Google Scraper Report Tool – Boon For Original Content Creators

With the emergence of content marketing after panda and penguin updates, it has become all the more important to have good content that not only helps you rank better in search engines, but attracts targeted crowd to your website.

So, when you create quality content, you want it to be your own property with all the rights and you don’t want someone to just copy it and put it on their blog. What do you do if someone copies your content and put it on their site without linking or giving credit to you?

Google have been facing this issue since long. In certain cases, they are not able to identify the actual content creator and the site who copies the content actually gets all the credit, which is wrong. Here is a video response from Matt Cutts few months back to similar question:

As per the video, Google does have DMCA system, but it can be cumbersome and time consuming process. To fight this issue, Google have recently come up with a tool (online form) where you can file a complaint against the website copying your original content. Here is the Google Scraper Report form which asks for your content URL, scrapper site URL and Google Search Results URL. It doesn’t guarantee any immediate action, but the data collected through this forms will be used to take action later on using the algorithmic changes.

So, what’s your take on this? Have you been facing this problem? What are your views on this new tool, let me know in comments!!

Improved Adwords Home Tab – Account snapshot, Customization and more

I know it’s been really long that I’ve written on my blog. I’ve been too busy with the launch of the new Internet Marketing Institute called DIIM. I’ve been preparing content, course guidelines and taking lectures for the first batch of SEO Training in Ahmedabad.

Today, I am going to talk about Google Adwords latest update on home tab. It used to show only few details on home tab like daily clicks, graphs etc, but the new improved version has lot more to offer. It allows you to customize the look so that you can see the data that matters to you the most.

Here are the screen shots of my account:

According to official Google Adwords official blog post, this feature was suggested by many advertisers, “Many advertisers have told us that they want a quick snapshot of account performance and a summary of any important problems to address. However, the details vary quite a bit: Some advertisers want to quickly identify any keywords with bids below their first page bid estimates. Others might want to focus on campaign-level metrics before diving into keyword stats or use a graph to quickly identify any major fluctuations in performance. In short, customization is key!”

 

Once you click on “Customize columns”, you get many different customization options.

The modules on the Home tab are based on saved filters created on your Campaigns tab. This provides you with the flexibility to define exactly which metrics and sections of your account are important to review right when you log in.

 

Let me know in comments how have you customized your home tab to get the most out of this new feature?

Google is “Instant” than ever before with Google Instant

Google have been in news recently for many things, whether it is a logo change as you type or adding new courses to Adwords Online Classroom, things have geared up well after the caffeine update.

Well, the latest of them all is Google Instant, according to Google:

“Google Instant is a new search enhancement that shows results as you type. We are pushing the limits of our technology and infrastructure to help you get better search results, faster. Our key technical insight was that people type slowly, but read quickly, typically taking 300 milliseconds between keystrokes, but only 30 milliseconds (a tenth of the time!) to glance at another part of the page. This means that you can scan a results page while you type.”

According to Google’s Marissa Mayer at Google Search Event, Google Instant will save 350 million hours of users’ time per year.

Here is the official video from Google:

Search Results Page Real Estate

Have a look at the screen shot of today’s morning. I just typed in “cheap” and Google interpreted it as that I am looking for flights, tickets, hotels etc.

If you look at the SERP closely, you will realize that organic listings have moved further down due to instant suggestions by Google. The first three spots are occupied by adwords ads as usual; the right side is all full of sponsored links, the left side is options for universal search and more, where is the organic listings?? This screen shot is taken with firefox, and Google toolbar installed. Let’s assume that normal web users don’t have Google toolbar installed, but still there won’t be more than 3 organic listing visible in the first fold.

I hope you get the idea what this leads to! More monetization for Google, oops I said it…

Impact on SEO

I think Google instant will change the SEO game forever. As mentioned above, organic listings are going deeper than ever, so top 3 results will have some value; apart from this there is no point even if you are on first page and ranking below the first fold. These are just my personal thoughts, and have nothing to do with promoting my PPC Consultant Services.

Jokes apart, this will change the people search on Google. Google Instant will change the search behavior of users. I wonder how this will affect the local seo. As mentioned by Google earlier, search results are shown different to different users according to their personal search data, their physical location, ip address and more; the local ranking will become more important than organic listings. Have a look at the screenshot of local listing below:

I am sure you would notice that there are no organic listing showing up. What do SEO Professionals do now? Hang themselves?? Don’t consider this as ranting (even though I know it is a rant) and please don’t hang yourself.

According to Steve Rubel, “no two people will see the same web. Once a single search would do the trick – and everyone saw the same results. That’s what made search engine optimization work. Now, with this, everyone is going to start tweaking their searches in real-time. The reason this is a game changer is feedback. When you get feedback, you change your behaviors.”

Chris Crum on webpronews.com considers Google Instant as the end of SEO, but I think SEO will never end. SEO Experts will always find the way to get traffic from search engines doesn’t matter what is changed.

Effect on long tail searches

I came across an interesting article on Search Engine Land which says that Google Instant will kill the long tail, but I have different view on long tails. Long tails are searches made by mature users who know what they are looking for. Users looking for specific information or product will do long tail searches no matter what Google changes.

Matt Cutts throws some lights on the new updates and adds, “A key insight behind Google Instant is that if we want to get people answers and solve their problems faster, we can help with that by improving our UI to help you formulate queries more quickly (and then doing a bunch of hard work under the hood to answer that query too). Google typically returns search results in milliseconds, but it takes several seconds for you to type a query. In other words, the limiting factor on a typical search is you. With predictive search and instant results, you can often get the answer you want much faster.”

Here I would like to show a video by Matt Cutts which shows that it is not the end of SEO and it will be there for years to come:

I would love to hear your views on this. Do you think SEO is here for longer?? Let me know in comments why do you think SEO is not over yet!

Have You Lost Significant Amount of Website Traffic from Google?

I have been hearing complains of traffic loss from some of the friends and clients since last month. At first sight it looked like normal client ranting, but this time they were right. Some of the clients had lost significant amount of traffic and that too Google organic traffic suddenly. This sudden website traffic drop happened at the end of April, 2010. I am going to explain this with live case study of one of my client. Client has an ecommerce store in the hospitality industry.

Live Case Study of Google MayDay Algorithm Update for Longtail Keywords
Here is the screenshot of one of the client’s Analytics account. You can clearly see two arrows pointing sudden website traffic loss from 30th. April, 2010 to 12th. May, 2010.

SEOs who work on client projects would understand the feeling of client getting angry and giving all kind of threats (BullSh***) to you when something in analytics is not right! Luckily the traffic started coming back from 13th. May, 2010; but not up to the mark.

Obsevation

Here are some of the points I was noticing during the tension period (I call it tension period when client is on my back):

  • Client’s Google ranking for major keywords were as it is.
  • I could see that all the competitors’ were in the same place for major keywords, so it wasn’t an algorithm change (this is how it looked like in the first place).
  • Because of traffic loss, obviously conversions were down as well.

Conclusion

  • Head keywords (main two phrase keywords) ranking was as it is.
  • Traffic loss was mainly on the longtail keywords. Due to this, individual product pages were not ranking at all.
  • Conversions were down because people were not able to find individual products directly.
  • Google has gone back to basics and were focusing more on phrase keywords, e.g. when you search for “catering equipments” in Google, the websites who have targeted this keyword in title as the exact phrase are ranking higher rather than websites having these two keywords in the title but not necessarily in the same order.

Solution

  • We continued building link in the same manner as we were doing earlier.
  • We changed the Google Analytics code and implemented the new code. (Don’t know if this has any effect on the tracking or not).
  • We implemented a new section on the homepage of the website which included links to inner pages and will tke visitors directly to product detail page.

Reactions from the leaders

There was thread at Webmasterworld which started discussing exactly this on May 1. I was following this thread closely but not much came out from this.

I came across an article from Vanessa Fox on searchengineland on May 27 which confirmed that it was an algorithm change from Google for Longtail keyword searches.  This is what she has to say:

This change seems to have primarily impacted very large sites with “item” pages that don’t have many individual links into them, might be several clicks from the home page, and may not have substantial unique and value-added content on them. For instance, ecommerce sites often have this structure. The individual product pages are unlikely to attract external links and the majority of the content may be imported from a manufacturer database. Of course, as with any change that results in a traffic hit for some sites, other sites experience the opposite. Based on Matt’s comment at Google I/O, the pages that are now ranking well for these long tail queries are from “higher quality” sites (or perhaps are “higher quality” pages).

The video on may 30 from Googler Matt Cutts made it confirmed that it is a permanent change in the algorithm. Here is the video for you to watch:

OnPage SEO Factors to Consider When Building Your Online Store – Ecommerce SEO – Part 1

Ecommerce growth has been tremendous in this decade. As we are very near to the end of this decade, the steep growth and advancement in ecommerce field is eye dazzling. When we talk about retail business, the online ecommerce store has become inseparable part of any successful retail marketing strategy. The greatest example is America’s largest online retailer, Amazon.Com which started as online books and CD store, but soon diversified into different channels and now has almost three times more sales than its closest competitor.

Search engine optimization (SEO) for an ecommerce store can be a tough task. Heavy coding of backend and template driven approach makes it really difficult to make little changes in the ecommerce website. The main intention of the online shopping store is to increase sales and generate more revenue. The ecommerce stores are useful for users or rather I should say “Potential Buyers”, but doesn’t offer much value to the search engines as they have very little useful content, copy-pasted manufacturer product descriptions, almost no unique or user generated content with very poor linking structure.

I had hard time optimizing one of the client’s online store. He was using one of the open source shopping cart software (I don’t want to name which open source shopping cart) in PHP, which was pathetic if you look at it from SEO point of view. Although it had all the ingredients needed to make the best online shopping cart, it didn’t have the facility to insert different meta title and meta description tags for different pages. The URL structure contained numerous wild characters (&, +, = etc.) with category ids, rather than showing category name. There was no facility to insert image alt text. I hope this is enough of ranting!

So, when I sent all the onpage changes to PHP developer, it took him almost the same time as building a brand new shopping cart. The client was so obsessed with the store admin and backend administration that he didn’t wanted to change the shopping cart software even after making him understand that how unfriendly it was for search engines. So, it is my humble request to all the online retails to consider SEO when choosing their ecommerce shopping cart software.

In this ecommerce SEO series, I will be covering all the aspects related to search engine optimization for ecommerce site (Ofcourse my ranting will be there). This is the first article in the series which covers onpage SEO factors to consider when you are building your online store.

Keyword Research

As an SEO expert, you must be knowing the importance of keyword research in the SEO process. For keyword research of ecommerce sites, you need to target keywords which can convert visitors into customers. This kind of keywords is called transactional keywords. Even though transactional keywords may have less search volume, they are very likely to convert visitors. E.g. rather than targeting generic keyword like “Shoes”, you should target “Shoes Store Online”; which is more likely to attract visitors who are willing to buy.

There are many transactional keywords which can be used to determine the user’s intent, e.g. buy, for sale, cheap, new, discount, warehouse, store, online store, retail, price etc.

There are many keyword research tools available, but I only prefer few of them:

Google Adwords Keyword Tool
Wordtracker
SEMRush
SEO Book Keyword Tool

Content

Content plays very important role in search engine optimization. Content is king as they say, can help you in ranking better in the search engines. Ecommerce shopping sites always lacks the availability of fresh and unique content. The retailer is always tempted to copy – paste the product descriptions from the manufacturer’s website, but you should be having unique product descriptions. It should be atleast re-written in the proper format to make it unique from the manufacturer’s website. It is understandable that product features and other content can be changed as it is always similar on hundreds of sites, but proper and compelling description can really help in conversions. Also it is advisable to add generic keyword rich content on homepage and category pages. This will not only give proper information to your site visitors, but also help search engine crawlers.

It is also advisable to have blog on ecommerce site, to constantly provide fresh content. The blog can contain latest industry news and updates, and new product development information. This helps in building trust amongst the website users as they think that the company is aware of the new happenings and developments in the industry.

URL Structure

The most common problems with CMS (Content Management System) and ecommerce sites is their linking structure. The more easier you make it for search engine crawlers to crawl your site, the more beneficial it will be for you to rank better. Having product and category ids in the URL, won’t make any sense to your potential customers. Also if the navigation structure is not search engine friendly, it is hard for search engines to crawl actual product pages. It is very important for individual product pages to rank well as all the transactions are going to start from product pages. If the product pages have good content, they can rank for several long tail keywords, but for this to happen, they should be indexed properly in search engines.

Generally product pages are two (2) to three (3) levels deep down in the URL hierarchy. E.g. it can be like www.domain.com/category1/subcategory1/product.php, so it is hard for product pages to get the actual Google Pagerank they deserve, so if possible all the product pages should be at the root to get better exposure. E.g. it can be www.domain.com/product.php.

Now you will think that it might create duplicate content issue as the same product page will be on two different URLs. Both the URLs mentioned above will have the same content. In this case we can use newly introduced canonical tag. The following canonical tag should be placed on www.domain.com/category1/subcategory1/product.php URL:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”www.domain.com/product.php” />

This will notify Google which page to use in their index, and which page should have the Pagerank.

Also it will be useful if you use keywords in the product page urls, e.g. www.domain.com/keyword-search-phrase.php.

Other onpage SEO tips for Ecommerce sites

  • Make sure all the pages including homepage, category pages and product pages have proper meta tags. Page Title plays an important role in search engine optimization, so it is advisable to use important keywords in the title tag. Having generic keywords in the homepage’s title and relevant keywords on category and product pages will increase your chances of ranking for generic as well as long tail keywords.
  • All the product images must include image alt tags to identify what the image is all about. After all who doesn’t like little more traffic from image searches?
  • Keep the products pages two to three clicks away at the max, so visitors landing on your homepage doesn’t find it difficult to find what they are looking for.
  • Robust product search and advanced search should be always handy in the ecommerce layouts, so that people don’t waste time finding a particular product.
  • Putting product reviews by customers is a great way to have user generated content on the product pages. That way you gain confidence of potential customers and it will help in search engine rankings as well.
  • Try to use important keywords in heading tags (H1, H2 etc.) to give more importance to them.
  • Show your featured products on homepage, so that they can easily get crawled in search engines, and your visitors can know any special discounts or deals directly from the homepage.
  • Don’t stuff the keywords everywhere; use it wisely where appropriate, if search engines can’t find out about your keyword stuffing, users can.
  • Link to your internal pages with static links; don’t put links in JavaScript or flash.
  • Use nofollow tag for not so important pages, so that PageRank can be distributed amongst important pages.

I have tried to cover as many onpage aspects as possible. In the next article I will be discussing more on the off-page strategies and link building for ecommerce sites. If I am missing something, let me know in the comments below.