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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Advanced Business to Business Marketing

This week at SEO Liverpool we’ve had a discussion this about how best to leverage b2b marketing. Have a look at our tips.

10 Tips for business-2-business marketing

1. Reach prospects early in the buying cycle
2. Advertise in “the tail”
3. Include non banded keywords
4. Pre qualify clickers
5. Focus and align ad copy
6. Create very specific landing pages and microsites
7. Test pages continuously
8. Offer multiple action options
9. Simplify registration forms
10. Turn web inquiries into sales leads

Advertising in the tail

Example is software: the tail would go to software…. enterprise software… business enterprise software and so on

Include non banded keywords

  1. Use adcopy to pre-qualify clickers
  2. Address your specific target audience

Pre qualify clickers

  1. Align ad copy with search query
  2. Modify copy across buying cycle
  3. laptop computer -> laptop information -> laptop user reviews -> ibm laptop models -> ibm thinkpad t61

Microsite

  1. Typically between 3-10 pages.
  2. Focused on a solution or client type.
  3. It eliminates the political stuff that comes with changing a corporate website

Test page elements – landing page testing

  1. Run a/b or multivariate constantly on microsites.
  2. Pick items to test.
  3. Page layout.
  4. Action triggers.
  5. Images.

Registration form placement.

  1. Names and descriptions of downloadable assets
  2. Registration form fields

Track & improve results

  1. Get some decent metrics into a chart of 60 days

Secondary actions

  1. Allow for more than just one action
  2. Registration forms

*Scour the internet and look for great examples of these*

For more information contact SEO Liverpool

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Successful SEO with B2B part 2

This is the next part in my collective sessions on SEO and Site Architecture. I’ve be discussing creating a successful SEO campaign with a B2B site and this post is going to elaborate on keyword research.

2. Determine relative popularity

Once you’ve created a full list of potential keywords, you need to determine the relative popularity of those search terms. Often paid search keyword research tools (such as Google’s Traffic Estimator) won’t have data because traffic for these terms is low. In some cases, there will be data, but it will show very low activity. That’s okay. Don’t pay too much attention to that. Rather, use tools like Keyword Discovery to determine relative historical popularity of your keywords. This will give you some idea of which search terms are used more often than others on your list. The actual raw number of searches for a given search term really doesn’t matter much.
When you’re doing this work, remember to enter the starter keyword(s) or starter keyphrase, letting your research tool return permutations and long-tail options. Not only will this give you a larger list to consider, but the results will often lead you down a path you hadn’t previously considered.

At SEO Liverpool we use Worktracker as our Keyword discovery tool. It’s an excellent resource with the ability to dig around keywords, save campaigns and most importantly you can revisit and add to your projects. This is paramount in keeping your campaign viable and responsive to change.

When I’m looking for some quick data you can’t beat the Adwords keyword tool. It’s great for checking the value of core keywords. We use this data when meeting with clients to make them aware of potential clients numbers looking for there products or services.

Stick around for the next instalment.

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Successful SEO and site Architecture with B2B

I’ve seen recently some very common mistakes here at SEO Liverpool with B2B marketing websites. They usually make mistakes with organic search and inadequate site architecture-the fact that many B2B sites don’t have sufficient content to respond to desired search terms.

The common solution is to adding more content and trust me many do… proper site architecture is also critical.

Here is the first of many key points that will help your B2B site.

1. Identify potential keywords

Keyword strategy in B2B SEO is downright difficult. As numerous blog posts will tell you this is very step in your SEO Campaign poor keyword data can debilitate your strategy before it’s even got going. Your goal in this first step is not to make keyword choices or judgements, but rather to create the gross list, being as inclusive as possible of the potential terms actual prospects might use.
Focus on generic keywords; don’t get caught up in proprietary brand terms. Think of the types of products and services you sell. What do customers and prospects call things? Will their search string express the product/service sought, the problem they’re experiencing, or the type of company potentially offering solutions? Does geography play a role in the search string? Geo-specifics are quick wins.

keep reading for more tips.

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