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((((((((((((((((( WEBREFERENCE UPDATE NEWSLETTER ))))))))))))))))) August 2, 2001


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This week Marcia Yudkin continues our search engine positioning theme with a how-to on raising your ranking with press releases. With the barrage of e-mail folks are receiving from various critters, Code Red, and now the Lycos security "hole" what's a webmaster to do? We talked to Danny Sullivan of SearchEngineWatch.com to find out.

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New this week on WebReference.com and the Web:

1. FEATURE: Six Steps to Internet Age Free Publicity 2. INTERVIEW: Danny Sullivan on Lycos Security "Hole"

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1. FEATURE: Six Steps to Internet Age Free Publicity

Search engines increasingly charge for inclusion, and press release distribution networks charge hundreds of dollars to distribute your news. But I've come up with a way to legitimately let other people shoulder the time or effort for your news to show up in search engines.

The lightbulb went off for me when I was searching for very specialized software and came upon a press release for such a product posted at another site, not that of the company producing the software. Of course that release led me to the company's Web site, which was itself nowhere in the search engine listings.

I therefore went looking for sites that welcome free posting of press releases and found more than 100 of them. I posted my own press release at more than 20 of them and now, two months later, a Google search on the phrase "free syndicated business content," which was the theme in the headline and the body of my release, turns up three of these in the first 20 listings, including in position #1. If I type in "attract repeat business visitors," which is an exact quote from the headline, eight of eight items that come up are instances of the press release.

If you have timely news, for instance about an upcoming conference you're sponsoring, this technique won't benefit you as much as if you have offerings that will continue to be of interest for months or years in the future. I like this strategy because, like Tom Sawyer's legendary painting project, it enables you to let other people do the hard work, here of getting good search engine rankings. The site hosting your press release for free then benefits from the traffic your release draws and so do you.

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Search Engine Optimization and Free Press Release Distribution

Here's how to profit from this strategy, in six steps.

1. Decide on a keyword phrase that ties in to the product or service you are promoting and that people actually search for. You can research this conveniently at Wordtracker.com.

2. Place this phrase into your press release headline and repeat it around three times within the body of your press release. Make sure you also include two properly formed links to your own Web site (i.e., write "http://www.mydomain.com" rather than "mydomain.com") within the text of the release.

3. Unless the proper name of your product or service is already well-known, emphasize its generic description rather than its name. For instance, write "proposal writing software" rather than "PropWritePro."

4. Likewise, substitute keyword phrases for pronouns like "it" or "its" to increase their overall frequency in the release.

5. Post your completed press release at sites that allow free posting, such as prweb.com, pressbox.co.uk and dozens of others that turn up in searches on phrases like "free press release submission" or "free press release distribution." Through diligent and repeated searching, I found more than 20 general sites like that and more than 100 sites welcoming releases on a particular topic.

6. Wait a few weeks and check your standing in search engines for the phrases in your release. Positionagent.com works well for this. Then repeat the whole process for another message, another keyword phrase or another product or service.

Additional Notes on Press Release Optimization

Although these steps may appear simple, they are not intuitive or natural for anyone with experience in writing traditional press releases. Let's suppose you were launching a rental boat service in Truro, Massachusetts, which is on Cape Cod. Tourists would be much more likely to use "Cape Cod" as a search term than "Truro," so the former is what should be repeated. And particularly if you happen to know Cape Cod, if you were not consciously writing for search engines, you would probably use "Cape Cod" only once and then revert to "the Cape," which wouldn't help enough when people are typing in "Cape Cod boat rental."

A bonus benefit of this strategy is that by placing your releases around the Web, you may also boost the rankings of your own site at search engines that count inbound links as a sign of popularity.

Assuming you've chosen your keyword phrases wisely, enjoy the increased visibility and traffic that the free press release posting sites have worked hard to obtain for you!

Here are a few free press release sites:

http://www.prweb.com (any topic) http://www.pressbox.co.uk (any topic) http://industrypages.com/industry_news_release_submission.htm (27 specialized industries, including motorcycles, videos, ...) http://www.mamalinux.com/ (related to Linux only) http://www.vcaonline.com/news/ (related to venture capital) http://www.gloreal.com/submitnews.asp (related to real estate) http://www.mi2n.com/input.php3 (related to music)

# # # #

About the author: Boston-based publicity and marketing consultant Marcia Yudkin is the author of ten books, including Six Steps to Free Publicity (Plume/Penguin) and Internet Marketing for Less than $500/Year (Maximum Press), as well as of a new special report, PR For the Internet Age. PR For the Internet Age includes more than 100 URLs for free press release posting, tips on seeding the Web with articles and case studies, an extended success story, and 66 sample releases with commentary. Currently she moderates the I-Content discussion list and for more than a year served as moderator of the ClickZ Forum. For more information, visit http://www.yudkin.com/printernet.htm or contact marcia@yudkin.com.

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2. INTERVIEW: Danny Sullivan on Lycos Security "Hole"

>Security Hole Lets Lycos Run Arbitrary JavaScript

Securiteam is reporting that a "security vulnerability has been confirmed in Lycos's Search Engine" which "allows malicious web site owners to cause JavaScript code (or any other HTML code) to get included in the search results displayed to the end user by Lycos".

However, when I asked Danny Sullivan, editor of SearchEngineWatch.com, about the hole, he "suspects this is an extremely minor threat."

"First, no one can control exactly when their page might come up for a search, so they've have a low probability of targeting people. The Bugtraq report makes it sound easier than it is.

Second, not all search engines simply take the first text they find on the page and render that for the description. Google, for example, does not. AltaVista does. Inktomi and FAST may do this or may use other means of rendering a description.

Third, this seems to be a Lycos-specific problem.

More specifically, it was this page http://www.digital-ca.com/TechASP2.htm

that when it was listed in the Lycos results, had an input box embedded with the description. How did this happen? Here's the text that was used for the description:

Using ASP to generate HTML codes, this module will review some basic HTML tags such <A href=ÓÓ> and <Table>, <Forms>, <Input>, ASPÌs variable type: Variant, important ASP functions: Cint(), CStr(), Ucase

When Lycos rendered that text, it saw this part:


and rendered it as a In contrast, AllTheWeb renders the characters correctly: http://www.alltheweb.com/search?cat=web&lang=any&query=www.digital-ca.com

such as:

"Using ASP to generate HTML codes, this module will review some basic HTML tags such and

, , , ASPs variable type: Variant, important ASP functions: Cint(), CStr(), Ucase(), Mid(), IsNull(), IsEmpty(); Server, Session..."

Nor does this happen with different HTML code rendered at Google:


Ironically, that listing at Lycos actually comes from AllTheWeb - but as you've seen, AllTheWeb rendered it correctly. So, the problem is with how Lycos is producing its search results, rather than with how the page is being stored in its index.

That means that if you positioned this right at the top of your page:

<script language="javacript"> window.open("spampage.htm") </script>

and AllTheWeb used this rather than your Open Directory listing, if you had one, Lycos might render HTML code such as:

and the script would execute."

At press time Lycos told Danny they are aware of the problem, assume it's been fixed, and are now working to make sure it gets solved.

Thanks Danny for that in-depth answer.

http://www.searchenginewatch.com/ http://www.securiteam.com/ http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=01/07/30/1624209 Slashdot.org, July 30, 2001

That's it for this week, see you next time.

Andrew King Newsletter Editor, WebReference.com aking@webreference.com

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