These things happen.
No matter how good the search engine, it’s not a mind reader. Only you know exactly what’s most relevant for your particular purposes.
Goggle Instant Previews helps boost the relevance of click-throughs
It would be nice to only click-through to webpages that meet your needs, and apparently Google thinks so, too. That’s why it rolled out Instant Previews, which gives you a sneak peek of your search results.
You’ve likely seen the preview tool; it’s a magnifying glass that appears next to title links in Google search results. Click on the magnifying glass, and presto, you get a graphical representation of that webpage while you’re still viewing search results. With some webpages the preview may also highlight text items relating to your search terms. Between the visual sneak peek and those text highlights, you can quickly compare all your search results to help determine which ones are best for you.
Here’s an example of results for the search query “best restaurants in Philadelphia” where I’ve highlighted the Instant Previews icon:
If you click on the magnifying glass next to the link for Le Bec Fin, you see the homepage to its website, with an announcement about the menu, plus a quote from a food critic.
FYI, Google decides if text appears in a preview. In this case, it’s a kudo from a food writer, which makes for a nice plug that can influence your decision on whether or not to visit this fancy French eatery. Right away, you have a positive impression.
Now, suppose you want to preview the other sites. Well, then your results vary. Take a look at what comes up when you preview Morimoto:
Not much to go by there. That’s because the site is built with Flash, which Instant Previews does not currently support. It doesn’t read Java applets or Silverlight, either.
Any areas Instant Previews can’t read on a website appear blank. If it can’t read any of your site, it looks like Morimoto’s. Then you’ll miss out on any potential benefit that comes from Instant Previews. And you may even forfeit business to an enterprise with a website that renders properly in preview.
Think about it: If you have several choices, and you’re deciding which to pick based solely on what you can glean from the web, and one choice instantly offers a better presentation, don’t you think you might favor the place that gives you the most confidence from the start?
Give your website an Instant Previews check-up
Google claims Instant Previews will “match your query with an index of the entire web, identify the relevant parts of each webpage, stitch them together and serve the resulting preview completely customized to your search—usually in under one-tenth of a second.”
That’s darn fast. Any website takes longer than one-tenth of a second to load. Once you get into the habit of previewing, you’re likely to keep at it. I use previews a lot, and I am surely not alone in this regard.
Which means, if you have a website, you need to pay attention to how it renders in Google Instant Previews. And not just the homepage, but all of the pages, because people can enter your site in any number of ways when coming through a search engine.
In fact, check it right now. See if there are any problems. If so, you should consider making changes to your site’s code so that it can play well with previews. Anything that diminishes your search result can hurt your click-through rate.
Can Instant Previews affect your site’s search rank?
I first found out about the potential for problems with Google Instant Previews from an article by my Twitter pal, internet marketing and SEO consultant, Glenn Gabe (@glenngabe). In his post, Google Instant Previews — Great Functionality or a Signal Back to the Mothership, Glenn suggests that Google might even use previews for its own purposes. He writes:
“It’s hard to ignore the fact that instant previews can send a powerful signal back to Google about the relevancy of the search results. For example, if a page is ranking near the top of the search results, but really shouldn’t (because it’s spammy, the page owner gamed Google’s algorithm to get there, etc.), then Google could start to identify these pages via monitoring low click-through rate via instant previews. For example, imagine a page with 175K impressions in organic search, with 3500 instant preview triggers, but no click-through. That very well could raise a red flag to Google.”
If Google does wind up utilizing Instant Previews as yet another way to determine relevance for certain keywords, that’s just one more reason to be sure your site is up to preview snuff.
More information on Google Instant Previews
For website owners:
Google has a FAQ about instant previews that can help you understand how it works and how you can adjust your website so that it renders properly in preview mode.
For the general web user:
Google provides a good explanation of instant previews, including a short video, on its official blog.
Have you used Google Instant Previews? Has it changed the way you search the web? Please share your thoughts and comments.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
One retailer, who goes out of his way to rankle customers, swears this is true.
Business owner provokes customer complaints, on purpose
An article in the New York Times, penned by David Segal and titled “A Bully Finds a Pulpit on the Web,” reports that the owner of an online designer eyeglass purveyor is using the unconventional tactic of inciting bad word of mouth to increase his search engine rank.
This merchant is downright gleeful when disgruntled customers complain about his company on the web. He even gloated about it online, where he boldly proclaimed, “I just wanted to let you guys know that the more replies you people post, the more business and the more hits and sales I get. My goal is NEGATIVE advertisement.”
Exploiting a SEO loophole
I’ll refrain from printing the name of the business owner, or the company — why play into his hand? The guy practically encourages customers to kvetch about his shoddy service on consumer advocacy and consumer review sites. He told the Times reporter, “I’ve exploited this opportunity because it works. No matter where they post their negative comments, it helps my return on investment. So I decided, why not use that negativity to my advantage?”
One factor that’s known to affect search engine rank is how many times your name is mentioned and linked to on the web. More mentions and more links, especially from sites that a search engine views as reputable, means you get more points in the SEO-meter. The bigger a reputable site is, all the better. Plenty of mentions about your business on a busy well-regarded consumer site garner lots of referral points from a search engine.
It does not seem to matter if the mentions are positive or negative.
Does Google factor in sentiment analysis?
The Times reporter contacted the 800-pound search engine gorilla — Google — to ask if negative sentiment adversely affects its ranking system. Google doesn’t like to give away too many clues about how its algorithm works, and this instance proved no exception.
The reporter then contacted Danny Sullivan, who oversees the most excellent web site, Search Engine Land. Sullivan said he doesn’t think Google employs sentiment analysis, and he reckons that’s a good thing. Even so, Sullivan said he believes Google can do a better job of integrating consumer reviews of e-commerce sites, much like it already does with local business search results.
Until that happens this mischievous retailer benefits from angry customers venting their frustrations online.
Page one or bust
The notion of using negative sentiment to your advantage isn’t new. We’ve got that old saw: “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.”
Celebrities are often accused of doing bad things just to get their name in the press. The tactic may not always work as planned, but many times their stars do rise.
The art and science of search engines being able to serve up the most relevant results in the optimum order is improving, but in the scheme of things, it’s still got a ways to go. When researching topics, many is the time I wind up finding the most pertinent link on the second and third page results.
The vast majority of searchers don’t go beyond page one. If you can game the search engines your search rank rises, even if your lofty position is based on consumer complaints.
The situation may be outrageous, but apparently not egregious enough to get a business penalized by Goggle’s algorithm. FYI, Google does claim to punish your site if it catches you engaging in certain unscrupulous black-hat search engine tactics.
Turning lemons into lemonade
Meantime, that Times’ article that hardly paints a positive picture of the eyeglass enterprise? Well, the story mentions the owner’s name and that of his company numerous times. It includes lots of relevant keywords. That means more links and mentions from a leading reputable news source.
Talk about squeezing out search engine juice.
- Deni Kasrel
Should search engines factor in negative sentiment? Is this guy just playing by the rules? What do YOU think?Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
Most web domain names cost under $10 per year. Unless someone already owns the domain, in which case prices may vary — you‘ll need to work a deal out with the owner.
You must continue to renew your domain registration
Once you purchase a domain name, it’s yours to keep, as long as you renew it. There are exceptions — you might lose the domain if there’s some kind funky trademark dispute — but that’s a rare occurrence.
Domain registries send reminders when it’s time to renew, and you can set up an auto-renew, too. So the process is fairly foolproof.
Unless you happen to be distracted, as recently happened to the Dallas Cowboys football team, which fumbled the renewal of its website at http://www.dallascowboys.com.
Dallas Cowboys drop the ball on web domain registration
As noted in an article in The Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys neglected to renew their registration and their site went down on Sunday (as did the Cowboys, who lost to the Green Bay Packers).
On Sunday night, if you went to dallascowboys.com, you got a placeholder site that showed kids kicking a soccer ball, of all things:
Once the mistake was discovered the Cowboys quickly renewed the registration; however, it took more than a day till their site was restored. In-between, sports fans and writers were quick to call a penalty on the team.
The Cowboys have reportedly put the domain registration on auto renew to avoid future interference of this kind.
If you fail to renew you can lose your domain
The parting tip here: If you own a website, pay attention to those emails from your domain registrar. Be sure to pay the renewal bill before the expiration date.
If you don’t renew by the cut off date, the site can be taken down, the domain can be put up for sale, and someone else may snatch it up. Keep on top of this seemingly small detail and you’ll always be the master of your domain.
FYI, according to ComScore, Dallascowboys.com is the second most popular NFL website; number one being NFL.com.
Which goes to show, even in the world of web domains, there’s no such thing as being too big to fail.
The field is now open for comments. What do YOU think of the Cowboy’s failing to renew their website domain registration?Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
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