To use Google Webmaster Tools (and/or any of the reports, e.g. Google Webmaster Tools search queries), you will have to verify the ownership of your website. Verifying Google Webmaster Tools for your site can be done through:
- HTML File Verification
- Meta Tag Verification
- DNS Record Verification
Google Analytics Asynchronous Tracking Code Snippet Verification
Link to your Google Analytics account
You can use this option if your site already has a Google Analytics tracking code that uses the asynchronous snippet. You must be an administrator on the Analytics account.
Google will not access your Google Analytics account’s data when verifying site ownership through Google Analytics asynchronous tracking code snippet.
Google Webmaster Tools Verification Errors
If you go through Google Webmaster Tools verification with methods other than your site’s Google Analytics code (e.g. HTML file, meta tag, or DNS record), and have verification issues, review the possible verification errors.
SEO glossary provides definitions for the common SEO META tags that are found within the opening HEAD tag and closing HEAD tag of web pages:
- Page title tags
- META description tags
- META keywords tags
- META Robots tags
META Tags for SEO
META tags are a great way for webmasters to provide search engines with information about their sites. META tags can be used to provide information to all sorts of clients, and each system processes only the META tags they understand and ignores the rest.
On-page search engine optimization (SEO) involves optimizing your web pages’ META tags. The updated Google SEO beginners guide offers the best practices to optimize META tags for SEO.
Page Title META Tag
Page title tags affect Google’s, Yahoo’s and Bing’s search algorithms and your search results’ click through rate (CTR).
- Target Several Keywords without Stuffing Your Page Title – A web page should be triggered by several different keyword search queries and rank.
- Use Symbols to Make Page Title Stand Out in SERPs – Improve the click through rate (CTR) of your web pages’ search results.
- Changing Your Site’s Title and Description in Search Results – Google officially explains how to create good page titles and META descriptions, and how to prevent DMOZ data from appearing in search results.
- Is Your Search Result Sexy? – Know the optimal length of your title tag.
META Description Tag
META descriptions (snippets) are for users to understand what your website offers, and affect your search results’ click through rate (CTR).
- Improve Snippets with a Meta Description Makeover – Google says the quality of your META description affects the click through rate (CTR) of your web page’s search results.
- Optimizing the Page Search Results Snippet: On-Page Tactics – Keywords optimized page titles and SEO optimized META descriptions can improve CTR.
- Two New Improvements to Google Results Pages – Google returns search results in longer description snippets for long search queries.
- Longer Snippets at Google Means? – Experiment with Google’s longer description snippets.
- Introducing Rich Snippets – Show more information in search results with Google’s Rich Snippets.
- Google Webmaster Tools offers reports of your site on duplicate META descriptions, long META descriptions, missing title tags, duplicate title tags, long title tags, and non-informative title tags as HTML suggestions.
META Keywords Tag
Histories and Google’s official confirmation on META keywords tags:
- Google Does Not Use the Keywords Meta Tag in Web Ranking – Google officially confirms META keywords do not affect search ranking of your web pages.
- Meta Keywords Tag 101: How to Legally Hide Words on Your Pages for Search Engines – Keyword stuffing can get your web pages banned from showing up on search engines’ SERP, and relying on META keywords to rank your web pages comes to an end.
META Robots Tag
Use META robots tags to control how search engine bots (e.g. GoogleBot, Baiduspider, Bing’s MSNBot, Yahoo’s Slurp) access your sites.
- Using the Robots Meta Tag – Tell the search engines to index, noindex, follow or nofollow your web pages with
NOFOLLOWand how your search results are to appear in SERP with
- Robots Exclusion Protocol: Now with Even More Flexibility – Advanced use of META robots tags with X-Robots-Tag
- What are the Meta Tags NOODP and NOYDIR Used for in SEO? – SEO Boy explains
NOYDIRattributes in META robots tags.
Use instructions in Robots.txt when META robots tags alone are not enough.
- Controlling how search engines access and index your website – Google explains robots.txt is the industry standard when you are to control how search engines access/index your websites.
- Robotstxt.org FAQ – What are bots, spiders, crawlers? How do robots index websites? How can you block/exclude robots from crawling/indexing websites or web pages?
- Search Engine Robots Database (List) – Download the list of all search engine robots.
- Baidu Robots.txt – Use Robots.txt to block Baidu spider.
SEO Tools for META Tags
Tools to help you with creating and optimizing META tags:
- SEO Mofo’s Google SERP Snippet Optimization Tool – Test how your page titles and META descriptions may appear on Google’s SERP.
- Use Excel to Plan Meta Tags, Titles and URLs for SEO – Create and check your META tags using Excel before going online.
On-page SEO Checklist
Double check your optimized META tags.
Google launched Adwords broad match modifier, a keyword match type different to broad match and phrase match, to advertisers.
Issues with Broad Match Keywords, Negative Keywords
- Broad match in Adwords has capabilities equal to expanded broad match that allows ads to appear on extremely vast number of related and unrelated user search queries.
- When serving ads, Google’s matching algorithm for broad match keywords combines search queries from two successive searches. When a user searches and then uses the search box on the first search’s results pages again, the first query and the second query are both used to determine what ad to display.
- Filtering all unrelated keywords with negative matching is impossible due to infinite number of combinations of unrelated keywords.
Adwords Broad Match Modifier, Phrase Match, Broad Match
Keywords using Google Adwords broad match modifier have:
- Less reach to search queries than broad match keywords, with more control
- Greater reach to search queries than phrase match keywords
Using Adwords Broad Match Modifier
Guidelines and benefits when using Google Adwords broad match modifier:
- To test the effects of Adwords broad match modifier, keep your existing broad match keywords unchanged and add new keywords with Adwords broad match modifier.
- Pay attention to “+” symbol and spaces when creating new broad match keywords with broad match modifier.
- If you have the same keyword with one in broad match and the other with broad match modifier in one ad group, then a search query for the exact term will trigger the broad match keyword with modifier.
- Using Adwords broad match modifier does not directly affect your keywords’ Google Adwords quality score.
- You can add the “+” sign to one, many, or all words in a broad match keyword, but the “+” sign does not work for exact, phrase or negative keywords.
- Track Adwords PPC conversions in Google Analytics and/or Adwords conversion tracking.
- Analyze Adwords search query report before expanding and/or narrowing down your keyword lists.
- RKG provides 3 examples of how Adwords broad match modifier can be used.
Adwords Broad Match Modifier for Chinese Keywords
Adwords Broad Match Modifier now supports keywords in Chinese language, research and expand your Chinese keywords with:
What is Follow5?
Follow5.com is a Chinese social network site, and a microblogging tool.
With Follow5, you can manage your usernames/passwords and “sent” messages of 24 microblogging sites, SNS, and sharing sites including Sina Weibo, Tencent QQ Weibo, Twitter, Google Buzz, Kaixin001.com, Xiaonei.com/Renren.com, Douban, Friendfeed, Plurk, Baidu’s Microblog, 9911 and HelloTxt, all through one user interface (UI).
How to Set Up Follow5?
To use Follow5:
- Sign-up to Follow5 and choose a screen name (e.g. gordonchoicom).
- Connect Follow5 to up to 24 microblogging services / SNS / sharing sites (mostly Chinese sites) that you previously have signed-up with and allow Follow5 to connect via the OAuth protocol.
Use Follow5 as SNS
When you use Follow5 as an SNS:
- Find friends and connect to them through “following”.
- Your friends/connections can be “following” and/or “followers”.
Use Follow5 as Twitter-microblogging Tool
When you use Follow5 as a message broadcast tool to several of your microblogging/SNS accounts (e.g. Twitter):
- You can send up to 200 Chinese characters per message (which is more than Sina Weibo’s and Twitter’s maximum limits on message length) from Follow5.
- You can send messages to Follow5 through your MSN messenger, Gtalk or QQ messenger accounts.
- The messages you sent will immediately be synchronized to social media sites/tools including Sina Weibo, Twitter, Google Buzz, Douban, Plurk, RenRen.com and Kaixin001.com.
Google Analytics metrics explains the different metrics being used in Google Analytics reports. Unique Pageview metric can be found in Google Analytics Top Content report after your website’s Google Analytics setup completes.
Page views are the number of times a web page is viewed. Additional page view counts can be triggered via visiting the same web page multiple times by the same visitor, when the visitor:
- Reloads after reaching the web page.
- Navigates to a different web page and then returns to the original web page.
Pageviews is one of the useless web metrics.
Unique Page Views
Unique page views are the total number of unique visitors to a given web page during the same session (visit).
- If a visitor views the same web page 3 times during the same visit, then it will count as 3 page views and 1 unique page view.
- If the same visitor exits your site, comes back after 30 minutes (session expires) and views the same web page again, it will count as 3 page views and 2 unique page views.
Additional page views will not be counted during the same session for the visitor:
- If the visitor reloads the web page.
- If the visitor navigates to a different web page and then returns to the original web page within 30 minutes (before session expires).
Entrances vs Unique Page Views
Unique page views and entrances are different.
- Unique pageviews are the number of unique visits that view specific pages which include visits that land on landing pages (or entry pages) of your site.
- Entrance is a Google Analytics metric that has to do with visitors and landing pages (or entry pages) of your site. Entrances are the number of visits that land on specific web pages as landing pages.
Example to differentiate unique page views and entrances:
- Your site contains 3 web pages. A visitor enters your site through page A, then page A gets 1 entrance and 1 unique page view. Then the visitor views page B which counts as a unique page view for page B, but does not count as an entrance. The result is 2 unique page views and 1 entrance.
The Q&A site Quora ranks all the answers of different topics with a ranking algorithm, just as Google’s, Yahoo’s and Bing’s search algorithms that rank web pages on organic search engine results pages.
How Quora’s Algorithm Ranks Answers
Quora’s CEO Adam D’Angelo briefly explains Quora’s ranking algorithm for answers.
In Quora, upvotes, downvotes, and history and credibility of an answerer can all contribute to the ranking of answers.
- Upvotes may improve the ranking of your answers.
- Downvotes may decrease the ranking of your answers.
Votes from different users may or may not count more or less weight to answers.
- Upvotes and/or downvotes from answerers who have previously given good answers on Quora will count more weight to the ranking of your answers.
- Answers provided by an answerer who have previously given good answers on Quora will be ranked highers.
- The role of an answer (admin/reviewer/user) does not affect the ranking of answers.
Quora’s ranking algorithm is valid as of February 5 and may change as Quora improves.
How Quora Fights Spammed Answers
To minimize the effect of spammed answers:
- Votes from users detected to be spamming Quora’s ranking algorithm will be minimized or not be counted.
Quora’s has strict policies/rules on voting answers:
Solicitation for upvotes is not allowed on Quora.com and users are not allowed make offers to (1) buy upvotes, (2) reward users for upvotes with consideration, and/or (3) trade for upvotes.
Quora Sign-up / Quora Invitation
Sign up to Quora now to ask questions and/or provide answers.
Blekko.com is a slashtag search engine (or Web 2.0 search engine), based in Silicon Valley, that offers vertical search (or topical search).
- Blekko was created in 2007 by founders of DMOZ (the open directory) and Topix, including CEO Rich Skrenta.
- Blekko was opened to public users (out-of-Beta) in October 2010.
- Blekko is crawling over 200 million web pages per day with 3 billion pages in total.
- Blekko refreshes the SERP from minutes for homepages of very popular news sites to 2 weeks for other much less visited sites.
- Blekko received 30 million search queries in January 2011.
Blekko’s web search bill of rights includes:
- Search shall be open
- Search results shall involve people
- Ranking data shall not be kept secret
- Web data shall be readily available
- There is no one-size-fits-all for search
- Advanced search shall be accessible
- Search engine tools shall be open to all
- Search & community go hand-in-hand
- Spam does not belong in search results
- Privacy of searchers shall not be violated
Blekko’s ScoutJet Web Crawler
Blekko search engine’s web crawler/spider is called Scoutjet.
To block Blekko’s Scoutjet from crawling/indexing your site, include the following instructions in your site’s Robots.txt file:
Review the search engine crawler instructions in Baidu Robots.txt.
Blekko Search Engine’s Architecture/System
Read Write Web explains the search engine has top-notch technologies as Blekko has created an architecture/system that allows processing massive data sets in a very dynamic way.
- Blekko built a decentralized architecture/system that are simple to write and debug, in which the crawling, analysis and delivery of results could use a single data store and a set of programming primitives.
- Each of Blekko’s server is configured identically, assigned with no special roles. All servers are running CentOS.
- Enter this into your browser’s address bar:
http://blekko.com/ws/+/date. By repeatedly refreshing Blekko’s search results page, the new web pages crawled by ScoutJet will show up on the fly, within a couple of seconds. Even Google’s Caffeine (or Google’s next generation search engine) doesn’t have this fast refreshing rate.
How to Search with Slashtags on Blekko.com
Search on Blekko through slashtag search commands in the formats:
"your search query" /slashtag
"your search query" /slashtag /slashtag
Blekko offers built-in slashtags, including:
/date– Sorts web pages in descending order by date.
/map– Returns a map location of a specific search query.
/amazon.com– Searches content from a specific site that have Blekko’s API enabled. e.g. seth godin
/link– Displays all the site linking to a specific domain / web page (URL) and is similar to Google’s
/rank– Provides summary views of websites/pages that rank for the specific search query.
/seo– Shows the SEO factors that contribute to a site’s organic search ranking on Blekko.
Blekko allows you to search your Facebook “Likes” if you connect your Facebook account to Blekko:
- Blekko allows the use of slashtags in search queries that represents a collection of websites on particular topics.
- Blekko’s slashtags are actually vertical search – Both Google and Bing offer vertical search in key niches, but Blekko can offer vertical search in much wider range of topics by grouping each topic through slashtags.
- Blekko allows searching with built-in slashtags.
- Big search engines’ (Google’s and Bing’s) indexes have tens of billions of documents which make the search results much more comprehensive than Blekko for very specific search queries.
- Blekko reveals the organic search algorithm by offering SEO reports to the public (which are similar reports in Google Webmaster Tools and/or Bing Webmaster Tools) – Blekko’s site ranking factors include domain name of the site, anchor/link text pointing at the web page, page title tags, and web page’s URLs, which are SEO factors included in Google’s, Yahoo’s and Bing’s search algorithms.
Blekko CEO Rich Skrenta offers his top 3 Blekko searches that can’t be done on Google:
- Search for links to yourself by time i.e.
http://www.techcrunch.com/ /link /date
- Search for sites in a Google ad network with an Adsense ID i.e.
- Search for coverage of a certain topic over a certain period of time by a certain media sector, such as an initial coverage of Cuil to see if people predicted that it too was doomed
Blekko to Remove Web Spams
Blekko’s Mobile Search on iPhone, Android
For mobile search, Blekko launched mobile applications for iPhone and Android.
- The app offers a simple interface for users to view search results that are sorted by most relevant and by date.
- The app allows searching for topics by slashtags.
- Suggested slashtags are displayed for each search in the app.
- “Mark as Spam”, “View SEO info”, “Add to Slashtags” and “Open in Safari” options are available next to each individual search result.
I previously revised Google’s, Yahoo’s, and Bing’s search engine ranking factors from Canadian SEO guru Stephen Noton’s 2006 findings.
With Bing-Yahoo Search Alliance, targeting the major English-speaking markets through search engine optimization will require to master:
Google’s 200 Ranking Factors
Microsoft’s Bing search engine tried to offer “different” algorithmic search results to Google’s search results, however:
- Bing may still believe Google’s search algorithm is still superior to and produces more relevant search results than Bing’s search algorithm.
- Eric Schmidt once admitted Google’s 200 search engine ranking factors (including Google PageRank) are business secrets.
Danny Sullivan made a list of Google’s ranking factors (incomplete list):
- Presence of search term in HTML title tag
- Presence of search term in HTML body copy
- Use of bold around search term
- Use of header tags around search term
- Presence of search term in anchor text leading to page
- PageRank of a page
- PageRank / authority of an entire domain
- Speed of web site
Google’s ranking factors also contain social signals including click through rates (CTR) and low bounce rates which can be collected through sources from:
Bing Copied Google’s Search Algorithm
Google recently put up an accusation about Microsoft Bing:
- Google discovered in October 2010 that Bing was showing a much greater overlap with Google’s top 10 search results and an increase in the percentage of times listed exactly the same page in the number one spot as Google’s, than in previous months.
- Google set up a bait (i.e. sting operation) by creating 100 “synthetic” searches (i.e. queries that few users would ever enter in Google’s search box).
- Google verified Bing has been indeed copying Google’s search results as within 2 weeks, the “synthetic” search results started showing up on Bing’s search results.
- Google accused Bing for copying Google’s search algorithm when both representatives of Google and Bing showed up in a panel at the ThinkBig Farsight 2011 event.
Bing did not directly deny Google’s accusation and revealed:
- Bing’s search algorithm consists of over 1,000 signals.
- Bing uses clickstream data collected from users who have opt-ed in to share anonymous data when navigate the web.
Danny Sullivan’s provided insights for search engine optimization on both Bing and Google:
Well, as a search marketer, I learned something new – how you rank on Google may have an impact on how you rank on Bing. Probably a tiny impact.
Google said they didn’t use toolbar data for to help sites. But I also pointed out that they do use it for measuring site speed – which is a ranking factor.
Optimize your sites for Bing:
- Be consistent with ranking signals in URL structure, internal linking, canonical tags, XML sitemaps, and robots.txt
- Make it easy for Bing’s crawler, MSNbot, to discover your web pages – e.g. One of Google’s suggestions is to optimize website’s page load time
- Create high quality, original content
- Bing is susceptible to link spam
- Run SEO keyword research through Bing’s keyword tools
- Use information in Bing’s Webmaster Tools
Eye Tracking Study: Google vs Bing Search Results
User Centric conducted eye tracking tests to compare the amount and distribution of attention on Bing’s and Google’s search engine results pages (SERP). The image below was extracted from User Centric eye tracking study:
The test results indicate the users spend more time viewing Google’s organic search results with 14.7 seconds to Bing’s 10.7 seconds. The percentages of users that have viewed the 4 areas of the SERP:
- Sponsored results at the top – Google: 91%, Bing: 90%
- Sponsored results to the right of the organic search results – Google: 28%, Bing: 21%
- Organic search results – Google: 100%, Bing: 100%
- Left pane – Google: 17%, Bing: 18%
About User Centric’s test method on Bing and Google:
- Twenty-four experienced users of both Google and Bing participated in the tests.
- Users’ eye movements were recorded with the Tobii T60 eye tracker.
- The eye tracking study analyzed the percentage of users (i.e. hit rate) who looked at each of the 4 areas and the time (i.e. gaze time) the users spent viewing the 4 areas.
- Each user conducted 4 Google searches (with Google Instant disabled) and 4 Bing searches, in which 2 searches were informational (“healthy food” and “landscaping”) and the other 2 searches were transactional (“engagement ring” and “last minute vacations”).
Google offered a reply to the recent content farm sites’ search engine spam issues.
What are Content Farm Sites?
Content farms are large quantities of low quality content that can spam search engine results. Content farm sites are intended to:
- Acquire visitors from search queries through search engines
- Drive the search engine visitors to click on ads that are on the content farm sites
Wikipedia defines content farm sites:
Content farms are companies that employ large numbers of writers to generate large amounts of textual content. Content farms are criticized for providing relatively low quality content as they maximize profit by producing just “good enough” rather than best possible quality articles. Search engines see content farms as a problem, as they tend to bring the user to the less relevant and lower quality results of the search.
Google Search Algorithm Update
- Sites that copy other sites’ content and sites with low levels of original content
- The ranking of over 2% of search queries
Blekko Bans Content Farm Sites
Blekko.com, the slashtag search engine, is to remove a list of content farm sites from search results:
Google’s Content Farm Algorithm, Scraper Algorithm
Barry Schwartz on Search Engine Round Table said:
- Google hasn’t yet algorithmically block content farms.
- Google has launched a scraper algorithm to prevent low quality content from showing up in Google’s SERP.
Search engine industry trends in 2011 include:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Paid Search (PPC)
- Search Engines in APAC, China, Russia
- Web Analytics for SEO and PPC
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO factors for 2011 include:
- Internal Links and inbound links to your site
- Click through rates (CTR) of search queries to your site, and the impact of Google Instant to your Google SEO traffic
- Image mapping – Google uses images and alt tags on your site as ranking signals
- Click distribution / heatmap of your web pages – Google Analytics In-page Analytics / Site Overlay report
- Organic search and local search – Submit sites to Google, Yahoo, Bing local business search
- Optimize website’s page load time
- Social signals in Google’s, Yahoo’s and Bing’s search algorithm – Google can use social signals from Google Buzz and Twitter, and Bing can use social signals from Facebook
- Use information in Google Webmaster Tools and track your site’s search / web traffic in Google Analytics
Google made search algorithm changes to allow a domain to show up 3 or more times in the SERP by a single search query, if relevant enough.
Regarding web search spam:
- Web search spamming techniques including keyword stuffing no longer work.
- Google is to improve organic search quality by identifying “content farms” through document-level classifier that will make it difficult for spammy on-page content to rank high in Google’s search engine results pages (SERP).
SEO must be built into your website development when creating your site:
- Browser support
- SEO strategies
- Site architecture (linking structures) and site navigation (includes breadcrumb navigation)
- Content outline / development
- Site / page design
- URL structure
- Social media / multimedia plans
Paid Search (PPC)
- Growth of display advertising
- Actionable attribution
- The dawn of “No” keywords
- Maturity of Facebook PPC
Inside Adwords listed the top 10 Google Adwords tool/feature innovations in 2010:
- Adwords Campaign Experiments
- Search Funnels
- Product Ads
- Adwords Call Metrics
- Click-to-call Phone Extensions
- Display Campaign Optimizer – Review Optimize Google Adwords content network ads for conversions
- Adwords Enhanced CPC
- Adwords Broad Match Modifier
- Adwords Automated Rules
- Adwords Remarketing
In both Google Adwords and Bing Adcenter:
- Ads’ click through rate (CTR) should be lowered for achieving better ROI in some cases.
With Bing Adcenter’s optimization and transition from Yahoo Search Marketing, apply:
Search Engines in APAC, China, Russia
APAC countries’ search marketing trends in 2011 include:
- In South Korea, Google dominates mobile search on smart phones – Smart phone users will reach 30 million by 2012.
- The demand of real-time search and social search in South Korea will increase.
- South Korea’s number 1 search engine Naver is to launch a paid search platform to replace Yahoo Search Marketing.
- Google has started to power Yahoo’s SEO / organic search results in Japan in December 2010.
- In APAC, Google dominates the English-speaking countries with search market share, but trails behind in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.
- Alibaba, China’s B2B search engine, claims to have overtaken Google for ad sales revenues in China.
- The Chinese language will soon take over English to become the Internet’s most popular language.
- The search traffic of Yandex Russia search engine may grow 30-40% in 2011.
Web Analytics for SEO and PPC
In both SEO and PPC, you need to understand the keywords that are leading visitors to your site and eventually driving conversions for your site.
- Most web analytics tools’ tracking includes Google Analytics works on last click attribution by default – All conversions are allocated to the last source of a visit for that visitor.
- Kenshoo Search offers Path To Conversion for keyword conversion attribution – Path To Conversion tracks the entire click-conversion path (from the first click to the conversion) across multiple paid search engines. Conversion credit weights can be distributed to keywords in the click-conversion path based on your keyword conversion attribution setup.
Third party web analytics tools have been becoming compulsory for all sizes of websites. Major web analytics tools including:
Web analytics guru Avinash Kaushik has this beginner’s guide to web analytics:
- Visit the website. Note objectives, customer experience, suckiness
- How good is the acquisition strategy? Traffic Sources Report
- How strongly do Visitors orbit the website? Visitor Loyalty & Recency
- What can I find that is broken and quickly fixable? Top Landing Pages
- What content makes us most money? $Index Value Metric
- How Sophisticated Is Their Search Strategy? Keyword Tag Clouds
- Are they making money or making noise? Goals & Goal Values
- Can the Marketing Budget be optimized? Campaign Conversions/Outcomes
- Are we helping the already convinced buyers? Funnel Visualization
- What are the unknown unknowns I am blind to? Analytics Intelligence
Kaushik also offers a list of analytics tools (including web analytics 2.0 tools) for SEO, PPC and mobile search:
- Google Analytics
- Yahoo Web Analytics
- Percent Mobile
- Google Webmaster Tools
- Bing Webmaster Tools
- Mongoose Metrics
- Google Website Optimizer
- PostRank Analytics
Regarding mobile apps tracking, Apple allows third-party web analytics vendors to collect data including Motally, Flurry, Distimo, Localytics and Medialets to collect data from iPhone 4.0 operating system, the default OS for iPhones and iPads.« Newer Posts — Older Posts »