Importance of optimizing your website for region based results

In this day and age where there are over 8 billion websites operating all around the world the competition has gone up tremendously. Today if you search for a product or service you will have a search count going over a million at the very least. This is a big number and with new websites coming up each day the chances of everyone gaining a good profit remains dim except for those listed in the first 3 organic result pages of leading search engines.

So, intelligent website owners have now started to optimize their websites for location based results or in other words focusing on local results.

Suppose you are based in New York and want to install a T1 connection at your home. Now go to Google.com and do a search for T1 costs. The following results are for March 5 2010.

You will get over 4.43 million results for T1 costs.

Now do a search for T1 costs New York you will get over 3.3 million results for T1 costs.

If you take a look at the results of the two results on Google you would find 2 things

1. The search results are quite different for both phrases. (Obvious but not always true)
2. The search results for the second phrase are offering the same service but their pages are optimized for a particular region.

Those who have optimized their websites for specific locations have an advantage over those who have optimized their website for the base phrase. They have

1. Lesser competition.
2. More visibility on search engine listings.
3. Increased traffic.

Moreover, if you think logically for just a second, a person sitting in New York is more likely to order the service from websites which are coming on top with T1 costs New York as he may think that they are offering the service from his city even though in all actuality the company he selects may well be on the East Coast.

So keep that in mind the next time you are optimizing your website.

Google adsense does not seem to show up in IE8

Our client wanted to show Google Adsense on some pages of his website.  So after deciding on which pages he wanted to show the ads he supplied the code to us and we placed it on the page.  Straight forward job right? Wrong!

His complete website was in secure mode (SSL) and every time the adsense was executed IE 8 would display a pop up stating that the web page was trying to execute some non secure code and whether the visitor wanted to continue or not. Firefox and Chrome did not have any problem with the code and the adsense was displaying fine on both of them. As most visitors (up to 60% ) used IE for browsing the website the issue needed to be sorted out quickly.

We then sent a ticket to Google outlining the problem we were facing and the reply we got after 3 days was that the adsense script was correct and it has been tested to work on major browsers and we cannot do much in case a particular browser does not display the ads in certain conditions in other words “you are on your own on this one”.

We then had a chat with the client and decided on removing SSL from the complete website except for the registration and payment pages. I know it’s not the most brilliant solution but we did not have a choice in this case. The browser related problem has gone away and most of all the client is happy.

The URLs can be seen here

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CHARITY LIMITED

ISLAMIC RELIEF

How to specify canonical page for Google

If your website has some pages which have highly similar content then that may prove detrimental to your SEO efforts. How you may ask?

Take for example the following 3 URLs

http://www.example.com/some_page.php?arg1=val1
http://www.example.com/some_page.php?arg1=val1&arg2=val2
http://www.example.com/some_page.php?arg1=val1&arg2=val2&arg3=val3

As you may notice the page is the same in all 3 examples. Assume that the main function of the page is to display listing of products and the querystring parametres just change the order of listing of those products and Google indexes all 3 variations in its search engine.

With 3 variations of the same page indexed i.e. the main content of the pages being the same the said page will not rank high on Google as it may see that the page has nothing new to offer to the visitor. Even when things have changed now and Google says that its algorithm will display the correct page with respect to the search terms its better to play safe.

Google gives you the option of defining your canonical page. A canonical page is the preferred version of a set of pages with highly similar content.

If you take the above example of http://www.example.com you can define the first page as the canonical page. To define it as such, open the page and go to the <head> section. Please the following line in the <head>

<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.example.com/some_page.php?arg1=val1"/>

Now, Google will know which page to treat as the canonical page i.e. the page to consider in its search results.

To read more you can view the following page on Google regarding canonical

Hope the above helped.

How can you increase conversion rates with Google Web Optimizer Tool

Most of the times you will find that even when the website is live and running and there are no bugs/issues on the website you will see that not many people are buying the product/service you are offering. You may find that people are visiting your website but due to some reason the number of people converting is still low.

This is often a confusing issue as you don’t know what the exact problem is. Is the problem related to the website performance itself or is related to traffic?

If you go to your SEO team and ask them about website traffic they will provide all the traffic reports and the number of hits, pageviews etc and you won’t be able to point the finger at them as they have all the facts with them.

Then if you ask about website performance from development, they will point to website uptime, no issues/bugs on the website as well as 0 complaints by customers. You will again know that you can’t point the finger at them as they also have the facts with them.

What do you do?

You should do the following

You will HAVE to go through your website and try to identify pages where you think the website has the highest number of bounce rate i.e. pages where the customers go away from your website. If you think that the page(s) in question are not able to bring out the right message to the customer then you will need to make changes to them and experiment with them.

Next go to http://www.google.com/websiteoptimizer. Create an account if you don’t already have a Google account.

Google has provided this website optimizer tool to help you identify possible issues which you may be overlooking or which the customer may have been having a hard time finding.

You have to create a different URL for the page you are trying to experiment. Google will then use both the new and old versions of the same page and provide you with stats on which page converted better after a certain period .

The Google Web Optimizer helps you to make an informed decision based on the results it provides instead of you blindly making the change in the first place and then ruing your loss if the change did not go according to plan.

Hope the above helped

How to know when GoogleBot last visited my website

If you want to know when GoogleBot visited your website recently you can use any of the following ways to do so

1. Go through your web logs which Apache/IIS generate for your website. Scan for GoogleBot. A very crude way indeed.

2. If you have signed up for Google Sitemaps then you can login into your account and find out when did GoogleBot visit your website. Not only that you also get up to date indexed pages of your website in Google as well as any crawl errors (if any).

3. If you don’t have time for the above two then just go to GBotVisit. Enter your website URL and copy the code it generates into the footer of your website (its up to you where you want to place it). Now, you know in real time when GoogleBot visits your website.

Hope the above helps

Google presents Google Sitemap Generator

Since Google came out with the Google Sitemap tool many website owners who were having problems of getting their websites indexed on Google started using it. However, Google Sitemap required website owners to submit their website sitemap in XML format. As most of them were not technical they turned to their technical support team or used some commercial service on the web which cost money.

Now Google have presented their own Google Sitemap Generator tool which would make life easier for all concerned.