (most specifically Google) would prefer that you DON'T do....

Are Search Engines Case Sensitive Regarding Keywords?

Even if the engines were case-specific, I wouldn't recommend using the incorrect format within your visible body copy. It would look like a typo....

Will Switching Servers Ruin Search Engine Rankings?

It's a real pain in the neck to move all your files over and get your scripts up and running. I totally understand why you do not want to have to worry about your listings at the search engines on top of everything else....

Hijacked Site or Google Mistake?

I checked Google today and, to my surprise, someone copied my entire web site and the link from Google to my site is now pointing to the stolen version of my site....

Search Engine Optimization Q&A

Will changing tags affect rankings? ODP error message. Submitting site too often. Spiders not finding articles. JavaScript rollovers. Iframes....

SEO Predictions for 2003

Here are a few thoughts about where SEO is heading in the new year. Some may be wishful thinking, and some may take more than one year to happen, but these are the trends I'm currently seeing....

Attacking the Search Engines

There's no need for an additional domain. If you have additional products or services, simply add pages to your existing site. Every page is a gateway to the rest, and they can all rank highly if properly optimized....

Search Engine Optimization Glossary

Right now, I feel like the kid in school, afraid to raise his/her hand and ask a 'dumb question'... but perhaps, like that kid, there are others afraid to ask too! Would it be possible to include a brief explanation and spelled out meaning of the abbreviations or terms?...

Rankings in AltaVista and Google

As far as AltaVista goes, you are correct: they don't seem to bring much traffic these days, even when you have many top-ten rankings. Of course, they just reinvented themselves a couple of weeks ago. Therefore, it's impossible to say what the future holds for them....

SEO Mailbag Bonanza

Playing SEO catch-up. How to separate keywords. Redoing a Web site. Using country-specific language TLDs. Keyword stuff. PageRank and its effect on rankings....

Multiple Domain Names Pointing to One Site

I have heard through the grapevine that if you buy many domain names and point them back to your home page, when the search engines find this out they will shut you off. Is that true at all?...

Who Will Be the Next Google?

I don't think that someone better coming along will be Google's eventual downfall. It will have to be Google losing their focus and totally screwing up, in my opinion. And right now, they're doing just fine....

Yahoo/Google Changes

There are many implications to these changes - all for the better, in my opinion. Google has proven that having relevant search results can make you queen of the prom. Perhaps Yahoo hopes to be king?...

Search Engine Marketing Issues

Following links in Flash navigation. Top positions without paying. SES conference worth....

No Meta Keyword Tags

Unfortunately, once Meta tags became spam magnets, we SEOs started telling people to only use words that were already on the page and no others. From what I discovered, that advice was actually wrong -- and in fact, probably useless!...

What It Means To Be A Professional SEO

The bottom line is that it's your job as a professional to do what you know in your heart is right. If it means you don't get that particular job, then so be it. There will be other jobs. And there will be other clients that appreciate your looking out for their site's long-term well-being. You can bank on that....

Usability and Search Engine Optimization

The fastest way to make your application both engine- and user-friendly is to pretend that nobody can see it. Huh? You may have heard of Section 508, which is a law that essentially says any Web site of the US Government must be accessible to special-needs users. The best part of this is that the extra measures Webmasters take to make their pages more accessible, also make them more search-engine-friendly....

The Benefits of a Yahoo! Listing

A good listing in Yahoo!, i.e., one where you rank highly for your important keyword phrases, can bring a ton of traffic to your site. On the other hand, a poor listing brings hardly any Yahoo! traffic. Unfortunately, there's no tried-and-true method of ensuring that you get a good listing....

Google Out To Make a Buck?

It's surprising to me that the reader would make a special effort to criticize the most trustworthy player in the space -- one which keeps its search results free of ads -- when there is so much sleaze out there that merits consideration....

An Observation from a Frustrated SEO

If you play by the rules, you won't get banned. If you break the rules and get banned...then too bad for you. Stop making up excuses for why Google is bad and take a look in your own mirror....

Search Engine Marketing Q&A

Optimizing individual product pages. My DMOZ listing is showing up in Google. Indexing a framed site. Using mini-sites for high rankings....

Target-market Questions

The first step is to narrow down your target market. In fact, you should do this even if you do target the whole world. You could start small by creating pages or subsites that focus only on certain geographical areas. Once those were in place and doing well, you could branch out to new areas....

Why Not Call 'Em Zebras

Quite frankly, I'm tired of people making up new names for things just so they won't sound dodgy. You can call a doorway page a 'zebra' if you want, but if it's not fully integrated into your site through visible links, it's still a doorway page....

Using Layers as an SEO Technique

You can do all sorts of things with layers that will fool the search engines, as they simply aren't sophisticated enough to understand it all -- yet....

Keywords Coming Out of My Ears

You don't need (or want) to repeat the word a zillion times over and over again. The key is in using your phrases where they make sense in the copy. The copy *must* read well. It absolutely must....

Hiding Stuff from the Search Engines

What I would do, instead of using fancy mouseovers, is put a visible description under each hyperlink. These words could be keyword-rich, and they'd definitely get indexed....

Blackballed from Google

If your site is not showing up in any given engine, the chances are that you are *not* banned. It's actually very, very rare for engines to ban or penalize sites. So don't just assume that you're banned if your site is missing. Do some detective work and find out the real reason, then fix it!...

Keyword-Rich Domain Names

The myth of using keyword-rich domains for SEO purposes has been perpetuated for way too long, and quite frankly I'm tired of seeing it written about as if it's an all-important SEO factor....

Will Work for Candy: SEO Questions Answered

I told you I would answer questions for chocolate! Advisor subscriber Jim took me up on my offer and emailed me a laundry list of SEO questions with the caveat that there would be a box of chocolate in it for me if I answered them. (Little does Jim know that I answer them all the time for nuthin....shhhhh!)...

Interview with Dan Thies, Author of 'Search Engine Fast Start'

An interview with Dan Thies, author of the ebook 'Search Engine Fast Start.' Dan does a nice job of explaining why his methods are a good SEO option for busy Webmasters....

Jill's SEO Mailbag Bonanza

It's that time when I open up the High Rankings mailbag, and post some of the questions I've received over the past week along with my answers....

Doorways, Mirrors, and Duplicate Sites

It seems that creating multiple sites and doorway pages has become so ingrained in many SEOs way of doing business that my don't do it approach is a tough pill to swallow for many people....

Doorway Pages

Today's SEO question focuses on whether or not creating doorway domains is a good idea. Can you guess what my answer will be?...

Let Your Trusted SEO Do Their Job

If you're going to hire an expert to do something for you, whether it be search engine optimization or building a house, you've got to trust them to do their job correctly....

Can't Get Listed in ODP

Q&A on what to do if you're having trouble getting listed in ODP/DMOZ and some info on Web site redirects....

Can the Meta Keyword Tag Bring High Rankings to my Site?

Everyone knows that to obtain high search engine rankings all you have to do is put the keywords that you want to rank high with into your Meta Tags, right? Not even close!...

Paying for Inclusion in Directories and Search Engines

It seems that everywhere we turn these days, we are constantly hearing the phrases pay-per-inclusion (PPI) and pay-per-click (PPC). There are now a number of ways that the search engines and directories are collecting funds from people trying to get their Web sites listed....

SEO Q&A

Google results disappearing. Submitting limited-time sites. Figuring out which pages are in Inktomi. Getting framed sites listed. Backward links disappearing....

Submitting to Search Engines

Lots of great info today! I've answered a question about submitting to the spidering search engines, ranted about LookSmart's new Small Business Listings program, discussed a cool ebook about Google AdWords Select and given FAST a little free publicity! What more could you ask for?...

Search Engine Marketing Questions

A whole pile of questions I received over the past few weeks, along with my original answers. Most of them are short and sweet and to the point, but nonetheless informative....

The Inside Scoop on Fast Search & Transfer (FAST)

Martin Schaedel, my search engine optimization colleague from Sweden, recently conducted a telephone interview with Stephen Baker, Director, Internet Business Unit of Fast Search & Transfer, and managed to come away with some very interesting and surprising tidbits for you....

PageRank Mania - Is it getting out of hand?

I'm sad, I'm mad and disillusioned a tad. I thought the search engine optimization community had changed. Silly me. I guess I was fooled by the discussions on the importance of good content cropping up all over the place....

Do Keyword Phrases in the Copy Need to be an Exact Match?

Generally, you want to be sure to use any keyword phrase in the exact order and form in which you want it to show up in the search engine results pages (SERPs)....

Jill's Search Engine Optimization Process

Let me tell you about the SEO process I go through with my clients, and hopefully this will help you with your own SEO campaigns....

Inktomi's Search Submit Paid-Inclusion

Apart from using pay-per-click engines like Overture, it is currently the fastest way for a client to get indexed in a broad spectrum of search portals....

Read more articles from Jill Whalen in the Rank Write archive.



About the Author

CEO and founder of High Rankings®, Jill Whalen has been performing search engine optimization since 1995 and is the host of the free High Rankings Advisor search engine marketing newsletter, author of "The Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines" and founder/administrator of the popular High Rankings Search Engine Optimization Forum. In 2006, Jill co-founded SEMNE, a local search engine marketing networking organization for people and companies in New England.

High Rankings is an internationally recognized search engine optimization firm located in Framingham, MA specializing in search engine optimization, SEO consultations, in-house training, site audit reports, search marketing seminars and workshops. High Rankings has a 100% success rate for substantially improving client rankings and targeted traffic.

Jill speaks at national and international conferences and has been writing about SEO and search marketing since 2000. She's been quoted in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report and The Washington Post. Her articles have appeared in numerous print magazines and online websites including CIO Magazine, CMS Focus, The Internet Marketing Report, ClickZ, WorkZ, Inc.com, Entrepreneur, Lycos Small Business, WebProNews, SiteProNews and others. Jill has also appeared on many online and offline radio programs such as Entrepreneur Magazine's E-Biz Radio Show, SearchEngineRadio and the eMarketing Talkshow.

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