Posts Tagged ‘Search Marketing’

Oh No Daddy! GoDaddy Redirects Cause Major SEO Issue, now what?

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

If you are a GoDaddy customer you will want to read this.

Part of our weekly SEO routine for clients is to check search engine Webmaster tool accounts, in doing so we usually find something interesting, disturbing or exciting. This week, we noticed that a domain that we permanently redirected to a new one back in December was showing as a top inbound linking site to the domain in which is was supposed to be redirected.

We asked ourselves, “How could this be?” Was the site moved to a new host without our knowledge? Was the domain being redirected properly?

And so our investigation began.

Our Findings:
This client is a GoDaddy customer and back in December we had permanently forwarded the domains in GoDaddy’s Domain Control panel which at that time issued a proper permanent redirect telling the servers and search engines that this was indeed a permanent redirect (otherwise known as a 301 redirect).

Today, when we checked the server headers it said that the redirect was a temporary redirect (otherwise known as a 302 redirect). We went a step further to investigate some of the other domains that also had been setup as permanent redirects in the GoDaddy system. And to our dismay, they are all showing as temporary redirects.

Arizona SEO: Checking redirects

We logged into GoDaddy to make sure the permanent redirect settings were correct for our domains AND…they were.

Phoenix SEO: How to set a redirect

We then called GoDaddy to understand why the domain settings marked to permanent redirect (301) were showing as a temporary redirect (302) in our third party checking tool.

The GoDaddy tech support person told us that “all of their forwarding now only issues a temporary 302 redirect” and if we wanted “to make it a permanent 301 we would have to do that at the hosting level.” They also could not tell us what type of redirect would be issued if we actually selected temporary redirect as an option or why there are two choices if they both do the same thing.

There are three situations for when you would use redirects:*

  1. If you are launching a new site and switching to a new domain.
  2. If you have deleted, removed, changed or are planning to change web page URLs.
  3. If you have a list of URLs that are derivations or misspellings of your company name/main site domain that you want to forward to your main site.

*Redirects can be configured for site domains and specific web pages/URLs.

There are two types of preferred redirects for these situations:

a) 301 which is for files that have been permanently moved.
b) 302 which is for files that have been temporarily moved.

Why are redirects such a big deal?

In the SEO world, redirects affect everything. A redirect tells servers, search engines and browsers how to handle the domain when someone requests it. If a page is deleted, a site is relaunched, or a page is renamed it is important for both SEO and usability to make sure you have those old pages going to either a new relevant page or appropriate URL.

If URLs/domains are not configured properly you can lose valuable search engine visibility. Keep in mind that people and sites are linking to your content and inbound links are one of the key influencing factors to search engine rankings. Use of 301 redirects should be used to preserve search engine rankings and any inbound links to that particular URL. This way search engines will index the new address instead of keeping the outdated URL. It is the best option to avoid negatively impacting search engine ranking.

The reason you don’t want to use a 302 redirect is this signals to the search engine that the old URL should be maintained in the index as an active URL, it just has been moved for now. This causes none of your new URLs to be indexed.

If a search engine doesn’t know where to go and runs into a dead-end URL/page this can impact your search visibility not to mention your user experience if they follow a link to a URL that no longer exists.

How do I fix my forwarding domains in GoDaddy to be properly configured for permanent redirection?

Note: If you are redirecting a domain, you DON’T want to just switch the DNS to your main site – this will cause a mirrored site and create a duplicate content issue for you. Search engines will not like that and you may get penalized for it by search engines.

  1. The first step is to remove or turn off the forwarding in your GoDaddy domain control panel. Go to Domain Management and find the domain, and go to Forwarding and click on Manage next to it. Edit to turn off.

    Search Optimization: Turning your redirects off in Godaddy

  2. If the web site you are redirecting to is hosted with GoDaddy, add the domain as an additional domain to the root through the Hosting Control panel.
  3. If the web site you are redirecting to is NOT hosted with GoDaddy, change the DNS records in the Domain Control panel to point to the IP address of the site you are redirecting to. Add the domain as an additional domain in your host’s control panel. Or your virtual hosts file.
  4. Add the following code to the .htaccess file for the main site. Make sure to create a RewriteCond and ReWriteRule line for each domain you are redirecting. Make sure to redirect both the www and non-www version of the domain if needed. And always immediately test your .htaccess to make sure there are no errors. .htaccess can be tricky, better to be safe than sorry. So always backup your .htaccess before making any changes.
  5. Options +FollowSymlinks
    RewriteEngine on
    rewritecond %{http_host} ^newdomain.com [nc]
    rewriterule ^(.*)$ http://www.newdomain.com/$1 [nc,r=301]
    RewriteCond %{http_host} ^olddomain.com [nc]
    RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.newdomain.com/$1 [nc,R=301]
    RewriteCond %{http_host} ^www.olddomain.com [nc]
    RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.newdomain.com/$1 [nc,R=301]

    It is wise to speak with an SEO consultant prior to making your site live to the redirects of old pages and domains are appropriately handled. If you are relaunching a site or looking to increase your online visibility? Give us a call regarding your SEO.

Understanding Expectations for Paid Search

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Great Expectations We wrote a similar article a few years ago on Why Aren’t My Ads Showing, and most recently we were asked to write a similar article for agencyside to help other agencies set client expectations for paid search. We’ve tweaked the original article a bit for our customers to provide a bit of insight and understanding into the workings of paid search from our perspective.

We often are asked “Why Aren’t My Ads Showing?”, so we are here today to provide a bit of insight into that question. There are several main factors that influence ad delivery. This list is not exhaustive, but it will provide you with knowledge to understanding the answer to the question.

1) Campaign structure – Remember you are paying per click, and generally have some sort of budget limitation. For example, let’s say you have a keyword with an average cost per click of $1 and a daily account budget of $100. This means you will receive 100 clicks per day on average. Because the paid search venues must stay within a narrow range of your budget your ad frequency will be directly related to your click through rate. If you have an average click through rate of 10% it will take 1,000 impressions to exhaust your budget. So if there is search volume of 5,000 per day for your keyword, your ad will show 20% of the time. Now consider if you have 50 to 100 keywords in your campaign all sharing the same $100 budget.

2) Quality Score is technically Google nomenclature, but all search venues have a method for determining something similar. Intended to be the great equalizer this determines what position your ad will show and at what cost relative to the other advertisers. This is what prevents us from buying our way into top placement for more competitive terms. Higher Quality Score means higher positioning, lower cost per click, and often greater frequency – all good things. The factors that affect Quality Score are well documented, but basically if you aren’t relevant, have poor ad copy or have some technical issues with your landing page you aren’t showing.

3) Age of Campaign – New campaigns can start off slow while the search venue is getting an understanding of the click through and user behavior relative to the account. This generally takes a few days depending on the size of the account. Larger accounts will take longer since there are more variables to assess. If you have a large account with a small budget, good luck. Better to start small and expand from there as the campaign picks up steam. See #1 for reasoning on this.

If you have a mature account that is losing visibility it may be time to reconfigure, redesign, or reassess to find another approach. Hopefully, you have some sort of ongoing optimization involving testing of campaigns elements in place so this won’t happen. Always watch for loss in visibility after a miscalculated major change in landing page design, site redesign or if you see your average cost per click increase substantially. Even with an unlimited budget your ads still wouldn’t show for every search. That is just the way it is. Google offers a tool to help diagnose certain problems related to ad visibility in the impression share component of its reports. This can tell you how much visibility your campaign is missing based on budget limitations or quality score.

Every impression (every time your ad shows) that doesn’t get clicked is detrimental to the account in some way. “Googling” keywords every day to see if your ads are showing is costing money, even if you never click on a single one.

If you are interested in understanding if your campaigns are performing to their potential, let us know. We can provide an audit and consultation to help you maximize on every dollar spent. Contact us today.

5 Best Practices for Content Network Ads

Friday, August 6th, 2010

This article first appeared on agencyside where Mike Swan, Director of Search Marketing Strategy at Liberty Interactive Marketing is a guest columnist as well as a panel speaker on topics for search marketing strategies.

Content Network is a Waste of Time and Money! Really, Are You Sure About That? I hear clients and Internet marketers alike make this statement as often as I hear the question “Why aren’t my ads showing?” but for now let’s discuss some best practices for advertising on the Content Network. It is not unlikely for us at Liberty Interactive Marketing to see content account conversions in the double digits, we recently managed a Gaming and Hospitality account with an average conversion rate of 11.11% on over 1,700 conversions. So we’re not shy in sharing some of our best practices with you.

Five Best Practices to Setting Up and Managing a Content Campaign:

1. Do not run Search– and Content-targeting in the same campaign. This is far and away the most important rule. When you create a campaign in AdWords it defaults to include all 3 networks (Google Search, Search Partners + Google and Content), make sure to separate them. If you are currently making this mistake, stop reading for a moment and turn off Content-targeting immediately.

2. Do not duplicate your Search campaign, run it on Content only, and call it a day. This is a reasonable place to start if you are in violation of #1 above, however, the job is not done. The key thing to remember is that while Search campaigns will give you performance metrics on a keyword basis, Content does not. You only have adgroup visibility, (an adgroup is a logical grouping of related keywords). So you don’t have a way of knowing if one or more of your keywords is making or breaking your adgroup.

3. Campaign construction is crucial to Content-network success. You want to make sure your campaign structure is as focused as possible. This means more adgroups than you would use for a Search campaign. You don’t have the same Quality Score considerations with a Content campaign so duplicates and plurals are acceptable. Also, keep the number of keywords per adgroup small. We have found the most success with 5-10 keywords per adgroup. Every campaign is different, so testing is important.

4. Content targeting algorithm matches content on the page to the keywords in the adgroup so, while “foreclosures real estate phoenix” may make a great keyword in a Search campaign, it is very hard to use in a sentence, so it is unlikely it will match to many content pages. So with that said, long tail keywords are not usually a great idea in a Content campaign. Using this example, you would be better served creating an adgroup with 3 keywords – “foreclosures”,”real estate” and “phoenix”. This combination will give the algorithm many more opportunities to match your ad to desirable content.

5. Google Keyword Tool is still recommended to find your initial keywords but it will just get you started. The Keyword Tool is primarily geared towards Search, so it merely serves as a jumping off point. If you already have a Search campaign running you can use that as a resource too. One methodology involves looking at the top performing keywords in your Search campaign (or promising ones from the Keyword Tool) and then looking at the organic results for each of these terms. Take the top 20-30 results and compare their content. Understand what phrases are commonly used and identify keyword themes. Sound like a lot of work? It is, but it is the difference between a mediocre campaign and a case study. I recommend building a tool to do this for you. We did.

These are some of the best practices to get you pointed in the right direction as you delve into the fascinating world of Content-targeting. But before you go hog-wild reconfiguring and re-launching, remember Content is not appropriate or profitable in all cases. Make sure you have a good understanding of the goals of the campaign or hire us to manage your campaigns.

Read the full unedited version here.

Image credit: Google Display Network

Selecting a Search Marketing Firm: What you should ask.

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

What makes a good Search Marketing Firm?

As a business owner, CMO or Marketing Director, the choice of a Search Marketing Firm will be one of your most important decisions.  In order to fully realize the benefits of Search Marketing, it is crucial to understand what role Search Marketing will play in your organization and choose a service provider that supports this role.

What is the focus of the Firm?

It is very important to understand what the prospective service provider specializes in.  Lately, it seems that everyone is getting into Search Marketing.  There are hosting companies, web design firms, web development shops and traditional agencies all trying to get a piece of the market.  It is often the case that no firm can do it all, or at least not do it all well.   It is best to choose a firm that specializes in Search Marketing.  There is no strong argument for using your web developer or your hosting company for your paid search management to keep it under one roof.  The worst combination is a traditional advertising agency that offers Search Marketing services.  That is like getting heart surgery from your pharmacist, they may have heard about it, maybe even read about it, and may be able to talk the talk, but they don’t do it day in and day out.   No matter what type of firm you are talking to, ask them who will be managing and performing the Search Marketing work.  Is it handled in-house or outsourced to another firm?

How do they view Search Marketing?

Do they believe that one aspect of Search Marketing is more important than the other?  Or do they believe that all initiatives work together and view search holistically?  As you interview service providers it is highly recommended to learn a little about the space.  You don’t have to become an expert, just have some basic knowledge.  Unfortunately there are a lot of charlatan’s and snake oil salesman out there.  By doing an hour or so of prep work on your own, you’ll find it is much easier to avoid many of these scammers.

What are their Search Engine Optimization tactics?

White Hat or Black Hat?  Learn this terminology, especially if your company’s reputation and long term success are important.  Basically White Hat SEO Firms play by the rules of the search engines and understand the uncertainty involved in playing by the rules.  Black Hat SEO Firms will tout quick and/or guaranteed results.  Never has it been more accurate that “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”  Black Hat SEO Firms stretch the rules and manipulate them often to the eventual detriment of their clients.  There is nothing wrong with preferring the Black Hat Route, it does work, usually, but not for long.  Getting banned from Google is real, and blaming it on an SEO firm will not get any sympathy or get you back in.  Make sure you know which side of the fence they are on.

What is their Paid Search Pitch?

Are they guaranteeing clicks, traffic or sales?  Ask how.  Beware of the “We have a relationship with Google”.  I get cold calls on my cell phone from firms claiming this all the time; some of the pitches are quite smooth.  If they had a relationship with Google they wouldn’t be talking to you or offering services, they would be using their relationship for their own benefit.  Saying they know a guy at Google is like knowing a guy at the Lottery Commission.  It is common for an agency to have a Rep at Google, we do too, but that does not in any way indicate an inside track or special arrangement.  Beware the Google Partners or Resellers claim; that means they make a cut off your Paid Search spend.

Do they stress bid management and special software as their competitive edge?  While this was the answer many years ago, times have changed.  Every major Paid Search venue uses some variation of a quality score and smart pricing.  This means that the entire campaign from keyword to landing page needs to be tested and managed, not just the bids.

If fact, the bids are pretty much the least important factor since they are derivative of the account performance as a whole.  Google made $16.4 billion last year from people clicking on ads.  They don’t care if you bid a million dollars a click; if your account has low relevancy to the search term your ad won’t show. If you have a significant spend budget in a highly competitive and fast moving niche there can be a benefit to bid management tools, but only as an enhancement to active management, not a replacement.

And another thing; taking Google or Yahoo! or MSNs advice on how to manage a campaign, or worse yet having them manage the campaign is like having the IRS do your taxes.  Enough said.

Video remains top dog

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

Another reason why it’s important to get in on the video craze. Google just launched a new beta program “Adsense for Video” which will place text ads over Videos. Text ads will display based on the videos content and metadata. Yet, another reason to be optimizing your videos.

For more on Google Adsense for Video check out this article: http://www.clickz.com/showPage.html?page=3628504

For a sample and more details view this: http://blog.wired.com/business/2008/02/google-launches.html