Posts

The Truth About Sitelinks: Site structure is splendid, it seems

There has been a heated debate on Sphinn about a controversial post by Rand Fishkin of Seomoz. There is a lot to learn from that discussion, but instead of focusing on the debate, I want to talk about something that keeps coming up: Google's Sitelinks.

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Google doesn't provide a lot of information, but this is what they say about the matter:

  1. Sitelinks are presented if they are found to be somehow useful.

  2. A site’s structure allows Google to find good Sitelinks.

  3. The process of selection, creation and presentation of Sitelinks is fully automated.

Let's forget the technical details for the moment and focus on what Google's purpose is here: they want to save users some clicks by pointing them to the right page directly in the search results. Sitelinks appear only for the first result, and only for sites with meaningful traffic. (Google uses the toolbar data of visitor frequency to make this determination.)

I decided to dig deeper and study the sources, try some examples of my own and make my own conclusions. I'd definitely like to have Sitelinks when people search for my blog, and I'm sure many of my readers here would like the same. Here’s what I learned… Read more

Our Digital Footprints: Google's (and Microsoft’s) most valuable asset

searchengine_footprints.jpgAfter reading this intriguing article in the LA Times, I came to the conclusion that Google has far more ambitious plans than I originally thought. In their effort to build the perfect search engine — an oracle that can answer all of our questions, even answers that we didn't know about ourselves — Google is collecting every single digital footprint we leave online. They can afford to provide all their services for free. After all, our digital footprints are far more valuable.

What exactly are digital footprints, and how does Google get them? Imagine each one of Google’s offerings as a surveillance unit. Each service has a double purpose. First, to provide a useful service for “free,” and second to collect as much information about us as possible. Consider these few examples: Read more

Determining searcher intent automatically

Here is an example of how useful it is to learn SEO from research papers.

If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you will know that I am a big fan of finding out what exactly search visitors want. I posted about classifying both visitors and landing pages, so that search visitors looking for information find information articles, searchers looking to take action land on transaction pages, etc.

I really like the research tools MSN Labs has. One of my favorites is this http://adlab.msn.com/OCI/OCI.aspx

You can use it to detect commercial intent. Try it. It is really nice.

I’ve been wanting to do something like that, but I didn’t have enough clues as to how to do it. Until now.

Search engines patent expert, Bill Slawsky, uncovered a gem. A research paper that details how a team of researchers achieved exactly this.

I still need to dig deep into the document and the reference material, but it is definitely an excellent find.

I will try to make a new tool for this. I will also try to make this and other scripts I write, more accessible to non-technical readers. I guess most readers don’t care much about the programming details. They just want to be able to use my tools easily :-)

Visitors intentions and correct landing pages

One of the most often-overlooked aspects of search engine marketing is building sites and doing keyword research without first considering the importance of understanding the visitors and giving the right information they seek.

For a successful campaign, there needs to exist a website that is designed with a clear path that leads the visitor to conversion and a direct connection between what the visitor is searching for and what he or she finds on the landing page.

We can organize visitors’ searches by their intention in three main stages: generic or information search, navigational or brand search, and transactional or action search.

We need to have landing pages for each step and each page must have a call to action that tries to lead the visitor to the next step. Most marketers send the visitor to the home page or to the action page disregarding the stage of the mind of the visitor. This is one of the main reason the industry-wide conversion rates are so low.

For example, if we are selling a Dell Latitude D420 and we get a visitor looking for computers, we need to send him to a landing page that talks about the benefits of laptops over computers, with a call to action to take him to the laptops page.

Once there, we will try to persude him to research our particular model, and in the model page, we will try to take him to buy it.

If the user was searching for laptops, we need to send him to the laptops page directly, and if he is looking for our particular model, we will take him there and convince him that we have the best price.