Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Black Hat Techniques

These are spam techniques employed by cunning webmasters to attain high rankings and visibility in search engines in a very short period, but these techniques are not legitimate and will get your website penalized and black listed quickly.

I'm listing down the most common tricks practiced by some of the shady webmasters just to let you know what they are. These are not tips but a list of "do not’s" and warn you against using them.

Keyword Stuffing
This method is very common, used by even untrained professionals unknowingly. A huge list of keywords are created and put in tags in a single page. Most of them are duplicated, rephrased and do not have any character limitations.

Hidden Text
These are text which are set in the same color as the background and are not visible to human eye. But are created for search engines to trace them and increase keyword relevance.

This is a method of presenting different information, one for the search engines and the other for visitors.

Doorway Pages
These are pages added to a website solely to target a specific keyword phrase or phrases and direct traffic to another page. Most often these pages do not have any valuable content.

Duplicate Content/Sites
Having same content in two different pages of a single website and having two different domains with the same content will lead to a website getting penalized. Duplicate pages are commonly found in websites that have dynamic content, where the same content are displayed in different sections and the URL are not changed. Another situation is the site owner books two domains and has the same content in both these domains.

Now, if you find that your competitors are using the above black hat tactics and having an unfair advantage over you, then what you need to do is report them to Google and it is totally fair and ethical. Please also make sure that your website is for sure "black hat" free before you report them. It is being discussed that Google normally verifies the reporting party's website to confirm the authenticity of the complaint. Now did I scare by saying that? :-)

The URL to contact Google to report websites using SEO black techniques is - https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/spamreport?hl=en

Be clean! :-)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Tracking 404 error pages - broken links in Google Analytics

To identify error pages in a website, we need to create a custom built error page along with the Google Analytics tracking code which is to be delivered by your Web Server. To identify the 'page not found', ensure to put "Error Page 404" as the title of the page. Then create the following filter.

Add a new Filter for Profile.

Filter Name: Error Pages
Filter Type: Custom filter > Advanced
Field A -> Extract A: Select "Page Title" and put the following in the next column (Error Page.+)
Filed B -> Extract B: Select "Request URI" and in the next column (.*)
Output To -> Constructor: Select "Request URI" and in the next column $A1$B1
Field A Required: Yes
Field B Required: Yes
Override OutputFiled: Yes
Case Sensitive: No

Once you have completed this, you can start tracking the Error pages in "Top Content" and "Content by Title" section. This will enable you to identify errors in your website and rectify them.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Tracking paid (PPC) keywords in Google Analytics

We all know that Google Analytics displays keywords of your Adwords campaign, but however it does not display the exact keyword used by your visitors for your broad match term. For example, if your broad match keyword was 'SEO', and the term used by a visitor was 'SEO company' or 'SEO consultants', google analytics will only display 'SEO'.

In order to track the exact keyword used by the visitor for a broad match term, all you need to do is set up the following filters in your website's anlaytics account.

Filter One
Add new filter for profile
Filter Name: Overide bid term
Select "Custom Filter" & Click on "Advanced"
Field A -> Extract A: Select Referral and put the following values in the next coloumn (\?|&)(q|p)=([^&]*)
Field B -> Extract B: Select Campaign Medium and in the text field put: cpc|ppc
Output To -> Constructor: Select Custom Field 1 and type $A3 in the next column
Field A Required - Yes
Field B Required - Yes
Override Output Field - Yes
Case Sensitive - No
Select the website profile on which you would like this filter to be applied and click on "Save Changes".

Filter Two
Filter Name: Overide bid term 2
Select "Custom Filter" & Click on "Advanced"
Field A -> Extract A : Select - Custom Field 1 : and in the next column insert (.*)
Field B -> Extract B : Select - Campaign Term : and insert (.*)
Output To -> Constructor : Campaign Term : $B1.($A1)
Field A Required - Yes
Field B Required - Yes
Override Output Field - Yes
Case Sensitive - No
Again, select the same website profile and click on "Save Changes".

You will now be able to check the exact terms used by your visitors for your broad match keywords. This set up will help you in indentifying negative keywords and improve your campaigns performance.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Know your Web Server status codes

This information is not only for SEO's & Web analyst but also for developers who are not aware of Web Server Status codes. It is easy for a Web Analyst to communicate when developers are knowledgeable and understand what they are doing. This information is useful when we have an error page and want to track them in Google Analytics.

The web server status codes are split into 4 categories
200 series - indicate requested action was successful
300 series - indicate request for redirection
400 series - is a client side error and contains bad syntax
500 series - is a server side error and the server could not fulfill the request

2xx Success list
- 200 OK
- 201 Created
- 202 Accepted
- 203 Provisional Information
- 204 No Response
- 205 Deleted
- 206 Modified

3xx redirection list
- 301 Moved permanently
- 302 Moved temporarily
- 303 Method
- 304 Not modified

4xx Client error list
- 400 Bad request
- 401 Unauthorized
- 402 Payment required
- 403 Forbidden
- 404 Not Found
- 405 Method not Allowed
- 406 None Acceptable
- 407 Proxy Authentication Required
- 408 Request timeout

5xx Server error list
- 500 Internal server error
- 501 Not Implemented
- 502 Bad Gateway
- 503 Service Unavailable
- 504 Gateway Timeout

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sending Webpage through Emails

Came across something very interesting today. Imagine sharing a webpage in full in your emails instead of just sending the url as links! All you need to do is just enter the URL and send the webpage to your friends. You can experience this by using using www.emailtheweb.com.

The feature is similar to the one in Facebook (except the page preview is not visible in the same page). You type the url - preview the subject (title), add a note, preview the page and then send. The catch is, you can use emailtheweb only if you have a Google account.

So I guess this feature will soon be a part of Google - an improvised version.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Google Image traffic - transferring from Referral to Organic

It is very vital for Website owners to track the number of users who have visited their website through an image search. Currently all traffic that is generated through image searches are shown as referrals. Hence we cannot track the keyword information associated with the users’ image search.

In order to shift this traffic medium from referral to organic, all you need to add is add this additional code which is highlighted in bold.

<script type="text/javascript">
var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www.");
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "google-analytics.com/ga.js' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));
<script type="text/javascript">
try {
var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-xxxxxxx-x");
pageTracker._addOrganic("google", "prev");
} catch(err) {}

After the code has been modified, the next thing you need to do is go to your Google Analytics account and do the following.

Click on Filter Manager and fill these details under Create New filter.

Filter Name: Put a name that is easily identifiable or associating to the tracking. E.g.: Google Images
Filter Type: Select "Custom Filter" & Click on "Advanced"

Field A -> Extract A: Select Campaign Term and punch in the following values in the next column "/images?(.*)(q|p)=([^&]*)"
Field B -> Leave this field empty
Output To -> Constructor: Select "Campaign Term" and type image search $A3 in the next column.

Field A Required - Yes
Field B Required - No
Override Output Field - Yes
Case Sensitive - No

Select the website profile on which you would like this filter to be applied and click on "Save Changes".

That’s it. You will now be able to track visits received through images in organic and the keyword information associated with the visitor’s image search.

I hope this information has helped you guys. Cheers!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Keyword ranking Fluctuations

After we optimize a website, one thing that we quite often face is the fluctuation or drop in keyword rankings. I'm sure many of you would have faced the same. So when we experience such things there is no need to press the panic button, it happens to every site and it’s a process.

When keyword rankings drop, your client will be curious to know why it happened. At this stage do not make any changes in the website, explain it clearly that this is a normal phenomenon. Trying to make immediate changes or improve ranking quickly is not wise SEO strategy.

These fluctuations and drop in keyword rankings happen quite often after the initial optimization process. What you need to do is, try to identify any errors in the site, if there are duplicate content, broken links, page error, download time etc. If the site is free of errors, all you need to continue working on your on page and off page optimization activities.