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You Need To Manipulate Google

by Jim on July 23, 2014


Some people think that it is a bad thing. I would argue it is quite necessary. As you will see from today’s show sometimes Google goes to places you just don’t want it going and I don’t mean emotionally either. At the very least you should be directing Google where you want it to go. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use your robots.txt file. This is a really simple thing to setup even if you are not that technical. The robots.txt file keeps Google out of areas you don’t want it nosing around in.. in theory anyway.

Keep the Google Bot Out

Most good content management systems will come with a pre-populated robots.txt file that all good robots should obey. However there are still plenty of robots that won’t. Google has released a new tool inside webmaster tools so you can test your robots.txt, see today’s video for details.

Myles Harris

Google The Tour Guide

Think of Google as a nosy tour guide wanting to find out everything there is to know about your site so it can show its users. If you give it free reign it will not only access all areas it will index all areas for everyone else to find as well. Whilst it’s bad enough someone finding a version of your website from the 1990s, what’s worse still is Google trying to make sense of it and how it relates to your current site. Stretching the tour guide analogy even further, why would they want to send someone to a confusing destination when there are easier ones to navigate?

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If you saw my short cryptic post yesterday about Enrico Altavilla this is the follow up to it. IN today’s show I have been messing around with a technique that he recently wrote about. It’s not only a bit of fun but quite useful as well.

Index me “Any time”

As Enrico pointed out in his excellent post on his G+ profile (I’ve since gone looking for the link but can’t find it. Good one Google) you can further refine the results you get when using the site: search feature. Warning you may find this a little addictive if you are the slightest bit geeky.

When using site: search use the sort by time drop down menu to see what Google has recently indexed on your site. Remember as I point out in today’s video, indexing is not the same as crawling. Google may crawl thousands of pages on your site but index none.

Google indexing by time

Google indexing by time

Google will only index the page if it is new and re-index if the the page if the content has changed. You can also use this tool to see what sites Google is actively indexing in your space. If you are looking at a local audience simply do a site:au search with a key phrase to see what has been most recently indexed in your area of interest.

 

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Testing the Google Index

by Jim on July 15, 2014

One of our guys Daniel Laidler,  put me onto a curious post by Enrico Altavilla about using a combination of site: search and the “time”. If you are a geek like me, it is quite addictive. I’ve been messing with it for quite some time now. I thought I’d write this post to check out a few things. This post is a test post for tomorrow’s video post. Check back then for more detail.

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If your site has duplicate content — if you use the same wording in more than one place or copy text from elsewhere on the web — then you’re setting yourself up for trouble with Google. Because duplicate content is associated with spam, low quality sites and black hat SEO, it lowers search engine rankings.

You should be aware that duplicate product descriptions have the same negative effect as duplicate blog entires or web page content. It’s not the biggest factor in rankings; on a well built site, content strategy is the largest influence on Google rankings. However, in our experience, removing duplicate content can increase online sales by 10% or more.

SEO Effects on Duplicate Content

The graph above portrays the benefits of removing duplicate content on your site.

Google will detect duplicate content if two URLs point to the same page, and that’s something that we’ll correct in our initial site overhaul. However, duplicate product descriptions remain a common problem, too. They make it harder to rank for long tailed keywords, and using all-original content can improve conversion rates, as well.

When do we see duplicate product descriptions?

Duplicate product descriptions are fairly common, and they’re an easy mistake to make. We most often see them associated with similar products on the same e-commerce site or copied from the manufacturer’s site by resellers. It’s only natural to find the right wording and then use it wherever it applies, right? Well, unfortunately, that doesn’t fly with Google’s ranking algorithm. If you have landing or sales pages for slight product variations such as colour and size, and the pages use some of the same wording, then it can cause a big problem with your SEO.

A case study

We have a StewArt client who was guilty of both mistakes: they were using product descriptions from the manufacturer’s site, and they were using separate pages for different sizes, too. They had site-wide internal and external duplication. To Google’s search algorithm, this made their site look low quality and derivative.

What did we do? We:

  • 1. Switched them over to drop-down menus
  • 2. Had custom content written for the product descriptions
  • 3. Set up Google Publisher

Drop-down Menus

Almost every e-commerce site sells variations on products, whether it’s different shoe colours, different dress sizes or features that can be added on. This client was no exception, and they had placed each variation onto its own sales page. The first thing we did was restructure the e-commerce set-up so that it used pull-down menus rather than separate pages for minor variations on the products. Fewer sales pages is easier on you, easier on your customer and easier for Google’s spiders to catalogue.

Original Content

Once we had consolidated the products, we asked our client to rewrite the product descriptions, aiming the copy directly at their market and their customer base. That’s good marketing as well as good SEO. The original content can be written by you (our client), or contracted out to a content writer or copywriting agency.

Google Publisher

Finally, we set up Google Publisher. Adding a Publisher markup tag (rel=”publisher”) to a website tells Google that the content published there is written by the same publisher managing the Google+ business page. This also helps to protect a site’s ranking; if someone plagiarises your unique content, your site will still rank higher due to the publisher setup.

Results

In the screen shot below, you can see that the client improved their commerce conversion by 8.9%. Similarly, transactions were up by 12.5%. This was entirely due to the steps described above; the only work we did for this client during the time period on the chart was eliminating duplicate content.

Long tailed keywords are keywords that are highly specific, and they are linked to much higher than average conversion rates. Previously, our client’s rankings for long tailed keywords had dropped off. After fixing the duplicate content issue, their ranking for long tailed keywords increased dramatically, thus conversion and sales increased as well. 

So, to summarise:

Strategies:

  • 1. We replaced separate pages for variations on items with consolidated pages and drop-down menus.
  • 2. We replaced copied, repetitive content with custom-written, unique content in the product descriptions
  • 3. We engaged Google Publisher throughout the site.

Results:

  • ✓ Greatly improved rankings for long tailed keywords
  • ✓ Commerce conversion rate +8.9%
  • ✓ Transactions +12.5%

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If you are a bricks and mortar business and rely on what some people used to call Google Maps, Google+ Local or Google places, you may want to forget about putting any effort into a Google+ Page for your business.  If local search is a driver of traffic to your business then you are better off putting your time into the new Google My Business page rather than Google+… even though they look pretty much the same. Personally I find this very cumbersome and annoying and I’m motivated! It must be very difficult for other business owners to get their head around this.

1. Google My Business Is More Important For Local Search

On June 12 of this year Google launched Google My Business in Australia. This replaced the old Google places and or Google + local. It pretty much looks like a Google+ page for business.. but it isn’t. To find yours simply Google your brand. If you have previously set it up you should be able to click on the link that says Google+.. but of course it’s not G+ it’s Google My Business – simple right?

Google My Business Listing

Google My Business Listing

If you haven’t previously set up a Google Places or Google + Local page then you need to go here to setup a Google My Business listing. This is where all your updates and reviews will appear. This is where your reviews will appear as well as general information about your business. There is also a new “introduction” area for you to fill out if you have not updated for a while.

If you are a business that discourages people visiting your physical premises then you may want to ignore a Google My Business Local listing as you have to use a physical address to verify with. If you can’t use a physical address or you are setting up a Google presence for a brand then you need a Google My Business Brand Page.

2. Google+ For Business Will Get Little Exposure In Search

If you have a Google + Page for business, it’s really not worth pursuing it now unless you already have an active large following on it. Google is pushing all activity for local businesses into the Google My Business pages not Google + so you need to move you r activity into those pages. That’s what I’ll be doing.

 

 

 

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The Art and Science of Landing Page content

by Daniel Laidler July 4, 2014

As a Account Manager I often have conversations about writing a landing page for a particular key phrase (or grouping of key phrases). My approach has refined over the years, the analogies have improved and I would like to write it down for you today, if for no other reason than I can refer to [...]

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No webmaster tools? Use these 3 instead.

by Jim July 2, 2014

I’m doing another review this week but I don’t have access to Google Webmaster tools for this website. Quite we’ll get a client who has the same issue. They’re scared of the power their web developer wields and are afraid to ask them for access in case as they don’t want to have the confrontation. [...]

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3 Simple SEO Fixes

by Jim June 25, 2014

This week I take a look at a mate’s site. Sean Callanan of SportsGeek. There are some common SEO issues that I’m seeing in Sean’s site that I see on a lot of sites and in our experience when you fix these things you get a good bump in rankings. 1. Check your sitemap entry [...]

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3 Steps To Recover Quickly From Panda

by Jim June 18, 2014

In case you missed it, a couple of weeks ago Google released another major Panda update. If you’re new here Panda is the code name given to an algorithm update that focuses on “quality” issues. I use the term quality loosely as it is what Google is deciding as quality not what you or I [...]

Read more: 3 Steps To Recover Quickly From Panda

Don’t Let Your Website Rebuild End in Tears

by Brett Watson June 13, 2014

Many businesses want to improve and update their websites. Don’t get me wrong; that’s often a good idea. The design of a website is like the design of a shop; it really does make a difference to the customer experience and to the impression that your company makes. That’s why so many of our clients [...]

Read more: Don’t Let Your Website Rebuild End in Tears