Contextual Sitelinks?

I found this today

The ‘Jump To’ seems to have been added by Google and the ‘Botox Treatment before & after photos’ is anchor text used on the site.

And ‘Botox Treatment before & after doesn’t seem to be a regular sitelink for the site.

Unless I just haven’t been observant enough, I don’t remember seeing this before. I think it’s interesting that Google didn’t just serve up the before and after page in the SERP but instead served up the product page with a contextual sitelink to the before and after anchor on the page.

Update: Looks like I’m just not very observant

Google Places : What’s Driving Local SERPs

Google Places search results pages drive me crazy on a daily basis.  They go from displaying businesses that are 20 miles away to returning incomplete, unverified, places pages with no website above legitimate businesses.

Today I was searching for ‘laser hair removal’ in nearby St. Paul.  A look at the Google SERP below shows the usual local results hogging nearly the whole first page of organic.

The first two listings look like they belong but after that the results are strange at best.  I did a quick comparison with some values from Open Site Explorer.

LRD is the number of linking root domains and DA is Domain Authority. I graded the site URL and the places page listings myself based on pretty simple metrics of phrase usage and proper placement.

The first two results use the search phrase (sans city name) nicely in the business title on the places page. They are also running the new Google tags but I think the phrase use in the title is placing them first and second and not the free month trial of tags. The first result is actually in St. Paul while the second result is in a suburb of St. Paul.

The third result has no reference to the search phrase on the URL page, the phrase is poorly referenced in the places page, and it is on a weak domain. The only two signals the third result has going for it is a domain name that is close to the search phrase and a business address in the city searched for.

The fourth result comes from a page that isn’t in the linkscape index but is on a fairly strong domain. The URL page is highly optimized for the search phrase but the places page doesn’t contain anything close to the search phrase. And the business is not actually in the city searched for but a distant suburb.

I am tempted to call the fifth result on the list and offer to do 10 minutes worth of work to their places page and watch them jump to #1. They have the strongest domain in the list. The URL page is highly optimized for the search phrase. I am very confident that adding the search phrase to the Google Places listing would move them up the results quickly. As I say that I remind myself that the listing above in the #4 spot has an F grade for the places page also and I have no idea why it is in the results (confidence killer :) )

The sixth result has no website but has a places page that targets the phrase and the business is actually in St. Paul – the city I searched for.

The results get worse from there with spammy directories. My biggest questions in all of this are:
1. If I search for a city name and there are businesses in that city, why doesn’t Google show those first?
2. How can a business that is at least 15 miles away from the center of the city and that doesn’t use the search phrase on their places page (#4), outrank businesses in the city targeting the phrase?

Here is a map of the results. I’ve placed an ‘X’ near the center of St. Paul.

I know there are better search results sitting on page 2 of the SERPs.  And I know there are laser hair removal businesses actually in St. Paul.  So why is Google showing me results that are 15-20 miles away?

It is fairly clear that domain authority,  page authority, domain optimization (or relevancy) and Place page optimization play a critical role in the top 2-3 positions.  I would say that due to lack of quality competition we see very strange results in situations such as this one.

My Top 5 SEO Tools

Happy new year everybody!  If you are like me, you spend a lot of time researching competition watching SERPs and monitoring client sites.  It seems I find myself returning time and time again to many of my favorite tools for making my job easier.  I thought that since they make my life easier, I should share them with you to see if they can help your SEO efforts.

1.  SEOmoz’s Open Site Explorer (grab the bookmarklet)

2010 was an incredible year for the Linkscape index and Open Site Explorer.  We use the Linkscape API in our own tools but I still find myself running back to OSE repeatedly throughout the day.  I’ve even created a blookmarklet you can have to make accessing OSE easier.  Just drag and drop the OSE link below to your toolbar.

Open Site Explorer

2.  XML Sitemaps (another bookmarklet)

Actually the xml-sitemaps.com site lost out on this one because they don’t allow the GET method for submitting sites to their crawler.  I went instead with tools.webmasters.sk sitemap creator because it is easier to use from a bookmarklet.  Here is another freebe for you.  Grab the bookmarklet below and quickly see a sitemap for any site you are visiting.

Sitemap

Creating a sitemap is one of the first steps I take in auditing any site.  I actually often find myself doing it for most sites that I come across in the SERPs.  Within seconds of glancing at a sitemap, I can tell how focussed a site is on SEO.

3.  Google UK search

I use the Google UK search with personalization turn off to see what search results look like without places and any personalization getting in the way.  Queries such as this are very helpful.

http://www.google.co.uk/#sclient=psy&hl=en&site=&source=hp&q=search+phrase&aq=f&aqi=g4g-m6&aql=f&oq=&gs_rfai=&psj=1&fp=de610b7113b09eab&pws=0

4.  SEOmoz Web App

I hesitate to recommend this one since it isn’t a free tool but it is a very valuable tool and I can only imagine where the tool will be 6 or 12 months from now.  I know the team at SEOmoz is very dedicated to providing quality research, analysis and insight.

5.  Adwords keyword tool

This is another one that we built in to our own toolset through the adwords API.  It represents the best keyword research tool available today that I have seen.  Results aren’t perfect but it does give a general idea of search volume and trends over time.  Find it at http://adwords.google.com

I didn’t mention Google Webmaster Tools or Google Analytics.  We incorporate data from both in our own toolset through the APIs.  Webmaster Tools has really grown up this year.  The inclusion of external link data has been a great help.  Maybe next time I’ll do a top 7 list :)

Anyhow, what are your favorite tools?  Did I miss any?

Good Design Helps SEO

Bing has confirmed that click through rate is one of the many signals effecting their ranking algorithm.  Google has yet to confirm this but considering their emphasis on improving the user experience, it only makes sense that they would include the effectiveness of a search result (click through rate) in their rankings.

This year saw the unveiling of the site preview in the Google SERPs.

This update allows searchers to immediately see the quality of the site they may click through to.  So what would they look for in the preview?

  • Clean design
  • Readability
  • Images
  • Content

And in each of those they will be looking for how well the site relates to the search phrase.  In example if I am searching for “botox before and after images” and the preview doesn’t show me images, I’ll likely move on.  Likewise if I search for “differences between laser hair removal and ipl” and the preview doesn’t show me substantial content to answer my question, I will likely move on.

The key here is that the user moved on before a measurable click ever happened.  This data will not show up in your bounce rate or anywhere in your analytics beyond traffic volumes not being what they should be.

In the past, an ugly site might have still received traffic and only poor conversion.  Moving forward, ugly sites may not even receive the traffic.

SEO Keyword and Grading Tool Testing

We did some serious testing on our new keyword and site grading tool today.  An initial screenshot is below.  Some beautification is still required but we are developers and SEOs and functionality is a lot more important in our tools than a pretty picture.

The site analyzed about isn’t one of ours so you don’t see the Google Analytics data for search traffic.  Early into 2011 we will have a release available for our customers.

Ultherapy on Dr. Oz!

My good friends over at Midwest Facial Plastic Surgery informed me that Ultherapy was recently featured on Dr. Oz.

More information on Ulthera can also be found here but basically it is a non-invasive ultrasound procedure for tightening and lifting the skin.  The results improve over the next 3-6 months but some tightening is noticeable immediately.  And the best part is patients are generally back to work the same or next day.

How Google Places Ruins Search Results

A couple weeks ago Google Places took a more prominent role in many search results.  It is not uncommon now to see every search result above the fold coming out of Google places.

Below is a screenshot of a search for ‘Plastic Surgery Minneapolis’  Google displays 7 places results.  Three of them are not verified so we have little assurance the business information is accurate.  And even worse only two of the listings are in Minneapolis which is the city I searched for.

Google Search Results

And the fourth listing returned is in Fridley which is 10 miles from the heart of Minneapolis.  Clicking through to ‘More listings near Minneapolis’ brings us to a page where further down in the results are more businesses which are actually located in Minneapolis.  In fact the second page of search results has more businesses in Minneapolis than the main Google search results page.

Google loves to talk about user experience.  If a user searches for a business in a city, how does it improve experience to return listings which are not in the city search for?

I know they change their algorithm nearly daily and I have seen many changes taking place in the SERPs layout over the past weeks.  I hope they get this fixed quickly as this problem makes many results pages worthless.

Face lifts in St. Paul and Minneapolis

I know, I know, what does this look like a facial plastics blog.  I couldn’t help myself this time.  I just had to let word out about Midwest Facial Plastics and their Face lifts in St. Paul Minneapolis.  Now I’ve never had a face lift but I have seen them on tv.  I think it was a Discovery channel documentary or something.  Anyhow, I can honestly say I am glad the good Drs are doing this work and not me.

Face lifts are a procedure that have helped many people reduce the effects of aging or at least the appearance of aging.  So if you are in need of a face lift, check out the good Drs over in Woodbury.

Facial Implants in St. Paul

If anyone is ever looking for Facial Implants in St. Paul Minneapolis, I know just the place to go.  Dr. Chris Tolan and Dr. Joe Campanelli over at Midwest Facial Plastic Surgery have been doing some excellent facial implants recently.  Their work has been featured on many of the local tv stations including Fox 9 and Kare 11.  The videos are up on youtube if you do a quick search.  Maybe I’ll post some of them here  as I know people are always looking to read about facial implants and who doesn’t love to watch a good youtube video.

Nose Surgery in St. Paul and Minneapolis

Over the past couple of years I have had the exceptional opportunity to work with Dr. Chris Tolan and Dr. Joe Campanelli over at Midwest Facial Plastic Surgery in Woodbury.  Dr. Tolan and Dr. Campanelli specialize in Rhinoplasty in St. Paul Minneapolis.  Now I don’t actually need a nose job or nose surgery which the good Drs refer to as Rhinoplasty but if you are in a different situation, I recommend you check them out.

They are located at 2080 Woodwinds Drive which is right off of 494 and Lake Road in Woodbury.  Woodbury is a decent sized suburb of St. Paul for those who are unfamiliar with the area.