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From: chronicles 
Subject: IMC! Search Engine Tools and Rules
Date: Thursday, March 18, 1999 6:06 AM

The Internet Marketing Chronicles

Issue 139 -- March 17, 1999

IMC is published on Wednesdays and distributed to over 60,000 Internet
marketers and webmasters who've asked to receive it.


1. EDITORIAL: Search Engine Tools and Rules
2. FEATURE ARTICLE: Optimizing Your Site For Search Engines
5. GUEST ARTICLE: Search Engine Tips
6. FEEDBACKS AND TYPEBACKS: The Subscribers' Section
1. EDITORIAL: Search Engine Tools and Rules

The big talk these days on the Web is about search engines.
Enjoying a top position is certainly the optimal goal for most
site owners. But while they are the Internet marketer's easiest
tools for creating traffic, search engines should never be
considered as tools on their own -- like the yellow pages, they
are only support systems and not full-blown marketing media.

However, it would be unfair to omit at this point that search
engines do have their place and therefore should not be
discounted. But even the search engines themselves are 
slowly redefining that place in similar ways -- they too 
are now starting to realize the need to find other, more 
targeted means of traffic generation.

Last week's editorial, "A Web Site Can't Live On Search Engines
Alone," alluded to the fact that there are more effective ways of
creating traffic. As we approach a more hypercompetitive
marketplace, a prevalent trend is in "niche" or offline target
marketing to build a stronger online presence. Many Internet
marketers have also used direct mail marketing (such as with
"card decks," postcards, even coupon envelope packs) to
successfully increase visitors to their sites.

For instance, coupon envelope packs are usually mixed-and-matched
to meet specific demographic requirements. While they mostly
operate offline, new mediums such as subscriber-based e-mail
coupons and Internet "coupon-on-demand" services (such as help Web sites approach far better, more
highly targeted markets. 

In the same way, more and more search engines are fusing their
online and offline marketing efforts in order to target their
potential visitors more effectively. In fact, they are
recognizing firms such as ValPak and Money Mailer; firms that
offer specific targeted marketing information and tools that make
it easy for advertisers to find their best advertising clients.
According to Money Mailer, "In 1996 alone, direct mail generated
$35 billion in sales. And over the past 16 years, direct mail has
grown an astounding 232%."

Consequently, Yahoo! has recently joined the offline traffic
generation bandwagon by teaming up with ValPak, the coupon 
pack direct mailer giant. Called "YahooCoupons!" (see, visitors simply enter their zip code
in order to receive a panoply of special offers that one can
print, cut out, and redeem in their area let alone their area of

This type of partnership is surely not alone. The face of the Web
has drastically changed since Jeff Mallett, Yahoo!'s president
and the mastermind behind the recent merge, joined the popular
engine in 1995. According to CNET's Jim Hu (,
"In 1995, the (Web) was defined by a handful of search engines
run by Stanford grads. While the jury was still out on whether
(they) would work, the fact remained that they had the ability to
attract hoards of Netizens."

Hu continues: "Since then, (...) Excite, Lycos, and Infoseek have
become some of the most desirable properties on the Web, with
offline media giants and broadband companies taking stakes or
partnering with them to create the Net properties of the future."
Therefore, search engines will play an even greater role as time
goes on, not only as support systems but also as excellent
marketing models for smaller online businesses, which thrive
primarily on "niche" and targeted marketing as well.

Nevertheless, while search engine placement is indeed more of 
an art than it is a science let alone a process, in this issue we
will attempt to demystify them by providing some basic rules to
follow. Our first article centers around key elements for search
engine preparation and the second article, by guest author David
Silverman of PrimeTime Internet Services, offers some search
engine "back-to-basics" guidelines.

Michel Fortin, Ph.D.
Editor of the Internet Marketing Chronicles


2. FEATURE ARTICLE: Optimizing Your Site For Search Engines

There's a pretty good chance that we can save you literally
hundreds or thousands of hours worth of research, work, and
frustration when it comes to search engines - and using them to
promote your site. You see, in terms of marketing effectiveness
search engines are highly over rated. And most marketers pay 
them too much attention. 

The absolute truth of the matter is that for most online
businesses, search engines are definitely not the most effective
way to promote a web site. In fact, depending primarily on the
products and services you're marketing they can be almost

Don't take that the wrong way, many targeted prospects discover
our web sites at the major search engines. And we'll show you how
to profit from them too. But before we do, you need to know the
truth about search engines - and how they should fit into your
overall Internet marketing strategy. It's quite possible that
they won't be a top priority, because search engines are just one
little part of a much larger picture.

No doubt you've heard search engine fanatics shouting things
like, "90% of your traffic will come from search engines!" Well
guess what? That's total BS. The only way that 90% of your
traffic will come from search engines is if you listen to these
people, and do nothing to promote your site but submit to search
engines all day long.

It's a proven fact that most searchers rarely look past the top
ten or twenty listings, so to begin with you need a really good
ranking in order to generate a decent number of visitors from
search engines. This presents the first big problem with relying
on them for web site traffic - the competition can be extremely

If you're targeting a small niche market competition may not be a
big problem. With a modest amount of effort you may find that
your web sites get listed in the top ten or twenty positions at
the major search engines, generally because there aren't 50,000
other marketers to compete with. But what if your market is a
little bigger?

It's a classic Catch-22 really. As the number of web surfers
searching for a particular keyword or keyword phrase increases,
so does the competition for their attention.

If your intention is to attract web surfers who are searching for
things like "software," "gifts," "games," "chat," "jobs,"
"music," "free stuff," or any other popular topics, you need to
realize that you'll be competing with thousands of other Internet
marketers for just a few top rankings. After all, how many "Top
20" listings can there be?

To make matters worse, search engines don't all rank web pages
the same way. In fact they are all quite different. Here are 
just a few examples...

Using proper meta tags in your pages will normally give your
ranking a boost on HotBot and Infoseek, but not on any of the
other search engines.

AltaVista, Infoseek, and Lycos will index image "alt" tags which
can affect the way your page is ranked, but the rest of the
search engines don't.

Search engines like AltaVista and Infoseek are case-sensitive,
but Excite, Lycos and Webcrawler are not case-sensitive.
And Hotbot is somewhere in between.

Most search engines make use of "stop words," which are common words such as "internet" or "web" that are ignored in searches.
But Infoseek doesn't use "stop words."

Infoseek and Lycos use "stemming" which means that a search for
"swim" might also turn up "swimmer" or "swimming." But not on the
others it won't. 

Excite, Infoseek, Lycos, and Web Crawler will give your ranking a
boost if lots of other sites link to yours - but AltaVista and
HotBot will not.

Things like meta refresh tags and invisible text will result in a
lower ranking on AltaVista, but Excite doesn't seem to care. The
rest have mixed feelings.

Each search engine places a different priority on each of the
criteria used to rank web pages, and they change their priorities
and procedures often. 

And that's just the beginning. After all of your hard work trying
to get everything right, a page that you manage to get into the
famed "Top 10" on Infoseek might be listed #100 on AltaVista -
and a listing in the 100th spot is almost worthless. 

The bottom line is that in order to achieve a high ranking on
each of the major search engines, you'll need to create a
separate web page that is optimized for each. If there are five
keywords or keyword phrases that you're targeting, you're looking
at creating and maintaining at least thirty different versions of
one web page.

Is it worth the time and effort? If you're promoting an adult
site it might be, because "sex" is the most popular search term
with millions of queries per day. But if you're selling anything
else there are more effective ways to spend your time -
especially if yours is a small business with just a few 
employees who are already overworked. 

And that's only half of the story. An even bigger problem with
search engines is that unless you're dealing with a really
popular theme, you just won't get that many visitors from them.
Even with a favorable "Top 10" listing at all of the major search
engines, most businesses will not receive enough traffic to
generate significant profits.

We're talking about daily visitor counts in the five-figure or
higher range - the kind of web site traffic that 99% of
businesses just can't get from the search engines.

For now, stick to basic web page optimization strategies that
everyone should take advantage of while designing a web site.
Then, as you go along you'll need to decide how important search
engine rankings are to you and your business. Remember, your 
time is limited and you need to spend it wisely.

--------------- Condensed from the IMC Private Web Site ---------------

Why reinvent the wheel, wasting time and money going it alone?
The highly-successful Internet marketers behind this newsletter
have spilled their guts at a new private web site. Click now
for instant access:
5. GUEST ARTICLE: Search Engine Tips

Search engines are cracking down and penalizing Web site owners
for violating their terms of submission. We have outlined below
several important factors that should be taken into account when
designing and/or submitting your Web site.

1)  Make sure to use keywords that only apply to your Web site.
2)  Do not repeat the same keyword consecutively on your page.
3)  Limit the amount of doorway pages.
4)  Avoid having your pages listed under the same keyword.
5)  Do not submit all your pages at once.
6)  If using repeated keywords, limit them to 3-7 times.
7)  Use longer titles with important keywords.
8)  Frequently check your Web sites ranking.
9)  Pay attention to the competition around you.
10) If submitting several pages, do not submit on the same day.

--------------- About the Author ---------------

The author is David Silverman of Primetime Internet Web site
consultants (see Primetime
performs research on your existing business Web site and monitors
the content for search engine readiness. They will analyze your
site and suggest methods to improve the search engine ranking.


6. FEEDBACKS AND TYPEBACKS: The Subscribers' Section

This week's typeback is from:

Jeannie Ouellette at

> Question:  Is there a rule of thumb on what constitutes a high 
> traffic web site to a dud?  I know numbers are subjective and
> hits are interpretive, but when I started in 1996 you had to
> have millions of hits a day to be considered "worthy" of
> gaining advertising dollars. Most small businesses don't and
> won't ever fall into the "Top 5%".
> Is there a realistic number of visitors or requests for the 
> average "small business website" that defines bad, good and
> great website traffic?

Generally, it all depends on the type of traffic you generate. If
you're niche-oriented, you may have less traffic than larger,
more generalized sites. But the traffic you do generate will be
of a much higher quality -- something advertisers do look for. To
illustrate, let's look at an offline example: To generate quality
leads, your ad must read by a specific group of people and as
much as possible. Many people have their ads published in large,
high-circulation, general newspapers or magazines. But in the
end, their *cost-per-lead* can add up significantly.

Specialized publications, on the other hand, have the distinction
of appealing to a specific audience and thus increase the chances
of it being noticed as well as read. For example, if one publication
has 10,000 readers but only 1,000 of this number fit into the
advertiser's demographics, where another has only 4,000 but all
of which fit into the advertiser's demographics, which one do
you think will give the greatest response?

In other words, rather than fishing for small fish in the middle
of the ocean, one will be a catching big fish in a small pond.
Similarly, a Web site that may have a tremendous amount of
traffic won't necessarily generate leads let alone sales. In such
a case, there's no amount of traffic that will help justify the
advertising dollars. It's not the advertisement's cost or the
number of hits that really counts but the cost-per-lead.

Of course, advertisers will not likely buy ad space on a site
that produces little or no visitors. But most advertisers would
be very happy to do so if you produce a moderate amount of
traffic that at the same time is highly qualified -- i.e., it
logically fits into their target market. I've seen, for example,
that your site is geared towards antiques. If you're trying to
get dealers to advertise on your site, try to focus more on the
*kind* of traffic you produce rather than on the number. If you
have other advertisers that can substantiate the success rate of
their ads on your site, use them as referrals or provide their
testimonials if possible.

Now, to define the cost-per-lead in advance, the trick is to
calculate it backwards. For instance, according to the latest
data from NetRatings (, the average
click rate of online ads is about 0.85%. If your traffic is, say,
1,000 visitors per day, that would equal to approximately 8.5
leads per day -- of course, with all things being equivalent and
depending on the quality of the ad.

You can then take the cost of the ad per day and divide it into
8.5. This will give you the advertiser's cost-per-lead. Try to
focus on that instead of the total cost of the ad or the amount
of traffic your site generates. This is just a tip to help you
sell ad space, but of course some advertisers do buy their space
according to a site's traffic numbers and thus traffic should not
be ignored.

Nevertheless, if your site produces enough traffic to meet the
person's goals in terms of potential leads (based on the average
click rate), then the costs are justified according to the
potential results and not a specific amount of traffic.

Good luck!
Michel Fortin, Ph.D.
Editor of the Internet Marketing Chronicles

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Internet Marketing Chronicles 
Copyright 1999 Internet Marketing Company

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