Category: Uncategorized

The Best 404 Pages I’ve Seen

404 pages are the errors pages that a website serves up when you tried to reach a non existent webpage. Even though 404s are reached by accident there are also a great opportunity for redirect traffic and keep visitors attention. In the blog post I’ll be talking about some of my favorite 404 pages and how they make their sites better.

One of my favorite 404 pages happens to be an automatically generated one.

Houston Fertility Center

Houston Fertility 404 page

Houston Fertility Center uses as CMS that create a spider friendly 404 that allows visitors to find what they were looking for. It’s not the prettiest page around for for usability it Search Engine friendly it’s pretty awesome.

Github

github-404

Github’s 404 page has pros and cons in regards to SEO. On one hand it’s doesn’t help visitors one bit with finding their content so if you’re looking for a page your journey kinds almost as soon as it starts. One good thing about Github’s error page it that it’s very creative and funny so even though you didn’t find what you’re looking for you at least got a laugh outta it. Creative, unique pieces of content can be link bait attracting a lot of visits, links, shares and other things bringing your site from obscurity to virility in just a few days, depending on who finds it.

Opus Capture

Opus does something similar with their 404 page. It’s completely unhelpful to finding what you need but entertaining enough to make you forget your worries.  With large websites providing a stemap in your 404 can be daunting and impractical so it makes sense to offer something humorous to wayward searchers.

 

What Exactly is SOPA?

 

Are you worried about SOPA? Well, you should be. Whether or not have a site that hosts pirated content SOPA and PIPA could set precedents about the way we use the Internet and not just the technophiles like myself, but for all Americans.

What Is SOPA And Why Should I Care?

SOPA, the Stop Online Privacy Act, was introduced by Representative Lamar Smith of Texas in the fall of this 2011 to prevent copy infringement.

Laws preventing online piracy in America aren’t new. The first law came out in 1998 with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Remember Napster and Pirate Bay? These are just two sites that have been taken down in an effort to keep people from downloading digital goods. The difference with SOPA the current laws are who is considered responsible.

Under our current laws, copyright owners have to contact the infringing sites’ webmaster, telling them they have illegal content that needs to be taken down. If the webmaster agrees it’s over and said video/image/soundbite is removed, if the site owner disagree with the claim they go to court and have it settled by a judge. But under SOPA the accuser can have the Justice Department force search engines to remove these offending sites from their SERPs. They can also go straight to IPSs and request that all traffic be blocked to the site. That means that if you are accused you’re website will be invisible to one of the largest internet consumers in the world. So if you have, I don’t know… a video of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech on your site to commemorate his birthday and Sony just happens to owns the rights to MLK they can have your website blocked.

User generated websites like Youtube, Reddit, and Facebook get millions of weekly uploads  cannot possible police every single image and could be blacklisted. The current model allows for webmasters to remove offending content when they know about it but with the amount of use that these sites get it would be unrealistic for webmasters to catch every possible infringement. This inability to effective police their sites would probably get them blacklisted in America. Check out the original SOPA Bill to learn more.

And PIPA?

PIPA is a light version of SOPA; same bill less calories. PIPA was created by the Senate, while SOPA was created by the House of Representatives. PIPA doesn’t have the search engine removal bit, SOPA does. SOPA has some protection for the wrongly accused, while PIPA doesn’t. There are some minor
differences but they are still pretty similar.

Who Supports It And Why?

SOPA I can't hear you

Supporters of SOPA like the idea of it because they claim that pirated media is costing them a ton of money. Companies like Time Warner, movie production studios and major records labels say that illegally downloaded content has cost them $250 billion a year. Whether that amount is true or not,

I can’t say, but companies say that if the government takes more aggressive steps to protecting their work they will stop bleeding cash.

Opponents of SOPA say that this kind of shoot-first-ask-questions-later tactic will ruin the Internet. Not because pirating is so important to us but that blocking traffic without due process undermines our liberties. It also puts the larger websites at the greatest risk. Opponents like Google, Yahoo!, Twitter,
Facebook, Wikipedia and a few 1000 others are also banning together to stop the bill from going through. Today was the height of the SOPA protests with many notable websites blacking out their content for the cause. I’m not sure if this will persuade supporters of the bill but it’s definitely making them pay attention.

Will SOPA Really Go Through?

I honestly can’t say. It would be incredibly surprising to me if SOPA went through but stranger things have happened. With the entire Internet in an uproar I’m sure that the bill introduced in October is not what gets voted on but there is a lot of pressure coming from the producers of Warm Bodies and Akira. The bill was going strong, took a break earlier this week but co-supporters have vowed to not back down on SOPA so we can’t call it yet.

SOPA is an example of where the Internet could end up. Even if the bills are defeated the ideas behind them could live on in congress.

I’ll end this blog with a quote from Sue Gardner of the Wikimedia Foundation

“The reality is that we don’t think SOPA is going away, and PIPA is still quite active. Moreover SOPA and PIPA are just indicators of a much broader problem. All around the world, we’re seeing the development of legislation intended to fight online piracy and regulate the internet in other ways that hurt our freedoms. Our concern extends beyond SOPA and PIPA: they are just part of the problem. We want an Internet to remain free and open everywhere for everyone”

New Year – New Rules? My SEO Predictions For 2012

Happy New Year Everyone!

It’s 2012 and since I don’t expect the world to end like so many dooms day sayers I am looking into the future. At the beginning of every year experts and analyzers look at previous trends and make predictions on what’s suppose to happen in their industry. SEO and Internet Marketing is no different. I’m no Rand Fishkin but I’d like to give you my two cents anyway.

Mobile SEO

One of the things that I’ve been hearing for that last couple of years is that mobile SEO will be the new, hot thing that everyone needs to look out for. I heard that in 2010 and in 2011 and you know what we all found out? That the importance of mobile SEO services is very overrrated and not as useful as we thought it would be.

The reason that’s true is because the major difference between mobile search and regular search (desktops and laptops) is that mobile searchers make shorter queries; all that means is that you need to work on broad keywords. Other than that we learned that mobile searchers are often local searchers, so if you have a local business you need a website and you need to think about SEO. Aside from, it’s pretty much the same. It’s like a new ingredient has been added to a recipe. It’s nice and it does influence the flavor of things but it’s not the big game changer everyone and their blogger was saying it would be.

I don’t expect more out of mobile SEO than that. No doubt smart phone usage will go up but that fact won’t change the way SEOs work.

Image Search

I haven’t heard of any predictions this year on mobile search but I can make a few of my own based on my experience with it. As search engines get better at interpreting images, they will become a more important part of on page SEO. Will it be a game changer for the industry? No, it’s game changing days are over but image reading has become incredibly sophisticated and image optimization shouldn’t be overlooked. I’ve seen an incredible amount of traffic come in from optimizing images. Google Image search does a great job of providing traffic to the websites that I work with so it’s a good idea to make sure that you have this basic element covered. As Google gets better at reading images it’ll be important to not misrepresent your images with bad alt tags but make sure you have them!

Social and Search

I’ve heard a lot of things about how Social Media Marketing and SEO are becoming two of the same thing. I’m finding this to be true,  It’s harder and harder for websites to rank with out social marketing. This is great for big creative businesses but not as much for small ones who don’t want to put the time into maintaining a twitter profile. Google Plus is a minor ranking factor, shares and retweets count in building profile [and therefore website] authority and good customer service always helps your business thrive. If you have a boring businesses and don’t want to dive into social media you may not be able to survive against companies that do. Industries like industrial plumbing won’t have to embrace social media as quickly as Tech does but if they want to rank they are going to have to keep up with the times.

International Ranking

This is kind of becoming a thing of the past. Unless you’re a mega, multinational, multi-industry corporation it’ll get harder and harder for you to rank in search engines globally. Why do I say that? Because having a website isn’t a novelty anymore; having an optimized website is standard practice now. The web is growing at an unbelievable pace, according to Mashable’s web growth. In the infancy of the internet a website probably had several thousand real competitors in it’s industry, now I’d guess a site has several million. I’m guessing because I don’t know, no one truly knows the numbers because the web is growing so fast.

If you want to rank internationally you can’t just say “we are an international company” and have an 1-800 number, you need to prove it! And you prove your worth on the international market  by having different location listings, phone numbers, domains with corresponding languages and make sure it’s SEO friendly.  The bigger the web gets the harder it will be to have a wide reach, this is another reason why Social Media Marketing is so important (hint, hint).

There are a few other predictions that I can make but I’m sure this is a enough for now. We’ll just have to see how things play out.

 

Yahoo Explorer Retires Today

Today saddens me. Yahoo Site Explorer, one of the oldest SEO tools, is now gone.

I loved Yahoo Site Explorer (YSE) and I used it regularly.  Sure it wasn’t smart or very pretty but it always worked! Open Site Explorer from SEOMoz is much smarter but it get so much traffic I can barely use it. I can’t even count the amount of times OSE went down in the middle of running a link report. There are a few alternatives out of there but nothing seems to come close to the original.

I will truly miss Yahoo’s contribution to webmasters everywhere.

 

 

 

The Freshness Update- What Have We Learned

 

Freshness matters

 

Earlier this month Google announced that there was an update to their algorithm making the Caffeine infrastructure even better at indexing fresh content.

This new update is suppose to effect 35% of all searches, allowing Google users to retrieve information from pages that are only minutes old. Google elaborates:

“We completed our Caffeine web indexing system last year, which allows us to crawl and index the web for fresh content quickly on an enormous scale. Building upon the momentum from Caffeine, today we’re making a significant improvement to our ranking algorithm that impacts roughly 35 percent of searches and better determines when to give you more up-to-date relevant results for these varying degrees of freshness.” 

Read Google’s update announcement in it’s entirety to get the full scoop.

So after reading about this update what have we learned? Honestly not that much. Now before you think I’m crazy for saying that let me explain. I say we haven’t learned that much from the news because we knew since last year that fresh content was important. When Caffeine came out we knew that fresh content was a good thing; when time search filters were introduced to the Google search results page, we knew that having outdated sites could leave us behind and when SubHubBub was introduced we knew that lots of websites would benefit from providing the newest content possible.

Over and over again we’ve seen how important it was to have fresh content on our websites. This algo update just reinforces that. We know a little more and now we have stats on the number of searches it effects but you shouldn’t be that surprised by this news.

Now go update your website.