Bing uses Facebook to add the “Friend Effect” to Search

Over at Great Finds, I talk about Bing’s recent addition of Facebook data to enhance the SERPs. I think this is a really exciting move personally, as it’s one of those creative & drastic moves that Bing could take to distinguish itself better from Google – right now, Bing & Google’s SERPs look very similar, but adding Facebook to Bing’s results will be a key differentiator. Will users like it? That remains to be seen. Check out a short excerpt below then head over to Great Finds to read the rest.

Bing officially announced an enhancement to its search engine that deeply integrates Facebook into the search results pages in a number of ways. We have seen a growing inter-relationship between social media in search (a nice history here and here). By bringing “the Friend Effect” to search, Bing has made perhaps the boldest move to integrate search and social. Bing has done something Google can’t replicate: integrate Facebook data throughout search results. This post discusses implications for Bing, Google, marketers, and consumers.

Read more…

Jalopnik’s Cruel April Fools Joke

Autoblognik

Today is a April Fools – and the joke played by Jalopnik “Say Hello to Autoblognik and Goodbye to Me” struck a chord with me. It’s actually a decent premise for an April Fools joke – they claim they were acquired by Aol. (who has been on an acquisition binge of mainstream blogs) and that Aol. was going to re-do the site. The problem with this joke is that many formerly loyal readers of Jalopnik like myself would LOVE for this to happen.

Jalopnik used to be my favorite blog on the internet. I’d visit it 4-5 times a day, chat with my car buddies about it (“did you see that post on Jalopnik today? OMG it was awesome…”), and I was generally what you could call a Jalopnik fan-boy.

When the redesign of all Gawker Media sites launched a few months ago, Ray Wert pleaded to readers to be patient and try to get used to it – I did my best, visiting each day and trying to force myself to like it, or at least try to understand why they did it.

Read more

How To Display Amazon Affiliate Enhanced Display Ads Side-by-Side in WordPress

Amazon Enhanced Display Ads in WordPress

Amazon Enhanced Display Ads in WordPress

Adding the “Enhanced Display’ (Image + Text) Amazon Affiliate ads in WordPress can be a pain in the neck – for some reason WordPress and Amazon Enhanced Display Ads don’t work together well. Luckily, there is a way it can be done, it just requires a little extra work.

    1. Edit the post in HTML mode, not in the Visual Editor (the Visual Editor will strip out the iFrame code) – you can create a draft of the post in the Visual Editor, but you’ll want to switch to the HTML editor when its time to add the Amazon Enhanced Display Ads
    2. Copy & Paste the Amazon Affiliate Enhanced Display Ads where you want them in the HTML editor once the post is ready for them
    3. If you have multiple Enhanced Display Ads and you want them to appear side by side (instead of each one appearing on top of each other), then you’ll need to add the iframe align attribute.  It should be inserted right before or after the scrolling=”no” attribute. Update, Amazon changed the code for these so the method is slighty different. I have both illustrated below to help:

OLD VERSION: 

NEW VERSION: 

Other tips:

  1. You will probably need to enter line breaks after the Ad. This can be done by inserting “ ” on seperate lines to create line breaks. Add a few and see how many more you need to make it look right.
  2. Update the post (while still in HTML Editor) and do not switch to Visual Editor otherwise you’ll lose everything
  3. Tweak the code in the HTML editor by adding extra line breaks until you get the desired result.

And that’s it! For an example of this in the live, check out my guide on how to hardwire an Escort Passport Radar Detector which the above screenshot was taken from. I hope this helps you earn money and enhance your blog posts 🙂

An Awesome Content Creation Tip by Joe Pulizzi: Try to Create 10 Pieces of Content for Every One Idea You Have

Joe Pulizzi at AZIMA

Joe Pulizzi at AZIMA, Pic courtesy of @ArnieK

I just got back from the monthly Arizona Interactive Marketing Association event which was on Content Marketing featuring guest speaker Joe Pulizzi of Junta42. As an SEO I dabble quite a bit in content creation, content syndication and content marketing, so I was excited to hear his speach, and Joe certainly didn’t disappoint. I had also just recently finished his book, Get Content, Get Customers, and I’d definitely recommend it if you’re interested in a good introductory text to content marketing. He also gets extra cool points for signing my book after his talk.

In the very beginning of his talk, Joe noted that if you took away just one thing from his presentation, then his talk would be a success.

That one “ah-hah!” moment for me was this sage piece of advice:

Try to create 10 pieces of content for every one idea you have

While seemingly simple, its a very powerful tip for bloggers like myself. Why?

  1. It will help you to produce more content – no more writers-block or starring deeply into the computer screen wondering what to write about this week – as long as you can think of one idea every 10 weeks, you can produce a new post every week!
  2. It forces you to go more niche – instead of writing on a very broad subject, you’ll break that subject into 10 seperate blog posts (or articles), and those 10 posts will be much more targeted & focused on a more-specific more-niche subject – this is better for SEO (think of the power of the long tail), better for readers (more focused), and better for conversions (more qualified lead generation)
  3. It forces you to write more concise posts – if you’re splitting one idea into 10 posts, you’re less likely to ramble. Added bonus: shorter posts are easier to read, which is better for your audience.
  4. You can spread your content out over time – keeping up with your content schedule (e.g. one post per week) can be tough, but if you have an inventory of ideas stockpiled, you don’t have to worry.
  5. You can compile your 10 posts into a Content Series – this content series all about one over-arching idea/concept can then be re-purposed into a newsletter, e-book, best practices presentation, white paper, etc. Now you have even more content at your disposal!

There you have it – my favorite takeway: turn one golden idea into ten, all with just a little content marketing magic.

My second favorite takeway – people love numbered lists. Hence the list of five ideas above 🙂

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How to Fix Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent Error Message in WordPress

After transferring my WordPress site to a new server, I received this error when trying to log in to the WP-Admin panel

Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent by (output started at /home/nnnick/public_html/nickroshon.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-security-scan/scanner.php:63) in /home/nnnick/public_html/nickroshon.com/wp-includes/pluggable.php on line 890

I had no idea what that means, but without being able to log in to the Admin panel it was a little hard to get rid of it. At first I thought about just going in and deleting the plug-in referenced above and seeing if that would work (it did work, although there were many other plugins that were also causing this error, as well as the theme itself, which I didn’t want to delete!). Given I didn’t want to delete all of my plugins as well as the theme itself, I began exploring other options.

Upon doing a Google search for this error, I found many helpful articles, but none that were quite helpful enough – they give tips, but some of the details were a bit fuzzy. This post on WPContempo, as well as these two posts on the WordPress.org forums (1) and (2) were helpful, and explained that:

You likely have an extra white-space or line at the beginning or end of your WP-Config file. Open your WP-Config file and delete an extra white-space at the beginning or end of the file, then delete it.

That is mostly correct, but a little unclear and didn’t totally fix my problem. Here is the dumbed down explanation.

  1. You probably do have extra lines at the beginning or end of a file, although it isn’t necessarily your WP-Config file. If your error message looks like mine above, it is in a specific file related to a plugin, theme, or other add-on to your WordPress install, although its possible your WP-Config file also has extra white space too. During the transfer of your site, some of your files (for whatever unknown reason) grew a few mysterious empty lines at the beginning or end, which screws everything up…  Extra Spaces at End of File WordPress
  2. To find the files with the extra lines, look at the error message itself, as it will tell you exactly which file is causing the issue. At the example at the top of this post, “Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent by (output started at /home/nnnick/public_html/nickroshon.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-security-scan/scanner.php:63) in /home/nnnick/public_html/nickroshon.com/wp-includes/pluggable.php on line 89″ the part bolded is the cause of your problem. It is telling you the Scanner.php file has an extra space on line 63, which happened to be the last line of the file (and sure enough, it was blank).
  3. To fix it, either connect to your site via FTP, or through the File Manager in your cPanel (note: connecting via FTP is better as the cPanel may add extra lines itself, although I had no problem doing this through the cPanel myself). Within either your FTP or cPanel File Manager, navigate to the location of the file causing the problem (public_html/nickroshon.com/wp-content/plugins/wp-security-scan/) in this example, and then open the file name referenced (scanner.php). Look for the line number after the colon, again in this example line 63. Remove the extra lines starting at that line number, and then save the file and close it.
  4. Try reloading your WP-Admin page. Chances are you’ll see the same error message again, only a new file is causing the problem…repeat steps 2-3, looking for that exact file and line number and removing spaces. With one of my rather customized blogs I had to do this probably 10 times before I could get rid of all the error messages, but eventually I had corrected all of them, and am now able to log in to my WP-Admin just fine!

And that’s it – I hope this was helpful to others out there that may have had some problems like me. It is definitely something you can figure out, even if you’re not an expert programmer – you just need a little patience as it is a tedious process of hunting for extra spaces and lines.

Email Template for Requesting Permission to Link to a Site From Your Blog

An (unnamed) friend recently asked me if I had an email template he could use to proactively contact any blogs or websites he wanted to link to, and ask their permission first before placing the link in their post.

Here is the template I sent him:

Dear Webmaster,
Is it okay if we link to your website from our PageRank 6 domain that ranks in the top 5,000 most highly trafficked sites on Alexa? If you say no, I’ll assume you’re unfit to make decisions on behalf of your company and just place the link anyway, as you’d have to be certifiably insane to say no. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Your Name

Blogs are meant to be creative, interpersonal, casual, and collaborative.

Blogs are social media.

Do you ask permission before retweeting someone? Or liking someone else’s Facebook post?

Why ask permission before linking to someone? Is there a difference?

The Google Instant Announcement Parody, Xtranormal Style

Below is a parody-style recap of the Google Instant search announcement yesterday as recreated using Xtranormal. The gentleman sitting behind the desk is a fictional Danny Sullivan, and most of his quotes are lifted from tweets he made throughout the day (e.g. See, Google knows I’m not a teenage girl). The other fellow is a random “Search Noob” that pokes fun at all of the twitter commentators who kind of freaked out before fully comprehending the announcement…and lastly, the reference to Steve Rubel at the end is referring to a tweet he made that said “SEO is irrelevant” during the announcement, which definitely ruffled a lot of feathers. The “pistol whip” comment is also a subtle nod to one of my favorite movies, Super Troopers, in which Captain O’Hagan vows to pistol whip the next person to say Shenanigans, which prompts Mac to ask a leading question he knows Farva will answer with “Shenanigans.”

This is by no means meant to be disrespectful to anyone involved and is merely adding some humor to the situation, so if this offends you I am sorry in advance. To the rest of you, enjoy!

The Perfect Storm for Bing to Go Mainstream?

Bing Vs Google

This could be the perfect storm for Bing to gain market share and become a substantial threat to Google – or so we better hope.

Last week, Google and Verizon announced a deal that may very well kill net neutrality for mobile devices, as PC World reports.  This sentiment is echoed throughout the industry including this post from my colleague and industry expert Rob Garner on MediaPost. This crucial misstep has revealed Google is not a benevolent champion of free speech and internet neutrality, but that they’re no different from any other company that holds a monopoly-sized share of the market – greedy. In fact, the only real difference between Microsoft in it’s peak and Google now is that Microsoft didn’t try to pretend they were benevolent good guys, whereas Google wants you to drink the “Don’t be Evil” Kool-Aid until it poisons you. This Silicon Alley Insider article frames this phenomenon quite well.

But this isn’t all about Google making a major misstep and turning off many people (like myself) who were once Google fanatics.

For Bing to take off and truly become mainstream, they need not only a good product, but users motivated to try something new. Before, I had no reason to venture away from Google – it has always provided great results, great products (usually for free), and claimed to be the champions of the internet, free speech, and net neutrality. Why change search engines if Google has everything I need and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

Now I have the motivation to change – I’m jaded with Google. Add to that, Bing (finally) has the product worth switching to (or at least trying…).

Bing has revamped their search results since former “Live” and has actually has been ahead of Google in integrating Social Media into search results, which is an increasingly important part of the internet to users. Bing was the first (and has still done the best job) at integrating Twitter into it’s search results, they were the first to add Foursquare into their Maps, they were the first to add “infinite scroll” to their Images (which Google even admits was a copy cat move of Bing here), and much more.

While Google’s algorithm is still a bit more sophisticated, Bing is also catching up in this area. To the untrained eye, Bing’s algorithm is usually pretty decent. I hate to say it, but they still have their work cut-out here…luckily Google has also been slacking recently, as Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz points out the growing amount of spam in Google and the disappointing recent progress at Google in doing anything about it.

To webmasters, Bing is catching up to Google in their offerings as well. They are revamping Bing Webmaster Tools to include more useful information, and they will be integrating Yahoo Site Explorer (an invaluable tool for webmasters & SEOs alike) into the Bing Webmaster Tool suite.  Again, they still have plenty of catch up with Google’s robust offerings, but they’ve made a ton of progress and it’s a very good start.

According to Hitwise, in July Bing held 9.85% of the search share and Yahoo held 14.37%. Yahoo searches are now powered by Bing as of this morning (August 19, 2010), which means that those numbers should still be pretty accurate, implying close to a 25% market share for Bing.

That 25% market share, combined with a Google PR nightmare and a significantly improved Bing experience could be the perfect storm to disrupt Google’s smooth sailing…and let’s all hope so.

Not only is Google’s threat to net neutrality a reason to hope they have a valiant competitor, but competition itself is a good thing for both engines. I like choices. Clearly Bing’s competition has spurred Google to innovate further, in many cases stealing or building upon ideas Bing introduced first. Competition is good for everyone, and it means that Google no longer has so much power they can single-handedly undermine net neutrality. In a wierd sort of way, Microsoft could be the last hope to prevent Google from becoming an evil monopoly – who woulda thunk.

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Facebook’s EdgeRank and How to Stop it from Filtering Friends’ News & Updates

Update Feb. 2011: Facebook has changed the filtering options, and now provides an option to show posts from “All of your friends and pages.” This is exactly what I was asking for in my original post, which is awesome to see. Either someone was listening, or someone at Facebook arrived at the same conclusion as myself, but regardless of how it was done, it is much appreciated. Check this setting now!

Original Post: Have you ever looked at the Facebook app on your mobile phone and noticed updates from Friends or Pages that don’t appear in your feed when you log in the normal way through Facebook.com? Even if you click on the Most Recent tab, which is supposed to be a “Live Feed” of all status updates, you’ll notice some are being filtered out, despite you never telling Facebook to hide those friends or pages.

This may be partly due to EdgeRank, an algorithm Facebook uses to determine what News items you would find most interesting to display in your Top News feed. This algorithm ranks status updates according to how close you are to the person who posted the update by looking at how often you interact with the person (e.g. do you send them lots of messages, likes, and pokes?) and when the last time you interacted with that person was (if you used to message & poke a lot, but now don’t, say for an ex-girlfriend, then those interactions will be devalued since they happened so long ago). More on EdgeRank can be read at TechCrunch. But this post isn’t about Top News or EdgeRank, per say…

My gripe is that “Most Recent” doesn’t contain all of the status updates posted from my friends and Pages I like. For whatever reason, some are still being filtered out, even though the Most Recent tab is supposed to be a live feed. My theory is that either EdgeRank is being used to filter out those items that score very low – e.g. items from friends or Pages I’ve rarely interacted with, or some kind of different filtering mechanism that is being used to filter out those items Facebook thinks I wouldn’t be interested in. When I compare the Most Recent feed on Facebook.com and the unfiltered feed on my mobile or TweetDeck, it seems to be plausible that items that would have the lowest EdgeRank are being filtered out, as those items are generally from people I haven’t interacted with in a long time. However I can’t confirm the filtering is done using EdgeRank, and it doesn’t really matter for the purposes of this article – what I can confirm is that items are being filtered out of “Most Recent” in one way or another.

I can see some merit to filtering out items from the Most Recent view, vis-a-vis the classic “Twitter is just people posting what they had for Breakfast” argument, and Facebook not wanting to be viewed as location of worthless status updates of distant friend’s breakfast menus.

My issue (and plea) is that I wish there was some option to display ALL status updates from all friends and pages with no filtering applied, be it a third option (e.g. Top News, Most Recent, View All) or a setting I can opt into in my Account Preferences section.

Part of what I do like about Facebook is the ability to keep in touch with a large number of people spread out across the world in many different stages of their life. The variety and mix of age, gender, sexual preferences, political affiliations and philosphies is good for getting a well rounded view of what people think, and I find opposing opinions interesting, even if I don’t always agree with them. By filtering out those people I don’t interact with often, or maybe those who I fell out of touch with, I don’t have an opportunity to get back in touch with them, or discover a mutual interest that we both share (perhaps even a breakfast item, but I digress…).

Another argument for an option to remove all filters and truly display ALL status updates is to satisfy those that are on Facebook A LOT, and have already read all of the “Most Recent” updates. You can call these people “Power Users” as they’re on Facebook constantly and reading every status update (or you could also call them people with too much time on their hands…). These “Power Users” would spend even more time on Facebook if they had more content to consume, such as adding an option to view ALL updates with no filtering applied. However these Power Users are better off using a third party client like Tweetdeck to view updates, as you’ll see in my tips below, than viewing status updates on Facebook.com.

Here are some tips if you are a “Power User” and want to view ALL updates with no filtering:

  1. Use the mobile application (e.g. Facebook for iPhone or Facebook for Android) – in my experience, there is no filtering here whatsoever, including no option for Top News
  2. Use a desktop client – TweetDeck, HootSuite and other 3rd party desktop clients will pull in your News Feed via an API, and again, as far as I can tell, no filtering is applied, and no semblence of EdgeRank or Top News is present.
  3. Edit your feed settings – At the bottom of your news feed click “edit options” in the right corner and a box pops up that says “number of friends.” Make sure that is set to a number larger than the total number of friends you have (I put in 1,000 as an arbitrary number) – hat tip to @AbbyGilmore for the tip!
  4. Interact more frequently with distant friends, or at least those friends that you want to ensure stay in your feed as much as possible. Perhaps the suggestion Facebook gives you to “reach out to Jane Smith and say hello” in the right sidebar is less of a suggestion, and more of a subtle warning that if you don’t reach out, Facebook will start filtering him or her out as you haven’t interacted with them in a while
  5. Encourage friends to interact with you – If you run a Facebook Page for your business or personal organization, try to encourage your fans to interact with your page as much as possible, or you may start to get filtered. Likewise your personal account will be getting filtered from distant friends’ “Most Recent” feed, which may or may not be a concern to you.
  6. View Individual Profile Pages – If you really want to know how a friend is doing, you can view the updates by going to their Profile Page – this isn’t feasible if you have hundreds of friends, but it is a work-around

Facebook is a rapidly changing platform and user feedback is frequently incorporated into future iterations and changes. I hope that those out in Facebook land hear this request and take it as constructive criticism. In fact, I’m such a Facebook super-fan I carved a pumpkin this Halloween to demonstrate how much I “like” their platform & service:

Facebook Pumpkin

The First Three WordPress Plugins You Should Install

WordPress Admin Panel

I’ve recently started yet another WordPress blog (just like the default tagline says), bringing my total count up to four active blogs that I control. Now that I’m starting to get the hang of this, here are the first plugins I recommend installing right away on your new WordPress blog to kick things off on the right foot:

  1. Akismet – this blocks comment spam. If you don’t have this plugin, or one like it, you probably spend all day moderating your comments, or your blog is so new even spammers haven’t found it yet – but trust me, they will. Install Akismet and 99.9% of your spam problems will go away.
  2. WP Security Scan – after getting hacked last year, I realized WordPress has some pretty significant security flaws – since its open source, anyone can read the back end code and figure out how it all works – and everyone shares the same basic platform, which means that once you learn to hack one WordPress blog, chances are you can hack just about any of them. WP Security Scan both scans and fixes your WordPress blog for most common vulnerabilities, which will make it much harder for hackers to gain unauthorized access to your blog compared to the average WordPress install. This plugin takes seconds to install, but will save you hours of headache if a hacker every targeted you.
  3. WP Minify – a fast loading blog is a healthy blog. WP Minify compresses Javascript and CSS files to improve page load time. It’s well known within the SEO community that Google uses page load speed as part of their ranking algorithm, so every second you can shave off that loading speed can only help.

Of course, this list would be incomplete without mentioning two other things you should do as soon as you start a new blog:

  1. Sign up and verify your site in Google Webmaster Tools – this will alert you of any issues Google has crawling your site, as well as a wealth of other data like inbound links, relevant keywords, and much more. It will also get your site crawled by Google sooner rather than later, so you’ll start showing up in the search results.
  2. Sign up and implement Google Analytics, either using a plugin like Google Analytics for WordPress or manually inserting your tracking code into the footer. This will help you monitor site performance over time, and find referring networks that you can interact & engage with to grow a loyal base of readers to your blog. And since Google Analytics is completely free, there is no sense not collecting this data, even if you don’t plan on using it right away – in a few months, you’ll probably be interested and wish you had been tracking your site since the beginning.

I hope this was helpful – let me know if I left off any good suggestions in the comments section below!

10 Things I Learned at OMS Phoenix Yesterday

Online Marketing Summit Phoenix

I attended the Online Marketing Summit in Phoenix yesterday, and wanted to share a few insights & tips I learned. It was a great conference and it was nice to see a lot of familiar faces and learn some new things. Thanks to everyone that made it possible! We covered a wide range of topics including SEO, Social Media, Conversion Optimization, Content Strategy, and everything in between. In no particular order, here were my favorite takeaways:

#10: Create a Search & Social Media Center for Excellence: Create a central repository for best practices, keywords, social media engagement guidelines, etc, for all employees. This will benefit everyone involved by:

  • Leveraging synergies across all of your digital channels – search, social, PR, web development, email marketing, and display.
  • Getting PR & Social Media people the proper URLs and anchor text for Press Releases & Social Media messaging, as well as tips for optimal distribution
  • Allowing more people to get involved with responding to complaints or questions via twitter & message boards by posting engagement guidelines. Phone support people can respond to complaints on twitter during downtime if they have training & knowledge base.

#9: A Cheaper Press Release – WebWire.com

  • I submit a ton of online press releases for clients through PRNewswire, Marketwire, and PRWeb – but they cost several hundred bucks a pop. It doesn’t look like the distribution network is as robust for Webwire, but for $20, that’s a cheap backlink at the very least…thanks @fionnd of Elixir for this tip!
Adwords Suggestions for the brand iCrossing

Adwords Tool Keyword Suggestions for the query iCrossing

#8: Search your brand & competitors & Adwords Tool – See what suggestions Google has for your brand name, and your competitors brand names in the Google Keyword Tool and Google Search Suggest.

  • This can be helpful to: find interesting keyword ideas for brand pages, find new content ideas & content gaps, and discover reputation management issues. Check out the image to the right for suggestions google had for the word “icrossing” – very on target!

#7: Some Cool Stats & Quotes

  • #1 position on SERP gets 43% of the clicks – Arnie K of Vertical Measures, a link building company
  • “Rankings are something you can influence, not something you can control” – Arnie K – good perspective
  • If you have a website, you are a publisher – Mike Corak
  • .The BEST time to post a blog is Tuesday morning, while the WORST is Friday afternoon. – Dan Tyre  of hubspot
  • “Brands must behave and enage like people do…” ~Brian Haven of iCrossing
  • Blogs are the unsung heroes of SEO
  • Do not neglect your blog child
  • If you talk to people the way advertising talked to people they’d punch you in the face – Steve Groves

#6: Check out your backlink diversity – diversity of backlinks has increased in importance in the past year or so – those with unnatural backlink profiles do not get the same benefits they used to. Don’t overdo one method of link building (e.g. directory submissions) if you’re not going to do others.

#5: Use Social Media Profile Pages for Quick & Free Backlinks – it’s easy to get links on many social networking sites, and even if they’re nofollowed, it’s still a great tool for reputation management and probably still pass along some SEO value as well. Examples: Naymz, 123People, BusinessWeek.com, Google Profiles, LinkedIn…

#4: The Real SEO Value of a No Follow Link? There was some discussion that a rel=nofollow link has been shown to influence rankings and has SEO value. Something to consider – don’t dismiss a link just because it’s nofollowed! In my personal experience I’ve seen evidence that there is some SEO value here as well, although I haven’t seen any conclusive case studies to prove it.

The last three tips were from Jeff Eisenberg, a famous conversion optimization expert who wrote “A Call to Action” along with his brother Bryan. This was the best presentation of the whole summit in my opinion, the whole presentation was captivating and inspiring – check him and his brother out at: http://www.bryaneisenberg.com/

#3: Analyze Every Word & Image on your Money Pages

  • When Dell changed “Learn More” to “Help Me Choose” on the computer configuration page, they saw an increase of MILLIONS of dollars. Why? When customers are ready to check out, they don’t want education (Learn More), but they do want help making sure they picked the right accessories & upgrades (Help Me Choose).
  • Another Example: Overstock.com had horrible conversions on their DVD page, something that should sell well. Turns out an image talking about Childrens Movies turned off users, thinking they were on the wrong page. They changed the image to something generic, and generated a $25m sales jump
  • The takeway? Understand the mindset of the customer, and talk in their language.

#2: Make your forms & check-out pages warm & fuzzy

  • Filing in Credit Card info is the scariest moment for the consumer, and where abandonment most commonly occurs.
  • Post your return policy, quality guarantees, etc, on this page and make the customer feel warm and fuzzy
  • Examples – adding customer testimonials on check-out page, always display savings (if applicable), show quality/product guarantees
  • Warren Buffet’s shoe company added a “Return-O-Meter” to their check out page showing how often a shoe is returned, and why (e.g. too wide, too small, etc). The result? Lower abandonment rate (higher confidence in purchase) plus fewer returns.

#1: Leverage Your Reviews!

  • The Eisenberg Brothers have been very successful using reviews to increase conversions.
  • With internal search on a website, allow users to search by Best Reviews/Most Reviews. When Customers Sort this way, there is a huge increase in conversions
  • Run promotions like Top Reviewed under $50. These types of categories convert much higher.
  • Another example: Vitacost – after a customer purchases something, Vitacost thanks them for the order and asks them to review – the result? Customers would go to Vitacost.com, review the product, and actually buy more products during that session!
  • Reviews have the ability to turn worthless customer (who buys very little, very infrequently, usually on sale, but leaves a review) into a very valuable customer, as their review may sway the big buyers.

PS If I mentioned something you said and didn’t properly attribute it back to you, please leave a comment and let me know and I’ll be happy to include a link back to your website or twitter profile! I was scribbling furiously on a notepad and some of the details got lost or mixed up…

My Interview With Target Marketing Mag & the AdAge Agency Report

I’m really excited about a recent interview I had for an article in Target Marketing Magazine on how to create well optimized Page Titles. As many of you know, Page Titles are pretty important for on-page optimization, yet there is an art involved with crafting them to be user friendly and encourage click-throughs as well. I think we had a great conversation and the article is a really useful piece for those interested in SEO. Check out the interview here or read the transcript below.

Secondly, I’m happy to report AdAge has recognized iCrossing’s continued industry leadership in Search. In the latest Agency Report, iCrossing was named the number one search marketing agency, number 12 digital agency, and 48th largest agency in the world. That’s quite the feat! This was our second consecutive year of being named the top search marketing agency by AdAge, and I’m proud to be a part of this company.

Target Marketing

7 Page Title Best Practices

April 21, 2010 By Heather Fletcher

Home. The word evokes feelings of warmth and comfort—a place to belong. It doesn’t necessarily bring to mind the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Yet that’s the page title the religious institution chose for its homepage.

By contrast, the page title for the green American Express card’s main page is far better: “American Express Green Charge Card—Travel, Shopping, Dining and Entertainment Rewards.”

While the page title for the Archdiocese of San Francisco could clearly use some work, the AmEx one isn’t perfect, either. This is the advice from Jeff Jones, senior product manager for Barrie, Ont.-based search engine optimization firm gShift Labs. AmEx, for instance, might want to move its branding to the end of the page title, he says.

“Titles are really simple, right?” he asks. “I mean, right off the bat, that’s your most important on-page factor.”

Below, Jones and Nick Roshon, natural search analyst for Scottsdale, Ariz.-based digital marketing agency iCrossing, advocate best practices for improving page titles and thereby aiding search marketing efforts.

1. Describe. “Think of a page title like the title of a book chapter,” Roshon says. “Your titles should be descriptive of the page’s content and communicate to users what the page is all about.”

But there’s no need to make the page title and content identical. “When writing a blog post or article, your page title does not have to match your article/post headline exactly; however, both should contain the keywords or phrases you are optimizing for,” he says. “If you are writing a post on ‘Tips for Writing SEO Friendly Page Titles,’ you will want to reuse those keywords you are targeting in the page title, such as: ‘SEO Optimized Page Titles|How to Write SEO Friendly Page Titles’ for your page title.

“Typically, you can be more aggressive with inserting the keywords in the page title than the article headline, as the article headline should focus more on grabbing the reader’s attention and convincing them to read the article once they’re already at your website, whereas the page title is simply trying to get users to visit your website in the first place,” Roshon continues. “It is very common for article headlines to be coded in an

tag, and words within an

tag are given greater importance by search engines. So having your keywords appear somewhere in the article headline will be beneficial to SEO.”

2. Keep it unique. If marketers create duplicate titles, “basically, you’re competing with yourself” for search ranking, Jones says. There’s already enough competition, so why add to it?

3. Put the most important words/phrases in front, in order of importance. “Google will only index up to 80 characters,” Roshon says. “So if you have multiple keywords you are targeting on a page and they can’t all fit within 80 characters, give some consideration to which keywords are most important to you and which keywords need the most help to rank better, and insert the keywords that best align with your objectives.”

For example, an iCrossing travel and hospitality client might use the following on a category level page featuring travel deals: “Vacation Packages, Hotel Deals & Last Minute Travel Deals | Brandname.com.” Roshon says the page title that comes in at 72 characters leaves out “some higher value keywords, like hotel specials, weekend getaways, vacation discounts, etc.,” in order to stay within that 80 character limit.

Next comes the keyword and keyphrase order. Roshon says: “The keywords that should come first should be your most competitive keywords that best describe the content of the page. In the above example, ‘Vacation Packages’ was determined to be the most important and competitive keyword, followed by ‘Hotel Deals.’ ”

4. Keep it short. Roshon mentions above that Google indexes 80 characters. Jones says page titles that long will be truncated on the search engine results page (SERP). So both suggest that marketers consider short titles. “Google will only display up to 64 characters of your page title in the search engine results page,” Roshon says. Marketers should only add characters if they “have a compelling reason to do so,” he says.

For instance, Roshon cites, the travel and hospitality client’s page title may truncate as so: “Vacation Packages, Hotel Deals & Last Minute Travel Deals …” (As a sidenote, the AmEx page title truncates on the SERP this way: “American Express Green Charge Card—Travel, Shopping, Dining and …”)

5. Leave brand words at the end. Jones says marketers are always going to rank OK for their brand names and company names. Roshon agrees, but adds: “A notable exception would be if your brand name is competitive or you have reputation management issues. So be aware of any downsides of this tactic before implementing.”

6. Keep formatting consistent. “If you capitalize every word on one page, and separate keywords with a ‘|’ symbol, then be sure your other page titles also capitalize every word and use a ‘|’ to separate keyword phrases,” Roshon says. “Consider creating a style guide with preferred formatting and tone for page titles if multiple people are writing titles, or you have a lot of titles to write.”

7. Pay attention to the analytics. Search ranking is great, but what if no one clicks through? “While it’s tempting to stuff your title with as many keywords as possible, users may be turned off when they see your page title returned in the search results if it is too keyword-rich and spammy sounding,” Roshon says. “Having nicely formatted, well-presented page titles with your keywords gently and appropriately placed will provide both SEO benefits (better rankings) as well as increased visitors (users actually [wanting] to click on your high rankings).”