"Generating Traffic" Archive
META Tags are Dead. Long Live META Tags!
Possibly the number one thing that will get you laughed out of search engine circles is claiming that META tags (specifically the Description and Keywords tags) are still important for ranking well.
Here are just a few examples:
- Just yesterday Rand criticized horrible information in the Kansas City Star’s Steps to Build Web Traffic, including “You need to have key words or meta tags on every page of the site. Meta tags are the key phrases that search engines look for.”
- Tony at Xeal Inc. says that the META Description “can actually be a detriment for the user.”
- Heck, even I’m on record calling a search marketer “borderline criminal” who claimed in a proposal, among other things, that META tags are key to ranking well.
However, I have now built a steady stream of evidence to the contrary — namely that the META Description can be vital to ranking well.
Hear me out.
What I’ve seen specifically is that Google leans heavily on the Description tag to determine if a page is unique or not. If you have a site where the vast majority of pages all have the same Description, or no Description at all, you might encounter a couple of problems:
- The pages may not get indexed at all.
- The pages may get indexed, but only in the Supplemental index.
My evidence for this?
WFG’s, The Company of Women: This site has seven pages. Every page had the exact same Description and Keywords, and every page (except for the homepage) was in the Supplemental index. We changed both METAs, and the pages came out of Supplemental within days.
CreditorWeb.com: Same situation here, but with vastly more pages, and virtually all of them were Supplemental. When we changed the duplicate Descriptions to be unique to each page, however, the pages came right out.
Nursing Homes.com: Similar situation here, but with a twist. We launched thousands of new pages back in September and just like clockwork, Google began to crawl them all and add them to the index. Flash forward a few months, however, and the crawling had stopped almost entirely and nothing but the homepage was indexed. Turns out, only the homepage had a Description. Adding a unique Description for every page has had the unique effect (so far) of restoring to the Supplemental index pages that Google crawled back in September. Although it’s crawling thousands of pages a day, it’s still showing the old pages in Supplemental. Waiting to see if all the pages now have Descriptions maybe?
So if you’re having problems getting into the full index, or if you just want to avoid problems in the future, be sure that all your pages have a unique Description. It can be short, but just make sure it’s applicable and unique.
A Low Clickthrough Rate is Bad, Right?
When managing your pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaign, your goal is to get the highest clickthrough rate possible, right?
That’s usually your goal, but there are some instances where you actually don’t mind a low clickthrough rate (CTR). Let’s take Nursing Jobs.org for example.
They have a section of their site dedicated to nursing jobs with signing bonuses, and they have some PPC advertising driving traffic to that page. Currently, they only have a few jobs there, so the percentage of the general nursing population who would be interested in any of them is very small.
So, they could have a PPC ad that looks like this:
Nursing Jobs with Bonuses
Find nursing jobs with signing bonuses
at the web’s #1 site for nursing jobs!
That one will definitely get a good CTR, but the vast majority of the clicks will be from nurses who won’t find anything they’re looking for — money down the drain.
Consider this alternative:
OR and ER RNs Needed
$1,000 Signing Bonuses for RNs in
Hartford, CT. Apply Online Today!
The CTR for that one will really stink, but the ad tells those nurses exactly what to expect when they click through. As a result, you’re going to get very few clicking through who won’t find a job applicable to them — you get way less clicks, but each click is way more valuable because you’ve prequalified them.
Having your visitors filter themselves before they every click on the ad is a great strategy because it not only saves you money, it also allows you to bid much higher per click. Keep that in mind the next time you’re writing your creative.
Amazon Announces New Clickriver PPC System
Matt over at full : 1511 points today to the unveiling of the new Clickriver PPC system by Amazon’s A9 subsidiary. (That probably goes a long way toward explaining their recent announcement of a cutback in their search plans.) The service will allow advertisers to place PPC ads directly on Amazon.com.
The program is in restricted beta right now, but they are accepting requests for invitations.
What Should You Pay for Search Marketing Services?
Rand has a great post today on search marketing salary ranges. If you’re looking to hire someone full-time, or if you’re only looking to contract someone temporarily, this is a great list. In my experience both working as an employee and working independently, these numbers seem very accurate.
Rand’s SEOmoz blog is hands-down the best search engine marketing blog that I’ve found. No one else comes close. I say that because he constantly details an absolutely unbelievable amount of behind-the-scenes details on how his company does what they do. Many people wouldn’t dream of ever giving away even half of what he does. Is it any wonder that SEOmoz has skyrocketed in popularity like it has? Good karma at work again.
Link Building: Seven Great Steps
Joe Griffin has a great set of seven tips for successful link building on his Submitawebsite blog today.
The Secret to Great Rankings? Karma.
Want the secret to great rankings? According to Steven Bradley, it’s karma. Not the spiritual “Law of Karma” central to Eastern Philosophy, but the Americanized version of karma practiced by Earl Hickey every Thursday night.
He’s right. And not only does karma work great for getting better rankings, it also leads to more business. Be wary of any company who promises to increase your rankings or improve your site without telling you exactly what they’re doing. Best case, they’re likely not somebody you want to be working with. Worst case, they’re doing something underhanded that will cause your site to lose its rankings altogether.
Yahoo’s New “Panama” Release
I mentioned Wednesday in Google Pulls Away that Yahoo had a new version of their PPC program in the works. Well, first impressions are starting to creep out, and while it sounds impressive, I can’t get past the fact that Panama just sounds like AdWords circa 2003. I mean look at this list of “new features” (as compiled by Nick Guastella of Bruce Clay, Inc.):
- Faster ad approvals: Ads will go live within minutes instead of the old 3-5 day turnaround. In fact, we’ve already noticed faster ad approvals even without being migrated to the new system. Multiple A/B ad testing will also now be available to determine best performance.
- Geo-Targeting: Previously advertisers had to use either local search or geo-specific search terms. Under the new system advertisers will be able to do this in one account. The new geo-targeting will allow distribution down to specific cities. They now provide a map of the area which then shows a highlighted radius of coverage based on advertiser’s choices.
- Ad Groups: Keywords in Ad groups can now use multiple ads where as before a keyword had to be linked to just one ad and advertisers had to wait up to 5 days to change.
- Keyword Insertion feature: Keywords will be able to be automatically inserted into titles and descriptions improving focus of ads and click through rates, and will also save advertisers time having to write specific ads including each keyword. Though that doesn’t mean you can slack off on writing good ad copy.
- Quality Index: Similar to the old Google quality index made up of click through rate, keywords related to ad copy, display URL, landing page and other factors.
Can you spot the one that Google didn’t have in 2003?
If you said #2, you’re right. It’s only been out since the beginning of 2005.
Google Pulls Away
Business 2.0’s Erick Schonfeld pointed out today that Google is putting some significant distance between themselves and everyone else in the online advertising market. In fact, they’re expected to grow 38% this year while closest competitor Yahoo drops by 17%.
To anyone who has done extensive PPC advertising, this should come as no surprise. Google’s system is lightyears ahead of Yahoo’s (and MSN’s) and just keeps getting better. Yahoo, on the other hand, is only now rolling out their first changes in at least a couple of years, and it just puts them on par with where Google was several years ago and only in a single area at that. You don’t beat Google with copycat features several years behind and dwindling distribution.
If you’re looking to get into PPC, we definitely recommend starting with Google. Yahoo’s too big to ignore if you can’t exhaust your budget effectively on Google, but they might be the third (or even fourth) choice behind MSN and Ask.com. It all depends on your budget.
Exhaustive Research Toolbox
A huge thanks to Rand for putting together this outstanding list of research tools. I bookmark very few pages, but this is definitely going to be one of them.
This is also a great example of one way to build links to your site: provide such overwhelming value that people can’t help but link. Focus on creating great content, and often the links will follow naturally.
Google PageRank Update Underway
First, let me make it very clear that this really means nothing because:
- The toolbar PR is just a snapshot of a page’s current PR. Google regularly updates all its ranking factors, but only updates the public number every so often.
- There are so many factors other than PageRank that determine where your page ranks in a search. It’s nice to see, but don’t get obessed with it.
The “toolbar PR” (the PR that Google reports for a page, versus the actual PR that they use in rankings) is fun to watch, particularly as you’re growing a site, but it means next to nothing. There are so many cases where a higher PR page ranks lower than a page with a much lower PR that you would think people would have caught on by now, but people still obsess.
That said, you can use this tool to check a page’s current PageRank:
Great post by Matt Cutts answering a lot of questions about PR and about this PR update specifically.