Tag Archive for seo

Google mortgage rates add up

Rodrigo Stockebrand noticed earlier today that his search queries for the generic term “mortgage rates” had started to show a new style AdWord’s result at the top of the organic results and it seems to be more than just a small test group.  It was covered briefly in a quick post at SEL by Barry Schwartz, but I thought there was more to explore around the new comparison ads and evaluate their longer term impact for advertisers and business.

It seems that the early Google’s AdWords comparison ad experiment has been expanded to cover home loan and mortgage products but has also taken place at the top of the search results in a 4th sponsored link.  The issue is that Google websites have an artificially inflated Google Quality score which guarantees any of their products top placement and potentially inflates the costs of advertising on that keyword, and the additional box is clearly a separate module as you can see thin white line between it and the standard AdWords modules.  Below is a screenshot of the new Google AdWords product which is exclusive to Google’s own comparison products, it’s not clear if it was manually placed for certain search queries to guarantee it would show just below the search bar.  But other advertisers should be able to check in their AdWords account under average position on if its showing even thou they are shown as top position.

Google Comparison Mortgage AdsLess space for organic results

One of the bigger concerns is that it doesn’t just affect competitors who are buying traffic with AdWords it compounds the problems for those trying to rank organically, there is more paid space and more Google products and less room for natural listings.  While this extra Google comparison ad has obviously pushed down the other ads, on my 1920×1080 resolution monitor it was less dramatic, but a majority of users don’t have a monitor so large so I dived into my visitor information contained in my Google Analytics accounts to find a baseline monitor size.  Looking at the average website visitors from my Google Analytics data around 48-54% of people have a screen resolution of between 1024×768 to 1280×1024 so I thought I would test the 3 smaller monitor sizes as to how it impacts the competitive landscape.

1920×1080 Resolution Monitor

Google Ads on 1920x1080 Monitor

Analysis: You can see that there is actually now only 5 organic results showing above the fold (visible without scrolling down) and the 6th result just creeps in.  The problem for organic rankings is that unless you are in the top 5 you are now going to miss out on a majority of the clicks, where in the past top 7 rankings still keep you above the fold.  Dynamic AdWords like these will also continue to change Google users behaviour and may have a dramatic long-term effect on the perceived importance of the organic results and further increase the market share of Google’s own products.

1280×1024 Resolution Monitor

Google Ads on 1280x1024 Monitor

Analysis: You can see that with the 1280×1024 resolution SXGA monitor but you can see that with the new Google Comparison Ads that showing below the 5th result on the first page will mean that you miss a majority of the potential clicks. Its hard enough for some clients to get to the 1st page on Google now it’s a case depending on your typically visitors you have to be in the top 5.

1280×768 Resolution Monitor

Google Ads on 1280x768 Monitor

Analysis: By shrinking the monitor size down slightly more to 1280×768 resolution it even cuts out the Google News results and also now only 7 AdWords ads are showing, decreasing the number of advertisers who are able to be seen.  It also reduces the organic results down to 3 which further increases your reliability on buying traffic from AdWords or from the new Google Comparison Ads.

1024×768 Resolution Monitor

Google Ads on 1024x768 Monitor

Analysis: The final screenshot is actually based on 1024×768 which is a 19inch monitor far larger than most laptop screens and still if you view the same result on a netbook you can actually only see the first organic result because of the 4 AdWords results showing at the top. Again Google News results are gone and there is 1 less Google AdWords spot on the right hand side.

Advice: If you are in this vertical start to examine in your web analytics solution the screen resolution of your typically visitors who just visit and those who generate a lead or revenue.  It will start to provide you a guideline as to if you are trying to increase your paid traffic what position you should try to bid for and from an organic ranking where you should be aiming if you want more clicks.  You want to break it down by those who just browse and those who actually generate a lead or revenue for your company.

Google’s potential audience?

The potential audience which is now able to see these new comparison ads is huge and its likely that the CTR from the other ads will plummet, which will likely impact their quality scores and lead to them having to pay more to bid for the same positions.  By Google offering a better quality Ad they are changing the behaviour of how people will select what ads to engage with but are also limiting other advertisers clicks as consumers are draw to the new style ad box.  The traffic volume based on the single generic keyword “mortgage rates” has estimated 1,000,000 monthly searches in the US with an average CPC rate of $14.88, according to Google’s own Google AdWords tool which is a massive audience to test the impact of its platform.  The question is how much cheaper is it to buy the lead directly from Google compared to fighting with other advertisers in the AdWords market?

Google’s invasive ad box

While its interesting to see how Google is experimenting with new Ad types, I have discovered that there is also a second ad that Google is running which offers a bit more interactivity for users with a drop down menu for the approximate home value for quicker rate comparisons.

Google Refinance Ads

As you can see in the screenshot below, the bigger issue is that when consumers actually interact with the ad it blocks a majority of the competitors advertising message and also close to half of the first 2 organic results.  This type of ad seems to lack any aspects of tact by how it impacts and overrides the competitors presence on the page.  These types of ads show that Google is testing the ads for different markets where you might want to compare two pricing points before visiting the website.  Obviously Google is tracking all the interactions and may start to refine the pricing points as it gathers more data on users, so those who are based in a lower economic area may start to see slightly different approximate home values or even APRs….

Google Refinance Mortgage Dropdown AdThe CTR between the two ads modules being tested would be quite interesting as if users with different motivation or at a different stage of the buying cycle.  Obviously to further understand the mortgage market Google is bidding on search traffic for its comparison ads around a number of keywords, but I’ve select the top 20 related keywords based on estimated monthly search volumes, but it’s also interesting what keywords they are choosing not to bid on.

Google is also bidding on the following keywords

  • mortgage loan rates
  • mortgage loan interest rates
  • home loan interest rates
  • mortgage interest rates
  • current mortgage interest rate
  • best mortgage interest rates
  • current mortgage rates
  • home mortgage rates
  • home mortgage interest rates
  • refinance mortgage rates
  • refinancing mortgage rates
  • mortgage rate calculator
  • current home mortgage rates

Analysis: obviously most of these keywords are very high volume but are also closely related to “mortgage” but you notice that “home loan” is also featured which shows they might be testing language for different markets such as the UK or Australia.

Advice: Look at the ROI around these terms and if you are not already bidding on them, I would advise doing a trial with their own campaign and own budgets.  Remember Google buys search traffic with AdWords for branding and for testing so you should look at buying the same traffic but for testing.

Google is not bidding on the following

  • compare fixed mortgage rates ($0.05/cpc)
  • bad credit mortgage rates ($35.72/cpc)
  • home mortgage loan rate ($18.72/cpc)
  • best mortgage loan rate ($36.37/cpc)
  • current mortgage rates canada ($4.61/cpc)

Analysis: Obviously the product is US focused so any terms that focus outside the country such as “current mortgage rates canada” are likely to be ignored. The keyword that The Google AdWords tool said has the most traffic “compare fixed mortgage rates” is likely a bug or very low quality traffic. It’s likely that Google is avoiding some of the very expensive terms because the ROI doesn’t match with their comparison ad business model or they are just overpriced.

Advice: Best look at what other keywords Google is not bidding on and if you are take a closer look at the ROI and KPIs around those terms as they have been ignored for a good reason.

Google protects its mortgage leads

The screen shot below shows you a sample of the Google mortgage comparison page, where you can filter out and compare mortgages with a few clicks.  The comparison mortgage is generic enough to be expanded to feature an entire comparison shopping site as the URL structure also hints at future products can easily be added google.com/comparisonads/mortgages.

Google Mortgage Results

Google doesn’t want to miss out on a single dollar of commission or miss a single conversion if possible and have built a fairly idiot proof contact system that can be automatically tracked and optimised.  When you visit the comparison mortgage page you will see there is 3 contact options available for each lender: phone, call back and email.  Call back and email appear to be exactly the same contact form but are coded slightly differently for tracking purposes which will affect future AdWords bidding strategies.

Google Tracking Leads

Google is actually fairly smart in how their built the platform as the number listed above is a special Google phone number that will forward your call to the lender, but it can also be used to track the lead generated.  If you fill out the request a call or email lender contact form Google provides the lender with another special Google phone number that will forward to you which they can also track as a lead. Any details that you enter such as Street Address or Zip codes are just passed onto IntelliReal that has partnered with Google.

Will Comparison Ads expand to other verticals?

I say yes, based on how Google is growing its maps & technology platforms its only a matter of time before it expands its product to include other verticals. It’s easy to see Google expanding its comparison ads to include Real Estate & Hotels as they already offer a simple search function within Google Maps as shown below. You have already seen one comparison ad that featured a drop down box which shows they have the technology to place other interactive items into their text ads now.

Search for New York hotels directly from within Google Maps

New York Hotels

Search for New York real estate from within Google Maps

New York Real Estate

It’s likely that Google has a number of options to increase its revenue by competing for direct leads and sales and cutting out resellers and affiliates but the question is how quickly they will risk upsetting their advertisers or how much money they can make on the comparison ad platform.  Do you take the path to doing more of the work generating leads and hope the reduced revenue from your advertisers doesn’t drop quicker than you can grow your comparison shopping products?

Google Comparison Ads expanding internationally?
If you want to know when Google Comparison Ads might be expanded to your country I suggest keep an eye out for any new financial licensee such as when Google registered Google Payment Australia back in 2007, in what was thought to be part of Google Checkout Australia.   Google Payment Australia Pty Ltd was supposed to be setup for local Checkout services and has a Australian Financial Services licence (No. 318755). Google Australia holds the licence under which it is authorised to offer Google Checkout as a “non-cash payment product”. The Google company is not licensed as a bank or deposit-taking institution in Australia and does not provide banking services but might allow it to soon offer a similar comparison ad platform in Australia soon.

Blog Spam works

Much of the focus for the search industry has been around building up content networks and everyone has promoted directly or had someone else directly plug their article, application or website via a comment on a blog or a post, but why do it? The point is that basically it works and will continue to work either via driving traffic, developing a level of trust via links or improving indexing of the promoters website. Rand wrote up a big open letter calling for the Google webspam team to review how they are evaluating what is spam based on a decreasing level of relevance for a number of popular terms.  As for the best process for defining spam or making a broad decision that a particular method or intention is black/white or gray is not the purpose of this article its to look at why it will continue to happen.

I have been meaning to look into this matter in some more detail so by just picking 2 random but popular articles that have been published on this blog that had obvious self promotional links dropped, was it worth it for them? This site being a run on the WordPress.com blog platform so I can make it clear that all the links placed into the comments are “nofollow” so their should be no direct benefit for “link juice” or ranking benefit for you, but why does it keep happening and what is classed as spam?

Author Name Keywords
There are 3 sides to using Blogs for self benefit or promotion, the first and most common to slip through is to use the author details to place in keyword friendly names as part of the websites backlink strategy.  The use of keyword friendly author names is usually heavily frowned upon by a number of popular blogs as some do follow the author URL so the link text does have relevance and a benefit for the poster. Often the author’s name is matched to the blog post but often so not relevant that the following listed below are classed as spam.

  • Internet and network marketing tutorial
  • Link Building
  • Demo
  • capodimonte figurine
  • limo in baltimore
  • iPad
  • business inspiration
  • iPad Frenzy – Everything Frenzy on the Apple iPad!
  • 22 inch car rims
  • Zone of the Dead | Playstation3 Blog
  • Mrs Anti-Virus
  • Get Paid for Your Opinion
  • Online Casino Roulette
  • SEO

Author Website
The next part will be that they will usually to match the author name to their website URL but often automated bots or low quality link builders often increase the chance of being flagged as spam by trying to matching the URL to a similar focused keyword domain.  So the author name used for the comment would be “website designers” will be matched to “http://website-design-ers.info” which is fairly easy to spot.  The author usually owns, manages, benefits or is paid to increase the traffic to the website they have listed. A number of the URLs listed below have been used in comment spam and have been flagged automatically as spam and I have not included the full website address because this post is not designed to provide them with a benefit.  Often much of the comment spammers are not just link spammers but drop links to sites that contain malware, MLM schemes and mostly just not suitable for work audiences.  The author websites listed below are easily classed as spam and many are low quality template websites that are mostly not suitable for this blog to be found associated with even it is just via nofollowed links.

  • antivirus-free-download51…
  • game101guide
  • roulettestrategie.fast-instant-money
  • 23-inch-car-rims
  • webuytool
  • limobaltimore
  • ipad-tipps
  • infinitydownline
  • relevantlinkbuilding

Spam Comments
It may not always be done with evil or spammy intention in mind and the comment maybe be manually approved after its viewed if the comment is relevant to the post. The following is a list of spam comments that have recently been posted on this blog, they are good example of the types of blog comments which are used and flagged automatically as spam:

  • This was a great post, thank you very much :)
  • thanks nice..
  • Thanks for your awesome post,! More to come on Monday….
  • nice work guys really impressed with your marketing style.
  • Thank you for your info, Recommended to read!!! i’ll bookmark your site and hope can find more hot info for the future.
  • :)
  • hy man thanks for the comment on my blog ,hope will be back soon
  • hi every body
  • I found your article very interesting, do you still have another article? maybe we can share the article
  • This is a really useful post. Thanks for the info.
  • I found your article very interesting, do you still have the article with the same theme? maybe we can share the article
  • nice blog and nice articel..coool ha !!

Often the comments are even less relevant, and if created by spam bots or lazy link builders just take sections of your own article and post that in the comments as if they had written something relevant and useful, this does not add value to a blog post so are classed as spam. The comment combined with the author URL is a clear sign if the comment is a spam comment or one that should be approved as it is relevant to the blog post and is suitable for visitors if they should want to visit the authors page to learn more about them.

Link Dropped in Comments

The aspect of dropping a relevant link to a related post or product is a tougher conversation to have with both blog owners, search agencies and link builders.  Placing a link into a blog post still works well and can often add a relevance to a blog post where an author may have not referenced some details contained in their post, you might have seen or read a post that disputes their post or seek to create some more discussion.  I don’t believe that there is a single person in the industry that can claim they have never dropped a link to one of their sites/posts/clients at one time or another, but when it moves away from relevance then it can border on being spam.  If I have written a post about AdAge Power 150 failing, dropping a link to a dating site is clearly spam and is not going to be approved. Here is a short list of some of the many comments and links dropped shown in blue text that are not relevant to the blog post shown in (example) or often even spelled correctly and are regarded as spam:

(Article was written about links)

  1. This is a wonderful opinion. The things mentioned are great and needs to be appreciated by everyone. Auto Marketing
  2. I don’t generally reply to posts but I’ sure will in this case. Seriously a big thumbs up for this 1 C CLass IP hosting!

(Article was about advertising)

free advertiser to all bblogger bussnines
free advertiser
free advertiser
free advertiser

(Article about a marketing failure)

Nice Blog thanks ankara evden eve nakliyat Hosting

Summary of comment links

Sometimes the links match the author but often gmail accounts are used with the author’s url being squidoo.com, blogspot.com or wordpress.com sites.  These are flagged automatically as spam by WordPress so its a waste of time and resources trying to get ranked #1. Often blogs automatically approve comments so you will see the same comment or link being posted under different authors name/email to try and get around spam filters but it will mostly lead to failure. Spamming in foreign languages will also be flagged as the blog author won’t automatically approve it if they don’t know what the text says.

Links dropped in comments get clicks

3 Links that were dropped into 2 posts on this blog, actually showed to give the website a decent CTR actually in aspects higher than any links that are contained within the actual post.  So if you are doing article writing for the pure purpose of driving relevant website traffic to your site, it maybe more beneficial to have a decent link placed within the first few comments if you are looking for traffic, people are curious so that is why dropping links into comments works. The click-through rate for the links was actually well above what I expected which is why I wrote this blog post, 3 samples show:

  • Link 1 click-thru-rate 5.88%
  • Link 2 click-thru-rate 1.13%
  • Link 3 click-thru-rate 0.27%

Summary of Spam Strategies

So dropping links and spamming blogs can work for some sites/projects but in the long-term it’s not sustainable or going to help your brand/site if you get flagged as a spammer.  There are a number of things you can do to ensure you get more benefit when using blogs as part of your social/content strategy but this blog post is not the place you can learn about that.  If you choose to go down the path of heavily spamming blogs, your problems will compound overtime and eventually even if you are not spamming a blog you will be automatically flagged for review every time by Akismet, so best not try to make things that much harder for you and play nice.

SEOmoz launches SEO Web Application

seomoz logoSEOmoz has finally launched their new SEO Web App today and Rand has covered the launch with a detailed post, including screenshots and a video discussing more about why it was done and what to expect next.  Some of the major points about their new web application has been listed below. Their new web application seeks to offer some of the functionality of enterprise level seo products such as Conductor offer but within the price range that consultants and SMEs can afford to automate some of their site analysis. The new seo platform seeks to leverage some of SEOmoz’s unique tools in one central platform with a long awaited update that allow you to track campaign metrics overtime to allow marketers to measure results.

SEOmoz PRO Accounts updated
The seo web app is now part of the package, and PRO members can now run unlimited Linkscape reports, where in the past they were limited to a certain number each month, larger companies and sites will likely have to look towards upgrading to PRO Elite or PRO Premier accounts to ensure they can make full use of the new SEOmoz web application.
SEO Web Application Features:
  1. Crawling to identify potential site issues
  2. Automatic Tracking of Keyword Rankings
  3. On-Page Grading & Recommendations Report Cards
  4. Link Analysis of your site and competitors
  5. One Comprehensive platform to rule them all
5 Quick Tips to Get Started with SEO Web App
  1. Import some of your top referring keywords from your web analytics
  2. Find pages that rank in the top 10-30 with low grades (Cs, Ds & Fs)
  3. Use the “grade any webpage” feature
  4. Apply labels to your keyword groups to separately track relevant data/metrics
  5. Point out crawl diagnostic issues to a friend or potential client
The site is experiencing a few initial issues with the massive influx of users wanting to test the platform, but once the server issues are resolved you all PRO members can test the SEO Web App. They are also offering a free SEOmoz webinar on the new SEO Web Application preview this Friday if you are not a PRO member and want to test their new SEO web application.

Updated Bing Webmaster Tools

Bing Webmaster LogoFollowing on from Google Webmaster Tools update, the team over at Bing have been busy and have finally taken the wraps of a vastly improved Bing Webmaster Tools. The official Bing blog states that the platform was rebuilt following feedback and all the updates were based on the webmaster and seo community feedback which called for more transparency on Bing. The platform also offers a hint of further updates coming in the following months which will likely add or adapt many of the Yahoo Site Explorer functionality. There has been much concern that much of the functionality that Yahoo offers maybe lost to webmasters so its great to see such a large improvement in the Bing search tools.

The new Bing webmaster tools offer more data on how Bing crawls and indexes your sites, what content is contained in the Bing index and guidance to help you optimise your sites for Bing.
The new Bing Webmaster tools provides a more intuitive experience focused on 3 areas key for search.
  1. Crawl
  2. Index
  3. Traffic
Bing Webmaster Sites Dashboard
The top level view shows a master list of all the sites you have verified in your Bing webmaster console, it shows an overview of clicks, impressions, pages indexed and pages crawled.  The other cool feature is it shows the percentage of change and an easy colour coded arrow to show if the change was positive or negative which makes it easy to spot problems or issues when you have a large number of sites.
Bing Webmaster Sites
Bing Webmaster Dashboard
The drill down into an individual site shows the current status of your site in Bing and the recent trends of your website’s activity within Bing search results
Bing Sites Dashboard
Bing Crawl & Index Summary
The top level view shows you a summary of pages crawled, pages with crawl errors, pages indexed and impressions and clicks. You can drill down into each of these section to see more details and information.
Bing Crawl Summary
Bing Crawl Summary Details
The crawl summary shows upto 6 months of crawl data so you can learn more about any issues that the Bingbot might have had while crawling your website.
Bing Crawl Summary DetailsBing Index Summary
You can explore your site’s directory and pages contained in the Bing index.
Bing Index Summary
Bing Traffic Summary
Similar to the recent Google Webmaster tools update, but much better as Bing offers upto 6 months of traffic data so you can track search query performance over time.
Bing Traffic Summary
Bing Search Queries
Bing also offers details around what keywords are showing in Bing search results, how many impressions they are getting along with clicks and average click-thru-rate from search results to your website.
Bing Search Queries
All Bing webmaster accounts get it!
The great point is that all the Bing webmaster accounts have been automatically upgraded to the new interface, no beta requests no delays just wonderful fresh interface ready to explore today.
Bing webmaster tools supports Chrome
The other point is that the whole platform runs perfectly in Google’s Chrome Browser which is what was used to generate all the images shown in this post.
Bing offers transparency
The more comprehensive and refined view from Bing gives the webmaster and seo community more transparency around whats contained in the Bing index, and i’m excited to see what new tools are going to be rolled out next.  This webmaster re-development seeks to improve transparency to help marketers and business make better decisions and offers more control over your sites in Bing. So I advise that you use Bing webmaster tools today! If you haven’t verified your website in Bing yet, do it now and start to explore how you can get more traffic from Bing, the interface is free to use and offers some wonderful insights into your seo.

Amrit tells you why he changed his blog links

Guest AuthorNot many people notice the links on blog rolls no more, they all seem to blend in with the rest of the stuff we’ve become blind too like banners, AdSense and affiliate links. We can just assume that it is just more space influenced by the $$$$ earned by the blog owner and 6 out of 10 times I would say yes.  But today this changed and I would like to publicly announce, like the Iron fisted lady from the 80′s, that this lady’s not for turning (well at least within the I am Search blog roll!).

So after that brilliant insight I have decided to change my blog roll links, and I shall tell you why, and its important that I do, because I want you to know, I want you to pay attention to them! The blogroll links are there to help you, they are there to fulfill your informational needs, I mean that’s why you’re here reading this blog and being nosey.

1) SEO Dojo

SEO Dojo LogoMy first link is to the SEO Dojo, now I have always held the stance of protecting your competitive edge, to which I feel the Dojo truly is my competitive edge. The information I gain, the support I get from simple reviews of competitions / websites anything to do with Internet Marketing, there are people there willing to take 5 minutes out of their busy lives to help, to make sure you get it right and gain as much success as possible. Not only does it up your game, but your so compelled to giving the support back, if anything it should be called SEO Ashram! Join the Dojo, up your game and spread your love!

2) SEO by the SEA

SEO by the SEAMy Second link is to Bill Slawski’s SEO by the Sea, seriously, you really want to know how these Search Engine things work? Well here is perhaps the best starting point, when ever the SE’s punt out a new patent, Bill does a wonderful job in deciphering the patent and delivering it to you in a bite size, allowing clear take away points for you to ponder upon! Seriously guys, we make a crust through these Search Engines, lets not be a Joey Sleaze Bag – have respect and learn about the Search Engines!

3) @Neyne

Branko RihtmanNow my third link is to a Twitter Stream, Branko Rihtman aka @neyne – to which i will no doubt owe him my house in bets over the years to come, but I feel that he’s someone you guys need to engage with, even if its drilling him about his crappy Chelsea F.C. But on all seriousness, its his Scientific background that has helped raise the awareness of testing the SEO theories out there, and his biggest message is – it should all be done with ROI as your primary goal, so follow him, engage with him and drill in how shit his team is!

4) Think Visibility

Think Visibility LogoSo onto my fourth link, Think Visibility. This is more for my British friends out there but I’m sure the THINK VIS crew would love having people fly in for what I can say is the best value for money Internet Marketing conference within the UK. It’s a bi-yearly affair based in Leeds where they string together various topics / speakers providing decent information, but where I feel that this succeeds the most and more so than any of the other British conferences for that kinda money is the networking, not only do they have the big heavy hitters in the world of SEO, but you also get a chance to speak to the Affiliate Marketeers and Domainers that are really making some serious wedge!

5) Viper Chill

Viper Chill LogoMy fifth link is to Viper Chill, he’s perhaps the most open Affiliate marketer out there that’s still keeping it real and constantly asking the community to engage with him. The real reason why i’ve added him is that he’s my mentor by blog in making additional revenue to support the day job. The tips and tricks, they all work, and they’re all slowly helping me in earning an almost automatic income, who said money grew on trees, but they certainly grow through Adsense and affiliation :)

6) The Lost Agency

Finally, my sixth link is to of course to this blog and you guys know why you’re here already!


Guest Post By:

PG To make more trouble for myself…. follow him on Twitter @APSG, read his rants on I AM Search! or find more posts by Amrit Gill

Alcon does better at seo

alcon logoAlcon one of the world’s largest health care companies focused on vision and eye products appears to be a leader in its market thanks to effective SEO. The swiss based company has a number of keyword friendly domains but also a number of complex brand names that are more difficult to spell.  But I have noticed a number of subtle changes they can make to their websites to get a bigger impact growing their organic keyword traffic.
One of the best benefits of seo for pharmaceutical companies is that they are able to market the solution via complex names but can also make sure consumers/doctors can easily find your products when using generic terms such as dry eyes. Its corporate site seems to follow some of the basics starting with their homepage title tag starts with “Eye Care products…”, the reason that this is significant is that it both matches to their product offerings and is helpful in helping them achieve #1 result for the search term “eye care products“.
eye care products
Many companies make the mistake of placing more importance on their brand/company name than their products/services, a test search for “flights“, show a few examples of sites that see brand as more important.  While Travelocity, Southwest airlines and Continental Airlines were all listed on the first page of the search results, some slight changes to the title structure within their site would likely have a benefit with increased rankings for generic terms.  The only times that brands need to consider using brand terms first is when they have a common name, geographical competition or affiliate marketers who can possibly outrank them for brand related searches.
brand titles
Alcon Corporate Site
They also use a number of keyword friendly internal links, but they could improve more by replacing a number of the image menus with text links.  The image below shows the corporate website is using its strength and trust to help its product sites with keyword friendly urls.  This is not spam or paid links but relevant and suitable linkage between the parent companies site and its product sites.
alcon footerlinks
The following keyword friendly links from Alcon link to the following sites, and in brackets its position in the search engine results on Google.com
  • Intraocular lens - http://www.Acrysofrestor.com/ (#4)
  • Cataract lens removal - http://www.infinitivision.com/ (#4)
  • Cataract surgery - http://www.cataractsurgery.com/ (#1)
  • Allergy eye - http://www.pataday.com/ (#8)
  • Contact lens solution - http://www.opti-free.com/ (#1)
  • Dry eye - http://www.systane.com/ (#34)

Analysis: It seems that the variation “eye allergy” does slightly worse ranking #9, but the biggest surprise that Systane almost fails to rank for its generic term showing up 34th, and the more suitable term would be “dry eyes”.

Opti-Free Site
alcon opti-free logo
Opti-Free’s site also has a number of image items that could be replaced with text to increase the amount of onpage content.  The title tag matches to the product solution which is a perfect match for the Alcon footer links, which is part of the reason that the site ranks highly for its generic term. Below is a screenshot of the footer links from Opti-Free.
opti-free links
The following keyword friendly links from Opti-Free link to the following Alcon sites, and in brackets its position in the search engine results on Google.com
  • Glaucoma http://www.travatanz.com/ (Not in first 100)
  • Eye vitamins http://www.icapsvitamins.com/ (#4)
  • Allergy eyes http://www.pataday.com/ (#7)
  • Nasal allergies http://www.patanase.com/ (#42)
  • Ear infection treatment http://www.alcon.com/en/alcon-products/pharmaceutical.asp (#35)
  • Cataract surgery http://www.cataractsurgery.com/ (#1)
  • Intraocular lens http://www.acrysofrestor.com/ (#5)
  • Dry eye http://www.systane.com/ (#34)
Analysis: Travatanz could benefit from an increase in backlinks and a the selection of a keyword that will actually show in the first 100 results.  Pataday has targeted a slightly different plural variation and ranks higher in the search results for the plural term.  The “ear infection treatment” product page could benefit from its own product page that would make it possible to add more content.
Systane Site
systane logoSystane has a much more seo friendly site, as its menu structure is text unlike many of the other sites.  It also makes extensive use of text for product listings and onsite content, but there are still more images than can be replaced with text.
systane footerlinks
The following keyword friendly links from  Systane link to the following Alcon sites, and in brackets its position in the search engine results on Google.com
  • Glaucoma http://www.travatanz.com/ (Not in first 100)
  • Eye vitamins http://www.icapsvitamins.com/ (#4)
  • Allergy eyes http://www.pataday.com/ (#7)
  • Nasal allergies http://www.patanase.com/ (#42)
  • Ear infection treatment http://www.alcon.com/en/alcon-products/pharmaceutical.asp (#35)
  • Cataract surgery http://www.cataractsurgery.com/ (#1)
  • Intraocular lens http://www.acrysofrestor.com/ (#5)
  • Contact lens solution - http://www.opti-free.com/ (#1)
Analysis: The points to note are identical to Opti-Free, except the terms that are already ranking #1 may benefit from alternative link text to increase their presence within the search results.
Acrysofrestor site
acrysofrestor logo
The site appears to have a lot of content hidden under a number of sub text menus, which doesn’t give it the full advantage as spiders won’t crawl that deep.  There is also a lot of white space that could be filled with either larger sized font or more content. This site also has a lot of legal notices and disclaimers making up a majority of the homepage content, there is also two links to Cataract Surgery at the bottom which doesn’t offer an increased benefit.
acrysofrestor links
The following keyword friendly links from Acrysofrestor link to the following Alcon sites, and in brackets its position in the search engine results on Google.com
  • Glaucoma http://www.travatanz.com/ (Not in first 100)
  • Eye vitamins http://www.icapsvitamins.com/ (#4)
  • Allergy eyes http://www.pataday.com/ (#7)
  • Nasal allergies http://www.patanase.com/ (#42)
  • Ear infection treatment http://www.alcon.com/en/alcon-products/pharmaceutical.asp (#35)
  • Cataract surgery http://www.cataractsurgery.com/ (#1)
  • Dry eye http://www.systane.com/ (#34)
  • Contact lens solution - http://www.opti-free.com/ (#1)
Cataract Surgery Site
cataract surgeryThis site does a very good job of combining a generic domain and with lots of information about the disease and links in with Alcon products.  The problem is that once again a bulk of the information and menus are image based and not text so don’t get as much benefit for onsite content.
Analysis: There are no links in the footer to any of Alcon’s related product sites, which seems a lost opportunity but might also be restricted under FDA rules and regulations around pharmaceutical advertising codes of conduct.
Patanase Site
patanase logo
The site seems very inconsistent as it makes very good use of images replaced with text in some parts of the site and menus but not in others, there also seems to be a mixture of terms and keywords related to the product.  Looking at the website, I have listed some of the many terms and phrases that are used that don’t rank well in SERPs: Nasal Allergies, Allergy Symptoms, Seasonal Nasal Allergies, Allergy symptom reducer, seasonal allergic rhinitis.
patanase linksAnalysis: There are no links in the footer to any of Alcon’s related product sites, which seems a lost opportunity but unlike CataractSurgery.com this is a product site and not an informational page so it is not clear why no links have been added in the footer.
Pataday Site
pataday logoOf all the Alcon websites, this site makes the most use of text for the information sections and its menu structure, the only confusing part is the cross-promotion of a similar product Patanol. The site design is also appears to be one of the older designs and if it is updated to use images in place of text will likely impact its search traffic significantly.
pataday links
Analysis: A number of the sites use their website address instead of a keyword friendly link, reducing the benefit, and Coprodex.com is linked as “Ear infection treatment” on the other footer links, and is a 301 redirect to the Alcon products page. The way some of these links are written almost make them appear to be sketchy spam links such as AcrySofReSTOR.com or  TravatanZ.com. It is likely that many of these sites are already able to rank for their own brand terms so the links could have been better utilised.
iCAPS Eye Vitamins Site
icaps eye vitamins logoThis site has one of the strangest mixes of large images, and a very limited amount of content/information on the product. Its likely with an expansion of content it could easily increase its presence in the SERPs, and rank much higher for the term “eye vitamins”.
icaps vitamins links
Analysis: There are no links in the footer to any of Alcon’s related product sites, which seems a lost opportunity but unlike CataractSurgery.com this is a product site and not an informational page so it is not clear why no links have been added in the footer.
Travatan Site
travatan logo
The site has a fair amount of detail about Glaucoma’s as well a majority of the information is accessible via text links.  The only issue is the mixture of glossary pages and a strange popup definitions window. There should be a consistent process, and a number of browsers block pop-ups so information maybe missed by visitors.  Also this information should form part of the site not a separate no-indexable popup module.
travatan linksAnalysis: similar to many of the other footer links with the only difference being there are two links for eye infection treatment, one to the Alcon product page and the other to the Coprodex.com which is a 301 redirect to the same page.  This might be a bit more risky behaviour than the other links as it tries to get a double benefit of two links to that page.
Many more sites under marketed
What is interesting is that two other Alcon businesses one that details with Lasik and the other Retina information are not listed within the site footer links on any of the sites, and would have been a prefect match for CataractSurgery.com.
  1. Lasik information – www.alconrefractive.com
  2. Vitreoretinal surgery information – www.alconretina.com

Overall Alcon Website Network Review

It seems that the company has done a number of things right, but it also seems that some of the search results are pure luck and is not as consistent as it possibly could be across the Alcon network as highlighted by the inconsistent use of footer links. There could be some more effort and planning spent on the footer links and would have a direct benefit for their brands and would likely result in an uplift in organic search traffic.

How Geocities benefits Yahoo SEO

Yahoo closed down Geocities October 2009 and now uses the page to advertise its other properties and given them a benefit with better search rankings. The amount of monthly visitors dropped significantly since the community was closed from a height of around 10-15 million each month down to around 731,000 unique visitors each month and continues to decline.

While the aspect of the closure has upset a number of people including some link brokers who lost old and trusted websites used to influence search rankings, it seems that Yahoo still continues to receive seo benefit by maintaining the domain as passing the trust to its other properties. According to SEOmoz top 500 list, the Japanese Geocities domain still ranks #369 in the world for link value.

So what is the value of the geocities domain?

  • 80,341 known and trusted backlinks from around 15,496 domains
  • 55,396 pages mentions in Wikipedia
  • 33,325 listings in Yahoo Directory
  • 72 DMOZ listings

The following 8 yahoo properties receive a large search boost because of the strength of the Geocities domain.

  • Yahoo Mail
  • News
  • Sport
  • Finance
  • Web Hosting
  • Games
  • Movies
  • Maps

The estimated total number of searches Yahoo will receive each month based on having the same results in all Bing,Yahoo & Google.

  • “eMail – 9,888,900 searches a month
  • “Mail”-  22,015,000 searches a month
  • “News”-  17,969,000 searches a month
  • “Sport”-  8,092,000 searches a month
  • “Finance”-  3,617,000 searches a month
  • “Web Hosting”-  595,000 searches a month
  • “Games”-  49,266,000 searches a month
  • “Movies”-  22,015,000 searches a month
  • “Maps”-  8,092,000 searches a month

Yahoo saving millions not buying traffic just around these generic terms each month on AdWords priced per click?

  • eMail ($2.25)
  • Mail ($3.10)
  • News ($1.65)
  • Sport ($0.92)
  • Finance ($10.90)
  • Web Hosting ($14.06)
  • Games ($0.95)
  • Movies ($0.94)
  • Maps ($3.04)

If Yahoo was to buy the same amount of traffic using Google AdWords as it gets currently from Organic results each month on just Google.

  • eMail ($22,250,025)
  • Mail ($68,246,500)
  • News ($29,648,850)
  • Sport ($7,444,640)
  • Finance ($39,431,840)
  • Web Hosting ($8365,700)
  • Games ($61,089,840)
  • Movies ($31,041,150)
  • Maps ($10,519,600)

Note: To make the task more transparent we using Google.com as the source and Google AdWords as the ppc solution for the statistics, so Yahoo should not have preferential treatment in search results but still manages to rank better than some of the more well known websites in each area.

You can see in the above image that all these properties have been linked with keyword friendly text to be ranked highly for the generic term, if you can get ranked for a generic term this is a smart idea.  If Yahoo failed seo following how many businesses do seo they would have used the following text for the backlinks.

  • Yahoo Mail
  • Yahoo News
  • Yahoo Sport
  • Yahoo Finance
  • Yahoo Small Web Hosting
  • Yahoo Games
  • Yahoo Movies
  • Yahoo Maps

All of these are the actual Yahoo product names but they still are focused around a keyword friendly name.  Yahoo has made the decision long ago to not complicate the issue and call their finance product “Fuzzy Ducks” or their news product “Reading Material”.  Yahoo is a great example of how you can extend your brand and benefit from the spill over traffic between generic keywords and brand searches.

The point is that Yahoo has enough trust, content and link weight to be ranked highly for generic terms, but a number of smaller websites need to look a picking terms that relate to their brands,trademarks or business name.  Once they have secured #1 results for these they can then branch out to cover related terms, and continue to expand as they reach targets.  Among a number of internal and external activities such as sponsorship and PR activities Yahoo also spends millions of content development, online partnerships which help build and encourage backlinks.

What about being ranked #1 for just a single keyword?

There is no point spending all your resources to try and be ranked #1 for a single generic keyword unless you have the resources to support a large seo and link building project.  Another perspective is to change away from a vanity view of trying to be ranked #1 for the keyword “seats” when a majority of searches use multiple keywords and you only sell Holden car seats. Also if you are going down the process of link building you need to ensure that you don’t start spamming the search engines by having all your links screaming a single keyword or phrase “matt cutts rank me higher!”

Why can Yahoo rank highly for generic terms?

Yahoo is able to avoid a number of the typical rules around choice of keyword based on competitors because of its strong online presence, but you will notice there are a number of other generic terms such as Jobs or Travel that Yahoo has made a business decision to not yet challenge for #1. Its not all black hat as Yahoo has the benefit of trusted domains, rich content websites and a very large network of relevant and trusted websites.