SEO

March 5, 2010

A one page summary that basically covers everything that is written in the Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. + CANONCIAL ISSUES and + .htaccess syntax, mod_rewrite

SEO tips – Google

* Always create unique & accurate Page Titles – Page titles should accurately describe the page’s content. Webmasters should make sure that their titles are unique for each page. Don’t stuff your title with only Keywords – write a title that will benefit both the user and the search engines. Avoid choosing generic page names and using excessive keywords. Provide only one version of your document, if you accidentally happen to have multiple versions of the same page, do a 301 redirect from the non-preferred URLs to the dominant URL

* Make use of the "description" meta tag – Meta description should both inform and interest users if they saw the description meta tag as a snippet in a search result. Don’t fill up your meta description tag with only keywords. Try writing unique descriptions for each page.

* Make your site easier to navigate – Create a naturally flowing hierarchy – Make it as easy as possible for users to go from general content to the more specific content they want on your site. Try to use text for navigation and its a good practice to put an HTML site-map page on your site, and use an XML Site-map file. Have a 404 page that is user friendly.

* Use relevant keywords in your content and take help of the Google Keyword Tool where necessary. Write fresh, unique content and avoid re-writing or copying existing content from the web. Always create content primarily for your users, not search engines.

* Use heading tags appropriately – Take advantage of the HTML Header tags H1 (only 1 per page), H2 (only 2 or 3 per page), H3 (3-6/page) . . . to break down your content for easy scanning by your readers. Give some thought into what the main points and sub-points of the content on the page will be and decide where to use those heading tags appropriately.

* Optimize your use of images – Use brief, but descriptive filenames and alt text for all images. Avoid using generic filenames and stuffing excessive keywords in the alt tag.

* Make effective use of robots.txt – save Google a hassle. [However, Robots.txt does not block your sensitive or confidential material. So take appropriate security measures for your confidential information.]

* Make use of free webmaster tools – Google provides a lot of free tools for webmasters inside Google Webmaster Tools to help webmasters better control how Google interacts with their websites and get useful information from Google about their site.

* Take advantage of web analytics services – Use Web analytics programs like Google Analytics that can be a valuable source for identifying your users, the content that they are reading, the source of traffic etc.

* Don’t do an external link to something inside your site or you will cause a loop that will hurt your SEO.



CANONCIAL ISSUES

If you have not defined server aliases for the non-www Server Name entries or vice-versa, then the server will default to the first Virtual Host it finds, as documented.

A 301 redirect from www to non-www or vice-versa is recommended. This prevents multiple ‘versions’ of your URL from being linked-to by other webmasters, solidifies your site’s ‘branding’ under one domain or the other, and prevents your PageRank and/or linkpop from being ‘diluted’ across two different domains.

to demonstrate just how real this is, on March 20th 2010 I did a search on "star rotor engine news" my blog entry on it was posted back in May of 2007 and, over 2 years later, it is still showing up under both addresses, with and without the "www"!
Showing up in 5th and 6th place, imagine it in 3rd place maybe (?!) if I had controlled the "www" to either show or not show up! More to the point, what about so many more which must be ranking down on a 2nd page which could be up on the 1st page.

Fuel-Efficient-Vehicles.org " Star Rotor motor from Texas A&M Univ. May 26, 2007 …
The StarRotor uses the same thermodynamic process as jet engines to recuperate …
fuel-efficient-vehicles.org/energy-news/?p=92 - Cached - Similar

Fuel-Efficient-Vehicles.org " Star Rotor motor from Texas A&M Univ.
The StarRotor uses the same thermodynamic process as jet engines to recuperate some …
www.fuel-efficient-vehicles.net/energy-news/?p=92 - Cached

I said two different domains; The major search engines will ‘figure out’ that these two domains resolve to the same content eventually, (a few years later?!) but then you are depending on their back-end processing to do so.

The top sites you saw may be succeeding in spite of these canonicalization problems. Try entering google.com in your address bar, though. Google thinks it’s important. Instead of checking the 600-pound gorillas in whatever market segment you investigated, take a look at the smaller up-and-coming sites below them. Those that seem to be performing above their potential may indeed have all their server-side details in place.

The search engines (Google) are not against auto-redirecting when it is done for they what consider to be a valid reason.

Auto-Redirecting Methods

to make sure it’s SEO friendly.

The preferred method is called a 301 (permanent) redirect. A 301 redirect is technique or type of redirecting that tells an Internet browser, search engine or other device that the page accessed has permanently move to another location and your being redirected to that location. The commands go in an htaccess file — go to the Unix-Linux topic to see the article on htaccess.

If your only option is php:

This method is helpful if you need to redirect on a small scale and
using .htaccess or mod_rewrite are not an option and everybody knows
that META redirects that are timely can be SEO suicide. My situation
when I needed to use this was when I was being hosted on an IIS server
that did not allow URL rewriting. If anyone finds themselves in this
position, hopefully this will be useful to you.

Create a file in your root directory called redirect.php that looks
like the code posted below.

 <?php
 $redirect = false;
 $path = $_SERVER['REQUEST_URI'];

 if ($path == '/oldpath.php') {
     $path = '/newpath';
     $redirect = true;
 }

 $url = $_SERVER['HTTP_HOST'];
 if ($url != 'www.yoursite.com') {
     $redirect = true;
 }

 if ($redirect==true){
     header('Status: 301 Moved Permanently');
     header('Location: http://www.yoursite.com'    .$path);
 }
 ?>

For each URL you need to redirect from simply add another:

if ($path == '/oldpath.php') {
$path = '/newpath';
$redirect = true;
}

And at the top of your default page (index.php) that you’re using add the line:

<?php require('redirect.php'); ?>

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