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Archive for June, 2009

Tips to avoid duplicate content penalties on Google

June 29, 2009 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Webmasters need to be careful of the penalties search engines place on websites that use duplicate webpage content.

Duplicate content occurs when two websites display identical or very similar content on any number of pages.

This can happen when one website copies the content of a competitor or even when webmasters host the same content across a range of different domains.

Search engines penalise websites with duplicate content, as they don’t want the same information appearing more than once in any search query.

Nobody can be certain of the exact penalties that are applied (which can be as harsh as removal from the search index) but one thing is for sure, they will harm your rankings and traffic.

According to the Google webmaster blog, Google first looks to filter out pages with duplicate content and list only the first version, and only penalizes sites if they perceive a deliberate attempt to manipulate rankings.

The Google webmaster blog shares a range of ways webmasters can proactively address duplicate content issues, some of which Dr Search highlights below:

Block appropriately: Rather than letting search engines determine the “best” version of a document, you may wish to guide them to your preferred version. For instance, if you don’t want them to index the print friendly versions of your site’s articles, disallow those directories in your robots.txt file.

Use 301s: If you have restructured your site, use 301 redirects to smartly redirect users and search engine spiders.

Be consistent: Endeavour to keep your internal linking consistent; for example always link to your homepage using example.com instead of example.com/index.html

Syndicate carefully: If you syndicate your content on other sites, make sure they include a link back to the original article on each syndicated article.

Use the preferred domain feature of Google webmaster tools: If other sites link to yours using both the www and non-www version of your URLs, let Google know which way you prefer your site to be listed using the preferred domain feature.

As a final word, don’t worry too much about sites that republish your content without permission, as it’s highly unlikely that these sites can negatively impact your ranking.

Take notice of these Google tips and you can be confident knowing you’ve taken a proactive approach to avoiding duplicate content issues.

Gloucestershire Professionals Conference at the University of Gloucestershire 25 June 2009 Update

June 26, 2009 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

To all of you who attended the Gloucestershire Professionals Conference at the University of Gloucestershire I hope that you had a great day learning from best practices and networking to improve your business.

Glouestershire Professionals Conference at the University of Gloucestershire UoGIf you attended my session on social network online marketing, I hope that you found the session worthwile and gained some nuggets to boost your business.

If you completed the search engine optimisation form, I’ll get back to you in the next few days or so.

For a limited time slides of my talk can be found at:

http://www.searchclinic.org/gloucestershire-professionals-conference-uog09.htm

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me.

Postal: 24 Charlton Drive, Cheltenham, GL53 8ES, UK

Telephone: +44 (0)1242 521967

Email: doctor@searchclinic.org or By Email

Bing Guidelines for successful indexing

June 24, 2009 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Search Clinic guidelines that might help Bing’s MSNBot (The Bing web crawler and other web crawlers.

The web crawler used by Bing is also known as MSNBot.) effectively index and rank your website. Bing has also provided a list of techniques to avoid if you want to make sure your website is indexed.
Success indexing guidelines for Bing

Use the following techniques to ensure your website is technically optimized for MSNBot and other web crawlers:

* Use only well-formed, HTML code in your webpages. Make sure that all paired tags are closed, and that all links open the correct webpage. For information on validating your HTML code, see either HTTP Compression and HTTP Conditional Get test tool or W3C Markup Validation Service or use a comparable tool.
* If your website contains broken links, MSNBot might not be able to index your website effectively, thus preventing people from reaching all of your webpages. For information on finding broken links on your website, see the Help topic for the Webmaster Center’s Crawl Issues tool.
* If you move a webpage, set up the webpage’s original URL to redirect people to the new webpage. Indicate whether the move is permanent or temporary. For more information, see What to do when your website is relocated.
* Make sure MSNBot is allowed to crawl your website and isn’t on your list of web crawlers that are prohibited from indexing your website. For more information, see Control which webpages on your website are indexed.
* Use a Robots.txt file or meta tags to control how MSNBot and other web crawlers index your website. You can use the robots.txt file to prevent web crawlers from crawling specific files and folders. For more information about the Robots.txt file and the Robots Exclusion standard, see A Standard for Robot Exclusion. This site might be available in English only.
* Keep your URLs simple and static. URLs that are complicated or that change frequently are difficult to index as link destinations. For example, the URL www.example.com/mywebpage is easier for MSNBot to crawl and for people to type than a long URL with multiple extensions. Also, a URL that doesn’t change is easy for people to remember and bookmark. That makes your webpage a more likely link destination from other websites.

Bings guidelines in full can be found at:
http://help.live.com/help.aspx?project=wl_webmasters&market;=en-GB&querytype;=&query;=&tmt;=&domain;=help.live.com&format;=b1

Blind Test- Google v Yahoo v Bing

June 22, 2009 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Dr Search has been having a lot of fun recenly blind testing Google against Yahoo and Microsft’s new search engine Bing.

Since Microsoft launched their new search engine Bing.com people all around the globe have been testing the site and providing their feedback on the results.

Initial reports have been quite positive, with many people saying they’re impressed with the quality of Bing search results. Statcounter is even reporting that Bing has overtaken Yahoo! as the number two search engine in the U.S!

While these stats will probably level out in the coming months, the Search Clinic does agree that Bing is a significant improvement from Microsoft’s previous ‘Live’ search engine.

Blind Test search engine

But is it possible that Bing’s results are actually better than Google’s?

For most of us, we’d quickly dismiss the idea because we’ve considered Google to be the holy grail of search results for such a long time. But if you were subject to a blind test, an unbranded comparison between Bing, Google and Yahoo! – would Google still come out on top?

Take the test for yourself: Blind Test Search Engines at http://blindsearch.fejus.com

Using the site above, you’ll be presented with 3 unbranded columns of search results and you simply pick which one you think is most relevant. After you choose, it will let you know which search engine provided the results. Keep a tally and after 10 or so searches, let us know which search engine came out on top! You may be surprised!

In the tests taken so far Bing does seem to rank our websites better than Google.

Bing also seems to concentrate on shopping, so if your website provides online goods or services Dr Search strongly recommonds that you factor this into your optimisation and links.

SEO Top Tips for new website design

June 16, 2009 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

SEO Top Tips for a new designed website by Dr Search

Although the Search Clinic optimises many websites which have already been constructed, we often get asked for top tips on what a business owner should be briefing their web designer, if they are redesigning their website.

Below are the top 7 features to ask for which will help your website become SEO friendly from day 1.

1) Ensure your URL’s are keyword rich and avoid dynamic URL’s which normally contain characters such as “?, % or =”. The URL of a Nike shoe model for example should include your desired keywords and look something like http://www.wisemoney.com/bad-credit-home-loans.htm

2) Ensure your copy and navigation is text based and not an image. An easy way to check this is by trying to highlight the text on your web page and copy/paste it into an editor such as word. If you can edit the word that you have pasted in your editor, it means the search engine can also read it and index that content accordingly.

If you can’t see the text then neither can the search engines.

3) Ensure your images have ALT Tags. This is basically an explanation of what the image is as Search Engine crawlers can not easily recognize images.

In the UK this is also a legal requirement and is high on Google UK’s key ranking criteria.

4) Ensure a sitemap is included in your web design and linked from your homepage. This enables search engines to navigate your whole site. XML sitemaps are also a great way to inform search engines of all of your web pages.

Dr Search posted about sitemaps recently.

5) Avoid websites with frames. Search engine crawlers have trouble navigating these and hence don’t give you the SEO power from your content.

6) Avoid an over reliance on flash in websites. Search engines cannot adequately categorize the flash content. If you really can’t do without flash, ensure you create a html version of your website also.

7) If buying a website with a CMS, make sure you have access to altering the Title and Meta Tags, as well as adding text on the web page itself. You would be surprised how many CMS systems don’t even allow these features which can help with the ranking of your website.

By having as many of the above features readily available, it will ensure that you have built a solid foundation which can allow an SEO company to optimize your website for much better results. For top 20 guaranteed results Dr Search suggests that you have a look at the Search Clinic Gold SEO service.

Twitter launches Verified Accounts

June 12, 2009 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Twitter has launched the first phase of its Verified Accounts program moments ago.

Which means that celebrities, musicians, athletes, actors, public officials and public agencies on the service can now display a “verified account” button on their Twitter pages.
Twitter Account Verified logoFor instance, Twitter (Twitter reviews) celebrities like Ashton Kutcher and Oprah now carry the button. Those wishing to apply for verified status can visit the verified accounts help page, which explains:

With this feature, you can easily see which accounts we know are ‘real’ and authentic. That means we’ve been in contact with the person or entity the account is representing and verified that it is approved. (This does not mean we have verified who, exactly, is writing the tweets.)

This also does not mean that accounts without the ‘Verified Account’ badge are fake. The vast majority of accounts on the system are not impersonators, and we don’t have the ability to check 100% of them. For now, we’ve only verified a handful of accounts to help with cases of mistaken identity or impersonation.

You can apply in Beta through this link Twitter Verified Account

The feature has been a long time coming, and many celebrities (and in future businesses) will jump on the opportunity to prove their legitimacy. It’ll also solve the entrenched problem of celebrity impersonations, which are confusing for users and unwelcome by those being impersonated.

Businesses, however, will have to wait: the feature has not been rolled out to corporate entities yet.

Who is Verified on Twitter? Let Us Know

Who is verified and who is not, you ask? At first glance it would appear that only celebrities and those with large followings are included – please do post the names of verified users in the comments and we’ll compile a collaborative list.

Dominate searches for your busines by using social media profiles

June 08, 2009 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Dr Search recently came across a great marketing management strategy that can help your business control the top 10 search results for your brand.

Many customers use Google and other search engines to learn more about your company before they purchase, so an effective brand management strategy can help your business convert more online customers.

The goal of this strategy is to dominate the top 10 search results for your company with online profile’s you’ve setup across the web. Then when customers are searching for information about your company, all these pages will provide them with additional info, positive reviews and links to your site.

Step 1: Create brand pages on popular social media sites

The first step is to register online profiles for your company across a range of popular social media sites. Where possible, the URL for these pages should include your companies name to improve their chances of ranking well eg http://twitter.com/SearchClinic

Some examples of popular sites you can start with are:

* Twitter
* MySpace
* Facebook
* Squidoo
* YouTube
* Linkedin
* WordPress/blogger
* Digg
* Del.icio.us

When creating these pages, try to include as much information as possible about your company, your products and remember to include any positive reviews or testimonials you’ve received.

Step 2: Linking to these pages

Always remember to link back to your main site where possible.

The next step involves boosting the ranking of these pages. You will have optimized a lot of the on page elements by writing keyword rich copy, URLs etc – so the next step is building backlinks to these pages.

There are a couple of techniques you can use for this:

* Linking to profiles from your contact page, or other high ranking pages on your site
* Cross linking between your social media profiles
* Linking to these pages in any articles or blog posts you write

Unless you have a very common business name, it shouldn’t take much link juice to get these pages ranking well.

For example see the TwitterFeed on the right hand side of this blog- underneath our growing Archive.

That’s it! It may take some time for these pages to start ranking, but over time this should help you to control search results for your company or brand!

DIY Tips- website changes to turn visitors into customer

June 04, 2009 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Dr Search- your search engine marketing efforts are no doubt doing a great job of getting visitors to your site, but turning these visitors into paying customers is a whole other story.

You need to ensure your website is in tip top shape to make it as easy as possible for visitors to purchase your products or services.

I recently stumbled upon a new blog “Conversation Marketing” which has a great article called “32 Tips to Make Online Customers Love You”.

I have pulled out some tips to share with you. Don’t worry; I have only included the top 8 tips here. If you would like to check out all the tips, top website tips- just click here.

1. Make sure your site loads in 3 to 4 seconds or less on a standard broadband connection. Your customers will thank you!
2. Use large type. Some of us aren’t as young as we used to be.
3. Make stuff easy to find. Clear product links, sensible categories and a good search engine on your site will all help.
4. Be secure. Your customers won’t thank you for security, but they’ll sure as heck curse you if you let someone make off with their credit card info.
5. Forget about cool. Just because you love the idea of a Flash based slide show using the best page turning techniques 2002 had to offer doesn’t mean your customers will.
6. Offer ways to stay connected. Let folks sign up for an email newsletter or subscribe to a latest news feed. Let them find you on Twitter. You’d be surprised how many folks appreciate that sort of thing.
7. Write scannable content. Use bullets and the like to break up the page. Have no more than 14 words on a line. Don’t make folks read 10 line paragraphs, because they won’t.
8. Have a friendly 404 page. Help customers find what they need, even if they did get your page URL wrong. Use a friendly 404 page, not the hideous default page that your server delivers.

Do you have your own tips to make your website attractive to new customers? The Search Clinic would love to hear them, please let us know.

bing – Microsoft’s new search engine unveiled

June 01, 2009 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Uncategorized

Like buses, we now have two new search engines to consider. Last week I posted about the launch of Wolfram Alpha. Now low and behold we have the launch of Micorsoft’s bing – The Decision Engine.

bing- Microsoft's decision engine“Decision Engine?” You may wonder… well that’s how the marketing team down at Microsoft have decided to position the new search experience.

At the D7 conference, Steve Ballmer (Microsoft CEO) debuted the new search engine to an expectant crowd. While the unveil was hardly a shock, the “decision engine” spin was what caught the attention of the audience.

The philosophy behind bing is summed up in this introduction snippet:

“The truth is you’ve evolved. It’s time search caught up. So we had an idea. Start over. And we did.”

“We took a new approach to go beyond search to build what we call a decision engine. With a powerful set of intuitive tools on top of a world class search service, Bing will help you make smarter, faster decisions. We included features that deliver the best results, presented in a more organized way to simplify key tasks and help you make important decisions faster.”

Bing will officially launch (which is expected to be 3rd June 2009) covering 4 decision areas:

* Shopping
* Travel
* Health
* Local Business Search

The launch of bing will come accompanied with a $80-$100 million advertising campaign which include TV, print and radio. In the same vein as Ask.com’s 2007 campaign, insiders suggest the campaign won’t go after Google or Yahoo! directly, but rather question the state of current search in general.

While bing is still officially under wraps to the public, Microsoft have released several videos and documents to educate and build buzz on the discoverbing and decisionengine websites.

Here’s the product tour video, to wet your appetite about bing.

If you want to watch the other videos or get access to a range of bing related downloads (think toolbars, mobile versions, gadgets etc), head over to discoverbing.com

Once you’ve had a poke around, come back and share your thoughts. Do you think bing is the going to change search forever, or is it simply some clever Microsoft marketing hype?