TalkTalk Business Websites – A Brief Encounter

I’ll keep this purposely short. I’m just in the process of attempting to transfer a basic 3 page static “Talktalk business website”, with a contact form from TalkTalk Business to my own hosting provider. This should be an easy task and a task I can do blindfolded for a tiny static website consisting of 3 pages.

My client asked TalkTalk for a copy of the site’s files (which will consist of a couple of html files and a single server side script to process the contact form). Nothing ground breaking by any means.

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Website Transfer Guide – Common Pitfalls & Solutions

A Different take on the normal “Website Transfer Guide” …

Taking over, or inheriting responsibility for an existing website happens to any web designer or developer at some point. In theory, website transfers sound extremely minor and insignificant – take a backup of the site, re host and away you go. As a result, if you Google something generic like “transfer web site” you’ll get lots of guides that are technically correct but rarely work in theory, as external factors have a big part to play. For instance, look at the website transfer guide of 123-reg.It appears transferring a site is a case of following a couple of basic points. It really isn’t! In reality, taking responsibility for a website is an absolute minefield and deceptively complex. A website transfer guide should reflect these complexities. What follows are some points to consider, from the view of a web developer when doing just that.

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Just Search SEO Review

If you were looking for an honest Just Search SEO Review …

.. apologies. If you were looking for an honest and impartial Just Search SEO review, this post has now been disabled due to pressure from Just Search, they clearly don’t want honest and truthful seo reviews. Just Search deemed my experience with them as something they don’t want on the Internet – which would be pretty boring place if everyone agreed and no one had an opinion. All the facts contained within the original post were verifiable and based upon upon actual events of my personal experience with Just Search and the SEO they performed (or are still performing) on a small website inherited by myself, for which I perform additional web development. The findings are also all backed up via industry standard tools such as Seomoz’s Opensite explorer and Google Analytics.
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SEO Spam From India

indian seo spam

Lately, spam from Indian website and SEO companies has been pretty bad for me. I’m not sure what has happened, but over the last 3-4 months it’s increased ten fold – the BBC article on India becoming the World’s leading spammers really doesn’t surprise one bit. I do get spam occasionally from other countries, but India is by far the worst offender for me. I don;t have anything all against other companies trying to grow, but Indian SEO companies are doing this the wrong way. So, just for their record to all the (now human) spammers sitting in India – “I don’t want your link building or seo services and certainly won’t be taking anyone seriously who initiates contact from a gmail account”.

I’ve tried a lot with Indian spammers. Submitting their MX records to various sites in the hope of getting their mail server blacklisted, replying tell them to “feck off”, reporting them to their hosts and even ignoring the said messages. Yes, ignoring the message doesn’t work nowadays as I’ll still get a follow up email asking me “I will revert all my web development to India”. Any emails I do reply to they never acknowledge or (I guess) respect. Nothing works!

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SEO Indexing Services and Why You Don’t Need Them

SEO indexing is the idea of getting a new site indexed, or included within Google as quickly as possible. However, there are companies who prey on people not in the know, and sell seo indexing as a much bigger service. In reality getting your site indexed is something you can do yourself, if you have a spare 15 minutes. Worse still, some companies are changing hundreds of pounds for seo indexing – it makes my eyes water.

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ECommerce Content Source Ordering for Product Detail Pages

Content source ordering or SOC (source ordered content) is the idea that content nearer the top of the raw  HTML source code has greater weight and meaning for search engines. For instance, a paragraph of text right at the top of the HTML source has more meaning than the same passage that may appear in the footer. It is very useful for those all too common generic menus (home, about, contact etc.) that has no SEO benefit at all, yet appears at the top of every page of your site. With SOC and absolute positioning of DOM elements, it is possible to position this HTML at the very bottom of the source code, thus gicing greater weight to your page content.

The latter is not a new idea by any means, but is generally considored to be a positive practice to implement on any site.

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CRO and SEO – The Essential Relationship

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of SEO related posts at the web design forum and have been contacted by a lot of seo agencies at work (my email may be doing the rounds). The thing that I’m most amazed by is what a narrow and ultimately incorrect, view of search engine optimisation some people and companies seem to have.

Let me elaborate.

As much as I love the web design forum, some of the advice given is frankly, awful, I can’t not post a reply. A lot of the advice given is a range of generic seo quotes that people have picked from the web. E.g. ‘use headings’, ‘have a keyword density of 4%’ and ‘get backlinks’. The majority of the advice centers around simply getting people on a website or appearing for a generic, competitive term. Compare the latter to SEO’s calling me up at work (and I quote) – “there are 9,000 people searching for xxxxx every month, imagine having 9,000 more people on your site every month”.

All this is fine in theory. However, say you do manage to appear for a generic competitive term or get 9,000 new people on your site – what then. There is a high likelyhood that your boucne rate (or percentage of people who leave your almost immediately) will increase a lot.

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SEO URL Correction

The use of mod_rewrite to create SEO friendly URLs is common place now. However, if an application is not coded correctly they can have potentially negative effects.

Take the fowllowing URL, this is the URL the developer intended – the news story is fetched from the ID in the querystring:

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Multiple Categorisation for SEO

A very common technique in ecommerce, is for products to be assigned a single category – part of the filing cabinet approach to site development. This works for niche ecommerce stores, but not for the majority. For example, a tshirt might belong equally in the following categories:’ red tshirts’, ‘logo tshirts’, ‘mens tshirts’ etc. Additionally there are times when it makes sense to have a multiple categories for a product and can help with conversions(a totally different topic).

The special care of multiple categories and SEO is that category pages contain a huge amount keyword rich anchor text. Yes, the majority of ecommerce software and system will allow filtering of results, but the canonical url tag is often used and results in messy links that are not ignored by search engines.

The major issue here is duplicate content – frowned upon by Google and can cause real issues for your site. Yes, a small numbers of pages is within acceptable limits, but when you have store that has hundreds of products duplicate content really can become an issue.

Using our tshirt example from above, say we place a product called ‘super baggy tshirt’ into the ‘red tshirts’ and ‘logo tshirts’ categories – the following two urls would be produced by our ecommerce software – the below structure is very common):

At first glance, this all looks well: SEO friendly URLs, well structured, organised and keyword rich. All this correct, apart from the fact that both URLs represent the same product – here is our duplicate content issue. The duplicate content issue will get worse if the product is placed into more categories.  The easiest solution is to rewrite our product URL to something much simpler:

This will allow us to place the product into as many categories as we need without creating any duplicate content at all – there will always be a single version of the product URL.

W3C Validation and SEO Benefits – My Opinion

The link between full W3C Validation and it’s important upon SEO is commonly discussed topic and a huge taboo. This is the notion that  having a valid site according to the W3C Standards is either critical (or not) to your website’s SEO.The first thing to note that a site passing W3C Validation will have met the following criteria: will not use depreciated tags and will not have syntax errors – essentially a syntax check.

I physically cringe when I hear quotes such as ‘valid xhtml will help your users’. Valid xhtml will not help your users, to help your users a site needs to adhere to web coding standards – this is an entirely different beast. The main difference here is the practice of seperating content from presentation, thus giving the content increased meaning. For example, a page using tables to layout the whole web page would not adhere to web coding standards because using tables for layout is semantically incorrect and requires a lot more code. Tables should be used for tabular data, simple. Another example is the use of paragraph and header tags. Visually they are very similar but have a very very different meaning sementically. However, yet again, semantically incorrect pages will pass validation. The main Google webpage doesn’t even validate (interestingly, Google does’t even quote html attributes in order to save on page size). In my opinion, as long this is the case W3C validation will be a none issue, SEO wise.

Understanding which semantic elements add value to the document will affect the onsite of a website and is an SEO ranking factor.I have read several artuicles that describe W3C validation and SEO as a match made in heaven, this simply isn’t the case, although web semantics and SEO are.

There are many websites (40% is a figure thrown around a lot) that do not validate, yet perform quite well in search engines as they have a range of high quality content. Take a quick example. I searched for a very competitive term “houses”. The number one result was Rightmove even has an authorative listing for that term too – SEO wise there can’t be too many issues here. Running that site through the validator throws up 33 errors and 22 warnings. – see the result. These are mainly smaller syntax errors that quite rightly, the developers of that site have ignored. There are endless examples where sites a lot worse appear at the top of the SERPs, even though they fail to validate and sometimes, don’t follow web standards at all.

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