02 Sep 2009

Print headline sells the news, optimized web headline tells the news

47 Comments Guest Posts, internet marketing training

This is a guest blog post by Ahteram Uddin, who runs online marketing for the Times of India, the largest newspaper in the world. Yes– bigger than New York Times.

If you are into News aggregating business or your website has an industry specific News section you stand a chance to drive additional traffic from the Google News Search, which is very powerful yet simple tool to make it work for you.

I am going to tell you how to invite Google News Bot and rank your news in the Google News Search. I will try to talk about all ranking factors, best practices for the News optimization and answers to some frequently asked questions.

SEO for News

All right, so where do you find your News listed – On Google.com (or .co.in) like the one below

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And on the Google News

bls2

I am sure you must have wondered at some point of time – how do these articles appear on Google and how does this work?

Well in one line I can say “Google crawls it, groups it and then rank it here” but this isn’t fair if I don’t tell you what exactly helps your News qualify for the listing and get that Free traffic and audience base. I am going to make an attempt to cover each factor in as much depth as possible.

How does Google discover my News articles?

CRAWLING- Much like Search bot, Google has these News Bots who are gonna go out to the news sites to look for the news articles. There are two ways Google retrieves these articles

  1. Discovery crawl – Google sees new URLs and makes a crawl and indexes it.
  2. News SiteMaps – This is a unique method of telling a News bot about your new content by including all your new URLs

If there are some articles or content that you don’t want Google to index and crawl you can always use a robots.txt file to ask them not to do so. Google respects the protocol, alternatively you can also use header tags for the same.

bls3

GROUPING- Once the articles are crawled they are brought back to the Google’s database for the grouping phase. Google has its own content classification idea, if you look at the below articles from TimesofIndia.com

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In case of the above news Google looks at “Business, Sensex, BSE and Nifty” words and determines that this article belongs to business section and similarly looking at “India, Mumbai and Bombay” it makes out that this is geographically targeted to India. That’s how Google populates different editions like US, UK and India. The sections in Google News like entertainment, politics and health are also populated in the same fashion.

NEWS CLUSTER RANKING- The story ranking algorithm decides which story to place higher and then on the subsequent ranks. Once the Google is ready with the news clusters (group) it ranks them basis “Aggregated Editorial Interest”.

What (t.f.) do you mean by Aggregated Editorial Interest?

bls5

In the upper diagram what you see is small news that makes an impact on the smaller region or group of people. For example an N.G.O. is distributing free umbrellas to the poor people in New Delhi. This is a great human interest story this might be covered in a few local newspapers and a few news agencies might pick up.  This is still a small story and not showing much aggregated editorial interest as compared to the announcement of Congress (I) forming government in the center, this will not only be covered in the local newspapers, will be covered by many news agencies globally, picked up by op-ed and there will be loads of follow up articles.

Therefore due to the larger aggregated editorial interest this news cluster will be picked up the Google to be placed above the news about NGO distributing umbrellas in Delhi.

ARTICLE RANKING- Article ranking helps Google post a cluster of news articles, so let’s say if there are around 300 articles about “new government in Delhi” Google has a way to determine which one to rank first and which one to second and so within the cluster. There are several factors for an article ranking but I am going to talk about the few most critical ones-

  • Fresh and new – It’s essential for the article to be recent, substantial, and original and focused to the topic. Op-ed, satire, press releases and subscription are not eligible to lead the cluster.
  • Duplication and novelty detection – Google always tries to give credit to the original and the novel content. Let’s say there was an article originally done by the economictimes.com and later another article on the same topic gets published by financialtimes.com with a reference to economictimes.com original article saying this story was broken by ET and mention it as their source of information.  So now this article from ET might start ranking higher now because other people are sending reference to it quoting it as the original story.
  • Local and personal relevancy – It is given weightage by section and story and more credit is given to the local sources which are likely more relevant to the news article. For example the news about NGO distributing umbrellas Google would prefer to choose Delhitimes.com rather than expressIndia.com which has all India reports.
  • Trusted source – Google uses its historic data to decide what type of source works best for which section or geography. So if there are 5 stories published in a particular section and most of the people clicked the 4th one then Google records it in its database as the most relevant source for that type of news.  Therefore over a period Google starts building a database of what type of news from what publication work best for which geography. This must be kept in mind that the trust weightage is allocated at the section level at not for the entire news source. For example economictimes.com may be more reliable source for Google news when it comes to the breaking business news but moneycontrol.com may be its favorite for the stock related searches. Similarly, WSJ could be a reliable source for the finance related news in the USA but not in India.

Q. What about News SiteMaps? What the advantage of submitting one?

Well, Google says they are not only useful to News Bot but to the webmasters as well for the following reasons:

  • Provides greater control over which of your articles get publish over Google news that’s because as I mentioned above also they compliment discovery search. It tells Google exactly which articles are new and the ones to crawl.
  • It helps you give Meta information about your each individual article. You can provide things like:

1. Publication date
2. Keywords – which help target your article both geographically and section-wise

This is very beneficial to large News publishers.

Q. Can Google bots visit our News URLs more than once?

The answer is YES!

Google Bot comes back to the article to find any updates, there are different crawl rates allocated to different websites depending upon their reliability, audience size, genre and geography. Google has confirmed this that they come back to find any update to the article within 12 Hrs of the first discovery.

Q. I have News content which is not just the text. I have videos and images too. How do I optimize them to appear in the News section?

Optimizing multimedia content:

Video content – You can create a Youtube video channel. Google says that they are in the process of supporting other platform like Metacafe etc. but it may take a while. Youtube is a trusted source therefore if you get visitors your videos would rank on top of the Google news as well.  Remember to include rich textual description and transcripts every time you submit a video to Google as it helps them identify the category and geography of the video.

Images – There are five tips Google gave for the image optimization to get them included in the News Search

1. Use a large size image with good aspect ratio
2. Descriptive captions and alt text
3. Keep the image as close as possible to the title
4. Keep it Inline, don’t make it a clickable one
5. Google prefers JPEG

Q. Does it help to achieve better ranking in news searches if I have higher PageRank?

Google says PR plays a very small role in deciding the rank for a news article as compared to what it does for the regular web search. There is a simple reason for this – it really doesn’t make sense to compare the linking structure an article which was published minutes ago with the one which has been floating for years. PageRank has been used in determining a news rank but very delicately. These are those other factors we spoke about earlier like timeliness, freshness and relevancy to a category etc.

BEST PRACTICES – Here are couple of best practices indicated by the Google

1. Keep unique permanent URLs with at least 3 digits
2. Do not break up the article body, keep the entire news on a single page
3. Put date between the article and body
4. Titles matter, always keep an extremely indicative title of the story
5. Separate News articles from the press release by using a directory structure
6. Publish unique and informative content, if you get news from an agency try re-writing in your own words

29 Aug 2009

The Twitter and Facebook Highway

1 Comment facebook marketing and advertising, promoting yourself, social media

TFBHW

You may have heard the phrase “Kill two birds with one stone”, regarding taking one action to produce two results. Twitter and Facebook have teamed up to create a highway directly to one another, allowing users to update one status and be published to both sites. Most people are aware of how you can have your Twitter updates post to your Facebook status. Some people know that you can hide people who spam your stream, but not many know you can post your Facebook statuses to Twitter.

Would you like to talk about efficiency? This productive measure comes at no cost, sending your statuses via fiber optics at “status per 100 milliseconds”. The highway is perfect for users with high social networking priority that would like to save time and have more flexibility.

One AWESOME example:

StatusUpdatesYou may have Facebook mobile, but you do not receive status updates via text message. This is where Twitter has an upper hand; those subscribed to a “tweeter” via mobile device will now be notified of posted Facebook status. This is a win-win situation, because this highway has two lanes and can also travel the opposite direction. For example, you text your tweet to the designated number registered with your phone, and it shows up as your Facebook status aswell. This is perfect for non-internet browsing mobile devices.

StatusUpdates2Looking for customization? Feel free to share everything between Facebook and Twitter, but lucky for us picky folks you can choose what information you would like to share. You have options to share status updates, links, photos, notes, and event creations. Statuses and updates via Facebook and Twitter are very important to keep your friends, clients, fans, and coworkers informed. Hop online and buckle up (for safety), because you’re about to experience the smoothest and fastest ride social media has to offer.

Businesses can benefit from this, too. Online sites like BidFire, a Real-time auction website like eBay, are primed  for these quick transactions. Twitter allows access to their APIs that can be used to post messages when a user does something Like buy a Nintendo Wii for $10, which then can be automatically posted to Facebook with a neat URL to your website. When users link to their social network accounts, you can dramatically increase visibility just by simply offering a way for people to tell what a great deal they received. People like to brag to their friends, so why not tap into that?

18 Aug 2009

$250,000 salary making PPC campaigns

8 Comments local advertising

Do You Want to Live in Mumbai?

If you’re willing to live where Slumdog Millionaire was filmed, you can make a lot of money.

ReachLocal has 25-30 folks in Mumbai, India making PPC campaigns for their US-based customers. They need someone to manage that team.  Read the job posting here.

This also includes setting up landing pages, which are just a reverse proxy of the customer’s website. This allows ReachLocal to avoid the hassle of trying to get access to the client’s site, dealing with an incumbent webmaster, or messing with non-scalable SEO.

12 million rupees, by the way, is $250,000 a year. And in Mumbai, that’s a lot of money– as most people who do PPC professionally make $1-$2k a month– we know, as we’ve hired a few folks from the biggest firms with only limited success.

Interesting what you can learn about competitors by reading their job postings. When we bid against the mega agencies such as iProspect and iCrossing, we’ll take a look at their job postings to determine how they structure their teams, what they pay people, and how their processes work.  Read carefully and you’ll be surprised what you can learn!

Alternately, if you want to remain in the US and work for a killer company doing PPC in the local space, contact me– dennis@blitzlocal.com.  We don’t offshore any of our PPC, as quality control is so important.

17 Aug 2009

Ultra Light Startups: Local Edition in NYC

1 Comment affiliate marketing, local advertising, search engine marketing conferences

5529_114722184203_504429203_2136919_5911464_nThe day before Affiliate Summit East in NYC, last Thursday, I attended a ULS get-together on Local. There were almost 100 people there– perhaps half from start-ups looking to network or pitch their product.  Entry fee was $20, but $10 if you do a 60 second pitch.  I am cheap, so I did the pitch.

After the pitching, there was a round table with Court Cunningham, CEO of Yodle– then the CEOs from outside.in, growthspur, and 8coupons.  Clearly, I was there to meet Court, as he is a competitor in the local space.  Panelists agreed that:

  • the local space was a growing share of the $500 billion dollar advertising market
  • the weak economy and low cost to make a website was initiating entrepreneurship on a scale never before seen
  • the traditional media channels (radio, TV, print) are getting hammered, as ad dollars shift to local
  • the cost of producing content is decreasing– we don’t need union writers, as anyone can blog.  Consider the Iranian revolution broke via twitter, not the traditional media

I was overall impressed with the quality of the networking– at the same level as Silicon Valley, with a touch less pretentiousness. The free pizza, provided by Seamless Web, was also a nice touch.

WorldLogoAfterwards, I had the pleasure of meeting Graham Lawlor, founder of of Ultra Light Startups The concept of being ultra light is that you don’t need venture capital– just a couple folks with a great idea and a lot of resourcefulness. Looking forward to seeing how these informal groups (including TechStars and YCombinator) help young entrepreneurs achieve their dreams.

If you’re looking to start your own business, want to network with other startups, or perhaps need a bit of inspiration, I’d recommend that you attend one of these events.

14 Aug 2009

Social Media is a Lie We Perpetuate

9 Comments promoting yourself, social media

I started and completed a 260 page book in my 4 hour flight between Washington DC and Phoenix today.  It’s Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.  I average a page a minute for light content—half a page per minute for dense, textbook-like content.  The lie is explained later in this post, by the way…

open_bookDo you read books?  If you don’t, you’re not building your knowledge as completely as possible. Blog posts are great for little tidbits, but deeper knowledge takes hours and is usually the area reserved for books.

Odd that Brogan would write a book about social media, any more than you’d create a painting about English literature or write in Braille about how to dance. The links in his book were footnotes—as opposed to clickable blue anchor text.  Weird.

That aside, it’s a good primer should you want to learn the basics of social mediaNothing shocking— write about what you’re expertise is, develop real friends online as opposed to a ton of auto-followed friends, your reputation is built upon trust as opposed to auto-dispensing business cards, set up monitors such as Google Alerts for your name and business, customer service on twitter is another helpdesk, and so forth.

It’s basic networking tactics with an online twist, which I believe are better-stated  in books such as “Never Eat Alone” (Keith Ferrazi), “Think and Grow Rich” (Napoleon Hill), “How to Make Friends and Influence People” (Dale Carnegie), and “Swim with the Sharks” (Harvey Mackay).  If you haven’t read these classic books, you should.

However, Brogan is a top 100 blogger, so he’s doing something right. And he does admit that publishing a book is really just a 2 inch thick business card—something to give you instant credibility.  And I did read it word for word, start to finish, so it did keep my attention.

It was also free, by the way.  All attendees of Affiliate Summit East got a free copy.  I almost didn’t grab a copy, as I was laden down already with free T-shirts, squeezy balls, and other conference schwag.

The lie of Social Media

crossed-fingersWhat I’m afraid will happen is that people will read this book and believe that if they start blogging about what they passionately believe in, plus start going crazy twittering and Facebooking all day, that they, too, can become popular bloggers.

He references Michael Jordan, who says that his secret to being so good is to keep shooting.   I could shoot baskets 18 hours a day for 10 years and still get my ass kicked by some teenager who never practiced.  Like the movie “Rudy”, the lie is that anyone can make it with some hard work.

The latest Malcolm Gladwell book talks about the 10,000 hour rule—that if you look at people who are at the top of their game, it took them 10,000 hours of practice to become pros. Somehow having put in the time would lead to success—although correlation is not causality, for those of you who remember first semester statistics.

Not denying the value of hard work.  Look at Robert Scoble, who is arguably one of the most popular bloggers—part of the “bloggerati”.  He became a famous blogger while at Microsoft because he openly denigrated Internet Explorer in favor of Microsoft.  Thus, an authentic voice—a guy at Microsoft willing to say a product sucked.

However, were Scoble not at Microsoft and wrote the EXACT same posts, his voice would be unheard among the thousands with the same opinion. Think about it.  Change one variable and the “success” goes POOF.  Thus collapses a whole string of further successes that stemmed from that initial lucky break.

The biggest factors in success are being lucky and well-connected. If you know me, you’ll know that I’ve been fortunate in several instances not because of my skill, but because I was in the right place at the right time—a great situation with a great network.  And if you look at the others who are successful in Internet marketing, you’ll see the power of their network—how they leveraged those connections to the max.

If you don’t have a network of powerful friends that will promote you and link to you, your blog could be the most informative site on the planet and still get no traffic.

I’d place that sentence right at the beginning of the book, were I the author and dispense with all the stuff about making sure to make eye contact with people you meet, to smile and say thank you, to try to be helpful to friends, or to use PPC to drive traffic to your site.  I am not kidding, each of those points are whole paragraphs or sections in the book.

On page 256, they list 5 reasons why people might trash the lessons in the book- that the lessons are not implementable, not that simple, not measurable, amateurish, and time-consuming.

draft_lens2365301module13389380photo_1231547514dr_laura_feather_pillowReason #6, which is mine, is that most of the 260 pages are fluff—almost no actionable content for someone who wants to earn a living as a professional blogger—or to even make enough money to pay for their hobby.  The exception is page 12, where there are 2 pages on how to set up “listening posts”, which are alerts on yourself.

On page 117, they mention how Donald Trump made money in on-line real estate (he actually went bust a couple times) to then leverage that fame into “The Apprentice”.  The success of that program, he used to do Trump University—a series of online course and then a conference circuit with Robert Kiyosaki (the “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” guy)

It’s like those people who are famous for being famous—or make money by selling books teaching other people how to make money. Well, I did get a $24.95 book for free, so I am grateful for that.

If Chris Brogran or Julien Smith ever read this post, I’d be curious to hear their opinion about whether I should express honestly (as I have here), give faint praise (as most book reviewers do, as most have never read the books of their friends), or not say anything at all.  You’ve elevated Scoble for his honesty in calling out Microsoft’s weak IE browser, so my post is either on target in that respect or perhaps ill-informed.

My other feedback is that the scope of this book  (“using the web to build influence, improve reputation, and earn trust”) was too broad, at least not without more focused examples, far less pedantic advice on how to be friends with people, and reciprocal promotion of friends that promote you (consider multiple over-the-top references to Beth Kantor and Greg Cangialosi).  By putting forth an honest review, whether informed or not, may burn bridges should I ever need a stunning review from these guys when my book comes out.

But who will read a sycophantic (ass kissing) positive review? And, to the book’s point, will your colleagues trust you when you’re shamelessly promoting something that you don’t believe in?

Mark Twain once said that the key to success is to be genuine—fake that, and you’ve got it made.  That’s one of my favorite quotes.  Hence the inherent lie of Social Media based on principles in this book.

If you want to actually see steps on promoting your brand and to drive traffic, I’d recommend checking out the guides at Blitzlocal.com.  They are on-line and also free.

07 Aug 2009

2 Keys to Getting A GREAT Massage

No Comments Guest Posts, local advertising, people management

A guest blog post by Velina Lujan, a Boulder massage therapist and BlitzLocal client.

 

 

Questions to ask Yourself before interviewing Massage Therapists:

  1. What do I want out of the session?
  2. Do you want to just de-stress, work out some really big knots, focus on an injury or a  combination of things?
  3. Do you like to chit chat or do you want to be silent and just let go during your session?
  4. Do you like to feel nurtured and cared for in a session or are you a no-nonsense client that just want to get the work done?
  5. Every therapist has their strengths and weaknesses and just like in romance, there is someone for everyone in the bodywork world.
  6. Getting clear on your needs and desires before interviewing will give you a much better chance to finding that perfect therapist.

 

spa_massage_mastheadAs a massage therapists who hires therapists for my business, and a very picky client, I always look for these qualities. Having been highly successful myself in my practice offering these qualities, I believe that this is what delivers a great massage, every time!

 

 

 

First and foremost, are they warm, open-hearted and confident, yet humble? The worst massages I ever got were from therapists who had every certification in the books and many years of experience but were cocky, rigid and ego-centric. They had their way of giving a massage, their idea of what worked and what was best for me and didn’t listen to what I was asking for. Some of the best massages I have received were from therapists that just graduated or went to alternative training. They listened openly and were flexible and willing to do what it took to make me comfortable. Years of experience and a diverse background are wonderful and that can bring a lot to the session if they are service-oriented and attentive.

 

Ask the therapist what their ideal client is. This may throw them off but will give you a good sense of who they are and how they approach their work. If the answer is too rigid and doesn’t sound at all like you, that is a good clue that it is probably not a good fit.

 

caringTrust your gut. This is a person who will be touching your naked body for a full hour or more. Do you like the sound of their voice and the feeling that you get when you talk with them? Do they sound genuinely interested in you and what you are needing? Are they asking you questions and listening to your answers?

 

The truth is, you can’t be completely sure until you actually get the massage, but the biggest mistake most people make is that they don’t tell the therapist what they want or how they are feeling, such as “OUCH! Don’t do that! It hurts!!” Or, “OH YEAH!! DEEPER PLEASE!!!”

 

Just remember, the therapist can’t be expected to read your mind, and no body is the same. So if they are a good therapist, they are going to want to know. They are at your service, and you are probably paying them a lot of money. You are the boss of your body and they are there to honor you and your needs, not be the expert and do their thing.

 


Wishing you a wonderful massage experience.

 

Velina Lujan, MA, CMT, CDH

Owner

Stress Management Services

04 Aug 2009

Who says twitter is a waste of time?

No Comments facebook marketing and advertising, promoting yourself, social media

A few days ago, I posted a Facebook status message, asking “Who wants a free SEO analysis?” 23 people responded and I chose one winner. Yesterday, I chose the winner and posted the analysis here.  And now, not even a day later, I do a search on Twitter and see pages and pages of people re-tweeting the blog post.

dennis_yu_seo_analysis_twitter

Funny thing is that I never promoted this on twitter to begin with. It started from just a Facebook status message and then a post of my blog.

You should search on your name to see what comes up.

You might be surprised.
You might learn something.

For example, look at who is mentioning me by typing this:

http://twitter.com/#search?q=dennis%20yu

Given the popularity, I think I’ll probably offer on free SEO analysis weekly. If you want one, just fan me on Facebook at facebook.com/dennisyu, then add your site to the list.

Update:

I now do a search on my name on twitter every few days to see what’s happening.  Now I see 100 mentions every time I do a blog post, even though I don’t mention it on twitter.  That means bloggers like us have to pay attention to twitter whether we like it or not.  At conferences, we get to see the live twitter feeds to get a sense of audience interest.  Quite lively!

03 Aug 2009

How to grow your SEM business in Asia

4 Comments internet marketing training, local advertising, search engine marketing conferences

Guest Post By Gerald Neo, Who runs  GeraldsHeralds.com

SEM in Singapore is just starting out. Lots of companies have just started to realise the importance of SEM. For those, that have started for a few years, are only covering the surface. They have not fully explore the full potential of SEM.

To many SEM specialists, this is a golden opportunity. But then, they have to realise that Singapore is a small market. And it cannot sustain their ROI, just by focusing on one market alone.

In many brick and mortar industries, companies are using Singapore as a gateway to penetrate Asia market (i.e Malaysia, Philippine, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong). I have only named those countries which have the most potential.

So SEM specialist’s should also do the same. Look at Singapore as a bigger picture to capture the S.E Asia’s market.

But before they do that, there are 2 main areas, which the specialist need to consider before he/she can be successful in S.E Asia. Of course, there are many other key success factors but in this article, let’s discuss about the most basic element.

  1. Multi Languages

It will not be as simple as just looking at English keywords. There are Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), Thai, Bahasa Indonesia, Malay e.t.c. So your keywords need to be in local languages.

  1. Cultural Difference

By understanding culture of the countries, the specialist will be able to understand how they behave online and how they search.

Chinese_Culture_Show_Xian.sizedBut don’t assume that by understanding one culture (e.g Chinese), one can apply that understanding to another culture ( e.g Malay). Each culture has their uniqueness and every one of them need a certain level of understanding before the specialist can have some success predicting their behavior online.

Most companies will ignore the 2 areas, thinking their previous success in SEM will ensure success even in Asia. But they will be wrong.

So how can the 2 areas be overcome?

The specialist’s strength is their expertise in SEM. And he/she has tons of experience in managing SEM across different industries.

And what they lack is the understanding of the market. Instead of going into the market and try to figure everything out themselves, and get local help. They employ local digital marketing people who have experience in online media but may not have experience in SEM.

The specialist might not be able to find the kind of experienced marketer in SEM. So the key is to find passionate digital marketer who have managed digital advertising across multiple regions in Asia and also interested in SEM.

Impart knowledge and experience to them. This can also be the specialist’s contribution to the local online industry by increasing the number skilled people in SEM.

When it comes to multi languages, there is always translation house which can help to translate the keywords to local languages. But the local digital marketer are required to look through the translation to make sure it’s in the right context.

How+to+succeedThere will be challenge but no doubt that with the right people, SEM specialists can achieve success. But do take note that is no over-night success, it still needs time and some form of testing to really understand the market. Good luck!

03 Aug 2009

I will do a SEO analysis of your site for FREE!

26 Comments affiliate marketing, internet marketing training, social media

A few days ago, I offered to perform a SEO analysis on the website of one lucky winner– something at BlitzLocal that we normally charge between $6k-10k to do.  There were 23 responses and I’m choosing BusSongs.com, which is by Keith Mander, a current Facebook employee and ex-Googler (not to be confused with the other Keith that blogs here).

Let’s first start with an assumed goal of the site– to make money from ads, as there are no products to be found.  Keith is using 4 cleverly-placed Google AdSense units on each page, in addition to serving ads via Google Ad Manager (GAM)– a product that kills OpenAds and will be merged into DART DoubleClick (that’s the subject of another post). Notice how the links on the left blend in well with the orange.

adsense_units_bussongs

The site has a Google Toolbar PageRank of 4 and a MozRank of 4.58– moderate juice is flowing to the site. The MozRank, as developed by SEOMoz is a more accurate view of link juice that is flowing, as the toolbar PR is rarely updated, plus there’s a huge difference between a low 4 and a high 4.

valen_99bottles_1-1This nice level of juice flows through the rest of the site nicely, allowing 3,130 pages to be reported indexed by Google, such that even lower level pages are getting crawled and are ranking.  Site that have a low homepage PR peter out quickly– there’s not enough juice left by the time the bot gets to the pages that are 3-4 links away from the homepage, so they don’t get indexed. To validate, just go to one of the lower level pages, grab a paragraph of text (maybe 15-20 words) and paste the whole thing right into the search box.  That will let you know what’s being indexed.

Also try some of the terms the site wants to rank on.  In this case, I searched on “99 bottles of pop on the wall” and see his site taking the first position.

Of course, search on just the domain and you see him first– if you’re not first on your own name, something is quite wrong or you have a generic name.

bussongs_brand_search

Not only does Keith rank #1 on his name, but he has 8 sitelinks, the maximum number of sitelinks you can have. While you can’t choose which links are sitelinks, it’s great to have them anyway.  You have to be in the #1 spot for a search and also have enough “authority”.

I’d guess that Keith wants to rank on “children’s songs”, as that is the first searchphrase in his home page title.  He’s #2 from my search here in the US, and the #1 result is PR5.  Let’s go to SEOmoz’s LinkScape tool (requires a subscription, but well worth it) to dig deeper….

The #1 result has a higher domain mozRank (5.18 vs 4.31) and higher mozTrust (5.58 vs 4.49).  They have 4,354 inbound links versus 848 on bussongs.com.  It’s true that quality is more important than quantity of links. In this case, the guy above Keith also has higher trust (more juice garnered from high-trust sites), so Keith’s better content doesn’t win the day.  Rand Fishkin, CEO of seoMOZ, noted that he could create a crappy entry on wikipedia and an amazingly helpful article on a new domain– and the next day the wikipedia article will win. Not fair, but says something about the power of inbound links.You can still beat guys that have more juice than you overall by selectively picking terms you want to rank on.  If you search on “nursery rhymes”, you’ll see a completely different set of results than for “children’s songs”.

While some SEO pundits like to wax on about LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) and how search engine theming can help you rank on terms that you don’t even have on your page– the more practical reality is that you want to have these terms on your page and for anchor text in sites that link to you.  Note that in the above seoMOZ LinkScape report, that the #1 anchor text is “bus songs”.  No surprise there, but “nursery rhymes” is #2 and “children’s songs” isn’t until #10, passing a piddly amount of juice from only a few domains.

Thus, Keith will have to decide whether it’s more important to go from #2 to to #1 on “children’s song” or try to get to the first page on “nursery rhymes”. It’s a question of big dwarf or little giant– which is bigger? Let’s find out how much volume is available:
google_insights_search_nursery_rhymes_childrens_songs

For every 19 searches on “children’s songs”, there are 68 searches on “nursery rhymes”. Further, for every 19 searches on “children’s song”, there are 100 searches on “nursery songs”– the term you’d want to own if it were no extra effort.  Note that Google’s Insights for Search tool doesn’t tell you the exact number of searches on each term– rather, they give you a relative figure, with the most popular term being indexed at 100 and every other term scaled against that term.

So how do you decide what term to go after?  Let’s say that I was ranked #8 on “nursery rhymes” and #2 on “children’s songs”– good rankings on a highly popular term and great rankings on an okay term.  Moving from #8 to #3 on the popular term would produce about as much increase as going from #2 to #1 on the okay term.  As you get towards the top of the page, your CTR will go way up.  I wouldn’t be surprised if moving from #2 to #1 yielded a 3x increase in clicks.

Of course, you wouldn’t do this in a spammy way, where overnight all your inbound links suddenly have identical anchor text of “children’s songs”. But you could kindly ask the 70 sites who gave you 81 links with anchor of “bus songs” to switch to something else. If you add “bus songs” to the list in Google Insights for Search, you’ll see it has a paltry 4 versus the 100 for “nursery songs”.  I doubt you’d lose the #1 ranking on your name, largely because you get a boost from that being your domain, it’s not that competitive, and so many folks have already linked to you on that phrase.

Oh, and there are 26 inbound links that have BLANK anchor text– probably want to do something about that.

Finally, let’s take a look at bussongs.com through the eyes of a search engine spider, which reads text, not images.  It looks like this:

Free SEO Software Tool & Text Browser, Search Engine Optimization Tools - SEO Browser

  • The 32% text to code ratio is excellent– we like to see over 25%.
  • The 301 redirects from the www homepage and index.php to non-www is smart– it solves the most common SEO problem, called the canonical domain issue. Most people redirect to www, but as long as you choose one, it doesn’t matter.
  • missing meta information– you should at least have the meta description, since you’ll want to persuade the engines to use your description when your results show up in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).  Don’t worry about other meta tags– keywords, gaming H1 tags, and so forth.
  • The alt text on images does very little, but while you’re at it, you should put your domain name at the END versus the beginning– change:
“BusSongs.com – Lyrics & Words for Children’s Nursery Rymes & Songs”
to
“Lyrics & Words for Children’s Nursery Rymes & Songs | BusSongs.com”

One word of caution, a few months ago, Google started changing search results to biased by whether you’re logged in, where you are geographically, and what you’ve searched on before.  Thus, check your rankings when you’re NOT logged in and also via proxies.  Every is getting different search results, so you don’t want to be led down the garden path.

And a few non-SEO items

  • Funny that the #9 song is the Diarrhea Song– Kids…. what a sense of humor.
  • If kids (and parents) like the site so much, where is your email auto-responder and newsletter subscription box?
  • You should do the same on your Facebook page, which has 550 fans (of which I am one).  Use the Facebook static HTML plug-in to put in that email box, a poll, and other interactive stuff.
  • Maybe even install Facebook connect and Facebook Fan boxes– you do work at Facebook now, right? ;)
  • Leaderboards are a powerful concept– People are driven to do silly things in the name of popularity.  Why not allow folks to submit songs, earn points as part of a community (provided they are old enough), and have “name that tune” games?  On your top visited page, you show pageviews per day.  If you shown total cumulative pageviews, the numbers would appear a lot more impressive.
  • If I can nit-pick, you have some typos.  “Angles” should be “Angels” here in the page title and text.  By the way, I did that as an excuse to give you another PR5 link from my blog.

Keith, I hope you have enjoyed our SEO review today– congratulations on winning!  You have a great site, as we’d expect from a former Google employee.

Readers, I’m considering making this a weekly review, so if you’re interested in seeing more of this, let me know by posting to my Facebook fan page at facebook.com/dennisyu.

24 Jul 2009

The 3 types of Facebook traffic– what is best?

3 Comments facebook marketing and advertising, internet marketing training, local advertising, search engine marketing conferences

My apologies in advance for the math here– I’ll keep it to a minimum to explain the points.

Below is a Google Analytics screenshot from a funeral planning site.  Facebook traffic represents sources 4, 5, and 8.

All Traffic Sources - Google Analytics

4) apps.facebook.com: This is self-serve PPC traffic from ads that show up on apps.  Most plentiful but has a bounce rate of 90.13%– about as bad as you can get.
5) facebook.com/referral: These are from people click on our links and posts– organic traffic.  66% bounce rate, which is high, especially compared to the site overall bounce rate of 40%.
8 ) facebook.com/cpc: Facebook PPC ads that show up other than on the apps.  Bounce rate of 81%.

We’re probably paying 15 cents a click for Facebook traffic, but the 80%+ bounce rate means we’re losing 4 out of every 5 folks on the landing page.  With Google AdWords, we’re paying 50 cents a click, but bouncing only 42%– in other words, losing 2 out of every 5 visitors.

logo_facebook

So with Google, we’re paying 3 times as much per click, but keeping twice as many folks past the landing page.  On a per kept visitor basis, Facebook is still a better deal.

For the analytics smart-alecs out there, let me respond to your points:

  • landing pages are the same: True, you’ll get different bounce rates if you send to different pages. Plus, you can’t compare a homepage bounce rate against a landing page bounce rate– they have different goals.  Well, we sent everyone to the homepage, as silly as that is– but it’s still an apples-to-apples comparison.
  • not all clicks are the same: A higher bounce rate is likely to be a lower conversion rate, even if you adjust for the bounce.  Maybe– although it is true that EPC (Earnings Per Click) is what matters at the end of the day, not cost per click or bounce rate.
  • data is not statistically significant: Okay, so the 80% and 90% bounce rates might actually vary 5-6% should we run a few thousand more clicks.  But given that we’re spending real money, there’s no need to blow a thousand dollars to find out that our estimated 80% bounce is more truly 77%– it’s still bad.

Were I Facebook, one thing I’d do is allow separate bids for application traffic versus non-application traffic.

Remember a few years ago when Google allowed advertisers to set separate content and search bids?  This is the same thing.