Articles in The 'Content Strategy & Optimization' Tag


February 13 2008

Have you tested your landing pages lately?

by Heather Stanish

Search is becoming ever so popular, as we have seen a great migration from tradition media to internet search. The numbers are in and people have shifted their buying habits and research to the online medium in droves. There are an abundance of websites to choose from when conducting a search. Yes, we’ve said it many times, it is very important to have your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy and your Search Engine Marketing (SEM) strategy in place to make sure you show up, but, if that’s all you do, you’ve only gotten your customer to your doorstep. What are you doing in order to get a prospect to then come in, take a look around, and feel excited and comfortable enough to actually buy something, or want more information about your product or service?

If you haven’t given thought to what prospects do once they get to your website, or if you are using analytics and aren’t sure why your bounce rate is so high, I would look at the obvious question… what pages are you sending your prospects to? I would then most certainly conduct testing of the landing pages your prospects arrive at on your site (or your doorstep). You want to make sure that your landing pages are attractive and give your prospects a clear call to action so that you aren’t missing your chance to show them what you have to offer!

Google AdWords has a very nice feature, called Website Optimizer and through this tool, you can very conveniently conduct a controlled test of your landing page’s effectiveness. Google Analytics has a great reporting functionality that works in conjunction with the Optimizer tool in order to run reporting and analyze which pages are performing better. What good is a test without analysis? You may be pleasantly surprised what you perceive is effective and what your prospects are actually reacting to! Since they are the ones that buy your product, let them help you determine what they want from you when they visit your site.

There are various approaches to testing landing pages, whether you decide to conduct an A/B comparison, or if you want to conduct a multivariate test in which you test various layouts of the same page. Whatever type of test you decide, do your research first. There are a multitude of articles that you can find that give advice. Make sure you plan ahead, test out pages that are popular enough to be visited (or your test will take an unreasonably long time to conduct), run the test long enough to capture adequate data, and of course, make necessary changes to the website.

Like anything else in marketing, conduct tests often, because buying habits and trends come and go. Conducting a test once satisfactorily doesn’t mean it will continue to be effective in the future.

Happy testing!

http://searchengineland.com/080123-075224.php

http://searchenginewatch.com/showPage.html?page=3628090

January 30 2008

My site is 100% optimized. Can I stop working on SEO?

by Marni Weinberg

I cannot count the number of times a client has said those exact words to me. Truth be told, if you want to maintain a long term presence online, it is absolutely essential that SEO be an ongoing process of adding new, search engine friendly content. Here are just a few of the many reasons why SEO should never remain stagnant.

SEO is a very dynamic industry; hence what was most valued as important in the eyes of the search engines one year ago, is no longer as important today. Google Page Rank, for example, is still deemed to be an integral part of a site’s natural positioning, however, is no longer the most mission critical factor. Today, the implementation of a Link Building Strategy is considered to be crucial in improving natural search. The engines (especially Google) are heavily weighing their organic results on how many relevant links a site has, as well as the manner in which these links are obtained.

Your competition is likely doing everything they can to surpass you online. Think of it this way: if you’ve ever hired (or even thought about hiring) an SEO agency to optimize your site, you are in a competitive industry and should deduce that your competition is doing the same. Your web site should be viewed as a work in progress; the more new and optimized content your site has, the more information the search engine spiders have to crawl. Think Blogs, Social Media, etc.

The search engines, specifically Google, Yahoo and MSN, like it when you play by the rules. Sure, there are a variety of ways to trick or fool the engines to gain better rankings in the short term. Rest assured, these tactics will catch up with you and could eventually lead to your site getting banned from the engines. We, at MoreVisibility, always adhere to a best practices approach, follow the rules set forth by each engine and advise our clients’ to do the same.

January 25 2008

How to Resolve the Canonicalization Issue without Access to your Server

by Marjory Meechan

Resolving the canonicalization issue can be a big headache because not all webmasters have the kind of server administration control that allows complete control over which version of your domain name is displayed to the world. However, it is important to note that while the optimal way to ensure that all search engines see only one version of your domain is by redirecting the non-canonical version to the canonical one, it’s not the only way.

First, the canonicalization issue is only an issue if search engines find your site under the “wrong” version. If search engine indexes are only showing your site under your preferred version, then it is less of a problem.

If you want to find out if your site has a problem, type site:yourdomain.com into the query box for each search engine like this:

If all the listings are for the same version of your domain as shown here, canonicalization is not yet a pressing issue for you:

However, this does not mean you are in the clear. Depending on how your site is built, all it would take is one other site to link to you using the non-canonical version and your site could end up with pages in search engine indexes from both versions of your domain. This could result in a canonicalization issue whereby some pages don’t receive the link value that they deserve and that can affect rankings.

To prevent this with Google, just register with Webmaster Tools and set a preferred domain. Other search engines do not have this option, so if you’re worried about how your results may be displayed in Yahoo or Live.com, a more universal fix may be in order.

What if you do have a problem? If your site is already showing pages from both versions of the domain in the index, using Google’s preferred domain tool is not the way to go. It can actually cause pages of your site to fall out of the index and this is definitely not a good solution. Poorly linked pages are better than no pages at all!

To make this a more universal fix, ensure that all the link references on your site are absolute rather than relational. What this means is that instead of linking to internal pages using code like this:

format all anchor tag link references to include the complete domain name:

This way, even if a spider does find one of your pages under the wrong version, it will not proceed to crawl the rest of the site under the wrong domain.

This last solution will work to resolve the canonicalization issue even if the search engines have already found your site under both versions, although not as quickly. By changing all link references on the site to refer to the absolute version of the preferred domain, eventually search engines will also prefer the pages from that preferred domain because the pages of the non-preferred version will show fewer in-bound links. Once these non-preferred pages have been replaced in the indexes, you can clinch the deal by setting your preferred domain with Google’s Webmaster Tools.

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