Disabling bing’s ‘preview’ and Click Through Rates (CTR)

Microsoft’s Bing search engine is continuing to maintain its initial single digit market share. I know some of my clients now see it providing 3-5% of their search engine traffic. Therefore, it may not be worth most web master’s time to worry about SEO differences between Google and bing yet. One big difference that most identify as a unique benefit is bing’s “preview” feature, such as document preview of Bing search results via the “Hover Links” feature. By holding your cursor over a link on the bing results page, the user will see a pop-up showing extended snippets of text and links from the destination site, without having to click on the link. bing will attempt to show this document or page preview (or image or video), even if the site is entirely flash-driven. However, what content bing decides to use in those situations isn’t obvious.

Therefore, if web masters’ just want to make sure the preview isn’t generated for a particular page, they just need to add the following meta tag in the <head> section on that page to disable previewing:

<meta name=”msnbot”, content=”nopreview”>

And if you would need to disable previews on every page of the site, the following line should be added to robots.txt:

x-robots-tag: nopreview

One thing to note…bing has implemented these previews with an expectation that users will quickly review to help them determine which site they should choose from the search page of results. By turning off the preview, you may reduce the number of users that click through to your site, if other previews tempt them away. Or, you may find they do click on yours because you aren’t previewing something they aren’t looking for. You’ll need to monitor and possibly revisit this previewing if their share of search traffic increases.

Google Adwords Quality Score is Critical…but not shown by default.

One of the most respected groups of Adwords experts I have been involved with over the years is the Adwords Help Experts. Originally, several of us Adwords help forum “top contributors” started loosely supporting each other during the beginnings of those forums. Eventually, a small group of individuals created the AWHE to cover some gaps in the support forums during a big change to them. Their postings are always worth a read.

Today, a new blog post discusses an issue that we’ve tried to have Google address for years: the critical Adwords Quality Score. Really, the Quality score is *the* most important variable in determining your costs and more. It is widely misunderstood and often not even reviewed by many internal company Adwords campaign managers. We believe part of this problem lies with Google itself. They don’t display the Quality score by default…you have to customize your view in order to automatically display this most critical point.

Here’s a screenshot that shows how to configure your Adwords account to display your keyword Quality score. Take a look, you may begin to understand why some of your keywords cost more than you’d expect, or the opposite. By reviewing these anomalies, you’ll likely discover a few areas where you could improve your site to increase that score…and lower your costs.

Buy ‘Buy’ to Convert More Adwords Clicks into Sales

Remember, the purpose for buying traffic to your site using any Pay Per Click (PPC) system such as Google Adwords is to generate more sales…often called “Conversions”. Just spending money to have more eyeballs reading your pages without buying anything is likely not going to help your bottom line. You want to bring traffic to your site that converts into a sale.

You need to set up conversion goals within your site and monitor the direct relationship between increased traffic and increased sales. Often it is useful with companies that don’t sell directly on the web to engage in a few test campaigns. These test campaigns should be targeted to a unique landing page and utilize a unique phone number, email address or other contact method that can show a direct cause and effect between additional site traffic AND additional sales. By conducting a few of these tests, you can determine what type of traffic behavior can be considered a conversion…and even place a dollar amount to define various ‘better value’ conversions.

One ‘short cut’ method that can also help you bring more traffic that is likely converting into higher sales is to create a copy of one of your better optimized, higher CTR, campaigns and merely add the word “buy” to all your keywords. Obviously, if a searcher is placing the word “buy” on their search, they are likely very close to purchasing. Of course, the tradeoff is that there will likely be significantly less traffic using this additional word in searches. Here is a case where a lower CTR will still probably be a better revenue generator, and an overall  cheaper set of keywords, than the one you selected.  You may want to give this method a try if you don’t have the ability or time to do a true conversion campaign test. As always…monitor results.