Fantomaster Interview – is it an Omen?

I just saw a Tweet about an interview with Fantomaster. Seconds later I happened to have the devil’s curse on Twitter. Conspiracy theories are us! 🙂

I just saw a Tweet about a really interesting interview with Fantomaster which I thought was worth a plug… when I suddenly noticed what was happening on my follower numbers…

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Ralph (Fantomaster) used to run an Occult book shop before he decided to disrupt Google’s world. Actually – to be fair – Ralph was working in this space well before Google, so it’s fair to say that Google decided to disrupt Ralph’s world.

Anyway… for now at least, I have 666 followers. I’m not saying nothing Ralph…

Dixon.

Why the Page Rank Toolbar has Little to do with Links

Everyone assumes that green line is all to do with backlinks.

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Rubbish.

I’ll demonstrate.

Everyone assumes that green line is all to do with backlinks.

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Rubbish.

I’ll demonstrate.

Seasoned SEOs have been trying to tell you for years to stop looking at that little green line on the Google Toolbar plugin. I only found out this morning that the toolbar has recentlly been updated, when Evilgreenmonkey twittered verbal abuse at realizing Jane Copland was Page Rank 5 from nowhere. First things first… congratulations Jane, but that’s certainly no disrespect to Rob, who (apart from being far too young) certainly knows his stuff! I admit that vanity then got the better of me and I looked at my own page rank. (Note to self – listen to your own advice… ignore that green line, at least for link purposes.)

Let’s look at these three bloggers – PR5: Dixon Jones (your unworthy narrator); PR5: Jane Copland (Erstwhile Mozzer) & PR4: Rob Kerry (Evilgreenmonkey).

So two at PR5 and one at PR4. Evilgreenmonkey must have the least links, yes? er… no. He has the most. He has ALWAYS had the most. Rob started actively blogging (it seems) back in April 2007. Compared to myself – latecomer – in September 2007. I’ve never caught him on links as you can see below.

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But WAIT… maybe back links is a bad measure? Maybe it is actually the number of referring domains that we should be looking at? Well I would be inclined to agree, but here, Rob trumps me even more:

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Now Janecopland’s site is so new that I can’t even see her site in the Wayback archives and Majestic hasn’t gotten around to analyzing her backlink data yet, but Receptional’s own backlink tools take a more up to date source and we can see that she is even further behind Rob at the moment in every metric:

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Heck – according to Google and Yahoo, Jane’s only got 11 pages indexed!

So there you have it. That PageRank green line is not all about links.

So why DOES Google give the green lines out the way it does? Well Google says it in the first screenshot… it is about “Google’s view of the importance of this page”, not “Google’s view of the importance of links to this page”. It is a long way away from the “PageRank” described in the original Stanford patent and is more like a horoscope reading than a scientific measure.

Let’s face it, you don’t need to go far to see why Google makes the distinction. Prior to Evilgreenmonkey posting on 4th April, his previous post on that domain was September 3rd (presumably 2008). Before that, July 4th. When he writes, Rob gets heard and plenty of people comment, but you still need to actually write content for Google to chew up and digest.

I think that Jane will have to work hard to maintain Google’s impression of her site, though. From the limited data I have, Compete.com concurs that Jane’s site has some traction – but we have seen time and again new sites doing well in Google for a short period and then retracting back as Google gets more data.

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I hope that’s cleared things up a bit about that green fairy dust as Mike Grehan calls it.

Dixon.

WordPress for iPhone review

I downloaded WordPress for iPhone the other day (version 1.21). I spent ages looking through the features and writing up a fantastic review… On my iPhone of course.

Then I went to publish it and lost the whole lot when the connection was lost.

FAIL.

Let’s hope the next version fixes that. There’s nothing worse than crafting something you hope people will enjoy and then having it destroyed by technology.

Dixon.

Landing Page Testing

A couple of experts at a conference in Dublin put together a compelling case for multivariate landing page testing. If you don’t have someone doing landing page testing for you, then it’s pretty clear that even smaller companies are losing out on getting to grips with your website users.

My company, Receptional Internet Marketing are now making use of a new Google product called Website Optimizer. I am at a conference in Dublin where Jon Myers and Russell Sutton from Conversion Works are talking about landing page optimization.

I know that Russell is one of the few Google Optimizer professionals in the country (we have Nick Gaunt at Receptional) but up first was Jon Myers who is from Mediavest. Like Receptional, Mediavest is a Google Certified Adwords company. Their presentations give a compelling case for using this technology.

Jon talked a little about Website Optimiser, but then really started to concentrate on the “quality score” metric in Google Adwords. He pointed out the need to ensure that the quality score of your advert is “good” or “great”.

To improve your Adwords campaign, you can test different landing pages for your adverts. Within the Google Adwords system, you can set Google up to alternately send traffic to first the home page and then alternately the product specific page, for example, and Google helps to tell you which page engages the user better and – assuming you have conversion tracking set up in Adwords – you can work out which page generates a higher return on investment.

Jon also noted a few other tools. www.usertesting.com was recommended as well as a particular favourite of Receptional – crazyegg.com. Jon also noted that www.conversion-rates-expert.com has all the decent  free tools listed in one place for conversion and landing page testing.

Jon than went on to the main course – A:B Testing and Multivariate testing and used a case study  of Skype, who tested three different layouts for their “buy” page (which is pretty close to their home page). Using Google’s website Optimizer, they were able to randomize the three variants for the users and track the orders and revenues generated from the three layouts. The audience were asked to guess which page worked best… and most got it wrong.

Jon showed some nice screenshots from  Website optimizer that showed how you can easily drill down and understand the effects of what you test, but did warn about the issues of some mathematical principals surrounding test using limited amounts of data.

Jon feels times are changing and that the marketer is really starting to get in control of the message from search, but you only have 1.8 seconds to attract your user from search these days. This means that you now need to start treating Google itself as a landing page. Local business listings in Google can have phone numbers ON the Google results, for example, meaning that  now your customer doesn’t even have to come to your wesbite to convert.

As an aside to Jon’s presentation, Receptional have a number of technologies that allow us to track users by ohone number – one of which can even tie phone numbers into Google Analytics results.

Russell came on next. His business really only concentrates on conversions, not traffic generation. He started by asking the question: “What’s in it for you”? and said that it is all about outcomes – in terms of money or actions or market share or any other chosen metric. Knowing what you want to get “more of” is key to knowing what to test.

Russel; says that when you know what you want more of, you then need to use analytics to find the pain. (Receptional has Google analytics and Yahoo analytics expertise in-house). He took an example from Google analytics which clearly showed two pages that had a much higer bounce rate on a site than any other and chose these to start testing variations. He pointed out that the higher the traffic to those pages, the more the pain for your business.

He recommended starting with a super small test to get used to the Google Website Optimiser technology. You then need a hypothesis of why you think a particular page may be broken. You then should be bold – try some  changes that look really different and test the outcomes.

Russell used a courier company case study. The home page had a huge bounce rate and their hypothesis was that the “get a quote” button was tiny. They then came up with 8 variations on a theme – not just one.  Again – the audience was asked which variation worked best. It turned out again that we all guessed wrong.

The winning result increased the click through to the quote page by 101%.

Russell and Jon’s presentations – together with Receptional’s own experiences – show that Google optimizer can make an incredible difference to your buttom line. The maths is compelling. At Recetional, Nick Gaunt has taken on this specialism and has taken the Google website optimizer exams. If you would like to contact him, you can do so via www.receptional.com/contact .