Do You Know Your Webpage Response Codes?

Busy, busy, busy here at Summit Online Marketing/SEO Liverpool. We’re currently working on a large project that requires the use 301 redirects to new webpages.

So we thought a good post would be to run over the rest of the response codes. I feel this will be of particular benefit, if like me you’ve approached SEO from a marketing background rather than coding or a webdesign perspective.

200 OK

How Is It Used - You request page X and then page X is shown. Gives you the page you’ve requested.

Who Uses It - You probably thought you’d never seen this one! Well you’re wrong, this is the status code of a return a good page. Everybody uses it.

301 Moved Permanently

How Is It Used - We know you want page X, Page X has been moved and I’ll take you to the new location.

Who Uses It  - This is probably most used with SEO. We do so as it’s a good way to keep the value associated with a URL and its content.

302 Found Moved Temporarily

How Is It UsedPage X requested, we’ve temporarily moved page X here, let us take you its temporary.

Who Uses It – It’s useful if you’re temporarily moving a webpage around a site. If you have a product under ‘new’ or it’s seasonal and will move back in the near future.

401 Unauthorised

How Is It UsedPage X is password protected. You haven’t entered your login or you’re trying to move past a protected page…. So you can’t

Who Uses It - Useful if you have restricted access content that you only want to serve to select visitors. Remember, content beyond this page will not be indexed.

403 Forbidden

How Is It UsedYou’ve requested page X. You don’t have permission for page X, under any circumstance, so no!

Who Uses It - This page is for special people, usually administration or very limited to a few people

404 Not Found

How Is It UsedPage X has been requested, but page X is not available to you.

Who Uses It – The page usually doesn’t exist. These pages are mainly roadblocks for users and Google. Create a custom 404 and add some links back to the key-pages and you may keep hold of the visitor or two.

410 Gone

How Is It UsedPage X. We know page X but we’ve taken it down permanently.

Who Uses It – SEO’s use it to remove penalised pages. It’s a good page to say we’ve removed this page deliberately and forever.

500 Internal Server Error

How Is It UsedRequest for page X, but we’re not sure what has happened to page X.

Who Uses It – Nobody, this is an error.

503 Service Unavailable

How Is It Used -Page X is requested, response when trying to find X is ‘We have a big problem not going to show anything to anyone today’.

Who Uses It – The website is down. Who knows why.

Thanks for reading and I hope the response codes are clear.

We’ve put a little SEO spin the explanations of those you’ll commonly need. 301 is a great SEO tool. We use this as a way to transfer value from one URL to the newly constructed replacement. Personally, I wouldn’t use a redirect unless it’s an absolute necessity. You’ll always initially take a hit, but if you’ve done everything right, you’ll get almost all the value back.

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SEO Alternatives To Guest Blogging

As Summit Online Marketing and running the SEO Liverpool blog, we get numerous requests to guest blog. I’m not adverse to this, but sometime you simply can’t make the time.

We always stress to our clients the value of guest blogging and gaining reciprocal links for contributors, but I thought we’d give you another way to get bloggers onside.

Blogger Events

How

Hold an event for influential bloggers you’ve either found on twitter via followerwonk or those you’ve previously identified. If your website is about fashion, then it’s simple. If you’re trying to get content for an accountancy practice, then you’d need to pick a theme. e.g. Starting your business and financial forecasting or new business start up guide in 10 easy steps.

Note: It’s important to get a couple of details right, such as an appropriate time and the venue to meet.

You need to get the word out, choose an appropriate medium to inform your prospective bloggers and get them to spread the word to the community.

Whats the Offer

You need an appropriate offer for the prospective bloggers audience. Discounts, free space, promo-code, a gift, or a draw with a valuable prize … whatever! If it’s a seminar the accountancy company is running for small businesses, grant them free entry. Offer your bloggers free infographics to add to their posts or at least some stock images.

You can offer the bloggers a discount just for mentioning your businesses name, but the readers will need something else to sweeten the deal. You’ve added creditability and drawn in a bigger audience using the bloggers, but what does the prospective customer get out of it. It’s not the bloggers or our responsibility to sign up clients, it’s all about harvesting data, get social links from readers or simply generate a ‘buzz’ about the event

Seminars

If you’re an accountancy firm, and you want new self employed clients, the blogging will serve to promote the event. Give each blogger an individual product code and link to event invitation in the post.

From this you can monitor which blogger brought the most people and reward them appropriately.

The seminar needs to benefit the prospective clients, give away lots of good free information.

Tip At the presentation, you can offer them more free business tips if they friend your business on FaceBook or Google +

Regular Contact.

You should have blog posts written promoting your event, you’ll get bums on seats or at least email data from prospects requesting information… but that shouldn’t be the end of it. It is always good practice to keep in touch with those bloggers and offer little gifts or at least invite them round for a few free drinks.

Try it

 

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WordPress Plugins We Use

As our readers can probably guess this is another subject we receive lots of email on. Let me be clear, with most emails that ask about our preferences, they won’t be to everybody’s tastes. Here are a just a few WordPress plugins we recommend and use here at SEO Liverpool

Akismet Key

I’m sure you’re aware of the great scourge of the digital age… Spam. If you have a comment section on your website/blog, and don’t have effective blocking and sorting then you could be getting hundreds of spam emails notifications each day. This plugin, which is already pre semi-installed on most WordPress blogs is an excellent deterrent. So if you’re receiving lots of spam notifications, it’s certainly worth giving it a whirl

All in one SEO Pack

Every page and every post needs its own meta data, this simple and effective plugin gives you that. I’ve always found this tool basic but effective. This SEO plugin may not be Yoast, but it doesn’t need to be. It gives you the ability to set core homepage meta and various other functions that you may or may not find useful. It also allows an upgrade to professional with even more features.

Google +1 Button or Simple Social- Sharing widgets & Icons

You can use these to make sure you’ve got all the social buttons you need. To be honest, I sometimes think you can overload your readers with vast amounts of social buttons. If you feel the readership only needs a couple of the more popular such as twitter and Google +, you can add and subtract as appropriate. The style, layout and location are also adaptive with this useful tool.

UK Cookie Consent

A very simple plugin that lets you add the comply with UK legislation around cookie consent. It links to a prepackaged  policy page and has a visible bar at the top of your landing page that explains to visitors its purpose. This isn’t an option UK sites, this is Law. Make sure you have this plugin or one like it installed.

Google Analytics for WordPress

Very self explanatory, this will help you to add GA code to your websites. If you don’t know the importance of a plugin like this then get reading. This plugin will help you simply instal Google Analytics without editing a template or having FTP access. Very useful to the novice WordPress fan.

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Here’s How You Get Penalised By Google

We’ve been hearing news that a huge Penguin update on its way!  Alongside the expected Panda update, we’re heading for an important month in SEO.

For those people new to our SEO Liverpool blog, who don’t have a clue about what I’m talking about, here’s a little info…

From time to time, Google likes to update its algorithm (the process Google uses to rank websites). As more people report web-spam (websites/organisations that try to artificially fool Google), the responsible team at Google look at the common factors and alter the algorithm accordingly. It’s all about updating to improve search quality.

Penguin Updates

These updates target websites that use keyword stuffing, cloaking and most importantly Link schemes.

Panda Updates

This update has traditionally been about measures of quality, including design, trustworthiness, speed. Google’s new Panda machine-learning algorithm will look for similarities between websites people found to be high quality and low quality. It’s also thought to have a human side, meaning actual people rating aspects of websites.

Although you’d think this wouldn’t be a problem, sometime you can receive a penalty without trying to artificially game the system.

Here are some thoughts and questionable techniques that will/could earn you a penalty.

Thousands of rubbish Links

It really doesn’t take a genius to work out, if you go from zero to five thousand links in a week, you’re spamming (or you’re a viral genius). The simplest play for Google, is to look for unnatural link profiles, this leads to large scale link exchanges that will incur a penalty. If you’ve been in correspondence with an Indian web company who for $40 can get you ten thousand links (not only should you no better) you deserve to be penalised.

Hidden Links in Templates

We think that web companies who hide links in their clients websites, could soon be hit on this one. Time may also be up for the hidden link, one that isn’t seen and hides inside the template. If you’ve commissioned a website that has a link back to their site on each every page, could also see some sort of penalty. We think that the same tidy anchor text, saying Web Design Liverpool in the Root of 200, 30 page sites, will also cause you a headache.

Unrelated Languages

If you’ve got links from sites in foreign languages and their isn’t a reasonable explanation, you’ll be on the naughty list.

Not enough external links

If you don’t have enough external links, you no-follow or try to sculpt your PageRank, could mean you’re in trouble. The simplest explanation is, make the site look natural. One hundred links from PageRank Seven websites and not one from a zero or a one… smells funny. You’ll get hit with a penalty eventually.

Content that is low quality.

Poor text, do you have virtually the same page 30 times? Is their only a sentence on each page?. It’s simple, if a user wouldn’t find it useful, why would a search engine!

Site Adverts

Too many, not a good indicator of quality, especially if they’re just full of links to worthless affiliated websites. Google really, really wants to get rid of these sites from the top pages of its index.

These are just my thoughts on the next update….Good luck.

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SEO Basics – Meta Tags

The importance of the Title tag.

Meta data is probably the first port of call for most new SEO’s. If you get it right, then you can see a large gain as far as your optimisation efforts are concerned. I’m sure everybody understands what a title tag is, but lets make sure.

Lets examine them in more detail…

Title Tag = <title>This is what it looks like</title>

So as we’ve already stated the tag is a very effective tool for SEO. Almost every Search Engine Optimisation Consultant will have a slightly different way of using it. So how can we see it? Well, it is usually visible at the top of each browser once a website is open.

The established Rules

1) 70 Characters – This is the generally accepted wisdom, the title tag should be no longer than 70 characters. Any longer can be detrimental

2) Important Keywords  – The first keyword you place in this tag will be considered most important – If you write any content, own a website or pick up a product off the shelf. The first word/s will generally set the tone. e.g. If the most important content of a website is written at the bottom, then it’s obviously not the most important, think headline! A search engine generally uses this as a rule with all content.

3) What It Should Say – Every single page of your website should have a different title tag and this should reflect the content within that specific page. So if you’ll probably want the name of page, business name and a keyword. As above place the keyword first, page second and the business name third.

e.g. The Main Keyword Here | The Page Contact Us | Business Name Goes Here

On a side note, the piping (|) is used so we don’t waste characters… unless the keyword/phrase you’ve previously researched calls for it.

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Google Updates & Help

Anybody involved in the SEO industry will know that the recent ever-present updates to the Google Algorithm have been thrown at us with ever increasing regularity.

Today we’re going to discuss two updates that I feel small white hat SEO’s may have had some trouble with.

We’re not taking about the very recent Penguin #3 — October 5, 2012 or the Panda #20 — September 27, 2012. We feel these have been sufficiently covered by the majority of blogs.

Today at SEO Liverpool we’re discussing;

Exact-Match Domain (EMD) Update — September 27, 2012

Officially this relates to ‘a change in the way it was handling exact-match domains (EMDs). This led to large-scale devaluation, reducing the presence of EMDs by over 10%. Official word is that this change impacted 0.6% of queries (by volume)‘.

So if you’re domain name is the same as the major keywords you’ve been trying to rank for.

e.g. if your domain is ‘www.low-cost-insurance.com‘ and you wish to rank for ‘low cost insurance’… then you’ll lose some value. Not a huge amount but enough to lose a position or two dependent on the keywords competition.

Should I panic

Absolutely not, all these algorithm changes are not set in stone, quite often Google tweaks the algorithm or even totally reverses it. So please don’t try and change your domain name. You’ll lose the value of domain age and possibly the value of incoming links if not properly managed.

I’ve seen this happen!

What Should I Do

The answer is nothing. Any attempt to change will, without doubt cause you more harm than good. It’s swings and roundabouts with updates. The next could catapult you back to your previous positions. The best course of action is to concentrate on the fundamentals – More unique content, more links (Good Value) and Social. Think of the Google Algorithm as a score next to each individual aspect related to a webpage. That devaluation will, more often than not be pushed to another aspect or shared out amongst a group of others.

If you concentrate you’re efforts in content, social and links, then you’ll claw it back. If you choose these particular aspects then it is unlikely you’ll receive any penalties or devaluation in the near future. As I’ve stated above, this change could be reversed and then your hard work will certainly pay off.

Page Layout #2 — October 9, 2012

If you have been penalised with this one then you’re in trouble… ‘Google announced an update to its original page layout algorithm change back in January, which targeted pages with too many ads above the fold. It’s unclear whether this was an algorithm change or a Panda-style data refresh.’

If you understand the implications then it’s easy to understand the solution.

Why Have I Been Penalised?

Google generates the majority of its revenue in search via Pay-Per-Click. In order to generate PPC monies it’s search needs to be trusted. If organically your website ranks high and doesn’t show a good amount of useful content above the fold or a even small area e.g. http://browsersize.googlelabs.com/ then you’re not that useful. This is irrespective of what your site is about. Importantly if any website has sponsored links or even worse Ad-sense all over the valuable real-estate above the fold on the website… from the search engines perspective, you’re not useful.

What Can I Do

Personally, and I can only answer this personally, you need a website update. Get rid of ad-sense… I mean unless you’ve got a serious amount of traffic you can only be making pennies! Reorganise the site so you’ve good content in the key areas and look sensibly from a UX point of view at your offer. You can still keep them but place them down the page or on separate pages.

I don’t think Google will reverse this one, so make the changes quickly. 100% of nothing is still nothing, so if you reduce your advertising by 50% and get those top positions back you’ll still generate revenue.

Hope this helps

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Even More Quick Hits

SEO Liverpool have been asked these particular questions many times in recent weeks.

‘If i could do one thing, what would it be to get my website ranked higher within the search engines’.

This is easy… Content. It’s king don’t you know!

If you want to let the search engines know you’re alive and kicking, then show them. The fresh content part of the algorithm is still very powerful.

If you regularly put fresh content on your key pages, you’ll encourage the search engines to index you and hopefully generate some links.

‘I get lots of emails where people would like a link from me’.

This is a standard SEO practice. Remember not all links are equal and some people will try to deceive you.  The best possible advice is to get them to link to you. Then evaluate the link using either firebug or the simple PageRank icon on the Google toolbar. If it’s good, then it may be worth following them. Any business that wishes a link from you should be willing to give one back.

A good link will have good page rank, it’s from a complimentary business or even from a business in your particular field. Make sure the link isn’t a ‘No follow’ (a way to try and devalue the link back to you).

‘How can i get more links’?

It’s like I told you, good content is an easy win. Create a widget or a plugin for websites with a link back to your site. Info-graphics, Tweet’s, Facebook and YouTube are also good ways to generate links.

‘How come SEO costs so much’?

Well, this is a difficult one. There are only 10 organic listings per page (although talk is this may shrink). Competitiveness of keywords, level of competition and the actual current state of the website are determining factors. Do you want to compete locally, nationally or globally?

Anybody that solicits to you is generally not going to be that good. Anybody who asks you to pay a small monthly fee, won’t give you the attention your site deserves. Any company that doesn’t care to know about each aspect of your business and your current internal resources won’t generally be good either.

SEO is complicated, constantly evolving and fairly costly. If a company can demonstrate a return on investment then they’ll usually be worth it.

Thanks for questions guys

 

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More Quick Hits

At SEO Liverpool we like to answer as many questions from our readers and clients as possible… so here goes.

In general, what should I concentrate on with SEO to get the most value out of my time?

The golden rule is that content is king! This will never change. Content shows the search engine that a website is still alive. You’re very much mistaken if you think Google is all knowing.  Just because you’ve registered a domain name for a year or so, Google has no idea if the company is still trading or the information on site is still valid? Remember Google is essentially an academic tool. It’s core belief is to deliver the most valuable and up to date information to the searcher, therefore, having fresh content on valuable pages is essential. I’d always suggest a blog, with snippets around a paragraph long on a websites key-pages.

Depending on the content, this is also how you generate links. Good/valuable content is natural link bait, which is arguably the second most important SEO consideration. Viral content, or content that is easily shared, fun, interesting or even provocative (polarising) is also great for links. The Daily Mail are the masters of the universe on this one.

New content is also a great way to include keywords and back-links. You don’t want to spam your regular content with lots of keywords you’d like to be associated with, but a regular blog can help reinforce the keywords you already have. Just create a hyperlink to a particular site page using the keyword as the ‘anchor text’.

e.g. type the words ‘click here’ into Google. This illustrates the power of a link, as almost every site that has an adobe download uses ‘click here’ as its anchor text.

Are their any legitimate spam techniques?

Nope, spam is spam is spam. If it hasn’t already got a penalty attached, the likelihood is that it will. Inappropriate link spamming is the most recent aspect to get webmasters and SEO’s into trouble. Put yourselves in the situation of consumer and the search engine, if it looks dodgy, then it probably is. If you’ve been getting away with it so far, then the chances are you’ll fall foul in the future.

Case in point  – purchasing lot’s of Page Rank 3 links. If your link profile (the types of links you have) looks artificial, then the search engine will penalise you! If you think about it, how can any business regularly get 25 Page Rank 3 links month after month. Well they can’t, you’re more likely to get rubbish links than good ones.

What is the best tool you’ve got for SEO?

I had a really good think about this one. It’s a dead heat between Firebug and my back-link checker. I’ve done this purely based on the amount of value I get out of an hour or so.

Firebug

This is a plugin for Firefox that lets you easily see the HTML of website whilst the website is still visual in the browser. It has an inspector tool which is vital in checking over your own sites and those of your competition. You can check for various things such as H1 tags, alt image tags, frames, java and sometimes the dreaded hidden text.

Back-link Checker

If you want to investigate a site for links, then a back-link checker is a great tool. You can quickly look at competitors to see who links to them, the value of the link, the anchor text and even the value of the root domain it has come from. Any SEO worth his or her salt is using this on a regular basis.

How do I become an SEO?

If you wanted to become an SEO in Liverpool I’d recommend this is how you should start. Read the basic books on search engines and SEO, then move on to more advanced books on search. You’ll need to understand a little about webdesign and a lot about UX (user experience) design.

The next stage is to take on a project, something small and local, that you can’t do too much damage with. So I wouldn’t mess with anyone who relies on a passive web income that you could potentially jeopardise. Local is good, work for free and give it time. The best way to learn is to give it a try, understand why something worked and why something didn’t.

Start learning Google Analytics and have a regular set of daily blogs that you can read keeping you on the straight and narrow.

How do we prevent being penalised in the future, as we have done with the Panda and Penguin updates

You can’t! You need to be proactive, practical and quickly adapt to change. If you spam, you will get caught, but if you’re static you’ll get left behind.

Hope everyone found this useful.

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Getting SEO Support In House Part 2

Continuing our the SEO Liverpool post on In House SEO.

In reality it maybe simpler, in fact so simple you may have overlooked it.

Most of the time, employees are simply busy! This could mean a couple of things

  1. People do not take kindly to new work being added to their work flow.
  2. People may not wish to be told they’ve got to learn new things.
  3. People have their own goals which measure performance, they want to meet their own targets and goals, not yours.

So what is the simple solution? Well, it’s a combination of listening, clear thinking and detailed planning.

Listening

This relates to goals, everybody needs their own goals to meet. In your case, you rely on others to perform tasks to meet your own goals. The likelihood is you’re not the person updating code or delivering and changing content. So through the goal may be stated simply enough (increasing inbound traffic) getting to it is absolutely a team effort.

In my experience the best way is to listen to people and help them achieve their goals. Then plan a way that shows how your effort will help them reach or exceed them. e.g. How the marketing mangers support will result in them exceeding targets and tapping into more markets, or using online marketing to gather data that will prove invaluable in offline campaigns.  This type of motivational approach won’t work in every instance, so what do you do to influence the rest of the teams, and make sure your tasks are undertaken?

So, we’ve covered the listening and we’ve touched on motivating others to implement your suggestions. We’ll cover the more in Part 3

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Quick Hits For SEO

SEO Liverpool always try to give advice based on questions we’ve received in the last few months. Here are a few subjects we’d like to briefly go over.

Alexa Rank

We’ve had a few clients and more than a few queries about Alexa Rank over the past 3 months. People want to know why they aren’t getting a high traffic rank on Alexa. Some have bench-marked themselves with other companies based on other continents. They can’t understand why they get less traffic when their analytical packages show a substantial volume of traffic.

It’s simple Alexa Rank depends on the volume of people who have the Alexa Rank installed as a browser extension, meaning that’s how their data is collected. This means depending on the nature of your business and geographical location the results don’t really mean anything.

Geo-Surf

I’ve a client who competes really well in this country, they identified a competing businesses that statistically generates more enquiries and therefore is a more valued by their partners. Our client has all the number one keywords we’ve worked for and still generates a lot of business, but wanted to know why their competitor does so well.

Another simple answer and solution, you’re keyword positions vary in different countries, so you may only be position 1 in your country. A competitor could be getting better results in other countries and therefore more traffic. Use this browser extension http://goo.gl/uSpbV and watch the video, it will tell you how to check your rank in other countries. To improve in those countries you’ve identified, use more targeted content and leverage local links from that country.

De-personalise Search

All search marketing consultants should know that you can de-personalise search. Try these 3 ways to find out what the real search engine results are without any bias.

&pws=0

If you’ve been in SEO for a while, you’re familiar with the “pws=0” de-personalisation parameter. By adding it to the end of a Google query URL (“&pws=0”), you can theoretically remove history-based personalisation. A simplified URL would look something like this:

http://www.google.com/search?q=seo+liverpool&pws=0

  • http//www.google.com = Google search
  • /search?q=   = ready for a search query
  • highlited text is for your own keywords with the + to separate words =seo+liverpool
  • &pws=0  = personalise web search

Signing Out Of Google

This one’s pretty straightforward. Just sign out of your Google account. Although my research would suggest, Google still works a bit of its magic to bring you a personal result.

Incognito Browsing (Chrome)

Google’s Chrome browser has a built in “incognito” mode that supposedly removes any traces of your browsing activity, such as cookies or search history. Yet again, still uses some data.

The Best Way

Sign out of Google and then add a &pws=0 parameters, for the best results.

 

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