The age old axiom of, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” has had so much meaning for me over the last few weeks with the latest “algorithm update”. In actuality, Google makes so many updates a year, that this isn’t really an “update”, just a reinforcement of SEO philosophies that I and other SEOs have been preaching for years: “low quality websites will be penalized in the long-run!” Don’t believe me? Read this blog post by SISTRIX: http://www.sistrix.com/blog/985-google-farmer-update-quest-for-quality.html.
Data aside, while I do feel a little sorry for some webmasters, I can see Google’s point of view. Google is a search engine that wants to serve pages in their results that are relevant and provide a favorable user experience. Good user experience can mean a multitude of things: interesting and relevant content, fast page load times etc. For Google to stay the number one search engine in the world, they need to ensure that their search results are the best search results you can find, anywhere. While other search engines like Bing and Ask may be a little less stringent in their webmaster guidelines, their algorithms just aren’t as sophisticated as Google’s in that they can be a little “naÃ¯ve” with the results they serve.
Google’s algorithm was built on the foundation that the amount and quality of the inbound links pointing to a web document should be a major signal when ranking pages. Google also want to present the most relevant, topical (if need be) and compelling data that they can. With the plethora of Google algorithmic updates per year, it’s possible that Bing may fall by the wayside. The only real way to detect any obvious differences between the algorithms of both search engines is to simply compare search results for the same keyphrase.
With that being said, it’s safe to say that all search engines are always looking to serve pages in their SERPs that adhere to all of the same basic SEO best practice doctrines: well structured websites with good content, created for users and not just for the search engines, will always garner better rankings than ones that don’t.
Let’s talk about Bing Webmaster Tools (even if no one else is) and how it compares to Google’s version. I say that with all due respect, because, well, Bing has certainly tried. Below are the major features of each:
Google Webmaster Tools has (that Bing doesn’t):
Bing Webmaster Tools has (that Google doesn’t):
It’s interesting that even though Google seems to have many more options within its Webmaster Tools, Bing has some really comprehensive data that Google does not. Bing’s crawl data seems to be much more granular in that it will give you the specific date that a page was found by their robots. It’s also interesting that Bing gives people the ability to resubmit a URL to be crawled, but Google only gives people the ability to remove a URL or page from its index. Google Webmaster Tools, however, seems like it has more “configuration” tools and Bing Webmaster Tools seems more of a “diagnostic” tool.
Regardless of which one you prefer, Bing has certainly made headway over the past year or so. Their re-inclusion of presenting inbound links data makes their webmaster tools more robust, but Google’s version still seems to one-up their competitor in that you are given more opportunity to configure different elements of parts of your website for Google’s crawlers.
The idea of gaining traffic versus conversions has always been a hot topic among those seeking SEO results. The question of traffic or conversions has been debated by the best in the business. In all honesty, the best answer I have heard is… drum roll please: Both.
Ultimately the whole goal of SEO (and PPC) is to achieve both high website traffic and conversions. You need to draw as much traffic to your website as possible, and you also need those “visitors” to convert to customers. Getting those visitors to return to your website as loyal customers is the goal. This is one way to measure the success of your online marketing efforts.
Having a website that gains all kinds of traffic, yet converts little to none of its visitors is of little value. It takes a lot of time and effort to get people to visit your website, and in those few precious minutes, if not seconds, you have an opportunity to convert them into customers.
What are some of the ways you can convert “visitors” into customers, you ask? Excellent question, and a question you need to ask yourself when preparing to invest into any internet marketing (i.e. SEO, PPC, CPC, and on down the line).
Believe it or not, online marketing success comes down to having a solid goal. Start by understanding what your website offers, who your targeted traffic is, and what you want them to do. Here’s an example:
Say, you are a news site that sells white papers and case studies. Your main goal for new visitors may be to get them to sign up for your monthly newsletter. In doing so, you would have successfully drawn a visitor to your site and, in those initial moments (where anything can happen from a bounce to an exit, to action) were able to get them to sign up for your newsletter – a conversion.
While this conversion may not be a direct sale, you have engaged them enough to stay connected. In doing this, there is a strong possibility that they will likely buy a white paper or case study in the near future. Congratulations!
Now let’s talk about a few other types of conversions before we get off the topic. Other types of conversions can be getting people to:
There are a bundle of conversion types you can reach for. In fact, you can set goals in Google Analytics and actually give levels to the types of conversions you have made. This way you can start to separate your traffic and gain a better insight into who you are dealing with to improve the customer experience. Again, it makes no sense to just draw in traffic if you are not also thinking about how you are going to convert that traffic.