404 or 301 Your Old Pages? Which is Best For SEO?

We’ve had a bit of a discussion at SEO Liverpool about getting did of multiple subpages & not get penalised. The discussion is around the topics of using different techniques when removing or redirecting pages.

Which is better to do for SEO? Do you want to 301, redirect a page, or 404, return a not found status, a page?

I can tell you that the best SEO companies think about this fairly frequently. At Summit we take different approaches for different sites. I try, try hard, to not think only about SEO and think what would also benefit the user.

Here is my guide:

301 redirect everything you possibly can, when it makes sense. If you have a page about big blue pineapple chairs on the old site and you are moving it to the new site, 100% use a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new one. However, sometimes it is not that easy.

Sometimes you have a site with hundreds, if not thousands of pages, if not more. Manually redirecting each page is a huge chore. When we can, we set up logic based 301 redirects, to redirect the old URL to the new URL dynamically. That can result in thousands of redirects, but Google should handle those fine over time.

For all the pages that do not match that pattern or logic AND for sites where there is no logic (large, old, non-database driven sites), you want to manually redirect the most important pages. So make sure you have analytics installed on the previous site, way before launching the new site – this way you have the 301 redirects in place, on the most important pages, when you launch.

Then, all other pages, I typically set up a 404 page, returning a valid 404 status code, plus it is set up as a custom 404, so users who land on it, have an avenue to find the right page.

Some people have suggested that sometimes you should think about setting up what is called a “soft” 404 page. Basically, a soft 404 page, is a page that looks like a page not found page, but returns a server status of 200, meaning, the page is valid and active and should not be deleted. The only issue I see with that, is that the URL of the page will be different but the content of the page will be very similar, if not exact, to the other soft 404 pages you set up. Of course, if you are a smart coder, you can look at the Google referrer or the old page’s data and serve up contextual relevant product or content on that page, which would make the page’s content more unique.

So, like I said, it totally depends on the situation and your search engine marketing experience.

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Domain Strategies for Search Engine Optimisation

You’re optimising your Web site. You’re working on building links to your Web site. The best SEO will ask you ‘are you paying attention to your domain name strategy?’ Yes, your domain name strategy.

Although you have one main domain name, every small business SEO knows it’s important to take a look at your domain strategy as a whole and check for things that may help — or hurt — your search engine rankings.

Redirect Domains to Main Web Site

If your main Web site is www.maindomain.com, then you’ll want to 301 permanent redirect all the domain names you own that aren’t in use to www.maindomain.com. There are several reasons for this, such as stopping mirror sites from appearing, making sure your main domain name gets credit for links to other domains you own, and making sure your main domain name gets the PageRank credit for links to other domain names you own.

This brings up another issue: the links pointing to other domain names. By doing some domain name research, you can find domain names that were previously on the same topic that might have traffic, backlinks, and PageRank. You can benefit by finding the right domains, buying the right domains, and redirecting them to your Web site with a 301 permanent redirect.

Choose the right domain name and you may benefit from better search engine rankings. If you were to find a domain name that was formerly on the same topic of your main Web site and you’re able to buy that domain name and redirect it, it could mean additional traffic and additional sales.

Depending on how the search engines deal with that domain name, it could mean getting credit for additional backlinks and more Google PageRank to your site. And, if your domain is new to the Internet, there could be benefits to gaining some quick “authority” through domain purchasing/redirecting.

No Guarantees

Buying domain names and redirecting them won’t necessarily bring more traffic, backlink credit, or Google PageRank to your main Web site. There are many factors that might prevent this.

Whenever you buy a domain name, you don’t know if traffic is already going to that domain name until you take ownership of it and point it to some place where you can look at the traffic (you could point it to your Web site, set up separate Web hosting for it, or use a domain parking service).

There are many factors that can influence whether you get backlink and PageRank credit, including whether the search engines give you that credit. Some search engines, such as Google, have been rumored to “zero out” PageRank and backlink credit when a domain name changes owner; they’ve also been rumored to “zero out” PageRank and backlink credit for other reasons, as well.

There are many checks you can perform before you buy a domain name, and that’s probably best covered in a separate Google SEO discussion. Those include going to the search engine and typing the domain name to see what comes up — and searching for it in quotes to research it. You can also look at the domain name in the Wayback Machine to see its history.

Domain Auctions

There are several ways to find domain names, including searching at the expired domain name auctions such as Go Daddy’s TDNAM.com auctions, Sedo auctions, and eBay. There are other domain auctions at NameJet, SnapNames, Pool.com, and TUCOWS Auctions. Most of these are covered all at FreshDrop.net, a domain research service that allows you to search those auctions for domain names. You can also sort the results using several helpful factors, including sorting by domain age, PageRank, and number of backlinks.

By doing some domain name research, you may be able to find domains you can buy that were on your site’s topic that might bring some additional traffic to your site. And backlinks and PageRank might just come along with that on the side, as well.

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Does Google Conduct Minor Toolbar PageRank Updates Between Major Updates?

Summit Online Marketing are asking the question most people who participate in search forums ask themselves. Does Google, on occasion, update the toolbar PageRank score of a particular web site between the major and mass toolbar PageRank updates that are reported?

As an SEO company, why do we ask this question? Well, if you visit enough blogs and forums, you are bound to see a thread or five with the title, “PageRank Update.” These threads are fairly noticeable and we find spot them on a fairly recent basis.

Real Webmasters involved in SEO outsourcing are noticing updates to their PageRank scores in the Google Toolbar. This happens all the time, and then they jump to the forums to be the first to announce the next PageRank update. But then you see a mass response of replies saying, “no PR update here.”

So is it possible that what that SEO Webmasters have noticed was a true toolbar PageRank update for his site? Maybe. There are a few possibilities, the most likely is that he or she is hitting a different data center with different PageRank scores. But I would not rule it out that Google does push minor PageRank scores to the toolbar between major updates.

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More content… really?

Content. At SEO Liverpool we’ve noticed this buzzword in the SEO space has grown to astronomical levels. As I speak with companies on a regular basis, they constantly tell me that they’ve been advised by an online marketing company to write new and unique content by the boatload — no matter the Web site or space they’re in.

It’s time we review the advantages of content, and where it may be applicable. Let’s look at a few sites that will either need heavy amounts of content or little to no content.

These sites need content:

* Affiliate sites, which typically add little to no value by simply copying from others. These sites need a specific value-add, to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack.

* Sites with heavy amounts of graphics, Flash, video, or any other site that may be difficult for a user requiring a screen-reading program to view.

* E-commerce sites that use a set amount of content from a massive distributor, like Ingram Micro or Tech Data. Each merchant has access to the exact same data — what makes your site different from the rest?

These sites don’t need heavy amounts of SEO-specific content:

* Sites with a large community of content contributors who spend a good portion of their time writing about the topics surrounding the subject matter of each site.

* Sites that generate content on a regular basis, such as news sites or blogs.

Instead of trying to manipulate search engines, consider providing a way for your users, distributors and/or manufacturers to give you unique and well-written content. It’s likely that they have written marketing materials that won’t make it to their standard (and usually expensive) forms of distribution. This content could add a great deal of value to products and/or services that may be offered by many other online dealers with either the same or slightly different data.

When creating content to enhance search engine placement, keep in mind that it can come in multiple forms — services, contests, games, video, and even news . It’s critical that the content is interesting and compelling, so it has the chance of being linked to by a “fan.”

It’s very important that if you offer a special guarantee, such as a price match, you honor it to any possible level. By having complicated terms that make it nearly impossible to use… you’ll wind up upsetting your client base. While you may get links to your site, it will hurt your reputation.

It’s also extremely important to have a “yes we can help” customer service attitude. Your loyal customers can be solicited to come back and write about their experience. This most important feature has helped companies such as eBay and Amazon.

The retail sector, some stores have lost this attitude. In many cases, no matter how small the request, they just say no. You wind up spending an enormous amount of time arguing with them that you’re right.

However, if you buy the same product at a sites like ASOS, with their very friendly customer service attitude, you’ll be satisfied through the entire process and come back to buy more.

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Tips for finding Niche Keywords Part 3

The final part in our post from Summit online marketing looking… the top seo guide to finding niche keywords

4. Did you know that there are differences between the written word and spoken dialogue? Try exploring natural sounding “dialogue” and words based on dialogue. Your friends and customers often will say things, that give you a starting place to explore new data.

5. Open up your research and explore the world of colour. For example, what happens if you enter a single term representing a colour like “red,” or “aqua” or “green” or any other colour?

6. Explore any type of data at all in terms of a root word. Don’t forget to explore everything and anything that comes to mind. From a topic you notice on the news, to something that may not even be a word at all. What happens if you try to explore a number, or a price like £9.95 instead of a word?

7. Instead of just thinking of your research as “keywords” try thinking in terms of your audience’s “topics of interest.”

Wordtracker will give you absolutely AMAZING detail if you take time to think about it laterally, and outside of the context of just a “keyword hunt.” Don’t let the natural tendency to “guess at keywords” stop you from uncovering all the hidden evidence, that just needs a little digging to find.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, if you want more ideas you can visit Wordtracker and have a go for free!

Michael Campbell Notes: Anybody involved with online marketing consulting would think about your audience’s trade lingo, industry jargon, and words that are specific to a certain holiday, sport, hobby or service. For example, RIP, stripper, loupe, masking, pantone, dot gain and super black are all related to the printing industry. Spend some time in the industry association sites or read industry specific magazines to learn their lingo, for more potential niches.

Another tip is to use verbs and action words like “stop” or “improve” as your root word. Then let the keyword service (my favourite is NicheBot) tell you what people want “stopped” or “improved” in their lives.

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Some Excellent Search Marketing Advice

Some quick tips for budding SEO company or in-house SEO’s

Strategy deployment and competition

Check your competition… simply try and have more content rich pages than them. Assuming you have the same amount of content and same amount of links. Treat it like a head to head race. Then improve your navigation and architecture to get the edge.

Assume we all have healthy marketing budgets to allocate towards these strategies. What do we do? We allocate a % towards each strategy. Because we know it works, and have demonstrated this. That’s what the bigger firms do. Implement as many strategies you can within that budget. Choose the ones based on looking at your competition. Not hard to find out the strategies they’ve deployed already. If you conduct good research, you won’t need to deploy all these strategies. Implement as many as you can afford and make sure you have conversion processes.

A bit about conversion.

Create a measurable goal for each page. Lots of pages have great filler and content, but don’t compel readers to take action. Capture an email, lead, sale, etc. Have a clear call to action at the end of the page to get to the next step. Put an phone number on there, or a simple a link that advances the process. Don’t make users search for the call to action.

When collecting personal info, make people feel secure about it. Get a security certificate. Some laws require it. Make the contact page have multiple mechanisms of communication. This is your opportunity to increase conversion rate.

Your ideal SEO team:

Designer
Web Developer
Content Writer
Marketing Manager
Wiz Technical Manager
Expert SEO Specialist
Expert Strategist that’s done it more than once

SEO Liverpool would appreciate your feedback

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7 Proven Tips That Will Get You To Number 1

Some SEO tips from the offices of SEO Liverpool company Summit Online Marketing.

Now everyone has heard that content is king. It’s really all about the text, video, images in a keyword rich environment.

* Tip 1: Get good copy to support the keyword research. If it’s an appliance part – find images and text to support it. Video too.

* Tip 2: Navigation and architecture. Ability to choose structure that the engines can index. Be careful of certain types of Javascript and other non-indexable navigation.

* Tip 3: Blogs. Another form of content. Pictures, text, images served in a slightly different manner. It’s a strategy. You don’t need to use all these strategies to dominate, but in a competitive arena, you need to deploy more and more to compete.

* Tip 4: Quality and keyword rich inbound links. Utilise keywords in link text – avoid using your company name. Helpful resources at Google Webmaster Central, and on the Thinkprofits website. Yahoo! Site Explorer is a great tool to measure inbound links. The bottom line is you want links from other websites to your own.

* Tip 5: The database you install is important. Make sure the engines can index the content in your database. It’s well worth the investment to get the right database in place.

* Tip 6: Electronic press releases. There is so much we can do with PR to get sites on Google often within 24 hours.

* Tip 7: Domain name strategy. We do find many people are missing out on this. When the opportunity arises to purchase a keyword rich domain, although not always possible, if the opportunity is there – set it as primary domain. Get extra points for that e.g. LuxuryYachtCharters.com will help rank. Register your domain for a long term, because it may give you more points. Another idea is to register your keyword rich domain, and forward it to your primary site. Also assist in getting more traffic by address bar navigators.

Hope you enjoy these quick search engine optimisation tips

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The Secret to Getting Projects (Even Big Ones) Done Fast Part 2

Professional Copywriters Never Get Stuck!

Sure — of course, everyone can have writer’s block, even a professional copywriter that is being paid £500 to write a hard-punching salesletter. But the professional copywriter won’t get stuck long!

You see, most Professional copywriters that write web copy and salesletters for a living will reach into their SWIPE file (a stash of old salesletters and headlines that were kept and filed away by the copywriter). Once the copywriter pulls out the stash of winning headlines and sales copy that had been filed away, it’s just a matter of time to review the material that will spark NEW ideas and bring the clarity of the project into focus.

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The Secret to Getting Projects (Even Big Ones) Done Fast Part 1

Here at SEO Liverpool we know that Starting a project, especially a big one, is probably one of the toughest things for people to do, including me! Sometimes all that is needed are some ideas to get your brain started in the right direction and overcome procrastination. But often times, entrepreneurs sit quietly in their desperation waiting for the stroke of genius to come to them… something that will start their project off on the right foot. I’ve been there myself struggling, literally pulling my hair out and I can tell you outright – there is NO reason for any of this madness.

Having been in the Legal field as an office manager and legal assistant for over in a previous career, I had the chance to deal with many legal forms and processes over and over again. This form here. That process there. After a number of years doing this, I began to notice a pattern. Everything had a form, a process, a structure. Even the solicitors I worked for — whenever they would see a legal paper that they really liked and admired the format, they would ask for a copy of it to put in their FORMS file to refer back to at a later time. Many solicitors operate on the premise of working from a FORM rather than having to re-create a whole entire document from scratch. And it makes sense because it’s a time saver!

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Wikipedia (A good value link)

At SEO Liverpool we always try and help clients find ways gaining leverage in Google. About two years ago Wikipedia certainly was… it’s popularity as an SEO tool seems to have diminished in the past year (or maybe i’m wrong)

Why?

Ever notice – when you search for a person on Google – that Wikipedia entries often come up in the top 10 search results? Have you ever wondered how you’d benefit from such a listing, and the traffic it would bring? Herein lies the conundrum.Wikipedia links are a no follow but the benefits of a wikipedia page are really worth the SEO effort.

Now you’re not supposed to write about yourself, or your company, or edit the entries about you. So how do you get in? Why not get a friend to interview you and do it for each other. Better yet get five friends and make it a team effort. Provide your buddies with a complete bio and life history. Decide on a team captain to start the entries. Then each one of your team can enter additional info. Just remember that it’s online encyclopedia, not a social bookmarking site. Read their “What Wikipedia Is” and “What Wikipedia Isn’t” pages, to stay within their TOS and abide by all their guidelines. Try to remain objective, unbiased and maintain a neutral point of view. Be sure all info is verifiable and based in fact, not editorial opinion. And don’t go crazy with links and references.

Give it a shot… If you’ve done anything significant, like won a national award, written ebooks, spoken at seminars, are a CEO, or have done anything noticeable, or remarkable, ask a friend to make a Wiki entry for you. Then, if you’re lucky, and they accept your entry, maybe your name will start appearing at the top of the Google search results.

This is a quick win!

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