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Bear these site migration tips in mind to maintain rankings of your e-commerce store during a domain change or site restructure

Moving is hard. I would know – I started my life in the Northeast, moved across the country to Texas, and then to Chicago. It’s difficult to get settled into a new place, making new friends, finding a place with decent pizza in your neighborhood. It’s even more difficult when we’re talking about websites – there’s the potential for big wins, and big losses. Everyone wants a new, modern website – but few consider the work that needs to be done to ensure that website produces the results you desire. It gets even more complex when you add E-commerce to the mix – payment gateways, shopping carts, affiliate sites, coupons and more! It turns into a big project, fast. In my role as an SEO Account Manager, I not only deal with the…

Will this be Google's biggest algorithm update of the year so far?

Importance: [rating=4] Recommended link: Google’s official announcement - ‘An update on Doorway pages’ Wow, this seems a strange one! It feels like back to the 1990s when Doorway pages were a common SEO technique to get ranked in Altavista which was popular before Google even launched. When Google launched in 1998, their push to create more relevant results soon saw them outlaw Doorway pages and issue webmasters guidance to avoid them. So a definite sense of Déjà vu for me and many other search marketers I’m sure! I’ve rated this alert as 4 out of 5 since although this webspam penalty is clearly aimed at targeting SEO spammers, there is always the risk of false positives from companies who are looking to practice ethical SEO. Google has issued a warning on their Webmasters Tools blog and updated their definition of doorway pages,…

A review of technical SEO in the Cruise industry

ClickThrough Marketing conducted mini technical SEO audits on the top five cruise travel agent sites in Europe, and found that all five could boost their search performance with SEO tweaks. This isn't an industry-specific problem – it's an all-round epidemic. We have carried out countless SEO audits for companies of all sizes. And if we’ve learnt one thing, it’s that the size or position of a firm has little bearing on its technical SEO performance. We've seen huge, popular sites with critical SEO problems, superbly optimised sites from struggling brands, and vice versa. To demonstrate this, we conducted mini audits on Europe's top-five cruise travel agents (by reach according to Alexa), looking at 12 key factors that can affect search performance and usability.* We hope this research shows the type of checks that are relevant and worthwhile for businesses…

A simple explanation of the Robots.txt file for marketers

The robots.txt file, also known as the Robots Exclusions Protocol, is an essential part of your website. It provides instructions to the search engine robots that crawl your site. Get it wrong, and you could damage or even destroy your search engine visibility. In this tutorial on robots.txt I'll explain the what, why and how of robots.txt for non SEO specialists so you can ask the right questions or have the right discussions about it with your specialists.

What is robots.txt?

Any webmaster worth their salt will know how important the robots.txt file is. Essentially a list of instructions for search engine robots (or web crawlers), it indicates any areas of your website you do not wish to crawled (and potentially indexed) by search engines. Getting it wrong could lead to your website disappearing…

Should you switch your site from http to https?

In September Google announced that websites would receive a minor ranking boost by using Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology and switching from HTTP to HTTPS. Now that the 'dust has settled' a little, this post looks at the 'Pros' and 'Cons' of making the switch. Google has stated that it would be a 'very lightweight signal' within the overall ranking algorithm and carried 'less weight than other signals such as high-quality content; Google webmaster trends analysts Zineb Ait Bahajji and Gary Illyes went on to say that Google 'would like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.' As a result, the search marketing community went into overdrive, blogging, tweeting and commenting on the reports. Many webmasters and business owners were soon requesting information and guidance on moving to SSL and companies were producing…

5 reasons why migrating all site pages may be a bad idea

Importance: [rating=1] (Signal currently affects only 1% of queries) Recommended link: Google Webmaster Blog announcement You will know that Google uses hundreds of ranking signals to return the most relevant results for a search, plus many filters to remove spammy or duplicate results too. But it’s rare for Google to announce what these are or to disclose new signals. So, the recent announcement from the Google Webmaster Blog that use of a HTTPS (HTTP Secure) will be used as a positive ranking signal prompted many, particular retailers who will already use HTTP Secure in checkout, to take notice. Google’s precise words were: “Over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections…

8 key issues to review in your post-launch website checklist for Google Webmaster Tools

During the process of creation of a website, lots of individuals (account managers, designers, developers and SEOs) will have spent many hours to create the best experience possible. But this can be wasted if certain checks aren't made after launch to ensure that everything is running smoothly from SEO. Apart from the essential Google Analytics customisations I described previously and review of routine onsite SEO checks (e.g. proper implementation of meta titles, meta descriptions, text links, heading tags, 301 redirections etc.), it is also essential not to check Google Webmaster tools as part of the post-launch process. In this post I will take you through the checks I regularly make as a guide.

1. Verification of the Site on Google Webmaster Tools

Why do we need to verify the ownership of our website?  According to Google Webmaster Tools: ‘we need to…

A step-by-step Guide to producing Sitemap.xml to help Google crawl your content

An XML (Extensible Mark-up Language) sitemap is a form of markup language and is consisted of tags that define pages that should be indexed by search engines. XML Sitemaps are designed for search engines and not for users. If you're new to the idea, and  want to know how a sitemap looks like, they're typically available to see as a file sitemap.xml on the site, for example http://www.dell.com/sitemap.xml and these may link to other sitemaps for different countries and content categories, for example, http://www.dell.com/content-uk-sitemap.xml. In this simple way we can easily identify if companies have a sitemap.xml and if the values in the tags, for each page, are properly implemented. These are some important tips that you need to consider when deciding whether to use XML Sitemaps. The XML optimisation will help us boost the indexation process of the site amongst search…

Using 'Rel=me ' to tell Google you are YOU.

As an online brand,  you would ideally want to have control over your brand name search results pages (SERPs). By control I mean all the results on the first page should ideally be your owned entities, whether it is your website or your company social profile pages. ASOS are a prime example of this. The online fashion powerhouse pretty much owns its brand SERPs (apart from the blended news & Guardian page), as you will see below: ASOS brand SERP Google has little trouble distinguishing that @asos is the genuine ASOS Twitter page because there is an overwhelming number of digital markers indicating that this is the case. The same goes for ASOS’ other profiles that rank on page one. However, not everyone has the authority and…

Examples showing how SEO recommendations should be briefed for implementation

SEO recommendations are often highly technical and specific in nature. One common mistake businesses make when implementing changes recommended by their SEO Agency is to not clearly communicate why the changes are needed in the first place. Recommendations often pass through two or more people before they get implemented – from the SEO Expert, to a Marketing Exec (non-techy), to their internal/external Developer for example. On some occasions, this means the reasoning behind the recommendation is lost along the way and it can have a devastating effect on your SEO. This article gives insight into a few examples of things that could go wrong if SEO recommendations are misinterpreted during the implementation process...

Canonical tag misrepresentation

As an SEO, recommending the addition of canonicals is a matter of best practice. It can address known duplicate content issues, as well as guarding against…