One of our clients recently had a problem in that their website’s pages were not indexed by Google. They should have had much better search engine rankings on a variety of keyword search terms, but were not listed in Google for those terms.
The Google “bot” was visiting the domain so what was the problem?
Turns out the hosting company had a global robots.txt file in their httpd server configuration with told Google and all other search engines to not index ANY website pages. Because there was no ‘robots.txt’ file in the root directory of the domain, the server’s ‘robots.txt’ file was being served up every time Google and any other major search engine visited.
To solve the problem, we created a ‘robots.txt’ file and placed it in the website’s root directory. The contents of the file are:
This over rode the global configuration which was:
How can you tell if your hosting company has a global robots.txt file? Simple. See if you already have a robots.txt file in your website root directory. If you don’t, type your domain name and then /robots.txt and see what comes up like:
If you see some text (and not a “missing .404″ page), then it is likely your hosting company has configured a global robots. txt file. If it says “Disallow: /” then your site is not being indexed by major search engines that respect what is written in the robots.txt file.
You will need to create your own robots.txt file and upload it to your root directory to solve the problem, using the example of what we did, above.
Why would a hosting company have a default global robots.txt file? It’s a sneaky way of saving on bandwidth. Search engine spiders can use up a lot of bandwidth, especially on large websites where it downloads all the files and images from a website on a regular basis. Telling search engines not to index websites on a server will prevent bandwidth consumption.
But it doesn’t do you and your business much good.
They keep arriving. Garbage spam from so called SEO businesses. This morning, one from firstname.lastname@example.org. They tell me my fly fishing site is not ranked on the search engines. Ummm… ok.
No, it’s not ranked for “muscle medications,” “saltwater fish grand prairie” or “herbal fish medicines” – but it is very well ranked for a huge number of search terms that people actually search on.
In the spring, summer and autumn, it gets tons of traffic, with an Alex global traffic rating of below 300,000 world wide and below 35,000 in Canada. It has a Google Pagerank of 4. Pretty darn good. It gets tons of traffic in those three seaons, and the ad income is .. well… pretty good.
How is that some spammy search engine company can send me an email to tell me that it is not “ranked?”
Look, just about every business and their website needs ongoing search engine optimization, but not by businesses like tnlr.net (who don’t even have a website).
I hope you would trust a business that has been doing this since 1997 and is transparent about their work! Give me a call if you need some help.
Sometimes, business owners (and others) want a new domain name in addition to the present one they are using. There could be many reasons for this – to promote a new product or service, or they have found a domain name that is available that compliments their existing website or domain.
When purchasing a new domain, you should always check to see if it might have been registered before and the previous registrants let it drop. Why? There are a few reasons and we’ll look at two of them – how previously expired domain could help you, and how it could hurt you.
How It Could Help:
A previously registered domain name may still rank well for some keywords and phrases. Even if it has been years since the domain name expired. I had a blog with a domain name that ranked very well for my name, ‘Ian Scott’, some years ago. Just over 4 years ago, I removed the website (although I kept the domain). Last week, I decided to put the domain name live again, and noted that when I did, a few days later my “new” website was ranked on page 2 for for my name, on Google. Previous to putting the domain live, it did not rank because the website had not existed.
Today, just a week later,my relaunched website is ranking on page 1 of google.COM (not .CA).
So, a previously registered domain name may already rank well for some keyword phrases that you might want to rank for, once it goes live.
How It Could Harm You
If a domain name was previously associated with a “bad neighbourhood,” Google may have de-indexed it. Perhaps the previous owners of the domain engaged in shady SEO practices like cloaking in order to try to game Google. If this is the case, it is quite likely you are going to have to do a lot of work to get Google to notice you again and to begin ranking for keywords you want to be ranked for.
Over the next couple of days, I’ll show you some ways you can research the domain names you are interested in using.
Although extrememly unethical, many businesses and organizations are tempted to post fake positive reviews about their products and services in order to boost business and make themselves look better than their competitors. I’ve even seen how some SEO firms and so called on-line reputation management consultants will offer to obtain fake positive reviews for a business.
In some jurisdictions, not only is this considered unethical and a very poor way of conducting business, it’s also against the law. If you’re dealing with an SEO company or are using the services of an on-line reputation management firm and they are suggesting they can help you obtain positive reviews and post them on various review sites like Google Places, Yelp, and others, be very very careful. In fact, walk away. It could cost you far more in the long run.
In New York State, a cosmetic surgery business called Lifestyle Lift has been left with a $300,000.00 fine in a settlement with the State, according to this New York Times article. The article states:
“The company had ordered employees to pretend they were satisfied customers and write glowing reviews of its face-lift procedure on Web sites, according to the attorney general’s statement. Lifestyle Lift also created its own sites of face-lift reviews to appear as independent sources.
Andrew M. Cuomo, New York’s attorney general, said in a statement that Lifestyle Lift’s “attempt to generate business by duping consumers was cynical, manipulative and illegal.” “
There are ways to get legitimate positive reviews that are real. And of course, there are ways to deal with the odd negative review that might pop up on Page 1 of Google that is equally not a legitimate review but someone attempting to smear your reputation. Choosing other methods which may seem “easy” at the time could very well come back to haunt you, however.
There are all kinds of people who are willing to take what seems like a small amount of money to post fake reviews on your behalf. Don’t do it. It’s not worth the temptation in the long run, and in the end, your repuation may become so besmirched, you will never recover.
Well, we knew they were going to do it sooner or later. Google recently launched their “Pages for Google+” for businesses. Naturally, they are probably hoping to compete against Facebook pages and it is going to be important for every business to have one. It’s likely there will be some kind of ranking algorithm that is based on Google+ pages for search engine results.
I just created ours for PairoWoodies. The process was a bit “clunky” and at this point, Google isn’t really allowing the creator to put as much information or have as many features as a Facebook page but that will likely change if they really want to compete against Facebook.
I have not looked at everything that an administrator of one of these pages can do; as mentioned above, in my opinion the back end is a bit clunky and unwieldy. Uploading our logo and some images which are screen shots of websites that we’ve created was fairly simple though. If you’d like to see the first version, you can see it here: https://plus.google.com/105535220273747673431
When I have a chance, I’ll take a longer look at the whole thing and offer you any tips that I might find. Apparently, there are analytics that Google will provide about your business page. But so far it’s not obvious from my first time visiting and checking out their “back end” as to how to locate this information. I do believe Google has some work to do on the interface.
One of the things they have provided are several icons of different sizes that you can put on your website with a link to your Google+ page. We’ll be adding one soon! In the meantime, I’ll keep looking around – one of the other things that Google will need to do is make it easy to assign administrative rights to other people. When I learn more, I’ll be sure to let you know!
Using Flash In Your Website? It’s About To Become Extinct!
Flash web design is pretty much dead. I know there are many web designers out there who spent a lot of money to learn how to program in Adobe’s “Flash,” and I feel sorry for them. I’ll admit that when I first saw a website done in Flash, it was pretty cool – and it was tempting to learn some advanced Flash programming skills. However, we decided to refrain due to some of the inherent problems with Flash.
Up until just recently, a website done completely in Flash didn’t get indexed very well by search engines. It is true that about a year or so ago, Adobe provided information to search engines on how to index the text within a Flash website, but it was a little bit too late for that. This was the biggest reason we did not get heavily involved in Flash programming – what’s the point of spending money on a website if no one can find you??
And now, Adobe has killed flash development for mobile devices as of November 9th, 2011. What does that mean for you, if you’re a business owner who’s website is all in Flash? Well consider that Google is reporting that more and more searches are done on mobile devices and in fact, using a mobile device for search is expected to widely exceed searches from laptops and pc’s. So even if a searcher does locate your site, they won’t be able to see it.
You are going to be losing out on tons of sales, walk-in customers – and money. Your Flash website is becoming extinct. I have been predicting this for over a year now, as the local mobile search revolution started to be realized.
If you have a Flash website, grab your mobile device and type the url into the browser. What do you see? Likely it’s something like this – here’s a photo of a Flash programmed website on my Blackberry Torch:
I just randomly found a Flash website, http://bellamystique.com and loaded it. The website detects that the browser I am using isn’t capable of viewing Flash, and gives me the message:
“To enjoy this site you’ll need to update your Flash Player. It’s easy, painless and will take just a moment…”
Then there is a prompt with a clickable button to download a Flash Player… trouble is… it’s not easy, it’s not painless, because there simply does not exist a Flash Player for Blackberry Torches, I-Phones and other mobile devices (there may be for a very few Androids). And with the news that Adobe has stopped development, it means there never will be one available.
Take a look at the photo again and then a wild guess at how much money that business is making with mobile searches?
The grand total of zero dollars.
I feel sorry for both the website owners of Flash sites as well as Flash web developers. The website owner has likely spent good money for a website that they had hoped would do them for a good long time and help them market their business. The Flash developer has either paid good money for training or has spent a great deal of time learning Flash development – and now it seems to them as if Adobe is abandoning them – the anger and bitterness that I’ve read on the blog of the Adobe website speaks volumes.
Here’s what we’re going to do to help. For a limited time, we’re offering a $200.00 discount on a mobile website of up to 10 pages to those businesses that have Flash websites. Our normal price for this is $697.00 but if you act quickly and get in touch with us (email is fine – email@example.com with the subject of “Special Mobile Deal”) or call us at 519-940-3504, we’ll build you a mobile site for only $497.00.
You do have to act quickly though. Hey, I’d like to help everybody out if I could, but we don’t have time to do that unfortunately.
This is the perfect time to get a mobile enabled website. Those who get in on the new mobile revolution now will reap the benefits before those who are slower to do so.
Isn’t it time you stopped losing potential customers and their dollars? Just like those businesses that waited to get a website when the Internet Revolution began the late 90′s regretted their decision to wait, those who wait too long before having a mobile website built will also regret their decision.
Why would you want to lose potential new customers and not be able to communicate your message to existing ones? Send that email now or give us a call.
The past few days, Google has been rolling out it’s “Panda 2.5″ update – it’s changes in its search algorithms. I noticed it yesterday morning when I did a search on a key word phrase that I’ve been watching. I had noticed some odd results in the days previous when some sites from the U.K. started to show up on the front page, seemingly out of nowhere, and then a site from Alberta showed up that I had never seen before, even on page 2. From the research I conducted, it did not appear as if these new sites were doing any new and substantial SEO work – so I thought it might be an anomaly.
However, yesterday morning the search results seemed completely skewed. I checked out some other resources and discovered that many web masters were reporting that their sites had apparently taken a massive drop, in some cases, in the SERP’s.
Sure enough, we have word from Google’s Matt Cutts that they implemented another change during the evening and/or morning of 14th and 15th of October.
The end result is some bizarre search results. I can’t see how Google will not try to make some readjustments. On the particular search that I looked at, heavy sites with very good content were suddenly dropped to page two while other very “thin” sites were promoted to page 1 out of nowhere. As well, there seems to be a heavy focus on well known brand names and chain stores. Is this a Christmas present for some of them?
One of our properties took a small hit – nothing like what some are complaining about, but it’s curious enough all the same. And we’re not panicking because often these updates are followed by other tweaks that correct some “over compensaton” in the latest update. It will take a few days to see how things end up leveling out.
I’ve also been using a small “mini-site” using a search term that is not obscure, there are over 11,000,000 results (but there are not that many searches done on this term), and prior to the update that site had jumped from #10 on page 1 to #7 after running some tests and research. After the Panda update the past couple of days, it has remained at #7 – no loss, no gain. So that’s another bit of data to process along with the tests I’ve been running. Some theories are coming to mind, but they will need to be tested further, and I’m not planning on doing anything right now until the dust settles.
On the other side of the search engine wars though, interestingly enough the same site that took the small hit in Google seemed to have quite a number of increased rankings in that search engine called Bing! Bing hasn’t been a search engine I’ve focused a whole lot on however it is important as 10% is still 10%. But in looking at some of the Bing results, it’s actually looking a bit like the old Google as far as relevancy is concerned in its results. More testing is needed though – this was the result of about ten quick search comparisons.
My clients’ sites have all remained or increased in the SERP’s which is a huge relief. Although I can’t promise or guarantee any particular search engine ranking exactly because of this type of scenario when Google changes things around. Then some of us are studying and scrambling a bit to try to figure out if there are any common denominators as to why a site would find itself in a different position after a Google Algorithm change.
The above all applies to what is called “organic search.” I have not heard or read anywhere about any affects this update has had, if any, on Local Search – but another one of my clients did jump up (it was a leap, actually) a few spots on page #1 of Google Places for a valued keyword phrase. That could be as a result of the Google change, or simply the work that has been ongoing on their behalf.
The next few days are certainly going to be interesting and I am looking forward to them with learning more about what is going on and the strategies we shall be implementing on behalf of our clients. More than likely, they will be minor tweaks here and there.
Email – Over the past decade, we’ve come to rely on it. Often much quicker than making a phone call and more convenient, businesses today rely on quick and efficient email communication for many things, including conducting business with other organizations, sending communications to employees about jobs that need to be completed, and just about anything really when and where we want to communicate something.
I remember my first experience with email. It was back in about 1995. My father in law at the time worked for a department in the federal government and he had been given an email address. Both of us had relatives in Northern Ireland and prior to then, if we wanted to write them, we took out pen and paper, wrote our letter then stuck it in an envelope. The envelope was licked, a stamp placed upon it and it was dropped into a mail box. A week later, the recipient would have the letter and if they replied that day, we might get a response about two weeks after the first letter was sent.
Or we could phone them.
To hear my father-in-law talk about how he had the ability to send a message to his cousin in Northern Ireland, and get an almost immediate response was unbelievable to me at the time. He was trying to explain this concept of “electronic mail” to me and I just could not grasp it. I thought he was exaggerating. Then one day I visited with him and he showed me. Up until that time, I had no experience with computers of any sort, and watching as he typed out a message to his cousin, sending it, and then seeing a reply just a few short minutes later was mind blowing to me. To realize that a message could be sent half way across Canada, and then across the Atlantic Ocean, with a reply received in just minutes was unbelievable even though I was seeing it with my very own eyes.
It would only be a few short years later when almost anyone in North America could have their own email address and send messages to friends, relatives, acquaintances and even unknown people via email. And soon, business would come to rely upon it as a much faster method for communications.
However, with that apparent efficiency in messaging and communicating, there continues to be issues with it as we rely upon it for it’s speediness. Because of its normal speediness, we rely on it for sending urgent communications. But relying on this method solely for urgent messages can be folly. There are times when email is not always reliable. Addresses can by typed wrong and there is no human brain to figure out that john.smith resides at yahoo.ca, not yahoo.com. Or that ‘john.smit’ is actually ‘john.smith’. As well, there can be issues that can slow down the email, for hours and maybe even days.
This morning, one of my clients had an issue when they discovered email was not flowing into their server. An investigation revealed that an update to the Sendmail program on their server had created a new configuration file which by default was rejecting connections. This was not the normal behaviour when Sendmail is updated; generally it leaves the configuration file alone. But not this time. When the issue was discovered, a correct configuration file was generated and everything went back to normal. Email began to flow again, and servers that had tried to connect previously and had kept email in the queue were able to finally send the email.
It’s a reminder that although email can be a wonderful tool and is generally reliable, there are times when issues arise, and we need to remember we can not always depend on it for the delivery of urgent and time sensitive communications. In those cases, it’s probably best to still follow up with a phone call and maybe even an old fashioned fax.
There are many people and individuals (including Yellow Pages now!) who are trying to get in on the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) market. Unfortunately, many of them have no clue what they are doing or what a website owner would want to rank for. Many of them are simply fraudsters.
Today, I received an email from an “Ophelia Maxwell” of a firm called “DBD Results” who pointed out that my fly fishing site does not do very well for the keyword phrase ‘grand prairie saltwater fish’. Ophelia promises that she can get me on the first page of Google for ‘grand prairie saltwater fish’. Ophelia writes,
“There’s no reason that you can’t have top three rankings for the keyword Grand Prairie Saltwater Fish based on your website structure and content. You have a very nice site.”
I am quite thankful that she thinks I have a very nice site. It’s been over 10 years in the making and ongoing creation of new content, a couple of redesigns over the years, and I’m also very thankful to those who have contributed to it to make it what it is.
I’ll also agree with her that there is no reason I can’t have top three rankings for the keyword phrase ‘Grand Prairie Saltwater Fish’ and I could probably do that without any problem and see those results within a week. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this blog post shows up on the first page of Google next week for that search term.
But why on earth would I want to spend time and money on a search term that virtually no one is going to search on? Where the heck are the saltwater fish in Grand Prairie, other than in the frozen or fresh seafood section of the local grocery store in Grand Prairie? Certainly, my fly fishing site does have content related to saltwater fly fishing and it also has content related to Grande Prairie, Alberta. But the only person(s) I could think of that would search on the two combined – saltwater fish and grand prairie – would be someone looking for groceries – not someone interested in fly fishing either saltwater or Grande Prairie.
If Ophelia had done her homework, she would have noticed that the site already ranks very well for search terms that are specific and that people actually search on. A lot of work has gone into that, and ad revenues are quite handsome each month as a result.
If you are promised fantastic search result rankings for some obscure term or phrase by an SEO company, you probably should be on alert. Being ranked high on these obscure terms might be nice but they will do absolutely nothing for your ROI.
We’d rather focus on helping you with real searches, real search engine rankings, and marketing that will get you phone calls, customers dropping into your place of business, and more sales! If you’re ready for that, give me a call at (519) 940-3504.
Our client, a Toronto printing company – Britannia Printers Inc. has a special deal on this month for glossy brochures.
We’ve been dealing with Britannia for years. My father used Britannia for some printing services back when I was a teenager. Their quality and service is second to none. It’s a pleasure that I can also call them a client of mine! We’ve had brochures printed for us by Britannia several times, sometimes they were for us and other times, they were for clients of ours whom we designed brochures and sales literature for and had Britannia do the printing for us. We did the photography and design of a 4 page brochure for a major Canadian fishing lure company and Britannia did a fantastic job on the printing work – that brochure was in use by the lure company for years.
This month, the deal is 2,500 full colour glossy brochures on 80lb stock for only $389.00. More information: Glossy Brochure Special.l
Full contact information:
Britannia Printers Inc
138 Main Street
Toronto, ON M4E 2V8
Give them a call. You won’t be sorry you used them.