Archive for July, 2011
Here is a fun question from Mani in Delhi. Mani asks, “We are changing a fairly large HTML site to CMS. What are the essentials to keep in mind so that we do not lose our search rankings?”
Very good question! I have seen a lot of people a lot of websites go through a 2 year re-design only to launch with completely new software underlined package, platformed CMS or anything and a completely new HTML layout and suddenly are not what they were expecting to be and then they are stuck. Was it because we changed the layout or was it because we changed the CMS or we changed the URL structure. So one big piece of advice that I would like to give is, try not to launch all of this at once. For example if your CMS means your layout has to change you can mark that up. You can try to make it, if you change your HTML, so that it looks like to look like from your content management system and then make sure that your rankings don’t change. They shouldn’t change very much at all but if you change the whole bunch of stuff on your page that can affect how Google scores that page. So instead of changing the CMS and changing the layout, see if you can change only one at a time. Try not to change the URL structure. Another thing is if you are really worried you can change only one directory that is powered by the CMS at first. So it is something like dipping your food in the water. But it’s just like any other scientific thing, if you are going to change 4 things at once and then your rankings change you don’t know which of the 4 things it was. So if at all possible no. 1 try to change it so that everything from your CMS generates identical HTML and then no. 2 if you are going to go through a big re-design try to put some mark-ups relatively early may be you can do some ab testings, see how it goes with users, see how it goes in terms of search engine rankings. But don’t try to work for 2years without even trying it out on the search engines just to see how it might be scored differently. That said normally if you are changing things around it isn’t a huge difference, it doesn’t make a huge impact, it is possible so do some trials if you can but it ism should be very doable to try to migrate between different content management systems without losing your rankings.
AndyPTG from Boston asks, “Will I be penalized for having every file in my XML sitemap listed with the same priority? Google Webmaster Tools give me a warning on that. But at the same time the priority field is optional”
But I definitely don’t think you’ll be penalized. If you give all of those files the same priority then we’ll just try to sort of which ones we think are the most important on our own. So I definitely wouldn’t worry about having the list of priority for every single one. It‘s not like we are going to having some scoring penalty or anything like that. It’s totally fine and totally optional. If you do have some information that you use to put under priority that’s great but it’s not required and it won’t get you into trouble if you do or don’t have it
Well, I’ve explained this before the link: operator is accurate; it only shows you a sub sample of your links. So my preferred way would be to log into Google’s Webmaster Tools and we will show you a very exhaustive list of back links, pretty much everything all the back links that we know of in Google’s Webmaster Console. The nice thing is other people can’t spy on that so your competitor can’t look at you back links. You can start to see other back links from other sites like Yahoo Site Explorer, for example, if you type in a URL into Yahoo Site Explorer just in their search box you can explore the back links in that way. So those are the couple of tools that you can use. But it’s not Link: show a wrong link, it’s just that we don’t show all of the links that we know about. So there are a lot of different options if you have to find out more about back links from different websites.
Richard M from Australia asks, “If you have a company logo on your site, what is the best way to include the text of the logo for SEO purposes? ALT tag, CSS hiding, or does it matter?”
Yes, it does matter its much better use an ALT tag than to use like I’m hiding some CSS, 9000 pixels on the left of the webpage or something like that. That’s what the ALT tag was more or less built for or ALT attribute or whatever you want to say. But yes go ahead and use Alt and that’s the fantastic way to say this is the text that’s in my logo, search engines can read that and use that, I would not hide it using CSS or anything like that when there is a perfectly valid, perfectly simple way to do it. it does the job just fine.
We have a question from Fabio Ricotta from Brazil. Fabio asks “Will Google Yahoo! Directory and BOTW as sources of paid links? If no, why is this different from other sites that sell links?”
I’ve answered this question in the past but since enough people are curious to ask, I’ll do the spiel again. Whenever we look into whether a directory is useful to users, we say, what is the value add of that directory? Do they go and find entries on their own or do they only wait for people to come to them. How much do they charge, how much is the editorial service that they are charged. If a directory takes $50 and every single person who ever apply to the directory automatically gets in for that $50. There is not as much editorial oversight as something like that yahoo directory where people do get rejected. So if there is no editorial value adds then that is much closer to the page links. In fact if you look at our webmaster quality guidelines we used to have a guideline that says, submit your site to directories and we gave few examples of directories. And what we found what’s happening was people would get obsessed with that line and finds a lot of directories and there were a lot of people who were like oh well, if people are looking out for directories, I’ll make a directory and so you saw all these fly-by night directories, that would start up and say “I am the page rank 6 directory, you give me $50 and you’ll automatically get an entry in my directory.” And it’s not as if those type of listing or the sort of things that users really value or do a lot of good in our search results so that we want to do a lot of good. So we ended up taking out that mention in our webmaster guidelines so that people don’t get obsessed with the directories and think yes, I have to go find a bunch of different directories to submit my site to. There are some directories that do carry weight; the yahoo directory does a good job of editorial discussion and actually doing a review and rejecting a significant number of entries that are low quality. So the question in your mind whenever you consider a directory is what is the value add, do they high standards? I have a blog post outright that talk about other different factors of the directory and whether we might consider it as real. But those are some of the factors that you should ask yourself about. So by those measures, no, the yahoo directory is not just automatically paid links. Typically paid links are going to be much lower quality and they are going to be much more automatic people will give you whatever rank or text you want all those sorts of things. So there is a difference. At the same time don’t go overboard worrying about submitting your site to every directory. If you make a great site make sure that the people find out about it. Those are some of the things that really makes a difference not that I have to submit my site to atleast 5 directories or atleast 10 directories or anything like that.
A question from Deepesh in New York. Deepesh asks, “What impact does “page bloat” have on Google rankings? Most of the winners in SEO seem to have very simple pages (very few image HTML-only design) – sometimes to the detriment to the user in a poorly designed page.”
I wouldn’t jump to conclusions. Back in the early days of Google we used to trunk aid data about a 100 kilobytes. So if you’ve had page-bloat back then, I could imagine that your content might got snipped off a half way through and we wouldn’t see all of it. But Google does a much better job of seeing the entire page now; we don’t trunk aid at 100 Kb’s anymore we can deal with a larger page. So I wouldn’t really worry about page-bloat, we tend to do a very good job of finding the content. So if you have extra images don’t worry about that, if you have extra HTML markup don’t worry about that. I think the assumption that only the SEOed pages that don’t have very many images or they have very thin HTML designs are the winners, I’m not sure I’d agree with that, because if you think about it, there are a lot of really good sites and well known brands, they do well and they often have very big pages, they might have flash they might have a lot of images or things like that. So there might be some niches where you might where you paying attention to and looks like only these focused pages with a lot of content do well. But we try to return the best page the most relevant page no matter what the query is. So don’t worry about it to the degree you are going to start making radical changes pruning down content. Go ahead and do what you think is the best for your users the most informative and relative pages that you can make and we’ll try to return that and we do a very good job of handling bloat and finding what the real content is on the real page.
Filipe Santos from New York asks, “Do dates in the URL of blogs or websites help determine freshness of the content or is it largely ignored?”
Well, I think dates in the URL or the content can be largely useful, but people can also try to optimize that and say that they are always 10 mins old. We have our own measures of how fresh pages are, for example: the first time our crawler saw our page. We also look at revisiting the pages, how much the content changes. So I think it’s a good idea to have the URL clearly somewhere on your page that people can find out how old the content is. But I don’t think you necessarily need to do it for Googlebots. So it’s a good usability thing, but Google has its own ways to measure how fresh various content is. You don’t have to worry about having the date in the URL or the content just convince Google its fresh we already do that complications and figure it out for ourselves.
Frankly I wouldn’t worry about it. We see tables we see CSS, we have to handle both, so we try to score them well, no matter what kind of layout mechanism you use. Frankly I would use what’s best for you. A lot of people these days tend to like CSS, because it’s easy to change your site, it’s easy to change the layout. Tables kind of have this web1.0 connotation to them. But if you have the vest site, we will try to find it and we’ll try to rank it highly regardless of whether it’s table-based or its CSS based
Alex B in Indianapolis has a good question. Alex says, “When I do a Google search for my business name, Google suggests “Did you mean:” with some other company name. Is there anything we can do to keep that from happening?”
Not that I know of atleast not right now, there is nothing where we a have a form that you can fill out and say this is bad. You can try finding our various helpful web forms and reporting it there. But the hope is that overtime we learn that sort of things automatically. So we have data pushes of content and then we try to iterate and improve, so I don’t have a good answer in terms of, like here’s the simple form that you can fill out. But hopefully overtime Google learns that this suggestion is not as helpful or this isn’t real business. Anything that you can do to build the reputation of your business so it’s more well known so you got a lot of links pointing to you and you are more easily found on the web. These are all the signals that say oh this is a really valid query, so it’s not something that we need to show as spelling suggestion for. But there is no other special form that you can fill out or anything as far as I know. Sorry!
Chris from the UK asks, “Is there a limit to the number of pages that Google will index from one site?”
Good question! Not that I’m aware of, Chris. So we will index millions of pages if we think the site is sufficiently good and has a sufficient amount of content. You are very unlikely to bump against the limit in our index; it’s purely how useful we think your pages are which in turn enlarged by how much page rank you have, how many people link to you and what’s the reputation of the pages is. So if there is a limit, I’m not aware of it. I really doubt that there is we tend to scroll as much of a site as we think we can use and we budget that relative to all the other sites and how useful we think the site is and how many people are linking to it. So as far as I’m aware there’s not a limit and hope that helps.
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