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How to Link your Tickifieds Ads to a Google+ profile

If you are a ticket broker or own a ticket related website you know first hand getting visibility on the major search engines is no easy task.  Every year, many ticket websites spend thousands of dollars optimizing their websites for the search engines with hopes of getting more traffic.   Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) is a multi-billion dollar industry.  However, is such a competitive industry such as ours it can be difficult to get and maintain search engine visibility when the rules are constantly changing.   From Pandas to Penguins, it can be really hard to keep up with all the latest algorithm tweaks.

While we certainly do not have any magic formula to help you increase the visibility of your ticket website, we do have a way to increase the visibility of your ticket ads listed at Tickifieds.com.  If you have been paying attention to Google lately, they have been on a mission to build up their social network aptly named Google+.  Many SEO experts have hypothesized that Google’s dip into the social network arena is not only an attempt to attract more users to their products but to also improve their search results.  One of the ways they are attempting to tie their social platform to the search engine results is by employing the rel=”author” tag.  Unlike other social platforms, Google+ allows you to connect your social profile across the internet, and in a sense, validate your identify.  This is done by identifying a Google+ profile id as an author of any type of content across the web.

One of the big advantages of tagging your content with your Google+ profile is that, over time, if you become a trusted source of valuable content, Google may show preference for your content when it displays search results.  Although the above sentence is largely speculation, there is no doubt that Google is encouraging users to link their content to their Google+ profile.  As a reward for people who employ the authorship markup, Google will display your Google+ profile picture next to the associated search engine result.  These images have shown to drastically increase clicks-throughs so even if authorship doesn’t provide a boost in the search engines, people will be more likely to land on your page or ad.

Here is an example of a Tickifieds Ad as it is displayed in the search results with Authorship verified.

Here are a few examples of a how a Tickifieds Ad looks when displayed in the Google search results with verified authorship markup.

So, now that we know its probably a good idea to start using the author markup on all your web content, how does one add this markup?  Well, at Tickifieds.com we made it really easy!  Just follow these steps below.

1).  If you haven’t already, sign up for a Google+ profile at https://plus.google.com and be sure to include a profile picture with a “recognizable headshot”.

2).  Find your Google+ Profile url.  It should look something like mine :  https://plus.google.com/u/0/114868684757175395718.  To find yours, just log into Google+ and look for your profile picture in the upper right hand corner and select “View Profile”.

3).  Log into your Tickifieds account and select “Edit My Profile”.  Look for the field titled, “Google+ Author Profile” and paste in your Google+ profile url from step 2.  Click submit to save your profile.  We automatically add your Google+ profile with the rel=”author” tag to each of your ads.

4).  The next step of the verification process is to add a reciprocal link back from your profile to Tickifieds.com.  To do this, Click Edit profile, then click the Contributor To section on the right (depending on how many photos you have, you may need to scroll to see this section), and then click Add custom link.  Enter Tickifieds.com, then click save.

5) Test your markup and see what author data Google can extract.  Go to the Google structure data testing tool at:  http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets.  Go back to Tickifieds and find the url for one of your ads and copy it.  Paste the copied url to the Structured Data Testing Tool and click “Preview”.  If it is all setup correctly, you will see your profile image appear next to the preview search result listing.

6). That’s it….you’re all done!

If you have any trouble setting this up feel free to let me know and we’ll get you setup!

 

Stubhub Buying Links From ESPN?

While doing some research on college football for a blog post, I visited ESPN’s College Football Scoreboard to see what games were scheduled for week 1 (see here).  While there I noticed the page absolutely loaded with links to Stubhub.  Not only does each game have “Ticket” link directing you to the appropriate page to purchase tickets for that game, but there is also a “Stubhub Ticket Center” with dynamically generated football links on the right sidebar.

I have visited ESPN hundreds of times over the years and never thought anything of this.  I figured big deal, Stubhub probably has an enormous advertising budget and can afford to slather ESPN with advertising – something us small business owners could only dream of.  However, I decided to take a closer look as I have been paying a lot more attention to search engine optimization after Google’s latest algorithm change (dubbed “Penguin“) put Tickifieds.com on life alert.  What I noticed was rather shocking….none of the Stubhub links I examined were designated as purchased advertising links (typically noted by the rel=”nofollow” tag).  Here is just one  example of the HTML code used to link to Stubhub:

Stubhub Buys Links

Here is an example of a game specific ticket link.

HTML CODE:

<a href=”http://www.stubhub.com/vanderbilt-football-tickets/” onclick=”this.href=this.href+’?gcid=C12289x459&amp;keyword=Vanderbilt+Commodores+Football'” title=”Vanderbilt Commodores Football Tickets”>Tickets</a>

Notice that no where in the code does ESPN denote that this link is a paid advertisement.  There is just the “onclick” tag that allows them to track clicked links.  Google has made it extremely clear over the years that paid links that affect search results (i.e. followed links that pass PageRank) are a direct violation of their Webmaster Guidelines.

Anyone that has attempted to optimize their website for search engines to increase this online visibility knows that the name of the game is getting backlinks from trusted sources.   Getting legitimate backlinks pointing to a commerical site from trusted sources is extremely difficult.  That is, unless you have a massive budget and can buy links while the search engines like Google turn a blind eye.

So Google, and in particular Matt Cutts, my question to you is why are mega corporations like ESPN and Stubhub seemingly allowed to violate these Webmaster Guidelines on such a massive scale yet still dominated the organic results?  Call it sour grapes but I am beginning to lose faith that Google really has any semblance of a level playing field.

SEO For Your Ticket Ads

Many Tickifieds users are surprised to learn that roughly 85% of our traffic comes from the search engines (primarily Google).  As such, it is extremely important to optimize your ticket ads for these search engines while maintaining usefulness to the prospective ticket buyer.   In this article we will fill you in on how we do SEO for Free Ticket Classifieds and provide some tips on how to best take advantage of the work we already do for you.

One of the main reasons for our high rankings in the search engines is how we promote each ticket ad placed on our site.  When a user submits a ticket ad, the ad is syndicated to various blogs and social media outlets via our RSS Feeds.  The syndication of these ads ensures that the search engines notice and quickly index these ads and include them in their respective search results.  The individual ranking of each ad in the search engines depends on many things (e.g. the competitiveness of the keywords, when the ad is posted, etc.).  However, the ranking of each ad is largely dictated by the uniqueness of the ad.  The more unique the ad is, the more likely it is to be syndicated by other sources- search engines recognize this and rank ads higher that have more backlinks and have generated more buzz.

Now that you have an idea on why our ads rank so well in the search engines, what can you do to maximize the power of Tickifieds?  Well, it’s very simple- create unique ads!  The 3 most important areas to focus your creative juices on are the Ad Title, Description, and Keywords.  Ad Title is probably the most difficult to be unique with as there are only so many ways to creatively list, “Duke vs Michigan State Basketball Tickets”.  If the particular event is not extremely popular or you only plan on listing 1 ad for the event, you probably do not need to worry much about it.  However, if the event is popular and you plan on listing multiple sets of tickets for this event, then you want to ensure each ad you post has a unique title.  So, for the above example, try some of the following:

  • Duke vs Michigan State Basketball Tickets
  • Duke vs Michigan State Basketball Tickets 12/1
  • Duke Basketball Tickets 12/1
  • Michigan State @ Duke Basketball Tickets
  • Michigan State @ Duke Basketball Tickets 12/1
  • Cheap Duke vs Michigan State Tickets
  • Discount Duke vs Michigan State Tickets
  • For Sale: Duke vs Michigan State Tickets
  • Buy Cheap Duke – Michigan State Tickets 12/1

Hopefully, by now, you see the point.  You can easily create unique titles by including or excluding additional information and also by rearranging them.  Remember, duplicate title are not only bad SEO but also against our Terms of Use.

In addition to mixing up the titles you should also always include a unique description of the tickets listed for sale.  All too often we see people simply copying and pasting the generic ticket listing information with a link to their website at the bottom like the below example.

Michigan State at Duke – Basketball Tickets
Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, North Carolina
Wednesday, December 1, 2010 9:30PM
Buy them at: Discount Duke Basketball Tickets

And much better example is:

Get tickets to the BIG Michigan State Spartan at Duke Blue Devils Basketball Tickets game at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham, North Carolina – Wednesday, December 1, 2010 9:30PM. These are nice seats in section 11 row P. See the top 2 teams in the Nation battle it our for that elusive #1 ranking!! This is a game not to be missed!

CLICK BELOW FOR CURRENT PRICE & AVAILABILITY OF DUKE vs MSU BASKETBALL TICKETS


 

In the second example you can clearly see the additional information creates a much more unique ad that adds value not only in the eyes of the search engines but also the customer.

Finally as icing on the cake, you need to make sure your ad keywords are also unique.  Add as many of the details from your unique title and unique description to further make your ad stand out from the rest.  If you included “Cheap” or “Discount” in your title and/or description, add it to your keywords as well.

Last, and certainly not least, it’s important to keep in mind that as unique as you can make each ad following these simple tips, you can never avoid repeating keywords.  That is why we recommend never posting more than a few ads for a particular performance or event consecutively.  Even if you are posting 1 ad for each Duke Blue Devils basketball game you still would be repeating the “Duke Blue Devils” keyword 30+ times.  This only serves to dilute the importance of that keyword and the search engines and syndication sites will begin to think your ads are spam.  Often times this can result in your ads not being indexed and thus not ranking high in the search results.