Category Archives: content delivery

Using search engine query strings to optimise your content.

First off a word of caution: This method could get you into trouble so watch yourself. A competitor could scream cheater! Fact is, its not cheating its not cloaking either, its using the referer string in combination with the query string to deliver content.

Many long tail searches often land on pages that don’t really cut the mustard for the query. This is lose lose. You lose in terms of outputting a page that isn’t really relevant to what the user was looking for and the user loses by having to hit the back button.

Lets say for example sake that you have a high authority page that ranks for practically everything. You might have a sentence within your copy that matches what a user has entered into a search engine; yet your page isn’t really about what the sentence refers to. The sentence just happens to fit in amongst the context of 3 or 4 hundred other words, but doesn’t really apply to what the user is after – net result, one disappointed user, x kb’s of wasted bandwidth.

You could therefore, offer these users an option by way of an optimised representation that catered for this deficit. I’ll keep it simple here and assume that you have a site or a blog that concentrates on a particular set of core products. Lets assume that you run a small niche power tool website. You sell things like drills, sanders, planes and other related items. You blog daily on various products and methods and talk at length about all sorts of aspects relative to DIY or general maintenance.

The code below looks at the query string entered by the user at the refering search engine. It then checks that string against a selection of predefined words and delivers a message based upon those words.

“Welcome visitor from refering search engine your query contained the word predefined word a page containing predefined word products from query string can be found here > linktowhereever
[php]

$queryurl = $_SERVER['HTTP_REFERER'];
$refer = parse_url($_SERVER['HTTP_REFERER']);
$refer= $refer['host'];

if(strstr ($refer, ‘yahoo’)){
ereg(‘p=(.*)’,$queryurl,$match);
}

else{
ereg(‘q=(.*)’,$queryurl,$match);
}

$qstring = str_replace(‘+’,’ ‘,$match[1]);

if(stristr ($qstring, ‘drill’)){
$optilink = “http://www.yackyack.co.uk/products/power-drills”;
$message = ‘Welcome visitor from $refer your query contained the word drill a page containing drill related products can be found at this link <a href=$optilink>$qstring</a>’;
}
if(stristr ($qstring, ‘planes’)){
$optilink = “http://www.yackyack.co.uk/products/power-planes”;
$message = ‘Welcome visitor from $refer your query contained the word planes a page containing power plane products can be found at this link <a href=$optilink>$qstring</a>’;
}

if(stristr ($qstring, ‘sanders’)){
$optilink = “http://www.yackyack.co.uk/products/power-sanders”;
$message = ‘Welcome visitor from $refer your query contained the word sanders a page containing power sander products can be found  at this link <a href=$optilink>$qstring</a> ’;
}[/php]

By adopting this approach you could deliver the message via a floating layer, or pop up window on exit. You could even output it at the start of the content and place it within a little paragraph.

[php]

if($message){

echo”$message”;

}

//continue with the rest of the content

[/php]

The search engines would rather that they decide what pages to return based upon their calculations of relevancy.

The fact is that sometimes they do a pretty crap job at it and could do with a little help. Besides, we should be able to decide what we do with our visitors. Its not for the search engines to dictate to us. My view is, that provided its related and adds value to the user, then there is no real harm in giving them that little bit more. Its a not a cut and dry case of smoke and mirrors cloaking with sneaky redirects or any of that stuff, its just taking things one step further and deciding to help out a little.

If you consider that some websites have pages that change daily, if not hourly then the reasons to employ such methods becomes even more apparent. How many times have you visited a page, only to find that what you were looking for was not there? I have, and in those cases I often had to go to the search engines cache to see what it was. That or I have to embark on a site search at my destination to find what I was after. Methods as proposed would reduce instances of those scenarios.

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