Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Google snippets

Matt Cutts visited us here in Seattle by heading to Google Kirkland office. They had decided to make a few videos of Matt while he was there and post it to the Google Webmaster Blog - Anatomy of a Search Result. Matt's video explains the snippets (title and description that shows up in your search results). He used Starbucks as an example. The Starbucks site is a good one since it has limited content on the page, but uses meta descriptions in their code.



Matt mentioned in the video that we have no control over the site links presented underneath the snippet which isn't entirely true. While we are unable to pay for the extra sitelinks within the snippet, we are able to control them through the webmaster tools. Under the "links" and then "sitelinks" within webmaster tool, if Google has generated sitelinks for your website, you are able to control them from there.


Always remember how the snippet works:


  1. If the search term is within the meta description of the web page then the description will appear in the snippet (with the term highlighted in bold).

  2. If the term isn't in the meta description or there isn't a meta description then the words around the content within the body of the page will be displayed (with the term highlighted in bold).

  3. If the page does not have content and does not have a meta description, then the description is generally pulled from the open directory project

  4. If there isn't any content on the page, no description in the meta tags, and the site hasn't been submitted to the open directory project then the descriptiontion will be blank.

A great example of the fourth scenario is a client I have been working on that came to me with his website that was created entirely in graphics. The website was a great design, and had a lot of great information on it, but the text was put in images and placed on the site that way. The website wasn't even ranking for the name. The only way to pull it up int he results was to do a site: search to see that the pages were getting indexed, but the content wasn't getting recognized (because of the images).


I am currently in the process of pulling out the text from the images and the html is recoded to keep the design the same while keeping the text still recognizable. I also added a webmap for more efficient indexing, and landing pages for the terms that the client wanted to rank for. There is an xml sitemap submitted to the webmaster tools, and a Google analytics account setup for tracking conversions.
The client should start to see better results soon after we get the new site launched.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Classmates is getting rankings

I was asked for the Classmates.com address the other day and since I hadn't been there in a while I went to Google and typed "classmates renton". I was surprised to see that registration form page for the "classmates test high school"
I hate to say this but the fact that tis page is ranking is wrong on so many levels.
From a usability standpoint - most people looking for the classmates address (such as myself) while Google ha it on the map, to see this page i the results is very confusing. How many of these pages are ranking? I have come across the final form page on several occasions while searching schools, or other such affiliations (researching schools for the kids). The problem is that a user coming to this page for any other reason than to sign up for classmates.com is very confused as to what they should do. This page is meant to be the last in a 5 page registration process in which a user starts from www.classmates.com and then flows through to the school they attended when they graduated. I had mentioned this while the SEO Manager at classmates.com but they chose to keep the pages as is, and decided not to make the fix in order to get the actual landing pages that we had designed and launched in December 2006. The pages were designed to recognize who would be landing on these pages, give the user a clear understanding as to why they were there, and what we would like them to do once there (The target audience, value proposition, and call to action). Those pages went from a 10% conversion rate (that's being nice) to a 50% to often 60% conversion rate.
It's a shame that the registration form page is ranking higher than the intended landing page.

The second reason why it's a bad thing to see this page listed is that the page is the test high school that the QA department uses in order to ensure there are no bugs in the registration process.
If it were me, I would remove it from the index through the webmaster tools, and then add it to the robots.txt to ensure that it wouldn't ever rank again.

Maybe even suggest that we not let it go to prod, and leep it on the QA servers just for testing.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Shiny Red Button

You have all at some point heard me talking about my ideal website. If not, I'll describe that perfect website once again. You see, us marketing folks want to keep things as simple for the user as possible. A clear call to action on the page in which the user knows exactly what to do within seconds of the page loading.

So what is the clearest call to action imaginable? Why it's a shiny red button.

So my ideal website would be one that has a simple red button with nothing else. Big - shiny - and RED

Us marketing folks joke from time to time by saying we should add elements to this shiny red button. Like a call to action in words such as "click here" or possibly using a bit of psychology and adding "don't" to the "click here".

But then what is the value proposition on a page with a shiny red button? Could it be the button itself?

What does the button do?
How do you market the button to drive visitors to it?


All of these questions and more will be answered in time.
In the mean time take a moment to visit the Shiny Red Button - send it to a friend, and watch the button and all the marketing aspects change over time.