December 06, 2006

An SEOs Guide for Writing Optimized Text

Note: The following is part of our company's internal operations/job manual. This is from the section providing guidelines for writing optimized text.

Optimized Text (OT) is first and foremost marketing copy for the website. Each optimized page must be written with the client's products or services in mind. They are not general information pages, but pages designed to provide the visitor with the information they seek which compels them to take the desired action.

Most clients provide some initial verbiage for OT pages as a starting point. This information can help us better understand the client's perspective on their products or services and therefore should be an excellent resource for the text. Clients also provide answers to written questions pertaining to their website, business, marketing perspectives, etc. This information should be considered during the writing process for all OT pages.

Keyword Usage

OT pages are driven by keywords. The "core term" of each OT page must be established before any writing can be done. Once the core term is known the writer must then also know the supporting phrases. A single core term can have anywhere from one to hundreds of supporting phrases. Each core term will also have a handful of other related words. It is important for core, supporting and related words be carefully considered before optimizing a page.

Core terms are the most important terms on each page and should be used as a phrase as often as good, readable copy allows.

Supporting phrases can be used liberally within the framework of producing quality content. Each optimized page should focus on no more than fifteen supporting phrases. Supporting phrases do not need to always be kept in phrase format, but each individual word of each phrase used must be present in the copy a number of times.

Related words are words and phrases symmetrically related to the core term. Related words are: stemmed variations of the core term (running and ran are related to core term run); words with similar meaning as the core term (jog, walk, hike, stroll); words most often used in conjunction with the core terms (shoes, fast, sweat, exercise, hide, hydrate, etc). Not all related words will be relevant for a particular page. Writer should pick and choose related words to be used within the proper context.

Writing Style

While keywords must be considered and used on the OT page, the ability to produce content with a natural style of writing and a focus on the marketing goals trumps all else. Each OT page must have a clear sales message that entices the visitor to continue reading offering easy click-access deeper into the site and ultimately into the final conversion.

OT should use customer focused language which speaks to them. Page should be less about "we" or "us" and more about showing them they have found the solutions to their current needs. Questions should be anticipated and answered.

Sales Message: The writer must research both the company and the product or services being sold. It is imperative that each OT page be able to obtain the readers interest and provide enough information to help users make an informed decision. It's not enough to outline a list of features; both features and benefits must be used as part of the sales verbiage. OT page should be written for best skim- and scan-ability. Use of bullet points, paragraph headings, bolds and italics (where appropriate) is encouraged.

Headings: Page and paragraph headings should be used wherever appropriate. Every page must have a page heading which succinctly tells the reader what they will find on the page. Page headings are matter-of-fact and will almost always use the core term. (Expert PC Repair and Computer Networking Solutions)

Paragraph, or section, headings should be used only as appropriate. Often a paragraph heading can be used below the page heading similar to a newspaper sub-headline (Reno based computer expert offers networking and repair solutions throughout the greater Reno and Northern California area). If the content can be naturally divided into sections then paragraph headings should be used and written similar to page headings.

Bullet Points: Bullet points can be used for outlining benefits (or features) of the product or service being offered. Bullets help break up a redundant text page while making skimming and scanning easier.

Bolds and Italics: Bolds and italics should be used infrequently and only in ways which help the overall readability of the page. Skim- and scan-ability can be improved with selective bold and italic usage of important information.

Internal Hyperlinks: Each OT page should contain a number of internal hyperlinks. Linked text should be relevant and link to other portions of the website being referenced. Links to 'about us', 'contact us', and products/service pages can be used liberally, as good writing and usability allows.

Calls to Action: Each OT page should not be an end unto itself but should be a mechanism to propel the reader onto the next page. Hyper links mentioned above are calls to action of sorts as they propel the reader to pages with more information, but the ultimate call to action is one that directs the reader to the conversion. No page should be without the conversion call to action.

Titles and Descriptions

Each OT must have both a title and description (for HTML title and meta description tags) which is separate from the visible body content. Titles and descriptions are most often seen in search engine results and therefore must let the searcher know that this OT page contains the information they are searching for and compel them to click to this page over the other pages in the search results.

Titles: The title is the clickable link found on a search results page. The title much simultaneously inform the visitor of the content of the page, prove that the page has the information the searcher was seeking (keyword usage), and provide enough compelling information to make the searcher want to click through. Titles should never be deceptive or provide information that is not found in the body content of the page. A page title should be 8-12 words in length.

Descriptions: Descriptions are often used in the search results below the clickable title. The description should provide additional relevant information that could not fit into the title. Both core and supporting keywords, along with a few related keywords should be used in the description, giving the searcher as much information as possible in a very short and succinct paragraph. Description should be 30-50 words in length.

October 05, 2006

Online Mistakes Are Costing You Big $

n SEO and SEM, time management is critical. Almost anybody in the industry will tell you that you can spend countless hours "tweaking" a website, looking at traffic analysis and conversion stats, and employing solid link building campaigns. These are all essential parts of a good SEO service but limits have to be placed on the amount of time you'll spend doing this for any one client.

Newer clients or those that are in obvious need for improvements can--and often do--have more time dedicated to each of the above, but you still have to budget your time effectively in order to prevent your profits from circling the drain. And this goes for every SEO, it doesn't matter how much you charge per hour!

The problem with time is that there are only a limited number of hours every day. I have the same 24 hours to use each day as Donald Trump and George W. Bush. When I go home after a full day of what feels like non-stop rushing to manage one client after another, I often think about how these guys must feel. They have vastly more responsibility than I, but still the same number of hours in which to get stuff done.

If I could have one wish, it would be to have more hours in the day and to require less sleep each night. OK, that's two wishes but I'd settle for either one of those--preferably the latter.

I often have clients ask me, "What more can we do to improve X". My response is almost always the same. There is plenty more that we can do, so long as you're willing to pay for it. Unfortunately, that ends the conversation for most clients. Heck, I don't mind providing a value added service every now and then; swapping images or giving advice on how to make a site more appealing to visitors. Conversions are an important part of the optimization process, but even time spent there has to be limited, unless the client has purchased an SEO package with an in depth conversion analysis service attached. Days can be spent analyzing data and improving a site for conversions and that kind of analysis simply can't come cheap.

When we put together our package pricing, we first figure the number of hours that are generally required each month to perform a task, ensuring that we’re able to create a successful end result. That’s our benchmark and we use it with the knowledge that clients will occasionally need more time spent each month on a task, and less time in other months.

Other things that have to be factored in is time spent that’s not the actual doing of the work, but communicating with the client or others about the project. Most don’t realize that this can add up to a significant amount of time, which is why many SEO firms limit the amount of “consultation time” that a client can receive each month. Pole Position Marketing doesn’t charge clients for consultation since we believe that this comes with the package. We do factor this into the pricing, realizing that some months there may be several hours spent consulting with a client, answering questions, or working out the details of the ongoing SEO campaign, while other months may be only a few. This is all taken into account.

When you consider that you have only 24 hours in a day, time management, regardless of your field, becomes one of the most important aspects of your professional and personal life. This may sound odd, but even when relaxing in my home; I’m monitoring my time. Why, because I want to make sure I get family time, chore time and even time for myself each day. Every bit of that is important for health, business and for your family as well.

There are many great books at there on time management, one easy read that comes to mind is the One Minute Manager, probably one of the most popular books on the subject of time management.

Finally, I would like to wrap this up with something that I believe came from John Maxwell, regarding the value of your time:

“To know the value of one year - Ask the student who failed their final.
To know the value of one month - ask the mother of a premature baby.
To know the value of one week - ask the editor of a weekly magazine.
To know the value of one day - ask the wager earner with six children.
To know the value of one hour - ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
To know the value of one minute - ask the person who missed the plane.
To know the value of one second - ask the person who survived the accident.
To know the value of one millisecond - ask the Olympic silver medalist.

About This Author
Stoney deGeyter is president of Pole Position Marketing (, a search optimization marketing firm providing SEO and website marketing services since 1998. Stoney is also a part-time instructor at Truckee Meadows Community College, as well as a moderator in the Small Business Ideas Forum. He is the author of his E-Marketing Performance eBook and contributes daily to the E-Marketing Performance ( marketing blog.

October 04, 2006

How to Convince a Client They Don't Need a Splash Page

Following up yesterday's article, How to Convince a Client their Site Doesn't Need Music, I decided to write a similar one about splash pages. Splash pages are the pages that the user sees before they actually get to a website; typically, they're flash and offer some kind of introductory animation. The user clicks "Skip Intro" or "Enter Site" and from there is taken to the site. Splash pages can also exist between pages on the same site. Clients love to request them and these are the arguments I use to shoot them down:

Search engines will spider the splash page instead of the real content
Search engines look at the text on a page to determine what the page is all about. If your page is entirely in flash or some other kind of multimedia, chances are the search engines won't be able to spider any text on it. This will result in both you not ranking for the terms you want and the spidered page having a description next to it in the search results that says something like "Click to Enter." Examples include: A search at Google for "Click to Enter" or "Skip Intro" reveals many sites that have non-descriptive text associated with them due to their use of splash pages. These results aren't likely to get clicks.

Client: "So use a flash intro but stuff text in the meta keywords tag"
Search engines stopped caring about meta keyword tags a long time ago--it's all about what's actually on the page now.

Client: "So use a flash intro but hide keywords in the page"
Search engines can figure this out and you can get banned for it.
From Google's Webmaster Guidelines:

Make pages for users, not for search engines. Don't deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as "cloaking."

Search engines won't be able to spider beyond the splash page
If your splash page is done entirely in flash or with some other kind of multimedia plugin, the search engines might be unable to spider your content and your content will be absent from the search results.

Straight from the horses mouth
I found a great quote on MarketingSherpa from Jared Spool of User Interface
Engineering at Macromedia. When asked, "Flash intros, good or bad?", this was his response:

When we have clients who are thinking about Flash splash pages, we tell them to go to their local supermarket and bring a mime with them. Have the mime stand in front of the supermarket, and, as each customer tries to enter, do a little show that lasts two minutes, welcoming them to the supermarket and trying to explain the bread is on aisle six and milk is on sale today.

Most users immediately click "skip intro"
Pretty much everyone I've spoken to on the subject of splash pages always admits to immediately clicking "skip intro" before watching the animation they're presented with. Newfangled did some digging into their access logs and had this to say about their findings:

The number one reason for getting rid of our splash page was that it turned away at least 25% of our site visitors, sometimes more. This percentage has actually been researched and it turns out that at least 25% of site visitors will immediately leave a site as soon as they see a “loading” message for a Flash splash screen (even if there’s a “skip intro” link). Our access logs confirmed this for us and this over all the other reasons caused us to get rid of it. The opportunity to “prove our creativity” was not worth the loss of such a high percentage of visitors.

Slower connections will have to wait for the page to load
Dialup users are basically screwed (SCREWED!), especially if the skip button isn't readily available.

"Click to Enter" is redundant
By visiting your site they've already agreed to enter, why do they have to do it again? It'd be like opening the door to a store only to find another door that says, "haha, just kidding. Open this door to enter for reals this time."

Minimizing steps
You want to minimize the number of steps involved in reaching your offerings. Having an extra click from a splash page does not align with this idea.

Content from the splash page can probably work inside the home page
Most of the time the splash page can be trimmed down and worked into the homepage of the site. This is an effective compromise with the client because they get to keep whatever idea they were trying to promote but aren't necessarily forcing it on the user. It also wraps the content from the splash page in a uniform navigation (which is good usability).
A great example of this is Adobe's website.

Uniform navigation - For The Win
Most splash pages don't have the same primary navigation as the rest of the site; some even drastically change the design when you go from the splash page to the real site. This is confusing to users who respond best to navigation that is persistent. Splash pages also enforce the idea that they are visiting two separate sites.

September 25, 2006

Rotating Google AdSense with Related Links?

Rotating Google AdSense with Related Links?: "Source:

A recent post on the Inside AdSense blog suggests running the Google Related Links publisher tool on your site and rotating it with Google AdSense. The basic theory behind the suggestion is that regular users of a site will naturally become attracted to the relevant video, news, and search content served via Google Related Links, and that by sometimes rotating in AdSense, one may benefit monetarily from that same space.

Shannon Bauman, Product Manager for Google Related Links, posts on Inside AdSense that “While Google Related Links don’t give you revenue directly, you can use them to keep your site fresh and interesting without any maintenance. Happy visitors mean repeat visits. And if you’re feeling especially creative, try alternating between Google ads and Google Related Links in a given space on your page. This will encourage people to look in that space for interesting dynamic content.”

Read more here...

Spread the word: bookmark it/ readit"

7 Components of a Well-Rounded SEO Program

7 Components of a Well-Rounded SEO Program: "Source:

How can you ensure the viability of your SEO program well into the future? How can you reduce the impact of search engine algorithm changes and enjoy long-term visibility and ranking?

The answer to both questions involves having a well-rounded SEO program.

Website owners who put too much emphasis on a single element of SEO are more vulnerable to changes in search engine algorithms. If you look at the history of search engine optimization, you'll see a pattern of this:

Back in the day, a lot of webmasters relied heavily on keyword tags to drive their visibility and ranking. But the search engines demoted the importance of the keyword tag, and many websites suffered as a result.

Link exchange networks are a more recent version of this scenario. Search engines are now devaluing links that are part of link farms and obvious reciprocation schemes. And once again, some websites are suffering from it.

But how is it that some websites coast right along, largely unaffected by search engine updates? What's the differenc"

Create Multiple Sites in Google Page Creator

Create Multiple Sites in Google Page Creator: "Source:

Google Page Creator is a free online tool that makes it easy for anyone to create and publish useful, attractive web pages in just minutes.

No technical knowledge required.
Build high-quality web pages without having to learn HTML or use complex software.

What you see is what you'll get.
Edit your pages right in your browser, seeing exactly how your finished product will look every step along the way.

Don't worry about hosting.
Your web pages will live on your own site at

Google Page Creator is a Google Labs project, and is still in an early testing phase. If you're interested in taking it for a test drive, login with your Gmail account to begin making pages.

Google Page Creator has a new feature: you can create up to five sites using a single account.

First, enable 'experimental features' in Site Settings. Then go to the page manager and click on 'Create a site with a different address', choose an address and"

Create Multiple Sites in Google Page Creator

Create Multiple Sites in Google Page Creator: "Source:

Google Page Creator is a free online tool that makes it easy for anyone to create and publish useful, attractive web pages in just minutes.

No technical knowledge required.
Build high-quality web pages without having to learn HTML or use complex software.

What you see is what you'll get.
Edit your pages right in your browser, seeing exactly how your finished product will look every step along the way.

Don't worry about hosting.
Your web pages will live on your own site at

Google Page Creator is a Google Labs project, and is still in an early testing phase. If you're interested in taking it for a test drive, login with your Gmail account to begin making pages.

Google Page Creator has a new feature: you can create up to five sites using a single account.

First, enable 'experimental features' in Site Settings. Then go to the page manager and click on 'Create a site with a different address', choose an address and"

Google AdSense Adds Small Square Ad Size

Google AdSense Adds Small Square Ad Size: "By: Loren Baker | Source:

Google AdSense has come out with a new sized ad unit, the 200 x 200 “Small Square.” The new Google AdSense ad size can run both text and image ads and may be large enough for some multimedia advertising. So new, in fact, that AdSense hasn't announced it yet, and it hasn't yet made it into their ad format page yet.

The 200×200 ad unit is called ‘Small Square’ and is available in both text and image ads, so it is very likely that they could also be utilizing them for videos as well.

You will find it in your AdSense control panel in the drop down menu when selecting your ad unit size for a new ad.

Spread the word: bookmark it/ readit"

Secrets to Beating the Sandbox 2.0 REVEALED: The Ultimate Guide

Secrets to Beating the Sandbox 2.0 REVEALED: The Ultimate Guide: "By Andy 'Organic-Is-My-Middle-Name' Hagans

The sandbox is no longer the pink elephant in the room. As webmasters, together we've cried about it, argued about it, and fretted over it. We've gone through the emotional steps, too; first there was grief (waah waah my site won't rank), then bargaining (I promise I won't spam if you un-sandbox me), anger (darn it, greedy Google just wants me to spend more at AdWords!), and finally, acceptance (OK, how do I beat it?).

Over a year ago, I wrote my Guide to Beating the Sandbox at WebmasterWorld (supporters forum). I think my post mostly stands the test of time, but there's a lot more that we know now, so I figured it's time for an update. I'm also going to try to make this guide as detailed as possible, because it seems the solution everyone (including me) constantly refers to is to build trust—without saying exactly how. So let's get short on theory, and long on details.

What is the sandbox? Does it really exist?"

August 18, 2006

Search the Top SEO News Websites from The SEO Blog :: Thank You Rollyo!

Search the Top SEO News Websites from The SEO Blog :: Thank You Rollyo!: "Now located on the right side of every page of The SEO Blog, StepForth has provided you with easy access to all of the latest and greatest SEO news! This is all thanks to a new search tool called Rollyo.

Rollyo is a new search tool that allows you to create your own 'searchroll'. A searchroll is essentially your own customized list of sites that you want to search. In other words, using Rollyo you can create a search option where your query is restricted to the sites you want to read.

'Search Other SEO News Resources Here'
I have to admit, I customized the Rollyo search code a bit. I changed the default search provided by Rollyo to allow users to search the 'Top SEO News' immediately. This search was customized by myself to search some of the most popular SEO blogs and SEO news sites such as Matt Cutts, the Official Google Blog, The Official Yahoo Blog, Jeremy Zawodny's Blog, and much more.

By providing this tool I hope tha"