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Old 02-24-2005   #1
johneklund
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Passing Search Result Value to Landing Page

I've attended a few webinars these past few days that have recommended having the actual search results passed to the landing page and displayed prominently, perhaps in the headline (they search for "wireless camera phones" in google or any other search engine and when they click on the paid result my headline would read "wireless camera phones") or as an option on the landing page (You searched for "wireless camera phones" - people who searched for this were also interested in.....). My question is how do I dynamically pass this variable to my landing page to generate a headline based on what they searched for? The research has shown making it match what they searched for helps drive conversions. Has anyone set this up? I'm using SSI (all pages are .shtml) and can link to CGIs for this or can use javascript or any other means necessary. Thanks...
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Old 02-24-2005   #2
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It's pretty easy to grab the keyword from Google - it is send as part of the referrer field in the http request with the parameter "q" (without the quotes).

It becomes a bit more difficult if you want to do the same for all (whatever that is) search engines as tou will have to maintain a list of engines and keyword parameters.

The real problem, however, is to secure that you only get "good" headlines this way. You don't want people that used some obscure keyword search to see that in the headline, do you? Do you want people to see miss spellings in the headline? Offensive adjectives?

One thing, though, you have to keep in mind is that this could very well be considered cloaking (technically it is) and search engines generally do not like that. Therefore there is a higher risk of penalties of you use this technique and ultimately the risk of getting booted from the index. I am not saying you should not do this, just that you have to understand that you are walking on the edge this way - make sure you know what you are doing, secure that you can survive if the domain get banned and that you have a back-up plan ...
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Old 02-24-2005   #3
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I don't see why that would be cloaking. Cloaking is essentially serving one set of results to the search engines and another set to the user. If either Google or a user goes to the site via a direct link or by typing www.somedomain.com into the address bar, neither Google nor the user would see the dynamically generated headline, because no headline would be generated. If either Google or a user got to the page via a search, then both would see the dynamically generated headline, because both would have gotten to the page via a search.

In pseudo-code:

IF visitor (Google or user) got here via a search
THEN generate a headline that shows visitor (Google or user) the search term
ELSE don't generate a headline at all for the visitor (Google or user)
END IF

I think it is a perfectly safe and acceptable thing to do.
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Old 02-25-2005   #4
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Yeah - I wouldn't put this in the bracket of deceptive cloaking, as the user is getting more keyword content than the SE.

Saw something similar come up on alistapart the other day complete with keyword highlighting scripts. I'm sure this could be adapted to do all sorts.
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Old 02-25-2005   #5
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Quote:
IF visitor (Google or user) got here via a search
I hope you can see the fun in this ...
Google NEVER get to your site from a search it did

So, you can call it what you want but you are not serving up the same content to users as Google and this does in fact increase the risk of your site getting penalized. A I said, go right ahead if you feel this is the best way for you but be aware of the dangers and protect yourself the best you can. Ignoring it won't help one bit.
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Old 02-25-2005   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikkel deMib Svendsen
I hope you can see the fun in this ...
Google NEVER get to your site from a search it did
Well, Mikkel, technically, yea I guess. But you can always building search engine friendly landing pages that are dynamically created based on a search someone did. You've seen those around. So, indirectly, Google is kind of coming to your site based on a Google search.
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Old 02-25-2005   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rustybrick
Well, Mikkel, technically, yea I guess. But you can always building search engine friendly landing pages that are dynamically created based on a search someone did. You've seen those around.
This is exactly what I'm looking for - code-wise. Can you share HOW you always build search engine friendly landing pages that are dynamically created based on the search, to the tune of including the search text in the headline copy of the landing page? Ideally using SSI, PERL or JavaScript.
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Old 02-25-2005   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikkel deMib Svendsen
I hope you can see the fun in this ...
Google NEVER get to your site from a search it did

So, you can call it what you want but you are not serving up the same content to users as Google and this does in fact increase the risk of your site getting penalized. A I said, go right ahead if you feel this is the best way for you but be aware of the dangers and protect yourself the best you can. Ignoring it won't help one bit.
But you aren't preventing Google from seeing the page. If Google wanted to get to it from a search, it can, and it will see what the user sees from that same action. Now, if you blocked Google from seeing what the user sees (via IP address, etc.), then that's different. But that's not the case in this situation. Just because the bot doesn't choose to get to the page via a search, doesn't place fault on the webmaster.
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Old 02-25-2005   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johneklund
This is exactly what I'm looking for - code-wise. Can you share HOW you always build search engine friendly landing pages that are dynamically created based on the search, to the tune of including the search text in the headline copy of the landing page? Ideally using SSI, PERL or JavaScript.
Is that the definition of "content spam"? I will not code it for you but use this business logic:

(1) Search engine referral comes to your site
(2) Capture keyword query
(3) Store keyword in database
(4) Build a new page of content around that keyword
(5) Place links to most frequently processed queries to those landing pages


Now, why would you want to do this? If you received a referral from the engine, that means you already rank fairly well for that keyword phrase.

What makes more sense is to use your internal search engine to dynamically create landing pages, with the above logic, for search engines to feast on.

Of course, if there is nothing of value to the searcher, then your just wasting everyone's time with this.
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Old 02-25-2005   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rustybrick
Is that the definition of "content spam"? I will not code it for you but use this business logic:

(1) Search engine referral comes to your site
(2) Capture keyword query
(3) Store keyword in database
(4) Build a new page of content around that keyword
(5) Place links to most frequently processed queries to those landing pages


Now, why would you want to do this? If you received a referral from the engine, that means you already rank fairly well for that keyword phrase.

What makes more sense is to use your internal search engine to dynamically create landing pages, with the above logic, for search engines to feast on.

Of course, if there is nothing of value to the searcher, then your just wasting everyone's time with this.

I think we are talking about two different things here. My understanding of why the original poster wanted to do this was "The research has shown making it match what they searched for helps drive conversions." In other words, I understood that he didn't want to create new spam pages based on the search term, but to simply show the search term on the original page itself. Kind of like a welcome message. If reiterating the exact search term helps in driving conversion on that page, then I can see where doing so could make sense. Perhaps I'm off base here, but I really don't see this as any kind of search engine spam trick - merely a small way of helping with conversions. If this is what was intended, then all that would need to be done is to grab the search query words from the referrring url, and display it on the page. If no search query words exist, display nothing new; if they exist, plop it in. Simple, short and sweet.
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Old 02-25-2005   #11
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>content spam

No, that's not what content spam is - content spam is human generated verbosity. This sounds to me more like dynamically generated scraper scum that'll only delivered to human visitors.

I can see why some would have a purpose for it, to serve some scraped content to look legit to the user mixed in with PPC affiliate links. I've seen something similar - one even used a "real" page pulled up in an iframe for part of the page.
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Old 02-25-2005   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcia
>content spam

No, that's not what content spam is - content spam is human generated verbosity. This sounds to me more like dynamically generated scraper scum that'll only delivered to human visitors.

I can see why some would have a purpose for it, to serve some scraped content to look legit to the user mixed in with PPC affiliate links. I've seen something similar - one even used a "real" page pulled up in an iframe for part of the page.
I would say it is all about *intent*. Certainly it could be used to generate spam pages or scraper scum. The way I read the original post, was more like the way personalized pages work. You know, where you tell the site what your name is, a cookie is set, and from then on, when you go to the page it says "Welcome, Marcia". Obviously, that content will be different from the content Google sees, but that doesn't make it spam or scraper scum. Again, *intent* seems to be the key here as to whether this ends up being used for good or evil.
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Old 02-25-2005   #13
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>intent

I agree. But I'll follow that with the comment that I've run across this more than a few times and I've not yet seen it used except as a smoke-screen for traffic-scraping.
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Old 02-25-2005   #14
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A good practical example of this is to use an internal search engine on a site.

For example, someone goes to my widget store and punches in "blue big fast widgets", my search results page brings up products that match that description.

What I can do is then have a link to that page from the homepage that says "blue big fast widgets" and takes that user (engine) to the search results page. Generating an infinite number of landing pages, all based on "user intent".

From the first post in this thread, it didn't look like this was being asked. But I think it might be the question after seeing the thread starters later post.
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Old 02-25-2005   #15
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>>hope you can see the fun in this ...
Google NEVER get to your site from a search it did

Oh yes, you made my week.

>>So, you can call it what you want but you are not serving up the same content to users as Google

Well then, let's not call it "cloaked" let's call it "scraped content delivery."
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Old 02-26-2005   #16
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Thank you dazzlindonna - I think you're the only one here who really understands what and why I'm trying to do this.

Though I've enjoyed everyone making their far reaching guesses as to what my intent is, my only intent is that - driving conversions by giving people relevant pages. This is as simple as if someone searches for "twin pack" or "two pack" or "2 pack" - showing them the appropriate text they searched validates and reinforces that they are where they need to be (especially in a headline where that might be the only thing they read and you have mere seconds to validate that they are on the right page and that it can help them before they hit the back button).

The two webinars I've attended have been from very reputable firms (MarketingSherpa was one of them) and they both emphasized the point that exact repetition is useful - especially in landing pages where 97%+ of the people who visit don't convert. One of the webinars was on Landing Page Conversions and the other was on SEO Best Practices - so it all seemed pretty legit. Nokia was one of the case studies who was implementing this and I don't think they were advocating scraper scum.

This seemed like the right forum to get help for this sort of thing, since I'm a bit weak in the coding end of things but good in the marketing end, but we've seemed to have gotten a bit off topic. Maybe it's just been a cynical week for all of us. Thanks for the help.
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Old 02-26-2005   #17
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Glad you cleared that up for everyone. I was pretty sure I understood your intent, but I was willing to concede that I may have misunderstood. I do think that using it in the way you intend, is a good idea, and not something that should be frowned upon by a search engine. Of course, the whitest of white hat techniques could be frowned upon if a search engine so desires, so nothing is ever completely safe. But my personal opinion (and goodness knows, that's all it is) is that it would be silly for a search engine to penalize for that.
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Old 02-26-2005   #18
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FYI - Here's a link to the actual seminar, page 6 goes into detail of what I'm trying to figure out how to do (match keywords exactly):

http://www.marketingsherpa.com/tele/GTM.pdf

It's got some other interesting and useful info in it.

Does anyone know of a quick hit way to do this, maybe with javascript? If you have code that would do something like it I would appreciate it.
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Old 02-26-2005   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johneklund
FYI - Here's a link to the actual seminar, page 6 goes into detail of what I'm trying to figure out how to do (match keywords exactly):

http://www.marketingsherpa.com/tele/GTM.pdf

It's got some other interesting and useful info in it.

Does anyone know of a quick hit way to do this, maybe with javascript? If you have code that would do something like it I would appreciate it.
The only thing I could code it in would be ColdFusion and you likely can't use that. So take this pseudo-code to your favorite PHP programmer (or whatever language your site can handle - ASP, etc.) and tell him or her this is what you need. (A typical search query will look something like this (where the search term is "people")... http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=people&btnG=Google+Search)

IF cgi.http_referer contains "&q="
get the value of &q=
Print the value

The cgi variable that will contain the search term is the http_referer variable. So all the programmer has to is look at the http_referer, see if it contains &q= and if it does, grab the word or phrase after that (and before the next &), and print it out on the page. Hope that helps.
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Old 02-26-2005   #20
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sensible queries

I think this gets more interesting when you start worrying about 'sensibleness'
<trawls logs for real example>
ok, I have a gaming site and I see a search for
warhammer or 40k "games workshop" -tournament
its a unique query, but that hardly relevant.
If we dynamically set our page to read
<h1>warhammer or 40k "games workshop" -tournament</h1>
when receiving this search engine visitor, we will look pretty dopey, possible even suspicious (no one likes being spied on).
My first hack at a solution would be to have a set of reasonable headers for that page, and a default header, in a database.
Use the header which is most similar to the visitor's query.
Obviously the list would include those search queries which are most common for the page, and would be updated with time.

Thoughts?
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