Google to Implement SSL Encryption to Searches

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If a user is signed in into his or her Google account, their searches will now become encrypted by default through a secure connection.Google states this change will only occur when searching on Google.com and being signed in.

Why the Need for SSL (Secure Socket Layer) Encryption?

Google has mentioned that search has become personal and customised, further evolving into a more exclusive experience, the need to protect personalised search results has become further apparent.

By the time you are reading this, the Google.com search engine would have already changed to SSL and be fully released to anyone searching using Google.com and logged into their Google accounts. You will know if your search is encrypted when you see the same little lock symbol on the bottom of your web browser you see when you’re shopping online.

What Do SSL Encrypted Search Results Really Mean?

No one except Google and the web browser can see what searches are currently being conducted. Referral data is now out of bounds to anyone, including third-party tracking software and Google Analytics!

Webmasters will begin to lose valuable data they have become dependant on – understanding which keywords their visitors have found their websites with. However, referral search engine data will still be available to third-party tracking software and Google Analytics.

What is the Percentage of Users Logged into Google and Searching?

As mentioned in the first paragraph, the new Google SSL search will only be implemented on Google.com and only for those who are signed into their Google accounts. Head of Google’s web spam team, Matt Cutts suggests the impact can be measured as a single digit percentage of all Google searchers on Google.com

How Will AdSense and other Ad Networks Display the Correct Ads?

SSL will not interfere with referrer blocking when it comes to ads. Google will continue to allow this as Google feels there is a need to provide this data to advertisers so they can continue to monitor, examine and tweak their advertising campaigns to deliver what is best and most appropriate to users.

It would be silly if AdWords or AdSense ads were displaying irrelevant or off-topic ads and not basing them on the keywords a user is searching Google for.

However, the Future is not so Bleak

Google Webmaster Tools reports the top 1000 search terms people are using to reach websites over a 30 day period. Thankfully, Google has stated this will remain, and I’m sure many webmasters are rejoicing. Unfortunately, conversion tracking is out the door, only the search queries used to find your site using Google will be available.

Referrer data is gradually leaving the search engines, but according to Google, the lack of referrer data being passed onto web analytical software is only going to impact a very small number of Google.com searches. Anyone not signed into their Google account will still pass along their referrer data (including search terms) to all forms of web analytics programs out there. This will still leave plenty of data out there for SEOs and CROs to play with and obtain the best possible optimisation results.

If a user is signed in into his or her Google account, their searches will now become encrypted by default through a secure connection. Google states  this change will only occur when searching on Google.com and being signed in.

Why the Need for SSL (Secure Socket Layer) Encryption?

Google has mentioned  that search has become personal and customised, further evolving into a more exclusive experience, the need to protect personalised search results has become further apparent.

By the time you are reading this, the Google.com search engine would have already changed to SSL and be fully released to anyone searching using Google.com and logged into their Google accounts. You will know if your search is encrypted when you see the same little lock symbol on the bottom of your web browser you see when you’re shopping online.

What Do SSL Encrypted Search Results Really Mean?

No one except Google and the web browser can see what searches are currently being conducted. Referral data is now out of bounds to anyone, including third-party tracking software and Google Analytics!

Webmasters will begin to lose valuable data they have become dependant on – understanding which keywords their visitors have found their websites with. However, referral search engine data will still be available to third-party tracking software and Google Analytics.

What is the Percentage of Users Logged into Google and Searching?

As mentioned in the first paragraph, the new Google SSL search will only be implemented on Google.com and only for those who are signed into their Google accounts. Head of Google’s web spam team, Matt Cutts suggests the impact can be measured as a single digit percentage of all Google searchers on Google.com

How Will AdSense and other Ad Networks Display the Correct Ads?

SSL will not interfere with referrer blocking when it comes to ads. Google will continue to allow this as Google feels there is a need to provide this data to advertisers so they can continue to monitor, examine and tweak their advertising campaigns to deliver what is best and most appropriate to users.

It would be silly if AdWords or AdSense ads were displaying irrelevant or off-topic ads and not basing them on the keywords a user is searching Google for.

However, the Future is not so Bleak

Google Webmaster Tools reports the top 1000 search terms people are using to reach websites over a 30 day period. Thankfully, Google has stated this will remain, and I’m sure many webmasters are rejoicing. Unfortunately, conversion tracking is out the door, only the search queries used to find your site using Google will be available.

Referrer data is gradually leaving the search engines, but according to Google, the lack of referrer data being passed onto web analytical software is only going to impact a very small number of Google.com searches. Anyone not signed into their Google account will still pass along their referrer data (including search terms) to all forms of web analytics programs out there. This will still leave plenty of data out there for SEOs and CROs to play with and obtain the best possible optimisation results.

Google to Implement SSL Encryption to Searches was originally published on BruceClay.com.au, an SEO services and SEO tools provider.

The value of organic rankings – A CTR study

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One of the most difficult questions a client often asks is, “How much money can be made with this SEO project”. The answer to this is always a tricky one as there are some many variables involved.

One of the Bruce Clay Australia directors, Des Odell, has written a great article about SEO ROI, which outlines ways to estimate potential additional traffic from an SEO project and then put a value on the additional traffic, either by added revenue or by cost savings from traffic replacement through other media.

To estimate the additional traffic volume gained from an SEO project, you have to know what the current rankings are, what the traffic volume is from the current rankings, and then forecast additional volume from the new rankings.

If rankings could improve from A to B, how could the additional traffic from those improved rankings be calculated? The answer is to calculate the additional traffic volume using the estimated Click-Through Rate (CTR) associated with the ranking position.

Once the CTR likelihood of a future ranking can be quantified, it can be combined with the associated search volume to estimate the potential new traffic for that keyword. If this process is scaled to hundreds of keywords for a decent sized case study, it can then be applied to the entire non-brand organic traffic of the website to get a much bigger picture.

In other words, here is a proposed formula:

Given:

F = Future Non-Brand Organic Traffic

f = Future ranking

P = Present Non-Brand Organic Traffic

p = Present ranking

n = Number of Keywords monitored

k = Keyword

V= Search Volume for a keyword

c = Function defining the Click-Through Rate for a ranking

Translation:

Future Non Brand Organic Traffic = Sum of the factors of all keyword volumes by their future ranking position click through rate, multiplied by the Present Non-Brand Organic Traffic, divided by the Sum of the factors of all keyword volumes by their current ranking position click through rate.

Assumptions:

  • The search volume for a keyword remains the same in the future
  • Google search volumes are accurate
  • The sample of keywords selected is representative of the entire website
  • Google is driving 100% of your Non-Brand Organic Traffic

Note 1: You could take the inverse of  which would give you a number between 0 and 1, essentially showing a potential for improvement of your current rankings. The larger the number of keywords monitored (n) is, the more accurate that number will be.

Note 2: This sum would give you the potential of Non-Brand Organic traffic you could receive from the n keywords monitored. A low performance could mean your listings are not compelling enough.

One key missing part of this forecast methodology is the CTR for each ranking. Luckily, at Bruce Clay Australia, we have been running CTR research for some time now, using the enormous amount of data available to us, and we thought it would be a good idea to offer these results to you guys, so here are the results:

Some of you will compare these to the good old AOL CTR stats from 2006, and as can be seen, the CTR for the top 3 is much lower here. These results are comparable to those which Optify and Enquiro published, although the universal search results were not as prominent back then, which should explain the difference in CTR between the Top 3 and the #4 onwards. We have actually noticed the same difference when comparing the latest data (October 2011) to the first data set (August 2010).

There are a number of other studies out there, some interesting. The problem I always had with them is that few would publish the methodology followed or the sample size. Also, most of these studies did not account for branded queries, which skews results towards a higher CTR. Other studies also used rather unusual methodologies, sometimes over-doing it to the point of reducing their sample size to a few hundred keywords, which impacts on the quality of the results with such a low base.

For those interested in the methodology used, here are the different steps followed:

  • Collected search queries in Google Webmaster Tools across a large number of websites across various industries every 6 months for a year (3 data sets)
  • Removed all branded queries to avoid any brand bias in the CTR
  • Removed all non-clicked impressions to avoid any bias in CTR
  • Aggregated all impressions and clicks for each ranking position
  • Calculated the average CTR for each ranking position

Sample size:

  • 100 millions impressions
  • 650,000 unique queries

Additional interesting facts:

  • 97% of the queries drove less than 10 clicks
  • 91% of the impressions were driven from queries with more than 10 clicks
  • Here is a breakdown of the clicks per SERP:

Finally, assuming that the “reasonable surfer” surfs reasonably the same way across search results pages, you could apply the stats in the table above to establish the potential traffic for keywords past the first page.

We hope this research can be used to help you value your organic rankings and establish the ROI of your SEO project.

If you want to discuss this topic further, please feel free to contact us at http://www.bruceclay.com.au/contactform.htm, or contact me directly at http://twitter.com/martinorliac

 

 

The value of organic rankings – A CTR study was originally published on BruceClay.com.au, an SEO services and SEO tools provider.

October 27th 2011 Search Engine Optimisation

SEO Monthly Update – September 2011

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Welcome to our monthly SEO update for September 2011. This update highlights key news in the SEO industry during September 2011, key SEO related blog posts from our bloggers in the US and Australia, key articles covered in our global newsletter and key podcasts from our SEM Synergy Webmaster radio show.

 

1. SEO News

a) Panda 2.5 Rolls Out

At the end of the month, Google rolled out the latest iteration of its Panda update. Google is stating it is just a normal one of its approximately 500 algorithm updates per year, but it seems this one is significant enough to be seen as Panda v2.5.

Although Google does not release specific details of updates, according to information from SuiteMetrics, it seems sites which host video content have received a significant boost in SEO Visibility from this update, including Google’s own properties, such as YouTube. “Brand” sites have also received a significant boost.

 

As with all updates there are winners and losers. Most of the losers appear to be in the retailing/reviewing/commentary space, in particular those sites that are viewed as being more than once-removed from their Brand cousins. Some sites, such as DaniWeb, which recovered from being hit in the original Panda roll-out, have now been hit again.

Implication: If onsite video content is king (for a little while, at least,) then delivering quality relevant video content directly to users from the owned site increases in importance. This would give additional benefits of increasing user engagement with the site, increasing stickiness for the site and is likely to decrease bounce rates. Both of these latter factors are thought to be ranking factors in the major SEs algorithms, so the benefits of onsite video content would be amplified.

b) Managing Pagination & Duplicate Content

Some of Google’s biggest bugbears are the inefficiencies caused to their crawlers and indexing engines by replicated and duplicated content. Over the last few years Google has been making every effort to remove the bloat from their index, and at the recent SMX East show, all the engines reportedly stated that duplicate content ”will” hurt rankings.

One of the main areas of index bloat is caused by content pagination. This frequently occurs on sites like big ecommerce sites with product catalogue pages broken down into different views, such as 10/20/30 products at a time. With little textual variance and little unique content on each page, this may cause Google not to display the best page the match the user’s search query, and may be at risk of being interpreted by search engines as being duplicate content.

Frequent useability studies have shown that users prefer a “view-all” page and Google tries to surface that page as the preferred result. However for ecommerce sites with 1000s of products having the view-all page displayed frequently might cause significant page loading issues.

In order to attempt to resolve this conflict between users, site owners and Google, the search engine has now advised webmasters to use the HTML link elements rel=”next” and rel=”prev”, where appropriate, in a similar way that rel=”canonical” is used.

These elements could be appropriate for any type of page which may be split over several pages but only cover one topic. As well as the ecommerce product categories above, this might include pages such as: article series; forum threads; blog posts; or news stories.

The benefits of using these new elements are that Google will “consolidate indexing properties, such as links from the component pages to the series as a whole” and “send users to the most relevant page”.

Implication:  If your site has content which is split over a series of pages, it is important to consider implementing this HTML technique. This should reduce the potential load on a server; encourage Google to display most relevant page and consolidate linking benefits. As a final benefit it may also reduce the risk of running into problems associated with duplicate content.

c)    SMX East – New York, Sept 13th to 15th

The Search Marketing industry gathered in New York recently for SMX East, one of its regular conferences/shindigs.

Bruce Clay bloggers, Jessica Lee & Virginia Nussey were present and live-blogging on the hot-topic sessions they attended, including: Facebook, Twitter and SEO; The Current State of Personalised Search; and plenty of other topics. All their posts are archived on the Bruce Clay US blog.

Some of the key snippets of information picked up during the few days of conference sessions included: significant information on the integration of Rich Snippets into SERPs and their effect on CTR; the news that Bing has a 1% error tolerance for URLs in sitemap.xml before it starts to affect their view of the site’s trustworthiness; and the unsurprising news that Google will crawl a page that has been “+1”ed in its SERPs, but which may have been excluded by robots.txt.

Implications:

  1. 1. If your site has content which would benefit from Rich Snippets, then the implementation pain appears to be worth it for the CTR & traffic benefits.
  2. 2. Make sure your sitemap.xml is a very accurate list of live URLs on your website. It’s worth checking with this with a third party crawler.

If there are indicators to Google of a page’s relevance, then it is likely to notice and index it, in spite of any robots.txt instruction.

d)    Facebook gets busy with the updates

It’s not just over-active teenagers posting regular status updates on Facebook. These last few days have seen a number of improvements (***) to the way Facebook lets you share, follow and collate your friends’ information. The Improved Friends List appears to be a way to deal with the quick uptake of Google+ and its Circles, which allow you to control who sees what when you post information.

Facebook has also introduced a Subscribe button so you can better control whose updates you follow closely and those who you steadfastly ignore. Facebook is also trying to improve the News Feed you see when you first log in to show you what it considers the “top stories”. Finally based on your posts and information, you will now be able to track your history with a personalised Timeline.

Implication: Yet again Facebook is making a significant play for online eyeball time, improving the way it manages the information you show to your friends. It is thus vital to continue to leverage traffic and engagement potential from all significant online sources. Aside from the implications of social factors being incorporated into the search results, these changes may increase the amount of time Australians spend on Social Networking sites (currently 22% of time according to comScore) and increase Facebook’s share of searches from the current 3% (comScore)  potentially at the cost of time spent searching through search engines.

(*** I say “improvements”, but as with any change to Facebook, the number of vocal detractors outweighs the supporters of the change by quite some margin – 86% according to PCMag.)

e)    Who noticed the Yahoo! redesign?

Yahoo! had a re-design of its Search Results interface recently, introducing a cleaner look with automatic tabs and enhanced filters.

Implication: Despite the above changes and this combative post from a Yahoo claiming that Yahoo! search is ready to fight, it’s a little bit like watching people shuffling the deckchairs on Titanic. The unfortunate implication is that these changes are unlikely to have any real impact on the SEO landscape, apart from some signals as to the future direction of some of the larger search engines.

f)    Mind your PDFs

Google sent out a timely post recently reminding us to optimise PDF files, as they are indexed by Google.

There are a number of technical elements to optimising PDF files for search, such as their own way of incorporating metadata, but the same general principles of being read and indexed on the basis of textual content and links apply as they do to HTML documents.

Implication: Wherever possible all content, including PDFs should be optimised, especially engaging content that people are likely to share and re-post. You never know where that content could turn up and what benefits it could bring.

g)    Bing doesn’t like link farms

This month’s non-surprising revelation is that Bing (in line with all the other search engines) doesn’t like Link Farms; or Like Farms for that matter. Put simply a Link Farm (or Like Farm) is an artificial attempt to fool a search engine into thinking that a site is popular with a wide number of other websites by creating a vast number of links. It’s usually done semi-automatically and often for what initially seems like remarkably cheap prices ($10 for 1000 links):

Beneath is a really good visual comparison of how a search engine might interpret the link distribution from a link farm (on the left), versus the link distribution from a good quality collection of completely natural backlinks (on the right). The big blobs of the unnatural link pattern are links from the same or similar sources. The smaller pinpoints from a natural distribution almost looks like a web:

Implication: Don’t be tempted to build links to your website from a link farm or a like farm – it will damage your site’s trustworthiness and your rankings or in the best case ignored, thus delivering no ROI for these tactics. The key take-away is that quality wins – meaning quality links and likes from quality sites.


2. Blogs

Key blog posts in September 2011:

 

3.Newsletter

Key newsletter articles in September 2011:

To receive copies of this monthly newsletter, please subscribe at http://www.bruceclay.com.au/web_newsletter.htm.

 

4. Webmaster Radio – SEM Synergy

Podcast in September 2011:

 

5. Bruce Clay Training Courses

The final SEO training course for 2011 is our one day SEO training course and this will be held in November 3rd 2011 in Sydney. For more information on training, visit our SEO training page.

 


 

SEO Monthly Update – September 2011 was originally published on BruceClay.com.au, an SEO services and SEO tools provider.

New Book Releases on Online Marketing, SEO, Social Media and Business

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Diving into the constantly changing environment of online marketing, social media and business has definitely become very challenging in many ways:

  1. It’s harder to keep track of the fast evolution and expansion of social media platforms and how they affect the online users behaviour and purchasing decisions
  2. SEO needs to adapt to new algorithms, and the competitiveness is getting more and more stiff as Google becomes more judgemental about the quality of websites
  3. Businesses face multiple trials: they need to stay on their own track, while at the same time try to innovate and differentiate themselves from everyone else and conquer the hearts and minds of their customers

With all this in mind, it’s very important to be flexible and keep your mind open to new learning opportunities that could have a positive impact on the business and its overall performance.

Keeping up-to-date with the latest industry books can be a powerful way to achieve this. Whether you’ll be reading them on your iPad, or on a flight, or on the bus in the morning, they can be precious sources of insights, ideas and strategies that could help you face all the issues mentioned above and refresh your current methodologies and business strategies.

Today, we want to share with you some of the best upcoming (or just released) books about Online Marketing, Social Media and Business with the hope that you can find some inspiration for future readings.

Here they are:

  1. Free Marketing: 101 Low and No-Cost Ways to Grow Your Business, Online and Off – Jim Cockrum. Free Marketing delivers more than 100 ideas to help any small business owner or marketer generate new revenue–with little or no marketing budget.
  2. Google+ for Business: How Google’s Social Network Changes Everything – Chris Brogan.  There no doubt that Google+ is incredibly hot and marketers cannot afford to exclude it from their strategies. Chris Brogan, one of the leaders in the Social Media sphere, teaches how to leverage its great potential.
  3. Keyword Intelligence: Keyword Research for Search, Social, and Beyond – Ron Jones. I haven’t really seen any book specifically focused on keyword research, despite it being such a crucial phase of every successful online marketing strategy. This book seems to be a very in-depth guide to the next generation of keyword research mandated by the development of social media and search engines.
  4. We Are All Weird – Seth Godin. This book  talks about the death of the one-size-fits-all model, and how businesses that want to succeed need to embrace  the uniqueness of each individual as well as their ‘weirdness’ by offering them more choices, more interests and by making them feel listened to. As Godin says, “Stuff is not the point.” Connection, choice, pursuing what we love is.
  5. The End of Business As Usual: Rewire the Way You Work to Succeed in the Consumer Revolution – Brian Solis. Today’s biggest trends—the mobile web, social media, real-time—have dramatically changed society and the way consumers behave. This book explores this revolution and what business can do about it.
  6. The New Relationship Marketing: How to Build a Large, Loyal, Profitable Network Using the Social Web – Mari Smith. People tend to relate with people they know, like, and trust. This is also the key to an effective “relationship marketing.” Thanks to the explosion of online social networks, nurturing relationships with prospect and affectionate customers has become complex and chaotic. In this book, Social Media expert Mari Smith helps marketers master this crucial new skill set, by outlining a step-by-step plan for building a sizable, loyal network comprised of high quality relationships that brings leads, publicity and sales.
  7. The B2B Social Media Book: Become a Marketing Superstar by Generating Leads with Blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Email, and More – Kipp Bodnar and Jeffrey L. Cohen. We often think of Social Media as applicable to B2C… but what abut B2B? This book provides B2B marketers with actionable guidelines on using blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and more for business growth.

And finally, a mention for two upcoming books about one of the greatest geniuses and innovators of our age:

  1. Steve JobsWalter Isaacson, which is based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over a period of two years
  2. I, Steve: Steve Jobs in His Own WordsGeorge Beahm, including the most thought-provoking insights ever spoken by Steve Jobs: more than 200 quotations that will enchant everybody who seeks innovative solutions and inspirations applicable to their business, no matter the size.

In case you are a bit overwhelmed, this timeline shows the releasing dates of the titles:


Are you aware of any other upcoming releases that should be added to the list?

Feel free to share it in a comment!

 

And finally, a mention for two upcoming books about one of the greatest geniuses and innovators of our age:

1. Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson, which is based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over a period of two years

2. I, Steve: Steve Jobs in His Own Words – George Beahm, including the most thought-provoking insights ever spoken by Steve Jobs: more than 200 quotations that will enchant everybody who seeks innovative solutions and inspirations applicable to their business, no matter the size.

New Book Releases on Online Marketing, SEO, Social Media and Business was originally published on BruceClay.com.au, an SEO services and SEO tools provider.

XML Sitemaps in SEO – Part 1

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Many people consider XML Sitemaps as an optional extra, but the fact is XML Sitemaps help not only in the indexation of your pages by providing a full list of URLs on your website, but also to provide other useful information to search engines about your site. For example, by submitting “/” as your root domain  instead of “default.aspx” through the XML Sitemap, search engines like Google might just figure out “/” is the main URL and this may help with the canonical issues.

Other benefits of XML Sitemaps include:

In XML Sitemaps, we generally include all the URLs of our site to help search engines discover most of our URLs. We can also create XML Sitemaps for other content like videos and mobile web pages to make them easily discoverable by search engines. In this post, I will cover most of the XML Sitemaps and will talk about videos and mobile sitemaps in a future post.

Location of XML Sitemap

By default, the location of XML Sitemap can be assumed as your-site/sitemap.xml. If we have multiple sitemaps or our CMS generates files with some unique names, all we have to do is mention it by adding the following line in the robots.txt file:

Sitemap: http://example.com/sitemap_location.xml

Always remember, Google is not the only search engine out there. For Google and Bing, XML Sitemaps can be easily submitted via Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools but for all other search engines, the only way to figure out the location of your XML Sitemap is through the robots.txt file.

When is XML Sitemap helpful?

XML Sitemaps are only there to help search engines discover URLs for your website. It is not guaranteed that all the URLs submitted using an XML Sitemap will be crawled and indexed. For example, if we have a 500 page site and search engine spiders can only crawl the first 200 of the pages, it is not a good idea to force the other 300 pages via a sitemap. The solution would rather be fixing the crawlability problems like making sure every page has an appropriate number of links and avoiding deep links. Also, if there is an indexation problem, we should focus on the other factors like the quality of the content, link building strategies and social interactions.

Creating a XML Sitemap

It is highly recommended to use Sitemap 0.9 protocol as defined by sitemaps.org. All the major search engines accept this standard protocol. There are many free tools available that can be used to create an XML Sitemap. Xenu is one tool that crawls websites and also can be used to create an XML Sitemap.

Optimising XML sitemap

Sometimes, we might end up having thousands of URLs in a sitemap file. Google recommends not having more than 50,000 URLs or keeping the file size less than 10 MB. If our sitemap exceeds this limit, it is important to split the large file into multiple files and create a sitemap index file that lists all the sitemap files on your site. We will only need to submit the sitemap index file to the search engines. To optimise the sitemap files, we can also compress the file using gzip.

It is important to consider using an XML Sitemap especially for huge sites to make sure all the URLs are discoverable by search engines. There are results we have seen where a small change nearly tripled the indexation percentage. Stay tuned and keep reading our blogs for more SEO.


XML Sitemaps in SEO – Part 1 was originally published on BruceClay.com.au, an SEO services and SEO tools provider.

October 4th 2011 Search Engine Optimisation

Triggering Rich Snippets from rel=”author” attributes.

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Although rankings are important for SEO, once you have them, persuading more visitors to click through to the website is the next step towards the ultimate end goal of increased sales/conversions.

One of the ways that you can improve the click through rate from the search engine results pages (SERPs) is to attract attention and stand out from other results. Eye catching Meta title and description tags are a good starting point, but you can take this even further by utilising rich snippets.

The rel=”author” attribute has recently been introduced by Google to generate rich snippet displays that are very inviting.  If implemented correctly, you may see that an image of the article author appears next to the description of the search result, as below:

So the question begs: How can I replicate this and make my search results stand out with a picture of a handsome blogger?

There are three ways in which you can implement the rel=”author” attribute to attempt to trigger the photo display in the SERPs.

Method #1: Single author site

This is the simplest way. All you have to do is place a link on your post, anywhere on the page and point it towards your own Google Profile, with a rel=”author” attribute attached.

After that, ensure that you also link back to your site, from your Google Profile (Go to About> Links section).

Method #2: Multi-author site with no bio pages

This is the simpler of the two methods for multi-author sites. What you can do on every post, is link from each page to the various authors’ Google Profiles. This can be done by creating a contextual link with the author’s name on the post.

Do not forget to have the authors link back to the site from their Google Profile.

Method #3: Multi-author site with bio pages

Some sites actually link from the author’s name in the post to a bio or an author profile on the site.

The technique to get this happening on such a site is to firstly add a rel=”author” attribute to the link pointing to the author bio on the website and then link from the bio, with a rel=”me” attribute, to the relevant Google Profile.

Again, do not forget to have the authors link back to the site from their Google Profile.

For those who are more visually inclined, I’ve created a diagram to show you how it all works:

I hope that you now have a clearer idea of how you can get a handsome photo of yourself (or your authors) into the search results. It is a new feature, so there is no guarantee that if the above methods are implemented that the images will appear in the SERPS.

To check what authorship data Google can extract, use the Rich Snippets Testing tool:

For more information on how to implement rel=author, you can also check out their YouTube video.

 

Triggering Rich Snippets from rel=”author” attributes. was originally published on BruceClay.com.au, an SEO services and SEO tools provider.

September 28th 2011 Search Engine Optimisation, SEO Tools

Meet the new SEOs – Welcome to BCA

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Hello everyone!

Last week has been pretty HUGE for the Bruce Clay Australia family as three very cool people have joined the team…

Holly

Jeremy

Adam

To get to know them better, we asked them 4 questions about their background and their passion for SEO. They were very keen to share a little bit of their story, so here we go…

1. Can you tell us a bit more about your past experiences and how you became interested in SEO?

Holly: After UNI, I moved to Australia and started working in an online marketing company. My online marketing journey began with managing PPC & Social Media campaigns. In these roles I met people managing the SEO. Then I started reading up on SEO and experimenting on friends & personal websites & decided this was the arm of Internet Marketing I was most drawn to.

Jeremy: I’ve been on the web in one form or another since 1997. I’ve run several large sites in very competitive markets and got into SEO because of the continual need for quality traffic, clicks and ultimately revenue.

Adam:  I was stuck in a dead end job and I found SEO to be the next step in my life, a career with a bright future. I became interested in SEO after trying out affiliate marketing using Google Adwords. I found Adwords to be far too competitive with very little returns, so I put all my attention into obtaining organic search traffic.

2. What is that are you most passionate about in online marketing? What makes you get out of bed in the morning?

Holly: I enjoy sharing my IM knowledge with friends so that they can improve the rankings of their websites or PPC conversions etc. Knowing that I’ll have an interesting day in the office & an evening full of sport or socializing!

Jeremy: I’m passionate about maximising the exposure of websites to relevant potential visitors and then making sure they fulfil a need/want/demand for those visitors. My 4 week-old daughter gets me out of bed in the morning, and a fair bit of the night too. J

Adam: SEO and online marketing can be very rewarding when goals are met. The challenge/conquer/reward aspect of SEO is what gets me up in the morning.

3. What do you enjoy doing when you are not optimising websites?

Holly: Enjoy playing tennis, Bondi Beach, small bars, music gigs & cooking roast dinners.

Jeremy: When I’m not demystifying Google, I like to take photos, cook, read and swim…although not all at the same time.

Adam: Sunshine, lollypops and rainbows.

4. Is there any resource (book, blog) that have inspired you or helped you in your career so far?

Holly: I follow SEOMoz & Wolf-Howl blogs and I have learning heaps by reading “SEO Secrets” by Danny Dover.

Jeremy: “Perl, PHP & MySQL for Dummies” – without that I wouldn’t have learnt how to code & create time to think, analyse, test & implement.

Adam: http://forums.digitalpoint.com/ and http://www.warriorforum.com/.

Thank you guys and again a big welcome to the team.

Enjoy the journey!

 

 

Meet the new SEOs – Welcome to BCA was originally published on BruceClay.com.au, an SEO services and SEO tools provider.

Monthly Update – August 2011

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Welcome to our monthly SEO update for August 2011. This update highlights key news in the SEO industry during August 2011, key SEO related blog posts from our bloggers in the US and Australia and key articles covered in our global newsletter.

 

1.  SEO News

a) New and improved Google sitelinks

As many users have noticed, Google made some major changes to their sitelinks feature. Sitelinks are the extra domain links listed below some ranking pages. They are most common for brand related search results and provide users with other internal page links relevant to their query.

Through a Webmaster Central post, Google stated there were four changes to the update.

  • Increased visibility. In appearance the links now look much like the other organic results. They consume much more space within the SERPs with the links now at full text size above the URL and a one line description.
  • Variations by search queries. Previously sitelinks were the same for a domain across all search queries. These can now vary from query to query to provide more relevant results.
  • Integration of other ranking pages. When sitelinks are implemented for the first ranking result, other subsequent ranking pages will be integrated in the sitelinks and removed from their ranking position.
  • Increased quality. Outside of the user view, there were changes to the algorithm used to generated sitelinks. This update combined factors from other Google ranking systems into the sitelinks algorithm.

Google Webmaster Tools also provided an update on managing sitelinks. In response to variations for different search queries, webmasters can now demote pages from any parent page located within the website. This will notify Google of your wish not to use the demoted page when sitelinks are implemented for the parent page. However it’s important to remember demotions are only suggestions and do not guarantee the page will not appear.

Implications: These new changes have expanded sitelinks significantly and provide websites with more real estate and links within the search results. To benefit from the changes ensure your site is well structured and sitelinks are optimised in Google Webmaster Tools by demoting any non relevant pages.

b) Submit URLs to Google with Fetch as Googlebot

Submitting URLs to Google was just made much easier with an update to the Fetch as Googlebot feature in Google Webmaster Tools.

Previously the quickest way to notify Google of new URLs or changes to your site was to submit the URL to the Submit Your Site/Add URL page. This new Fetch as Googlebot functionality supersedes this approach.

It works by offering users the opportunity to “Submit to index” a URL once the Fetch as Googlebot feature has returned that URL.

When the “Submit to index” feature is put into operation the single URL or URL and all linked pages can be submitted.

As it’s up to Google to decide what’s included in their index, submitting URLs to them does not guarantee indexing and this process  only notifies Google of your intent to have the URL indexed. Submitting to the index also comes with a limit of 50 single URLs per week and 10 URLs and all linked pages per month.

Implications: Ensure you submit URLs to Google via the Fetch as Googlebot for occasions when you would like a fast update to the Google index, for example when launching a new site or when you have added new content that you would like to be indexed quickly.

c) A new, improved form for reporting webspam

In its ever present efforts to address webspam and quality within its search results, Google has created a new webspam reporting form.

The idea behind the form is to allow web users to notify Google of the websites in their search results who are violating the Google Webmaster Guidelines. It also provides a central resource for what Google considers webspam or other search engine issues they would like to be made aware of (e.g. inappropriate or personal content).

Implications: Google is actively encouraging user feedback for improving their search results. Consider reporting ranking competitors that you feel are not meeting the Google’s guidelines and ensure that your website is clear of any deceptive onsite or offsite SEO practices as your competitors will likely be looking to report their competitors and you could be impacted.

d) Making the most of improvements to the +1 button

Google continues to rollout additional features to the +1 button. The +1 button can now help generate more engagement and conversation about web content by allowing users to share pages and create +Snippets.

A +Snippet consists of the page title, an image and a description. The +Snippet is to be displayed in a popup when a user hovers over the +1 button on the page. Below the snippet, users can share the page with specific circles or friends.

Source: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-xJokVVozWyY/TlUZmWaZ5kI/AAAAAAAAFhQ/_rl7f0sHFyA/s1600/HP%2BSharing%2BSS%2BUpdated.png

In similar fashion to Rich Snippets, +Snippets are created by marking up content from the page. To create +Snippets use the appropriate attributes from schema.org to markup the title, image and description you wish to use from within the page content.

Implications: Ensure your pages make use of social media sharing buttons as this is potentially another source of traffic and can affect social search rankings. The new features can enhance users social media engagement with your content and increase your social signals.


2. Blogs

Key blog posts in August:

 

3. Newsletter

Key newsletter articles in August:

To receive copies of our monthly newsletter, please subscribe at http://www.bruceclay.com.au/web_newsletter.htm.

 

4. Bruce Clay SEO Training

The one day SEO training dates for the remainder of 2011 are:

  • 2nd November 2011 – Sydney

For more information on training, visit our SEO training page.

 

5. Conversion Rate Optimisation

Driving traffic to your site is only half of the battle. The other side of the coin is about turning more of that traffic into paying customers on your site.

How do you do it? Excellent question. Enter: Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO for short). At Bruce Clay Australia we specialise in both SEO and CRO.

CRO is an iterative process of making changes to a website in order to positively impact the user experience. No this isn’t graphic design or guess work. We ask your visitors what they would like to see and then provide it. Not only do we run the qualitative research to understand what changes need to be made, but we test those changes over and over again; enabling us to quantify significant improvements in conversion rates over time.

Scott Fowles has recently transferred from our US office and in now our very own CRO guru. Want to know more? Give us a call or send Scott an email (ssfowles@bruceclay.com) and we’ll be happy to fill you in on the details.

 

6. The Internet Show

Bruce Clay Australia is exhibiting and presenting at The Internet Show in Sydney on the 27th and 28th of October, 2011. Scott Fowles will be presenting on how to persuade your visitors to take action – in other words conversation rate optimisation. Please come down to our booth and say hello if you are attending the conference.

Monthly Update – August 2011 was originally published on BruceClay.com.au, an SEO services and SEO tools provider.

September 15th 2011 Google, Search Engine Optimisation

A simple process to send highly converting traffic to your website with YouTube

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YouTube is the most popular video sharing community on the web. Not only, is it the third most visited website in the world but it is also considered the second largest search engine after Google. YouTube receives over 3 billion views every single day (including over 100 million views per day for Google mobile) and is localised in 26 different countries across 43 languages, with more than 70% of its traffic coming from outside the US.

In Australia, YouTube scored 10 million unique visitors, second only to Facebook (10,528,220 users) in Australia during the month of August.

These kinds of numbers cannot be ignored and they clearly show a big opportunity for marketers and business owners alike.

In this post, we will teach you how to effectively leverage YouTube to get highly targeted traffic to your website.

Let’s start with the basics.

Why people go to YouTube

The reasons are many.

The main driver of the YouTube phenomenon is that it has enabled “casual” users to:

  • Easily upload videos about their interest
  • Participate actively in the community by commenting and rating other videos
  • Share their favourite videos with their network of contacts

And finally,

  • Find answers to their problems and be able to visualise them
  • That’s right. It’s not true that people that visit YouTube are only looking for Charlie bit my finger-kind-of-content or for the new Justin Bieber video. As much as there are teenagers looking for their favourite music video, there are also other demographics that use YouTube to find specific solutions to their needs. And this is where the big opportunity lies. If you can manage to help the people that are searching for solutions related to your products/service offers, YouTube can become one of the most profitable traffic sources to your site, and can bring you highly targeted and qualified prospects.

I already have a website with great content and wonderful images… why should I bother with videos now?

Well, here are a few reasons:

  • Video is cheap: no subscription is  required to post videos on YouTube and technologies such as Flip cameras and iPhones make creating and publishing videos easy and fun
  • Video content is highly digestible and entertaining
  • Videos are a great tool for communicating your leadership and expert know-how and for this reason, they help you build your brand

And finally:

  • It’s content that Google loves (= highly indexed and ranked)!

Now, what you should do to start building traffic to your site?]

There are 3 essential phases that every video marketer should follow in order to get successful results:

  • Video optimisation
  • Video production
  • Video engagement

Let’s go through them in more detail:

Video Optimisation

  • The first thing you should focus on is some market research (aka keyword research). You need to understand what your potential customers are searching for and, more importantly, how they are searching for it.
  • Google AdWords keyword tool can help you identify what the key terms used by your customers are. Each of these keywords will be the object of a video, so make sure to build a consistent list of terms. For instance, if your business sells Diet programs you would be interested in terms such as “how do I lose weight fast?” or “best food to lose weight”. Remember, these keywords are an expression of a need that has to be fulfilled. And you have the opportunity to be the answer.
  • Prepare a spreadsheet including:
    • the title of the video: make sure it includes your main keyword, but also give it a creative twist and make it look natural (people tend to have a bad perception of hyper-optimised titles)
    • the description of the video: make sure that it clearly describes the content of the video and that it includes your main keyword in it. Also, place a link to your website at the end
    • the tags of the video: These are the key terms that you can use to describe your video, so make sure to chose them wisely. People also tend to browse YouTube by clicking on tags, so for instance they can find out about your video after clicking on another video’s  tag
    • the video URL: Also here, make sure that it incorporates the keyword you are targeting
    • the landing page of your website associated to that particular video

Once this initial phase is complete, you can start getting into the fun part – video production

Video Production

The secret to sticky videos is simple: they don’t need to be viral, but they need to be engaging.

They must provide useful information that solves a person’s problem and provides explanations.

These are some tips that you should consider for producing highly engaging videos:

  • People don’t mind simplicity, but it’s important that you still offer a level of quality that supports your business brand. Consider lighting and audio while in production
  • When you are about to chose the thumbnail of the video, make sure that you chose an image that will lead the viewers to click on the video. It should catch the attention and should attempt to clarify what the video is about
  • Keep them short (2-3 min). Longer videos tend to lose engagement
  • Briefly introduce what your video is about. Make sure to state what your viewers will get by watching it. Promise them that by the end of the video they will get their question/problem addressed.
  • Editing more is better: figure out a way to be more than the “talking heads” video
  • Music can be a great support: make sure you keep copyright in mind
  • Provide something to look at (e.g. a board, or anything that keeps the user focused and interested)
  • Speak clearly: you are teaching and educating people
  • Include a final call to action, which in this specific case would be inviting who’s viewing to visit your website for more information. You can even consider to include a banner ad with a direct link to your home page/landing page

If you’re not a friend of the camera…

Don’t worry, you can still produce great videos:

  • Use Power Point/Keynote
  • Use screen capture tutorials – especially useful if your business operates in a highly technical market
  • Leverage one of the YouTube’s partners: http://www.youtube.com/create
  • Transform audios/podcasts into videos
  • Consider Skype interviews
  • Consider Public domain content
  • Consider repurposing. If you have a great piece of content (e.g. a blog post that was highly shared on Twitter/Facebook) get a dynamic person in your company to present it in video format.

Once you have all (or at least some) of your videos ready, you can create a free channel on YouTube, customise it according to your brand, and start uploading the videos and implement your optimisaton strategies.

Video Engagement

Videos are by nature, highly interactive.

If you want views and traffic to spike, spend time interacting on the video pages!

  • Stimulate comments. For instance, you could invite viewers to post a comment after watching the video. Alternatively, post an update on Facebook or Twitter that says something like “There’s a great conversation on […] happening on our YouTube channel, why don’t you join us?” . Finally, monitor the comments and invest time in answering them
  • Encourage video responses on your videos
  • Genuinely comment on related videos and build relationships with other community members that are relevant to your business
  • Add back-links to other videos and channels

Last but not least: keep monitoring how people search. The terms that people use and they problem they might face change all the time, therefore it’s very important to go back to the keyword research at least every 3 or 4 months.

We hope this helps you getting started with your YouTube supremacy.

Have you had any successful experience with YouTube? Feel free to share in the comments.

 

A simple process to send highly converting traffic to your website with YouTube was originally published on BruceClay.com.au, an SEO services and SEO tools provider.

September 7th 2011 Search Engine Optimisation

Mobile Video SEO Considerations

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While mobile Video SEO still uses traditional SEO best practices, there are additional factors such as video rendering and accessibility that differ for mobile devices.

 

Mobile videos accessibility

Videos can only be accessed on modern platforms and browsers, which mean that videos can only work on the latest generation of smart phones.

In fact Flash videos cannot run on the iPhone OS as it doesn’t support Adobe Flash, only HTML5 video will play. Since many of the popular mobile device platforms support HTML5, more pressure from the development communities has been applied to video sites to leverage HTML5.

Google has recently been attempting to solve the issue and introduced Swiffy, a new product that lets developers convert Flash SWF files to HTML5 to be usable on Mobile Safari and other platforms that do not support Flash. It is possible to preview the output on a mobile device using the links provided, however note that the preview is only available for 15 minutes after converting your file. At this stage Swiffy seems to only work well for web animations, but fingers crossed this will improve.

 

 

Choosing a Video Player – Mobile considerations

Most web videos are built using Flash (aside from YouTube) and therefore can’t be viewed on popular mobile phones such as the iPhone or iPad. As a result many web sites are now switching to hybrid HTML5/Flash player setups. This allows videos to either set the default to Flash and only use HTML5 video when the browser or device doesn’t support Flash or to set the default to HTML5 video and only use Flash when the browser or device doesn’t support HTML5.

 

Video mobile rendering

As per generic mobile SEO best practices, video content can be rendered on mobile by:

  1. Using the current video pages from the desktop sit
  2. Using an alternate style sheet – mobile formatted version for video pages
  3. Developing a different version of the site for videos using a sub-domain e.g. m.mydomain.com.au which is specifically optimised for mobile accessibility

A factor to consider for mobile video is that usually mobile devices access the site on a slower bandwidth network, so serving the desktop version or a mobile formatted style sheet to these devices might not offer a faster/ optimised user experience – especially in the situation where there are large images, lots of JavaScript code, and excessive text on the video page.

Having an equivalent version of the mobile site such as m.mydomain.com.au could provide a faster user experience by allowing compressing images, and removing the excess of JavaScript code and text on the video page.

 

The challenge of video captions and transcripts on a mobile device

In general captions and transcripts are a really huge benefit, not only for people who are hearing impaired, but also because they can improve the ability to index videos properly and deliver even more accurate search results. One of the challenges is the way captions and transcripts are viewable on a desktop browser versus a mobile. In general on desktop sites, captions can be rendered using a Flash video player and PDF version of the transcript. Things are a bit more complicated on mobile devices where, as mentioned above, Flash technology is not supported (for example the popular iPhone and iPad devices) and where there is no default PDF reader (mainly Blackberry devices) that allows users to read the PDF version of the transcript. The other challenge is that mobile devices offer a limited space for closed captions.


Mobile Video Speed Improvements

Video loading time on mobile is traditionally not very fast, and is usually longer than the average web load time. Load time increases can lead to higher bounce rates, low video watch rates and may also impact a site’s search rankings. Google has just released Google Page speed tool for mobile, which can provide an analysis of the content of a mobile webpage and give suggestions on how to make the page faster.

 

 

To improve mobile video speed in general, Google Inc.’s YouTube division has been dealing with major mobile operators and handset manufacturers in order to find a solution to optimise mobile video streaming. Hopefully we will soon be able to experience improved video technology on mobile and a less busy network.

This will have a huge impact on mobile video usage. Research shows that playing videos represented 39% of all traffic last year on worldwide wireless networks used by cell phones and other portable devices to access the Internet. This is expected to reach 60% by the end of 2011.

(source http://broadcastengineering.com/news/mobile-video-usage-lower-than-predicted-20110124/)

 

Mobile SEO brings video optimisation to a different level and it shouldn’t be underestimated.

 


 

The challenge of video captions and transcripts on a mobile device

Mobile Video SEO Considerations was originally published on BruceClay.com.au, an SEO services and SEO tools provider.

August 25th 2011 Search Engine Optimisation