Article Archive by Emily Creech

September 7 2011

Elements to Test Using GWO

by Emily Creech

Website testing is something that we as an agency can’t stress enough. Despite what some may say, there’s really only one way to tell if a particular change is going to lead to increased conversions, and that’s through testing. Every website is different, with different calls-to-action and different audiences. What may resonate with the visitors for one website and its audience may not for another.

So where do you begin when it comes to testing? First, I would recommend the use of Google Website Optimizer (GWO). This tool can make your experiments run much more smoothly than conducting manual tests. (We wrote a great post on the 6 critical steps for starting your Google Website Optimizer experiments.)

Next, you will need to determine what you want to test. Is your website an ecommerce website? If so, there are almost endless elements you could test. You may consider starting with:

  • Your call-to-actions. These are probably throughout your website in multiple places — on the homepage, category pages, product pages, etc. Try changing these elements. If you currently don’t have a button, such as Buy Now or Add to Cart, on your product pages, I would definitely start there. Your website visitors have grown accustomed to looking for buttons, particularly on ecommerce websites. If you are using buttons, review their size and color. Some studies have shown that orange buttons out perform red buttons. Test to see what works best for your audience.
  • Elements within your shopping cart. Do you currently feature secure symbols to help build trust and credibility? Are you asking for too much information in the first step of the check out process? The only way to know is by testing.
  • The homepage. Are you featuring calls-to-action to drive visitors to certain top sellers, products or brands? Do you have too many calls-to-action on your homepage that might be confusing visitors?

All of these types of test may seem small, but small changes like these can mean the world of difference when it comes to conversions. Begin running tests on your website soon. The holidays are just around the corner and you want to enter the holiday season with your best performing website yet.

August 18 2011

Google’s Recent Site Link Update

by Emily Creech

We have all probably viewed site links within Google’s organic search results before.   The site links that you have most commonly seen, until recently, have probably looked something like this:

Google’s Recent Site Link Update

The purpose of site links is to help searchers navigate your website more easily.   They are essentially shortcuts to help funnel searchers to the specific page they are in need of as quickly as possible. However, earlier this week when searching, I noticed something very different about how Google was showing site links. Instead of site links looking similar to the image above, they now are appearing more prominently on the search engine results page. Below is an example of how these site links are now being displayed:

Google’s Recent Site Link Update

These enhanced site links appear most frequently when a brand name or specific website name is searched.   As you will see, there are quite a few more links displayed (up to twelve) in the newer version of site links, versus eight in the older version. In addition, the URL and one line of text are displayed, making them stand out even more.

At this time, these site links are automated; marketers can’t specify which links they want to appear. These site links can also change from query to query leading to better results for the searcher, and hopefully for the marketer, too.   These changes are now reflected in Google Webmaster Tools where you can manage your site links. Although marketers can’t select specific site links to show, they can demote site links (removal is not guaranteed).

So how do you get site links like this to show for your organic listings?   The best tactic is to make sure that the search engines can easily crawl all of the pages on your website and that you have a proper website structure. If your site does not have an optimal structure, these site links may not appear.   In addition, optimizing your meta data for every page should help, as a portion of title tag appears within the site links.

Check to see if site links are displaying for your website.   If not, search engine optimization may be in order.


March 1 2011

Searching for Recipes Just Got Easier

by Emily Creech

Every time I am in need of a new recipe, I always turn to the same place, Google, regardless of how many cookbooks I own. Google has just made my quest for excellent recipes even easier. If you go to Google and search for a specific food or recipe, such as chicken parmesan, blueberry pie, or even pomegranates, you will see pretty typical search results within the body of the page. You may see things like a Wikipedia listing, food websites, Google images, and recipes all mixed into those results. However, if you are interested in seeing recipes only, you can now easily do just that by clicking the “Recipes” link located on the left hand side of the page. This will take you to Google’s Recipe View.

Below is a Recipe View for chicken parmesan.

Searching for Recipes Just Got Easier

What’s great about this new feature is that if you know you have limited time or specific ingredients, you can filter the results by cook time and ingredients. If you are counting calories, you can filter by the number of calories as well.   For those who are all too familiar with flipping through pages and pages of search results to find a recipe that suits your palate and lifestyle, this feature will make your life a bit easier.

For website containing recipes, this is certainly a good feature for you!   As you may expect, however, there is some work required. In order for your recipes to show within the Recipe View and have the opportunity to display rich snippets (introduced in the spring of 2010), you will need to do some coding work. There is quite a bit of information from Google about rich snippets and how to mark up recipe information for you to reference.   Following these instructions will enable your recipes to display in the search results with rich snippets or display in the Recipe View, but it will not guarantee that the markup on a page will be used.  

Try Recipe View to find something new for dinner tonight, or start working on modifying your website’s pages to help them stand out from the rest.

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