February 18, 2009

Publishing a Website - The Importance of SEO

With the modern software and online technologies that offer simple, ready-to-use website packages, even a child could be a website publisher. But the truth is that publishing a website is not so simple.

Websites created with cheap software by those with no design and coding skills look cheap, unsophisticated and have low chances of performing well in the search engines’ positioning results – those results you get from a search engine when you perform an online search.

Statistically, the search engines deliver to websites more than 40% of the traffic. The rest comes from other online channels like traffic exchanges, banner exchanges, social bookmarking sites, link advertisements, forum signatures and so on.

Publishing a website without respecting even basic principles of search engine optimization causes other problems aside from traffic loss.

Google, the strongest search engine, has a special algorithm to rank sites and a very good barometer of the quality and authority of a website is the Google PageRank.

If you fail delivering quality, people will not link to your site, so Google will consider it less important than the sites that have many links pointing at them and move it lower in the search results. This is something you don’t want to happen with your site.

Experienced web publishers and SEOs concluded a long time ago that “content is king”. This already stereotypic quote could be translated with: “content is the food of the search engines”.

But content alone is not enough. The best content fails to be scanned and indexed in the absence of inbound links.

So when you publish your site, consider the following basic SEO strategies to ensure that your site is getting indexed fast and accurately:

Create a correct code, preferably CSS based. CSS uses external style sheets that will reduce the loading time of a site and also provide for a clean, uncluttered code. A clean code is scanable and the search engine bots will reach to the text (their food) faster than when scanning a table-based website. Try to eliminate unnecessary tables from your design and you already have more chances to rank well in the SERPs than competitors who don’t pay attention to such details.

Don’t publish a site that fails the basic accessibility tests and doesn’t validate when checked with the W3C HTML validator. It’s not a bad practice; it’s just unproductive. Websites that validate are considered by the search engines “accessible”. Users are happy when they find accessible, navigable sites. As the search engines want happy users it shouldn’t surprise you to hear that valid, accessible sites score better in the SERPs than sites that don’t respect any standards.

When publishing your site pay attention at your page title, description and on-page titles and subtitles. Don’t repeat page titles and descriptions to each page of the site. Google tends to index such pages in its supplemental results and that’s another Google box where you don’t want your website to land.

To make a long story short: if you are serious about your online success, treat website publishing with utmost care. Think attention to detail, think keywords and web analytics, but above all, think ethical strategies that will not endanger your site’s existence in the search engines results.

Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Publishing

February 16, 2009

Specify Your "Canonical" Link

Carpe diem on any duplicate content worries: we now support a format that allows you to publicly specify your preferred version of a URL. If your site has identical or vastly similar content that's accessible through multiple URLs, this format provides you with more control over the URL returned in search results. It also helps to make sure that properties such as link popularity are consolidated to your preferred version.

Let's take our old example of a site selling Swedish fish. Imagine that your preferred version of the URL and its content looks like this:


However, users (and Googlebot) can access Swedish fish through multiple (not as simple) URLs. Even if the key information on these URLs is the same as your preferred version, they may show slight content variations due to things like sort parameters or category navigation:


Or they have completely identical content, but with different URLs due to things such as a tracking parameters or a session ID:


Now, you can simply add this tag to specify your preferred version:

Now, you can simply add this <link> tag to specify your preferred version:

<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.example.com/product.php?item=swedish-fish" />

inside the <head> section of the duplicate content URLs:


and Google will understand that the duplicates all refer to the canonical URL: http://www.example.com/product.php?item=swedish-fish. Additional URL properties, like PageRank and related signals, are transferred as well.

This standard can be adopted by any search engine when crawling and indexing your site.

Of course you may have more questions. Joachim Kupke, an engineer from our Indexing Team, is here to provide us with the answers:

Is rel="canonical" a hint or a directive?
It's a hint that we honor strongly. We'll take your preference into account, in conjunction with other signals, when calculating the most relevant page to display in search results.

Can I use a relative path to specify the canonical, such as ?
Yes, relative paths are recognized as expected with the tag. Also, if you include a link in your document, relative paths will resolve according to the base URL.

Is it okay if the canonical is not an exact duplicate of the content?
We allow slight differences, e.g., in the sort order of a table of products. We also recognize that we may crawl the canonical and the duplicate pages at different points in time, so we may occasionally see different versions of your content. All of that is okay with us.

What if the rel="canonical" returns a 404?
We'll continue to index your content and use a heuristic to find a canonical, but we recommend that you specify existent URLs as canonicals.

What if the rel="canonical" hasn't yet been indexed?
Like all public content on the web, we strive to discover and crawl a designated canonical URL quickly. As soon as we index it, we'll immediately reconsider the rel="canonical" hint.

Can rel="canonical" be a redirect?
Yes, you can specify a URL that redirects as a canonical URL. Google will then process the redirect as usual and try to index it.

What if I have contradictory rel="canonical" designations?
Our algorithm is lenient: We can follow canonical chains, but we strongly recommend that you update links to point to a single canonical page to ensure optimal canonicalization results.

Can this link tag be used to suggest a canonical URL on a completely different domain?
No. To migrate to a completely different domain, permanent (301) redirects are more appropriate. Google currently will take canonicalization suggestions into account across subdomains (or within a domain), but not across domains. So site owners can suggest www.example.com vs. example.com vs. help.example.com, but not example.com vs. example-widgets.com.

Sounds great—can I see a live example?
Yes, wikia.com helped us as a trusted tester. For example, you'll notice that the source code on the URL http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Nelvana_Limited specifies its rel="canonical" as: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Nelvana.

The two URLs are nearly identical to each other, except that Nelvana_Limited, the first URL, contains a brief message near its heading. It's a good example of using this feature. With rel="canonical", properties of the two URLs are consolidated in our index and search results display wikia.com's intended version.

Feel free to ask additional questions in our comments below. And if you're unable to implement a canonical designation link, no worries; we'll still do our best to select a preferred version of your duplicate content URLs, and transfer linking properties, just as we did before.

Valid Comparison Between SEO Vs SEM

Search engine optimization and search engine marketing are two different terms aimed at single goal of marketing your website and related products online. Generally SEO is the part of SEM and its one of its technique to bring forth your site in search engine ranking. SEM is marketing technique that involves tactics like paid inclusion, paid ads, etc for advertising a website.

In search engines the page showing search results is known as SERP (search engine result page). Results on this page is very diverse, here you can find paid ads listed on the sides of the search pages and also paid inclusion shown on the top of the page. You may select any of these services for special showcasing on the search engine results page by paying certain nominal amount of fees.

SEO which is a part of SEM makes your website friendly by optimizing it in an organic manner. This technique does not require any purchasing of ads or paying for your site to rank higher. It functions by making your site attractive with apt keywords/phrases so that it ranks high in the result page. Usage of inbound links, META tags coding and keywords makes a website desirable for web crawlers.

Sometimes the problem arises while selecting which tool to use SEO or SEM? As discussed earlier SEM is a paid form of marketing where you have to shell out certain amount of money for getting a special position in result pages. But overall if seen, it is less beneficial than SEO. Instant short term results can be procured by SERP, but sometimes visitors seldom clicks on these paid results leading to loss to both your money and resource.

Some basic ways to optimize a website are- giving title to images utilizing the keywords, alt tags being named using keywords, keywords in domain name and page title.
Widely used SEM techniques are video marketing, pay per click advertising, social network marketing, search engine optimization and article marketing.

Any method you use for website optimization stresses more on creating relevant online content rich in keywords. The content consists of apt back links that points back to your website. Major search engines make use of these factors for ranking your website higher. More the number of back links from the original content better the results.

SPINX Web Design Firm Los Angeles offers Internet Marketing Los Angeles, SEO Company LA, SEO Company CA, web design Los Angeles, website design San Diego & much more.

February 11, 2009

Building Link Popularity in SEO

Link popularity approaches with web legatees consolidating quality, relevant links from other web owners. The collectors use databases to buildup e-mails addresses and linking Internet URL links, which the SEO marketer will write e-mails to receiving web owners requesting permission to link to their pages or to back link with collaborating sites. Some web owners strive on one-way link exchange, which is the basic exchange to one site, rather than adding each other's links to sites. Back links is popular. In short, back links are inbound links that point to a specific web page, which SEO experts sometimes refer to as In-Links or back links.

Web proprietress commonly hire in SEO experts, or users online that specialize in collecting SEO links by searching other websites to build databases saturated with quality and relevant links. Link exchange experts offer flexible benefit plans, or else has gathered links they sell to Internet marketers.

SEO is known, as search engine optimizing, a marketing tool that web heir have devoted time in for years to get websites listed at major search engines. SEO involves link reasoning, which experts explore possibilities that could lead to a higher rank at Google's, Yahoo, MSN, or other major search engines.

Cybernetics is martial. Web owners' often select innovative tools that will bear you to promote web sites to search engines while making the load lighter. Link popularity checkers and link-building tools often help webmasters in promoting web pages.

Link builders will often research web pages online. Often they use open directories or major search engines to find relevant links. By typing in keywords or phrases, web owners often find the links quicker. For example, say you are searching for similar car sites to your web page. You would type in the search engine, "links to car sites," or something to this effect. This will direct the search engines to begin searching sites for relevant links that connect you to sites online that hold potential relevancy to your web sites.

Relevancy is applicability to current issues in SEO reality. Since, simulation is progressing toward relevancy; according technology designers are creating each day innovative tools to assist webmasters with web design and link building. Each day new Link popularity checkers and link-building tools come available. Merchant of web pages is easier now, since webmasters can seek these excellent marketing tools so to get the quality and relevancy desired to promote a web page.

If you are considering link building to promote your web page, ok, but perhaps you should learn more about keyword density, web page content, and similar products before wasting too much time searching for relevant links. Link building opens the door to harm, since when you search through a number of web pages online you just might find your self affixed to a dangerous virus, or spyware.

Martin Lukac, represents EnginePromoter.com, http://www.EnginePromoter.com search engine marketing web-site for search engine optimization and website submission. Promote your website and get top rotating positions on over 250+ search engines, including a niche website submission.

January 31, 2009

Open redirect URLs: Is your site being abused?

No one wants malware or spammy URLs inserted onto their domain, which is why we all try to follow good security practices. But what if there were a way for spammers to take advantage of your site, without ever setting a virtual foot in your server?

There is, by abusing open redirect URLs.

Webmasters face a number of situations where it's helpful to redirect users to another page. Unfortunately, redirects left open to any arbitrary destination can be abused. This is a particularly onerous form of abuse because it takes advantage of your site's functionality rather than exploiting a simple bug or security flaw. Spammers hope to use your domain as a temporary "landing page" to trick email users, searchers and search engines into following links which appear to be pointing to your site, but actually redirect to their spammy site.

We at Google are working hard to keep the abused URLs out of our index, but it's important for you to make sure your site is not being used in this way. Chances are you don't want users finding URLs on your domain that push them to a screen full of unwanted porn, nasty viruses and malware, or phishing attempts. Spammers will generate links to make the redirects appear in search results, and these links tend to come from bad neighborhoods you don't want to be associated with.

This sort of abuse has become relatively common lately so we wanted to get the word out to you and your fellow webmasters. First we'll give some examples of redirects that are actively being abused, then we'll talk about how to find out if your site is being abused and what to do about it.

Redirects being abused by spammers

We have noticed spammers going after a wide range of websites, from large well-known companies to small local government agencies. The list below is a sample of the kinds of redirect we have seen used. These are all perfectly legitimate techniques, but if they're used on your site you should watch out for abuse.

  • Scripts that redirect users to a file on the server—such as a PDF document—can sometimes be vulnerable. If you use a content management system (CMS) that allows you to upload files, you might want to make sure the links go straight to the file, rather than going through a redirect. This includes any redirects you might have in the downloads section of your site. Watch out for links like this:

  • Internal site search result pages sometimes have automatic redirect options that could be vulnerable. Look for patterns like this, where users are automatically sent to any page after the "url=" parameter:

  • Systems to track clicks for affiliate programs, ad programs, or site statistics might be open as well. Some example URLs include:

  • Proxy sites, though not always technically redirects, are designed to send users through to other sites and therefore can be vulnerable to this abuse. This includes those used by schools and libraries. For example:

  • In some cases, login pages will redirect users back to the page they were trying to access. Look out for URL parameters like this:

  • Scripts that put up an interstitial page when users leave a site can be abused. Lots of educational, government, and large corporate web sites do this to let users know that information found on outgoing links isn't under their control. Look for URLs following patterns like this:

Is my site being abused?

Even if none of the patterns above look familiar, your site may have open redirects to keep an eye on. There are a number of ways to see if you are vulnerable, even if you are not a developer yourself.

  • Check if abused URLs are showing up in Google. Try a site: search on your site to see if anything unfamiliar shows up in Google's results for your site. You can add words to the query that are unlikely to appear in your content, such as commercial terms or adult language. If the query [site:example.com viagra] isn't supposed to return any pages on your site and it does, that could be a problem. You can even automate these searches with Google Alerts.

  • You can also watch out for strange queries showing up in the Top search queries section of Webmaster Tools. If you have a site dedicated to the genealogy of the landed gentry, a large number of queries for porn, pills, or casinos might be a red flag. On the other hand, if you have a drug info site, you might not expect to see celebrities in your top queries. Keep an eye on the Message Center in Webmaster Tools for any messages from Google.

  • Check your server logs or web analytics package for unfamiliar URL parameters (like "=http:" or "=//") or spikes in traffic to redirect URLs on your site. You can also check the pages with external links in Webmaster Tools.

  • Watch out for user complaints about content or malware that you know for sure can not be found on your site. Your users may have seen your domain in the URL before being redirected and assumed they were still on your site.

What you can do

Unfortunately there is no one easy way to make sure that your redirects aren't exploited. An open redirect isn't a bug or a security flaw in and of itself—for some uses they have to be left fairly open. But there are a few things you can do to prevent your redirects from being abused or at least to make them less attractive targets. Some of these aren't trivial; you may need to write some custom code or talk to your vendor about releasing a patch.

  • Change the redirect code to check the referer, since in most cases everyone coming to your redirect script legitimately should come from your site, not a search engine or elsewhere. You may need to be permissive, since some users' browsers may not report a referer, but if you know a user is coming from an external site you can stop or warn them.

  • If your script should only ever send users to an internal page or file (for example, on a page with file downloads), you should specifically disallow off-site redirects.

  • Consider using a whitelist of safe destinations. In this case your code would keep a record of all outgoing links, and then check to make sure the redirect is a legitimate destination before forwarding the user on.

  • Consider signing your redirects. If your website does have a genuine need to provide URL redirects, you can properly hash the destination URL and then include that cryptographic signature as another parameter when doing the redirect. That allows your own site to do URL redirection without opening your URL redirector to the general public.

  • If your site is really not using it, just disable or remove the redirect. We have noticed a large number of sites where the only use of the redirect is by spammers—it's probably just a feature left turned on by default.

  • Use robots.txt to exclude search engines from the redirect scripts on your site. This won't solve the problem completely, as attackers could still use your domain in email spam. Your site will be less attractive to attackers, though, and users won't get tricked via web search results. If your redirect scripts reside in a subfolder with other scripts that don't need to appear in search results, excluding the entire subfolder may even make it harder for spammers to find redirect scripts in the first place.

Open redirect abuse is a big issue right now but we think that the more webmasters know about it, the harder it will be for the bad guys to take advantage of unwary sites. Please feel free to leave any helpful tips in the comments below or discuss in our Webmaster Help Forum.

Written by Jason Morrison, Search Quality Team

January 25, 2009

Article Distribution Service - Effective SEO

Perhaps you learned about article marketing from some Internet marketing guru. Article marketing is not a new concept, and it has been around for many years. Today, many successful article marketers are still performing article marketing. Why is that so?

You see, these experts have learned, very early in the game, that article marketing is a very effective SEO method. It is easy to understand, and definitely easy to implement. Write relevant articles, and promote your website in the author resource box. How hard can that be?

But there is a little problem. Article marketing, although easy to perform, does require some effort, hard work, and dedication. Far too many marketers give up after just writing one or two articles. The writing requires effort, and so does the distribution. To distribute just one article can take up a few hours. Who has the time to continuously do that?

Fortunately, you can always outsource your article distribution activities to professional service providers. For article writing, you can always hire freelance writers or ghost writers to write your content for you.

When you write and distribute relevant content, your search engine rankings will rise. It's only a matter of time. Imagine having two websites that look exactly the same - same type of content, same design, same template. Which site do you think the search engines will rank? The search engines will rank the site with the greatest number of inbound links. That's why article marketing works! If you do this with dedication, your site is going to be so far ahead of the competition that it discourages others from competing with you.

Darren Chow is a full time article marketer. His latest project is a Article Distribution Service where bloggers can promote their own blogs by submitting articles.

January 14, 2009

What is SEO and How Can it Effect Your Website?

The term search engine optimisation relates to the process of increasing the volume and quality of traffic to a website through 'organic listings' in the search engines. Generally the more relevant and popular a website appears to be, the higher the search engines rank it. By being higher up in the search engines results you increase you chances of being seen by potential customers.

Search engine optimisation has become a major part of any website. As the internet has continued to grow at an amazing rate since it's birth more than 20 years ago. The number of websites and therefore competitors on the Internet are in their billions. This makes finding exactly what you want very tricky. The shear volume of results that search engines produce can cause a needle in the haystack effect. To make sure that people can find your website you will need to appear at the top of the results for the key term that the user searched for. To do that you need to use search engine optimisation.

It is no longer sufficient to have a great looking website. Now it has to be optimised for the search engines, otherwise it will be buried in the heap by millions of other sites and that's bad news for your business.

Although for some sites, especially those created before the search engine revolution, a small amount of tinkering just won't quite cut it. Your site needs to give a great first impression to potential customers as otherwise they may just carrying on searching! If your current site isn't up to scratch then starting again may well be the best answer. That way we can make sure your site is built from the ground up with search engines in mind. This can greatly reduce your marketing spend in the long run as you will no longer need to run pay-per-click campaigns or send out paper based marketing.

James is an experienced IT professional with more than 10 years in the field. He has a passion for promoting websites in the search engines using a range of organic SEO - Search Engine Optimisation tactics.