Articles in the Tips & Tools Category

Get simple, actionable information you can use to gain insight into SEO, content production, competitor data and more with our SEO Tips & Tools blog posts. Learn how to use a variety of tools and browser plugins to see your website how the search engines see it, and find opportunities to enhance your content, link portfolio and SEO.

February 15 2010

Should I Use the 410 Gone or 404 Page Not Found?

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It has been the case for many years that the most optimal way to handle defunct pages on your website was to have the server return a 404 (Not found) HTTP status code. Google has just recently confirmed, however, that they now consider the 410 (Gone) response code to be a stronger signal that the page has gone away for good.

HTTP response codes are designed for both users and search engine spiders to give them information about what has happened to a site’s page. When a user stumbles upon a page that is issuing a 404 or 410 response code, they will sometimes see the message “Page Not Found”. So, if both of these response codes yield the same response for the user, what is the benefit of using one over the other?

According to Google, when a page issues a 404 header response, it may sometimes still revisit the page to ensure that it is truly defunct. What this means in terms of indexing is anyone’s guess, but using the 410 response code will at least ensure that Google will never go back to that page again and get to the more important pages on the website, thus facilitating crawlability.

The 410 response code should be used when there is no other option, meaning that this page cannot be redirected to a similar or corresponding page. So if you’re absolutely sure that a page no longer exists and will never exist again, using a 410 would likely be a good thing. It’s probably not worth the time or effort rewriting a server by changing the 404 to a 410, but using the 410 in the future will at least give Google the stronger message that they are looking for.

November 18 2009

Site Speed Could Effect Rankings

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A slow loading website may not only deter your visitors, but in the near future may affect your search engine rankings.   In an interview with Google’s Matt Cutts, Webpronews.com recently reported that site speed may become a factor in ranking sometime in 2010.   If you think about it, it makes perfect sense.   Google wants to make the search experience relevant and fast.   The faster searchers can get the information they are looking for the better.

  • While having a fast loading web site is not essential for search results now, it should still be a main focus to help your users.   If a site is not loading fast enough, there is a good chance that a user will not wait and leave the site to find information elsewhere.   In order to have a faster loading website, here are a few things you can do now to ensure a quick load time:
  • Reduce images on your site. If you have an image heavy page, it will take much longer to load compared to a more search engine friendly text page.   Images are not bad to have on a page, just use them sparingly and only if they compliment the text on the page.
  • Reduce excessive Java Script.
  • Limit the amount of Java Script in CSS Includes.
  • Change to a dedicated server or a Virtual Private Server (VPS). If you are on a shared server with many other websites, it could lengthen the amount of time it takes to load your website. Changing to dedicated server or a VPS will increase the load speed for your site.

While the above tips will get you started, Google has more information about increasing your page speed which can be found here: http://code.google.com/speed/.

October 26 2009

Dreamweaver Templates

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Have you ever been in the position of having to choose a technology to create a website and someone mentions Dreamweaver templates?
If you decide to use this technology, there are a couple of things you should know. The template addition to Dreamweaver might come in handy if you plan on keeping your website simple and have a general idea of exactly which areas of your site will be editable regions, meaning that those areas can be editable in each corresponding page, and which will only be allowed to change on the template itself. The uses of templates are a great help when updating non-editable regions since they update all the pages that are using the template, which can save you a lot of time if you are using them the right way.

A very important thing to keep in mind is to know which information you would like to display on all of the pages, usually a main menu, logo or any other information you place on your site that will be repeated in multiple pages, and which information will be displayed only in individual pages.
The only problem that I have faced with customizing a Dreamweaver template is that it can be quite cumbersome, especially if you need to update information in multiple pages that are not part of a non-editable region of a template or that are not part of a library. The use of libraries, which allow you to place information into a separate file, are a great help since they can be added by the means of a library object to a template of the site and help structure your site better.

If you decide to create a website with a Dreamweaver template, make sure that you use libraries for those areas that will be repeated in various pages. Create multiple templates if you have different side menus or images being used on specific pages,   even if it just has a minor difference from other templates since this will save you time in the future when updating the website. I would also recommend using CSS to create the styles for the templates because this will make any changes for the template regarding to styles of the site a lot easier.

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