Archive for the ‘Search Engine Optimization’ category

A New Website Under Construction!

April 19th, 2012

Yes… we know… our website is so very old. It was designed and built by hand from straight HTML. And…well, it has been in need of some sort of updated look for a while now! Lucky for us we don’t get referrals from our website. Yes, I said it, we don’t pay attention to search visibility for our own website. Sort of a cobbler with no shoes kind of thing. Our referrals and continued work has come from our client base. Thanks, you guys!

So, with the introduction of the new site hopefully coming some time soon, we wanted to share a cool infographic we had a really nice graphic designer put together for us. It is a visual aid to help people see one of the continued analogies that we use to help clients understand how things work and fit together as relates to website search visibility and home building. What do you think? We like it!!

Website Search Visibility as relates to Home Building

Website Search Visibility as relates to Home Building

Send Along your “SEO Steps”, So to Speak

August 16th, 2011

Today, I got an email from a long time client. They’ve decided to get an in-house SEO rather than continuing with my (out-of-house/outsourced) consulting services for them. I’ll definitely be sad to lose them, I felt like I had developed an overall in-house approach with them over the years while having the advantages of the out-of-house elements. – I won’t get into the differences between in-house and outsourced IM/SEO professionals, but I will say that there are advantages and disadvantages to both. A company truly vested in Internet Marketing and/or SEO should have both.

SEO Steps

Anyway, this client had a difficult/interesting time finding a true professional SEO locally to bring in so decided to ask those already within the company. A really nice gal, working in their PPC department, stepped forward. I thought, ok, she will know what keywords are, and should be comfortable with the website pages and information available along with the general internal affairs within the business for getting things done (or not) – a good start. After all, I started in SEO and was able to take on PPC using my knowledge base, problem solving abilities, research skills, competitive analysis and more to see how it was done and successfully doing it myself.

So, when I got the email today from this new gal asking me, “If you wouldn’t mind sending along your ‘SEO steps’ so to speak,” I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, be insulted or relieved! Then, I didn’t know how to answer her. I don’t want to hurt our ties together and I don’t want them to think I’m not willing to help. I love to share information. I am best when I am teaching. Over the years, I have sent them tons of instructions, helpful guides, presentations and documents of all sorts, including supplying them with page edits, video optimization, press release info, social media help, link building, and more.  What I don’t think she realizes is that she is asking me for what would be like a Calculus book full of information, rules, examples, exercises, and theory – not quick steps that can be documented in an email. I do keep threatening myself to write an IM/SEO book. I did start writing a helpful Calculus book after I graduated with my Math degree and saw so many students struggling with a topic that didn’t have to be so badly represented as it was in the current books, but, life took hold and I never finished that one. Maybe, there’s still hope for one on Internet Marketing and SEO!

I still don’t know what to say in an email back to her, so, maybe I’ll just send her a link to this blog post [wink]!

But, if you really want my “steps to SEO”, try these:

  1. Get a degree in Math or Computer Science.
  2. Have great analytical, problem solving and logic abilities.
  3. Learn to build websites.
  4. Get a job at a top SEO firm (thanks Bruce!).
  5. Work for years with different clients and websites.
  6. Be willing to earn a tiny intern’s salary while you learn.
  7. Quit your job (not saying why, but it was an interesting story – sorry, Bruce!).
  8. Start your own company because you love what you do and know what to do.
  9. Continue growth, development and research into Internet Marketing overall – not just SEO.
  10. All during the while create your own helpful documents and process by which you’ll eventually write a book!
  11. Send those people who asked you for the “steps” to SEO a link to your Amazon book-for-sale page!

Best Practices for Creating Good, SEO-Friendly URL Page Names

June 1st, 2011

Seems this is an on-going question: What makes a good URL? Both my current and new clients have asked again recently, so we thought a few tips on what to consider for creating good, SEO-friendly URL names for website pages may be of help!

how to write good url page names
The very first thing one should always consider, no matter the tips listed below, is how will you best be able to communicate a page’s URL name to anyone, anywhere, any time. Maybe you’ll need to reference it online in your website (no “maybe” here, you should always do this), maybe you’ll want to reference it in Twitter or Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, maybe you’ll need to show it in type or maybe you’ll need to spell it out for someone. No matter the situation, the best thing is to try to cover all the possibilities so you’ll get the best “bang for your buck”. So, with that here are some tips and best practice considerations for choosing your URL:

  • Set Standards for URLs – Make sure everyone in an organization sets the URL standards from the start. It’ll make it all a lot easier to manage pages as the site grows or changes and/or new employees play a part.
  • Use Static URL Page Names – Using static, non-dynamically generated, page names is great for everyone – and can help keep URLs nice, clean and focused. Static URLs allows for more flexibility in creating a good name with keywords that clearly identify the page that it names. It makes it easier for the search engines to interpret, rather than the “?” and “=” and “&” scattered in a dynamically generated URL name. It also makes it easier to communicate, is less easily forgotten and/or mis-typed and reads better in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Go static!
  • Use Lower-Case Letters for Page Names – Using lower-case letters in a page URL name leaves less to be questioned or communicated.  The top-level domain name doesn’t matter for upper or lower-case letters, but pages within a domain with different lettering cases can cause duplication of URLs in the search engine indexes.
  • Keep URL Names Short & Concise – If you can, and it makes sense, use keywords in a URL to support and explain the page information that will follow (hopefully, your domain name might have a keyword/s already – but that’s another blog post topic on choosing your domain name). But, also try to keep it short and concise. This will allow more success in varied forms of communicating the page name to others (including in your website) when the full URL might need to be referenced.
  • Parse URL Names with a Dash/Hyphen - If necessary, and there can be a few reasons why, then use a dash (or hyphen) to separate words in a URL name. Underscores are ok, but dashes are better and easier to communicate and see. Hyperlinks can be seen in web pages as underlined, so an underscore may not be as easily seen. Also, it is more common to verbally communicate the word “dash” verses “underscore”. Using a space between words translates into a special set of coding characters of “%20″. Most don’t understand what this is and it wastes space (3 characters) in a URL. As for deciding when to use a break (suggested dash) first consider trying to keep the URL short (as mentioned above), then look at the words together and see if they read “funny”. Our favorite example is in the words “mens” and “exchange” when they are put together: “mensexchange”. It doesn’t read quite the same way, huh?! Play word games with your URL. When you write it out, see what words can be pulled out as the letters are strung together. Another reason to consider having a dash between words is if you might have a base topic with specific, clarification pages to describe that topic. Think of the future of the site and the pages within the site. You might want to separate topics into Directories (another blog post!) or have the page name with a dash for ease in seeing that multiple pages that are being used for a base topic.

Bottom line for creating good URL names: think ease in reading, writing, saying and interpreting.

ps: Don’t forget a few other items to consider if you are Renaming Existing URLs  – a different blog post, but this one’s been written!

pps: This blog post doesn’t go into details about how blogging tools (like Word Press, Blogger or others) might work differently for URL writing considerations. You should look at Permalink formatting to get the most out of creating a static URL for your blog posts too.

Structure of Internet Marketing & SEO Within The Organization – How to Work Together

July 20th, 2010

Search Engine Optimization/Internet Marketing is helping a website do better in the search engines. This relates to on-page and off-page efforts which include any item that affects or touches the website and also combines all the elements listed above. The old days of SEO have turned more into Internet Marketing. SEO, being only an on-page word editing type of function, is gone and has been replaced with a more appropriate term referred to as Internet Marketing (IM). SEO/IM is a marketing tactic for the internet.

SEO Organization Structure

A little team work can go a long way to success!

The inter-connecting of multiple departments with SEO/IM will allow for the creation of a more effective and productive organization. Here are our examples why:

SEO/IM and PPC – Working Together

1. Shared reporting
Tracking and data results shared by paid and natural search can show the relationship between the two, potentially showing the complete journey of the user.

2. PPC ad copy

Successful ad copy in paid search can be transferred immediately to site optimization for organic rankings.

3. Landing page strategy
Combining PPC landing pages used for conversion purposes and SEO landing pages used for rankings will allow for the best possible all around landing page – one that ranks highly and converts.

4. Time and management efficiency
Combined efforts saves a lot of time and money in communication, project management, results reporting, account management and more.

5. Risk management
If a site or page drops down in the organic search results then PPC can immediately fill the gap until the SEO is adjusted to suit.

6. Traffic forecasting
PPC can be used as a reliable forecaster to a particular keywords organic search optimization results.

7. Performance sharing
Results of organic and paid campaigns contain lessons for both.

8. Conversion testing
A/B landing page variations can be built using PPC techniques. This allows a preview to organic conversions.

SEO/IM and Blog Writers & Social Media – Working Together

1. Link Building
Using appropriate anchor text and words for and around a referenced page allows for stronger link quality and better keyword focus for rankings.

2. Page and keyword optimization

Links belong to individual pages, not to sites, therefore attention to the actual referenced page with the topic will give stronger results. The topic suggested on an external page can also suggest additional keywords for internal optimization.

3. Traffic conversions
SEO combined with Blog or Social Media focus can promote and push conversions more quickly. It can also hit additional areas from which traffic appears.

4. Reputation management
SEO combined with Blog or Social Media focus can help maintain a positive online presence and be better prepared for any adverse reputation issues.

SEO/IM and IT/Development Team – Working Together

1. Website updates
With combined efforts of IT and SEO, many re-workings or re-editing of website pages will be less necessary thus saving time and effort for technical staff.

2. Technical issues

A good SEO analyst should have combined knowledge including programming coding and design. Coding and design reviews allow IT to better format and code website pages the first time around.

SEO/IM and Content Team – Working Together

1. Writing skills
Combining strength and knowledge of Content team writing skills along with SEO’s understanding of keywords in general along with the distribution of these words, their activities and rankings allows for optimal website pages.

2. Writing tactics
SEO can provide valuable knowledge to writing tactics that will best enhance the rankings of web pages with statistics from competitive issues that should combine to give content writers the ability to create information that is optimal towards the user experience while maintaining their expert knowledge of a field or topic.

3. Topic ideas

SEO, PPC and Content team research and review for topic ideas will not only enhance the user experience suggesting popular and higher demanded topics but also give room to further optimization efforts for both SEO and PPC – allowing for further conversion possibilities.

SEO/IM, Marketing & Public Relations Team – Working Together

1. Product/Service Priorities
SEO research knowledge can help see current, future and even past items that can be brought to marketing for review and priority for releases of products or services for online and offline considerations.

2. Advertising, Copy, Call-to-Action Items
With research of online competitors and understanding of Analytics, SEO can help with creative elements that work for advertising, ad copy and call-to-action items for better click-thru rates applicable to both organic conversions and PPC conversions.

3. Customer Service

SEO can help prepare or alert Customer Service areas with changes and up-and-coming issues on the site to be ready to service the customer.

4. Branding & PR
SEO search and tracking information can be used to alert Marketing & PR to any online branding concerns and/or public relations issues that appear online. Catching them sooner than later allows for a much better organizational management process in these areas.

SEO/IM – By Itself

1. Keyword Management
Continued review and analysis of current keywords with possible new ones is on-going and a part of everything that occurs in consultations for the above mentioned inner-workings. It occurs in page edits, interlinking, link building, along with internal and external areas we play a part in.

2. Rankings
Rankings are reviewed with each new edit, update or new bit of information affecting the website. Thousands of keywords are reviewed and analyzed for rankings to determine the best area to maintain and build rankings – for traffic.

3. Research
Search and the Internet in general is ever changing. Staying up-to-date on these changes is a prime part of my job and analysis for suggesting changes or updates for the website.

4. Risk Management
The SEO/IM Consultant is your insurance policy on the business. The more support you have, the more solid and stable your search rankings & online traffic will be. Leveraging SEO expertise can help build a stronger foundation and manage risk.

Risk Management is occurring all the time. It is probably the most undervalued aspect of what we do! It is in large part due to the fact that managing risk doesn’t show itself until it wasn’t managed properly, then it appears and it’s already too late.

A main goal as the Chief Analyst and SEO Professional for Search Visible, Inc. isn’t just to help rank the site but to keep it ranked and positively presented online as the structure of the web changes whether from Google changes or other competitive Search landscape changes.

Projections for Online Search in 2010

December 19th, 2009

2010 Online Search Projections

  • Setup on on-site blog. If you have one already then make sure it is effectively being used to support internal website pages.
  • Use real-time channels for branding, website updates & keyword support. At least understand how real-time information is being used in Search.
  • Some of the better real-time areas to participate in are: Facebook, Twitter, online Press Releases, Blogs and other dated online forms of information.
  • Pay attention to local options, internal and external to your website, especially if you can and should be found locally.
  • Consider a mobile website: sites sized to show on phone browsers.
  • Don’t neglect your on-site SEO. Best Practices for Search Engine Optimization are still important and the continuing basis for the major search engines.

No More Meta Keywords Tag, No More Meta Description Tag … NOT!

September 21st, 2009

Ok, so the news came out today over at Google about the fact that the Meta Keywords tag is not used for web rankings. Is that news? Not to those who have played a part in good SEO. Google hasn’t really used the Meta Keywords tag for rankings for years now. Does this mean we should no longer worry about that tag and can even remove it from all our web pages? Absolutely NOT!

Check the video report from Matt Cutts on this topic:

You can find the write-up at Google’s Webmaster Central:

For years, my answer to the use of the Meta Keywords tag has always been:
“The keywords tag won’t help with your Google rankings but it will help you with your web page information. It’s a great tag to use to help remind you of your focus and the keywords you want to be sure to include on a particular page.”

Stop using it? Why?!! It doesn’t hurt anything but it may actually help YOU. That’s the main take away for the Google report. And…there is still question on it’s effectiveness in the other search engines such as Yahoo, MSN, Bing, so…!

I also strongly recommend that if you use the Meta Keywords tag that you use it appropriately. Here are the basic guidelines for the Meta Keywords tag that we’ve used for years and will continue to suggest to our clients.

Meta Keywords tag:

1. Length of content (36 + or – 12, repeat any word only 4 times).
2. Select keywords that are targeted for that specific page.
3. Put keywords in order from largest phrase to smallest, example: 3 word phrases, 2 word phrases, 1 words etc.
4. Again, if branding is important include the brand or website name as the last keyword.

All of the above items will remind you to not go crazy selecting keywords for a page, keep them focused, and be able to see how they may or may not fit together. The last one, on using your brand or website is also a reminder to not always say “We…” or something other than possibly your actual business name! – Again, all good reminders!!

Then, on top of this “news” on the Meta Keywords tag was a little blurb thrown in on the Meta Description tag. It was stated, “Even though we sometimes use the description meta tag for the snippets we show, we still don’t use the description meta tag in our ranking.”

Ok, there’s some dispute on the Meta Description tag’s ranking effects but that’s mainly because we actually see the Meta Description as part of a search snippet. Again, I say, use it! But, use it appropriately and effectively. You know why? Because whether or not it affects rankings, it is can be seen in the SERPs. Someone searching will see these words if Google picks them up because they were used and setup appropriately by you. The Meta Description tag allows an awesome avenue to add additional info to help clarify why a page exists, how it relates to the search term used to find it and gives a great place for a call-to-action element. So…we say, USE IT!

Here are the basic guidelines for the Meta Description tag that we’ve used for years and will continue to suggest to our clients too:

Meta Description tag:

1. Length of content (18 + or – 6, repeat any word only twice).
2. Incorporate keywords from the Title tag, plus a few more.
3. Write the description using statements and keywords from the Title and Meta Keywords tag.
4. Make the description a statement about that web page and what the company does related to that page.
5. Use proper grammar as much as possible.
6. Consider incorporating some sort of call-to-action wording.

Use both of these tags, and others too. We’ve known for a long time that there are tons (Google says they have over 200 ranking factors) of things affecting Google’s main core research of website pages and determination for rankings. And, it still remains that if you know your business, write about your business and represent it as it should be that you’ll probably be ok. Don’t stop doing something just because Google says they don’t read or use it – there’s no penalty or issue for using something Google doesn’t. Just don’t use or do things they specifically say you should not. All they said here today was that they don’t read the Meta Keywords tag for ranking considerations and they want people to stop thinking about suing people over stupid things just because they don’t get it!. You get it, right?! And if you aren’t so sure, then, go get yourself a smart SEO! Then there’s nothing to worry about and…. you’ll be golden!

Online Branding – big brands vs. little brands vs. any brand

April 9th, 2009

General Definition:
Brand = Trade Name; A Name given to a Product or Service

Google’s Definition (aka Matt Cutts):
Brand = x + Trust, Authority, Reputation, PR, High Quality
where x = whatever name/names given to a product or service (as above)
Synonym for Brand = Known in your Niche

Reading posts and listening to interviews on the Google “Vince” update/changes released about a month ago has me shaking my head at the concerns of supposed favoritism towards “Big Brands” in the Google search results.

I see and hear things about companies having significant ranking drops after this update. Really?? Why?? Who is doing your SEO??

And, what do you mean by brand? I give some definitions above, but, as examples, to me, Nike is a brand, so is Adidas. Starbucks, Arm & Hammer, Kleenex and Ford are also brand names. But, at the same time, Running Shoes, Coffee, Baking Soda, Facial Tissue, Cars and so on are not brands – these are generic terms otherwise known as broad keywords. If, for example, you are not Nike and you do not own the company, the name or the product, but you sell Nike Shoes, are you one of those that lost some rankings? Did you out-rank for the keyword “Nike Shoes”?

Maybe, just maybe, a few quick logical suggestions will clear the air for those sites that were affected by ranking drops and get them to work at doing what they should have been doing all along and/or correct their misleading rankings.

It seems that the “Big Brands” were not affected by the Google “Vince” changes but that the “Small Brands” were affected. Let’s consider why or why not a site might have had ranking changes related to a brand:

1) A “big brand” is probably a “smart brand” because we categorize them as a “big” brand! They wouldn’t be “big” if we had never heard of their name or brand, would they?! A “big brand” is a big brand because they are known in their niche.
2) A “big brand” needs to use their brand so we know that name. If they didn’t then why would we know of that brand?
3) A new brand name is probably going to be the first to use that “new” name before anyone else if they expect it to become that brand. If they don’t use it first then they may lose the opportunity to be that brand as someone else may take that name.
4) To “use” your brand online means you will need to have the text version of your name/brand somewhere online – sorry, graphics are still not actually seen without a text-based alt tag! A smart brand will use that name/brand on their site. If they don’t mention their brand on their site then it’s quite likely no one will know that they are that brand.
5) And if that brand is really smart, they’ll actually own the domain name that has their brand name in it. It might be difficult for a “big brand” to be considered a “big brand” if someone else owned the domain name of that brand!
6) If you do not own that brand but you sell that brand, are you really the authority for that brand? Should you be?
7) Wouldn’t it just be possible that when Google algorithmically sets up certain criteria that affect a page’s rankings that they might be looking at the age of the page, the Page Rank and inbound links referencing that site page by name, notice how many sites or viewers refer to the site page, and see the domain name, word use, and more across the website pages? Do you think Google needs a checklist of sites that should rank over others just because they are a big brand? Should Google have a checklist of all brands? When does a “small” brand cross over to become a “big” brand so they could get on this list? If you really think those are questions that should be answered or discussed then I strongly recommend you start doing a little more research on how rankings are achieved!

The Google “Vince” update/change did not apply to brands specifically. It applied to how you use your words, when you use them, the associations with those words, who points to you using them, and who started using them first. It has been tested time and time again that one can make up a word and rank #1 for that word. Why wouldn’t they, why shouldn’t they. So, start your own brand and see. But you will still need to work hard at developing your information if you want that brand associated with a generic term as well? That’s what trust, authority, reputation, PR, high quality is all about.

I will let you in on a little secret. I did get one client who signed up for SEO Services with me years ago. First thing I noticed is that they didn’t rank for their own name and, their partners, affiliates and resellers all out-ranked them for that name. Well, it wasn’t surprising, they didn’t once mention their own name on their website. They only ever referred to themselves as “we”. Their partners, affiliates and resellers all mentioned them by name. It didn’t take much to turn that one around. They rank #1 for their name and other keywords too now! So, use your name, use the product name you sell or service, use your brand along with the broad keywords describing your product or service, work at becoming an authority, develop the trust, reputation, etc. and you will get your just deserts with rankings and hopefully decent conversions too!! And… you won’t be affected by silly little tweaks made by Google. Also… stop thinking Google is out to play favorites with certain sites when they may not really be deserved! Take your time and get to work rather than complain or blame.

The Good and The Bad of SEO

February 11th, 2009

Time and time again it seems that SEO consultants are having to help the general public understand the good and the bad of Search Engine Optimization. There is a wealth of website and SEO information out there that the general public simply can’t tell what is good useful information as opposed to silly ignorant and possibly hurtful bits.

I read various articles and posts yesterday about John Dvorak’s comments on The Trouble with Search Engine Optimization and Armando Roggio’s survey and findings on website merchants not knowing the difference between good SEO tactics and questionable ones. It seems many are upset with suggestions that SEOs are “modern snake-oil salesmen”. It is very sad when we “good” SEOs see the general public get burned by the “bad” ones. And sadly, we do see it way too often. We see too many out there able to use the correct buzz words or sell themselves well but simply cannot prove themselves when it comes down to the end results – better rankings, better traffic and better conversion rates (purchases, emails, forms, or items affecting ROI in a positive way).

What the general public needs to know, especially like John Dvorak and ecommerce merchants, is that good SEOs are able to find the problems with your site and its surrounding factors. They should be able to explain what is needed to fix those problems and why. The guys (I won’t refer to then as SEOs anymore) who just say “do this and all will be good” are not good enough for anyone to talk to, much less pay for! The “why” something should be done is the most important factor and should be easily understood and also easily verified with the incredible amounts of information online. If you cannot find consistent information to substantiate a claim for fixing an SEO related problem online then it most probably won’t work and may actually hurt your site.

Dvorak said that someone told him to make long URLs (page names) and that this was some special trick. Creating a good, static URL is no “trick”. Knowing how to create a good, static URL is a technique, and there are good techniques and bad techniques – and both can be explained. But what everyone should know is that there are no “tricks” or “magic” in SEO. What there is are clever, smart, good problem solving people who know what is expected of a site to perform well and can intelligently guide and fix things on sites in proper priority and focus and at the right time to a good end. That’s no trick.

The bad ones can sound good – there are definitely plenty of snake-oil salesmen all over – but they don’t know when to do things, where to do things or how to do them effectively and efficiently.

And you know where I see this the most, with those who are busy soliciting business, trying to find website owners who don’t really understand SEO and then using buzz words that sound cool but generally no one knows what is being said. I’ve seen many of the bad guys be the first to put down another SEOs work trying to prove they are better rather than acknowledging items that are good but others that could be done better. A good SEO can see the direction another SEO might have been taking. This doesn’t necessarily make it bad work it’s just a different way to solve the problems. But, then on the other hand, it is very simply to see bad work, bad SEO advice, and/or black-hat tricks going on too. SEO is a constant work-in-progress. Things are never perfect, there is always going to be something that can be done better. As long as your SEO is helping in a positive way, ROI is going up, nothing is going down inappropriately then you have probably hit a good one. I have always suggested to my clients that my job is not to take away but to add to your site and business.

Be careful who you talk to at the SEO conferences or seminars too. I’ve seen plenty flaunting themselves and handing out cards inappropriately. Truly, the good SEO consultants aren’t there to solicit business, they are there to share knowledge. They want as badly as I do to help the general public better understand the good information to be had. They want to help the general public be able to better distinguish between the good and the bad.

SEO Checklist When Renaming URLs

January 22nd, 2009

We have been working tirelessly on a website just purchased by one of our main clients and completely revamped. The subject matter remains the same for the site but the old site was such a mess. Content was skewed all over the place and URLs had weird query strings causing duplicated pages that were out of our control. So, we revamped everything.

What that meant for the page name URLs was they were completely renamed except for the home page. We redesigned and created a beautiful hard directory along with the new static page names that will allow us focus on topics and nice growth for the future.

The old site had some legacy links we wanted to hold on to because they still applied and keyword rankings that we felt related and were of continued importance for the new site and visitors looking for that information.

To be the most effective, we noted rankings and external links and to what old website pages they belonged to. This allowed us to set up a new relationship from old page to new page of the site. With this we created a nice spreadsheet to help create the page-to-page 301 redirects we needed and a nice clean on-site sitemap and a sitemap.xml feed.

It also allowed us to check for any on-page content references so we could make sure all pages on the site referenced the now new pages only.

We also created a nice little custom 404 page-not-found page for any old references we might have missed. We didn’t want to just do the catch-all thing and redirect any bad references to the Home Page. Since we had such a complete outline of every old page and analysis we felt it better to truly deliver a page-not-found error for visitors that mis-type or incorrectly reference a page. Then we could also use the Google Webmaster Tools to help us watch 404’s from external links and 301 redirect more appropriately.

So, if you are moving or renaming website pages, here is a suggested checklist:

1) Perform a Link Analysis for the pages being moved or renamed and note the anchor text used.

2) Run a Ranking Report to note the keywords those individual pages are currently ranking for.

3) Push even more for additional information about old pages being referenced by other websites by using the following command in the Search Box:

4) Use the above to create a good new URL name (in a good Directory structure) that might help the external anchor text used and/or the keywords the old page was ranking for.

5) If Content is rewritten, consider the anchor text and ranked keywords as well for use in the new content.

6) Don’t forget to consider tying your new URL name with your Meta Data and on-page content.

7) Make sure all on-site page references point to the new page names – check content and navigation.

8) Create an XML sitemap of the old pages. A sample name to call this page is sitemap-old.xml.

9) Update the on-site sitemap page with only the new pages referenced. And update the XML sitemaps page with only the new pages. You’ll have the old pages listed in the sitemap-old.xml mentioned above.

10) Set up your 301 redirects, old individual page to new individual page, however your server and coding environment allows.

11) Have a nice custom 404 page. We like using a format like the on-site sitemap page but the custom 404 page must have a Meta Robots NOINDEX where the sitemap page has INDEX. This will act as a catch-all for any bad or incorrect references.

12) Keep the old pages accessible along with the new pages. Do this until all the new pages are in the Search Engine Indexes and the old pages are out. As well, all external link references have either been updated or changed. This will allow the link juice to get to your new pages properly and allow the search engines to update their indexes easily.

13) Set up your Google Webmaster Tools account and update your sitemaps with the new pages XML feed and the old pages XML feed.

14) Then when you flip the switch just keep an eye out for anything missed.

Hopefully, this checklist will allow the changes to take place smoothly and with minor ranking changes as all your new pages are digested in the SERPs!

Assessing a Web Site and your Client

May 28th, 2008

To stay current, I just wrote a blog article on:
5 Steps (minutes) to Assessing your Client through their Web Site

It’s useful information for other SEOs and their sales team. But, I think it could also be interesting for a client to use for checking out their own website. Understanding issues related to how the online world can see you (and how they see your site) and evaluate you can be most useful in a variety of ways.

Also, use the information provided in the article to create your 5 step process to not only check and evaluate your site but the websites of your competitors. Use these 5 steps along with our more formal SEO Checklist to do a more thorough site assessment.

Here’s the list of the 5 steps – that should take 5 minutes to perform:

1) PageRank
2) site: command
5) View page source – meta tags, H1, quick coding check

Check out the article and let me know here and/or there if it was helpful. I hope it is!