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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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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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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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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Getting SEO Support In House Part 1

Here at SEO Liverpool, we provide SEO training to small and medium sized company’s with the resources in-house to implement a home grown SEO campaign.

If you’ve started, or considering the same…

You’ve decided, quite sensibly to start your in-house SEO programme. It was probably a very tough sell to convince the directors, line managers and other associated company directors to take on board your idea. Firstly, they probably didn’t understand the requirements first time round. You’ve been asked to provide your projected return on investment, which as every full time SEO understands, is very difficult. Factors outside of your control, such as algorithmic updates and other companies that already have a robust SEO strategy and varying budgets, dictate that you can’t stress any rewards against definitive time scales. You may have only been given a meeting or even a couple of slides to really engage the teams. Everybody was probably really shocked when you spoke in terms of years instead of months, regarding investment.

… It was a very tough sell—but you did it!

You’re project gets the green light and you’ve been busy stressing the benefits and long-term returns. It’s consumed you since you came up with your SEO plans. You’re basically a 24/7 SEO strategist, you live the successes and bang your head against the wall when you hit the barriers. But you’ve done it, it’s up and running, people in the company no longer thinks SEO is a fallacy, and things are going well.

Or are they?

In recent months you’ve been feeling that things aren’t moving. Your bosses are inevitably looking for results, even more so since the substantial investment of time and money you’ve put in. You’ve hit a serious bump in the road, but with your superiors and department heads making the right noises you convince yourself you’re past the worst.

Now you’re seeing the reality of the situation, the support is nice, but those who implement your suggestions are slow to respond. The planned work, the prioritisation based on the projected R.O.I is not making it into the work flow. You hear that everybody wants to do the work but it’s a matter of resources.

What Do You Do?

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How To Keep Up With SEO Changes

As we discussed in the previous posts, search engine optimisation is in a constant state of change. As the search engines evolve, so does the web landscape and therefore SEO.

We have no classrooms, universities and no single website, conference or book that 100% keeps you ahead of the SEO curve.

Reading blogs, press releases and various other sources of information can help provide some insights about SEO changes.

Here at SEO Liverpool we feel that forums, conferences and social networks help filter out the rubbish, collective testing and best practice sharing are the only sure fire way of ensuring a technique is viable. It’s not easy and sometimes you’ll be taken in by the nonsense. It’s not easy to distinguish between good advice and less reputable companies that just want to sell a product or service. Our advice is simple…

READ, READ, READ… TEST, TEST AND THEN TEST SOME MORE.

If you’re a a little more advanced we’d recommend patent filing blogs. These detail recent patents by the search engines on how the may handle data and can therefore be of benefit. Although this may be considered a little advanced even for established SEO companies

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SEO Through Blogs

Not yet running a blog? Then you’re missing out on an important area that can help your overall SEO efforts. You guys really need to learn more about the unique advantages blogs and feeds offer to search engine optimisation.

Blogs, SEO, and marketing. Blogs should not be just part of an SEO play. They’re a real part of the marketing program. Importantly, they create alternative keyword media. Not just the ones you are chasing, but an opportunity to find new keywords. Allows you to extend the reach of your web communication – its marketing and SEO. Building a community deepens SEO relations. Build business or brand – connect with consumers particularly with products that address a particular issue. Any kind of marketer can enjoy the benefits of Blogs.

Lets get tactical! Things you need to think about “before” you launch. Will it be an official blog? Or a personal blog? Will it sit on a subdomain on the company’s website, or sit on its own and take on a new life. The look and feel – will it before personal, or company branded? Will it be a multi-blogger platform or a lone blogger platform? At Summit Online Marketing we’re very pro multi-person blogs.

Will it sit on WordPress or open source Drupal type platform? There are very good arguments on behalf of each.

The optimisation process – four key steps:

* Customise and optimise the CMS.
* Customise and optimise the RSS feeds.
* Conduct and apply keyword / tag research.
* Socialise the blog and create a community.

Important points

* Tweaking CSS.
* Title tag optimisation.
* Permalinks that show real titles, not the text “permalink”.
* Use a robots.txt.
* Use favicons.
* Sitemaps.
* Widgets/blidgets… stands for “blog widgets” – can be useful.
* Validate, tweak, and stay put.

Use the blog plugins! Every blog CMS has plugins for every activity – sitemaps, 301 redirecting, etc. Then – optimise the feeds. Will there be enough content to populate feed? Don’t want reader to unsubscribe. Here at SEO liverpool we like full text feeds. Increase items in feed from default 10 to 20 if the blog has frequent posts. Decide how to handle multimedia – if you have audio or video. Manage feeds with Feedburner (personal recommendation).

Tips:

* Optimise the RSS feed – use keywords in feed in title tag, less than 100 characters.
* Most readers display feeds alphabetically – helps to be an A or B.
* Write description as if for a directory.
* Use full paths on links and unique URLs.
* Provide email updates.

Process for content production.

1. Write post.
2. Review keyword research list.
3. Include a keyword in the headline.
4. Review the body of the post.

Make socialisation easy for people with buttons. Cross link your blog and website aggressively. Notify other bloggers via comments and emails. Join the blog community.

How to keep your momentum

* Develop a mindset that this is a long term, continuous effort.
* Build a battle plan to maintain quality of blog.
* Use Google Analytics (personal preference) to guide editorial choices.
* Post original material often.
* Weed out comment spam.
* Keep blog fresh.
* Build ‘blidgets’ for social media to drive traffic back to blog.

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How Do You Tell Your Client about the SEO Work You’re Doing?

A common question from a small business SEO

How does one who may sell SEO services for their SEO company in the future give away information without giving away too much information (and fearing that the client will run away with the proposed strategies and implement them himself/herself?)

That’s a difficult situation and one I think a lot of people find themselves in. They are compelled to sell themselves by proposing a strategy but are afraid it can backfire. However, many clients who solicit the advice of SEO services are doing it because they cannot execute that detailed plan.

A great analogy that should make you feel a little bit better about providing that information:

Here’s an example: We were recently at an arts festival watching an artist scultping a log with a chainsaw. Suppose that artist were to spend time with me explaining his technique and showing me how to do it – even what he was thinking when he applied his technique. Then suppose he handed me the chainsaw and told me to do it myself. I couldn’t do it. Because I would lack the basic understanding of the skills of using a chainsaw. And even though he explained the technique…I couldn’t do it. It’s a combination art, technical ability, and experience that I don’t have with a chainsaw.

That should alleviate those fears you have about giving away SEO ideas (unless the client is well versed in this area of marketing). Most people can hear your suggestions but have no idea about how to execute. In the end, giving out more information does seem to show that you have the expertise and indicates that you’re willing to help.

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