Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Section 2: Around the Net in Search Marketing

, September 16, 2008 Subscribe | Back Issues | Reply to Editor | MediaPost Home

A Caution Against Using Dynamic Robots.txt Files
Live Search Webmaster Central
Jeremiah Andrick cautions against the practice of having dynamic robots.txt files, or using them to help manage server load as the engines come crawling throughout the day.

"You may perceive a benefit from changing your file throughout the day as you may see less server load from some search engines on your site, but this behavior also works against you," he says. "When the crawler returns it does not retry fetching the content for URLs previously disallowed a few hours ago and the crawler may fetch content outside of your new directive as the crawler may be using the previously cached robots.txt file."

So you get content indexed that you may have wanted to hide, and a crawler that might ignore the things you actually want searchers to see. Andrick posts an example of a Web site that was seemingly not being indexed by Live Search, and shows how a dynamic robots.txt file was keeping all of the site's content (including items like the homepage, products pages and ads) from being crawled. - Read the whole story...

Tapping Yahoo Answers For Content Development
Primary Affect
If you're stuck coming up with content for your (or your client's) blog, try perusing Yahoo Answers for unanswered or hot questions pertaining to your niche. Vince Blackham offers a few examples of how to mine the social media hub for content development.

For example, Blackham isn't versed in triathlon preparation, but he was able to gather enough info from Yahoo Answers to develop a checklist. "I could create a simple "How to" checklist for running your first marathon or using a numbered list and say '10 Unforgettable Items for Your First Triathlon'," he says. Other suggestions include helping people cope with their fear of flying, tricks for falling asleep, and tips for boosting workplace morale.

"There are literally thousands of ideas that could be generated just by doing a few searches and perusing some categories within Yahoo Answers," Blackham says, though he cautions that you should also do some of your own research to make sure that the answers are factual and correct. "That way you don't make yourself look like an idiot from doing a simple copy/paste," he says. - Read the whole story...

Google Uses Humans To Suss Out Relevance, Too
Official Google Blog
Google engineer Scott Huffman lifts the hood a little higher on the processes behind the search giant's algorithms and engine updates -- part of a series of blog posts aimed at shining more light on how things really work -- and explains that there's a ton of human intervention going on.

"One of our tenets in search quality is to be very data-driven in our decision-making," he says. "We try hard not to rely on anecdotal examples, which are often misleading in search (where decisions can affect hundreds of millions of queries a day)." Still, humans need to crunch those numbers, and in many cases, the giant uses human evaluators to see how the algorithmic changes it makes will affect user behavior.

"These evaluators are carefully trained and are asked to evaluate the quality of search results in several different ways," Huffman says. "We sometimes show evaluators whole result sets by themselves or 'side by side' with alternatives; in other cases, we show evaluators a single result at a time for a query and ask them to rate its quality along various dimensions." The company also uses live traffic tests to see how SERP changes affect a broader swath of users as well. - Read the whole story...

Crucial Landing Page Design Tips
PPC Hero
If a particular landing page is undeperforming, it may not be the ad copy, according to John Lee. It might be a fluke in the design/navigation of the page itself. And so Lee devotes an entire blog post (the first of a landing page-focused series) to design tweaks you can make to boost conversions and build authority.

First, keep your call to action above the fold. Some insiders may urge you to try to get all the content -- including headlines, forms, buttons and images -- above the fold, but Lee argues that that's not a realistic mandate. "From one level-headed marketer to another, let me lay it out... you can't fit everything above the fold!" he says. You have to choose which page elements are most vital (like the call to action or a product image) and get them up there.

Also, avoid packing too much content into your landing page. Leave some white space. "Clutter on a landing page is confusing for the user and can keep them from finding relevant details and your calls-to-action," he says. "Users scan the text and take away only certain elements that they use to make a decision if the page is relevant to their goal or not. Clean use of space allows users to scan and absorb key messages." - Read the whole story...

Google Website Optimizer Gets An Upgrade
Unofficial Google Analytics Blog
Caitlin Minteer reviews the latest Google Website Optimizer upgrades, including tweaks to the color notification system for experiments, the ability to disable specific testing combinations and the option to test/validate pages that may be offline.

First up are the color changes. "Previously, the colors used in the reporting interface occasionally suggested that a combination was winning and often times people would end experiments before a sufficient amount of data had collected," she says. "The colors are now yellow until a clear confidence winner is found, and the colors become green for winning combinations or red for losing combinations."

You can also disable combinations within an experiment (i.e. headline "x" with body copy "y") that perform poorly so that they don't appear for visitors again for the duration of the test. Lastly, there's the option to validate pages that may not be accessible online. "This is also useful for those who are currently using the ga.js version of the Google Analytics Tracking Code along with their Google Website Optimizer experiments," Minteer says. - Read the whole story...

Search Insider - Around the Net for Tuesday, September 16, 2008


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