Archive for January 2012

Optimizing for Bing Differs from Optimizing for Google   7 comments

If Google’s great innovation was organizing the Web around editorial votes, or links, Yahoo! went in the opposite direction for many years: analyzing the websites themselves and returning search results based around on-page factors. Today, Yahoo! is powered by Bing, and so it puts much more faith in links than it used to. However, Bing’s technology holds onto this page-based legacy in some important ways. Most optimizers appreciate the fact that on-page factors matter to Bing because it makes optimization easier. Google’s system of needing to essentially ask for other websites’ votes is much more difficult than just following best practices when building your site.

Keywords in content: The biggest difference between Bing and Google is their respective emphasis on keywords within the content of the site. I have already discussed the main ways that keywords matter to Google—namely when they appear in anchor text, the meta page title, and the URL. But Google does not care very much about keywords in the content of your site. That’s why, when optimizing for Google, most people just write their keywords whenever they come up naturally in the site’s content. Aiming for a particular “density” of keywords in your overall word count is a relic of the past and can actually have negative effects with Google.

Bing is much more receptive to keywords written within the text of your pages.  Many webmasters report great strides in their Yahoo!/Bing rankings just by using keywords more often. But you might see a bump in your ranking just by leaning a bit more heavily on the keywords you are optimizing for. Playing around with these keywords for maximum effect in this area is a must, especially because Bing is constantly refining its keyword detector. Someday, keywords inside content may matter less than they do. But for now, sprinkle liberally. First-page rankings may blossom.

Meta Page Titles: Another area that Bing seems to care a lot about is the meta page title. You already understand the importance of this bit of code to Google, and it matters at least as much to Bing. Run a search for any popular term on Yahoo! or Bing, and you will notice that most of the first page results will use that exact term in their meta page titles. Google, in contrast, tries to return results whose meta page titles have the same words that the user searched for but not necessarily in the same order. So if you search for best brownie recipe, Google doesn’t differentiate too much between
web pages whose meta page titles are “The Best Darn Brownie Recipe” and “Mom’s Recipe for the Best Brownie Ever” even though neither of those titles contains the exact phrase best brownie recipe. Bing, on the other hand, is more likely to rank a web page at the top if it has that exact phrase in its meta page title.

Meta Description tags: Meta description tags are a factor about which Bing cares a lot more than Google. Meta descriptions are—like meta page titles—text that is written into the code of every web page. They then become the two lines of text that show up underneath the blue underlined heading of every search result. Unlike meta page titles, though, they usually don’t show up anywhere on the web page or browser after you’ve clicked the search result. They exist merely to improve the experience of using the search engine.

Google cares about meta descriptions a small amount. Bing cares about them a good amount more, specifically looking for keywords in the meta description that also appear in the meta page title and on the page itself.

So when you are optimizing for Bing, make sure your page’s meta description includes your keyword at least once and that the same keyword appears in your meta page title.

Headings: Another important on-page factor to Bing is headings. Headings are the text at the top of a page, usually in larger letters, announcing the title or subject of the page. They’re sort of like a meta page title except they’re in the actual content of the page, front and center to visitors. Headings used to provide one of the bases of the early search engines’ algorithms, but as soon as people started manipulating headings so that more traffic would come to their websites from search engines, headings became de-emphasized. Google, for instance, gives headings almost no weight in its algorithm. Bing must not have gotten that memo, though, because it still factors headings into its algorithm quite a bit.

Alt tags: Alt tags are nothing more than little text descriptions of the images on your site. They are a required part of the code because as smart as the search engines are, they are not yet smart enough to look at a picture and identify precisely what it is. If you have ever seen a web page load slowly, you might have noticed a descriptive phrase sitting in the empty box that the picture soon occupies.

Bing shows images in its regular search results as well as, of course, its image search, and relies heavily on the alt tag in its algorithm. Google does the same and also puts a strong emphasis on alt tags. For that reason, I highly recommend that you properly describe all of your images. Searchers click pictures way more than most people realize, and having lots of properly labeled images can bring a ton of traffic to your site.

Outbound links: Outbound links are the opposite of inbound links, or backlinks. Instead of pointing toward your own site, outbound links point out of your site toward other websites. The philosophy behind using outbound linking as a tool for SEO is simple: Acknowledging other authoritative sites is considered good Internet behavior and is the sign of a quality site. Whereas this philosophy is not held by Google in the least, Bing does abide by it.

The practice of liberally linking to other websites is not exactly a crowd favorite among webmasters, who generally want to hold on to visitors at all costs. But many of the same webmasters have found that a few well-targeted links to other sources can help demonstrate mastery of a subject. Also, the Web is very much an open place to explore, and so being too protective of visitors is not a winning strategy. Linking to authoritative sources will not cause a visitor to be lost for life if your site is providing something of genuine value.

Site structure: The final on-page factor that matters to Bing is site structure, or the layout of your pages and the way they are interlinked. This principle is common to all search engines including Google, and if you think about it, how could it not be? A site that is easily crawlable by search engines is usually easily navigated by people as well, and is therefore a good website to present to users in a search. Both Bing and Google favor clean, easy-to-navigate architecture, fast-loading pages, and easy-tofollow links.

Links: Bing actually uses an equation that works like Google’s TrustRank system to determine which sites have earned the credibility of other webmasters. In fact, links are the most important factor in Bing’s algorithm, too, although by not nearly as wide a margin as in Google’s.

Domain age: A final element of SEO that is important to Bing is age. We know by now how important age is to Google, and Bing feels even more strongly about it. Of all the factors that affect a site’s ranking, only links and age cannot be easily controlled by the webmaster, which is why they are so essential to the algorithm.

As with Google, there is no substitute for an old website, and the only way to acquire the credibility that comes with age is to buy an old website, preferably one with lots of inbound links.

Local Web Maketing   Leave a comment

Local businesses need channels and platforms to connect with their future buyers. Let’s take a look at a few of the most popular options for local web marketing on the market today.

Local Search-based Advertising: consumers research products or services online before they make purchasing decisions. Since “search” is users’ primary tool of choice for finding information, local business owners should aim to position themselves within the online channels providing search functionality to end-users.

Google Places and Local.com, for example, both prove to be valuable options in their ability to drive results-so consider starting there if the aim is to increase online visibility and website traffic, as well as foot traffic into a brick-and-mortar
store.

Business owners can enhance their local profiles by upgrading their listings and advertising to audiences on these sites. While Google Places listings are free and payment won’t influence position, Google now offers Adwords Express, a locally targeted advertising program designed specifically for local businesses wanting additional exposure.

Google is clearly the main source of traffic for websites but there are others which can supplement a Web marketing campaign’s traffic acquisition objectives. When a business upgrades its listing on Local.com, for example — which reaches, according to the company’s own count, more than 20 million consumers a month, driven in large part by its distribution network of more than 1,000 partner sites — a business can all but assure itself of greater exposure and do so on a variety of sites.

Local business marketers can accelerate their exposure by further expanding their locally focused ad campaigns beyond vendors such as Google or Local.com. There are many options which deserve consideration including SuperMedia, CitySearch and YellowPages.com. These directory-based advertising platforms offer small businesses a cost-efficient and effective way to position themselves in front of their prospects.

Daily Deal Promotions:Daily deal sites have risen in popularity with the faltering economy and consumers are hopping on board in droves. Groupon has transformed the way local businesses market themselves around the world, harnessing the power of the internet to successfully grow their businesses. Groupon you know these customers are going to come through your door and hopefully find a reason to come back.

Although creating a deal on a site like Groupon exposes a business to a large and new audience, it’s not always a good fit.
If you’re willing to take the risk and have the ability to convert one-time visitors into long-term customers, daily deal vendors including Groupon should be in your local Web marketing mix.

Local joins Social Advertising: As for advertising on social media sites, by now everyone should know that social media provides businesses with an extremely large audience and for many that has been the primary draw towards participation. Aside from setting up multiple social media accounts — such as a Facebook page, Twitter account and a LinkedIn group, businesses should also advertise on these wildly popular Web destinations.

Creating an advertisement on Facebook is straightforward and relatively inexpensive. Businesses can choose their budget as well as define which audience the ad will reach, such as location, age and interests. Twitter too, while still evolving its advertising options, is gradually releasing more “promoted tweets” into the Twitterverse.

Key to marketing on YouTube   4 comments

The key to marketing on YouTube is to lead viewers from your video on the YouTube site to your company’s website—where you can then directly sell your products and services.

Include Your URL in the Video: Unfortunately, YouTube doesn’t allow live links from a video to a third-party website. You can, however, include your website address in the body of  the video—and hope that viewers will remember it or write it down for future reference.

It is recommend starting your  video with a blank title screen with the URL prominently displayed. You should also end the video with a similar blank screen with the URL highlighted. Make sure the URL is big and easily readable; high contrast colors, such as white text on a black background (or vice versa), provide the best results.

You should also display your URL onscreen during the main part of your video. Use your video editing program to overlay the URL across the screen. The URL shouldn’t interfere with the main content, of course, but you should be able to do it in a way that isn’t overly intrusive.

Include Your URL in the Accompanying Text: You can’t link live from within a YouTube video. Unfortunately, you also can’t include a link to your website in the description that accompanies the video.  You can, however, include your URL in the text description, but just not as a live link. So when you write the description for your video, make sure you
include your URL or 800-number in the text.

Link from Your Channel Page: While you can’t include a live link in your video or accompanying text, you can
include a direct link to your website in your YouTube channel page. Anyone clicking your user name will see your channel  page, with the link to your website prominently displayed. When a viewer clicks the website link, they’re taken directly to your site—where you can sell them more of what you have to offer.

Close the Sale on Your Website: The URL you point to from your YouTube video should be a dedicated landing
page. That means that you don’t point to a generic page on your site or even to your site’s home page; either approach requires unnecessary work on the part of the customer to place an order. Instead, link to a specific product page on your site, one that includes information only about the product shown in the video.

Why design a special landing page for viewers of your YouTube video? It’s simple: You want to make it as easy as possible for them to give you their money. If you just dump potential customers on your site’s home page, they could get lost. Or they might have trouble finding the product they want and give up. In any instance, you don’t want them randomly browsing your site; you want them immediately responding to your specific offer.

For this reason, your product landing page should have the same look and feel of the video so that viewers sense the underlying connection. It doesn’t hurt to include a screenshot or two from the video or even an embedded version of the video in the case the customer wants to rewatch it. The page should also include more detailed information about the product than was possible in the video, as well as more detailed product photos.

Optimizing Your Website For Local Search Engines   19 comments

Online businesses that have been around for a while would already be included in local search engines, since they compile data from aggregators and other online directories. Once a business’s listing is loaded in local search engines,  it must determine how to get the business to rank higher when users search for industry’s keywords.

Optimizing your website for local search engines all basic SEO factors can come into play and can help influence rankings. These factors include having good, specific text in  each page’s title, H1 tags, meta description, page content, IMG ALT attributes and inbound links. But some are specific to local search, such as:

— Companies that have multiple locations, it is not necessary to have a standalone website or subdomain for each outlet. It is better not to, since each business location would produce similar web content. However, it probably would be helpful to create a separate profile web page on the site for each distinct location. Many sites with chain outlets will list all outlets on one page– that is not optimal. It is better to have one page be about one store location and another about a different location so as to leverage all the on-page elements to create a page focused on location.

— Have page title, H1 tags and content include the business name, type of the business and location name example “Ben Tech: consultants, India.” For multiple locations, change the title on each location’s page. Include the neighborhood, street address, area nicknames and other location-distinguishing information.

— Home page and or / contact us page should have the main location’s basic listing information (street, city,state,zip code,phone numbers etc.) displayed somewhere in HTML text. Also basic listing information in hCard microformat, which is a method of encoding address information on web pages. For multiple locations, display the basic information on each location’s profile page.

— Place differentiating information on each store’s pages , including  a map. hours of operation, brand names, product photos, menus, pricing, ratings and similar information.  Also include specifics about the physical location.

— Beware of proximity to the city’s centroid (location that search engine defines as the center of the city). When the company is moved to a new location, take into account where the city’s centroid is located so as to find a place closer to that point. Most map search engines will display businesses located closest to the centroid first for a particular category or keyword search.

— Proximity works the same way for zip codes. If user’s search for businesses closest to the zip code area centroid will likely be displayed first in the list.

— Good user ratings are one of the biggest factors for ranking high in a number of  local search engines, particularly in Google Maps. Google maps has compiled ratings from many other directory sources to get a universal rating for a business.

— Develop external links pointing to your website. The best links to support local search come from other locally and topically oriented anchor text. Example,  “Mumbai rental cars” is better anchor text than “rental cars”.

— If local business has a blog , add a blog map or feedmap to it. This will add a local signal to the blog, as well as bring it to the attention of other bloggers in the same area participating  in feedmaps.

–Community interaction can assist in online promotion.

-local charity races/walks, particularly if they list sponsors or sponsor logos on a page on their site. Inbound links from these sites are very beneificial.

Google’s Fresh Update   4 comments

With Googles’ fresh update, retailers and marketers hoping to boost their natural search rankings in the coming months, this new year could be dubbed the Year of Content. The relationship between original, updated and popular content on an e-commerce site, and potentially higher search rankings for a brand, merchant or product page, is hardly unknown.

In 2012, however, is how Google’s’  latest major update to its search algorithm—those mathematical formulas that carry so much weight in digital marketing—is pushing retailers to offer stronger content on their web sites, update that content more often and encourage those in-bound links that signal page quality to the search engine.

With relatively little original content most retailers are scrambling for more, while those web merchants that have long had staffers producing how-to articles, product demonstrations and the like are working toward improvements.

Another Google update called Panda was designed to punish what Google views as low-quality web sites, which includes those with unoriginal content, such as retail sites that rely on the same manufacturer product descriptions that many other e-retailers display. It also sought to downgrade sites that web users seemed to find of little value.

E-commerce site are likely to be downgraded if it fails to attract links from reputable sites, without paying for them. Paid links are worse than no links at all—if a retailer gets caught by Google.

Retailers used  manufacturer-supplied descriptions on its site instead of original content.  Retailers have worked to improve rankings by hiring  copywriters to write original product descriptions that contain keywords that consumers use when searching for products.  They also removed content that caused pages to load relatively slowly—another negative signal that can depress a site’s position in Google organic search ranking.

But now retailers will have to do even more  than they did to protect themselves from demotions in search rankings under Panda. Fresh is meant to help shoppers find the latest product information— and that points to all kinds of content-related improvements for e-commerce sites.  That includes, for instance, a steady stream of new user reviews on product pages. Merchants should rethink both their own product descriptions and also make sure that user reviews are happening whenever possible, especially when they are good reviews. Retailers should continually update content, starting with best-selling products and pages that already rank high in search results.

Google’s fresh update will kick in around April or May, after Google finishes testing the changes. But retailers need to prepare their content efforts now. By studying what consumers search for, along with comments left by consumers via Facebook, e-mails and even phone calls to sales agents.

That old wisdom of search engine optimization hasn’t changed too much with Fresh, but the update, with its emphasis on new content, drives home how important a social media campaign and retailer-produced blogs are for retailers. engages consumers on  Twitter and Facebook, the search engine update will require even  more posting and communication via those social networks. It also underscores the importance of paying attention to Google+, the search engine’s own social network. A strong social presence, one that demonstrates a loyalty among consumers that can translates into links, is another sign of good content, and therefore another way to earn the good graces of Google.

Retailers are on the right SEO track if they are putting more effort into social media. The ‘freshness algorithm’ is Google’s attempt to continue to provide more relevant, real-time results for search queries, further highlighting the need for marketers to accelerate their focus on integrating SEO and social marketing practices to ensure pertinent, up-todate content is accessible to Google. Retailers can maximize the impact of their content by making sure they have the “social
share” buttons embedded on their sites, enabling consumers to pass on appealing content to friends and other shoppers on social networks, which also encourages links and builds credibility.

Retailers and marketers are increasingly using a variation of this mantra as both social networks and updated content assume more importance within e-commerce: SEO is social media, and vice versa.

Besides participation in social networks, retailers hoping to keep ahead of Google’s changes will want to invest in such marketing services as price optimization—technology that can help a retailer better compete with competitors’ off ers—and display ads based on consumers’ behavior.

Whatever the effects of the algorithm change over the next few months, retailers hoping to keep up or improve their rankings should embrace another concept besides fresh—speed.  That means getting fresh content onto a site quickly.

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