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Monthly Archives: February 2012

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SEO & SSL: A Conversation With Jon Henshaw Of Raven Tools

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By Clark Buckner

Image courtesy: Kyle Turco/TechnologyAdvice

When Google speaks, SEO professionals listen. But that doesn’t mean they need to act… yet.

In the wake of Google’s announcement that it is now giving a rankings boost to HTTPS sites, Raven Tools co-founder and Chief Product Officer Jon Henshaw thinks internet marketers should test the waters first before fully committing to a switch for an established site.

Jon Henshaw of Raven Tools

Jon Henshaw of Raven Tools

In a conversation with Clark Buckner about SSL and its impact on SEO, Henshaw said the rewards are not yet worth the time, resources and sacrifice in traffic that would come with turning a strong HTTP site into an HTTPS.

However, considering the growing concerns around data privacy and information security, he does believe that Google’s rewards for more secure sites are here to stay.

The added layer of security on HTTPS websites comes from SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, which is most commonly used by e-commerce sites to encrypt data and secure its transfer over the internet.

Henshaw believes Google is subtly pushing all HTTP sites — even non-commerce content blogs that do not transfer information — to add SSL in hopes of making the whole internet browsing experience more secure.

The transition is certainly not the simple flip of a switch for established, high-ranking HTTP sites. The process of converting an HTTP to an HTTPS site is incredibly involved and brings with it some serious SEO challenges, including:

  • Separate Sites: Google considers the HTTP and HTTPS versions of a site to be two completely different sites in their search engine, so a website admin has to add their SSL site as a completely new site.
  • Redirecting Sites: After installing the SSL certificate, HTTP traffic must be redirected to the HTTPS site, or organic traffic will suffer.
  • Deindexing: Deindexing begins during the transition from HTTP to HTTPS, which involves removing non-secure pages. If the SSL installation and redirection has been done properly, search engines will know to index the new secure pages.

If your site is doing well and has high conversions, Henshaw doesn’t recommend making the switch at this time. It remains nothing more than one of many small best practices in the SEO world that will help a site rank well on Google — meaning it still doesn’t pull as much weight as major influences, like quality content.

Still, it’s important to understand that HTTPS is the future and is likely to steadily gain importance in Google’s rankings. With that in mind, Henshaw urges that every new site being created use SSL to put itself in the best position moving forward.

In addition, webmasters with multiple sites would likely benefit from experimenting with an HTTPS switch on some of their less successful sites to gather test data of their own.

The post SEO & SSL: A Conversation With Jon Henshaw Of Raven Tools appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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How To Scale Link Acquisition And Outreach: An Interview With Stephan Spencer by @johnrampton

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By John Rampton

A big thanks to our Pubcon 2014 sponsor, LinkResearchTools, your off-page SEO toolkit. Link Detox: Recover – Protect – Build. At Pubcon 2014 in Las Vegas I had the opportunity to talk to Stephan Spencer of Science of SEO about how to scale link acquisition efforts. Stephan is an author of three books, including The Art Of SEO which comes out in its third edition next year. With Stephan’s extensive knowledge I literally could have asked him about anything, but what I really wanted to pick his brain about was link acquisition. Stephan has written a lot about it in the past, and […]

The post How To Scale Link Acquisition And Outreach: An Interview With Stephan Spencer by @johnrampton appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Google To Lease Moffat Airfield From NASA With Plans Open A Public Educational Facility by @mattsouthern

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By Matt Southern

NASA’s Moffat Airfield is, among other things, the home and launch pad of private jets owned by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. After having used it for years, Google has signed a deal to lease the airfield and take over operations for the next 60 years. With plans to invest in the site over and above the cost of the lease, Google intends to create an educational facility open to the public to teach them about the site and local tech advancements in Silicon Valley NASA announced the deal in a press released published this week. Planetary Ventures […]

The post Google To Lease Moffat Airfield From NASA With Plans Open A Public Educational Facility by @mattsouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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How To Write A Meta Description That Gets Click-Throughs

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By Neil Patel

I feel sorry for meta descriptions.

Google has long held that meta descriptions do not impact search engine rankings. From a 2007 post on the Google Webmaster Central Blog:

[I]t’s worth noting that while accurate meta descriptions can improve clickthrough, they won’t affect your ranking within search results.

Google reiterated this point yet again in 2009 in a post stating that the meta keywords tag was not used as a ranking signal:

Even though we sometimes use the description meta tag for the snippets we show, we still don’t use the description meta tag in our ranking.

Thus, people have long neglected meta descriptions, pushing them to the back burner or delegating their creation to the lowly intern. Once written, meta descriptions are scarcely given a second glance or further consideration.

Meta descriptions get short shrift because well-written descriptions won’t help your site rank.

Or will they?

Optimized Meta Descriptions ARE Important For SEO

I can make the case that meta descriptions are important for SEO. I’m taking some time to explain this, because my goal in this article is to help you write killer meta descriptions. Once you realize that meta descriptions do have an impact on search ranking, it may inspire you to write better meta descriptions.

The relationship between the meta description and search engine rankings can be described in four points:

  1. The content in a meta description does not factor into the search ranking algorithm.
  2. User behavior is factored into the search algorithm.
  3. Specifically, click-through rate (CTR) is part of the algorithmic ranking process.
  4. The meta description is the most important feature for improving click-through rate from search results pages.

1. The content in a meta description does not influence the search algorithm.

As far as we know – and we’re trusting Google on this one – their search engine ranking algorithm does not consider meta descriptions as a factor. Thus, from a strict algorithmic perspective, it’s not necessary to put your most important keywords in the meta description.

2. User behavior is factored in the search algorithm.

There are hundreds of algorithmic factors involved in ranking a site. It’s easy to forget that Google analyzes user behavior on a site as part of their ongoing ranking process.

But it does. As reflected in Google Analytics, Google is actively measuring user behavior – even demographic information – and factoring that into search results.

Think about this on the broadest level: location-based search. Search results based on location is a user-dependent metric. A user in South Carolina who types “weather” in Google is going to get this result, even if she’s not logged in to her Google account:

A user in Anchorage Alaska will see a very different result:

That much is obvious (and pretty basic).

But the algorithm is way more advanced than that. Not only does it factor user information/location, but it measures user behavior in the subsequent rank of a particular website.

3. Specifically, click-through rate (CTR) is part of the algorithmic ranking process.

Dr. Pete Meyers of Moz wrote an article back in 2012 that is still very relevant. His point in the article was that Google uses two user metrics in search ranking.

Those two metrics are: (1) search engine results page (SERP) click-through rate and (2) dwell time. Here’s how he explained it:

The first metric I think Google makes broad use of is direct Click-Through Rate (CTR) from the SERPs themselves. Whether or not a result gets clicked on is one of Google’s and Bing’s first clues about whether any given result is a good match to a query. We know Google and Bing both have this data, because they directly report it to us.

Indeed, both Google and Bing seem to make use of this metric, since both data points are available in their reporting platforms:

Google Webmaster Tools (Image from Moz.)

Bing Webmaster Tools (Image from Moz)

Meyers summed it up perfectly: “Relevant results drive more clicks.”

This is a key point, and it goes to prove my final point:

4. The meta description is the most important feature for improving click-through rate from search results pages

Google considers user behavior, specifically the click-through rate. So, how can we improve CTRs on our SERP entries?

By writing killer meta descriptions.

And the more people who click through those SERP entries, the better our site will rank in Google.

Take a look at an average SERP. Apart from Knowledge Graph information and rich snippets, there are three main features in a SERP entry: the page title, the page URL, and the page description.

All three of these factor into a user’s decision to click through. Of these three, the meta description takes up the most space — a full two lines. It has the most amount of information, and thus gets viewed longer and read more.

It follows that a great meta description actually does improve click-through, and thus site ranking. Sure enough, that makes the meta description an SEO factor after all!

But it’s one of those “fuzzy” SEO factors due to its indirect impact. Furthermore, improving meta descriptions doesn’t require SEO finesse as much as it does writing skill, which brings me to the main point of this article: how do you write a meta descriptions that get click-throughs?

Advanced Tips For Writing Killer Meta Descriptions

So, how do you unleash a click-through-compelling meta description?

Be Descriptive. The language in your meta description should introduce the user to what the page is about. In general terms, sketch out the page’s content. If the user is going to the trouble of clicking on it, he or she wants to make sure that the page really is about what they are interested in.

Be Persuasive. Great meta descriptions involve a touch of the persuasive. To get clicks, go ahead and tug a little bit. Some SEOs advocate using a call-to-action in the description. I’m not convinced that this is necessary; I do, however, recommend that you create a meta description that invites a response, even if it doesn’t directly call for it.

Inspire Curiosity. One of the most persuasive things you can do with your meta is to spark curiosity. This is particularly true for informational queries (as opposed to transactional queries). By the time a user finishes reading your description, they should be curious about what the page will say about the topic. You need to provide just enough information to explain what the page is about but not so much that it ruins the curiosity factor.

Use The Right Words. The keywords may not matter for search engines, but they do matter for users. In order to be compelled to click, the user needs to see relevant words. These words should be associated with his or her query. The right words in the right places make the difference between a SERP entry that gets overlooked, and a SERP entry that gets a click.

Make Them The Correct Length. If you write a meta description that is too long, Google will truncate it. The standard accepted length is 156 characters long. Unlike page titles, meta description cut-offs do not seem to be pixel-based in the same way that page titles are.

Do Not Use Quotation Marks. Google will cut them off.

Conclusion

In the end, meta descriptions are still a worthy thing to focus on in your overall SEO efforts. At the very least, you shouldn’t neglect them – your meta description is the only thing standing between a search result and a visitor.

What do you do to create great meta descriptions?

The post How To Write A Meta Description That Gets Click-Throughs appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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SearchCap: Google Debuts New Hotel Booking Ads, A New Call Analytics Report & Holiday Paid Search Drivers

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By Amy Gesenhues

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

From Search Engine Land:

  • Google Debuts New Look For Hotel Booking Ads As The Carousel Disappears
    The grand, awkward Carousel experiment appears to be coming to an end — for local listings at least. Google is abandoning the Carousel of horizontal listings that appeared at the top of local search results for hotels, restaurants and a few other verticals. With the changes, Google is now displaying hotel “Book A Room” ads […]
  • Google Drops Local Carousel For Hotels, Restaurants & Other Local Listings
    Google is dropping its horizontal Carousel display of local search results in several categories: restaurants, nightlife, entertainment and hotels. It’s being replaced by a 3-pack of organic listings and some new secondary pages. The Local Carousel rolled out in June, 2013 for the PC in the US and gradually expanded to a number of categories […]
  • Call Analytics Platforms – New Market Intelligence Report
    Our sister site Digital Marketing Depot recently released a new Market Intelligence Report, “Enterprise Call Analytics Platforms 2014.“ Smartphone ubiquity has changed the way consumers communicate with brands. It is also now changing the way brands view the telephone as an inbound marketing channel. As consumers increasingly use their smartphones to research, browse, and connect […]
  • Google Rolls Out Search App Redesign For Android Lollipop Devices
    Google announced today it is rolling out a redesign of its Search App for Android devices running on the Lollipop OS. Along with the “…bold colors, fluid animations and simplified layouts” of the new material design, Google says the updated app allows Nexus 6, Nexus 9 and Galaxy Note 4 users to set their device […]
  • More Bulk Editing Capabilities In Bing Ads Web UI Are Now Live
    Bing Ads has been rolling out bulk editing capabilities within the web interface over the past few months. Today, more options became available. Bulk bid and destination editing are both relatively new additions, and now advertisers can edit keyword match types in bulk. At the ad group level, bids can be set or adjusted up […]
  • More Detailed Reporting Rolling Out For AdWords Flexible Bid Strategies
    This week, Google is rolling out new reporting updates for AdWords flexible bid strategies such as Target CPA and Enhanced CPC. Bid strategy reporting can be found in the Shared Library. Reporting at the strategy level provides a dashboard view of key performance metrics such as conversions, cost, CPA and conversion rate. By clicking on […]
  • SEO: The O Is For Outing
    As professional SEOs, we have a responsibility to make the web a better place. Contributor Kerry Dean argues that accusing our peers of wrongdoing may not be the best way to do this.
  • Please Take Our Search Engine Land Conference Survey!
    Search Engine Land produces conferences, and we’re always looking to improve them. To help, we’re running a survey asking you, our readers, to give us some feedback on what you’d like to see as part of our conferences. Please help! Below is our survey, which should take only a few minutes to answer. We’ll run […]
  • Anticipating What Products Will Drive Your Holiday Paid Search Sales
    With products changing from year to year, how can you predict which items will be hot sellers this holiday season? Contributor Mark Ballard offers some advice.

Recent Headlines From Marketing Land, Our Sister Site Dedicated To Internet Marketing:

Search News From Around The Web:

Link Building

Local & Maps

Search Marketing

Searching

SEM / Paid Search

SEO

The post SearchCap: Google Debuts New Hotel Booking Ads, A New Call Analytics Report & Holiday Paid Search Drivers appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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