Article Archive by Emily Creech

February 14 2011

Google and the Power of Search

by Emily Creech

We all know Google is powerful, but just how powerful is search and how could it be helping your business?   Earlier this month Google posted a pretty neat video to YouTube detailing some of the data they found through their research during 2010. The video is short and worth watching, but some of the highlights are below:

  • 89% of consumers start holiday shopping online
  • Portable PC shoppers do an average of 14 searches during their shopping process
  • 60% of moms search for coupons/special offers online
  • Google provides the most dating site search referrals; 64% become members
  • 70% of TV, Music and Gaming fans visit sites on the Google Display Network daily
  • The Display Network also reaches more vehicle buyers than any other major portal
  • 75% of patients research symptoms online before discussing them with their doctor
  • 40% of travelers search for consumer reviews before booking their next trip

So what does this mean for marketers?  

First and foremost, if your audience is any of these mentioned above, you should at the very least be aware of your online presence. How does your site rank organically for important keywords? Are you running paid search ads through AdWords?   Keep in mind with any campaign you run, (whether it is Search Engine Optimization to help your website’s pages rank well or a paid search campaign where you pay to have a presence for certain keywords or to be on certain websites) you should be tracking your efforts closely. What are these visitors doing when they get to your website?   Are they spending time on your site or are they bouncing? Are they converting or completing the desired action?

There are so many questions to ask. You may not know the answers to all of them, but being aware of the power of search and how users are currently find your website is critical.   If you are in need of an analytics tool, Google Analytics is a great, free tool to help you analyze your site’s visitor behavior.

February 2 2011

Quick Guide to HTTP Status Codes for SEO Best Practices

by Emily Creech

There will always be times when webmasters need to change a website’s urls, temporarily point one page to another or take down a page (permanently or for routine maintenance). When encountered with these types of situations, many webmasters are unsure of how to handle the task at hand. As these issues are fairly common, we have compiled a bit of information about common HTTP status codes and their uses for you to refer to as needed.

200 OK
We’ll start with the basics. This HTTP status code indicates that the request was successful. You want this for all of your site’s pages (the ones that you want indexed).

301 Moved Permanently
If at any time a URL of a page changes (maybe from a site redesign or a new page has been created to replace an old one), it is recommended to use a 301 Moved Permanently redirect. This code tells search engines that the page should be permanently redirected to the new page. This also helps to make sure users are sent to the correct page.

302 Found
This code should only be used for temporary redirects. The word ‘temporary’ is key. There are very few instances where this type of redirect should be used, but unfortunately it is the easiest to implement, so when trying to implement permanent redirects, we often see that a 302 Found was implemented instead.   With this HTTP status code, Google will continue to crawl and index the original URL.

404 Not Found
A 404 Not Found status code means that the page does not exist. It could have existed in the past, but does not presently.   In most instances, websites will issue the generic 404 page when the requested page cannot be found. However, these pages do not have your site’s navigation and can’t help the user find the information they were originally looking for; this why it is always recommended to create a custom 404 page.  

503 Service Unavailable
Many of you have tired to go to a website and it is down; perhaps due to maintenance tasks taking place. The best thing to do in this situation is to return a 503 HTTP status code. This tells search engines that the site is only down temporarily. Similar to 404 pages, you should also create a custom message explaining when the site might be available again.

August 25 2010

Google Displaying More Pages from Domains

by Emily Creech

Those familiar with the search engine landscape have probably noticed that in most cases only one or two lines per website will display in the search engine results pages of Google.   Well, the days of having only one or two listing per website has come to an end… for specific keyword phrases at least.

Google recently announced on their Webmaster Central blog that they will now be showing more results per domain.   Google has always stated that their goal is to provide relevant results as quickly as possible to a searcher.   With this recent update, they hope that users will now be able to find what they are looking for faster than before.

A handful of listings for one domain will appear for a single search query when the user searches for a keyword or phrase that indicates that they have a strong interest in a particular domain. For example, if you conduct a search for “Search Engine Land”, you will likely see a results page similar to the one below.   (Notice how many listings lead you to the Search Engine Land website.)

Search Engine Land Webiste

This change has some pros and cons for marketers.   If you want to capture traffic from a competitor and someone specifies in a search your competitor’s name, it could possibly be harder than before to capture visits to your website via organic search from these types of search queries.   This could be good, on the other hand, when users are searching for keywords that are specific to your website.   In this case, you have even greater potential to capture this traffic, as your domain will be able to practically own the first page of listings!  

We’ll be keeping an eye on how this impacts clients and we encourage you to do the same for you own website!

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