Posts Tagged ‘SERPS’

Optimizing Your Snippits, What Now?

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

The big news this week in the land of search and honey is the talk of the recent updates to Google and the SERP data searchers are provided.  First searchers will now be presented with longer snippets (the block of text beneath the page link on the SERP) when searching using three or more terms in a query; additionally Google is getting semantic on us and is now displaying even more related terms based on your search.  Some welcome this change others aren’t so sure, but as a search marketer I’m left wondering…How do I optimize for this?

I’m a stickler when it comes to my SERP listings.  I like em’ pretty and I try to stick to 70 character meta titles and 156 character meta descriptions as much as possible.  With this change though I am left wondering, should they be longer? Furthermore if I’m not providing Google with a longer description where will they pull it from?  With those questions in mind I did a little research using my own analytical data.  I took a look at some of the long tail keywords I get traffic for and did some searches to see what my SERP listing would look like.

You’ll notice in the following images that each SERP listing was captured while I was logged in to my Google account, however I tried these logged out as well and got the same results.

My first search was for the term ‘criss angel is a douchebag’ one of the first things my blog ever ranked for and one of the first posts to ever get much traffic.  As you can see even though it is a six word query it still displays my short meta description as the snippet.

Criss Angel is a Doucebag SERP listing.

The next search I chose was related to one of my highest ranking terms and the term I have gotten the most traffic for of all time ‘Twilight Soundtrack Review’.  This query used the three character format which falls just below what Google mentioned and again I was left with a cutoff at 156 characters. I used this query for two reasons; one to see if longer posts might get longer snippets and two because I wanted to compare it to a later query.

Twilight Soundtrack Review SERP listing

Coming up empty handed for the first two I went ahead with some of the even longer queries that I recently received traffic for.  The next choice was a seven word query, ‘hush little baby don’t say a word’ and again only the meta description I provided showed up and in this case even fell short of the 156 character limit, at a whopping 124 characters.

Hush little baby don't say a word SERP listing

Finally I went for the fat bastard of long tail keywords that I found in my analytics data; weighing in at eleven words long I did a search for ‘what song on the twilight soundtrack was based on edward’s thirst’.  Fortunately this query gave me something to work with.  I was presented with a listing that displayed a snippet 239 characters in length, including the three sets of ellipsis and set of brackets.

Twilight Soundtrack Review SERP listing with a longer snippet.

There were a few interesting finds with this one:

  1. This result was for the same page we saw for ‘Twilight Soundtrack Review’, yet it displayed a longer and totally different snippet.
  2. The snippet does not use any of my meta description for this page.  The meta description was generated before I was using All In One SEO Pack for my blog and therefore is nothing more than the first 160 characters of the post and is what displayed when I did the search for ‘Twilight Soundtrack Review’.
  3. The snippet displayed a summary generated by Google that was made up of the last sentence of the page’s second paragraph, part of the last sentence of the 9th paragraph and then concludes with a portion of a pingback from another post that displayed in my comments.

My Take Away

Being a stickler for SERP display I think as a search marketer it’s still important to consider what visitors are going to see for shorter more targeted keywords, that being said I will continue to use 156 character meta descriptions.

This also shows that Google still hasn’t mastered the art and understanding of page segmentation as of yet.  The fact that they pulled part of their snippet from the comments section of my blog could pose as a major problem.  Let’s imagine a flamer hits your post, or someone mentions your competition and they show up in YOUR snippet…OOPS!

What have you found with this change?  Have you tried using your analytical data to see what your long tail keywords are displaying?  I’m curious to see what kind of discrepancies you are seeing in your SERP listings.

Will you change your SEO practices in hopes that longer descriptions will display with long tail searches and forfeit a cleaner listing when your site comes up for shorter keywords?

What The Puck Is Going On With Google Sitelinks?

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

So over the last couple of months people have been noticing some strange behavior in regards to sitelinks.  In December Search Engine Roundtable made note of sitelinks being cut off possibly due to the use of periods in the text.  Then today, exactly a month after the last sitelinks post, Search Engine Roundtable reported that many sites are seeing their sitelinks disappear and reappear.

However, I don’t find any of these things as confusing as the results I discovered last night while looking up information about the Los Angeles Kings hockey game I was attending.  I did a search in Google for ‘la kings’ and when I got there I was presented with the following SERP.  Take a look at the sitelinks for the Kings website.  See anything strange?

Search Engine Results for 'la kings'

If you didn’t catch it, one of the sitelinks goes to ‘Pittsburgh Penguins Team Home Page’, which isn’t exactly LA Kings relevant.  I thought maybe because the team sites are subdomains of that maybe that was what caused the problem, though every other sitelink is part of the Kings’ website.

Upon further investigation I found one more oddity in all of it.  The link says ‘Pittsburgh Penguins Team Home Page’ however the link directs you to the Pittsburgh Penguins store.  In this case not only is the sitelink irrelevant to the page being displayed, but it’s either directing to the wrong page or displaying improper anchor text. Clearly something is going on at Google as of late, but what exactly is happening.  With changes in things like indexing and sitelinks it makes me wonder if perhaps we are seeing recent algorithm changes backfire.

NHL Team Stats

One other thing I noticed, which I wasn’t aware previously is that the first result in Google gives me the team stats; wins, losses, ties.  It also gives you information on the last game played and the next game to be played.  What’s even more impressive is that I did some additional team searches and on the day of a game it will show you the score for the games played by that team and includes a breakdown of goals scored in each period.  This probably isn’t new, but it’s new to me, and I think it’s a pretty sweet feature to have for us hockey fans.

New and Improved Fast Acting Google!

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

My blog posts are pretty quickly indexed, usually I’ll see posts indexed within a day or so of being posted, but rarely do they tackle any kind of placement early on without any kind of link love.  Tonight Google turned that around by indexing my Twilight Soundtrack Review in just over an hour.  Not only that, but the post was indexed within the top 10 in the Twilight Soundtrack Review SERP holding the #8 position.

I’ll be totally honest here, I’m impressed.  This goes to show how quickly Google will and can pick up a new page or site.  What’s even more impressive is that my blog currently doesn’t have any kind of optimization plugins working for it right now so my metas are generated by default by WordPress, as you can see in the image of the SERP above.  You’ll also noticed next to the URL in the SERP that it labels the blog post as going up just “1 hour ago”, instead of just displaying the page’s file size.

UPDATE:  Literally 2 minutes after this was posted the page jumped to #7.