Shifting of Google’s Algorithm

I had to share this article from Search Engine Watch about how they see Google’s Algorithm shifting. The important parts to note are:

  1. Google’s focus on the uptime of your website (keeping the server that runs your site up is more important than ever)
  2. The important of keeping your website bounce rate low (bounce rate are the number of visitors who come to your site and leave within 5 secs, or only look at one page). From the article: “If you’re bouncing over 80 percent of the time back to the search results, it’s highly likely that the rankings will either be demoted or drop off completely.”
  3. Google’s monitoring of the # of RSS subscribers you have and ranking blog articles higher if the blog has more subscribers….Considering that Google has acquired Feedburner, this changing focus on RSS subscribers as a measurement of the value of your site should not be all that surprising.

This has huge implications for nonprofits.

Website Uptime and SEO

If you don’t monitor your website’s uptime, you should. Create a free account on Pingdom today.

Bouncerate and Google Ranking

Look at your bounce rate within Google analytics. If you have a high number, there are two possible explanations:

  • One, you might be ranking for keywords that aren’t related to your core mission. This is where optimizing that page strategically with keywords related to your mission comes in. You can find older articles on this blog that talk about keyword research & and where to put those keywords on your page.
  • Two, your homepage might be just plain confusing. This is where running a usabilty test comes in. The simple 8 second test is to take print out of your homepage, give it to a person who hasn’t seen the site before and let them look at it for 8 seconds. Then take it away and ask them three questions: 1. who owns the site? 2. What is the site about? 3. What can I do on this site? If you get answers not aligned with the goals of your site, you’re in trouble.  It’s best to get a professional firm to run an un-biased usability test of your site, but if you’re financial strapped, you can get volunteers and run a test yourself. Jakob Neilson’s usit.com site has usuabilty testing resources you can use.

RSS Subscribers

If you have a blog and haven’t created an RSS feed using Feedburner’s tools, you should do that today. It will allow you to create a widget on your blog where readers can receive blog updates via email – and those emails are then captured by you and exportable through the Feedburner interface. While I’m talking about RSS, here are a few other free tools I like to use to evaluate the popularity of blog posts. The first is Aids RSS is shows you how popular each of your blog posts are and where they are being bookmarked and shared.

The second is FeedCompare which lets you compare your subscriber #s to your competitors. This is really valuable. And finally here’s a listing of places where you can submit your RSS feeds to promote your site. You might also submit your blog to Wikio which ranks popular blogs by subject matter. It’s also a good idea to follow those popular blogs & provide appropriate comments on posts you like with a link back to the blog you own.

So while nonprofits would rather not think about things like website uptime, the usability of their site, or engaging in social media, all of those items are becoming even more important, and an avoidance of dealing with some of those issues might result in you being booted off the Google index…something you shold avoid.

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Using Social Psychology Findings for Email Subject Lines

One of the great things about online marketing is that there are a wealth of free webinars and training sessions available online that actually teach you something.

One that I had to share is Marketing Experiment’s Webinar on how to optimize headlines. You MUST spend a moment watching this webinar. It will teach you how to pick words and word order in subject lines and headlines for landing pages that will drive positive results. It also walks folks through how to test both elements.

Enjoy!

Click here for Flash format (slides with audio)

Nonprofit Best Practices: Use of Flash

I like to spread the news of innovative online strategies to engage activists, and Amnesty International has one that I’d like to share called tearitdown.org.

Visitors get to sign their online petition and get to “own” a pixel of a picture of prisoners at Guantanam. It’s taking action to “tear down” the prison.

The site is very well done and worth interacting with.

Men vs. Women – Is Your Site Speaking to your Audience

Did you know that men and womn interact with websites differently?

Are you trying to reach one of those audiences more than another?

You would be interested in the findings below. There’s a chance that your site design is making it difficult for your audience to find your information.

This is an exerpt from a much larger article about search behavior and gender differences on Search Engine Land that I had to share. It summarizes a Pew Internet Study released in 2005.

Here are the pieces that I think are most relevant to nonprofits. But first I should mention that the study didn’t find any gender differences related to how men or women interact with search results. The items below are how they interact with your website.

Women:

  • Have more engagement with images, especially pictures of people.
  • Cover more of the page in navigating for information scent. They tend to be less singularly focused than men, integrating cues from various parts of the page.
  • More patient and apt to wait for a flash movie to load.
  • Women are more apt to browse through the site, less likely to use the site search
  • Women have a greater ability to gain meaning from a more complex, graphically rich page. They are more comfortable in portal like environments.

Men:

  • Far less patient than women. If a downloading file or Flash module gets in the way of anticipated navigation, men are more likely to bail out. Once the “loading” bar shows up, men are looking for the escape button.
  • Less forgiving of poor navigation structures. Navigation should be intuitive, standard, and straightforward for men. Of course, this is a standard best practice for everyone, men and women alike, but men will be more critical in this area.
  • Men are also more likely to use internal search functionality to get directly to the page they’re looking for.
  • Men are more apt to impulse buy in an ecommerce environment. In fact, men are more accepting of the risk involved in online transactions in general.
  • Men prefer more sparse and Spartan website layouts.

How to SEO Flash

The Google help documents has a Q&A that asks Does Google index sites that use Macromedia Flash?

Yes, Google indexes pages that use Macromedia Flash. However, our crawlers may experience problems indexing Flash pages. If you’re concerned that Flash content on your pages may be inhibiting Google’s ability to crawl your site, you may want to consider using a text browser such as Lynx to examine your site. If features such as Flash keep you from seeing all of your site in a text browser, then search engine spiders may have trouble crawling your site.

You may want to consider creating HTML copies of these Flash pages for our crawler. If you create HTML copies, please be sure to include a robots.txt file that disallows the Flash pages in order to ensure that our crawler doesn’t recognize these pages as duplicate content.

Finally, you might consider creating and submitting a detailed site map of your pages using Sitemaps. Sitemaps are an easy way for you to submit all your URLs to the Google index and get detailed reports about the visibility of your pages on Google. With Sitemaps, you can automatically keep us informed of all of your current pages and of any updates you make to those pages. Please note that submitting a Sitemap doesn’t guarantee that all pages of your site will be crawled or included in our search results.

Also, the Google Webmaster Central blog has some excellent advice on the topic.

The folks at Cre8asite Forums recommend using the SWFObject if necessary.

My advice, and it is mentioned in the forum threads, use Flash elements within the site but do not use Flash 100%. Do not use Flash for the complete site, do not use Flash for the main navigation or main content area.