Archive for April, 2011
Google has launched Instant Previews on AdWords ads.
You may recall when Google launched Instant Previews for search results. These let the user click the little magnifying glass to get a visual preview of what the site will look like before they click on the result itself. The whole thing really made it clear that having an attractive design could only benefit you in the Google user interface.
Now the same thing applies to your ads’ landing pages.
“Now, we’re bringing the same benefit to ads with Instant Previews for Ads,” writes Google’s Dan Friedman on the Inside AdWords blog. “Starting today [on the 25th, actually], the Instant Previews icon will appear next to ads on Google.com allowing users to preview the ad’s landing page. With Instant Previews, your customers are able to quickly preview a page to see if its content matches what they’re searching for.”
“By allowing potential customers to preview your site before they arrive, Instant Previews helps you get even more highly-qualified traffic to your site,” he adds. “Even better, Instant Preview clicks are free of charge — you’re only charged if a user clicks through to your actual landing page.”
Landing pages are obviously very important to the conversion process, so if you didn’t have an effective landing page to begin with, you weren’t going to have much luck in your search marketing. The Instant Previews should only serve to emphasize that very fact.
Many advertisers use Google AdWords as their major PPC network. However, in addition to using AdWords for getting paid traffic to your site, it can also be used for SEO. Here are some ideas how you can use AdWords for SEO.
1 For Keyword Research
The most valuable use of AdWords for SEO is to research keywords. Keywords are the basis of any SEO campaign and even if you are an expert in your niche, you should always research keywords simply because users frequently search for quite unexpected keywords and keyphrases you as an expert will never think of. Needless to say, what matters most for high rankings is which keywords your target audience is searching for, not which keywords you as an expert think are most popular in a particular niche.
In order to find what users are searching for, you need a keyword research tool. It is true that there are many special (free and paid) keyword research tools but Google AdWords Keyword Tool is light years ahead of them all.
It is simple to use AdWords to research keywords. You can either enter the URL of your site or put in some seed keywords, the tool will then automatically generate a whole bunch of suggested keywords. Look at the results and shortlist all the keywords that seem relevent and have a decent global search volume.
You may want to rank well for ALL the generated keywords, but its best to focus all your efforts on a selected few. The idea now is to find keywords that are relatively easy to optimize and yet have a decent search volume. These would be the keywords with the least compitetion in Google. Go to Google.com and enter each of your short listed keywords (one at a time). It is best if you search for the exact phrase, so surround your keyword with double quotes. Note how many web results there are for each of the phrases. Now that you have collected the ‘Number of web results’ for each keyword, calculate competition ratio by divding it’s ‘Global search volume’ by the ‘Number of web results’. The keywords with the higher ratios are the easier ones to optimize.
You can now start a SEO campaign for your keywords however you’ll see next, it might be much wiser to start an AdWords campaign instead.
2 To Ensure that the Keywords You Have Picked Convert Well
After you have picked your keywords, you need to verify if these keywords really work for you – i.e. if they convert properly. No matter how precise you’ve been when picking your keywords, if you don’t test them in practice, you can never know for sure if they work well or don’t. You can pick lucrative keywords with high global search volume and low levels of competition and still end nowhere.
You don’t have to look far to know that mobile usage is huge and continues to grow in leaps and bounds. Of the more than 300 million people in the United States, 96 percent have mobile phones. This is staggering to think of when just 15 years ago only 13 percent of the American population had mobile devices, according to CTIA.
Pushing this growth even further is the penetration of smartphones, which now represent 43 percent of total mobile phones, according to comScore. As these web-enabled devices edge closer to becoming the norm, consumers’ habits are also changing when it comes to how they search for information online.
By 2013 the number of people using their mobile device to search on the Internet will overtake desktop Internet users for the first time, according to Morgan Stanley Research, and by 2012 more smartphones will ship than desktop computers.
Mobile Health Trends
Not surprisingly, how consumers and health care professionals search for health-related information online is also trending toward mobile. If you think about it, mobile Internet usage and health-related queries are a perfect match.
For example, when a curious or concerning symptom arises nobody wants to wait to find out what it is. They want accurate information and they want it now. And they’re increasingly getting this information on their phones.
The Pew Internet Project found that 17 percent of cell phone users have used their phone to look up health or medical information and 9 percent have apps on their phones to track or manage their health. It also found that younger people, 18-29, are more likely to search for health-related information on their phones with 29 percent of this group acknowledging this practice.
The mobile trend is growing at an explosive rate. According to Google, current mobile health queries represent 18 percent of total search traffic, compared to 10 percent a year ago.
Health Apps, Mobile-Optimized Information
With more health-focused organizations offering apps and mobile-optimized information the choices for consumers are abundant. Most online health media companies have entered the market by offering downloadable apps.
This is a real example from one of our clients.
One of our clients wanted to build a mobile version of their site and contracted a development company to design, build, and implement the mobile version and host it on http://m.clientdomain.com
They did a fabulous job, the layout is really optimized for mobile devices and looks fantastic. Our client has a large site (over 100,000 pages) and the content was reformatted efficiently for mobile consumption.
One problem – we as their SEO firm did not know about this site until 5 days after launch.
A quick review showed the following problems – all which could have resulted in our client being severely penalized. Google sees m.clientdomain.com and www.clientdomain.com as 2 separate sites – with the exact same content! It is clearly documented what happens to sites with duplicate content.
As an immediate fix – we setup our robots.txt not to spider or index the m.clientdomain.com site. That will avoid any problems until we’re able to put in the proper code to avoid penalties.
Thankfully there is an easy fix: canonical urls. These give Google and other search engines a flag that yes the content is duplicate and provides a mapping to where the original is. Search engines use this to attribute the value of content to the original page.
This is a disaster after all
We laid out how canonical urls could be included into the mobile site as step one for the mobile site SEO, then discovered when the original spec for the mobile version of the site was put together and provided to the developer, SEO was not taken into consideration. No efforts to identify the page from the original site were made in order to provide the canonical reference within the mobile pages.
The mobile site cannot be indexed with duplicate content. Unfortunately our client will either have to spend thousands in redevelopment to provide proper url mappings, or exclude the mobile site from search altogether.
Engineering the mobile site with search engine optimization would have meant we had proper canonical urls, mobile sitemaps, mobile search optimization, and more all part of the development. We would have avoided this disaster altogether.
Search engine optimization really isn’t an add-on. Sites that are engineered with SEO in mind get better search penetration, more traffic, and will be able to benefit not just from regular and mobile versions, but all efforts working together.