SEO: Long Tail Testing

Early on in SEO I learned traffic to individual keywords is bound to be disappointing.  I remember my first client, a company that makes folding bikes  named Breezer (yes and I just gave them anchor text and no they are not paying me.  Hey, they gave me my first gig, I owe them something!).   We got their keywords to the first page and the traffic was yawn worthy (despite what WordTracker predicted).

And then over the years I have ranked for some of the best individual keywords in search (“Airline Tickets”, “Used Cars”) and while the traffic was very nice, it was not game-changing.  Besides, there are a precious few of those keywords and it is harder than ever to target specific keywords.    Game-changing has always been the Long Tail.   That’s what I learned by studying TripAdvisor’s tactics many years ago.

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How to Track Short Clicks and Long

As I have discussed before, a bounce (or the un-bounce) is a vague indication of whether or not a user got whatMouseClick they want from search.   You certainly can’t tell how much time a user spent reading your page based on how Google Analytics functions (at least by its default settings).    Did the visitor spend 90 seconds carefully digesting your content?   Or did they treat your page like a bad bathroom stall and do a quick about face back to Google , a short click.  Google Analytics  has no  knowledge of time to bounce which is what you need to calculate a short click.

The visit duration report is no better because Google Analytics assumes zero time for a bounce.

But you can know!

And it’s easy.

You have to do this to get better visibility into your the user experience.

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SEO User Experience – How do you measure what Google knows?

I am going to be speaking on SEO metrics at SMX advanced on Wed.  Specifically I’ll be talking about the daunting task of identifying metrics to measure user experience  and specifically to gain insight into the data Google accumulates about our sites as it pertains to user experience.  This is a quick overview of what I plan to discuss.

metrics

As SEO’s – we have huge blind spots to the way Google measures our sites.   If you have any doubt, just look at the aftermath of  the Panda fallout.  The best minds in the SEO community came together and came to a fairly unified response to Panda.  (Noindex thin content, get rid of tag and search result pages, get great links …. yada yada yada).   And yet here we are, 30 months down the line and there have been few documented recoveries.

Few people are actually measuring improvements beyond looking at out-of-the box Google Analytics metrics.  These metrics are a poor reflection of the true user search experience.   We need to do better.

I like the quote from Duane Forrester:

When your visitors are happy with your site, search engines notice”  

Of course they will –  and the corollary  of course:

When your visitors are NOT  happy with your site, search engines notice

So how do we measure?  How do they measure it?

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Easing of Panda Coming – Matt Cutts

Great news to all sites that have been smoked by the ever-cruel Panda algorithm.  According to Matt Cutts

 

 

This is fantastic news for the afflicted. I have long felt that Panda came down way too hard on certain types of sites (particularly if you were not a brand).  Generally sites with a very sort visit profile, blogs,  informational sites, review sites … basically non-transactional sites … got clobbered by Panda.  For sites like these, users often bounce back for multiple results (Pogosticking).   Especially think of shopping comparison sites, not much to do and the normal user behavior is probably to go back and look for more prices!  And these sites got hit hardest by Panda.   So an easing will be coming … this will be really interesting to see!

To this point, many sites have worked for 2+ years on site improvements with little payback from Google.   No reward for their efforts means site owners of Panda afflicted sites may stop trying and simply focus on monetizing those sites as much as possible.  Certainly that was not Google’s intention with Panda.

Good luck to those anticipating the update.

Welcome to SEORadar!!

Welcome to SEORadar.   Coming soon will be an invaluable set of SEO tools as well as loads of SEO tips, advice and discussion. You can find the posts from my old blog, www.afterpanda.com, right now in the sidebar.  I’ll be integrating those old posts just as soon as I have the time.