Q and A: Does Ask.com Accept XML Sitemaps?

QuestionHi Kalena

I have uploaded my XML sitemap to Google, Yahoo and more recently Bing, thanks to your blog post about the Bing Webmaster Center.

However, I’m wondering if Ask.com accept XML sitemaps and if so, how do I upload mine to Ask?

thanks
Georgia

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Hello Georgia

Yes, Ask.com DO support XML Sitemap submissions. Here’s a blurb about it from their Webmaster Help area:

“Yes, Ask.com supports the open-format Sitemaps protocol. Once you have prepared a sitemap for your site, add the sitemap auto-discovery directive to robots.txt, or submit the sitemap file directly to us via the ping URL”

The ping URL is as follows:

http://submissions.ask.com/ping?sitemap=http%3A//www.yoursite.com/sitemap.xml

To add your sitemap to your robots.txt file, simply include this line:

Sitemap: http://www.yoursite.com/sitemap.xml

Actually it’s not just Ask that supports the addition of sitemaps in robots.txt. Did you know that both Google and Yahoo also support that method of sitemap delivery?

You can either submit your sitemap via the search engine’s appropriate submission interface (e.g. Google Webmaster Tools, Yahoo Site Explorer, Bing Webmaster Center) or specify your sitemap location in your robots.txt file as per the above instructions.

Q and A: How do I boost traffic from other geographic regions?

Question

Hi Kalena,

A friend of mine with a sailing business in the U.S. has found that many of her current clients come from Canada. Can you suggest ways for her to concentrate more SEO efforts in Canada? She’s reaching them via social media with FB and Twitter, but wonders if there is more she can do via SEO to encourage this Canadian trend.

Thank you!

Amy

Hi Amy,

It’s great that your friend understands enough about her customers to realise that a significant proportion of them are coming from Canada (I’m often shocked by just how little some of the business owners I come across know, or even care about their customers).  It’s not clear from your question though whether Canadian customers make up the majority of her business, or whether she is just trying to increase the volume of Canadian sales.

If you want to boost the Canadian sales I would suggest looking a bit deeper into your analytics to determine any differences in the behavior of the Canadian vs US customers. If there are certain keywords, or certain areas of the site that are favoured by the Canadians,  optimising the site for these is likely to result in improved traffic and sales from Canada.

Adwords Pay per Click is also an obvious strategy for targeting specific geographic markets.

If Canadians outnumber U.S. Customers then perhaps the site is not showing up well for more localised searches, and your friend may be better focusing on Local Search Optimisation to improve local (U.S) customer sales.

There are obviously all sorts of other factors that may influence whether your website or the service you offer appeals more to Canadians or U.S.  customers, but the better you understand your customers, their search behaviours, their motivations, and what influences their decision to buy, the better placed you are to improve your sales and enquiries from both markets.

Andy Henderson
SEO Brisbane

Q and A: What Does “Not enough data” mean in the Google Keywords Tool?

Question

Dear Kalena…

Any idea about this: When i select USA as a country in Google keyword tool and I search for ‘link building’ as a keyword… after data get displayed, from show and hide option i have selected show ‘local search Volume’.

When I scroll down a bit more, I see this: for key ‘affordable link building’ there is ‘Not enough data’ under local searches, but I can see ‘260’ monthly searches under global searches. What does it mean?

Does it mean – that keyword is no one searching from USA (as I selected my local country USA) but globally it’s being searched by some small portion of people around the globe but not from USA, because it is showing ‘not enough data under ‘local search volume’?

If that is a case, than it means I shouldn’t target those keywords for USA which are showing ‘Not enough data’ under local search volume, because there is no one searching that keywords and I will waste my time isn’t it?

What is your opinion on this? Thanks in advance!

Arshad

Hi Arshad,

The Local Monthly Searches column in the Google Keyword Tool provides an approximation of the number of monthly searches for a particular keyword, averaged over the last 12 months, for the “locality” specified. The “Not enough data” message (which in the current version of the tool shows up as a “-“) does not necessarily mean that the search volumes are too low to report, it indicates that (for whatever reason) there is insufficient data to calculate an average. This may mean that there are low search volumes for your selected area – but could also mean that for some reason the data over the last 12 months is incomplete.

Any decision you might make on whether or not to target a particular keyword phrase within a particular region, should not be based solely on search volumes. If a keyword phrase is highly relevant, and/or if it has a high conversion rate, you don’t necessarily need high traffic volume for it to be a worthwhile phrase.

Keyword Tools provide an approximation of historical search volumes, but it is often the relative volumes between keyword phrases which is more important than the actual volumes themselves.

Your question does highlight though that whatever tools you use, it is VERY important to understand the source of the data, and what rules have been applied in gathering and collating it. Without an understanding of this, any analysis you do, or any interpretations you make from the data may be invalid.

Andy Henderson
WebConsulting (Brisbane)

Outdated Google Analytics Tracking Code Could be Costing You Thousands

Do you run an ecommerce site? Do you use Google Analytics code on your pages? Does your site contain secure pages that start with https? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, then you’ll probably shudder in horror when you read this.

Tom Critchlow of Distilled – a search agency in the UK – has written a guest post for the Google Analytics blog that demonstrates how using outdated Google Analytics tracking code on your secure pages can be costing you THOUSANDS of dollars.

Tom explained how he noticed a glitch on the analytics report of his client’s ecommerce site that involved users of Internet Explorer 8. These users had a significantly lower conversion and revenue rate on the site, in comparison to users of other browsers and IE versions.

Turned out Tom’s client was using the old Urchin version of the Google Analytics tracking code on every page. The old code included a call to a non-secure .js file that triggers a security warning pop-up in the Internet Explorer 8 browser.

Browsers like Chrome and Firefox don’t display a security warning but Internet Explorer 8 produces the following warning when users transition from the non-secure (http) pages to secure (https) pages on a web site.

The error looks like this:

IE 8 warning

Not surprisingly, the error was causing almost all visitors browsing with Internet Explorer 8 to abandon the shopping cart process and this was costing Tom’s client an enormous amount of revenue, estimated to be in excess of USD 150K per month.

A 5 minute fix to the site saved Tom’s client an estimated 1 million dollars per year. What was the fix? Simple. Installing the new version of the Google Analytics tracking code.

The new Analytics tracking code is asynchronous, meaning that it can track a single domain, or more complex sites with multiple subdomains, database driven pages, php pages or just top level domains.

The new tracking snippet offers:

* Faster tracking code load times for your web pages due to improved browser execution
* Enhanced data collection and accuracy
* Elimination of tracking errors from dependencies when the JavaScript hasn’t fully loaded

If you are using older versions of the Analytics tracking code, Google recommends you login to your Analytics dashboard, download the new code and transition your pages over as soon as possible.

Now you have an added incentive to transition – if you run an ecommerce site, the new code might not just save you page load time but thousands of dollars too!

Q and A: Why isn’t Google showing my Backlinks?

Question

Dear Kalena…

I am a dentist who owns his own practice. My website (domain provided) currently has a page rank of zero and zero backlinks. This is despite many attempts to optimize my site, requests for backlinks, etc. I believe I do have a few linking sites with Page Ranks greater than 3. I don’t understand why they won’t show up in google backlinks? (Yes, i have the toolbar.) Any advice you could give me (in lay terms, i’m a website novice) would be greatly appreciated. thanks.

Ryan

Hi Ryan,

I’ve had a quick look at your site and you have a reasonable amount of keyword rich content, but the dentist niche (like many others) is rapidly becoming more competitive.  It’s not clear how long your site has been active, but with the PageRank of zero I’m guessing that your site has only been around for a relatively short time.  These days Google only updates the published PR of sites a few times a year so it probably doesn’t reflect the “real” PR value of your site.  Don’t be too concerned over this – it is likely to improve over the next few months.

Google is notorious for only publishing a very small subset of backlinks.  You are better to use Yahoo for checking your backlinks – use a search query of linkdomain:yourdomain.com -site:yourdomain.com , which will show you most sites that link to your domain (excluding your own internal links).  For your site, Yahoo is currently showing 29 backlinks.   Yahoo still only shows a subset of your links – but it is typically a lot more than Google shows.  For a more accurate list of backlinks from Google you should register your site with Googles webmaster tools.

As you are probably aware, establishing links to your site from external websites is very important to your rankings, so you should always be on the lookout for related sites that might be prepared to link to you – and don’t be afraid to ask.  There are many strategies for link building, and many agencies that offer a link building service.  You can even learn how to do it yourself via Search Engines College’s Link Building Course.

Andy Henderson
WebConsulting SEO – Brisbane