SEOsean.com Blog

A blog about search engine optimization and internet marketing.

Are URL Shorteners Bad For SEO?

July 1st, 2009 by SEOsean

Well the quick and dirty answer is yes and no! Actually the answer depends wholly on the type of URL shortener and the way it’s redirected to your website.

For example if you’re URL is redirected using 302 redirection then you’re not likely to be getting all the link juice that you could from any links pointing to your short URL. But on the other hand if it’s a 301 redirect you’re more likely to get all those dofollow links pointing to your short URL counted to the page URL it’s short for. For more info on how 301 redirect effects anchor text check out our post on How To Create A SEO Friendly Redirect.

So any URL shortner that does not do a 301 redirect to your website is not going to be likely that it will pass any link juice on to your full URL page. The other thing to watch out with on many of the URL shortener services out there is that they 301 redirect to something else that 302 redirects to your site. I’ve noticed a few services do this, such as the su.pr even though it’s in beta right now.

One way to check and make sure the URL shortener is actually doing a 301 redirect to your site is to read the headers sent to the browser and see what messages are being passed to them about the redirection. The easiest way to do this is with a tool I’ve found called Check Server Headers Tool. Make sure to look over how it’s redirecting on your own site too. Since some of us have our sites setup to 301 redirect from non www domain address to a one with it, if you use a non www when creating the shorter URL you can have too many 301 redirects to get to your page.

For example:
You have the URL http://www.seosean.com/blog/are-forum-links-any-good
and you want to shorten this URL.

Now I make a short URL http://seosean.com/akes
(I made this with a script I wrote to create and manage short URLs).

Now the short URL may redirect to a www version of my site and then redirect to the page. This can cause problems as Google seems to only follow so many redirects. And if there was an added step in there that made it redirect to some URL shortener service’s domain then to your web page that would be 3 redirections.

The other thing many people have a question on is, do I get credit for the anchor text from the short URL? Answer is yes you do - at least most of the time (that’s basically the water down version of what Matt Cutts said about that).

And on the other side of that I also usually get questions about whether the keywords in the short URL’s count towards the redirected to page? I image you would not get credit for this. Since you’re redirecting your telling the world that the old address is no longer valid and the new one is so I image all things with the old address are discarded and only the new one is counted. So you should only get credit for the keywords in the end URL (the one you redirected to).

Google SERPS With More Padding & Small Logo!

July 1st, 2009 by SEOsean

Over the past days or so Google users have been reporting seeing a different design for Google’s search result pages. Upon initially checking into this myself I didn’t see any difference. Then later today I started to get the different Google designed search pages too.

The design has a smaller logo for Google next to the search box at the top of the page. And there seems to be extra padding on the left hand side and right hand side for everything except the navigation links at the very top of the page.

I for one don’t like the new design, I actually liked the older one. My guess is the are changing it either as an A/B testing to see which preforms better or they found some users could not see the text on the very left or right hand side of the screen due to their browser and computer monitor (I’ve had this issue before with older monitors, were you can’t see about 5px of the very left and right hand sides of the screen).

Additionally I’ve noticed a few other changes to Google’s search. They recently rolled out with a search suggest that’s embedded in the search boxes at the top and bottom of your SERPs. I know they had this a while back but they took it away and now seem to have brought it back but with different font styling (font is bold for the text you didn’t type in to help you recognize it).

Google search suggest

Although all and all this does not seem to effect rankings directly in the search engine, at least so far from my observations. But I’m sure that the search suggest will have an effect on the types of keywords that are searched for. For example I was searching for an item the other day on Google and then click one of the search suggestions just because I was interested in it. Although I still went back and searched for the original thing I was looking for, this type of thing could deter users from one search and making another instead.

How To Create A SEO Friendly Redirect

June 28th, 2009 by SEOsean

Recently I was asked by a client what the best way was to do a SEO friendly redirect - meaning how what should I do so that when I setup a new domain or page it will be counted as the old page or website so that I keep my current search engine rankings.

There are actually several ways to redirect a website or page. Some of those ways include a JavaScript redirect, meta refresh redirect, 301 redirect and more. Although there are several ways to preform a redirect there is a preferred way to redirect if you want to make sure it’s SEO friendly.

That preferred method is called a 301 redirect. A 301 redirect is technique or type of redirecting that tells an Internet browser, search engine or other device that the page accessed has permanently move to another location and your being redirected to that location.

Why is a 301 redirect preferred?
The reason a 301 is a preferred method is that it indicates it’s move is permanently and not only that, but Google has stated that this is the redirect method you should use if you wish to give a new page the same created from links that an older page had.

The major benefit to SEO by going a 301 is that Google and some other search engines will treat all links from an old page as counting for your new page you redirected to.

How to Setup Your 301 Redirect:
Now that we understand 301 redirects and why they are best for SEO lets dive into how you can setup one. First you’ll need 2 URLs, one the URL of the page you want to redirect from (the old page) and two the URL you want to direct towards (the new page). Next you’ll need to decide on the method in which you want to preform the redirect. There are actually several ways to do a 301.

Here are a few mediums you can do this in:
domain registrar level*
PHP
ASP
.htaccess
and more

*Note: For domain registrar level you should make sure it is set to do a 301 redirect.

I’ve mentioned just a few of the most used mediums above. For more methods and code, check out this excellent reference: How to create redirects

Also it’s important to understand that you can 301 redirect from one website to another. Example you can redirect from http://www.oldsite.com to http://www.newsite.com

For most redirecting I suggest you use .htaccess. Why? It’s pretty reliable, relatively easy to setup, control and edit latter. Although using redirection at the domain registrar level is very reliable too.

Here are my suggestions for redirection needs and medium to redirect with:

Redirection Needed Medium Should Use
Whole website Domain registrar level (second choice is .htaccess)
Several pages .htaccess (second choice is PHP or ASP)
One page .htaccess (second choice is PHP or ASP)

How does this effect anchor text from links to the old page?
Surprisingly most anchor text will be attributed and count towards the new (redirected to) page. Here is a short video with Matt Cutts explaining the answer to that very question.

Google Local Business Center Adds Reports!

June 19th, 2009 by SEOsean

I was just checking over some of my client’s accounts in the Google Business Center - you know the Google maps listings for businesses - and I found that Google has now added reports. This is a great addition to the Business Center. The report information is really useful and provides data I was not even expecting to be able to get!

local business center reports

The reports cover more than just impression (number of times your map listing has been displayed) but also cover activity and click throughs to your listing info, your website and even the number of requests for driving directions.

Out of all of that the most interesting is (at least to me) is the driving directions. Not only can you see the number of times someone requested driving directions but you can actually see the zip codes from which people requested them from. And it’s all overlaid on a Google map in your reports area. Although it only goes as deep as showing the zip code from which someone requested directions from it still very insightful. With this data you can find where most of our customer base or potential customer base is coming from. And with that you can then know that area would be good for you to start or improve possible mail or postcard marketing to.

local business center reports driving directions

Another very useful feature is the “Top search queries”. With this you can see what the top queries are that people are searching for and your map/business listing is showing up for. Now that does not mean they clicked through to your listing details or to your website but it’s good data as it can tell you what people might be searching for that is related to your business and you might want to gear your map listing in a way that caters to searchers of those keywords.

As well the reports shows a graph of the impressions and activity you’ve had over time. And just like in Google Analytics you can view the data for any range of dates.

local business center reports graphs

Another feature I would be interested in which they don’t offer is to know the number of people that print off or requested one of your coupons. That data would really be helpful as it would show that a person was really reaching for your services or products. And of course if they could match that up with the zip code where those requests came from - now that would be sometime!

iPhone and AT&T to Release Tethering Option Today!

June 8th, 2009 by SEOsean

iPhone

I just spoke with an local AT&T rep in my area about when the tethering for an iPhone will be release as a service available for this carrier today (6/8/09). Apparently she said that AT&T Corporate will be announcing latter today their new services for tethering the iPhone. I asked if they had any other data on this but she said they do not. Although she let me know that in about 2 hours from now (currently its 2:00pm EST, so at about 4:00pm EST) we should hear an official announcement in the news about this from AT&T.

Update (6/19/09): It turns out they only released the new iPhone 3GS but I have a feeling they’ll be releasing tethering soon since the new iPhone and the new OS offer tethering
AT&T Rep told me:

“We just got told today by corporate that this will be announced today.”

[I then asked ] When can I expect to hear more data about this?

“You’ll find out [the information] at the same time we find out…

We should know in 2 hours, there will be an announcement all over the news then.”

What is Tethering?
Tethering will allow you to connect your iPhone to your laptop and use your iPhone’s Internet service plan. So you’ll be able to goon the Internet using your iPhone as a pseudo modem.

How I found out about the release?
Yesterday and today I became increasingly curious as to when this service would be made available. As I will be away from my office for a few days and wanted to make sure I have Internet access. Although, I’ve actually investigated this in the past only to find out that you could do it but it would violate your service agreement. So not wanting to do that I researched more on the Internet to see if AT&T would be offering this service anytime soon. I had found that they were set to announce this service at some future data but no hard concrete data was given. Although one website suggested it would be in April. When that has come and past and it was not release. So being desperate I called up my local AT&T store and asked them if that service was available yet. Surprisingly the rep told me that AT&T will actually be announcing this service being available later on today.

How does this effect SEO & the Internet?
I believe this will have at least a slight effect on Internet usage. I think there will at least be a small increase in usage. I know myself for one will be able to be online more. I believe that we can already see that the iPhone by its self has created an increase in Internet usage - even thought its just a mobile Internet usage increase. Although I don’t really see this having much of an effect on SEO or SEO services other than it might make the Internet more available to people thus you might have more people using search engine, etc… But an interesting question with regards to this could be how will this effect Analytics and visitor tracking. Will most Analytics programs track a user as the same user if they are using their iPhone or tethered computer? Once this service is released we’ll have to experiment with that and find out.

Google Search Result Glitch

May 13th, 2009 by SEOsean

The other day while doing a search on Google I noticed some peculiar things returned in the search results. It seems that this is a glitch for the results returned to me and other people.

Here is what I found… I was searching for business website design and as I looked through the results after a few of the natural listings inserted among these results was the statement See results for: semi repair and then 3 trucker sites. Huh…? Trucker sites and truck repair don’t have anything to do with business website design.

Screen Shot: (full screen shot here)

At first I though, okay well maybe it has something to do with the customized search. So I checked in the upper right hand corner and there was no customized search message, so then I checked the bottom of the page as sometimes that message will show up there, but again no customized results message. I then refreshed the page a few times and still got the same results. Finally tried searching for it again and still got the same results. So I figured, well maybe it’s just my computer or something. And I then proceeded to post a message about it on a search engine forum. To my surprise everyone else reported seeing the same thing.

Next I did a little investigation to see if anything new from Google with the search results could be the problem. And I found that Searchology was just released yesterday. Therefore, I’m speculating that it has something to do with that. Or it could have something to do with Universal search.

So what does all this mean for SEOs? Well, this lets us know that it appears that these “suggested results ” can be turned on and off and set to specific search keywords. It also appears that it is normally an automated thing but has the ability to be manually changed by Google - as I’m sure we’ll soon see these weird results being taken down.

What are your thoughts and do you get these results too?

Are Forum Links Any Good?

April 9th, 2009 by SEOsean

A few weeks back I got into a debate about forum links and whether they had any value or not. I do believe that forum links bring link value. Although I’ve found many people disagree with me. So I did a little experiment with this. I took one of my client’s website and got it about 50-100 backlinks between 2 forums and then I watch the stats in Google for any change. Amazingly the site after 1 1/2 to 2 weeks shot up the ranking onto the first page for the keywords I was targeting. Now of course other factors could have come into play but I then ran the same test with another site and sure enough again this site it shot up on to the first page.

But here is the catch, first I did the homework on my experimental sites, they had all the on page optimization done and did have other quality links from other sources. So when if you try using this link tactic keep that in mind. As well, just like any off page or link optimization you must have the correct keywords for the anchor text, which does involve doing a bit of research and analysis your competitors’ links. On top of that obviously making sure the links will be dofollow links and that your not spamming the forum, instead are providing quality content. Providing quality content is important, because you can get other sites to also link to the forum post which passes on more link juice to your site

Lastly the one big downside I found was that these sites I ran the test on started to slide back down the rankings after a week or two. I am suspecting this has to do with the fact that as more forum threads are posted the threads that contained my links where pushed off the first page of the forum directory and onto the next or third page. Thus my link was not receiving as much PR and value as it once was. This can be a big problem with forum links as you will get a yo-yo effect from the links and the only way to combat that would be posting on forums where the threads will not eventually be pushed to another page (which is almost impossible to set up a forum like that) or continuing to make posts to threads week after week. And because of the improbability finding a forum where threads don’t get pushed down as new threads are posted, the only logical way around this is continuing to make posts on new threads in the forum.

This also sparked another realization. The same sort of this happens with blog posts. They start out on the first page of a blog and then move down and finally off the first page as more blog posts are added. Therefore your link will be less valuable as time goes on. But both blog posts and forum threads can remain with a high level of link value if other website link to that thread or post, so in some cases the link value may not change much over time.

So there you have it, forum links do have value but that value could be decrease as time goes on due to new threads being posted or if linked to by other sites that value does have a chance of remaining the same or increasing due to the forum thread’s inbound links.

My SEO Quiz Score From SEOmoz.org

March 16th, 2009 by SEOsean

Last night I decided to test my skills on a SEO Quiz by SEOmoz.org. I was curious as to how skilled I am in comparison to other SEOs in the field. My results where quite good! I’m in the upper top cream of the crop in the SEO field based on the knowledge I know according to their quiz. My score was a 97% out of 100%, which was 246/255 questions correctly answered. According to SEOmoz.org I’m a SEO Deity (anyone scoring 91%-100% is an SEO Deity) or as my score card badge says I’m a “SEO Dark Lord”, lol whatever that means!

SEO Dark Lord - 97%

The test is an interesting application based on Ajax and asks you a series of questions tallying your score as you’re answering questions and then after you’re finished it will display the score badge you earned and what you’re level of SEO knowledge is. Are you an SEO Expert? Take the quiz and find out.

Free Link Hub Finder SEO Tool

March 14th, 2009 by SEOsean

With SEOBook’s recently pulling their link hub finder tool and making it only available for paying customers I wanted to get the word out there about our free link hub finder tool. Our tool runs off Yahoo links just like the one at SEObook.com but ours is 100% free.

This tool will allow you to check the common links between several websites (you’ll need to enter at least 2) and see what links they have in common. The theory behind this is that Google places authority on links from specific website and generally most of the top sites for a given keyword will be linked to from one or a few of the authority sites. Finding which sites those are can be quote a task, so we’ve developed a tool that will compare the links between a give set of websites.

Our tool was developed based of the idea of the original link hub - this was prior to SEOBook setting on up on their site. Although are tool was written completely from scratch and then tested to ensure accuracy against raw results and in comparison to the original link hub tool.

Starting using our free link hub finder tool today!

Does Google Prefer Valid or Non Valid HTML

March 14th, 2009 by SEOsean

There have been many rumors going around among SEOs and webmasters like about whether Google prefers valid HTML or is fine with non valid HTML or in other words HTML with syntax errors. I ran across this simple quick video where Matt Cutts (Google employee) explains that Google actually does not really use valid HTML as a ranking factor. With that said, although one should not be totally discouraged from validating their HTML source, we find it’s just not as important as other things like creating quality content. You just need to place this on an importance scale and weigh whether validating it as important as the other factors you could be adjusting on your site.

Here is the video of Matt Cutts on Google’s preference of valid or non-valid HTML markup.