Archive for January, 2014

PostHeaderIcon Handling User-Generated & Manufacturer-Required Duplicate Content Across Large Numbers of URLs

Posted by randfish

We know that Google tends to penalize duplicate content, especially when it’s something that’s found in exactly the same form on thousands of URLs across the web. So how, then, do we deal with things like product descriptions, when the manufacturers require us to display things in exactly the same way as other companies?

In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand offers three ways for marketers to include that content while minimizing the risk of a penalty.

Manufacturer-Required Duplicate Content Across Large Numbers of URLs – Whiteboard Friday

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard!

Video Transcription

Howdy Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today I’m going to be chatting a little bit about a very specific particular problem that a lot of e-commerce shops, travel kinds of websites, places that host user-generated and user-review types of content experience with regards to duplicate content.

So what happens, basically, is you get a page like this. I’m at BMO’s Travel Gadgets. It’s a great website where I can pick up all sorts of travel supplies and gear. The BMO camera 9000 is an interesting one because the camera’s manufacturer requires that all websites which display the camera contain a lot of the same information. They want the manufacturer’s description. They have specific photographs that they’d like you to use of the product. They might even have user reviews that come with those.

Because of this, a lot of the folks, a lot of the e-commerce sites who post this content find that they’re getting trapped in duplicate content filters. Google is not identifying their content as being particularly unique. So they’re sort of getting relegated to the back of the index, not ranking particularly well. They may even experience problems like Google Panda, which identifies a lot of this content and says, “Gosh, we’ve seen this all over the web and thousands of their pages, because they have thousands of products, are all exactly the same as thousands of other websites’ other products.”

So the challenge becomes: How do they stay unique? How do they stand out from this crowd, and how can they deal with these duplicate content issues?

Of course, this doesn’t just apply to a travel gadget shop. It applies broadly to the e-commerce category, but also to categories where content licensing happens a lot. So you could imagine that user reviews of, for example, things like rental properties or hotels or car rentals or flights or all sorts of things related to many, many different kinds of verticals could have this same type of issue.

But there are some ways around it. It’s not a huge list of options, but there are some. Number one, you can essentially say, “Hey, I’m going to create so much unique content, all of this stuff that I’ve marked here in green. I’m going to do some test results with the camera, different photographs. I’m going to do a comparison between this one and other ones. I’m going to do some specs that maybe aren’t included by the manufacturer. I’ll have my own BMO’s editorial review and maybe some reviews that come from BMO customers in particular.” That could work great in order to differentiate that page.

Some of the time you don’t need that much unique content in order to be considered valuable and unique enough to get out of a Panda problem or a duplicate content issue. However, do be careful not to go way overboard with this. I’ve seen a lot of SEOs do this where they essentially say, “Okay, you know what? We’re just going to hire some relatively low quality, cheap writers.” Maybe English isn’t even their first language or the country of whatever country you’re trying to target, that language is not their first language, and they write a lot of content that just all sits below the fold here. It’s really junky. It’s not useful to anyone. The only reason they’re doing it is to try and get around a duplicate content filter. I definitely don’t recommend this. Panda is built even more to handle that type of problem than this one, from Google’s perspective anyway.

Number two, if you have some unique content, but you have a significant amount of content that you know is duplicate and you feel is still useful to the user, you want to put it on that page, you can use iframes to keep it kind of out of the engine’s index, or at least not associated with this particular URL. If I’ve got this page here and I say, “Gosh, you know, I do want to put these user reviews, but they’re the same as a bunch of other places on the web, or maybe they’re duplicates of stuff that happened on other pages of my site.” I’m going to take this, and I’m going to build a little iframe, put it around here, embed the iframe on the page, but that doesn’t mean that this content is perceived to be a part of this URL. It’s coming from it’s own separate URL, maybe over here, and that can also work.

Number three, you can take content which is largely duplicative and apply aggregation, visualization, or modifications to that duplicate content in order to build something unique and valuable and new that can rank well. My favorite example of this is what a lot of movie review sites, or review sites of all kinds, like Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes do, where they’re essentially aggregating up review data, and all of the snippets, all of the quotes are coming from all of these different places on the web. So it’s essentially a bunch of different duplicates, but because they’re the aggregator of all of these unique, useful pieces of content and because they provide their own things like a metascore or a Rotten Tomatoes rating, or an editorial review of their own, it becomes something more. The combination of these duplicative pieces of content becomes more than the sum of its parts, and Google recognizes that and wants to keep it in their index.

These are all options. Then the last recommendation that I have is when you’re going through this process, especially if you have a large amount of content that you’re already launching with, start with those pages that matter the most. So you could go down a list of the most popular items in your database, the things that you know people are searching for the most, the things that you know you have sold the most of or the internal searches have led to those pages the most; great, start with those pages. Try and take care of them from a uniqueness and value standpoint, and you can even, if you want, especially if you’re launching with a large amount of new content all at once, you can take these duplicative pages and keep them out of the index until you’ve gone through that modification process. Now you sort of go, “All right, this week we got these 10 pages done. Boom, let’s make them indexable. Then next week we’re going to do 20, and then the week after that we’ll get faster. We’ll do 50, 100, and soon we’ll have our entire 10,000 product page catalog finish and completed, all with unique, useful, valuable information that will get us into Google’s index and stop us from being considered duplicate content.”

All right everyone, hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. We’ll see you again next week. Take care.

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PostHeaderIcon CyberPowerPC Jumpstarts Zeus Mini SFF Series with Eight Pre-Built Configurations

CyberPowerPC Zeus Mini PC Case

A new crop of small form factor gaming PCs starting at $599

Don’t have room for a hulking desktop tower but still want to get your gaming fix? CyberPowerPC may have a solution. The boutique system builder today rolled out eight pre-built Zeus Mini Small Form Factor (SSF) Series PCs ranging in price from $599 to $1,479. In an attempt to cater to all preferences, you’ll find Intel and AMD systems rocking AMD and Nvidia graphics solutions.

According to CyberPowerPC, the Zeus Mini more than doubles the cooling performance over standard SFF gaming systems with its ability to install 240mm liquid cooling solutions. Beyond cooling, all Zeus Mini models feature three USB 3.0 ports (two in front, on in back), HDMI 1.4 output, S/PDIF, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity.

The Zeus Mini-A 100 is the least expensive at $599 and includes an AMD A10 A7850K APU (Kaveri) with Radeon R7 graphics, 8GB of RAM, 500GB hard drive, 8x slim DVD burner, and Windows 8.1 On the other end of the spectrum, the most expensive model is the Zeus Mini-I 780 with an Intel Core i7 4770K foundation. It also features Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 graphics, 16GB of RAM and 2TB hard drive, along wtih the same DVD burner and Windows 8.1 OS.

CyberPowerPC Zeus Mini Inside

CyberPowerPC’s customizable Zeus Mini PCs are available now.

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PostHeaderIcon Life Above and Beyond the Fold

Posted by tallen1985

For many years we used content above the fold as a gateway for users to access pretty much anywhere on our sites. We would fill these 600 or so pixels of valuable space with all the important sections of our site we wanted our users to know about (we were particularly guilty of this on homepages, as Rand discussed in this Whiteboard Friday).

However, the arrival of smartphones and tablets has forever changed the way people consume information and navigate around the web. Smartphones taught users how to scroll and swipe, and as such have reinvented the way webpages are designed. So, what about the fold? How has this changed in this multi-screen world?

Space above the fold is still hugely important, but instead of just sharing everything there, the fear centers around the idea that users may not want to scroll. Instead, we now need to narrow down our focus, using space above the fold to share our main ideas that will make people want to read the rest of the page.

History of the fold

The term “above the fold” originates from the world of newspapers; papers are generally shown to customers folded in half, therefore only the top half of the page is visible. Editors would use this space to grab attention using important stories, powerful headlines and strong imagery to encourage users to buy the paper.

On a webpage, the fold is the area of a page displayed to the user without them having to scroll. Based on a 1366×768 pixel screen resolution (a little more on this choice later), the area highlighted in red is generally how content is presented to users on a landing page (i.e. above the fold)

Is space above the fold still valuable in 2014?

At the end of 2013, Peep Laja spoke at SearchLove about the Principles of Persuasive Web Design. He had observed that despite it being 2013 (now 2014) and us living in a much more scroll-oriented world, content placed above the fold was still grabbing 80% of our attention.

Image source

This continues to make above-the-fold space highly valuable to capture a user’s attention. The main difference today is that users no longer have the patience they once had. This is due to the high volume of content users have access to, making earning their attention increasingly competitive.

Therefore, this space should no longer be filled with clutter and overwhelming amounts of information. Instead, above the fold content needs to contain a strong value proposition that explains to the user exactly what the page can offer.

With so many devices, how can you possibly design for above the fold?

The multi-screen world we now live in has changed the face of above-the-fold space. With such a range of devices and responsive designs the fold will appear in different places dependent upon numerous factors (such as screen resolution, thickness of the user’s toolbar, and whether the page is zoomed).

How do we design for this? There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem, but what we can do is ensure our important content is towards the top of the page and is optimised to serve the majority of our users.

To find out which screen resolutions the majority of your users use on your site, complete the following steps:

1.Open Google Analytics

2.In the “Audience” tab, view “Technology” and select “Browser & OS”

3.Choose “Screen Resolution”

How to view your site in different resolutions

To see where the fold is for various screen dimensions, use the “Inspect Element” feature in Chrome to override your own screen resolution.

1. Right-click anywhere on the page in Chrome, and select “Inspect Element”

2. Click on the settings gear in the bottom-right corner of the screen

3. Select “Overrides” and check the “Enable” box. Check “Device metrics” and input the screen resolution you would like to view the site at. Note that closing the override window will return your browser to its default resolution.

Designing for beyond the fold

Okay, so we know that space above the fold is still incredibly important for engaging user attention. What about the rest of our beautifully created content? A study by Clicktale shows that if a page has a scroll bar it will be used by 76% of users to at least some extent. 22% will scroll to the bottom of the page. So, as pointed out by Usability Expert Jakob Nielsen, space above the fold still grabs the majority of attention and people do scroll, but we should make sure that we are designing to encourage that scrolling.

While mobile devices have developed scrolling as natural user behavior we have to ensure that our page layouts are designed to showcase all our content. So what should the fold line look like? Ideally, we want to make content on the fold line draw the users eyes down the page.

Three ways in which we can encourage scrolling

1. Staggered content columns

By making content different lengths in each column we prevent the issue of having empty space across the width of the page, making it seem like the page has ended. One paragraph or image is always broken by the fold, encouraging the user to scroll down to see more information. This is a style often used by newspaper websites such as the New York Times and the BBC.

2. Page trails

Using a footpath that walks users through the page is a great way to encourage users to scroll. The fold simply dissects the path, which the user will naturally continue to follow. A great example of this in action is the Guide to WordPress by Simply Business.

3. Sometimes you just have to tell them

Image source

Sometimes rather than trying to use subtle visual cues to guide users down the page it can be beneficial to simply tell the user there is more content for them to see. This is the approach Put Things Off uses to introduce further features of their mobile app.

Key takeaways

  • The fold still matters. While space above the fold used to serve as a portal to explore all the sections of a site, its purpose is to now grab attention and introduce the user to your brand/product.
  • We live in a multi-screen world and scrolling is now habitual. If we are building pages that require scrolling we need to ensure we encourage this behaviour through visual prompts and remind the user there is deeper content below the fold.
  • Continue to monitor user behaviour particularly in relation to the most commonly used screen resolutions in order to ensure valuable content remains above the fold.

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