December 12 2012 Editor Assistance Newsletter
Google has been making some serious changes to how they work. Please read this, both for your BellaOnline efforts and for any other websites you work with.
Google is updating their systems to take into account two critical factors.
First, Google is heavily penalizing sites that have "broken links". We work hard at BellaOnline to ensure we never have a broken link, so you are OK here. On your own personal sites, make sure you watch for and track down ANY 404 errors. Make sure they resolve to pages. This is critical to retain traffic.
Second, Google is heavily penalizing sites that have poor bounce rates.
Google and other search engines are paying quite close attention to the "value" of the links they provide to end users. Their desire is to feature the very best results for a given search. Here is how they do it.
Let's say when someone searches on "Velvet Cake Recipe" Google shows as its top result an article named "Velvet Cake Recipe" from cake.com. They always key heavily on that title, so having a title that matches a user's search is key.
The user sees that link and clicks. Google knows the exact time the user clicks on the link.
The person then glances at the page, and it's not immediately obvious that this page is what they want. So they hit BACK to find something else. Google knows when that person returns to Google to look for something else.
If that time is short - under a few seconds - Google will literally REMOVE YOU from their top listing. They figure - perhaps rightly! - that your result is not what people want. They promote other sites instead.
What This Means
* It is absolutely critical your title is crisp, clear, and contains the key words a user would search on.
* It is absolutely critical your intro paragraph is precise and explains exactly what is in your article.
If these two conditions are not met, then users will never read the rest of your content. They will never have that opportunity.
I have built a new report in your admin area. It's called "Time On Site". This shows in seconds how long people are on your articles before they leave.
There are two critical things here.
FIRST: If someone immediately leaves your article, this NEEDS TO BE FIXED. You need to tweak your intro paragraph so it's crystal clear what your content is about. Users hit BACK on vague content. You need to convince them your article is what they need to read.
SECOND: If your person abandons your site after reading that article, that is also seen by Google and they downgrade you as an "imperfect site". Google wants to send people to sites that they'll appreciate. So you absolutely need to find something immediately at the bottom of your article that will keep the person on your site. Related articles. Forum posts. Fun quizzes you've written. Whatever it is, you want them to see it immediately after they finish your article so they stay on the site and keep reading. If the user reads that one article and leaves, Google counts that as a "one hit wonder" - i.e. a failure. You want to avoid that. You want to keep the user engaged and entertained.
This is true for every site on the web now. Sites with poor titles are failing. Sites with poor intro paragraphs are failing. And sites that only catch a user for that one page are failing. There are so many awesome sites out there now, sites that engage a reader for pages and pages, that the other sites simply cannot compete.
The world is changing around us. Ten years ago, there was little competition. Someone who found our site was thrilled to have our content. Nowadays someone won't even find our site if our titles are vague or if our intro paragraphs are vague. We need to make sure we perfect our titles and intros, to prove to readers we are worthy of reading. We need to ensure the bottom-of-article space has perfect links to keep those users on our site and engaged.
Let me know if you have any questions, suggestions, or ideas!
Lisa Shea, owner
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