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Archive for October, 2011

Google Tweaks AdWords To Give Landing Page Quality More Weight

Oct 3, 2011 at 7:19pm ET by 

After quietly testing in Brazil, Spanish-speaking Latin America, Spain, and Portugal, Google will roll out a new algorithm globally that gives more weight to landing page quality when it comes to AdWords Quality Score. This means ads with landing pages that Google deems to be most relevant to the query will be able to rank higher for lower cost-per-click bids.

“What we’ve seen is that there are ads available in the auction that are as good a quality as the top ads. But the landing pages — the merchant sites, the advertiser landing pages — are of much higher quality than the ads that we see at the top of our auction,” Jonathan Alferness, director of product management on Google’s ad quality team told me. This, says Alferness, means the user experience isn’t what it could be. Hence the change to give more weight to landing page quality. “In the end, we believe that this will result in better quality experience for the users.”

Landing page quality has long been a factor in Google AdWords, but more as a negative signal. If an advertiser’s landing page was particularly terrible or misleading, advertisers could have their ads rejected or their accounts suspended or revoked — depending on how bad the policy violation was. The new change will assign landing page quality a positive value, incentivizing advertisers to make sure the landing page’s keywords and content are closely aligned with the keywords for which they’re bidding. Ads with high landing page quality will get a “strong boost” upward in the auction, according to Alferness.

Alferness says Google will crawl the landing pages associated with every ad and make a determination as to its quality.

“What we always ask our advertisers to focus on is relevance — choose a landing page or site experience that is both relevant to the keywords that you’re targeting and also a good experience for end users,” said Alferness. “This is just continuing to sort of push on those best practices. I gives us the ability to really reward those advertisers that have been doing this, whose landing pages really are some of the best in our systems.”

The change will roll out in the next week or two. Advertisers may see some variations in ad position and keyword Quality Score at first, but things should settle down within a couple of weeks, according to Google.

Related Topics: Google: AdWords | Top News


About The Author:  is a contributing editor for Search Engine Land. She’s a well-respected authority on digital marketing, having reported and written on the subject since 1998, including a stint as managing editor of ClickZ. She’s also worked to help monetize independent publishers’ sites at Federated Media Publishing. She blogs about media and marketing at The River and about cooking, gardening and parenthood at Free Range. She can be found on Twitter as @pamelaparker

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Top 10 Negative Google News Ranking Factors

Oct 3, 2011 at 1:28pm ET by 

Last week, I released the results of a survey of Google News Ranking Factors with some of the top news SEOs in the business. While there has been plenty of response regarding the Top 10 Most Important Factors, I thought it would be helpful to take a closer look at the Top Negative Factors. In my work with local news publishers, I have seen many of them doing a lot of things which hurt their rankings.

1.  Duplicate Content

Just as in traditional Web SEO, duplicate content was determined to be the biggest negative factor. And while plenty of news sites create duplicate content on their own, those surveyed focused on the use of other sources’ content on your site, particularly scraped or plagiarized content.

Google is getting better at determining the original source of the content and degrading the rankings of the sites that “borrow” it. And if you are distributing press releases on your site, make sure you separate your original news content from your press releases by creating two different sections on your site and adding “nofollow” tags to all links to press releases.

2.  Vague, Abstract Headlines

This is a fancy way of saying headlines that don’t target specific high value keywords. I remember when Eliot Spitzer got caught with the hooker and the NY Post ran the headline “Ho No!” Awesome headline. Amazing linkbait.

If you can write a headline like that, then go for it, but everyone else should stick to “Spitzer Caught With Hooker”. If you are writing headlines for a news site, you need to learn how to do keyword research.

3.  No Google News Sitemap

I am always surprised when I find a news site not using these. I have seen dramatic differences in crawling, indexing and rankings as a result of using a Google News Sitemap. It’s not particularly hard to implement. What are you waiting for?

4.  Poor Quality Content

Google News has ways of algorithmically and manually determining if your site tends to misspell words, use poor grammar, and generally produce poor quality content. There’s no excuse for bad writing!

5.  Blocking Googlebot Via Robots.txt

This is one of those classic SEO screw-ups that keeps a SEO consultant’s phone ringing in the middle of the night. If your organic traffic just tanked, one of the first things you should do is check your robots.txt file and make sure you don’t see these two lines:

User-agent: *

Disallow: /

6.  Poor Site Performance

If your site is slow and/or produces a lot of 500 errors, your rankings are going to suffer. Google wants to send people to fast-loading pages. There are variety of tools you can use to monitor your site’s performance including the Crawl Stats and Site Performance reports in Google Webmaster Tools and Google’s Page Speed Tool.

My favorite technique is to use a script to track your server logs for when Googlebot gets 4xx or 5xx response codes, then send out an email to the team notifying them of the errors. Whomever is responsible for performance will have a heavy incentive to keep the site error-free and keep those emails to a minimum.

7.  Poor CitationRank

CitationRank is the measure of how well a story on a news site gets linked to from or referenced on other sites, particularly other news sites. These kinds of citations demonstrate that the story is authoritative on the subject. If you can’t get others to link to your story, it’s going to be harder to get it up on top.

8. Low PageRank Domain

If your site’s overall SEO program is not competitive, you will have a harder time ranking. Make sure you are at least getting the basics right. Make sure your site is accessible to search engine robots, targets high value keywords and regularly gets links from other sites.

9.  New Site

Just as new sites can have a harder time ranking in Google’s Web results, sites with low/no trust and/or history in Google News will have a harder time ranking well.

New sites must demonstrate trust by getting linked to from other authoritative sites, by getting well-shared via popular social media channels and by getting well-clicked-on relative to other sites in Google News for a particular story.

“Category Authority” was deemed by our panel to be the most important ranking factor, so new sites will likely have the best luck if they focus on a specific niche to be expert in.

10. All Syndicated Content With The Same Titles As The Source Site

While this is basically the same thing as Duplicate Content, the panel seemed to think this case deserved special mention as more and more news organizations put more reliance on syndicated content, without even bothering to rewrite any of it.

If you don’t put your own spin on the news, you are not going to do well in Google News.

For more information on various Google News Ranking Factors, check outwww.googlenewsrankingfactors.com.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Google: News | Google: SEO | Locals Only


About The Author:  is the proprietor of Local SEO Guide, a local search engine optimization consulting company specializing in yellow pages seo and local directory search—the blog is pretty fabulous too. 

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