|SEO Tip: The Importance of Taking Inventory of Your Site's Pages
|Saturday, July 30, 2011
There are a lot of elements required for a successful SEO strategy to be put in place. From keyword research to building content to acquiring quality inbound links, there are a lot of opportunities and practical tactics that can be used to optimize your website for search. I have worked on a number of sites for well known brands, I have worked with business owners who thought they knew SEO and Search and I have worked with other search marketers who are so called SEO experts. Yet quite often these "experts", site owners and webmasters overlook some key pieces as to the understanding of how to best optimize their website.
One of the questions that I like to ask clients is how large is their site? Like how many URLs does your site consist of? You would be surprised as to the blank or delayed responses that I get in return. "Oh we have a large site, I think we have about one hundred and twenty pages..." (this is not a large site). Another common response is "Oh our CMS has generated thousands of pages..." or "uh not exactly sure probably about 1.5 million pages...". The point being that quite often these site owners, webmasters and search experts have no true idea of how large their site is. They have not taken the time to take inventory of their site pages.
The Importance of Taking Inventory of Your Site's Pages
Sure they may have tagged their various pages types for analytics, but when asked, they quite often have no idea as to how many pages their site consists of. I find this to be a little shocking. How can you optimize a site when you really don't have any idea of how large it is? It really is important to have an understanding of the size of your site. Here are five six reasons why you need to take inventory of your site pages.
Let's look at each of these areas in a little more detail.
- To gain an understanding of your site's DNA
- To help prioritize pages for optimization
- To help identify pages to build links to
- To help prepare for future site redesigns
- To help identify low quality vs high quality content
- To identify ares of duplicate content
Gaining an Understanding of Your Site's DNA
Taking inventory of your website's pages allows you to gain a better idea of the type of content and page types that your site consists of. Does your site consist mainly of product pages? Perhaps the majority of your site is made up of articles? Perhaps your site is mainly listings pages (as we see with directory-type sites). Regardless, unless you take inventory of your site's pages, you will have no idea of what the genetic makeup of your site consists of.
Assisting with Prioritization of Pages to Optimize
Once you have a clear inventory of site pages, you can cross reference the success (or lack-there-of) of your pages. By looking at your analytics you can identify pages that:
You can compare pages that are performing well and prioritize areas for improvement. The need to take inventory of your site pages becomes even more evident.
- are performing well from a traffic perspective
- are not performing well from a traffic perspective and thereby requires further optimization
- are being highly engaged with by users
- are not being engaged with and thereby requires attention
- are converting well
- are not converting well
Identification of Pages to Build Links To
Once you have a general understanding of your pages, you can review their link inventories to identify pages that require some additional "link love". Perhaps there is a certain page type that is simply not generating quality inbound links. Having an inventory of site pages can help prioritize destination pages for your link building strategy.
Preparation for Upcoming Site Redesigns
One of the most important parts of your redesign plan is URL mapping. That is which URLs/pages will be retained? Which URLs/pages are being replaced and will need to be redirected. Having an inventory of your site's pages allows you to determine which pages to retain and which ones you can redirect or remove. How can you effectively plan a website redesign without an understanding of your what your existing pages look like? Again taking inventory of your site pages is critical for planning your site redesign.
Content Review: Low Quality vs. High Quality Content
Recent changes in Google (see: Google Panda) suggest that a few poor quality pages could be a detriment to your entire site. How can you review or gain a true understanding of the quality of your content without having an inventory of your site's pages? While you may not be able to monitor or review every single page on your site, having a list of your site's pages can be invaluable for identifying page types that lack in quality from a content perspective. If you want to be proactive with future algorithm updates, having the ability to know which pages are of higher quality or of poorer quality can help you address pages that require improvement from a content perspective.
Identifying Duplicate Content
By gaining an accurate count and understanding of your site's pages, you can quickly determine if you have inadvertently created duplicate content within your site. If/when you identify any duplicate content, you can then take measure to clean up your duplicate issues. This will help you clean up your site and will assist your site in becoming more of a trusted resource which may translate into better visibility within the search results.
If you haven't taken inventory of your site's URLs lately, you might want to think about doing so. A simple spreadsheet might be all you need. Of course it becomes a little more difficult for larger sites, but not impossible. Having some inventory of site pages is better than having no inventory of site pages. If you have the resources, you should take inventory of your site's page a couple of times per year. This way you can prioritize pages for review, optimization or for the purposes of link building and content development.
XENU - http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html Such as simple tool that is extremely useful. XENU can be a great tool for identifying site pages and broken links. This is a free tool that can be accessed with but a simple download. Some additional benefits of XENU include:
- Simple user-interface
- The report can be viewed easily, even when you have long URLs.
- Supports SSL websites ("https:// ")
- Special handling of redirected URLs
- Screaming Frog SEO - http://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/seo-spider/ Another tool that can be used to compile a list of site URLs. This tool allows you to export key onsite SEO elements (url, page title, meta descriptions, headings etc) to Excel so it can easily be used as a base to make SEO recommendations from.
Page count, pages indexed, page inventory, whatever you want to call it, the importance of knowing about the pages that make up the structure of your site is a key piece of data that many site owners often overlook.
Labels: page count, page inventory, seo tip
|posted by Jody @ Saturday, July 30, 2011
|Local Search 2011: Google Places Resources
|Monday, July 25, 2011
Local Search is such a key component to any search strategy, yet it is so overlooked as part of an organization's online marketing efforts. The fact of the matter is that local search is not going away. In fact, search engines such as Google will continue to focus their efforts on local search. One of the main reasons for this is because of the increasing and widespread use of mobile devices. Mobile and local search go hand in hand. In fact reports suggest that usage of mobile apps for mobile search has been found to outweigh mobile app offerings by merchants.
According to ComScore's The State of Local Search study, January 2011 saw 77.1 million mobile subscribers accessed local content on a mobile device—up 34% from the previous year. If that's not enough for you, consider this Internet Yellow Pages and local search sites exhibited strong growth with 5.6 billion local searches in 2010, a 15% increase over 2009.
As the leader in Search, why wouldn't Google step up their efforts with local search and their Google Places offering? Google controls local search rankings on their SERPs (search engine results pages). So how else can a local advertiser be found on Google? It's a good question, one that we have to wait to answer. According to Google, local search rankings are defined as:
Local search ranking refers to the placement and order of local information on a Google or Google Maps organic search results page.
For right now the answer appears to be in Google Places. If you have a business you should be leveraging Google Places. Not familiar with Google Places?
What is Google Places
Launched in April 2010, the service formerly known as Google's Local Business Center became known as Google Places. Google Places allows business owners to claim their business and customize their listing on Google Maps.
As mentioned, Google is really focusing on local search. Part of the reason for this is to generate additional revenue through ads. According to this report, Google has launched a program to make it easier for small business owners to buy search ads:
- Using Google Places for Business can help get your business found on local search results on both Google Search and Google Maps.
- Google Places is really a business listing page within Google's Maps service. Within Google Maps, users can find products or services offered by local businesses including transportation directions and business information.
"... It's all part of the company's ongoing effort to earn more money from local businesses, which CEO Larry Page cited as one of his priorities on the company's last earnings call.
AdWords Express, which was tested last fall under the name Boost, offers businesses a series of simple forms to let them set up an AdWords campaign in minutes. Businesses can set a maximum budget and guide users either to their Google Places page. If they don't have a Places page Google will set one up automatically when they buy the ad.
Page named local (along with Google+) as one of the company's top investment areas this year. The company recently launched a daily deals service called Offers..."
So the focus on local search is quite obvious. The key piece to Google's Local Search offering is Google Places.
11 Resources on Google Places to Bookmark
Want to learn more about Google Places? Check out these resources.
#11. Google Gives New Look To Place Pages - http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2011/06/google-gives-new-look-to-place-pages.html
#10. More Detailed Thoughts on Google’s Place Page Shift - http://www.davidmihm.com/blog/google/july-2011-place-page-update/
#9. Google Local Search Ranking Keys: Relevance, Prominence & Distance -
#8. 5 Ways to Get More From Your Google Place Page -
#7. Ranking in Google Places - A Definitive Guide -
#6. Introducing Google Places - http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2010/04/introducing-google-places.html
#5. The Ongoing Evolution of Place Pages -
#4. How Local Search Ranking Work -
#3. Google Places Blog - http://places.blogspot.com/
#2. Google Places Help for Business Owners - http://www.google.com/support/places/
#1. Google Places User Guide - http://www.google.com/support/places/bin/static.py?hl=en&page=guide.cs&guide=28247&from=28247&rd=1
More on the growth of local and mobile search. http://www.localsearchinsider.org/double-digit-growth-of-online-and-mobile-local-search/archives/
Labels: google places, local search
|posted by Jody @ Monday, July 25, 2011
|Google + (Plus): What Is It and How Should I Use It?
|Monday, July 18, 2011
In late June, early July 2011 Google was getting social, more social than perhaps previous efforts. The launch of Google Plus had people instantly comparing Google’s newest social project to popular social site Facebook. Is it a Facebook killer? Will that remains to be seen, but is unlikely at this point. So for those who may have heard others discussing Google Plus, here is a quick rundown of Google +.
What: https://plus.google.com/# social network
Where: The Web
When: June 28, 2011
Why: To become a player in the social network space.
Now if you have tried Google + you will notice something right off the bat and that is that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Google + looks a lot like Facebook. You have a main stream column where updates from your friends or “circle members” appear. You have a list of “streams” that you can follow in the left rail and you have access to your circles, suggestions for people to add to your circles and options to create a “hangout”, go mobile and send Google + invites out in the right rail. Is it safe to assume that we can look for Google Ads to appear soon as well?
Google has come to the realization that people spend a lot of time on social networks and especially on Facebook. As Claire Cain miller pointed out in her piece a few weeks back, according to data from comScore, time spent on Google is much lower than time being spent on Facebook. Google has to be concerned with this.
So who can we expect to find using Google Plus? Well I think that there are four groups that we can expect to see using Google +:
Google is great at algorithms and Search but they are not so great at social. (One might actually question their algorithms and search changes as of late as well).
- Early Adopters – and techies looking for something new to take for a test drive.
- Anti-Facebookers – those people who have never used Facebook or were one time Facebookers who had a poor experience on Facebook.
- Newbies – people who have familiar with Google but not necessarily the social networks of the world. (Are there any of these people left?)
Wait ‘n See’ers – ah yes those people who will wait and see how Google + shapes up. These are the people who will
- wait and see if the masses flock to it
- wait and see if there are privacy issues
- wait and see what Facebook’s response/offering might be
- wait and see if Google + actually serves a purpose for them to switch from using Twitter or Facebook
How Do I Use Google Plus?
Well first off you have to have a personal Google account. You can then either accept or request an invite and voila just like that you can begin using Google Plus. Then, if you so choose, you can learn more about Google Plus with a demo http://www.google.com/+/demo/ where you can learn about key Google Plus features including:
Circles – a group-like function that allows to you control what you share and with whom.
Hangouts – a video conferencing option between you and up to ten of your friends.
Huddles – where you can have a group chat and discuss whatever it is that you choose to talk to your peeps about.
Sparks – video and article resources on a given topic that can be shared within your groups or friends.
From there, if you have used Facebook, you will quickly become accustomed to Google+. Your stream is basically like a Facebook news feed and shows you what others in your circles are discussing.
So what about Google+ for businesses? As for your business and whether you should be using Google+? Well that will remain to be seen. If Google + takes off and is able to gain some popularity and if your audience is hanging out on Google Plus, well then it might be a useful tool to monitor what people are saying about you and your brand. Quite honestly, I have to agree with Chris Brogan that it is too early to tell.
Fast Facts About Google +
- Within two weeks, Google + passed the ten million user threshold
- Google + is technically Google’s third, or forth, or fifth attempt at breaking into the social space ( see Google Wave and Google Buzz, Orkut etc).
- You can re-share others’ post similar to a retweet
- Mark Zukerberg (main Facebook dude) currently has the most followers on Google + followed by the Google Guys (Larry and Sergey). In fact Zukerberg has 82% more followers than Larry and 159% more than Sergey. A more extensive list can be found at socialstatistics.com http://socialstatistics.com/.
- Google plus was developed under the code name 'Emerald Sea'.
- With a Google+ account, you get unlimited space for photo storage on Picasa. However, if you use Picasa directly, you get no more than 1 GB space on regular subscriptions.
Read more: http://www.thefactsite.com/2011/07/top-ten-google-plus-facts.html#ixzz1STjXZKLf
Google / Facebook Comparison
Danny Sullivan’s Review of Google Plus
Google's Learn More
Google Plus Support
39 Things You Should Know About Google Plus - Web Pro News
Labels: google +1, google plus
|posted by Jody @ Monday, July 18, 2011
|Subdomain Usage: Making Sites More Relevant? Well Kinda...
|Friday, July 15, 2011
So the other day, as many of you might be aware, there were a series of stories based on an article over at WSJ.com about HubPages. The article mentions that the use of sub-domains is helping their content work its way back up in Google search results after they were hit hard by Google Panda updates earlier in the year. Subdomains really?
Let's discuss why this makes sense. Let's assume that a site was "penalized" by the Panda Update for the simple reason that their site featured a significant amount of low quality content. In order to improve their visibility in Google, Google has hinted that you need to improve the quality of your content, or if we read between the lines, reduce the amount of poor quality on your website. This does makes sense, but how do you define what is high quality or low quality? Well there are a number of identifiers that communicate that a site is of poorer quality. Items such as:
Chris Crum over at Web Pro News included some of the questions Google recommends when reviewing your content to determine if it is of high quality or not. While directed at articles, these questions can be asked of your regular content as well and include:
- ad to copy ratio. Does your page simply feature too much advertising and not enough substance? Is Google AdSense dominating your page?
- is your page a placeholder page that serves little or no purpose to your user?
- link to copy ratio. Are there simply too many links on the page resulting in a poor user experience? All of you directory-type sites out there know what I ma talking about.
- is your content stolen, syndicated or a duplicate of content that is already on the Web
- is the content simply poorly written or conversely is it written by a "professional writer" and at too high of a reading level?
- are there spelling and grammatical errors?
- is the site over-SEO'd? Keyword spammed?
So getting back to the idea of subdomains. Fact: Subdomains are treated like a site unto themselves. Thereby removing low quality content from your main site and placing it on a subdomain would in fact improve the quality of your main site. (the quality of your new subdomain would be in question). Are you still with me? So in this sense the idea of moving low quality content to a subdomain will enhance the content of your main site. This strategy may accomplish two things:
- Would you trust the information presented in this article?
- Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well, or is it more shallow in nature?
- Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
- Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
- Does the article provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
- Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
- How much quality control is done on content?
- Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
- Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?
- Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
- For a health related query, would you trust information from this site?
- Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
- Does this article provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
- Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
- Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
- Would you expect to see this article in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
- Are the articles short, unsubstantial, or otherwise lacking in helpful specifics?
- Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail vs. less attention to detail?
- Would users complain when they see pages from this site?
Hubpages who were apparently acting on advice from Google to go the subdomain route have regained some of their visibility in Google search results. However this rebound was not over night. Chances are that they were hit with the original updates in February (February 25th) and began making their changes shortly thereafter. In fact as Barry Schwartz reports in his excellent article,
- Forces the search engines (namely Google) to reassess your content both on your main domain and on your new subdomain. We should mention that you may not see a change right away. The nature of algorithm updates suggests that you have to wait until the next version of the update is rolled out or at least the next major crawl of your site is completed to see significant changes. This can take weeks or months. You need to be patient as propagation takes time.
- "Untrips" any Filters - perhaps enough change will be enough for Google's algorithm to realize that your site should "escape penalty"
The HubPages subdomain testing began in late June and already has shown positive results. Edmondson’s own articles on HubPages, which saw a 50% drop in page views after Google’s Panda updates, have returned to pre-Panda levels in the first three weeks since he activated subdomains for himself and several other authors. The other authors saw significant, if not full, recoveries of Web traffic.
Just because this worked for HubPages does not mean it will work for you. Especially if your site has other issues with it. There is a time and a place for using subdomains.
When to Use Sub-Domains vs. Sub Folders
This is an age old question that I have been asked a number of times. It totally depends. My feeling is this, if you’d like to build the equity of one web site or entity, I suggest using a sub folder structure. This can help build greater authority over the long term. If you’d like to build an entire new entity with its own equity, launch a sub-domain. It now appears that if you want to escape the impact of Google Panda you may also want to use a sub-domain approach. However, I would warn all of those site owners out there to really take a deep dive into their site's content. If you are sure that you have been "penalized" by Panda and you have tried to improve your content, take another look. Does your site still feature low quality content?
Keep in mind what Google has shared regarding the use of sub-domains:
Subdomains can be useful to separate out content that is completely different from the rest of a site — for example, on domains such as wordpress.com. However, site owners should not expect that simply adding a new subdomain on a site will trigger a boost in ranking.
Labels: Google-Panda, subdomains
|posted by Jody @ Friday, July 15, 2011
|SEO in 2011 Word Graphics
|Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Well we are half way through 2011 and it has been an interesting year in Search. We have seen Google launch major algorithm updates, we have seen Bing gain some market share ever so slightly and we have seen the emergence of schema.org. So just what does SEO in 2011 mean to you? Here are a couple of word-graphics that depict what we have seen in the world of SEO this year thus far.
Labels: SEO in 2011, word graphic
|posted by Jody @ Tuesday, July 12, 2011
|Web Content: 37 Items to Consider When Writing for The Web
|Friday, July 08, 2011
A few years back I wrote a piece outlining 37 things to keep in mind when writing content for the Web. Now, nearly five years later, it is time to revisit this list and see if there are some additional items to consider when producing content for the Web. Certainly search engine algorithm changes in both Google and Bing warrant an update to the list. Not to mention that content now comes in various forms from Twitter Tweets to video and traditional web pages, the presentation of content has changed quite dramatically over the past five years. How people consume content has also changed during this time, so while this piece will focus on writing content for the Web, it is important to keep in mind when preparing content for the online universe.
Part of writing for the Web means understanding how users will digest the information that you put out there. Some studies have shown that people prefer to scan rather than read, and as a result want Web copy to be short and to the point. I am a believer in this depending on the subject matter. The recent Panda Update from Google suggest otherwise as their perception of "quality content" may mean presenting more in depth information through longer pieces of content. Many who leveraged article marketing in the past used a formula of 300-400 word of copy to try and optimize for various key phrases, now that Google has placed some focus on content farms and such, diversity in article lengths is a must. Some suggest that there is still a formula, in terms of word count, that is preferred by Google, but quite honestly it depends on the content and what you are trying to communicate to your audience. And speaking of your audience, you also need to factor in the level of comprehension and reading level.
The Flesch-Kincaid Reading Score is a mathematical formula used to establish the reading level of a piece of content. With the Flesch Reading Ease test, higher scores indicate material that is easier to read. The scoring chart resembles:
To test the grade level and readability of your content you can visit this site:
http://www.standards-schmandards.com/exhibits/rix/index.php. Of course you will want to avoid creating overly complex content for your audience. Limit the use of marketing jargon and marketing buzzwords and consider how your audience will interpret and digest your content.
So what is the ideal reading level for your website? The answer is that it depends on your audience, but you need to have some sort of idea about who you are targeting with your content so that you can write and prepare your content accordingly. Interestingly enough, late last year Google added a readability level to their advanced search which can be accessed by clicking “advanced search” to the right of the search box and click in the new reading level section. You can then filter to see only results that are basic, intermediate or advanced, and annotate results with reading levels.
So it stands to reason that Google may be factoring in the readability level into what they determine as being quality content and therefore what they display in their search results.
With that, let us unveil our updated list for the top 37 items to consider when writing Web content.
37 Items to Consider When Writing Web Content - 2011 Edition
Just as our previous list suggests, some of these items are "no-brainers" but you would be surprised at how many sites seem to ignore these tips. Even some of the most skilled writers slip up from time to time, so if anything else, hopefully this list acts as a good reminder for things to consider as you write and prepare your content for the Web.
While there you have it an updated version of our list of 37 things to keep in mind when writing Web content. We would love to hear what some of your tips are. Feel free to comment and share some of your tips with our readers. Happy writing everyone!
- Understand who you are writing for - interpret how they will be engaging with your content
- Create unique content - see #7
- Keep It Simple for SEO - when in doubt keep your content simple and to the point.
- Grammar and Spelling are important - Google is truly factoring in the quality of content. Pages that have little or no errors may in fact rank higher than pages with typos and poor grammar.
- Use Informative, Relevant and Keyword-rich (but not keyword spammed) titles - this can help entice clicks from a search results page
- White Space is always a nice thing
- Plagiarism is still not cool - scraped content, syndicated content and duplicate content just pollute the Web. Avoid contributing to this and keep your content unique. This is especially true for all of you e-commerce sites out there who share product descriptions.
- Keep the link to copy ratio down - this is a little more difficult for directory-type sites, but too many links on a single page simply take away from the user experience. No one is going to click link #1,225 on the page. Be smarter with your links in relation to the copy on your page.
- People love lists.
- Avoid use of marketing jargon.
- Use microdata providing your content contains related microdata elements - the recent launch of schema.org that is widely accepted by the Big 3 Search Engines suggests that this will become the norm in the future.
- Make use of bullets and subtitles
- Sans serif fonts are easier and faster to read on computer screens.
- Each page of web content should focus on a single topic (don’t try to over optimize)
- Regularly update your content - fresh content is great for SEO.
- Avoid ambiguity (leave that for the government and lawyers)
- Images/Pictures should be specific and informative, not generic or ad-like
- Be coherent – keep it tight and together.
- Make it easy for people to share your content - for important content be sure to add options for retweeting, Facebook Liking or Google+1ing. There are also various options for social bookmarking.
- Limit the use of copy within images (search engines cannot crawl that copy)
- Ensure that key content is not placed within an i-frame
- Ensure that the vast majority of your copy is not found within Flash
- Ensure and test that your content can be accessed by the search engines. If they can't see it, they can't rank it.
- Be careful with using humor – some people are easily offended
- Like a good songwriter, create content that will stand the test of time. A good song is a good song. A good web page of content should become an authority as others link to it and share it via social avenues.
- Link to related resources - follow these links. Yes I said follow these links (as opposed to making them nofollow).
- While your focus should not be on keyword density, be sure to include relevant keywords throughout your copy to help illustrate the topicality of the page. If your page is about green widgets, you probably should include the term "green widgets" within your copy. Just don't overdo it.
- Pay attention (but not too much attention) to word count - while there is no magical formula for the length of a page, some pieces of content will require to be longer. Take an FAQ page for example. Pages such as this can easily be in the 1,000 - 2,000 word range and still be effective. Yet a simple blog post may only need to be 400-600 words long (or less) to get its' point across.
- Don’t be Wordy – don’t get fancy, or use wordy intros.
- Add content where it makes sense to do so - do not create content for the sake of creating content. If there is one thing that recent algorithm updates have shown us is that the number of pages your site has (or the actual size of your site) will not determine how well you rank in Google. A few poor quality pages on your site can drag your site down as a whole.
- Avoid adding placeholder pages/content - this is actually something that Google suggests not to do in their Webmaster Guidelines.
- See #6
- Do not overwhelm your pages with advertising in relation to the actual copy of your page - I have seen sites get hit by the search engines for this.
- Have a editorial process - ensure that your copy is peer reviewed and proofed before it goes live.
- Title – Subject – Support - your subject and support material should tie into closely with your title. It should be evident as to what the topic of your page is.
- Break up content with images or call to action buttons - this helps break up the content blocks and will direct attention to various sections of the page.
Labels: content development, web content, writing for the Web
|posted by Jody @ Friday, July 08, 2011
|Are Directory-type Sites' Days Numbered in Google Search Results?
|Tuesday, July 05, 2011
We have seen a lot of change with Google over the past few years and especially in recent months with the various algorithm updates and such. Fact: Since the roll-out of Caffeine, Google results have not been the same. Google Caffeine was supposed to improve results within their index... I'm not sure if this has happened yet. One thing is for sure, Google's index grew by massive proportions and as a result we are seeing a lot of questionable results rising to the top for various search queries. However Google is aware of this, which might explain the various algo updates we have seen in the past year.
There have been some other changes with Google's results pages that have had a significant impact on directory-type sites. Last August, Google reported that they were beginning to show multiple results from a single domain for branded type queries. This was in addition to the Vince Update as well as another update that appeared to occur in October of last year where preferential treatment was given to brands. Try a search for "pizza hut" or for a brand that is of interest to you. How many results do you see for that brand's domain?
What this has done is force other sites off of the first page of Google's search results thereby decreasing traffic to these sites by, in some cases, a substantial amount. It was no coincidence that a lot of these sites were directory type sites. Of course being found on the second page of results dramatically reduces click through rates so a lot of traffic shifted to these brands. As a searcher, I'm not so sure this is a good thing. I mean don't get me wrong as there are a ton of poor quality directories out there and as far as I'm concerned these directories should be banished to the purgatory of search results, but there are some great directories out there. Directories that are useful in finding information that we, as users are looking for. But here is the thing, wouldn't you say that Google is the ultimate directory? Directory-type sites are competition for Google. Why would Google rank a directories' results, specifically their search results within Google results? Google as a search engine is still the dominant force so why would they present results from a directory within their top search results? The answer is they simply won't. Factor in things such as Google Places and other Google properties that have gained prominence within their own search results. The days of directories may be numbered. Of course there will be exceptions to the rule. Sites such as urbanspoon, yelp, superpages, or yellowpages may continue to show up in Google's search results but the question is for how long?
Some of these directory sites are great resources. As a searcher, I use a number of them and I use a number of their apps (see Yelp, UrbanSpoon). So depending on the query that I use to find local information or to find business information, these sites may in fact be a better resources than what Google is presenting in their search results. Having said that for other brand type queries, I would rather not see directory listings but see the actual brand. I'm just not sure if 80% of the results need to be from that brand's domain. Maybe I would like to see some reviews or check out their Twitter stream or visit their YouTube channel, or in some cases a result from Yelp might not be a bad thing. Google you just need to show the best results for my query. That is all I ask. If not I will frequent other channels that will present me with the information that I am looking for. I'll probably be doing this via a mobile device or perhaps via a tablet, or through my TV. Google, I need you to improve your search results. In some cases removing directory-type sites might be part of the solution, for other queries it might not make sense to do this. Overall, I think that days are numbered for small, low quality and frankly useless directories.
Labels: directories, Google search results
|posted by Jody @ Tuesday, July 05, 2011