Search Engine Rankings for Beginners

Search engine optimization is best left in the mystical land of the Intenet Marketing Guru right? Good Search engine rankings are tough to achieve. Understanding search engine marketing takes years of studying and only people with true insider knowledge and secret tools rank well in Google right? WRONG. Pure crap as a matter of fact. How to Use Public Speaking to Attract Clients?

Ranking well in the search engines is not difficult. In fact search engine optimization is relatively easy. What stops most people from ranking well in search engines is misinformation. Every week there’s yet another quick fix to ranking well in search engines and people jump from one quick fix to the next hoping for that Top 10 position in Google and never achieving it.

There are 6 key areas of search engine optimization that you need to know about. These are the basics. Getting these right will help you achieve the Google rankings that you’ve always wanted.

Domain Name – The jury is still out on the how relevant a keyword rich domain name is. What I mean by keyword rich domain name is say for example your site was going to be about money making ideas then an idea domain name could be either www.moneymakingideas.com or www.money-making-ideas.com. My own personal preference is with the hyphenated approach e.g. www.money-making-ideas.com simply because I believe that search engines can read it more easily. To registed your domain name I would suggest using either 000Domains.com or GoDaddy.com

Content – Useful content. Not keyword stuffed, spammy pages. Write something useful for your visitors. If you can’t write then you’ll need to learn. Turn Words Into Traffic is a great resource for learning how to write content and is a resource that I use personally. Turn Words Into Traffic gives you an A-Z on article writing – from a writers perspective. If you don’t want to learn how to write content then you could always use Create Website Content Fast to help you speed the process up.

Keywords – Keywords are the words or phrases that you expect people to search for your site/service/content with. There are two distinct factors to consider when choosing keywords for your site.

1. You need to target specific keywords. For example if you have a website about dating then you’ll probably find it quite difficult to achieve high search engine rankings initially with that single term. However if you were to refine an area of your site to target say Gay & Lesbian Dating that’s more specific. You could also regionalize your keywords or key phrases e.g. Gay & Lesbian dating in Toronto. This refining process is often referred to as niche (pronounced neech) marketing.

2. You need to choose the keywords that you want people to find your site with. Put yourself in your visitors shoes – think about what they might use to find you in the search engines. What keywords or key phrases would you type into a search engine to find your site? What keywords or key phrases would your potential visitor use to search for you? Always, always think like a typical websurfer.

If you’re interested in seeing what people are searching for on the web and how profitable that might be for you I would recommened that you check out Good Keywords. It’s free and does a wonderful job of helping you find good keywords 🙂

I would also suggest that you try Wordtracker also. It’s a brilliant service for tracking down specific, popular keywords.

Keyword density – This is how often your keyword is used on the the page itself. For example if you have 100 words of text on a single page and you mention your keyword 5 times then you have 5% keyword density.

Opinions vary on this but anywhere from 1% – 7% is considered ideal. If this doesn’t make sense to you then it’s ok. The simple rule is this: less is more. Do not alter the text on your webpages to include your keyword over and over again because………well…. it looks stupid, won’t instill any confidence in your prospective customer and might also get you penalized or removed from the search engines. Personal Property Trusts.

Page title – Your tag is critical to your page being ranked well. Stuffing your tag with keywords in the hope of ranking well is pointless. Your tag, once constructed properly, will see you moving up the search engine rankings quickly. Bear this simple fact in mind when building your websites and it will serve you well.

Links – Having good links pointing to your site and good links within your site (an often overlooked aspect of search engine optimization) is pretty important as far as search engine ranking goes. Having other sites linking to yours proves the importance of your site to the search engines i.e. if the content on your site is so valuable that other site owners want to link to it then it must be important.

META Tags – Meta tags are dead baby. Well not quite dead but they are only used as a point of reference for search engines. It’s a shame to see websites that have their META tags still stuffed with keywords. It’s pointless. Put your primary keywords in the Meta Keyword part of your webpage but apart from that don’t lose any sleep or waste any energy on them.

There’s not enough space in this article to explain all of the above in the detail that I’d love to. Also I’m not a search engine expert so some of the explanation is best left to those that I learned from (Sean Burns and Jay Stockwell take a bow please 🙂

Having learned the basics of search engine optimization and submission I have achieved Top 10 Rankings for all of my websites. It’s not hard to do this. It just takes work, a little patience and a little common sense.

Recommended reading: Rankings Revealed Microsite Miracles

The Little Search Engine That Could

Every content rich website needs its own search engine. There are many site search engines to choose from. But, is site search all you need?

My website, http://www.webdesignwisdom.com, was conceived as a web design and Internet marketing vortal. I wanted to put together a complete one-stop resource for aspiring Internet entrepreneurs. In order to maintain an index of such websites, it needed the ability to function as a true Internet search engine. I needed something that would allow site submission and spidering of websites.

I also needed a site search engine that could handle hundreds of pages on my site. And, I wanted a single search engine that could perform both the on and off-site tasks.

After looking into various options, I decided to give the Fluid Dynamics Search Engine (http://www.xav.com/scripts/search/) a try.

FDSE turned out to be the right choice. The installation was entirely automated from the xav website. Nothing could have been easier. Type in some information to allow access to the root directory and go. After installation, access a handy Admin Control Panel to configure your preferences, customize your pages, create realms, and spider websites of your choosing for adding to your index. You can even push search results from your site (or any domain you choose) to the top if you wish.

As with anything worthwhile, you’ll have to devote a little time to learning how to manage FDSE. It is fairly intuitive for a semi-technical person. Within a couple of hours I had figured out how to make FDSE do what I wanted it to do. How to get what you want from anyone by…Negotiating Without Giving Up One-Red Cent Of Your Hard-Earned Money.

Rather than try to explain all the features here, I suggest that you visit http://www.webdesignwisdom.com and try a few searches for yourself. You can do a site search from the little search box in the left navigation column or search the ebiz vortal directory from the *eBiz InfoSearch* page. Here you have the option of searching *This Site Only* or *[All]* sites in the index.

FDSE automated installation deploys the full-featured Shareware version. There isn’t any expiration date so you have ample time to learn to use it. Once you’ve decided that you want to keep FDSE you can elect to register it as the Freeware or the licensed version. At a one-time fee of $40.00 the full-featured licensed version is one of the Internet’s true *bargains*.

Find out more about FDSE and see the Admin Control Panel at http://www.xav.com/scripts/search/. The online help is quite adequate and should enable you to solve most problems without additional assistance.

FDSE is *the little search engine that could* do everything I wanted and needed for my first *vortal* website. It could be the search engine solution you’ve been looking for too.

Do You Make These Search Engine Positioning Mistakes?

Search Engine Positioning is the art of optimizing your web site so that it gets into a high position on the search engine results page whenever someone searches for keywords that relate to your products and services.

However, some people make basic mistakes while designing their web site and as a result, never make it to the top. Even if they work hard on it! Or may be waste a lot of money on useless tools and services. 

Do you make these mistakes too?

1. Designing a Frames-based web site

This one is the biggest loser of them all. Frames may make the job of maintaining a very big and complicated web site easy but search engine absolutely hate them. Most of the search engines cannot find out their way easily through them and end up indexing only the home page.

Now imagine this. One of your internal pages has been reported by the search engines and the user has clicked on it. What a mess! The page looks orphan without the outer frame and the navigation.

Lose your frames right away. You will start getting positive improvements the moment you redesign your site without frames.

2. Having an all-Flash or graphic-only home page

This is another classic mistake. Many designers design web site home pages like brochures. A beautiful cover which has to be opened to read. But on the Internet every click takes away some prospects. Did they click your ENTER button or the Back button?

You see, search engines need content to index. If you don’t have content on the home page but only a Flash movie or a big animated graphic, how will the search engine know what you deal in. And why will it give you a high enough ranking?

3.  Not having a good title 

What’s your title, Sir? 

A good title is an absolute must for getting a good search engine position and the most vital thing — the click-through. With the title, you are always walking a tightrope. You need a title with your most important keyword near the beginning but it should still appeal to the human reading the results.

Don’t, don’t stuff it with the keywords. How does this look to you —

Search engine position, search engine positioning, search engine ranking

If you saw this in the search engine results, will you click on this or you will prefer-

Top 10 Search engine positioning mistakes!

4.  Hosting your site with a FREE host

It takes away all your credibility. You want to do business from your web site. Right? And you can’t even afford a decent web hosting package. How do you expect your prospect to trust you? 

Most of the search engines do not spider web sites hosted on the free hosts. Even if they do, they rank them quite low. How many geocities web sites have you seen in the top 10?

Also, will you be comfortable buying your merchandise from someone who can’t even afford a small shop? And web site hosting is much cheaper!

Do you want your visitor to look at your message or look at the pop-up that your free web host popped over your site? How to Market The Daylights Out of Just About Anything Using the Dollars for Dimes Principle.

Go get a good web hosting package right away.

5.  Putting all links on Javascript

Google and many other search engines don’t read and process JavaScript. So if you have all your links on JavaScript only, Google is blind to them.

You must have at least one text-based link to all the pages that you want to link to. And the anchor text (the visible text on the site) should contain your important keywords, not “Click here”.

6.  Stuffing lots of keywords in the keywords tag

Do you have a keywords tag that lists all the words related to your product in a big long series? This is a certain recipe to invite negative points. 

While many search engines have already started to ignore keywords tag precisely because of this misuse, you should have the keywords tag for the search engines that still use them. It also serves as a reminder of the keywords that you are optimizing for. How to Put the Attainment of Your Desires on Automatic Pilot!

However, put only the 2-3 most important keywords in there. Here’s a quick test – don’t put any term in the keywords tag if it does not appear at least once on the body copy.

7.  Not having any outgoing links

Do you know why the Internet is called the Web? Because the web sites link to each other. If you are only having incoming links but don’t have any outbound links, it is not appreciated by the search engines as it violates the web-like structure of the Web.

Because some people try to conserve PageRank (a proprietary index used by Google to measure link popularity), they avoid having any outbound links. This is one big myth. You can get very good points if you have some outbound links with keyword-rich anchor text and preferably keyword-rich target URL also.

Of course, you should not turn your web page into a link-farm. There should be a few good links amidst some good content.

8.  Insisting on session variables and cookies to show information

Session variables are used extensively by ecommerce-enabled sites. This is to trace the path used by the visitor. Shopping cart and various other applications also benefit by using session variables. However it should be possible to visit the various information related and sales pages without needing to have session variables. 

Since you can’t put cookies on the search engine spiders, they can’t index your pages properly if the navigation requires cookies and session variables.

9. Regularly submitting your site to the search engines

“We will submit your site to the top 250,000 search engines every month for only $29.95.” Who has not seen these ads or received Spam with similar messages?

And which are those 250,000 search engines? There are only about 8-10 top search engines worth bothering about. And a handful of directories.

With most of the search engines, you only need to submit once to get spidered and then they will keep your listing fresh by crawling your site at regular intervals. All you need to do is to keep adding fresh content to your site and the search engines will absolutely love you. In fact, Google prefers to locate you through a link and not through the URL submission page.

For some sites like DMOZ, if you resubmit while you are waiting to be indexed, you entry is pushed to the end of the queue. So you can resubmit regularly and never get indexed 🙁

10.  Optimizing for more than 2 or 3 search terms

It is virtually impossible to optimize a page for more than 2-3 keywords without diluting everything. Don’t try to work on more than 3 phrases on one page. Split. 

Get similar phrases together and work on those in this page. Take 2 or 3 out of the other phrases and develop a new page with entirely new copy. Remember, you cannot just copy the same page and squeeze these new phrases in there. It will look very funny to the visitor.

The Death of Positioning?

I always get a bit nervous when I start talking about the less testable theories of marketing. I call this “touchy-feely” marketing. I’m a real “show me” kind of person, and I will rarely make a statement about marketing without having tested a theory on real products I’m selling myself. 

This is one exception. It would be quite difficult to test some of the ideas I’m about to put forth here. Nonetheless, it’s an important concept that will change the way you think about your web promotion efforts. 

For years it has been believed that for a product to succeed it must “position” itself properly in the mind of the consumer. 

Ries and Trout (the best known spokesmen of this theory) make 
a powerful case. They claim that the overall mass of information with which a consumer is bombarded every day makes it hard for him to remember any information at all. 

However, the way our brain categorizes and stores information helps to determine which of these bits of information are remembered. The Law of Primacy, for example, states that it is easier to remember the first of any list. 

For example, can you name the following: 

1. Your first kiss 

2. The first President of the United States 

3. Your first day in your current house 

4. Your first day at your last job 

Now, try to name your second kiss, the second President, the second day… Do you follow? It’s obviously much easier to remember the first. It almost goes without saying. 

According to Ries and Trout, this phenomenon accounts for the success of many of today’s continued successes. Coca-Cola, Levi-Straus, IBM…. These companies have a primary position in the minds of the consumer because they got there first. 

Now, there is more to it than that (there are a great many other psychological factors that affect the position of a product in one’s mind- see 1,001 Killer Internet Marketing Tactics for more details), but you get the general idea. This concept has been a decisive one in shaping the ad campaigns of the last 20 years. The only problem is, the whole field of marketing and advertising itself has been turned on its head by the Internet. The rules have changed. We have had the great privilege of witnessing a “paradigm shift”. 

A paradigm shift occurs when a new invention or discovery completely changes the way we look at the world. The Internet has not only caused a paradigm shift itself, but it is the catalyst of other paradigm shifts by increasing the rate at which we exchange information. So, we have to be willing to let go of certain beliefs when this occurs. 

The million dollar question is, is Positioning one of these concepts which we will have to discard? 

My answer is a resounding “no”, but there is a new concept that will greatly affect the importance positioning will play in determining who buys. The position of a product in one’s mind will always have a great impact on whether or not one chooses to purchase that product, but, I propose that on the Internet, there is one single factor that is of even greater importance:  

Timing 

This states that the marketer must deliver the Right Message to the Right Consumer at the Right Time. 

These days, when your average net consumer wants something, he wants it fast. For example, some time ago I was looking for a web host for one of our web sites (to protect those involved I won’t mention any names). For various reasons, we had to move and we had to move fast. I really didn’t want to have to spend a lot of time talking to prospective companies. I just wanted to get the site up and running on a new server so we didn’t lose traffic. An acquaintance linked me up with a company that reportedly could get the job done quickly and do it well. There were even a few things that bothered me about this company from the start, but I was assured all would be well. How to Get Your Inner Forces All Moving Toward the Same Goal!

I hate to admit it, but I’m just plain lazy. We decided to go with this particular company because of the Timing of the whole deal. At that time, this was more important than a company name. There were a number of big name companies that had a better Position in my mind, but that just didn’t matter. The decision was a mistake, for sure – one I will always regret – but, it is the decision I made at the time. This inferior company got my business because of timing. 

Now, if one of the big name companies had been there at the right time, there is almost no doubt in my mind that they would have received my business. But they weren’t. So, in this case, Timing was more important than Positioning. Loyal Readers or Subscribers?

If you spend a few moments thinking about this, you’ll surely find a few examples in your past experience where this theory has held true. 

Now, here are a few ways that you can apply this principle to your online business: 

1. Offer Speedy (If Not Instant) Fulfillment 

Have you ever had to make a decision between two similar products – one that could get it to you right away and another that would take a few days? Personally, I’ve chosen products of lower quality based on their delivery times. (OK, now you know. I’m lazy and impatient. But, you’d better love me. I *am* Joe Six-Pack.) Public Speaking Tips.

2. Find the Right Consumers in the right place 

There are places online where people ripe for your product are hanging out right now. Seek those places out and get your message there one way or another. An obvious example would be someone searching for your type of product on a search engine.  Or, perhaps you sell saddle-soap and there is a forum or newsgroup all about horse saddles. Maybe you offer rare books and you find someone that owns a newsletter dedicated to rare book finding. These are the places where you want to get your message seen. 

3. Create the Right Time 

Sometimes you get the Right Message to the Right Consumer, but at the wrong time. Maybe the consumer just isn’t ready to buy right now. That’s no problem. Create a sense of urgency by explaining what would happen if the consumer didn’t purchase your product today. What would they stand to lose? Do this and it will become clearer to them that the right time is now.

My 3 Must Use Secrets for Big Fat Subscriber Lists

1. Give the Subscriber a *Reason* to Subscribe 

Several psychological studies have demonstrated that giving someone a reason to comply to your request will greatly increase their chances of compliance. And the reason doesn’t even have to be good! Amazingly, just using the word “because” will increase your response. 

2. Really “Sell” the Content of Your Newsletter 

People don’t know whether your newsletter contains pure junk or gold. You could have the greatest, most informative newsletter in the world – if you don’t *tell* them, they will never know. 

Now, here’s the key. You don’t want to tell them yourself “my newsletter is the best”. No one will believe you. The best way to let people know how great you are is to have someone else tell them for you! 

You should get a testimonial or two about the content of your newsletter and use this to “sell” the content of your newsletter. 5 Reasons Why Your Site Needs to Publish a News Feed.

3. Provide an Incentive to Subscribe 

How many people offer a free newsletter? No one can know for sure, but I’ll tell you that the answer is: “too many”! 

What is *unique* about what you offer? If you tie your subscription into being able to access something unique, I promise your subscriber rate will go through the roof. 

Can you offer a free service? Can you offer a free download? A free (and unique!) report? Access to some exclusive information? 

Generate curiosity in your potential subscriber. People are inherently curious and it is painful when curiosity is not satisfied. Set it up so subscribing to your newsletter is the only thing they can do to satisfy that curiosity. 

Now, let’s put this all together. Here is an example of a “call to subscribe” you can use that puts all three principles together. Put this above your subscription form for one week and I predict your visitor-to-subscriber rate will *at least* triple: 

—— 

“~Newsletter Name~ is fantastic.

“It’s one of the very few newsletters I actually read every time.”
– Mark Joyner of ROIbot

Subscribe right now; because, for a limited time you will be given instant access to the powerful report: “My 3 ‘Must Use’ Secrets for Big Fat Subscriber Lists.” 

And you’ll get more great tips like this in each and every issue. SIXTY DAYS TO YOUR FIRST BARGAIN PURCHASE.

—— 

This should be enough to get you started. Sit down right now and brainstorm. Think of at least 5 ways you can apply these principles to your newsletter subscription process. Pick the best ones and apply them *today*.

Improve Your Link Popularity with Endorsements!

Do you know that link popularity of your website is a vital component of your search engine marketing campaign.

Search engines like Google lay great importance on your link popularity; the number of times your URL is referenced by other sites and web pages.

You can improve your website link popularity by giving endorsement to others products and service. Here is how you go about it – RSS: Grassroots Support Leads to Mass Appeal.

  1. Identify a product that will appeal to your target market.
  2. Buy it. If it is an ebook, read it thoroughly. If it is a product or service, use it thoroughly for the next few days.
  3. Keenly observe what are the special benefits it has provided you. May be a benefit that the seller has not mentioned. Did it help you earn some money? In How much time?
  4. Now prepare a short testimonial expressing how much you liked the product and how it helped you. Be specific like “Product X has helped me earn $347 within 3 days”. 

    Offer this testimonial to the site owner. Make it clear that he can use it on his website and other promotional material. Most of the site owners include your suggested web site URL. However you should specifically request them about this.

    See this example- “I will appreciate if you can also include my website address beneath my testimonial as a clickable URL.” 

How do you benefit?

You benefit by this endorsement scheme in several ways.

  1. This clickable URL will count as an incoming link to your website and improve your search engine ranking.
  2. You will receive some visitors who will click on your website URL out of curiosity, to learn more about you. 
  3. More people will know your name. This is a great credibility booster. When these people come to your website through any source, they will notice that your name is familiar to them and they will be more apt to read your sales messages.

How To Improve CTR Of Your Google Adwords.

As you are aware, Google Adwords is one of the most popular PPC avenues because of several features.

  • Low signup cost (only $5)
  • Instant activation of your account
  • Instant activation of your ad campaign
  • Provision to set daily spending limits

As the Click-Through-Rate (CTR) goes up, your ad position improves and Cost-Per-Click (CPC) goes down. This really puts Google Adwords in a different league. 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Analyzing a Deal.

Here are some simple tips to improve your CTR —

1) Specific matching along with broad matching

Generally when you want to advertise for, say, online dating, you put online dating in the keywords list. I suggest that you all of these in the keywords list –

  • [online dating]
  • “online dating”
  • online dating

This way, when a searcher types just online dating, the click is credited to the 1st keyword. If the searcher types a keyphrase including online dating in that order but as part of a bigger term like free online dating, it is credited to the 2nd keyword. Are You A Senior Person? Check Out – You May Qualify For The Useful VA Loans. And if both online and dating are present but not together and in that order, like online singles dating, it is credited to the 3rd keyword.

This improves the CTR for certain specific keywords and helps to lower your CPC and also improves your ad position.

2) Use a variable title

Did you know that your clickthrough rate (CTR) goes up when the searcher sees his keywords (that he searched for) in your ad? This is because Google shows these words in bold.

But you don’t know what term this searcher has used. So how can you put the term in the title? Try this.

Put this string in the title field on the Adwords screen –

{KeyWord: Default Title} where you replace “Default Title” with a suitable text. Now Google will show the search term as the ad title if the searched term fits within the 25 character limit and your default title if the search term won’t fit.

Example – say you use {KeyWord: OnlineDating} as the title and dating as the keyword.

If someone searches for dating help, the shown title will be Dating Help. However if one searches for free online dating resources, Google will show Online Dating because the search term won’t fit in the title space (25 characters).

Did you notice the capitalization? If you use Keyword, then only the first word would be capitalized. If you use keyword, all the letters will be in small case.

This tip alone can boost your CTR by 157% or more.

3) Variable destination URL

Did you know that Google now allows variable destination URLs? Why do you need that? Variable destination URL can help you identify the terms that the searchers are using and you can alter your page content to suit those terms for a much better conversion.

Let’s see the syntax to get the search term in the destination URL —

Here we are sending the searcher to a PHP program (you can use a Perl program also), which then stores the terms in a database for easy analysis. You can plan for yourself how you want to put this information to your advantage.

Frankly this tip does not increase your clickthrough rate directly but once you know what the searches were searching for, when they arrived at your site, you can change your message for a much better response.

Google’s Endless Summer.

A recent tour of Google headquarters (Aug. 13), and a highly cordial meeting with staff responsible for their advertising programs, offered me palpable confirmation: This is a young company on top of the world but taking nothing for granted. The Googlers’ enthusiastic hosting of that evening’s Google Dance bash, enjoyed by hundreds of attendees of the Search Engine Strategies conference, ranked Google high on life’s intangibles, as well.

In a previous article I polled some industry watchers in attempt to figure out why this Google thing just kept on happening. Some pointed directly to the technology, others argued in favor of timing, still others claimed it was the clean home page and singular focus that made Google a hit.

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Fast forward precisely one year. Mainstream publications like Fortune magazine (in a glossy reprint that Googlers were handing out at the conference) are now singing Google’s praises louder than ever. The head-scratching analysis (and over-analysis) hasn’t abated. Fortune made much of the server hardware advantage underlying Google’s success – a point that’s been made before, but one that continues to capture observers’ imagination perhaps to an excessive degree (but like the phony eBay Pez Dispenser tale, it’s been an important part of developing a lore). And we’re now seeing more media talk about search engine business strategy, even if Google’s mathematicians and engineers mainly just wanted to create a cool product that worked fast.


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the media’s love affair with Google has been bemusing to watch; each writer seems to see in Google what they want to see. The major financial press wait impatiently for an IPO; Wired writes (less than a year ago) that Google is “geek-beloved” (hey, it’s not just for geeks anymore) and rails against Google’s supposed mishandling of its acquisition of the Usenet archive from Deja – a temporary controversy if there ever was one.


Sometimes one really can overthink things. Although usability studies have been at the foundation of many of Google’s more recent user-interface refinements (as they have been at companies like Yahoo! and Terry Lycos), as Marissa Mayer of Google pointed out in her talk at the SES conference, the initial clean look was simply the result of one of the Google co-founders’ conviction that “we’re not web designers and I don’t do HTML.”


As for technology, no question, Google has a great search engine. At the same time, they’re not the only ones who do. And the serious shortcomings in its offerings in the not-so-distant past – such as the inability to properly search phrases – might have been enough to sink a less-charmed ship. We’ve already been over the terrain before: AltaVista’s Raging Search, a direct attempt to compete with Google’s clean look and feel, could have triumphed in a different set of circumstances. AV had just burned too many chances, and its attempts to reinvigorate its search focus didn’t make a dent in the marketplace.


The endless search for the causes of Google’s success may be an exercise in hyper-rationality. For all I know, it’s witchcraft.


The current business successes of Google are undeniable. It’s managing to make a buck while maintaining the integrity of its search index. Very early on into the ramp-up of its AdWords Select and Premium Sponsorship programs (to go alongside other revenue streams from enterprise search), Google is reportedly profitable and making better revenues than eBay was at a similar stage of development. July’s comScore Media Metrix report of US Internet usage puts Google at a shocking #4, behind only the three major portals AOL, MSN, and Yahoo, and ahead of Terra Lycos (and everybody else).


With profitability and ownership of a massive daily user base comes a measure of autonomy. The usual suspects in the financial media can’t smugly micromanage a profitable privately-held technology company that can delay going public as long as it wishes. Google is not betting the entire farm on selling its search technology or keyword-based advertising results to portal partners, since, in the worst-case scenario, Google can fall back on monetizing its own heavy traffic.

How to Protect Yourself in Lease Options?
Working at Google (as with many ultra-youthful Internet startups, most of whose day seems to have come and gone) is surely a singular experience. Brightly colored exercise balls, lava lamps, and goofy cereal dispensers are just the beginning. As employee #149 (an oldtimer as the headcount approaches 500) shows us around a bit more, we get to see various wacky-but-factual meters, charts, and prototypes all chronicling some aspect of Google’s past or current performance. We hustle past the legal department (“not that interesting”) and the finance department (“not that interesting, either”). In the parlance of organizational sociology, the company’s dominant coalition is engineers, with a significant and fast-growing add-on, the advertising salespeople, business development personnel, and the customer support reps whose job it is to keep advertisers happy. Inevitably, the organizational culture will shift to better achieve revenue targets, but it seems improbable that the place will become top-heavy with management. So far, it’s working.


One of the founders’ offices shows further evidence of “street cred” lurking in the bowels of America’s #4 web property: a wastebasket filled with worn-down hockey sticks suitable for street hockey or perhaps roller hockey. One Googler wears an oversized white hockey jersey with a big Google logo on it. Hmm, just enough Canadiana there to whet my whistle, but without the lousy winters. I start mentally calculating the cost-benefit of relocating. I’d have to start cheering for the San Jose Sharks. More frequent visits, at least, I decide.


New recruits don’t take it for granted. One paused when it was remarked that his shot at being hired was probably 500 to 1 at best. He thought about that, and suddenly two months ago seemed like an eternity ago to him, even if the pay here for entry-level jobs can’t be that great. “This sure beats where I was when I applied for this job: unemployment… and starving.” Like any other job. Except this one’s at Google, Inc.


The much-vaunted integration of work and play in the working lives of employees at companies like Google seems to defy conventional management thinking. Surely more money and the development of world-beating technology mean more work, and less play? Isn’t this a market economy, where everything has its price – an economy in which there are *trade-offs* and disastrous consequences for those who think they can have it all? Won’t Google get eaten alive eventually by a more sober, rational, sane competitor who eats her cereal at home? Is one late-forties CEO really enough adult supervision to keep this bunch focused? Didn’t someone say that they don’t even *have* a CFO?

Painless Presentations.
Not so long ago I was teaching a university course in public policy wherein the authors of a piece on unorthodox management and decision-making models used Apple as an example of a company whose innovations never would have happened unless play was incorporated into the founders’ daily work. People tend not to buy into these kinds of ideas when they hear them for the first time. Parents who have saved every time to send their kids to a good school don’t want their future management material learning that play is good. A few students nearly dropped my course that week, all because of that article. Much of the world is still eager to sign on with an established bureaucracy.

3 Secrets for Closing the Sale.
One thing’s certain – once a person gets used to thinking beyond and around tradeoffs, it’s tough to go back. Unorthodox ways of working shouldn’t be seen as *causes* of Google’s success any more than any other single causal factor, like red exercise balls, powerful server hardware, or, for that matter, youth. But they certainly seem to be a good fit for now.


If youth were the cause of Google’s success, what might that say about the future? As one industry veteran remarked, most everyone at Google seems to be in their twenties, whereas LookSmart’s core group are in their thirties and AltaVista’s perhaps even older than that. Does this mean Google will become the victim of a “life cycle?” Will 2002 be fondly remembered as the high point, the day in the sun? When will Googlers start looking as tired as the rest of us feel?

Nothing is Secret Anymore!”- The Confessions of a Millionaire Information Broker.
Why try to write history while there is still so much future left? And just a little bit of summer left, we hope.

Differentiation Can Be Brutal in the Web Search Business.

“Search engine positioning” is no easy feat – even if you *are* a search engine, it seems. So how are the engines positioning *themselves*?

Along with the unauthorized biography of Jerry Seinfeld, my holiday fun reading was a business book: Differentiate or Die by Trout and Rivkin. Suddenly, the laws of positioning rule my daily thoughts.

As the authors hilariously recite, in the old days, advertising gurus would lament the lameness of sales copy. But in those days, in spite of many mistakes being made, at least they were trying to sell something. Today’s vexing branding campaigns appear to actually dissuade the viewer from thinking about the product or the company. How’s this slogan for a great use of an airline’s advertising dollars? “Welcome Aboard. Really.” (That was somebody’s advertising slogan. Really.)

So many companies go so wrong by ignoring the fundamental principles of positioning; primary amongst them being the fact that there is only so much space in the consumer’s fried brain. You can’t occupy valuable mindshare by simply *saying* something unique, though. You’ve got to *have* something unique. Your product needs to be something different, and your company needs to walk the walk on a consistent basis.

I’m sure you can think of many examples of fuzzy positioning and poor communications, and just as many that seem to almost uncannily “get it.” I watched with some awe when Honda rolled out a campaign with race car driver Jacques Villeneuve zooming around in a plain old Honda Civic and then saying seriously: “Inside every Honda, there’s a Honda engine.” Honda engines have a great reputation amongst knowledgeable drivers and automotive writers. Why not leverage that, and remind people that it’s the engine that makes the car go, not the leasing options or the keyless remote entry? Honda has the right idea.

It’s true that your product doesn’t necessarily have to embody the qualities that you associate it with any better than your competitor’s products, particularly if you’re the leader. AOL’s “It’s so easy to use, no wonder it’s #1” is believed by many of its users, even though most non-users would dispute the claim of “ease of use.” The point is, AOL as the “Internet with training wheels” has always had a clear identity. The ads show ordinary-looking people sitting around kitchen tables talking about things AOL lets them do online. The ease-of-use, family-appropriate theme is never confusing, always the same. For their customers, there is not only a tangible monetary and time cost to switching, there’s also a mental price to be paid for even thinking about it. That mental price is yet steeper when you’re a self-professed novice.

You can get addicted to thinking about positioning. Welch’s grape juice has been a favorite of mine for years. Last year, they reformulated their concentrated juice so that it became a “drink” – replacing much of the natural juice with sugar and fake stuff. I’ve since discovered that a company called Black River actually makes juice that tastes so much like real juice, it’s like being inside the grape. I’m willing to bet Welch’s loses market share with its me-too “drink,” since all companies like Black River have to say is: “Black River juice. It’s actually juice. Juice. Really.” Imagine leaving a hole in your market by allowing a small competitor the chance to claim it’s *actually delivering* to consumers what you *used to* deliver before you decided to pull the wool over your customers’ eyes. Like we aren’t going to notice? Imagine if winemakers tried that stunt. “Chateau de Piffle: We decided to make it with dandelions, but to appease you, we’ve doubled the alcohol content.”

In any case, the search industry isn’t exempt from the laws of positioning. Consumers only have so much memory. There are a lot of ways to lose in this business. It’s brutal.

Here’s a review of current and past contenders for mindshare supremacy in the web search business, and what they might say if asked for a brief positioning statement.

AltaVista: “Once, we were the world’s leading search engine. Then we were a portal. Now, we’re yesterday’s search engine.” In a world where what’s next matters most, this spells D-O-O-M. They have an enterprise business, to be sure, but one wonders if even that can survive given the FUD that is spreading about the company’s commitment. We suspect that it would be better for AV to scatter its ashes and make way for a regrowth of something fresh and hot.

Ask Jeeves: “Ask a question, get an answer.” Unfortunately the technology didn’t work as advertised, and it has been beefed up with the recently-acquired Teoma, which has great technology but too closely resembles the category leader, Google. Long term result: fuzzy branding, lack of differentiation. Selling Jeeves merchandise doesn’t help the company’s focus any, either.

Hotbot: “We used to be the hottest, coolest, search engine on the net. A long, long time ago. Then, we became best known for serving stale Inktomi results and as one of the only places to submit free to the Inktomi index, until Ink stopped accepting free submissions. More recently, we shut down the old site and created this quirky metasearch engine to help Inktomi get some press so it could get bought out by Yahoo. Now we’re stuck with this cool little site that no one will use. Much like the old Hotbot.”

Prediction: after an initial bout of tire-kicking, Hotbot will be used by experts and insiders, not consumers. Gary Price (a research expert) loves it, for example. That’s a great start, and it’s good to impress the experts. But that does not always translate into consumer adoption. The new Hotbot is cool, but it won’t be hot. They’ll try to make it so, however, with a $1 million ad campaign with the tagline “More Search. More Engine.”

Truth in advertising wouldn’t have worked. Then they would have had to say: “Somebody else’s search. Somebody else’s engine.” Ouch.

Inktomi: “We’ve always been one of the biggest and best indexes and have been through various generations of relevance ranking technology. Our differentiator was that we sold ourselves not to consumers, but to portal partners. We now work for Yahoo.”

We’ll be watching very closely to see if post-acquisition “blahs” water down the quality of Inktomi-powered Yahoo Search. One good thing about being acquired and having no hope of selling your product to your acquirer’s competitors: no need to differentiate, since it’s Yahoo’s overall navigational experience and product lineup that now takes center stage, while Inktomi quietly powers one part of that. Inktomi has this “keeping quiet” strategy pretty well figured out. So much so that they nearly went belly up.

Metacrawler: “We do metasearch. In fact, the brand name Metacrawler has become something of a generic term for metasearch.”

You can’t argue with that, so long as they continue to do what they say and don’t water it down with too many undifferentiated paid results. Metasearch users really want metasearch. To do this, there need to be enough reputable search sources to actually perform a metasearch on. This is a great brand that hangs in the balance. It would do best by staying the course, and focusing on “being” metasearch. That means keeping an eye out for product features that might generate industry buzz, and in general, continuing to be “metasearch geeks.” If the metasearch leader can’t act as an advocate for metasearch, no one else is going to do it. Fortunately for metacrawler, Hotbot is spending $1 million on a fancy Hill Holliday ad campaign to do just this. Metacrawler should wait until the dust settles, then come back and remind users just who “invented” metasearch. Might not even take a million bucks to do it.

Dogpile: “Look at this big, fun pile of stuff!”

Another metasearch engine – this one aims at novices. Today, many of those novices – even the AOL gang – like Google, but still fail to truly appreciate or understand metasearch. No matter. What’s important is that they seem to like it. “If you can’t find it here, you can’t find it” they say. These users believe the proposition and remember the name of the product. It’s not going to take over the world, but it’s going to hold its own as long as there is a crowd of people who can appreciate a non-technical explanation of why metasearch is useful. Woof woof woof. That means “we’re connecting now with the consumers Hotbot hopes it can find.”

Excite Search, Webcrawler: “We’re old brands that Infospace now serves ads on.” Strictly short term stuff. There really is such a thing as too much ad-laden metasearch, believe it or not. Even if you take away some of the ads, what’s the difference? Can you see a difference? No one has cared about Webcrawler for ten years. 5 Reasons Why Your Site Needs to Publish a News Feed.

Direct Hit: Special mention is warranted, since “popularity engine” was a unique category that caught the fancy of many users. Unfortunately the technology didn’t work too well, and what’s left of it, after the bloated $500 million (all stock, whose value promptly plunged 95%) Ask Jeeves acquisition, has been integrated into Teoma, which powers Ask Jeeves. Good little boost for Teoma… if Teoma can ever grab some market share under the wing of Ask Jeeves, which seems improbable. There are all too many stories like this. Unique stories that were overhyped and then, underhyped. At the market bottom many got shut down. The “popularity engine” concept is alive and well in several places. It will peek its head out again someday in a pure play or two.

Needless to say, these are the types of things only a leader can say. People love the product. They equate the product (Google) with the category (search). This can last a long time if there is sufficient homage paid to what got them here in the first place. So far, so good. RSS Feeds.

Google: “We’re #1. We lead the planet in the number of search queries served, and we’re the #4 web site in the world, trailing only the top three portals in traffic. Our product is indispensable. We have been first and best in various aspects of the delivery of search engine results, and have implemented our revenue model without disrupting that bread and butter. People even marvel at how fast the search engine is. People just love the product.”

I do worry that Google will indeed knock itself out of its own advantageous position. Having stumbled into the clean, search-only site design, Google’s “keep it simple, stupid” message was what pulled people in (it was only later that these users appreciated the sophistication of the technology). Benefits to RSS Feeds… That simplicity was so important to Google’s success, others tried in vain to copy it (AltaVista’s Raging Search, for example). Today, Google is branching out into a few other things. Unlike the AltaVista portal folly, though, Google’s multiple priorities – Usenet search, news search, image search, shopping search, etc. – all do involve its core competency, which is search. I really did not like it when they started monkeying with Google Answers, the research-on-demand service. It’s all too easy for smart people like these Googlers to get bored and lose track. Hopefully some seasoned management types will save the smart people from themselves.

100Hot: Remember that one? Acquired by Go2Net, then left to die on the vine. Kind of like a mini-Alexa or mini-Media-Metrix thing, except they gave up on making it work and just made it into the same old thing, a listing of a bunch of sites paying for placement. Advertising in itself is not a search engine. Never has been. Another sad story. A technology that the end user apparently cared more about than its inventors did.

FAST Search: “We’re #3, and we supply search results to the #4 portal.”

Good enough? Relatively speaking, not bad. But not an entirely enviable position to be in. Product differentiation efforts have more or less failed to make the desired impact, as the main competition, Inktomi, Altavista, and Google, can leapfrog FAST in the product department, at least as far as consumers are concerned. At the same time, now that Inktomi is Yahoo’s property, FAST becomes a sort-of-#2 contender and possible successor to Inktomi as the MSN supplier. And they become a minor threat if and when the AOL-Google partnership comes up for renewal.

FAST’s early potential differentiator, speed, is a non-factor since Google is probably faster.

We’d recommend that FAST continue to pursue a “we’re #2 so we try harder” type of image. If they are going to come out with product features, they must be features that Google can’t match or beat (most of the hype we’ve seen so far from FAST has been equaled by others shortly afterwards… remember, I’m not talking about industry insiders who may see subtle differences, I’m talking about what consumers need and want out of a search tool). If FAST intends to take a lead in news search, for example, it’ll need to do more than tweak. (Otherwise, Google, Moreover, and Altavista, to say nothing of well-managed portals, can kick their butt from a consumer-recognition standpoint.)

In the meantime, custom work for the enterprise sector is a nice honest living to supplement the consumer side. How to Protect Yourself in Lease Options?

And last, but not least:

Library of Congress “Explore the Web” page: “We’re the frickin Library of Congress.”

It coulda been a contender. Really.

A Down and Dirty Guide to Search Engine Positioning.

I’ve been asked here to sum up what everyone should know about search engine positioning. 

First, two caveats: 

1) Search Engine Positioning is only a tiny part of the big Internet Marketing picture. It takes time and there are other things that will pay off far more in the long run.  /public-speaking-tips

2) This is a gross simplification of the whole process.

With that said, let’s dive in. 

1. This discussion will focus on spider engines. That is, an engine that goes to your site and indexes you based on what it finds. Directories are a whole ‘nother ball game (which we will address in another article). Good examples of spiders are: Infoseek, Excite, and AltaVista.

2. Every search engine is different. You need to learn the “algorithm” (set of rules) used by each engine to rank pages. An algorithm is a set of rules.

3. These algorithms change constantly. This is why tips like “put 3 % of your target keyword in your title tag” are probably worthless by the time you hear them.

4. The only reliable way to learn a sites algorithm is to analyze actual results of a search on that engine. This must be done using a reliable keyword density analyzer. This tool will show you the weight of particular keywords in high ranking documents. You then simply reproduce this weight in your document to attempt to reproduce the results. Any advice you find that did not come from an actual analysis is probably smoke and mirrors. This method is very reliable. There are a few other factors that will affect rank that can not be measured this way (link popularity, spam filtering etc.), but keyword density is the easiest to measure and most reliable factor. 

Here is the only keyword density analyzer that I use.

5. You should not only be concerned with the rank of your listing, but with the way it appears in the engine as well. If your listing is #1, but looks like a bunch of junk (try a search right now and you’ll see what I mean), it will be a waste of your time. The appearance of your listing depends on two of three things: 

a) your title tag e.g. <title>title here</title> 

b) your description tag <meta name=”description” content=”description here like this”> (applies to some engines – all others use the following)

c) the first 250 words (or so) of visible text on your site on your site

“A” above is what the engine links to your page.B or C are used as descriptive text for your link.You must balance your work on these tags. That is, sometimes what gets you a high rank will not make for an enticing listing. Remember that your title is most important. Think of it as a headline for an ad. 

6. No software in itself is going to get you a high position on a search engine. Period. There are many software products claiming to get you a higher position on the web. For the most part, save your money. There are really only two programs you need (and you may not even need them): 

a) A keyword density analyzer. You don’t really need this if you have some other tool that will allow you to analyze the relative mathematical composition of any text. If what I just said flew over your head, a keyword density analyzer is for you. Again, here is the only one I use.

b) A site submitter. You don’t really need one of these, either, if you are strictly focusing on a high position in the spider engines. You can probably submit these pages one by one just as easily since the process of gaining a high rank is a surgical one. However, if you need to submit many pages at once (if you do it will save time), or you want to submit to other types of sites (most submitters submit to over 900 sites and spider engines account for about 12 of those), then it is a good idea to get some software that will automate this task for you. We’ve developed a powerful multi-use tool that will spider all of your pages and submit each of them to all known spider engines (it has about 20 other functions as well – all of them key). You can check that out out right here

There is, of course, much more to it than I have listed here, but this information will get you started on the right track.