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Browsing "website principles"

J.C. Penney and Google – An example in the making

Since it’s all over the news and has been talked about since word broke, here ‘s just another take on the J.C. Penney search gaff. The NYTimes did a piece titled “The dirty little secrets of search” and in it was outlined how J.C. Penney gamed Google into listing them for all sorts of terms, applicable to their stores, but always listing at the top irregardless of the search.

The chief way this occurred was through the value of backlinks coming into a site. When your search engine optimization expert does their work properly, the value of the backlinks coming into your site will be categorically relative to your site. J.C. Penney however had links for all sorts of things on what seemed like any kind of website. When it comes to broad analysis of buying links to link back to your site, Google frowns heavily on the practice and often the links are devalued, or even negatively valued, and your site can be negatively effected in such cases. Matt Cutts was questioned on the occurrence and admitted that although JCP.com was already dealt with three times previous, the most recent and wide reaching offence hadn’t been noted.

Some have said it’s because JCP spends so much money on AdWords, others have said it’s sloppy policing on Googles part. One thing that the NYTimes piece did however, was contact a black hat SEO marketer directly and asked their opinion on the matter, and I believe they hit it on the head the best. Think of search not as a one type tool (search) but as a dual purpose technology; informational and commercial. And while the black hat lauded the strength of Googles informational capabilities, he readily admitted that commercially the results were lack luster, a cess pool was the term used. The Google team has admitted fully that there’s a relevance problem as of late, which has become more pronounced with the advent of both Caffeine and Instant technologies into the Google search algorithm. It also needs to be noted however, that spammers didn’t all of a sudden triple their output, the right set of adjustments just haven’t been found yet to exclude them from the relevant results. Additionally since no one has thought to bring it up, the same (gamed) results would have shown up in Bing or Yahoo as well as they did in Google.

JCP is about to go through some growing pains, and will most likely learn a valuable lesson in search; always make a point to be aware of your hired SEOs track record . You may find yourself on the receiving end of a swat on the nose from the Google team.

In a bit of a change of pace, just a reminder that there are a few key points which need to be considered when working online whether as a new website owner just getting into the search marketing side of business. Or a long trusted brand both on and offline, that’s looking to stake a claim, or reinforce a position online.

K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Silly) – Keep your website simple in appearance, construction and use. That doesn’t mean like a printed sheet of paper, but flashy ads, a video clogged front page or fancy fly away graphical menus don’t help your position in the search world. All of the above technologies, without a lot of back work, can actually hurt your online marketing performance.

Relevant Content – Keep your copy relevant and consistent to what you want to be known for. If you’re a plumber, write about plumbing trends, technologies and concerns. If you’re a tailor, writing about style trends, materials and new patterns is helpful. As a carpenter you wouldn’t want to write about small engine repair or microwave ovens, it’s simply not pertinent to your business or your website.

Budget – Ahh money, the one aspect of the business that always seems to surprise people. The thing about advertising, is that advertising in earnest, with the idea to make contact with your customers or clients to earn a living, will cost you money. In North America, Canada especially, online marketing budgets are significantly below what they need to be to see the real rewards capable from high quality, skilled search optimization. It still makes no business sense how a company can have no problem throwing away thousands of dollars per month on a marketing metric which is untrackable (newspapers/radio), versus a significantly lower cost for a completely trackable one (SEO).

A Call to Action – Often the missed point of a newer website owner, a call to action for your visitors is a required point of your website. A qualified and capable search engine optimization expert can bring you traffic, but if your website doesn’t direct your visitors what to do, they will leave until they find a site that does. If the point of your website is to sell, ensure you have a way to sell to your visitors with a Buy Now button, or a catalogue to order. If your desire is to attract people to sign up for your newsletter, make sure it’s prominently displayed as such.

Time – One of the most important requirements for SEO is time. Time for your website to be crawled and indexed, time for Google, Bing and Yahoo to place you within their index and the time it takes to balance your website versus the millions upon millions of pages also within your sector. It all takes time in the end, and if you try to circumvent the time component and go quick and dirty like J.C. Penney did? You’ll get caught, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but you’ll be caught.

No Master of All

There are a great many different trades out there, with widely varying skillsets. Chefs, mechanics, electrical engineers basically you could list jobs until you run out of breath. But just because someone once cooked breakfast, I wouldn’t assume that they could handle a full course meal for 100 guests. The skillset just isn’t there.

So it’s the same for search engine optimization and search engine marketing. The terms are very different, and different measures and skills need to be applied when working with the two. As a for instance, the largest difference in SEO and SEM is placement within the SERPs. SEO will return organic placements, in the center of the page only partially based on your content if it was deemed relevant to the search parameters. SEM on the other hand, will net you a place within the sponsored links area of the SERPs, where compelling ad copy can net customers. Different skills for different results.

Just as SEO and SEM differ, so does the practice of SEO, web design and web programming. Web designers who sell themselves as web programmers who can also list you page one for SEO, that’s an exceedingly wide range of skills. Often these skillsets can mesh and work well with one another, but just as the saying goes “jack of all trades, master of none” if you try and contract a do it all for your online branding, you’ll find your results lacking.

Web designers typically aren’t interested in what’s necessary for organic SEO to be most efficient, as it really has nothing to do with how aesthetically pleasing the page is. Web programmers conversely, are likely to use a lot of dynamic coding which doesn’t play well with organic SEO either. There is a middle ground, where an aesthetically pleasing website, can be active and interactic for your users. Ensuring you properly weigh out a budget for your web design, programming *and* SEO separately, is your first step to running your way up the SERPs.

Does your website need an update?

Appearance, usage, accessibility and speed. Four qualities which should be incredibly important to any website owner and doubly so for users. If a site isn’t appealing to the eye, easy to use, have intuitive navigation and is slow to browse, it’s almost certain to be skipped over by users first and search engines later.

The qualitites came to mind over a conversation with a friend, they’d lamented that the coroporate side had changed the website and made it unfriendly to use. Previously their site was css based, very little code written on page, and had a good deal of content to be indexed relevant to their rather competitive niche. The new look and layout for their site, abandoned CSS in favor of Java, Ajax and active scroll over elements on the page.

The new site is visually more appealing than the old one, the effects that were added with all of the new coding however, was unecessary. Dropping indexable, search engine friend CSS for Java and Ajax was a half step backwards though in the search wars. While the coding offers a great deal of flexibility in what your website can look like and do, it’s basically entirely skipped over by search engines. The website in question has been running a brief survey on the new look and feel, and so far the consistent response has been that past consistent users, have begun to use other portals to meet their needs. Their new site, while more appealing to look at, was too slow, difficult to navigate and wasn’t easy to understand at all.

It’s a good example of the addage, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”

Search Optimization Art

Mar 12, 2010   //   by FreshTraffic   //   internet marketing, search, seo, website principles  //  136 Comments

Everyone it seems is a search engine optimization expert these days. Blogs, forums, webinars, seminars, videos, and pretty much every other method of teaching seems to have a tinge of SEO flavour to it. While SEO itself isn’t a terribly difficult concept, in practice, it’s an art.

Most anyone can “brute force” their way with optimization, just following good practices can get you a long ways on the SERPs. Constructive relevant text, a friendly and engaging user experience, and don’t clutter your site with flash animations, and videos (hint: search engines don’t have eyes). Really basic search engine optimization can be broken down into three basic principles really:

Keep it simple

Keep it clean

Keep it interesting

More often than not, when speaking with a prospective client about their website and their honest chances at landing a position for their desired terms, it’s a somewhat uphill struggle when telling them that the oodles of cash they’ve spent on their dynamically interactive and splashy website, is invisible to the search engines. It’s an even longer fight, when you have to tell them that the company they initially hired to optimize their site, and charged them hundreds if not thousands of dollars, did nothing for them.

Search engine optimization is not flash in the pan, it is not search engine marketing (like AdWords), it is not submitting your website to hundreds of search engines. There are three that matter, Google, Bing and Yahoo; and of the three.. the world knows which is king.

Follow the priniciples, don’t get discouraged, and if you’re getting traffic but not making sales, check your premise first, before blaming the vehicle. And don’t be handily fooled by those saying they know the “secrets to SEO” and will share (for only $49!!). SEO is as much an art, as it is a science, and the differences between the artists and the weekenders, is fully evident on the SERPs.

The Downside of Being the Best

Feb 2, 2010   //   by FreshTraffic   //   seo, website, website principles  //  7 Comments

Search engine optimization is pretty much the big deal in terms of online marketing. It’s a powerful tool, that when leveraged and implemented properly, can almost cement a position for you within the SERPs on Google and Bing.

Writing quality content, building an intricately connected website, working daily to acquire as many backlinks as humanly possible are incredibly powerful means to formalize your place. But like any other business practice, there’s a right way to do things, and a wrong way to do things. What happens, when you have beatufilly written, unique content, and someone unscrupulous comes along and decides to take it for themselves? You find yourself in a situation much like Fresh did earlier today.

We had someone contact us who wanted information on affiliate marketing and how she could make money, online, without a website, with our help. A tad puzzled, we inquired further, and learned that she’d gotten our name from a different website, which had no contact information. Seeing as ours was the only name actually on the site, she Googled our number, and gave us a call. After explaining that we weren’t able to help her in her search for easy money for no work online, we delved into the website url she’d given us and noticed some very poorly lifted content from our website.

Not only, had they directly copied and pasted our content onto their site, they hadn’t even bothered to change any of the links contained within. So, all of the links were there, broken, but contained within the body of which they’d copied. So plagarized text, broken links, as well as links back to our site and some of our pages. The real kicker about it though, is not only does it not work for them in terms of having unique content of any kind, but it also demeans our repuatation online. Just because we didn’t build the site, because it’s found on such a disreputable site, we’re lumped into the same bin as they are.

Some of the more technical aspects, in essence both sites could get flagged for duplicate content when it’s picked up. Generally, the spiders will note it, find that one site is older (in this case ours) and disregard the other. But until it’s determined which site is the owner of the content in question, both sites get marked as having duplicate content, hurting both.

The web is a huge repository of.. everything, but that doesn’t give free license for people to search for the highest ranking sites for particular terms, and help themselves to the (probable) years of successful SEO results. If you find yourself in the position of wanting to rip off someone elses site, be prepared for the consequences.

Avoiding Common Web Design Mistakes

Nov 6, 2009   //   by FreshTraffic   //   Web Design, web development, website principles  //  Comments Off

When I started to design for the web I already had some basic coding experience, so I figured, how hard could it be to get serious about it? Take your images, headings and body copy. Link it all up and no problem! So little I knew then…

Major problems..

What I learned; the basic experience I had didn’t translate well as I worked. I had images everywhere, text flowing over and around them. Different fonts on every page. Differing background gradients and transparencies. And I had yet to account for Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, etc, both the Windows and Mac versions. My ideas were great, but they were a nightmare to code.

Being that it was my first real foray into the design and construction of a website, I hadn’t used a stylesheet to layout and control my flow and design. But, if you follow the guidelines below, you’ll avoid some of the most common web design mistakes and save yourself a lot of frustration.

1) Reuse design elements
Using different fonts and design accents on every page in web design is a no-no. The more elaborate the design, the harder it is to code. Visitors expect every page of a website to have a consistent look and feel. Keep your font sizes consistent from page to page and reuse graphics and icons where you can. If you carry your design elements throughout your website(fonts, icons, bullets, and graphic accents, for instance), your CSS will be much simpler to write and visitors will appreciate the unity of the finished site.

2) Make your designs web compliant
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve finished coding a website, opened it on another computer, and been shocked by how different the fonts and colors were from the finished code. You can avoid a lot of problems if you make your designs web compliant. Stick with compliant fonts for easy declarations in your CSS, and work around compliant color codes where possible. If you decide to step outside the safety zone, test your designs early, often, and on different computers with different monitors.

3) Expect your site dimensions to change
There’s no such thing as “perfect” in web design. Even a minor update to a website can wreak havoc on a weak layout. So, make sure any element that has constantly changing content can accommodate changes to width and height. Use extra space as padding and test headings and sidebar links to see how they look when wrapped over two or even three lines. When content spills out of a container or causes your layout to come apart when you or a client updates the site, it comes across as sloppy and unprofessional.

4) Using a similar CSS layout for every website
If you change the stylesheet for every design, you have to start your from scratch. If you stick with a fixed container width for your designs, on the other hand, after a few websites you should work out a custom CSS framework you can drop into any layout to help expedite the coding process.

5) Design with your content in mind
The websites I designed in the past were dominated by pictures for the most part. But content is king on the internet. It takes keyword rich content to attract search engine spiders and drive traffic. So a website has to be more than just a great looking design. You should plan for a decent amount of text on each page. 350 to 500 words is a great figure to aim for with relevant content in mind.

-Nathan

SEO Friendly Coding

Feb 20, 2009   //   by FreshTraffic   //   CSS, internet strategy, website principles  //  47 Comments

There are simply too many benefits to using CSS (cascading style sheets) to ignore. Is your page code long and difficult to read? Is it increasingly harder to find that line to tweak your pages layout or appearance? Cascading Style Sheets will help improve your websites efficiency, and it will be easier to read for search engines. To a search engine, a website that is coded in CSS says several things about your company: you embrace foward technology and that your content is modern, up-to-date and relevant. Using Cascading Style Sheets is one of the best Search Engine Optimization methods to creating a web site, it is candy to Search Spiders.

A Cascading Style Sheet is a method used to give web designers more control over the style of each page — allowing them to customize each paragraph, title, header, or bulleted list. CSS gives you the ability to specify font, size, and color of anything you want without having to repeatedly insert specific lines of code.

A few key points to using CSS to help optimize your website are:

1. Using regular HTML codes to define things like font tags can be very cumbersome. It inserts extra unnecessary code into the source code of your website, making it more difficult for the spider to crawl your site. Search engine spiders won’t just read the content that shows up on your site, they read every single line of code. You don’t want to pollute your source code with excessive HTML.

2. In a nutshell, CSS can do everything HTML can do, only better. Instead of placing the style tags (for fonts, backrounds, colors, etc.) in the actual code, it is placed in an external file. A simple and brief statement is placed in the source code to call to that external file where all your bulky style codes are laid out leaving your page clean and simple.

3. The use of Cascading Style Sheets will also allow preloading of your website into your browser. The basic elements are carried forward through any page you visit. This is optimal for search engine spiders, they want to read through your website as fast as they possibly can. With CSS, you can have all the effects you want without slowing down the search engine spiders you are striving to impress.

4. Give your website a diet plan! Converting your old HTML layouts to CSS can typically cut anywhere from 25 to 50 percent off of page size. They give you the added benefit of simplified, adaptable structure and the separation of code in a presentation.

5. One of the most instantly rewarding benefits of Cascading Style Sheets is that they are a huge time saver. Code it properly once, and never again. Let’s say for example, your site is coded with HTML; the header on each one of your sites pages is written in blue text. One day you decide you want to change the look and feel of your site and you want to change the headers from blue font to a bold black. With an HTML website, you have to go through each page and physically change each header. Depending on the size of your site, that could be very time consuming. with a website written with CSS, you simply open that external file, change the header tag color from blue to black and your job is done That one change will automatically update every header without you having to manually change each one.

SEO Tricks That Will Lower Ranking

Dec 2, 2008   //   by FreshTraffic   //   search engine, seo, website principles  //  12 Comments

So, the time has come for you to consider, or more likely than not, to reconsider your SEO strategy. Perhaps you’re new to the game, and don’t even know what SEO is. Don’t worry, we’ll explain it. We’ll also explain some tactics that seem at first glance to be good ideas, but really aren’t. Best of all, we’ll show you how to spot these bad ideas so your site doesn’t pay the consequences.
For those of you who have been living on an isolated tropical island paradise, or have been in prison, for the last few years and do not know, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This term is a kind of a rubric, that rather than referring to one or two things that you can do to improve your listing, covers a wide range of possible actions and behaviors that can help you to grow your site in popularity and make you untold amounts of money. Essentially these are the actions that a site takes to cater to the searching algorithms that search engines use to determine which sites get a high ranking, and which ones land on the bottom of page 17 in the listings.

These tools can be a great thing. They can help you get your site straight to the top and bring you scores of readers, and if they are done well you can get the site to the top of the search engine results pages for several sets of related keywords, and not just one set. The name of the game here is popularity, and despite the fact that we had all hoped to get away from that when the senior prom was over, being popular still matters when you are online. The bottom line is popularity means ad revenues and that means power.

Since the world of search engines depends on algorithms, some of which, despite sounding very vague, are actually quite advanced, you have to be very careful what you do when you play with SEO tricks. Sure, some of them can raise your site up to the top spot, but others can drag you down without so much as a second thought. Choosing not just the right principles, but the right way to execute them, becomes the chief task of those people who choose to practice SEO.

That is right, you understood me just fine. You can use the right principles and still find yourself with a bad idea on your hands. This, in addition to being quite maddening if you think about it for too long, also means that you have to be extremely careful when you screen your ideas. Something that sounds like a great idea to begin with and is even based on a sound principle, can be a big no-no if you want to keep your site’s rankings up. That careful consideration is, of course, a sound practice in most areas of your life, but you should be sure that you don’t get suckered in.

That is not to say that I expect you to become an expert in the field overnight; even a seasoned professional would have to take a look at the details of the execution before deciding if this is a good plan or a bad plan. To help you get some judgment under your belt, we will talk about some of the techniques that have already been identified as a bad idea, despite the good principles that are behind them. Then we will talk a little about how to identify a bad idea on your own, because the bad ideas will always pop up in new forms now and again. So you will have to be ever vigilant before you try out anything new.

Link Building Via Service

When done in a genuine way, building links between sites is a great way to raise your listings. When you hire a service to do it, you have a problem, because you lose control. Unless the service that you use is extremely professional, very discrete and amazingly well connected, it is an absolute certainty that you should pass it by without a second glance.

When you give up control, especially to a service, you run the very serious risk of finding yourself linked with a site that is considered to be in a “Bad Neighborhood,” which means that being linked to them will actually lower your rankings seriously. If you want to build links, you should do so in a controlled environment, and with sites that are relevant to your site’s content. Don’t go crazy and don’t get lazy.

When you ad a keyword to your site, whether it be in the META tags or, if you own a blog, in the visible tags, then those tags should always be relevant to your content, and never be just a random listing of words that you think will send search engines to your site. To be honest, you always want to keep these words short, sweet and non-repetitive; while many of the search engines have stopped using these words to place sites into the top section of the results, they have not stopped using them to rule sites out.

If your site’s META tag list seems like it came from the dictionary, then you will find your brilliant strategy to increase your rankings has lowered them instead. A similar trick is done with titles on a site. This technique, more commonly known as “Title Stacking,” is another way of adding more keywords for the search engines to index, and they have caught on. Avoid both of these like the black plague.

Doorway Pages

This one sounds like it may be a good idea. You can make a lot of sub pages that direct to the information that your user wants to know, they get the information, and you get a lot of pages that can help to increase your rankings on a multitude of sets of key words. But this technique just makes most search engines upset, because these gateway sites have very little content on them, and their primary goal is to re-direct. I would suggest that you avoid this at all costs.

Borrowing Content

If you own content from another, similar site, or you are just getting content for the site from an article bank, you can run into these serious problems. Sites that are deemed to be using nothing but copy and paste content will run into problems with the engines right away, so if you are going to re-use content it should only be a small percentage of your site, and never on the main page. Also, as a side note, if you steal someone else’s content, you can end up getting your site removed wholesale. You also run the risk of getting sued.

Now that you have an inkling of some of the bad ideas, founded on good principles, it is time to talk about how you are going to learn to spot these ideas as they come up in the world of online content promotions.

To do this, you need to open up the hood and poke around at the idea’s mechanics to see if everything is in order, by asking some questions.

Question 1. Does this topic sound like any known bad practices?

Remember how I introduced title stacking as a sub-set of META tag abuse? That is because they have a set of similarities which make them sibling ideas. If you run across a sibling idea to one of the ones that you already know is a bad plan, then you should pass it by. No hesitation and no further questions needed.

Question 2. How does this serve the readers or the searchers?

If the only benefit is to the site, then the odds are that it will get you lowered. Search engines and sites are supposed to exist for end users. If the tactic causes an impairment to their finding what they want, then it will be used as a reason to knock you down. Search engines know where their money comes from, and it is not from you.

Question 3. Does this seem like spam?

If it is the kind of tactic that you would be annoyed to encounter, either while searching or in an e-mail, then you should probably skip it. No one likes a spammer, and the search engines are no exception to that statement. So if you have the distinct odor of spam in your nostrils, you should pass up this idea and go on to the next one.

Question 4. Does it just feel wrong?

Even if you can’t quantify the why of it, if an idea feels wrong for your site or for your conscience, then you should not use it, wither or not it will be treated negatively by
the search engines. You have to trust you instincts and err on the side of caution.

Now that you know, you can be vigilant to keep your site from having its rankings lowered by an honest mistake that makes you seem like you are trying to do something that is evil — even though we both know that you would never, ever do a thing like that.

301 Redirect – The SEO Way

Dec 2, 2008   //   by FreshTraffic   //   301, keyword, linking, website principles  //  183 Comments

In this article I will discuss page redirection techniques, what works and what to avoid.

In this article I will discuss page redirection techniques, what works and what to avoid.

What is page redirection and why would you want to use it?

Let’s say you rename a page on your website, for whatever reason. Perhaps you decided to revamp your entire naming convention, perhaps you decided to restructure your site and need to move pages into different folders, or you just realized that you are missing valuable keywords.

Let’s elaborate a bit on the keywords issue, since it is part of your search engine ranking success.

Let’s say the page in question is about customized USB drives and you named it page1.htm. Then you read some SEO (Search Engine Optimization) articles and you found out that some search engines use words in the actual file name as search keywords. Next time you do a Google search, take a look at the results, most will have words in the actual file name (in the URL section) bolded, denoting a keyword match. Your USB drives page will definitely benefit if named something like custom_usb_drives.htm instead.

Now that you renamed your page, you just created a symphony of issues for yourself, for your users and for your position in search engine results.

Linking issues:

You will have to point every link on your site to the new page name. If your site is small, it should not be a big deal, but if your site is large, you will inevitably make mistakes, mainly forgetting a link or two. This will result in visitors getting the dreaded “404 page not found” error when clicking on your links, robots (also know as crawlers or spiders) avoiding you, etc. Also, if you are heavily relying on visitors from search engines, then again, people will get a “404 page not found error”.

Let’s use the previous example, for a long time your page1.htm was indexed by major search engines. If someone types “custom usb drives” in a search engine box, your page shows up on the first search results screen. That is fantastic, only if someone clicks on the link, they will be pointed to page1.htm, not to custom_usb_drives.htm, because the first page is the one in the search engine’s index. It will take time, sometimes months, before the search engines update their indexes with your new page name.

Lost Page Rank (PR) issues:

Google developed a proprietary algorithm that assigns a Page Rank (PR) to every page on the web. PR is a number from 1 to 10 (10 being the ideal) and is intended to be a representation of how useful and popular a given page is. PR is influenced by many factors, one of the crucial ones being Link Popularity. Link Popularity is a representation of how many “quality” or “relevant” sites link to your page. Without getting into too much detail, it is increasingly difficult and time consuming to achieve a high PR for your pages, especially if you don’t have a really unique website with exceptional and highly sought after content. If you are merely operating a commercial site, in a competitive market (such as selling custom branded USB drives, as in our example), then it takes a lot of time and hard work to build a good page PR.

When you rename a page and discard the old page, you also discard the PR of the page. Your renamed page will be seen as a totally new page, with 0 PR.

What is the solution?

I will start by enumerating some of the methods used by the non-initiated.

Not recommended solution 1: Duplicate content.

First thing that probably comes in you mind is: well, why can’t you just duplicate the page and let nature take its course. In other words, you will have two identical pages, one named page1.htm and one custom_usb_drives.htm. This gives you time to update all links and the search engines will eventually index the new page.

This solution is not viable because search engines will penalize you quite badly, ‘thinking’ that you are trying to scam them by using the ‘duplicate content’ technique.

Not recommended solution 2: Custom error message.

You could create a custom error page. However, you will lose rankings on the next search engine update as the file will appear to be non-existent. As discussed above, it could be some time before the page with the new name will be indexed and will appear in people’s searches. Also, your web site visitors will be frustrated by the fact that they now have to dig through your site to find the desired information.

Not recommended solution 3: An HTML Meta redirect.

You could implement a so called Meta refresh in a blank or customized page that has the name of the old page (in our example, page1.htm) that points to the new page. The redirect can be instant, or delayed by a predetermine amount of time. The delayed redirect has the advantage that you can place an extra message, such as “please be aware that the page you are looking for changed location….. etc., etc…. you will be redirected automatically to the new location”

In the past, this was probably the most used technique.

Without getting into the mechanics of the Meta redirect, which is basically a META tag statement you ad to your HEADER section, know that there are also Java Script techniques that achieve similar results.

What is bad about this is that this is a technique often used by spammers to trick search engines and it should be avoided, unless the page is in a section of your site that isn’t indexed (also known as spidered or crawled). Search engine spammers create a page that is optimized for certain keywords and phrases – it usually has no real content. The page is then picked up by some search engines, but when a visitor clicks on the search engine entry, they are redirected to another site, often unrelated. Most search engines have filters to detect this. Using this form of search engine deception will see a site eventually banned or penalized by major players such as Google.

The recommended redirect strategy – 301 Redirect

A 301 redirect is the most efficient, visitor friendly, robot (spider, crawler) friendly and search engine friendly solution around for web sites that are hosted on servers running Apache. If you are not sure, check with your hosting provider.

A 301 redirect is just a set of commands you type into your .htaccess file.

When a visitor (whether human or robotic) requests a web page via any means, your web server checks for a .htaccess file. The .htaccess file contains specific instructions for certain requests, including security, redirection issues and how to handle certain errors.

The code “301” is interpreted as “moved permanently”. After the code, the URL of the missing or renamed page is noted, followed by a space, then followed by the new location or file name.

First of all, you’ll need to find the .htaccess file in the root directory of where all your web pages are stored. If there is no .htaccess file there, you can create one with Notepad or a similar application. Make sure when you name the file that you remember to put the “.” at the beginning of the file name. This file has no tail extension.

Some hosting providers offer redirect services through their “control panels”, so you don’t have to perform low level changes on the .htaccess file itself. Instead, they provide a user friendly interface for this. Check with your hosting provider to see what the optimal way to perform a 301 redirect is in your case. I will continue the article with the barebones solution.

If there is a .htaccess file already in existence with lines of code present, be very careful not to change any existing line unless you are familiar with the functions of the file.

Scroll down past all the existing code, leave a line space, th
en create a new line that follows this example:

redirect 301 /folder/page1.htm http://www.you.com/folder/custom_usb_drives.htm

It’s as easy as that. Save the file, upload it back into your web and test it out by typing in the old address to the page you’ve changed. You should be instantly and seamlessly transported to the new location.

Notes: Be sure not to add “http://www” to the first part of the statement – just put the path from the top level of your site to the page. Also ensure that you leave a single space between these elements:

redirect 301 (the instruction that the page has moved)

/folder/page1.htm (the original folder path and file name)

http://www.you.com/folder/custom_usb_drives.htm (new path and file name)

The same format applies not only to renamed files, but also to files moved to a different location.

The 301 redirect is the safest way to preserve your rankings. On the next indexing (crawling, spidering), the search engine robot will obey the rule indicated in your .htaccess file and index the new page name every time a link or its internal database tries to access the old page. In the next update (again, this could take months), the old file name and path will be dropped and replaced with the new one. Sometimes you may see alternating old/new file names during the transition period, along with some possible fluctuations in rankings as things settle. Don’t panic, this is normal.

What if your site is hosted on a Microsoft IIS server instead?

If you have access to the server, do this: In internet services manager, right click on the file or folder you wish to redirect. Select the radio titled “a redirection to a URL”. Enter the redirection page, check “The exact url entered above” and the “A permanent redirection for this resource”. Click “Apply”.

If you do not have access to the server, ask your host to point you into the right direction.

In conclusion, the best and the most transparent way (to both human and robotic users) to rename and move files on your web site, while preserving your search engine ranks is the 301 redirect.

Content: Too much of a good thing?

May 13, 2008   //   by FreshTraffic   //   content, search engine optimization, website principles  //  Comments Off

You hear a lot about content. It’s king right?. Right?

Well, cliches become cliches because there is a touch of truth in them. But what exactly is “content” and how much of it do you need on your site? Do your web pages need to be 250 words or longer? Should they be shorter than 1,000?

To put it bluntly, no. You can include all the content you like on your pages as you begin website design. Search engines don’t actually count the words, and if your site visitors are counting then they need to find something better to do with their time. Visitors are probably more interested in the quality over the quantity.

In the end, what it really comes down to is do you reach your site visitors in a way that they like being spoken to? Is your content relevant to their interests? The idea that every web page needs to have 250 words in order to be effective is a myth. There is no limit on words per page. You just need good, relevant content as part of your Search Engine Optimization.

By the same token, long pages won’t help you either if the content is terrible. One 150 word page that kills sales records, is significantly better than fifty mediocre pages that do nothing but driving people away from my website.

In the end? Quality > Quantity. But there is no reason you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

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