Articles written in April, 2009

April 30 2009

Google’s Newest Sitelinks


Anyone participating in online marketing, particularly search engine optimization (SEO), knows how frequently the search engines make changes and tweak their algorithms in an effort to offer the best experience for the searcher.
One change that Google has made recently is with their sitelinks. Google states that sitelinks “are meant to help users navigate your site. Our systems analyze the link structure of your site to find shortcuts that will save users time and allow them to quickly find the information they’re looking for.
We only show sitelinks for results when we think they’ll be useful to the user. If the structure of your site doesn’t allow our algorithms to find good sitelinks, or we don’t think that the sitelinks for your site are relevant for the user’s query, we won’t show them.”
Most likely you have seen sitelinks that look like something like this:


However, with the most recent update that occurred earlier this month, you may have also seen sitelinks that look like this:


These are known as one-line sitelinks.   These one-line sitelinks are located just above the URL of the page included in the search results. Up to four sitelinks can be listed and they serve a similar purpose, to help users navigate through the website, especially to interior pages.  
Prior to this update, only one result (the first result) could have the two-column sitelinks for any search query. However, with this recent update, many results displayed can have these one-line sitelinks.    
Sitelinks provide value for website owners by potentially bringing more traffic to the site. They are also great for the searcher by differentiating the results and assisting them to find interior pages.   If there are two results listed for a search query, and there are site links listed for both results, the searcher will have more information about both site’s interior pages and what they might be looking for, improving their overall search experience.
So now that you are aware of this update, you might be asking yourself, how do I get these sitelinks and how can I choose what pages I want to have as sitelinks?
Unfortunately Google won’t tell us exactly how they decide which websites have these sitelinks or how they go about selecting the links to show in the search results, however, it seems that having a good site structure that is easily crawlable by the search engines can help.

It is likely that we will all start to see these one-line sitelinks more frequently within the search results.   One-line sitelinks could potentially show up for more search queries other than first position results, site homepage results and brand name searches.
While I think this update is great news for all website owners, if for some reason you do not want a particular sitelink to show up with your listing, you can block a page from appearing as a site link for 90 days through Webmaster tools.

April 27 2009

Community Events and Link Building Opportunities


While browsing through one of my favorite morning show websites, I noticed pictures of a charity event.   As I followed those links and went to the event’s page, I also noticed that there was a page with a list of sponsors.   To my surprise, the links to the websites were not “no follow”. The links also contained quality anchor text.

This made me think about how sponsoring events could be a great link building opportunity.   Sponsoring local events in your area is positive for the community and beneficial for your link building efforts because the links are high quality and relevant.  

With the summer approaching, many communities and organizations in your area will be hosting events, fundraisers, running events and more.   Keep your eye out for these events to see if there are relevant sponsorship opportunities to incorporate into your link building efforts.   Sponsoring events can not only help your link building efforts, but it can also increase your brand’s reputation on and offline.   Showing your customers that you care about the community can help to solidify their decision when choosing your goods or services versus a competitor’s.

So, the next time you are involved in an event, ask about the sponsor page and think about the possible link building opportunities that can go along with it.

Posted in: Offsite SEO

April 17 2009

New Local Search Results


Local search can perhaps be considered the bread and butter for many small and medium sized businesses. As search engine optimization (SEO) can be difficult to target a unique area or city, many businesses have turned to pay per click campaigns so they can more clearly identify the geographic location(s) where they would like their ads to appear.
Google has recently announced that they are now showing local results for non-local search queries. The best way to explain this is for you to try it out for yourself. Try searching for dentist in Google.   More than likely you will see a few listings and then about half way down on the page you will see something similar to this:


Notice that Google has identified my location (by my IP address), and is serving results from Google Maps based on where I am located.   There is an option to change your location just above the local listings.
A searcher’s Internet service provider (ISP), or even more importantly, your customers ISP, may now be more relevant than before when talking about local search.   If someone has an IP address located outside of the area that they are searching from, the results will be tied to the location of their ISP.
This update may be great news for small and medium businesses. In the past, ranking for generic terms such as “dentist” was very difficult, as the competition for one-word search terms can be prohibitively high.   Now, the opportunity to appear on the first page of the search results for broad terms, even when a searcher does not provide a specific location in their search query, may be within reach.  
It is important to keep a few things in mind.   First, if there is a location identified in the query, such as “Dentist, NY”, the map results will be tailored to NY.   The local results will also appear at the top of the page, whereas the more generic search for “dentist” causes the Google Map results to appear nearly half way down on the page.
In addition, Google has noted that search queries have been getting longer.   Over time, I wonder if searchers will start to input queries that are shorter in length when looking for local businesses, since they will now be able to find what they need with a more generic, one-word term.

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