Dear Kids,

     Today, I want to show you how to use those keywords we discussed last time, to improve search engine results. This subject is called Search Engine Optimization.

     From this point on I will call it SEO because I hate typing it out and SEO is an accepted abbreviation for search engine optimization.

     In layman’s terms, it means doing our best to make sure our website…

Ranks Very High on Google, Yahoo and Other Search Engines!

      When someone types in “how to thrive in a bad economy” we want to be as close to the top or the number one spot as possible.

     The most popular and powerful search engine in the world, is Google. It is even an official verb in the dictionary, meaning to use Google to search for things on the Internet.

     There are many other search engines and there may be a whole new crop by the time you kids start your own websites. However, for now, it is an Internet juggernaut. So, when I use the word “Google” it could mean any search engine.

     How search engines rank the websites varies from search engine to search engine, but this very basic lesson should be good for all of them.

     So far, we have only run a simple test ad ,to see if we could get leads we can work online, from running print ads. Grandpa taught me not to get too deep into any setup of a business, unless we know there is a decent chance the promotion will work out.

     Now that we know it may work and to prepare for the Google ad word campaign, we want to start doing more important prep and in my opinion you should work on search engine optimization first for a few reasons:

  1. The basics of SEO is FREE!
  2. Prospects will use search engines to verify who you are.
  3. The higher you rank among competitors, the more trust and sales you get.
  4. Search engines will be used by forgetful past customers to find you again.
  5. With a high enough ranking, some businesses can grow, even if they do nothing else.

     In some businesses, a ranking of number one or in the top ten, can…

Make all the Difference Between
Success and Failure!

     I am going to give you the biggest secret I know of, to optimize your ranking on search engines. The secret is really a principle and instead of giving it to you at the end of this letter, I am going to give it to you right now and then I am going to tell you some cool tricks I know of to improve your Google ranking.

The acronym I want you to remember is…

(Give Info For Traffic)

     Basically, the secret is to give away GOOD information for free to get more traffic.

     Google makes money in lots of ways. One way they make big bucks is to sell Google ads to businesses like the acne ads we discussed last time. Another is to start websites they can easily drive a lot of business towards. So if Google buys a weather website, they can give it a ton of traffic at will.

     Regardless of where they get their profit, their entire future relies on one thing.

Keeping Their Traffic Really High!

     That is to say,  getting as many people to use their search engine as possible.

     How do they keep people coming back? Good question kids. I see you are asking the good questions as I did, when my dad taught me.

     The answer is, Google keeps people coming back, because they guide their customers (the people using Google to search) to the websites they are searching for.

     If you typed in “Mickey Mouse cartoons” and the first 100 sites on Google were all about grout sponges, you would not be very happy. If you were Gary Halbert, you might be amused, but you would consider another search engine next time.

     Thus, Goggle’s goal is to

Give The Searchers
The Sites They Are Most Interested in!

     Lots of slick marketing people, work to drive traffic to their websites from Google searches no matter what people are searching for.

     They do this for traffic, which means they want the largest number of people to view their site and they don’t care if it is what the searchers wanted to see.

     If Google allowed tobacco companies to buy the top spots when people type in “sneakers on sale”, those who are not disgusted, are still actually looking for shoes and will switch search engines next time.

     There is a constant war on between Google and the marketers trying to jump ahead of everyone on the list.

     Because of this, Google keeps how they determine who gets ranked highest, a secret and they change what is important to them from time to time.
My approach is to…

Have Google Looking For Me!

     If I provide what the searchers are looking for, then all of Google’s efforts to find what the searchers are looking for, will be efforts to find websites like mine.

     Of course, we need to outrank other websites, that are also what searchers are looking for.

     Remember G.I.F.T., because almost everyone on the net wants frees shit and they want it to be good free shit too. They will whine and moan about anything they don’t like, even if it is free.

     But we can use these people to our advantage too, even if they don’t ever buy a thing from us.

     I’ll explain that in a minute. It is time to start  with the specifics on how to improve your ranking.

     The way Google works, is their computers search the content on all the websites for keywords. They also use other info about the websites to determine who should be ranked highest.

     They have a secret formula or algorithm that puts different weight on different factors.

     These factors include, but are not limited to….

  1. Age of website
  2. Keywords in actual web address
  3. How many other websites link to your site
  4. Number of people who click on your site on Google
  5. Ratio of people who click on your site and don’t return right away
  6. Keywords in Website Description
  7. Traffic Rank
  8. Number of time keywords appear in content
  9. Size of website

            Since Google’s search criteria is a secret, I like to assume I was Google and think about how I would program my computers, to look for and determine which websites get ranked first.

     Also, since the formula is a well-guarded secret, the ideas I am discussing are just my opinions.

     Some people share them. Some people do not. You can do your own research as I am sure the formula will have changed again by the time you are building a commercial website or establishing and Internet presence.   

     Google searches the web electronically and a formula / algorithm may determine which sites get posted first, but…

A HUMAN Decides..

     How much weight each factor should carry..

     Regardless of how they change their ways of finding sites for people, you can almost always improve your results by giving away free information.

     You shall soon see. But, first, let us start with some of the criteria or variables I just mentioned.


     If everything else was equal between two websites, the older website will outrank the newer one. The only way around this, is to buy an existing website, but that means you could be buying a tarnished brand.

     I personally like that Google rewards people who move fast. We have not done much with our website but, we did build it and the clock is ticking on the age factor.

NOTE: There is a bump given to new websites and you may want that bump to coincide with a launch that is a subject for another day.

Keywords Used in Website

     Make sure all of your keywords make it into your text and try to use the most powerful words the most.

     Do not just put in a paragraph that says:

vintage watches, vintage watches, vintage watches, vintage watches, vintage watches, vintage watches, vintage watches, vintage watches, vintage watches, vintage watches, vintage watches, vintage watches, vintage watches, vintage watches, vintage watches,

     Instead, make sure you write a lot of good quality information out in a way which justifiably uses all the keywords. If, the algorithm is changed and made to detect this because the keywords were used too close together, or for whatever reason, we are still covered just by being who Google is actually looking for.

     Let us suppose I am writing a small blurb about the Omega Speedmaster and it is to this affect.

     This watch was used by Neil Armstrong and the other crew, when they made their famous trip to the moon. Interestingly, they needed a hand wind model because the more pricey automatic movements do not work in space.

     Now suppose I wrote it with keywords in mind:

     The vintage Omega Speedmaster is an amazing wristwatch. When NASA was looking for timepieces to endure the trip to space, the chose the Omega Speedmaster. The Omega Speedmaster was chosen over all the other great now vintage watches of the time. One reason the wristwatch was chosen is because it has a hand wind movement. The automatic Omega Speedmaster would never have been chosen because automatics do not work in space.

     I got in “wristwatch” and “vintage” and “timepiece” and “Omega Speedmaster” a lot more, by paying close attention to keywords while writing the blurb.

     You also want t make sure the keywords you use are in an exciting sentence because often times, Google will take an excerpt from around the word, such as:

     “…The Omega Speedmaster was chosen over all the other great…”

Keywords in Web Address

     I’d say the closer the user’s search words match the words in the address of the website, the happier the searcher may be.

     This means we should use those keywords in the web address when appropriate. Like or

Make It Easy to Spell!

     People are more computer-friendly these days from when I was a kid, but they are NOT more literate.

     The reduction in reading for knowledge and entertainment over the past few decades, has left us with people who cannot understand large words, much less spell them. I myself suck at spelling. Praise the spell checker.

     The website address should also be easy to remember, as short as possible and use the best keywords. This is another reason why names like become so valuable.

Meta Descriptions/Meta Tags

     It is debated if Meta tags are another way Google searches for websites to be ranked. Due to advances in computing power, they can now afford to search the entire website for words.

     SEO experts used to copy the dictionary into the meta tags and the search engines caught on. They changed the formula and that no longer worked.

     Then they pasted a copy of the entire dictionary on their sites in the same color as the background so it couldn’t be seen by people, but the search engine would always find every word.

     Now Google could counter this by seeing what percentage of the words in your site are the keywords in the search or some other way.

     This is a good reason to not mix subjects on websites.

     Do NOT create a website that sells furniture and cars. Create two different websites instead. It is better to specialize.

     You will notice a lot of the top sites from search engine results do have a short list of keywords.
Is it because they are old and it is left over from when they started?

     If I was Google, I would assume those websites with meta tags and descriptions that contained all the words in the search and NOT many other words, would be websites the searchers may be interested in.

     In other words, if someone typed in “six million dollar man”, a website, whose only key words are, six million dollar man, might be something of interest to the searcher.

     Use those keywords to write your website description, but keep it brief and to the point. Try to form your sentence in such a way that you use the most potent words first.

     Some people say, Google penalizes you for having any meta keywords or tags.

     To decide for myself, I went to Google and typed in “search engine optimization” and then went straight to the first non-sponsored or “paid for” website on the list.

Who Better to Follow Than The Expert of Experts!

     I checked their source code and low and behold, like most top sites, they had a short and accurate description of their website using keywords.

     [ NOTE: Save your hate mail if you disagree, this is only one of many factors. If anyone can give me Google’s EXACT formula, I will cede this point and also thank them.]

     Whenever it comes to something debatable, look for the most successful person to learn from, and see what they ACTUALLY DO. John Carlton speaks about how sharp people seek out and hire pros to learn from. If you haven’t already, you really should, check out his blog at

     Consider using your name and maybe your city in the description if you have a brick and mortar store.

     Often times, people are looking for a shop or wedding photographer or many businesses where…

Location Is A Huge Factor!

     This is less true for more national and international enterprises, but it is great for a guy looking for a plumber in Brentwood.


     Traffic would be another factor if I were able to determine it. Since companies like Alexa do, we know a company like Google can.

     Suppose someone types in “grout sponges”  and the search engine came up with 40 names of people discussing grout sponge and they all had grout sponge in their name and the keywords were the exact same.

     Wouldn’t it make sense to send people to the website with the most traffic?

     How about if we monitor that traffic? As far as I know, Google doesn’t track the searchers, but it can tell when someone clicked on a link and then went right back to Google to search again.

     This is a good sign that site is not very popular with searchers using those keywords. If I were Google, I’d nix those sites or push them lower on the list.


     It is also rumored that Google puts more weight on sites, a lot of other websites link to. This makes sense. In the past, many websites got higher rankings because they joined webrings and do all they can, to make sure lots of different sites link to each other.

     This really works well if the other sites linking to yours, also rank high and are similar in nature.

     In many cases, the top few sites of any given subject are owned by the same person.

     You can parlay one successful site into another by interlinking them.

     Try to work your way into putting links on other websites in the same field like blogs, by offering special deals just for their readers or giving them merchandise for free to review.

     Start your own blog, even if nobody reads it, but if you provide quality info someone will.

[I am going to take a quick break in the middle of this letter to thank those of you who have supported me with kind words of appreciation and/or given me so much of your time. As a token of my gratitude, I put together a quick guerilla-style video, on how to find the most important places to post the most powerful links to your websites as possible. This is only being announced to those of you who have paid such close attention. To watch the video click here]

Size of Website

     It only makes sense that people with huge sites probably have more of what searchers are looking for, than websites that are only one page, less than 100 words and only two pictures.

     There are even more factors Google uses to determine which sites get ranked first, but the last factor I want to discuss is…


     Another thing I would do if I was trying to give the searchers the best results, is have actual humans decide which websites should be ranked highest. I would only do these with the most popular searches.

     When something is hot, Google can and I know other engines do, have real people deciding who comes up first and who gets listed second etc.

     I don’t know if they do this at Google, but I do know some search engines do.

     A  company the size of Google can easily afford to pay humans to take the most popular and hottest new searches and decide which websites, searchers are going to be the most happy with.

     Certain search engines and news sites will have the users or searchers themselves rate sites after their searches and those user ratings will determine the order of search results.

     So when you type in “antique pens”, HUMAN OPINION has decided which website will be listed at the top of the list.

     Keeping all that basic criteria in mind and following my principle of G.I.F.T., imagine we now go about giving away great quality information for free on the Internet in exchange for traffic.

     Start with your website. It doesn’t have to be your main page, but give some quality info away for free on the website.

     Since acne wasn’t a popular example last time, I will use vintage watches this time.

     The reason I am avoiding using my current project as an example is because it is to avoid dealing with annoying people who think they copyrighted the keyword “recession.”
Besides, I love vintage watches and others who love vintage watches are addicts too.

     With our watch example, let us suppose we published a price guide for vintage watches for free.

     Let’s also throw in a “how-to” video on haggling and a video database on how to spot fakes from real watches, which gets updated and covers almost all major watch brands which have been counterfeited.

     I chose these, because as a watch lover, I would actually like to see this and I think others might. Someone may have already done so for free, but it certainly isn’t easy to find.

     Doing this alone, has increased the size of our website which is…

What Google Likes!

     Next, we Google the forums in the watch business.

     We go to the forums that come up highest on the list of results and sign up for them.

     Participate in those forums. It doesn’t take long, but be real and be nice. Help people out when possible and give away some quality advice/info, And ,from time to time, place a link to your website in a post.

     We don’t have to mention it is our website, but if we are a stand up people and likeable, they might let us link to it, even if they did do know the link is to our own website.

     Now, let us think about this for a moment from the readers’ point of view. I like watches. I am one of the people in what my dad would call “a starving crowd” for watch dealers.

     Many watch addicts, such as me, read forums, even if we don’t sign up for them. Also, when we do searches for say, an Omega Speedmaster, often times, posts in the forums rank very high and we end up reading the forums, because so many of our searches give us results which are actually posts in forums.

     Eventually hardcore addicts read the forums or, at the very least….. check them for info on what watches they are interested in.

     We then (as a forum member) post that we have found a website that has a free price guide for vintage watches.

     Then we post that we also have a great database with pictures of fakes from lots of brands and info on how to spot the difference.

     Last, we post about the tutorial on how to get the best price.

     By the way…

Use The Keywords In These Posts!

     Later, we work in questions about location and other keywords we want to use.

     Supposing the links in forums do not count in Google’s ranking at all, we at the very least, have received some attention from the watch loving community and many will bookmark the website if we promise to update the website with more great info.

     People wanting to prove their prices are great, may post links to our price guide. Popular bloggers could mention it and link to it.

     People who visit the site and find it via other means will see that the website is not 100% about selling and this can build trust.

     A visitor may interpret the free price guide to mean they wouldn’t charge you more than a fair price, when they could actually make up more profit in shipping or charging for a warranty.

     Forums are powerful websites. I once posted a question about a well-advertised annual event and that post immediately comes up in the top spot if you Google the name of the event.

     Even if Google ignores these website, they have a…

Huge Reach and Can’t Be Ignored!

     Suppose, I posted that I was looking for a vintage Omega Flightmaster and then the kind folks on the forum, suggested a particular vintage watch shop and posted a link to their website.

     Now the site they linked to just went up one notch in Google’s book because a huge website has a link to it.

     But dad, nobody would ever suggest you buy it from a watch shop. They would suggest you buy it from the forum’s sales/trading section or eBay.

     Well then, how about if the question was, “How do I find a vintage Omega Flightmaster in Los Angeles? I need it right away for a photo shoot. Are there any good vintage watch shops I should check out?”

     Yeah yeah yeah, but dad, they may already know of a different vintage watch shop in Los Angeles.
Don’t give up that easy kids.

     If you are a regular poster, you can have someone else ask the question and YOU provide the answer and the link.

     Just having them visit your site will improve your traffic rank alone.

     So giving away some really good information will appeal to all of them. Since it doesn’t cost extra to mail to the lurkers, it doesn’t matter.

     Plus, lurkers and people looking for free stuff, are still people who know other people and will send more people to your website if you really do have good info and it is free.

     Since our audience is filled with addicts, they are ravenous for any information new to them about their passion or concern.

     But dad, there are already a ton of articles that tell you about the history of those watches.

     Okay, stop whining now. You will get on my nerves. Remember, anything the competition may have done, can be improved upon.

     By doing that little bit of posting on a few popular forums, you have added other links to your website, increased traffic, built credibility, and fit the bill of what Google thinks people who type in “vintage watch prices”  may be interested in.

     Again, it didn’t hurt to have our watch seller being linked to well known forums for great free videos and info. Because, if a human being or an algorithm determines a better way to find what people are looking for, they have found a way to improve our ranking because…

We ARE What Google Is Looking To Give Its Users!

     This concept also applies in print and on TV. Look at all the people giving away their best advice on morning talk shows. Their motivation is name recognition. They get cooking shows or transition from fashion consultants to designers.

     Online the goal is traffic.

     Since more traffic earns you a higher ranking and since it costs nothing more to service them, even the lurkers help just by visiting. So if they are coming just for the free information, it still helps us.

     There are a lot more things to learn about search engine optimization.

     This is just the basics, but it is a good start.

     I do know that once you have a well-established online reputation in your field, it opens up the doors to…

The Single Most Profitable
Activity On the Internet…

     Joint Ventures!!

     Your uncle Kevin and I know quite a bit about joint ventures. In my next letter, I will show you how to find JV partners, make the deals and more importantly…

How To Not Get Ripped Off!

     Hugs and Kisses,


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Copyright 2005 Gary C. Halbert.  All Rights Reserved.