+++Playing SEO Catch-up+++

From: Ros Garavaglia

Hi Jill,

It's been ages since I was in touch with you. You were working together with that other superwoman, delivering great advice about SEO. I think I learned everything I know from you two. I still receive your very useful newsletter, and from time to time drop in on your site in case I've missed something.

In March this year I suffered a stroke. (No brain damage, though my husband will disagree. Paralysis and fatigue are the bummer.)

Anyway, after 8 months away from SEO, I've come back to find the nature of it all has changed drastically. Adwords, big uptake of paid-inclusions with Yahoo, etc. I have no idea how I'm going to catch up. At the moment I'm doing what I used to do and am having no success at all. I've even opted to use a submission tool, whereas before I did it all by hand.

And now Meta tags are dead?

I know you're very busy, but if you could give me a quick rundown of what the basic guidelines to optimise a site are these days, I'd appreciate it.


Ros Garavaglia


~~~Jill's Response~~~

Hi Ros,

Sorry to hear about your stroke.

Being away from SEO for a time may make it seem like it's changed a lot. Search engine and directory alliances change, and paid-inclusion/pay-for-placement programs get introduced; however, creating keyword-rich content that naturally uses your keyword phrases never goes out of style!

I have actually answered your question regarding basic SEO guidelines back in Issue 002 of the Advisor, in the section entitled "Jill's SEO Process".

Also, my "Submitting to Spidering Search Engines" article can help you understand where the submittal process is at these days. Generally, there's really no need to submit your site to search engines, as they will find it themselves if you have links to it from a few key places on the Web (e.g., a major directory or two).

As to Google AdWords, that's not really my forte. I can, however, point you to Andrew Goodman's "21 Techniques to Maximize your Profits on Google AdWords Select." Read my full review of his special report.

By the way, contrary to popular belief, Meta tags have always been dead!

Good luck!



~~~Next Question~~~

++How To Separate Keywords++

From: Dave Styles

Hi Jill

I've noticed when I search for two separate words in Google, i.e., John Doe, my page doesn't come up (it used to be near the top). But when I search for JohnDoe it's at the top. It's like Google is not splitting the words up.

I use the joined-up name (using capital letters to split the words) for directory and file names to help identify what the web pages contain.

Should I use a space, which turns out like "John%20Doe.htm"? It doesn't seem very good for the user. Or do search engines detect the underscore, i.e., "John_Doe.htm."

Which do you recommend?

Great newsletter, it's the only email I print out to read on the train.

Thanx Dave


~~~Jill's Response~~~

Hi Dave,

I don't think that users pay much attention to directory and file names; however, I wouldn't use a space in them as the search engine spiders could get tripped up by the resulting percent signs (%). A hyphen (-) would be my first choice, because search engines tend to treat it as a space.

Better yet, you'd have MUCH more luck if you simply put the keyword phrases ON the page in the visible copy! The file names have very, very, very little weight in the rankings, and will help you only if all else is equal or you have very little competition for your keywords.

Glad you like the newsletter!



~~~Next Question~~~

++Redoing a Web Site++

From: Samantha Stichter


I've just redone my website. The new site has a different directory structure and different filenames. I don't want to take down the old site and have file not found messages on rankings that point to the old pages.

Should I put a redirect on all the old pages that are listed with search engines? If not, what should I do?

Thanks in advance,
Samantha Stichter


~~~Jill's Response~~~


You can put permanent redirects at the server level that will catch any interim traffic. But you will eventually lose any rankings from those old pages when the search engine spider comes a-crawlin' and they no longer exist. You should also set up a custom 404-error page to catch any traffic that clicks to a bad page (if they're not redirected). Make your 404-error page sort of a sitemap to the new site (or just copy your current sitemap). That way people can still find the information they're looking for.

There's a bit more info on this (and other things) in an old article I wrote with Heather for Clickz.

Good luck!



~~~Next Question~~~

++Using Country-specific Language TLDs++

From: Ben Gustafson

Hello Jill,

Your latest issue of High Rankings Advisor discussed the issue of multiple domains pointing to the same site and their potential deleterious effect on search engine rankings. Being the Webmaster of a company with offices in several countries, I noticed that you did not discuss the issue of multiple top-level domains (TLDs) pointing to the same site. For example, my employer owns the domain and trademark for our company name, and has the following TLDs:


Each of these domains points to a different language version of the site, but all point to the same IP address. Internally, the content displayed is based on the "language ID" chosen by the browser. For those coming to the site from www.mycompanyname.de, for example, the language ID is set to that for German, the German content is pulled from the database, and the links contain the language ID for German.

What is your take on how this might affect search engine rankings, and how we should handle submitting the domains to Google? Is Google smart enough to see the different TLDs and different content, and not penalize us for using the same IP address for all these domains?

Thank you,



~~~Jill's Reply~~~

Hi Ben,

I'm not all that well versed on different language sites; however, it sounds as if you're doing everything just the way you are supposed to!

Google (and the other search engines) should have no problem if you submit the different language sites to the appropriate international versions of the engines.



~~~Next Question~~~

++Keyword Stuff++

From: Chris Kobsa


How much info can I "stuff" into the <title> tag and the <meta> tags? Surely there must be a limit. I can think of many great phrases, and using the demo-version of "WordTracker.com" I am picking the ones with better KEI indices. However, I am wondering how many the search engines let me put in the tags before they say it's enough?

By the way, how do you rate the "WordTracker" software? Is there a better product out there you would recommend?



~~~Jill's Reply~~~


Read my articles on how to properly use the various tags here:

Title tag: http://www.highrankings.com/allabouttitles.htm
Meta Description tag: http://www.highrankings.com/metadescription.htm
Meta Keyword: http://www.highrankings.com/metakeyword.htm

We don't "stuff" keywords into *any* tag. We choose two or three keyword phrases per page, and use them appropriately in each page's tags as per the articles referenced above.

Wordtracker rocks! You can sign up for it through my affiliate link. I believe you're missing a lot of functions by using only the free trial version. A one-day subscription is only about $6 and you can also sign up for a week, a month or a year. If you work with lots of different sites, the one-year subscription is your best bet. If you have only one site, a day may be all you need.



~~~Next Question~~~

++PageRank and Its Effect on Rankings++

From: Larry Albright

Hi Jill,

I really enjoy your newsletter!

Everyone has been talking about Google PageRank. I have been looking at the top-listed pages for my keywords in Google. To my surprise I have found a few listings with PageRanks of 6 listed lower than sites with a PageRank of 5, etc.

Am I missing something? Aren't the sites with higher PageRanks supposed to be listed higher than ones with lower PageRanks? I found this to be true only on the first two keywords I searched for in Google.


Larry Albright


~~~Jill's Response~~~

Hi Larry,

You are under the very common misconception that Google PageRank somehow equals your site's ranking in the search engine results page (SERP) for your keyword phrases. PageRank does NOT equal rankings in the search engines. In fact, if you study the Google results for various keyword phrases, you will see very little correlation between a site's PageRank (as shown by the Google Toolbar) and where it comes up in the SERP.

Part of this misconception is brought on by popular media articles that dub Google's algorithm as PageRank. The truth is that PageRank is just one small part of Google's algorithm. It's actually the one factor that you don't need to try to control.

The "secret" to high rankings is to optimize your site's on-the-page factors to be the best they can be...i.e., choose the most appropriate and relevant keyword phrases, write 250 words of copy on each page based on two or three of them, and then optimize your tags accordingly. After that, submit to major directories and industry-specific sites, and bam -- you'll have "instant" PageRank!

If your site is ranking well in the engines for your keywords, it's not necessary to worry about what its toolbar PageRank number is. For more info on this, you may be interested in my "PageRank Mania" rant.

Good luck!

November 14, 2002

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.

Search Engine Guide > Jill Whalen > SEO Mailbag Bonanza