Today I was asked to look at a site and explain why it’s not ranking. The answer… the site was whispering.
If you don’t have content, Google won’t know what your site is about. But I don’t mean any old content. I mean HTML text.
Oh… you say you have HTML content? Let’s see if Google can hear it.
1. Perform a search in Google to get your page to show up.
2. Click the ‘cached’ link.
3. Click the ‘text-only version’ link.
4. Find a sixth grader and ask them to explain what this page is about.
I once heard that Google has a reading comprehension of a sixth grader. If that’s true, then you need to speak to Google like a sixth grader. Give simple context, but be specific. Speak up! Promote your message, hammer it home. Don’t mumble (and spam your pages with junk content).
Granted there are a several ways you can add contextual relevance to a site, it doesn’t need to just be in the body. Tags and links still play a big part, sure. But why be shy in the body of your website? Is it that “text is ugly?” Is it that “people don’t read online?” All untrue. You read this post, and frankly, I think it looks rather beautiful.
Form vs. function, my friends. Form vs. function.
I often see new features, or hear rumors about other experiments going on in the sidebar (including some social or real time things coming – shhh…), but I really wonder why Google wants to use this property. This long block is where Google makes a good chunk of change. Will new features bring more eyeballs to it, or dilute their click throughs?
I understand maybe using it when there are no ads to place – which they do – but why give other clickable options that take away ad share? Maybe Google’s last redesign was still too traditional after all? Maybe they just don’t have enough space in this format to try everything they want.
Take a look at this search for Technorati. See? No ad – but there was one! I just didn’t get a screen grab, and now can’t recreate it. I hate that. So even if they were only testing something, I don’t understand the logic on this one. I know as an AdWords advertiser, it makes me a little grumpy to have to compete with more noise in this column.
Keep your eyes open. Maybe they’ll go the Ask.com route after all?