Friday Rant – Unsubscribe pages – PLEASE do this

Just a quick word about a problem that is really irritating to me personally and I’m sure others have also been confronted by it. When you design your email unsubscribe page, there are many things you can do to try to help the potential customer stay subscribed. These will be the topic of future posts. For now, I want to make sure you do this….

Please allow the subscriber to simply change their email address!

People change email addresses frequently. I have about 8 email address. Two are personal and the rest are for various business purposes. I recently decided I would like all my emails from marketing blogs I follow to go to one dedicated address since I read them all at a certain time of day and it’s just easier for me.

I didn’t want to unsubscribe, just change the address at which I received the emails. I was actually amazed at the number (vast majority) of sites that simply wouldn’t let me do that. There are some who have, in addition to the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the emails, a “change my email address” link. That’s fine, good in fact. But no matter which link the reader clicks, they should always be able to change their email address.

My only option was to unsubscribe and then locate and go through their subscription process again. After a few rounds of doing that, I gave up. I unsubscribed from everyone who wouldn’t let me change my address right on the unsubscribe page. I figured if I ever ran across another of their posts that I really liked, I’d eventually re-subscribe. It did help clean up my subscription inbox I guess.

This is not what you want to happen to any of your subscribers. If you’re customers are businesses, it is even more important. After putting so much work into your email campaigns and blog posts, don’t lose readers to something so simple to remedy.

Well that’s the end of my Friday rant. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

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Straight from Google – 3/24/17

For your viewing pleasure, the highlights from the Google hangout on 3/24/2017.

Internal links

Internal links do not need to be bi-directional to emphasis a relationship between pages.

Schema markup

Schema markup errors do not make you rank lower then you would without markup. Schema markup is used to help google better understand a site but is not primarily used for ranking.

Voice search

There is a good discussion about future possibilities for voice search and voice applications.

Canonical designations

Canonical is a signal to google not a directive. Google will not necessarily always choose the version you specify as many signals go into that choice.

Page titles

Google will change titles when displaying them in search results because they just feel something else fits with the search term better. If you have done a site:url search to check this, Google will show changed titles way more often then when you do a normal keyword search. This may skew your perception of the frequency that changes to title occur.

Crawl frequency

It could take a month or more to re-crawl any given page such as product pages after content changes. Changes take time to reflect in search results.

Mobile first index

There is no time frame yet for the roll out of the mobile first index. Google’s goal is to make it easy for website owners to transition.

Internal photo links

Photos should have alt text associated with them in order to pass full weight to the linked pages.

Heat mapping

Heat mapping can indicate where on a page a user has clicked and how far down the page the user as scrolled. Google does not use heat mapping in ranking.

Structured data

Structured data manual actions only remove you from rich results. They don’t remove you from search or affect search rankings.

Move to secure site https

Google recommends new sitemaps to help them make the change faster. But Google will pick up 301’s anyway.

 

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Straight from Google – 3/10/17

This is the most recent Google hangouts episode. We’ve summarized the most important tidbits below in case you don’t have time to view the entire video above. There was quite a bit of discussion about the use of hreflang and canonical tags for very large international sites. We didn’t include this below as it doesn’t apply to the vast majority of our readers. If you have questions or comments please post them in the comments section or contact us directly. We’d be happy to hear your thoughts.

Indexing web pages

Google doesn’t always index everything they find on the web. To encourage indexing use fetch and render in Google search console.

Ranking #1 for a keyword but low traffic

This is usually caused by one of these things:

  • not a lot of people are searching for that keyword
  • the title or description of the page are not attractive to searchers

Just because the number of visits is low doesn’t mean the quality of those visitors is low. It may be that the conversion rate is high for those visitors.

Sitemaps

  1. Hreflang, meta data and structured data in sitemaps isn’t taken into account when sitemap is read by google but when the url is processed.
  2. the “last modification date” in the sitemap is used to determine which urls need to be crawled next and helps get pages that have changed re-crawled faster. One exception.. if all the modification dates in the sitemap are the same google ignores the date.
  3. Google currently ignores “change frequency” and “priority” if they are specified in the sitemap files.

Mobile first index

Dynamically changing content for mobile won’t break anything but can be problematic for debugging and analyzing the website. i.e. you won’t get demoted in search but making sure everything is working smoothly is definitely harder.

Responsive vs separate mobile site

If you have both a responsive site and a separate mobile site and you have a “vary” header, google will see the mobile site and trust that instead of the responsive site.

Keyword density

There is no specific keyword density limit for content. Google expects content to be written naturally. Focusing on keyword density is not a good use of your time. Unnatural keyword stuffing is now recognized quickly by search engines. If the search engine sees it they will ignore the keyword completely on that website. A trick is to read your content to someone on the phone. If you can do that easily without cringing or laughing, you probably have natural and easily read content. Trying to include all variations of a keyword is unnecessary as google is quite capable of relating these variations.

SSL certificates

Google wants to see an SSL certificate that works well in modern browsers. There is no requirement for any specific type or level of certificate. There is no requirement for any type of extended validation certificate.

Cookies

Google does not use cookies so redirects based on cookie content are OK.

Videos

You can use a video sitemap to let google know what videos are embedded on what pages and where the files are hosted. This helps google display the page on video search because it clarifies the connection between the location of the video and the page it’s embedded in. Rankings do not change in normal search results just because a video is embedded on the page.

Migrating to https

When migrating to https, blocking the crawling of the old http site prevents google from seeing redirects from the old http site to the new https site.

404 Errors

404 Errors don’t lower the site quality in google’s eyes. Of course, your site visitors probably aren’t too happy about them.

 

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Straight from Google – 3/7/17

The major takeaways from the most recent Google hangouts episode were interesting. We’ve summarized the most important tidbits below in case you don’t have time to view the entire video above.

Sitelinks

Sitelinks showing on a Google search results page is unrelated to the whether the query is a brand query or not. Google only shows sitelinks when they believe they’ll be useful to the searcher. You should improve the quality of internal links with alt and anchor text that is informative and not duplicated to improve the chances of sitelinks being shown for your listing.

Typefaces

The typeface(s) you use is not used to rank pages in any way. You won’t rank lower if you use comic sans, for instance.

Analytics & bad traffic

Analytics are not used in crawling, ranking or indexing. Lots of bad traffic with 0 time on the pages and therefore high bounce rates does not affect ranking. It should be blocked from analytic data to keep it as clean as possible for your own use though.

Your most important page

Google doesn’t automatically think that the most internally linked to pages are the most important. You can have, for instance, many links from all your other pages to policy or contact pages without fearing that Google will think those are the most important pages.

Body Tags

Insure you are not using tags in your page head that are valid HTML only in the body section. Doing so can cause Google to think the head section has ended which may cause other head section tags to be ignored.

Understanding Pages

The anchor text on links is used to help understand internally linked pages. Use descriptive anchor text. Supplemental text which goes to specific parts of a page is not read or used by Google.

Mobile Page Speed

At the present time, mobile page speed is NOT a ranking factor. It may(probably will) be in the future. Also page speed is always relevant for your visitors.

301 Redirects

A large number(hundreds) of 301 redirects is not a problem in any way as far as Google is concerned.

 

 

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Straight from Google – 2/24/17

The major takeaways from the most recent Google hangouts episode were interesting. We’ve summarized the most important tidbits below in case you don’t have time to view the entire video above.

Other sites ranking for your brand name

It is possible for this to happen. Google mentions that increasing your presence on social media sites is one way to help improve your ranking and help prevent this from happening.

Panda takes site architecture into account

The Google Panda algorithm is concerned with overall site quality. So yes, it might be good to work on architecture (how your sites pages are organized).

Search phrase does not have to be present in page content to rank for it

You don’t have to have any individual search term present in the content of your web page to rank, but it helps google a great deal to have the phrase on the page. Including all variations of the phrase is not necessary.

Image optimization

You should optimize images with tags and context. Image title, alt tags, clear file names, etc. help google understand what the image is. The text around the image also plays a role in this understanding.

Canonical Tags

It is incorrect to make the canonical tags on individual blog pages all point back to the main blog page. This blog pages are not equivalent to the blog home page or each other. Canonical tags in the instance are ignored.

Hidden text

On desktop pages hidden text such as in drop down or accordions is given less weight then visible text. On mobile site, this is not much of an issue.

Outbound links

There is not reason, as far as Google is concerned, with outbound links. If the links are useful link for your site visitors, then have as many as you need. You do not need to make the no follow. Google doesn’t care.

Videos hosted off-site

It makes no difference to SEO where video’s on your site are hosted as long as Google can crawl the hosting site.

SSL for website

https is relevant for any website, informational or shopping. https insures users see the content exactly as you provide it. For example, free wifi sites such as airports sometimes add advertising to http pages. An SSL prevents this kind of manipulation.

Microformat vs. schema markup

Markup format does not matter as long as Google can pick it up. However, don’t use multiple formats for the same item.

Mobile site canonical tags

mobile site should be canonicalized to desktop site.

 

 

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Straight from Google – 2/10/17

The major takeaways from the most recent Google hangouts episode were interesting. We’ve summarized the most important tidbits below in case you don’t have time to view the entire video above.

Manipulating back buttons

Some sites restrict the use of the back button in an attempt to keep users on the page or site. They believe this will increase the sites google rank by decreasing the bounce rate. Google doesn’t care but they state that your visitors probably will.

Redirects are handled based on perceived use not actual redirect code

Temporary redirects – google tends to index the redirecting page. Permanent redirects – google tends to index the page that is being redirected to. Some temporary redirects are treated as permanent after some time if google thinks they are effectively permanent.

Google doesn’t look at 404 page content

Google doesn’t even look at content or links on 404 pages. They are very important for lost visitors though.

Use incognito browsing to view the least personalized search results

Results completely free of any personalization, geographic or other, really wouldn’t signify anything, since those results are never shown to anyone.

Responsive sites don’t need to change for mobile first index

Virtually no changes will be necessary to responsive websites to prepare for Googles mobile first index. Google has been recommending responsive site design whenever possible rather then having 2 separate sites (desktop/mobile) for a long time now and continues to recommend that. If you do have 2 sites, you should make sure that the mobile site has the same functionality and content available as the desktop site to insure that all content is taken into consideration in the index.

Images on product carousel

To get your preferred images to show on the carousel wrap images in appropriate markup.

Search results vary when shown within short periods of time

There are many things affecting search results including:

  •     Google constantly runs ranking experiments
  •     Websites change constantly
  •     Results can come from any of many ranking centers which can cause different results to show

Google does not ever guarantee any ranking in search results. Ever.

 

 

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A/B Testing – An Essential Part of Optimization

Here at KTW we believe we should always be testing. There’s always room for improvement and there’s no way to know what may help if we don’t test our ideas. Also, market conditions change over time. What may have worked best a year ago may no longer be the best option. Political, financial and local issues can cause markets to change quickly. New technology sometimes provides new options in both layout/design and function that may give you better results then current options.

A/B Testing - Call to action locationA/B testing involves creating 2 or more versions of a web page, email or ad. Each of these versions has a difference involving 1 and only 1 variable. For instance, a web page has a button that people click to subscribe to a newsletter. Currently that button is blue. You have read that red buttons command more attention so you form a hypothesis that having a red button will increase the number of people who click it.

You create a page identical to your current page using a red button instead of blue. EVERYTHING ELSE is exactly the same between the two pages. If you change more than one variable you won’t know which change causes any difference to click-through rates (CTR). You then show each of your two versions randomly to equal numbers of people over a period of time. When enough time has passed to accumulate a statistically significant number of page views, you can end the test and check your click-through rates for each version of the page. The page with the highest click-through rate is the winner and you can make it your permanent page.

You can also test for other results, such as conversion rate. It’s possible to get more clicks but fewer conversions, so be sure to check.

The term A/B testing is also frequently used when testing more than two variants of a single variable. You could test 3 or 4 different button colors at the same time. Be careful to take into consideration that this testing requires a large enough number of pageviews, for all pages involved, in order to reach statistical significance. If your website doesn’t receive much traffic, it will take a long time to complete the test. Every version you add will increase this time.

To avoid sampling errors and help insure the results you see are accurate and repeatable, watch the time of day the page is viewed. Make sure the 2 versions are not only randomly displayed but randomly displayed at random times of day and locations across your marketing area. This will help insure you reach a good cross section of your potential market. The same is true for audience differences such as sex and age. It could be that CTR for men increased 60% but CTR for women went down 20%. You may want to permanently segment the page based on audience demographics.

There may also be a difference between first time and returning visitors. For instance, say that version A of your test gets a 10% CTR for first time visitors but returning visitors show a 60% CTR. Look at both groups of visitors to avoid making the wrong overall choice.

A/B tests can be applied to page design, copy, buttons and forms. It can be equally effective for testing email subject line, copy and design elements. A/B tests can be run on both search and display ads. An added benefit to A/B tests (and multivariant tests) is that if you track demographics and behavior (new vs. returning) in addition to CTR, sometimes you’ll find surprising and actionable information about your target personas.

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