The Mender

Metamend's Website Optimization and Marketing Newsletter
Issue 23
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Advice and techniques for the promotion of your website plus Search Engine Optimization News and valuable resources for the serious on-line marketer.

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Welcome to "The Mender" Issue 23



Ixquick claims to be the fastest growing metasearch engine since 1999. A very cool Metacrawer interface searches 10 engines at once and also rates the placement of those search results within those engines. You can also search for pictures, news or MP3's. The site is very well designed and easy to navigate but best of all it produces very good results. Give IxQick a try.


Metamend is very proud to announce we have been selected by Microsoft Corporation as the SEO solution for their Windows Web Hoster program. Metamend and Microsoft will be partnering to offer our SEO solutions to all Windows Web Hoster program partners. Read all about it here. Click here for Partner information.

NEW CHANNEL PARTNER - Paradata Systems Inc.
Paradata Systems offers secure, real-time credit card processing service for your website, call center, IVR system or wireless application. With the reliability of 99.8% uptime, we ensure that your customers can pay for your products and services, hassle free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our easy to implement payment solution is designed to grow with your business and technology needs. Whether you handle fewer than fifty transactions a month, or thousands each day, Paradata's payment service is a flexible and scalable solution to increase your competitive advantage and help you maintain a loyal customer base.

ADMINISTRATOR'S CORNER - The Circle of Life for Search Engines
by Richard Zwicky

As of May 1, AOL now draws it's search engine results from Google. It used to get them from Inktomi. This means that three major portals, AOL, Yahoo! and Google itself all deliver results from the same database. More people using the Internet now get search engine results directly or indirectly from Google than from any other resource. This of course will put more pressure than ever on Google to maintain the outstanding quality of their results. However, a word to the wise. Inktomi used to be in a similar position 2 years ago, so who knows what the landscape will look like in 18 months? Both FAST and and Inktomi are making a resurgence. Altavista remains a dark horse, always there, with many national outlets that maintains it in a strong position. But let's set all that aside, and look at the challenge facing Google.

Every time I speak somewhere people ask me about Google, about spoofing Google, and manipulating their search results through a variety of methods, most notably through an abundance of links. Google has always measured links in its weighting algorithm. What people link to and what they say in their links are major factors in how Google organizes its search results.

Links can be the deciding factor as to whether or not your site ranks higher than your competitors, in some cases. Link analysis is probably more important in Google than in any other engine in determining results because in many categories, very few pages have many links. In this sort of situation, even a few links can boost a page near to the top. The trap many website operators fall into is depending on links alone. More traditional measures, such as the content in the words, page format and the tagging on the pages themselves still count for a lot. How else can a spider, bot, or person know what your site is about?

If you understand this and also understand that most people don't, you won't be surprised to hear about people manipulating links to place high in the rankings in Google. Kind of like putting all your eggs in 1 basket.

It seems as though every week there's a new scheme being passed along (pssst buddy wanna hear a secret.....) in newsgroups, in spam mail, and in local webmaster meetings. However, anyone involved in search engine marketing knows people and companies who have created entire networks in a variety of formats involving interlinked websites in attempts to influence Google, or to spoof its ranking algorithms. For every new initiative tried, (by which people try to scheme their way to the top) Google responds by identifying what it considers valueless link organizations and putting a downwards adjustment on their influence in the overall rankings.

So the moral of the story is, if you want to spoof Google, optimize your site so that there are no issues for the search engine to fight around and build real, valuable, reciprocal links for your site. Don't join link farms!

If you want help from an outside source, great! Find one that uses a methodology similar to ours: use relevance when building links, and don't accept just a bare bones link without any reference information attached to it. The other thing to remember is everything you do right for Google will probably be right for most of the other engines, and the other engines are still used by people too.

One last thing when worrying about optimizing for Google. June 1 may be the last day for Google's contract to supply search engine results to Yahoo!. It has not yet been announced which company: Altavista, FAST, Inktomi, Google, or Teoma, or some other, may pick up the next two year deal. So don't worry too much about using the latest greatest trick to spoof Google for a great ranking because you want Yahoo! traffic. Instead, spend your nights awake worrying about how to optimize your site for ALL the above engines. One month from now, Google will still be here, but it may not be powering the portal that made it famous. The circle of Search Engine Life continues.


MARKETING - Just Say No! (to a bad idea)
by Robert McCourty

So... You've had a staff meeting and the sales team has come up with a great publicity stunt. They've decided to hire a helicopter and drop company pamphlets over everyone watching the next college football game. "Just think of the press", they exclaim. " We'll have every newswire in the country covering the story." No doubt! But will you have a company left by Monday morning.

You of course know this is an insane idea which will cause much more harm to your firm than anything you could imagine, but the company President, management team and even the Board of Directors all think it's a wonderful idea. What will the marketing division do? My advice? Just say NO!

Sometimes the marketing division has to stand up for itself. It's easy to be a "Yes" person and take every idea, no matter how crazy and nod your head. "Sure, we can do that." Saying no on the other hand, can bring tension, accusations that you're not a "team player" and produce many other negative collateral results, such as a lack of faith from management. Weighing all the negative factors might make it much easier to take the path of least resistance and simply agree to the crazy suggestion, but let's look at some potential long term negative effects your decision could reap upon you and your company:
  1. Who will get the blame when the campaign does not produce the desired results?
    You will. No one will remember or even care who's idea it was in the first place. All they will care about is finding someone to blame and the first place they will look is inside your office door. Sad but true. It's the person who actually put the plan into action who'll suffer the consequences.

  2. Who gets to clean up the garbage and do all the damage control? Who gets to put out all the fires and scramble the troops in an attempt to minimize the negative fallout? Yup... You again. Better cancel your holidays in advance.

  3. What kind of message are you sending to your customers? You've spend hard earned time and money on getting just the right message and feel out there and into your clients eyes and heads. Now you're on the verge of changing those key messages one hundred and eighty degrees. The perception your clients have about your company may now be open for reevaluation. When something negative occurs, even the most staunch and loyal supporters are forced into bringing you to the forefront within their mind's eye and reevaluating their relationship. Once this happens, all your past hard work and positive marketing can be washed away in the blink of an eye. You've suddenly opened a Pandora's box of doubt. Rebuilding Client trust could take months - if you survive that long, and it's a long uphill trek just to get back to the starting point. Building client and brand loyalty can take months. Destroying it can take a lot less. Just ask Firestone or Enron.

  4. The end results of a bad decision can haunt you for years.
Not a pretty picture so far. This is exactly why you have to stick to your guns and say -NO- to a bad idea.

To combat the inevitable pressure to say 'yes,' remember who you are and why you're in you're position. Anyone can be a 'yes' person but you're not just anyone. You're opinion is valuable to the company. Your past marketing efforts have shown positive results, thus your judgment and opinions deserve respect. You also tend to look at the bigger picture, taking into consideration long term effects. Most people cannot or do not take these aspects into consideration. They only see the short term scenario, the big Flash. Your ability to look at a scenario from several angles at once also make your skill-set a valuable commodity. Granted, no one can predict every possible outcome for a specific event but you're ability to inject common sense into your thought process already sets you apart from ninety percent of the population. This skill is invaluable in today's world.

You also look (or should be) looking at things from a moral perspective. Will this event offend anyone and if so, is it worth it? Can you control all aspects? You can bet the sales team never even considered this point. One other point you should be asking yourself, (and for me personally, this is the big one) can I live with myself if this plan is put into action? I'm not trying to be facetious. All the hardcore ruthless business people in the world may disagree with me on this point, weaned on the dog-eat-dog school of business, but one thing is for certain, I'm not them and my company is not guided by their rules. It is guided by my own actions and belief systems. I stand by my convictions and will scream and holler to uphold them within the company structure. They may not always be agreed with but they are presented nonetheless.

Life is too short to have your conscience eating away at you because of a bad marketing decision. Be certain you'll be able to live with yourself once the decision is made. Don't agree to it for the wrong reasons. You are ultimately going to be responsible for the fallout, so trust your judgment and fight like heck to make your opinions heard, especially when don't agree with something.

Just say NO to a bad idea. It's a lot easier than you think. In the long run your company may even thank you for your foresight. Oh yeah... Make sure you cancel that helicopter ASAP.


WEBMASTER'S CORNER - "Pane" in the Neck
by Todd Hooge

This month, I would like to talk about balancing your website. A well balanced site, at first glance, should appear to make sense from all angles, not just from a syntax point of view, but also from the interpretive point of view. What do I mean by that? When you look at a website, and the colors do not compliment each other, or there are 5 different font sizes with varying font types, do you assume there was ample thought put into the design? Probably not. What do you think when you see a website that is completely flush to the left side of your monitor? Does it appear a little "off-balance" to you when all of the readable text is on the left side of your screen? I do. I feel that it is possible to have a website built to perfect form, without any errors at all, and still somehow be perceived as unbalanced by its visitors.

I think this happens most when website developers and programmers forget to think about their post-design duties, such as testing and functionality. The more tested your design is, the more balanced it will appear to the end user. My personal rule of thumb is to employ 1 hour of testing for every 1 hour of development. So, at the end of the day, everything; text, graphics, functionality, etc., on a website should be relevant to the concept and overall mission to ensure good balance.


Westcoast Mystery Shopping

Westcoast Mystery Shopping is a company that strongly believes in maximizing the potential of the salespeople you have working for you so you may reap the financial benefits of a highly trained sales staff. Mystery Shopping gives you the opportunity to see which areas of your training program have become effective routine sales techniques and which have not. Then you can retrain in those specified areas, which will result in a better-trained staff, and increased profits due to an improved close rate.

Metamend: Innovative website optimization and marketing service which automatically corrects keywords and meta tags increasing website relevance and popularity within search engines.

Want some free advertising for your website? This space [              ] free to all Metamend clients. Just ask. We'll be happy to include you in a future issue. Let the promotion begin.

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Todd Hooge
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Metamend Automated Website Promotion
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