Category Archives: seo

The Google Webmaster Tools Flaw – Perhaps not so flawed after all…

The search community has been buzzing for the last 24 hours since James Breckenridge reported that anyone could submit a URL removal request for any site, regardless of whether they have access to the Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) account for that domain or not.

I don’t need to go over this in too many details as you can read about it on Dave Naylor’s Blog, where he performed a number of tests. The tests though, seem flawed. Dave managed to submit the removal request for BingoPlayUk.com, a site he does not have access to under GWT, but to date, it still hasn’t been removed:

BingoPlayUK SERP

http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=site%3Abingoplayuk.com

Nor do I think it will be removed. The issue is, unless you have blocked access to the URL or site via robots.txt or a robots meta tag, or have removed the site or page thus serving a 404, Google won’t actually remove the URL. As Dave notes in his post, it warns you of this when you submit the removal request:

GWT Page Removal Warning

I’ll keep an eye on the SERP for BingoPlayUK, but doubt it is going to change without a physical change to the site.

As for James and his results… linkbait-a-licious given his site is brand new? I’m not one to judge but until someone else can verify his results, I’m on the fence.

When should you consider SEO?

The simple answer to this: SEO should be considered as early in the development of your website as possible, and whenever a change to the website is going to be made.

The not so simple problem, is that with the number of stakeholders within any sizeable organisation who share responsibility for the website, marketing and acquisition channels, development and technical assistance, SEO – and some of the responsibilities that fall under an SEO consultant/employee’s remit – can unfortunately be overlooked.

In my line of work, and I would hazard a guess in many SEO consultants’ working weeks, there are a number of situations that have a habit of catching you surprise, when one of said company stakeholders has “done something” without consulting you first. Here are my top 4 (either personally experienced or through stories from other SEOs):

What’s analytics?

Too many times to count
Scenario: Person A has put a page up regarding a new promotion, and wants to know how many hits the page has had, how many registrations or sales said promotion has brought in and how much profit they have made the company after all costs (including that huge billboard they put up, as well as a ton of PPC traffic purchased).

Issue: Person A got the dev team to put the page up urgently as the billboard was about to be unveiled, and they didn’t tell the person who heads up analytics (usually tied in closely with SEO) about the page, which simply linked to the registration form, or product category.

Result: SEO/Analytics person gets it in the ear for not tracking the page and resulting traffic (it’s his/her responsibility to know about every page, after all!), thus nobody’s able to work out if said promotion was a success or another massive failure.

Why are people finding our page!?

This one actually happened quite recently
Scenario: Person B has put a page up regarding a new promotion through a media buyer. The promotion is only open to visitors arriving from said channel and nobody else.

Issue: Person B got the dev team to put the page up urgently as the offer was about to go live, and they didn’t tell the SEO about the page. The resulting popularity of the page pushed it up the SERPs organically until it ranked 2nd or 3rd for the brand name, with nice juicy “Sign up now for a big promotion!” title tag, matching description, etc… it really was an offer you couldn’t pass up.

Result: SEO person gets it in the ear for not blocking the page and resulting organic traffic (it’s his/her responsibility to know about every page, after all!), thus they had to give the offer to some people who had not arrived through the correct acquisition channel until the SEO could get the page removed from the index (fortunately, they did it quite quickly!).

Why isn’t our site appearing for brand searches?

My favourite story from a friend at a big SEO agency about a very well known brand
Scenario: Person C hires a big design (not SEO) agency to build them a brand new, shiny, sparkling website. It’s all singing, all dancing, you name it, it’s got it! The proverbial mutt’s!

Issue: Person C requested that the design agency to put the site up urgently as they wanted to launch the website before a specific event, and they didn’t consult anyone in regards to SEO, but expected the site to rank quite quickly (it was backed by a big UK brand, after all). The site was up in plenty of time, press releases went out, lots of nice, top media websites picked up the story, linked back to the site, no love from the big G. The design agency just don’t understand what’s going on. It’s been weeks since the site launched, why is it not appearing for any searches regarding the product/service?

Result: SEO consultant gets called in by the brand, makes one change to robots.txt (apparently it hadn’t been amended since the site was in test, when they didn’t want any search engines finding it) and all is well (it’s his/her job to know these sorts of things, after all.)

Why don’t we rank for our own story instead of these press release syndication sites?

You can lead a horse to water…
Scenario: Person D distributes many press releases on behalf of their client, replicates the press release on their own website, but never seems to rank for stories about their client, even though the PR was on their site first. The PR distributor and numerous sites who syndicate content always outrank them.

Issue: Person D always includes a few links in the press release, but as we all know, the PR distribution company always includes a link back to the version of the PR on their site… Person D, unfortunately, does not!

Result: SEO gets bugged, repeatedly, whenever this happens, even though they have given Person D instructions on how to optimise their press release distribution method.

Conclusion

Everything and anything can have an effect – positive or negative – on your website. Submitting a story to a bookmarking site brought this very site down back in November last year, because I hadn’t expected such a high volume of traffic, enough to bring my host down! On and offline marketing/PR efforts, promotions, etc… they all have an effect on your SEO.

The time has come for SEO to be seen as a complimentary channel to all other marketing channels, be they for acquisition, retention, reactivation… even – as I’ve recently spoke to an online casino about – reputations can be managed through search and SEO.

Conferences, Portable WiFi Hotspot, Firesheep and Black Hat SEO

Want to know how you could use Firesheep to help your SEO efforts? Read on, but please take this caveat: The following is a purely hypothetical situation and should not be put into practice as it could – and probably would – land you in theĀ proverbialĀ if you got caught. Also, I know this has the potential to draw some flames from people stating that this “is already do-able through other means”… but I’m merely highlighting a newer, easier way. Continue reading

Chrome 7 – Auto Preview In Window

I don’t recall seeing this before, but I stumbled across this quite by chance this morning after upgrading to Chrome 7 yesterday. It seems Chrome is now showing auto previews of sites and searches in the main window, as you type them into the address/search bar.

Starting at Google.com, I began typing in the address of my blog into the search bar. Note, this is without hitting return/enter:

Chrome auto-previews site

The same happens when searching for a term, and note, the search results autoupdate as you type:

Chrome autopreviews searches