Getting SEO Wrong, Right From The Start!

August 22, 2012

These are the most common mistakes* website owners AND SEO professionals make… and yet they’re so-o-o simple to avoid!

The first mistake is…

Failure to Decide on WWW or non-WWW

One of the most glaring things I notice is the number of permanent redirections (301’S) which are picked up by my script when checking the directory listings on my websites for validity.

Now while you might expect to get a few of these from time to time… the actual number was becoming a tad excessive, so I decided to investigate what was going on.

There are essentially really three reasons why you would use a 301 redirect:

  1. Content has expired and you want to redirect to another, fresher page.
  2. You’ve permanently moved a PAGE to a different URL (probably as part of a restructure of your website’s architechure), or
  3. You’ve permanently moved your entire WEBSITE to another domain – or perhaps you have moved the .com.au version to .com (or similar)

However I have noticed another use, and it’s THIS one that people are getting wrong, which is harming their SEO efforts!

  1. You want your website to show under www.domainname.com (or perhaps just domainname.com)

Now, a 301 redirect is a very important instruction to search engines as it signifies that this is a permanent change – so they should REMOVE the OLD url from their index, and add the new one.

For the first three cases above, you can see why that would be useful. A 301 redirect is when pages have moved – permanently 🙂

However for the www vs non-www it results in a major cause of confusion IF you start submitting your URL to major directories and search engines INCORRECTLY… i.e. your “real” website is websitename.com, but you (and/or your SEO company) decide to submit the OTHER www.websitename.com version.

Which of course, when visited by the search engine/directory to verify the URL, then does a PERMANENT redirect to what is, effectively, a DIFFERENT URL (with the implied instruction to DELETE the old one and add the “new” one – even though they are, for all intents and purposes, the same).

Note – I DID say when SEO agencies submit the WRONG URL to directories… IT does happen – more often than you would expect! It IS something you should clarify with ANY SEO company you use!

Before you dismiss this as not being worthy of your attention… please realise that this is the FIRST item discussed by Google’s Maile Ohye, Developer Programs Tech Lead in her June 2012 article SEO essentials for startups in under 10 minutes (or see video below @ the 48 secs mark)

Now while a search engine robot can handle this all fairly automatically, from MY perspective as a directory owner who has to semi-manually check the URLs in my databases on a regular basis, this www/non-www problem is a pain in the neck!

Each URL visited which results in an error has to be manually checked to see if it is still “valid”. When done wrong (i.e. you submitted the WRONG URL) it becomes quite a problem when you have thousands of submissions to regularly check over!

However, when done right (if you used 301’s like they are supposed to be used) it provides a very useful indication to me that something “serious” has changed – perhaps the domain name itself… maybe it was sold to a new owner… or content is no longer relevant – in which case the listing may need to be edited or removed.

So… make sure your web designer and/or SEO Agency (or whoever you are using for your link building, is submitting the RIGHT URL 🙂

Keyword-Rich-Domain-Names

The second related problem concerns the over use (misuse?) of keyword-rich-domain-names, or variations including service-location-type-domain-names, especially when used with 301 redirects!

You’re no doubt familiar with these…

Where you get a domain name for something like plumberperth.com thinking that you’re going to kill the search engines for the term “Plumber Perth” and mop up bigtime!

So you register that domain… build a site on it… and start submitting it everywhere… left, right and centre! And before long you’re supposed to be ranking at the top of the search engines for your selected key phrase!

The problems I see (as a directory owner) with this type of tactic, are:

  1. Some companies then use a 301 to redirect to their company website – effectively WASTING all that time and money in even doing it in the first place!

Perhaps they would be better off creating more “relevant” pages on their existing company site, and developing its authority instead.

OR

  1. The pages served by crap-domain-in-suburb.com are mostly nothing more than very thin landing pages – terribly BORING and horribly plain mini advertisements… which have been “highly optimised” for the crap-domain-in-suburb keyword. And the vast majority of these don’t even LINK to the more “credible” company website!

Look… Already there is IMMENSE competition in the “local” search results pages for a local business website… fighting with hundreds of “phone-book” style listings!

Do you really think that the search engines will serve up stuff like crap-domain-in-suburb.com for long IF they decide to even index it in the first place??? I don’t. At best, it’s a short term tactic that MIGHT work (until the next algorithm change).

AND

  1. The biggest problem with this type of tactic is that YOU ARE NOT BRANDING YOUR BUSINESS at all using this approach.

Are “real people” going to be recommending “plumber perth” to their friends? Or are they more likely to recommend “Joe from XYZ Plumbing in Subiaco”?

Remember – it IS real people who pay your bills – not search engine robots 🙂

Other Minor, But Still Important Issues…

There are a couple of minor issues I’ve picked up which you should also keep an eye out for.

First up – make sure your domain and/or web hosting remains PAID. When checking links, if they show up as no current registration, or as a 302 (temporary) redirect to an “Account Suspended” message, what would you have me do with them?

Somehow put it into my “memory bank” and check it again in a couple of days?

Sorry – such links/listings WILL get removed from the directory or search engine when these errors occur!

Finally – check your server daily to make sure there are NO major errors – particularly of the 500 “server error” series. Again, such errors will result in removal.

Hope this will help you to get your SEO started off on the right foot, and ensure your web site gets found a little easier!

Cheers for now.

Stephen Spry

* The comments above are based on my own experiences whilst “culling” out-dated/incorrect listings from several of my directory websites, containing over 35,000 listings.

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