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Rich Snippets Might Not Help SEO, But They Won’t Hurt

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What are Rich Snippets?

Rich snippets are pieces of microdata on your page which help tell Google what each part of your page is about.

 

Google can use that extra data to append information to your listing in Google, and this extra information helps people think about which listings they want to click on. If at this early stage of rich snippets your Google entry has more extra information than others, it will likely be more compelling and help with CTR to your site.

 

Will Rich Snippets Help SEO?

While Rich Snippets aren’t guaranteed to boost your SEO efforts, they will definitely help your listing stand out. So, say you have rich snippets at position 5, but none of the results above you do, it could draw the eye and make up for your lower ranking.

 

Rich snippets also help the major search engines better understand what your site is about – which can be no bad thing.

 

How Do You Use Rich Snippets?

Rich snippets can add value to a wide number of different types of data on your site.

 

E.g. Your product pages can use rich snippets to highlight ratings, images and prices.
Or your restaurant page can add star ratings, review information and prices.

 

You can also get rich snippets for books and movies, music, people, events, businesses, and many more types of information. Check out the code at Schema.org.

 

Three things you need to do;
1. Check out Schema.org to see the microdata formats which Bing, Google and Yahoo are all agreeing to recognise (although not guaranteeing to recognise), and markup your pages accordingly

 

2. Double check your page’s microdata is ok with Google 

 

3. Tell Google you are using rich snippets here (Not sure if this is ultimately so important).

 

Are People Scamming Rich Snippets Yet?

Of course! Dave Naylor  wrote a post two months ago about slightly dodgy use of the star (review) rich snipppets he had noticed popping up around the place which shows that at this stage it is still easy to manipulate the system.

 

But if you’re trying to scam rich snippets to get Google to recognise hidden content, it won’t work. Rich snippets can only help content which is already available to human readers.

Bing’s New Keyword Tool

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Bing has released it’s new Keyword Research tool which is free to use for anyone with a Live/MSN/Hotmail account.

Bing Keyword Research Tool

 

You can immediately see a down-fall – only one keyword at a time allowed!

 

Match Types

According to the explanation in the tool, if you do not tick that ‘strict’ check box next to the ‘search’ button, then

 

“… the total query volume shown for the phrase cars shows an aggregate number inclusive of all phrases containing the word cars. ”

 

Which insinuates that the query volumes are showing an equivalent to Google’s ‘phrase’ match type. If you tick the strict box,  it will be exact match only (using Google parlance again).

 

For the keywords it ‘suggests’, to me it seems the vast majority are also phrase matched for your original term – e.g when I put in ‘boxing day’ I didn’t get any terms which weren’t phrase matched.

 

For the term ‘Ray Ban’ however, about 10% of the terms suggested were broad matched, like ‘wayfarers’ and ‘ray white’.

 

Date Range

Bing’s keyword research tool allows you to select dates to see data from, within the last 6 months. (it will let you select into the future, but give you no suggestions for it).

 

Compare this to the Google tool which just gives you a monthly average taken from the last 12 months

 

Impressions

For each term it will give you estimated ‘impressions’, which, for December 2011, were showing only 42 impressions for the term “Boxing Day Sales” – which seems odd.

 

The numbers it gives, however, are not rounded to the nearest 10, 100 or 1000 as is often the case with Google, giving the (false?) impression of it being more accurate.

 

History

Unlike the Google keyword tool, you can’t put in a whole bunch of keywords at once (annoying), but you can click on ‘history’ to see your previous searches.

 

Explore

Click on any result in the list of keyword suggestions to have the tool run again on that search (Even if you click on the little graph item in each line item it will re-run the tool for that term).

This feature is similar to the new functionality in the Googles Keyword Tool, where you click on ‘show more like this’ to rerun the tool on that term.)

Google Keyword tool for SEO

 

Let’s Compare Bing’s Keyword Tool With Google’s Keyword Tool

 

Lets compare the popular term ‘car insurance’

 

Car Insurance in Australia

For time frame, we will choose ‘last month’ (Bing gives you a choice to choose the time period, Google uses a 12 month average)

 

  • Broad Match Google – 450,000
  • Broad Match Bing – 21,274

Google shows volumes 20 times higher

  • Phrase Match Google – 368,000
  • Phrase Match Bing – 3,709

Google Shows volumes 100 times higher

 

 

You can see that Bing gives much more ‘accurate’ numbers (that is, not to the nearest 100 or 1000), but the volumes are significantly lower than what Google predicts.

 

Let’s use USA now, because perhaps in Australia the volumes are too small to be very accurate

 

Car insurance searches in USA

 

  • Broad Match Google – 1, 500,000
  • Broad Match Bing – 150,325

Google shows volumes 10 times higher (the closest yet!)

  • Phrase Match Google – 1 ,220,000
  • Phrase Match Bing – 20,007

Google shows volumes 60 times higher

 

 

Watch Your Language!

When I did the USA search, at first it showed 3 impressions for the term car insurance!! It turned out that the language I had chosen was still “English (Australia)”, so you need to be very careful to choose the right language version when using this tool!

 

SEO for Video and YouTube

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Adding videos to your website? Did you remember to optimise them for search? They might be corporate, creative or instructional videos – but whatever they are, you can get extra value from them by optimising the pages they are on (even if they’re on YouTube).

 

Remember that Google is using blended searches more and more, so your content can show up in both the normal search results, or in a selection of video results – or both!

 

Since Google can’t actually get in and look at the content on your video, all the optimisations will have to be done to the code on your page and around your video – still, there’s lots you can do;

 

 

 

SEO for Video on Your Own Site

 

The tips below relate to the page your video is on on your actual site (i.e. not hosted pages on Vimeo, YouTube, etc).

 

Keywords – similar to all good SEO projects, start out with defining your keywords. This can help you (if you haven’t made your video yet) in finding out what areas of your niche are most popular and in need of video content.

If you already have made your video – use keyword research and tools to find out the best terms to describe and promote your video in order to connect with the largest relevant audience possible. Use the normal keyword tools, but also consider the YouTube keyword tool (although doesn’t seem to  have particularly good results for Australia).

 

Normal Page Optimisation –as per normal SEO, try to optimise the meta titles, H tags and URL where possible with your keywords. Also, make a unique meta description for the page, and put alt text on images and videos where possible (although difficult with normal YouTube embeds)

 

Text content – don’t have a page where the only content is your video. Include other relevant text content on your page to support your video – a transcript is usually a great idea

 

Video Sitemap – You can create and submit video sitemaps to Google to help Google index your video content. Video content can include web pages with embedded video, URLs to players for videos or URLs of raw video content hosted on your site.

 

 

SEO for Videos on YouTube

 

While Social Media is having an increasing impact on search results – on YouTube, it is already one of the most important factors in helping your video be seen. The more your video is viewed, rated, liked and commented on – the better. You need to encourage it through engaging with the community, asking for feedback within the video content, and using your existing networks to help seed and spread the content.

 

If you have good content, this kind of thing will come naturally – but it can’t hurt to help it along a bit. Natalie Tran is a great example of this – she asks questions within her videos, and then in her next video she will respond verbally to some of the questions and comments raised (also known as music slash comment time).

 

However, I’m not going to leave you hanging – there are also some concrete things you can do right away to help improve your chances in YouTube;

 

Keywords – as above, start with some keyword research.

 

Titles – Similar to normal SEO, keywords should be at the front where possible, but keep in mind the importance of the title for click throughs – no one is going to click through on a spammy video title.

 

Description

Use as much space as they give you – be as descriptive as possible

Again, use keywords at the front. There does seem to be some indication that, unlike Google, keywords in YouTube descriptions are taken into accoun

You might want to include your site channel, or website URL, in the description. Just note that any links must have http://

 

Category – Choose appropriate categories carefully – evidence seems to show that changing your categories later can have a detrimental effect on your rankings.

 

Tags – You can use many tags, but ensure they are all relevant, and include your keywords. You might want to get detailed and try to define your niche as much as possible using these tags

 

File name – Optimise the raw video file name with your keywords

 

Video responses – to index new videos quickly, you might want to try using video responses

 

Closed captions – upload a transcript to YouTube to help those with hearing impairments, language difficulties and to improve discoverability.

 

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