Webmaster Tools Video – What to do with product pages that are discontinued

Matt Cutts from Google posted another great video on the Google Webmasters YouTube channel today. If you are not following this channel on YouTube like a hawk, you really should be. It is one of the few places where you can get information straight from Google related to SEO.

In today’s video he discusses how an eCommerce site should handle pages for products that are no longer going to be available for purchase. His advice for the smaller company I think is spot on, however, his advice for the medium company I think might be a little flawed. Any online retailer that gives a damn about the quality of their product pages spends more time and energy on creating those pages. This in turn becomes a sizable investment for the retailer. This page inevitably gets indexed by Google and generates traffic for the retailer. To just give up on that page seems flawed to me (not to mention that letting a customer land on a 404 page is far from a good experience).

What I would recommend that you do is go with the advice Matt gave for the smaller website. Provide the customer with a good replacement item for the product and let the user move on to that product. I bet you’ll see more conversions for a page that recommends a replacement for a discontinued product than a 404 page.

Anyways, check out the video and decide for yourself. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Are Your Emails Responsive?

People are reading their email more than ever these days and we have the popularity of the smartphone to thank for that. 10 years ago email was something that was checked at work and maybe once or twice in the evening (if you had Internet at home). That is not the case anymore! Now your phone beeps and you rush to see who is trying to reach you. Some of you may even sleep next to your phone (guilty).

This should get you to start thinking what your email messages look like on a phone! With the greatly reduced screen size, a lot of messages will not look the way you intended on a phone. A broken layout will make it difficult for your customer to receive and understand your message and will lower your click through rates and effect your conversion.

One of the ways to make sure your emails look good on both desktop and mobile devices is to do “responsive emails”. Basically what this means is that you format your emails so that they are able to modify how they look depending on the device you are using to look at the email. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use a responsive email framework (essentially a tool that will do all the heavy lifting for you, leaving you with a lot less work than if you didn’t use a framework). One of the frameworks that I would recommend using is Ink by Zurb. You essentially grab a template and modify it to make it your own.

Do you do responsive emails? Did you use Ink to do it? Did you use something else? Let me know in the comments below!

Facebook Advertising: You’re Doing It Wrong

Facebook gives you a huge amount of power to target you advertise to, but I find that marketers simply aren’t using this power to get their ads to reach their full potential.

What I and others have noticed is that people are targeting people based on only a few data points. This leads to a much broader reach when advertising on Facebook, but does that lead to a higher conversion rate? Doubtful. Would you launch an AdWords campaign and disregard negative keywords? I would sure hope not.

Here is an example. I asked on App.net for examples of bad Facebook advertising. I got a response that I found especially troubling. So a person on Facebook has indicated that he is male, interested in men and is in a relationship. The advertisements he is shown is mostly for gay dating sites.

These sites clearly only looked at his “gender” and “interested in” data points. They didn’t bother to look to see if he was in a relationship. What this tells some people is that this company believes in the stereotype that homosexuals are promiscuous and non-monogamous. This may not have been the intention, but that is the way some people will take it (including the person who gave me this example).

What I would hope was the actual reason they only looked at gender and interested in data points is that they wanted to increase their ad impressions by keeping the advertisement as generic as possible.

So what can you do when you see ad advertisement that you don’t like on Facebook? Well the obvious solution is to complain to the company. Tell them they are being lazy in creating their campaigns and that they are wasting their money advertising the way they are. This may or may not work. Maybe this tactic is working for them.

The other solution is to make the campaign not work for them. Click the ad. Browse around the site and don’t convert. Show them that advertising like this doesn’t work by making them have to pay Facebook for the ad you just clicked on.

What kinds of ineffective marketing do you see on Facebook?

Microsoft Scroogles Their Product Search

Bing Shopping is dead. Long live Bing Product Search! Much like what Google did last year with transforming Google Product Search into Google Shopping, Bing has transitioned to a paid advertisement model for product search.

Now you should be thinking “Didn’t Microsoft have an entire ad campaign saying how terrible that is?” and you would be correct. In fact here is a link to their marketing campaign slamming Google Shopping being a paid marketing channel.

Ok now that we’ve gotten past the hypocrisy, let’s discuss how this is not a bad thing for the online retailer. This change essentially gives you another version of Google PLAs. If Google PLAs work for you, then it stands to reason that Bing PLAs should also work for you. If you’re not in Google Shopping, you really owe it to your business to give it a try. A lot of people are making an insane amount of money in there.

You can get more details from the article link below about how Bing will present the product ads.

Link: Bing Says Goodbye To Bing Shopping, Hello Product Search With Rich Captions & Product Ads