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Speedometer Page Load - SEO Moves

Page loading time is crucial to keeping visitors on your site and
maximizing conversions. Studies have been done that show the maximum
time people are willing to wait for a page to load is less
than 5 seconds
. Make them wait more than that, and it’s game over.
They’ll hit their back button, never to return. It’s vitally important,
then, to make sure your web site is loading as fast as possible.

Sure, having a super-beefy server helps, but one important aspect of
having a fast loading website is reducing the size and number of your
page assets as much as possible. This can be a real challenge within the
current state of the Web. Web pages are becoming increasingly more
complex globs of code that require a huge amount of assets to display
and function properly. In addition to the plain old html, a ton of
javascript, css files, and small images all have to be downloaded in the
background for the page to fully render in a browser.

“What’s the big deal?” I hear you ask. “All my visitors are on
broadband, and the js/css/images are only a few KB extra – hardly a drop
in the bucket!” Now, this may very well be true. However, the fact is
that the actual size of your files are only a small part of the overall
cost incurred on a page load. There is a much more subtle bottleneck
that has nothing to do with file size: The maximum concurrent connection limit.
This is a limit the browser enforces which dictates how many
connections can be open simultaneously to a single server. Even if
you’re on a super-fast connection, your browser will still limit the
maximum number of files you can download at one time. This number varies
from browser to browser, and may change slightly depending on connection
speed and web server configuration. The actual values for Internet
Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome are below:

  • IE 7 and below: 2 – 4
  • IE 8 and above: 6 – 4
  • Firefox 3: 6
  • Firefox 3 and above: 15
  • Chrome: 6

Combine and Minify

Combine Assets - Funnel - SEO MovesIt can be helpful to think of a concurrent concurrent limit as the end
of a funnel that your page assets pour through. Naturally, the more
assets you have the longer it takes for them to get through the funnel.
Making your assets smaller helps them pour through faster, but still,
only so many can go through at once no matter how small they are. The
key is to combine them into as few files as possible, thereby reducing
the connection limit bottleneck. Making your files smaller AND combining
them is a win-win situation. Smaller files + fewer connections =
faster loading site.


To “minify” a file simply means to strip out all the “human readable”
parts of the file such as indentation, line breaks, comments,
extraneous whitespace, long variable names, etc. E.g all the stuff that
makes it easy for a human to read, but which a computer couldn’t care
less about.

Consider the following snippet of JavaScript before being minified:


Getting included in Google News database is not an easy task. Their guidelines are not that clear and sometimes it appears that you have to do something special to get listed. Here is an example of our communication with Google regarding the matter. Doesn’t make much sense, right?

However, it seems that even if you are among those fortunate to get listed in the Google News database, your worries are far from over. According to a public announcement, made by Harvey P. from Google “… we (Google – J.S.) periodically review sites in our database. Sometimes, we include or remove sites based on a series of quality guidelines…” This means that you can get “kicked off” from the list any time. And as Harvey confesses, sometimes even without a proper explanation: “…Google employees don’t comment publicly on why a specific site has been removed from Google News.… when it comes to questions seeking input about a site’s removal, our team will not provide public feedback.”

He, of course, recommends contacting Help Center in case of site rejection or removal, but clearly states that “…we can’t promise personalized responses for every email.”

So if you had worked so hard to be included in Google News and all of the sudden you are not there anymore – there is a chance you will be left wondering what you did wrong. It seems, the wrong thing is to count on Google. But the sad truth is that website owners do not have much of a choice. Not yet…

It has only been several months since Google had announced and completed the “New Adsense” – a redesign of the familiar GUI, adding several features to impress the users. And here it is – they are already adding more attributes to the popular money-making feature.

According to recent report, there will be now more things you could do in your Google Adsense account, such as creating and editing channels in Adsense for Games and Adsense for Video, blocking specific products by names and view the reports by page, and not only by unit.

There have also been some “renames” – the HTML is now “rich media” and Dynamic Images are called “Animated Images”. All those (as well as text, image and Flash) are included in the performance reports as “Ad types”. In addition, “Ad Requests” is the term that is now used instead of “Unit Impressions”, counting each time the request to show the ad is sent by the website towards Google service.

Google hopes these updates will be beneficial to Adsense users, making the popular “monetize you website” option preferable over Affiliate marketing, specific client banners and other

So many creative people step into the online world expecting great things from their Web site, their product or their service. But there is really only one way to find success in this field and that’s through conversion. If you can move a solid percentage of your visitors into leads (then into customers) you are on the right track. Keys to this process are quality content, good design and the right call to action. Then it’s time to test and measure user data with such tools as heat maps.

online conversionsWhen it comes to the idea of “conversions” and “converting” in online business we’re not talking about changing a PDF document to Word or a JPET image to GIF. With the technology available today there are online sites that will perform this service for you. But that’s not the conversion you should be interested in at this point.

We’re interested in is converting Web site visitors to leads that may mean a true increase in business. People have invested money in the pursuit of increased traffic to their Web sites but sometimes don’t go one step further and generate quality leads. This is the major step you need to take to have an effective Web site and to measure site effectiveness.

How It’s Done

While the correct use of keywords, phrases, links and referrals can make a lot of difference in Web success the journey actually begins when you create quality content. Sure, a few junk sites might get good numbers because of the “tricks” of the trade. But long-term success will come with content that offers something valuable and captures the visitor to the extent that the individual wants to engage in a meaningful “conversation” with you.

In addition to quality content your online presence requires above-average design. One key element of good design is simplicity. But this doesn’t mean empty and boring. It means being user friendly, focused and understandable. Great design presents an overall picture that is just what you want your visitor to experience.

If you have interesting and useful content combined with the correct design for your effort you are almost there. What more do you need to do, you may well ask? The third factor is sort of like asking for the order. In this case it’s a call to action. Ask the visitor (potential customer) to take the next step by contacting you in some way. Always provide the “yes” button – an email address, phone number or both. Use a call to action and get the customers you desire.

Ask Them to Act

As you may have guessed, it is common to design a Web site with a wonderful appearance that is easy to use and has useful, interesting content but still fail to capture a solid percentage of visitors. In many cases this happens because the site doesn’t include a call to action in the proper place and at sufficient frequency. A call to action should be a highlight of your Web site.

Your call to action should also be presented in the right form. Does your visitor have the opportunity to request a sample or demonstration? Can he or she ask for a free trial or a no-cost consultation? This type of call to action should garner you more leads than simply asking the visitor to provide contact information. Give them something in exchange. After all, they are giving you themselves.

Make sure your call to action step takes the visitor to a landing page that is easy to use and understand. It is essential that you don’t put roadblocks in the process, especially at the point when a cold visitor is about to become a lead. Deciding at what level to qualify your leads will depend on the industry, product or service. Some qualification is fine as a way to filter out leads that will only waste your time.

How Do You Know?

If you have taken care of the proper steps in the conversion process, as described above, how will you know that your system is working? Of course, monetization of your business should show a positive bottom line. If you’re making money you must be doing something right. But how do you really know that your design and efforts are giving you the best results possible?

The simple answer is: You need to know your Web site’s conversion rate. The information must be a current, accurate report on such ratios as visitor-to-lead, lead-to-sale and visitor-to-client. Some successful online businesses consider this last ratio the most important because it tracks the cold-call visitor through the process and shows which of these visitors become long-term customers.

Visitors become leads when they provide basic contact information that puts them in your system. Depending on your service or product you might expect to get lead information from 5 percent or 10 percent of your visitors. Some of the hottest sites might get a percentage as high as 25 percent. If you have a very specialized product or service that is attractive to only a small niche market you might be satisfied with 5 percent.

To wrap up this brief discussion of a complex subject we should at least consider the use of heat maps as a way to test your content, design and call to action. Using this tool might mean the difference between knowing who your customers really are and not understanding your market.

The right kind of mapping and visual reporting can give you a clear picture of your visitors’ clicks, scrolls and other moves. Think about how valuable a visual image of your visitors’ action could be. Get the real who, how and what when you study conversion by using behavior reports and heat maps that work.


Google Ad Innovations

Google ad innovations

Google Ad Innovations was launched at the end of March as a lab for ad products it is considering. It’s designed to help AdWords account holders experiment with ad technologies and get their feedback about the new products. They may or may not be released for real in the future, depending on how they test out among AdWords users.

google adwordsSearch Funnels was launched a couple of weeks ago. It slices and dices your search, conversion, keyword, and number of steps preceding conversions so you can figure out which ads are getting the most conversions and why. It’s actually pretty complicated, but there’s a video at the official AdWords Blog that gives you a good overview.

Google has long been known for text-based CPC ads, but have been busy coming up with ad models based on these text ads. The new ad models are product listing ads, comparison ads, and ad extensions, which consist of sitelinks, product extensions, video extensions, location extensions, multiple addresses for location extensions, and click to call phone extensions. Let’s go through each of these.

Product Listing Ads are in limited beta release right now. They include more product info, like images, prices, and merchant names without requiring additional keywords or text. So when someone enters a search query relevant to something in your Google Merchant Center account, Google may or may not show the most relevant products with the associated price, product name, and image. These are only charged on a cost per action (CPA) basis, so you only have to pay when someone actually buys something from your site.

Comparison Ads are also in limited beta release. These let users compare several relevant offers and work on a cost per lead format. With these, the users do not have to fill in forms, and Comparison Ads doesn’t send advertisers any kind of personally identifiable user stats. Right now this is being used for the credit card and mortgage loan industries in select locations. Comparison ads should let advertisers target offers more accurately in order to get more leads.

The suite of Ad Extensions lets users make ads more relevant and more useful. They expand on the concept of standard text ads, letting viewers have the option of getting additional information right in the ad without leaving the search page. These extensions work with existing text ads without requiring changes to bids, ad text, or keywords. Following are the types of Ad Extensions offered.

Ad Sitelinks lets advertisers extend the possibilities for existing AdWords ads, providing links to specific content deeper within your site’s sitemap. So rather than sending all users to the same landing page, Ad Sitelinks will offer up to four more destination URLs for potential customers to choose from. You can use ad sitelinks to direct visitors to specific parts of your site, such as promotions, store locators, and gift registries. Early users have reported improvements in clickthrough rates of up to 30%.

Product Extensions are in limited release and allow you to add more to your existing AdWords ads with specific product information on the merchandise you sell. It uses your existing Google Merchant Center account to highlight products relevant to the user’s query. They can also show pictures, titles, and prices of products. In the first screen shot, you’ll see the “plus box” under the ad indicating the product extension. When a user clicks on that plus box, lots of products, along with thumbnail pictures show up, as you can see in the second screen shot. You’re charged the same CPC whether the user clicks on your main text ad or any offers in the product extensions box. But if a user  simply expands the box without clicking through to the site, you’re not charged.

product ad extension

google product ad extension

Video Extensions are in limited beta release and allow you to engage prospective customers with video content. The video extensions are in an expandable plus box under the standard text ad. If the user watches the ad for 10 seconds or more, you’re charged based on your maximum cost per click bid of your text ad. After vieing the video, the user can click the URL link in the ad or go directly to your site with no extra charge to you. These are great for movie trailers and product usage instructions.

Location Extensions attach your business address to your ads. Your ad can also contain your business’s name, phone number, and address, promoting your business and its products and services with a specific location that’s of interest to the user. It’s good for drawing in local customers.

Multiple Addresses for Location Extensions, also in limited beta release displays a plus box under ads at the top of the page. Whenever a user clicks on that plus box, he or she sees a map that shows store locations near them, plus a search box for moving the map around. This feature shows as many stores as are relevant to a given search, increasing the chance of picking up local customers.

Click to Call Phone Extensions are for people searching for products and / or services from their smart mobile phone (like the iPhone, Android, or Palm Pre). This feature has been fully released. If someone finds your business on a search and would rather call you than visit your website, they can use a click to call phone extension they’ve found in ads on their mobile devices that have full internet browsing capability. You’re charged the same for a customer’s call as you would had they clicked on your website.

ppc config header

Paying for irrelevant clicks in your pay per click (PPC) ad campaign is frustrating, but is there anything you can do to minimize the chances of this happening? Yes, in fact. Three of the biggies are the use of negative keywords, exact match, phrase match, and broad match.

Negative Keywords

Negative keywords have a major impact on your click-through rate (CTR) and therefore, your campaign’s return on investment (ROI). When you use the “phrase match” and “broad match” options setting up your AdWords campaigns, you should include negative keywords as well. It’s easy to do. Go to your AdWords account and click on the “Keywords” tab. You have the option of adding new keywords, as you can see in the screen shot. Notice at the bottom of the screen shot, how you can designate keywords as:

  • negative keywords – don’t match this term: -keyword
  • exact match – match exact term only: [keyword]
  • phrase match – match exact phrase: “keyword phrase”
  • broad match: keyword

neg adwords

Setting up negative keywords by placing a minus sign in front of them lets you filter out identical terms that can have very different meanings. For example, suppose you sell photographs of foxes (Work with me here, OK?). Well, if someone searches on fox photos thinking they’re going to get pictures from The Simpsons on Fox television network, you’ll be paying for their irrelevant clicks. Therefore, you want to use negative keywords like “television” and “network” to limit the number of times an ad for your photographs of foxes appears on a page when someone wants pictures from the TV network.

Judicious use of negative keywords can help improve the quality score of your keywords. A number of factors influence your keywords’ quality scores, including its general performance. Bottom line: a higher quality score makes your keyword trigger ads at a lower cost per click and positioned higher. Your CTR is the most important aspect of your quality score. A lot of “accidental” clicks on your ads can lower your click through rate. By using negative keywords, you’ll have fewer ad impressions, but fewer “false positive” clicks on your ads.

Finding the right negative keywords is a very important parts of a PPC campaign, but it can be complicated. One way to select negative keywords is to use your regular keyword research. The Google Keyword Tool will show you the keyword phrases that are more relevant and less relevant to your products and services. But relevance doesn’t always mean they match the searcher’s intent, and that’s what negative keywords help you with.

You’re not charged for negative keywords, and there isn’t a penalty for having a long list of negative keywords, so it’s worth your while to do some hard core keyword research and compile a list of negative keywords. You can have up to 10,000 negative keywords per campaign, so you’re not likely to use them all up. (Yahoo lets you have 250 negative key words and phrases, and Microsoft AdCenter limits you to 1024 characters worth of negative key words and phrases.)

Google’s Keyword Tool isn’t the only place that can help you come up with negative keywords. You can use server log files to find info on queries that lead people to your site. Heck, you can even use a thesaurus if that helps. Sometimes common sense helps you think up good negative keywords. Suppose, for example, your products and / or services are only available in certain geographic areas. You can use names of places your stuff isn’t available as negative keywords. For example, if you paint houses in Portland Maine, you don’t want to be paying for the clicks you might get from people in Portland, Oregon. Therefore, you can use “Oregon” as a negative keyword to keep out some irrelevant clicks. So the takeaway from this is that even though negative keywords will cause you to have fewer ad impressions, the CTR and quality score will go up, and so will your return on investment.

Exact Match

It’s exactly what it sounds like. If you want your ad to show up when someone searches on “baseball caps” but not on just baseball or just caps, then you specify your keyword in brackets when you choose your AdWords keywords: [baseball caps]

If you choose [baseball caps], your ads might show up when someone searches for baseball caps, but it will not show on searches like “baseball cap,” “blue baseball caps,” or “buy baseball caps.” Now, while this will cut down on the number of ad impressions, clicks, and conversions, those clicks you do get will likely be highly targeted toward your service.

Phrase Match

Suppose that you chose “baseball caps” as one of your keyword phrases for your ad campaign. Your ad is eligible to show up on searches such as “buy baseball caps,” “baseball caps giveaway,” or “green baseball caps.” They will not show up on searches like “caps for baseball,” “baseball cap,” or “baseball hats.”

This is a more targeted approach than a plain broad match, but it’s more flexible than exact match ([baseball caps]).

Broad Match

Broad match is the default option. If you used the phrase baseball caps with no bracketing, no quotation marks, no negative sign, your ad could show up on searches for “baseball,” “caps,” “baseball hats,” or “caps for baseball.” You’ll get more click throughs, but you’ll get more erroneous click throughs as well. Now it’s possible that someone will be searching the term “baseball” wanting to find certain statistics, click on your ad, and be smitten with it enough to buy one of your baseball caps.

Guest Post by Alan K'necht

Guest Post by Alan K'necht

Over the past five to eight years, Search Engine Marketing (“SEM”) professionals have finally woken up to the reality that the goal of their campaigns, be it search engine optimization (“SEO”), pay per click (“ppc”) like Google Adwords or any other effort is not about driving the maximum number of eyeballs to a web site; it’s about conversions. Yes, the goal must be to drive quality traffic that converts on the site.

With the advances in web analytic products like WebTrends, SiteCatalyst and Google Analytics (just to name a few of the more popular tools); the ability to assign conversions to specific marketing efforts has improved immensely and allow a the Search Engine Marketer and more importantly their clients the ability to properly evaluate their efforts. Through this effort campaigns can be more effectively optimized to maximize the return on the investments (“ROI”).

Are you a Google affiliate publisher? If so and you haven’t logged into your account for a while, make sure you log in and select your payment preference in the Adsense dashboard or you might not get paid by your regular date.

Google announced this on the GAN blog today:

Affiliate publishers have new payment options through the integration with AdSense. As we head into the busy holiday season, please take a few minutes to check on the status of your payment preferences.

Publishers can view payments that have been posted to your AdSense account in the Google Affiliate Network platform; on the “Home” page click “Payments.” This view captures all payments and a detailed breakdown of your earnings per advertiser.

Payment information is stored in your AdSense account and Google lets you select your desired form of payment. Publishers can currently choose to be paid by electronic funds transfer, check, Western Union Quick Cash or Rapida. Check out the Help Center for a detailed overview your options.

Note if you see a message in your AdSense account prompting you to complete your payment information, it’s important you act quickly. This message means that there is some information missing in your payment profile and action is required to avoid payment delays.

Since Google integrated Adsense with Google Affiliate network there has been reports from a lot of users with difficulties in the transition, our recommendation is that you log into your account immediately and check for any system messages. If you have a problem, try emailing Google support first than try the GAN forum.

As you can see, there is a fair bit of user problems associated with the switch over in the forum. Hopefully Google will sort this out for their users soon.


Our top tips to optimize your ecommerce for holiday seasons

The holiday shopping season is approaching and you’ve worked hard this year to improve the SEO of your website. Now its getting to the busiest month of the year and you are checking your web stats everyday to see if sales and traffic are increasing.

You’re thinking to yourself, what can I do in the next few weeks to generate more sales? Clearly its too late to make any drastic changes to the SEO campaign? And you would be right, what follows are some simple tips you can implement today to capture more sales during the holiday season.

PPC Audit Guest Post by Steve Loszewski

PPC Audit Guest Post by Steve Loszewski

Identifying Areas of Improvement

Popular pay per click programs include Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing (YSM), and Microsoft adCenter.  If you have accounts in these programs, you’re probably interested in improving them to increase (or achieve) profitability.  There are a number of ways to improve a pay per click account – what follows is a summary of some of the most common methods in identifying and improving elements of a campaign. Google AdWords is given heavy focus in this article, although many of the concepts can be applied to YSM and MSN as well.