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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Link Analysis Using Competitors Websites

On 3 occasions last month our SEO Liverpool blog was asked how to obtain quality links.

This is an interesting question, what is a quality link? We think the evaluation of potential links and finding those that are causing harm, are the most important factors when understanding which links can provide value.

We all know the Panda and Penguin updates have focused link-builders on link quality, this means we should really be evaluating all potential links!

I thought I’d post a little on how and which links you should evaluate from your competitors websites, so you better understand strategy and improve your link profile.

Choose your competitors

It’s probably the hardest start to make, all you know so far is that a particular competitor pops up in your space. This can either be in terms of products and services or keywords. I usually choose 5 competitors based on keywords and 5 on comparative services.

Find your link analysis tool of choice.

I’m a fan of the Open Site Explorer, but it can be a bit costly! I have been known to use software such as link-assist.  The standard wisdom states that you should look at your competitors results for followed links and 301 redirects. Obviously, these are great, but I like to download every links and evaluate them.

You can get a better feel for the strategy they use to generate links, or they may have lots of websites that you can easily post on too.

Check The Status Codes

You want the best links and at the very least to replicate those of your competitors. Adopt and adapt is the best policy, but for now we’re concerned with not getting the same rubbish links that all websites can accumulate.  Eliminate from your list all those links that are corrupt, 404, 302 or any other you think are suspicious. I have used screaming frog for this in the past, but their are plenty of other ways to this simply and manually.

Another review

Cross off the links you’ve found that already link to you. So you should only now have good links, that are functioning and are followed

Establish a base

Set a benchmark of those links that are a) very valuable b) could be difficult to achieve c) bread and butter. What I mean by this is have an overall score e.g for Page Authority, Google Cache frequency or at the least PageRank use a tool that evaluates the page in SEO terms.

Now rank them in order of importance and attainability.

Manually review

For each link, give the PageRank score, detail the type of site, links out and domain age.

Go Get Them then rinse and repeat with other competitors

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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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Content Strategy…. What Should I Write About

If you’re an established SEO or if you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll no doubt be aware that every website needs to satisfy the content freshness part of the Google algorithm. I say every site, but some business by their very nature already create reams of new content.

If you fall under this category, then congratulations! You’ll just need to make sure your new pages, products, video’s or documents are correctly indexed. The meta-data is up to specification and you’re not at the mercy of dynamic urls or pagination.

For the rest of us unlucky souls here at SEO Liverpool, we need to come up with ideas for a content strategy.

We hear this phrase rather a lot…

My business is so boring to most people outside our industry, no point in writing anything.

So what should you write about?

Firstly, stop thinking that people are going to read your content particularly your weekly blogs. The chances are, they won’t. At this stage you don’t need them too. What we’re saying is, you’re initially only trying to satisfy that part of the Google Algorithm.

Once you’ve an established readership, then you should worry more about what you’re writing.

Let your keywords do the talking.

e.g If your keyword research has thrown up the phrase ‘conveyor belting’ then you should write around that subject. It’s good for general SEO so you’ll be ticking more than one box.

This would seem like a difficult task, as surely everything that has ever been discussed, written or thought about could be placed on the 2 sheets of A4. This SEO agency Liverpool knows that you’d be wrong!

Firstly, their is nothing wrong with digging up bit’s of content that already contains the phrase. You can always re-write from a different perspective. You can always credit the original source. Why not write about certain machines that use the conveyor belts and their purpose.

Secondly,  Look for content that could become viral, or is at least important. Health and Safety laws, famous factory workers and top ten lists. These are generally your best bet for link-bait.

It’s important that you don’t devalue your brand, or say anything that is untrue or controversial but I encourage you to have fun with your blogs… you’ll get better traction.

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Three Classic Onsite Website SEO Mistakes

I’ve been contacted by a few companies in the last few months regarding our SEO basics posts. A common question we’ve heard centers around which SEO elements should they implement on-page (on the website)

It’s important to remember that you’re not trying to game the system. SEO and Google have the same goals. To get the top listings you just have to fulfill the criteria that Google uses to rank you… Google is very much customer focused. Build for the customers then you’ll build a site the search engines like.

Classic Website Mistakes

Number 1

Fresh content – I’ve stated this on many occasions but fresh content is a key-factor and a mainstay regarding the Google algorithm. This hasn’t changed and probably never will.

Why Google Likes It – The simplest indicator of a useful website is fresh content. Fresh content means the site and information is up to date and most importantly more than likely you’re still trading. This is done by the Google spiders revisiting the website.

e.g. You’re a HR company that has no fresh content or news on the website. Alternatively, you update the site with the latest HR information and proactively provide good content that adds to the readers experience.  Which version is Google going to want to refer? Google knows you’re still trading and most importantly you’re probably more relevant. The more the search engine spiders analyse a website, and you’ve added to it, the better you’ll rank.

Number 2

H1 Tags  – You should have a h1 tag on each page that gives a good description of the service you offer. Great for placing keywords but better for telling the customer what the page contains.

Why Google Likes It – Simply, it enables clear navigation and direction to customers. Search engine wise, it very clearly categorises each page and adds context to the meta data.

Number 3

Over optimisation of homepage text. You’ve seen those sites, lists of keywords that are hyper-linked to internal site pages. Their is no context to them. Most of the time, they’re not even written in constructive sentences, just placed in lists.

Why Google Hates It – Google not only looks at the keywords, and those that are linked, but it uses the text around to provide context. Lots of hyper-links and sitelinks is indicative of linkfarms and untrusted sites.

Personally, you shouldn’t optimise a homepage for more than three keywords.

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SEO Consultants Should Understand Conversions

This topic is in response to a question from an SEO Liverpool client who wants to know about Conversions.

It’s very important as an SEO consultant that you understand the final part of the optimisation puzzle. If you’re working towards the goal of just driving traffic to a website, then you’re not all the way their. The goal is to turn that traffic into conversions.

What is a conversion?A proportion of visitors to a website, take action to go beyond a casual content view or website visit, as a result of subtle or direct requests from marketers, advertisers, and content creators.

This meansThe person who lands on the website takes a desired action… or follows a set route you want them to travel.

Examples of Conversions

  • The analytics shows the user has travel a desired route, and looked at the information you wanted to show them
  • The user has phoned a number, or sent an email
  • The user has filled out a desired form
  • The user has downloaded a document
  • The user has watched a video
  • The user has bought a product or service

Why aren’t conversions all about getting work?Actually they are, but not all work arrives immediately or directly from a glance at a website.

Example…

I’m looking to build an extension onto my house. I know what I want, I’ve stumbled onto an appropriate website…

Firstly everybody is different… I might want to call you up and get a quote – I’ve immediately seen the phone number in the header – Job done.

I may wish to email you (also in the header) the project details… so you have a feel for the project and then you can call me (at a convenient time for me) to discuss once you’ve more of an understanding of my needs.

I may just want to make sure your business is the real deal… you could be anyone. Subconsciously I’m looking for trust… maybe accreditation’s or visuals that imply trust.

I want to know you’re not going to run off with my money and I want to see samples of your work… I find the case studies pages.

What do your clients say about you… I find a video testimonial.

Conclusions

These are all either conversion points or major factors that relate to conversions. If your website doesn’t have them, then SEO will never be complete. How can you offer SEO to a website that will not convert? It’s like directing everybody to a closed shop.

The goal of running an SEO agency or being a consultant, isn’t to be consistently finding new clients. The goal is to establish long-term relationships, get recommendations from your existing clients to other potentials. Anybody who doesn’t understand the power of this type of referral should get reading. The most difficult and arguably time consuming aspect of this type of work is when you need to justify the reasons why they need SEO and its benefits.  Why should anybody trust that you can deliver a project? Get your clients to do that for you!

How can you justify ROI if their is no ROI. Without proof of conversions, you’ll just make every potential client doubt the validity of your data sets and tarnish your reputation.

 

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Google Help – Keyword Research On For Existing Sites Part 2

The second part of our SEO Liverpool blog on existing site keyword research. Have a look at part 1 before you go ahead with information contained in this post.

Creating The Definitive Keyword List

Firstly, all keyword lists are working documents! Your keyword list will give you Google search data based on the previous months searches, but is that the everything? What if you’re business is effected by a seasonal uplift or worse a downshift. You need to be aware of error margins, not just the ‘exact’ versus ‘broad match’ search. I’m thinking more about the dreaded vanity searches (People checking their own results in Google and therefore compromising data).

Tip 1Basically, you should revisit this as a working document every quarter and more so if your products or services are seasonal.

Secondly, from the previous keyword list, drill deep, pick up all the keywords based around the services or brand (you won’t need them all but you should have data on them).

Thirdly, break the list up dependent on search volume and prioritise it – I like to colour code. You should then have a list with the following columns….

  • Keyword – Your selected keyword
  • Local, National or Worldwide Searches  – Local has a geo-specific element, e.g. Liverpool. National is Google.co.uk properties.
  • Related Page  -  Insert the actual page URL to which the keyword is appropriate e.g. www.mysite/Camera
  • Blogs – How many internal blogposts have you placed this keyword in?
  • Links – How many links have you built using this keyword as anchor text (the actual keyword as a link)?

Choose 3 main keywords for each page of your site and two ancillary (keywords that will generate revenue and competition isn’t that high). If you have more then you need create different pages to reflect them.

Note… if you have lots of great keywords with good volumes, you need to have pages that relate to the product. If you don’t, you should build more webpages. Keywords need to be naturally reflected in the content!

Working example.

www.mysite/Camera -

  • buying cameras,
  • cheap cameras,
  • expensive cameras.

www.mysite/Camera/Cannon - 

  • Cannon cameras,
  • cheap Cannon cameras,
  • expensive Cannon cameras.

www.mysite/Camera/Cannon/DX432 - 

  • Cannon dx432,
  • Cheap DX432 camera,
  • DX432 camera accessories.

If you sell this product, have just one page, but have search data for lots of keywords that would generate sales… build more pages and incorporate them!

Recap

We now have our keyword list – prioritised by search volume, competitiveness and colour coded. This is broken down by product/service and the URL of your related webpage. Once you have this list you can create a competitor analysis. You’ll be able to gauge exactly who you’re competing against and if you’re smart, evaluate why they’re in the top positions and how you can overtake… but that’s for another post.

 

 

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Keyword Research For Existing Sites Part 1

In response to a recent enquiry we had through our SEO Liverpool blog, today we’re looking at keyword research for existing websites.

Keyword research is arguably the most appropriate starting point for any search engine marketing consultant. We know that our Keywords direct the searcher to the website, therefore our primary aim is to create a list of keywords that a searcher would desire.

So how should we start to generate the list…

Identify The Websites Key-pages

We need to find the appropriate pages that a searcher would need to make a conversion or buy a product or service. Obviously the home page should always be treated as a key-page. I would always choose individual product pages and probably add a ‘convincer’ to that list e.g. testimonials, case-study or accreditation page.

Rough Keyword List

For each page, you should write a quick list of potential keywords. It’s always good practice to ask potential or existing customers, especially those with different persona’s. Remember it’s just a rough list based around the products or services and possibly locations so you may need to be clear on Geo-specifics e.g. SEO Liverpool, Search Engine Optimisation Manchester.

Different persona’s look like this e.g. If I was to buy a camera, I’d know the brand name and some basic features, a professional or hobbyist would know more technical information such as model numbers.

Quick tip -  As a starting point find a competitors website, that ranks number well for your product or service. View their page source from your browser tab. Look for the keyword meta tag, as this should give you ideas relating to your keywords. As in the previous post, the title tag will have the most sought after keywords (shown at the top of the browser once you’ve opened the website).

<meta name=”keywords” content=”Sony Camera, Sony 4567×4, professional Sony camera cheap” />

Check Keyword Popularity

For this you’ll need either your own keyword software such as ‘Wordtracker’ or use the ‘free Adwords keyword tool’ (just type this into Google)

For the purpose of this post we’ll look at the free Adwords Tool.

  1. Insert your draft keywords into the ‘Word or Phrase’ box
  2. Un-check the following boxes, ‘Only show idea’s closely related to my search terms’ (This will generate other keywords that will be useful)
  3. Un-check ‘Broad’ under the ‘Match Types’ on the left hand side column (Otherwise you’ll include keywords, in any order and with extras – this is a problem)
  4. Check the ‘Exact’ box (Only shows the exact keywords in that order)
  5. Click the ‘Keyword ideas’ tab

You’ll then generate a list by selecting each keyword, which you can download.

Notes. high search volume and low competition is good, high search and high competition not so good. Keyword volumes under the ‘Local Monthly Search’ look at Google UK, but if you enter a Geo-specific, you’re laser targeting.

From this list we can generate suggestions and you’ll have the ability to drill down to find a lot more keywords around your products and services.

Export the results, arrange them in priority for each specific key-page. You’ll then have a solid draft list.

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The Law Of Diminishing Returns

90% Is Good Enough

I discussed this with a variety of SEO Liverpool clients, and in the past I’ve devoted entire talks on this topic. The focus is usually in relation to link-building vs. on-page SEO, but the message is the same.

What we’re discussing in this post is the need to get everything absolutely perfect and concentrating your efforts on a tactic that just isn’t worth the fuss of hitting 100%.  People naturally get comfortable with one aspect of the search marketing mix (link-building, on-page, social, etc.) and then want to ‘perfect’ it, but at best they hit diminishing returns fast.

Why focus your resources on attaining the last 10%, when you’ll get a much higher return by concentrating those efforts on other tactics that will provide much more SEO benefit.

I’ve seen sites with spotless on-page SEO that have been stuck for months suddenly leap through the rankings because they’ve acquired a few good links. On the flip-side, I’ve seen sites that were a total mess but had solid link profiles miraculously improve when their on-page problems were fixed.

We understand the perceived value that optimising each aspect of your SEO to 100% efficient, but often, you focus a vast proportion of your time on just one aspect. If the focus was to shift to another related to the central pillars of SEO, the rewards would be much greater.

Be Tough and Patient

Our SEO Agency Liverpool can only stress patience. This could be the toughest skill any good SEO eventually has to learn. There are times when you’ll need to react quickly to a problem, especially a technical problem (like a bad redirect or site outage). There’s a fine line between reacting and over-reacting, though.

The common technical SEO mistake we see is when organisations and SEO’s make a change, if it doesn’t immediately improve their rankings 24 hours later, and so they revert it or make another change on top of it. Even if it doesn’t make the problem worse (and it usually does), you’ll never be able to measure which change worked. Make sure your changes went live, that Google has acknowledged them (i.e. crawled and cached), and that you can measure the impact or lack of impact. Don’t change your strategy overnight based on bad information (or no information).

 

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Spam Emails And Mass SEO Marketing

This is a subject I like to revisit from time to time.  I received this email and I’m sure it went out to thousands of businesses.

At SEO Liverpool we’re sick to death of this type of lame marketing exercise. This is potentially the most harmful type of spam, as it can destabilise new campaigns and usually results in lots of phone calls from clients.

Let me know your thoughts.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

Hello,

I hope you’re doing well!

I was surfing through your site where I saw that your site was not ranking on any search engines.

If you are interested we want to increase the number of visitors to your website, it is important that you have a top search engine position.

Our search engine optimization experts will run a ranking report showing you exactly where your website currently stands in all the major search engines. Then we will email you our analysis report along with the recommendations of how we can increase your rankings, and improve your websites traffic dramatically!

We strictly work on performance basis and can assure you of getting quality links with a proper reporting format for your site as well.

We wish you the best of luck and looking forward to a long and healthy business relationship with you and your company.

Please do let me know if you have any questions.

Kind Regards,

****

Post:- Online Marketing Manager

Reply me:- 

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

The main issue I have with this type of email, is that it reinforces a certain stereotype. The stereotype that people working within our industry are opportunists, willing to take on any work, and we’ll scare you into it. If you speak with web designers, developers and many other associated industries, they’ll tell you that search engine optimisation SEO has a poor reputation.

Sadly the companies that operate in this manner will promise the earth and very rarely deliver.

The reasons why I feel this type of email is harmful

  1. It isn’t addressed to anyone (this gives you a clue that they have just spammed an entire network)
  2. How can they possibly investigate your website and the potential keywords. Especially as we’ve worked out that this email has been sent to thousands of people.
  3. Good SEO/SEM firms do not advertise in this way and here is why…
  • It’s simply not ethical for an SEO company to work with more than one client in a specific industry.
  • It’s simply not possible to scale a business to deal with that many prospects and effectively evaluate opportunities.

No Two SEO Strategies Are The Same

Once a business approaches an SEO company, a review (almost a due diligence project) needs to take place for the following reasons…

  1.  Can you work in this area? Do you have the expertise? Is it ethical? Do you already have a client in this space?
  2.  You need to establish a base level of current activities.
  3.  Is it possible with a reasonable budget to get those identified positions

A responsible SEO company will evaluate…

  • Competitiveness of keywords.
  • Other competing companies.
  • A basic breakdown of what need to change or adapt.
  • Internal resource and departments involved in the web property.
  • Is their potential for a good ROI (return on investment)?

Return on investment is key when dealing with clients

If the level of investment in SEO, website changes and social strategies isn’t proportional to estimated traffic, conversions, profit margins and eventually scale-ability…  then it’s a no go!

e.g. The simple economic formula

If you make money by selling in volume ‘stack high and keep it cheap’ and search volumes are low, then it may not make business sense.

Acceptable Prospect

  • High Value Product/Service
  • Proportionally Good Search Volumes
  • Low Or Medium Keyword Competition

Difficult Proposition

  • Low Value Product/Service or Poor Margins
  • Low Search Volumes
  • Medium To High Competition

Most sites fall in-between and therefore a robust research piece should be your first port of call.

Conclusion

The inadequacies in such a poorly researched email wouldn’t fool anyone in the industry. On closer inspection this company hasn’t got a website that relates to the email address sent. Therefore, anybody who conducts a little research won’t be drawn in.

Unfortunately some SME’S will be fooled! Either way, the SEO industries credibility is under-threat as these type of emails are becoming more common.

 

 

 

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