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Saturday, April 26, 2008

How High is Your Bounce Rate?

Playing the role of a regular consumer trying to find something sure is eye-opening some days.

There must be a reason we all flock to third-party informational sites: the moment you give a corporate site the benefit of the doubt and actually try to visit the thing to discover more about a product you're keenly interested in, they let you down.


BMW Canada has a microsite for the 1 Series that requires you to "register for a PIN" to get into the site at all. See ya.

Infiniti Canada doesn't seem to want me to learn about their products, either. After struggling through the "English/French" splash page, I'm asked on a second page whether I want to fill out a survey. If I say no, I might be able to still access the site, which is heartening. But 75% of users will bounce at one of the two pages. 100% of search engine crawlers won't bother to wade into the rest of the site, though you can sure hold out hope that they'll pay attention to your SiteMap file. (Hmm, you're a big car company and they want your ad dollars... so... expect spider love to be sporadic at best, unless you embrace informational principles and quality user experiences.)

And of course the large hardware retailer that always asks me for my postal code if I want to see the product page for light fixtures. So the price will match the prices in the nearest retail stores. Boing!

I could stand on the roof of Casa Loma reciting the Cluetrain Manifesto over and over in the hopes that the "agencies of record" will listen... but then again, I could just get on with my life.

It's tremendously liberating when you stop hiding the banana, folks. Try it sometime.

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




Friday, March 07, 2008

Site Performance Increasingly Important to SEM Performance

Google has just released a post indicating that they're poised to incorporate landing page load time into Quality Scores.

What does this mean? Well.. it means they're about to incorporate landing page load times into quality scores.

[As a side note, much like quality-based bidding itself, it's possible that they've already been testing the inclusion of such site performance variables. After all, they gave the thumbs-down to popups years ago. A variety of annoying and intrusive page designs and ad serving formats have probably come to Google's attention since then.]

More broadly, it means you'll be in some trouble if your site profits from advertising, if that advertising is causing pages to be slow to load.

Google is saying you'll be warned in the keyword status area, so you have a month to make necessary adjustments to lessen load times before your quality score gets whacked.

As for even broader meaning, I think it's fair to take away the theory that Google does now, and will increasingly in the future, incorporate assessments of site performance into the ranking algorithms for organic search. They're publicly stating the importance of these factors to users, so take heed.

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




Monday, May 14, 2007

Google Without Ads: Yecchy

Picked up that little hack from TheGrokDotCom, to show Google SERP's with no ads.

It can't be news to Google that the ads have to be more relevant to some users than the adjacent organic results, at least some of the time, or Google's main cash cow is kaput.

Luckily for them, they've been thinking about it a long time.

Would I rather see something like:







or...
















At the very least, it's not a slam dunk either way.

You get the feeling Google has thought a fair bit about the relative attractiveness of the organic and paid listings on commercially-oriented queries.

Users, not me, not Google, have to agree, or they'd be out of business. But Google can do plenty to gently tip the balance towards the ads, to ensure that Jakob Nielsen's "box blindness" scenario (now four years old!) doesn't sink the company. Part of that is how do you regulate and display the ads. But surely another side of it has to do with assessing the attractiveness of how the organic SERP's are displayed: placements, usefulness of text snippets, and yep, even what counts as "relevancy." In the most generous interpretation, Google has it neatly bifurcated so more commercially-oriented searchers get what they need, while informational searchers also get theirs.

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Search Faux-Pas: Smuggling Sponsors into Navigation Conventions

Barry at SEL reports: MSN UK put a prefill in a search box, touting The Apprentice on BBC. Ouch!

Lately I've been in on quite a few, shall we say, monetization strategy meetings. Those newest to the 'net often think you can "stick in" advertising not just in ad slots, but by performing a takeover of common navigation devices - let's make this search turn into a search for a certain vendor's products... you name it. I think users disagree!

Then again, I wonder how far you can push this - and so do many - as evidenced by the MSN experiment.

For example, on the "example queries" published below the search box on a site like Yelp, what if it said, instead of:

"Example: Tacos, hair salon, English pub"

it said: "Example: cafe, Anchor Bar, physiotherapy"

And on a major vertical search site, would an example query using a national advertiser, in that little line, like "Walgreens," be way out of line? What's your take? That's one of the topics I hope Danny and I discuss today in the Daily Searchcast at 11:30 ET.

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Posted by Andrew Goodman




Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Monetizing Your Site: Here's What You Don't Want

I was about to link to this site because they had a relevant article to my next post. But their article was nearly unreadable because of all the monetization around it. Hey, it's nice to sell ads, but...

So now they're officially in the usability hall of shame.

To review, they've got:

  • A banner at the top
  • A tile, top left
  • Too much nav down the left
  • Another top banner
  • A "developer marketplace" text link unit
  • A big square bugger
  • A right-side skyscraper
  • IntelliTXT underlining of keywords in content
  • Another tile (lower left)
  • White paper marketplace
  • IBM stuff
  • A single little text link ad for LocalLaunch
  • Two extraneous widgets
  • A large square AdSense unit
  • A conventional AdSense unit
Is this supposed to be a joke? Too bad I gave up on the idea of reading the article here.

That's fifteen separate monetization pieces on a single page of content, an article that is unnecessarily chopped up into four parts to generate more "pageviews." Can you top it? Post examples, if so.

Labels: ,

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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