301 Permanent Redirects for Old and Broken Links - SEO Strategy that Most Forget

Sites evolve a lot after it has been created. Even if the contents and themes are same for the site, they throw away the old bottle and take on a new bottle. But, with the old bottle, sometime the webmasters don’t know that they are throwing away precious old wine of the link juice. Even, many SEO experts and webmasters forget what they are throwing away and go for short-term solutions.

Not all sites goes for CMS at first. The common evolution pattern is from Plain HTML site to Animated Flash site and then to Content Management System (CMS) site. For some sites, the evolution pattern can be quite complex. Each time while changing, most site owners and webmasters rarely bother about redirecting old links to the right and very relevant link or page. While doing that, they are harming the visitors, hence their business potential, and also the search engines.

SEO Perspective on 301 Permanent Redirects for Old Broken Links

301 Permanent Redirects and SEO Value Transfer

301 Permanent Redirects transfers almost all the SEO value of a site including: PageRank, Authority, Anchor Text and Relevance, etc. Since, Google rolled out the advice to use 301 redirects, there was a debate whether 301 permanent redirectlso transfer the relevance score in SEO. Matt Cutts in the following video has confirmed that Anchor Text does flow-through when you use 301 Permanent Redirects. Which does indicate that content or keyword relevance also passes through.

So, if a site has high PR inbound link to a page that is not on site or lands on 404 page, then the link juice and authority will be spilled and spoiled. Because, the Anchor Text and Relevance of the inbound Link page aka keyword stream flowing the link juice may not land on page that has that relevant keyword. And since the Google Bomb Update, incoming anchor texts coming to a page that does not have the keyword, has very little or no probability to rank well in Google.

301 permanent redirect does transfer SEO values to the landing page from the moved page. However, over time, Google also confirmed that 301 Permanent Redirect does not flow 100% link juice to your site. in March 2010, Matt Cutts of Google confirmed that Google does not transfer 100% of the SEO value. More story here: Google Confirms: 301 Redirects Result in PageRank Loss! 

However, in my experience, we have not seen much harm in the redirect of links within same site to redirect old and broken links. So within a site, the relevance will flow perfectly. Moreover, it’s not just about SEO. Sometimes, many people bookmark you page and would want to come back to your site. So, in terms of usability, you loose potential future visitor who already has attained information about you.

But, does 301 Redirects Transfer Age?

The question whether 301 Permanent Redirects transfer age of the domain or page is a debated issue. But, there is absolutely no harm in 301 redirecting your old links to the relevant new links (with the same keyword). If your old link on the site is broken, then you are bleeding the precious link juice out of your site :-o

It is evident that to permanent redirect of old links using 301 Permanent Redirects to the relevant page in your existing site and new domain is one of the best practices in SEO. Because, many inbound links may be out there that are linking to your specific page using specific anchor text that is passing relevance to your site, not just Page Rank. So to feed both the visitors and search engines with exactly relevant information (not a 404 page), 301 permanent redirect is the best thing you can do.

WHAT TO DO THEN?

Now that you know redirecting the old links and broken links to relevant page is very important in terms of SEO. What should you do now?

Find Old Links and Anchor Texts

First you have to find the old links withing your site to transfer the relevance graph to the new site structure. If you were the site owner, you may know that after a hard guessing. But, if it is the site of your client, then any guess work will not work. The best way to find the old links on your site is Archive.org.

From Archive.org, you have to collect links from all available chronological versions of the site. You can use HTTack Website Copier to locally cache and create a list of URLs on the old version of the site. You also need to store the Anchor Texts used for the link, so that you can find relevant current page to redirect to.

Find Inbound Links to Your Site

If you don’t care about what others have bookmarked, and only want to concentrate on SEO value. Then you need to collect all the inbound link statistics along with the anchor texts. But, sometimes anchor texts does not say relevant content on the page that links to you. In that case, you need to collect specific keyword for the respective inbound link, so that you can find the relevant page or URL on the current site. 

Identify Broken Links

Once you collect all the old links, you have to verify if the link is broken. Xenu’s Link Sleuth can help you in automatically identify broken links from a link list in txt file. However, while working 404 pages, you will get wrong results. Because, when you have active 404 page, Xenu will show 200 OK Status. So, it would be wise to turn off the 404 pages for the time being. However, there are many software that can help you identify broken links.

Identify the Relevant Current Page

Once you have the list of old and broken links, Google the keyword in the braces: [“Anchor Text of the Broken Link” site:mysite.com]. The first result you see other than the homepage in Google search, is the most relevant current page in the eye of Google. Create the link graph using excel sheet or any file format you prefer. Once you get the relevant current page, then you are ready to redirect.

301 Permanent Redirect Using .htaccess

For 301 permanent redirects, you need to manipulate the .htaccess file in your root folder of your site. Tony Spencer over SEOBook.com provides a good article on how you can do it, once you have the list of old links and the corresponding new links.

Prepare for the Future

So the next time you plan to upgrade your site, it is wise to have a back up of your current link structure along with the old ones. So, when your site takes on new links, you can easily create 301 permanent redirect for the current links to the relevant future site.

The 301 Twist

Some SEOs believe that old links are stronger in getting ranks than newer links, if the content freshness is periodically maintained. So, you can switch the previous method and use the old link as the current link and permanently (301) redirect the current link to the old link.

©  of SEOPPCSMM.COM - Source: 301 Permanent Redirects for Old and Broken Links - SEO Strategy that Most Forget

19 October 2011 ·

Should SEO and PPC Marry Each Other, Date or Just Stay Single?

SEO or Organic Search Marketing and PPC or Paid Search Marketing/Advertisement, both have same goal to get your site found through keyword search in varios search engines. So, is the goal so common that they should get married? Or should SEO and PPC date, or just stay single?

Should SEO and PPC Marry Each Other, Date or Just Stay Single?

What if SEO and PPC Get Married?

Let’s define marriage first:

Marriage is about mutual understanding and about the economy of utilizing the limited combined resources in an efficient way for better life, if not, better future.

Well, that’s not a perfect one, but in Economics, it should sound like that. If I translate that for corporate language than it would be this:

Mutual Understanding between SEO & PPC

If SEO and PPC are operating differently, then they are learning in different ways. This can mean doing the same homework over and over again. Not doing the homework separately is very healthy for the economy. That’s why we see the giant companies acquiring (or marrying) the small companies. So that, the homework is not done again in the same economy. Even though, the giants have the setup to do it all over again. But, that’s bad for the industry. You are increasing the competition without adding any value to the economy.

So, whoever the husband between SEO or PPC is, both of their understanding can help each other greatly. PPC can use the learning from SEO and vice versa to reduce marketing cost and increase ROI. Isn’t that what the companies and advertisers are looking for? With mutual understanding, they can mutually reduce their homework and add value to the economy.

Utilizing Combined Resources

Before marriage, you probably have been using a small blender for milk shake that served your single user need. But, after marriage you can afford a better blender, which costs less than 2 blenders alone. i.e. you can also cut the capital investment and cost if you have SEO and PPC together. Moreover, they also can interchange their duties to perform other important tasks for the growth of your business.

Utilizing Limited Resources

You definitely have a budget for your marketing, from which you can’t go beyond. So, you should economize on getting more sales with less money. Since you are in fixed budget for SEO, you can cutout the variable budget for PPC, when you have competitive advantage in organic results for a specific keyword. So, for PPC you can only explore the markets, where you don’t have competitive advantage on. That’s should make the great use of your limited budget. So, managing these in separate units would mean extra cost for you, since there wouldn’t be any synchronization between these two units.

Utilizing Resources in an Efficient Way

When you have total understanding of your Search Marketing, you can have the flexibility to implement your strategy and set the players in the field. Thereby, you can play a good and strategic game utilizing every resource efficiently. Moreover, you can also reduce waste or spillover, which is a major factor in reducing cost and maximizing profit.

Enjoying a Better Life

Companies can gain greater ROI from the marriage and the management can also get all the information for their strategy from one source. So, that’ll make life easier and comfortable. It is obvious that combined SEO and PPC saves money for you. In return, you get greater ROI.

For a Better Future

In harsh situations, when comfortable life can’t be ensured, marriages are made in the intention to have better future. Investments are also like marriages craving for better future. Getting the reward right away isn’t possible. Combined investment in SEO and PPC can mean quicker break even. Moreover, as resources are utilized efficiently, the chance of having better life is quicker than having them separated.

What are alternatives if they can’t marry each other?

Date Each Other?

Now, if it happens that SEO and PPC can’t marry, then they can go out on dates from time to time to share things together. Even if they are separate, they should share each other’s learning from time to time by synchronizing each other and go toward a mutual understanding.

That way, some cost for advertising and marketing can be reduced by removing ad spending away from PPC, when SEO has organically reached its goal for a specific keyword. However, it can be more time consuming if you are to synchronize learning within these units.

Be Neighbors?

If they don’t synchronize, then the best way to learn from each other is by staying in the same premises and experiencing social and corporate activities together. That also can expand their learning. This can also mean hiring same internet marketing agency with separate units running campaigns with separate PMs.

What happens if SEO and PPC are Single?

SEO and PPC in the isolated island may mean loss in terms of the many benefits I mentioned above. But, not always their marriage is necessary. Their marriage can encourage cost reduction. But sometimes for the sake of online branding and converting visitors into sales takes more than just strict control of organic search marketing and paid search advertisement.

In the sales funnel, from visitors to sales, the communication and information feeding should be made several times before the purchase. So, limiting your doorways for the visitors to your business can harm you, if you are planning to sale big.

In case of online sales funnel, remember that:

  • Not all search engine visitors are your customers,
  • All those that find you when searching may not be your customer,
  • All the people that return to your site, doesn’t mean that they will make an inquiry,
  • All the people that makes an inquiry about your product or services, doesn’t mean that they will purchase your product.

So, in all stages of the sales funnel, there should be multiple ways for the visitor to get information about your company or product. If you have done SEO and simultaneously running PPC for content network (AdWords for AdSense), the chances are, when the visitor is reading something related, s/he might come back to your site.

Otherwise, after going a long way, the visitor might buy from the last good outlet s/he could remember, even though you were in top of the search (SEO efficient) when s/he found you earlier.

This happens to us always, when we go to a special product mall. Everyone visits the front stalls, but you happen to buy from a stall inside the mall. There is almost no extra competitive advantage for being the front stall (SEO effecient), when you have product that visitors always move around to find a good bargain. Getting these temporarily lost customers back to your site for sale is called retargeting. So, for retargeting, you need to be more liberal on SEO and PPC.

Another fact is, the objectives of SEO and PPC is not same. Most of the time PPC concetrates on Conversion and SEO on Branding & Reputation Building. I said “most of the time”, not “always”. e.g. Most popular keywords may not convert well and will mean unnecessary PPC spending on visitors that are not in action mode to purchase. But, popular keywords are good for Branding and Branding is one of the major targets for SEO. This difference in objectives is a good reason to stay in separate units.

Confused about marriage of SEO & PPC?

Well, if you have a product that visitors doesn’t care much about going for a good burgain (usually for cheaper products), having SEO and minor PPC dating is sufficient. If you are a small company, then having SEO and PPC get married would be a right choice. If you want to sell big, then SEO and PPC should stay single.

© of SEOPPCSMM.COM - Source: Should SEO and PPC Marry Each Other, Date or Just Stay Single?

12 August 2011 ·

Is SEO Expenditure an Expense or Asset? Or Does SEO Cost influence Profitability?

Your website is your intellectual real estate. Even though, you bear annual variable cost of maintaining the site, the cost never can be labeled as expense. After finishing your site, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC) to market your site, are they expense or adding value to your website? Let’s start with some definition:

Expense in terms of asset: The portion of the asset given away as variable cost for specific utility that has no reusability and to get the same utility, you have to pay again. e.g. advertising cost.

Asset in terms of expenditure: The expenditure invested as fixed cost for specific utility that has reusability. So with the investment, you get the same utility for a certain period of time. Please note that all assets are perishable, except for real estates. e.g. your computer is an asset not expenditure, but if you rent it, then it is expense.

Is SEO Expenditure an Expense or Asset? Or Does SEO Cost influence Profitability?

The accounting formula

Asset = Liability + Equity

i.e. Equity = Asset - Liability

In another analogy, Profitability = Capital – Expense

According to this formula, you can get more profit by decreasing expenditure or increasing capital. So, the more you add value to Capital, the more the profitability, even if you have to spend some expense to increase it. e.g. when you buy an asset, it does not get accounted into expense, rather into Asset or Capital.

Now, in terms of gaining profitability, how should the expenditure on SEO be labeled? As “Capital” or “Expense”? If it is a Capital Investment, then it will increase profitability, otherwise if expense, it will decrease your profitability.

Now, investment in SEO an expense or asset? 

In cost type analogy Profit = Fixed Asset - Variable Expense

Remember that cost on capital is fixed in nature, but expense can be variable. In that sense, PPC is an expenditure for your marketing. It is instantly perishable and each time you have to buy advertisement to get customers to your site. PPC is also a variable cost. So, this affects the expense, not the asset.

But, SEO is not like that. Because, it is not intended for short term marketing. SEO has reusability and brings you customers even after the SEO is finished. SEO expenditure has no attribute to be labeled as variable cost. Once you have done SEO on your site, you have added more value to your site, which in turn can have resale value. It’s not just $10 site anymore (the dollar amount you used for purchasing the domain).

So, SEO expense is a capital expenditure which increases your asset and should never be treated as expense that makes your site a marketing machine. 

Does SEO Cost influence Profitability?

We have tried to convince some customers that SEO doesn’t affect your profitability. Because, it becomes your asset. And asset is not expenditure that would negatively influence your profitability. The perishable behavior of SEO, may make it seem like expense. But, all assets are perishable. And we own a lot of short timed assets. So, if SEO expenditure is an asset, then you are increasing investment, not giving away money.

Can Advertising Convert into Asset?

Goodwill is something that has economic value. So, it is an asset. And achieving this involves much cost on marketing and advertising. Without marketing and advertising good will never can be achieved. If you consider long term affects, then advertising can also be converted into assets.

So, the next time you spend money on SEO and advertisement (for good will) in an effective way, don’t worry about the profitability of your company, brand or site.

© of SEOPPCSMM.COM - Source: Is SEO Expenditure an Expense or Asset? Or Does SEO Cost influence Profitability?

24 May 2011 ·

SEO Click-through Rate (CTR) Influence Ranking in Google, What to do now?

Which CTR Counts in SEO?

Click-through Rate or CTR is a popular term for PPC. But, here we are talking about SEO CTR, not the CTR related to PPC. And yes, SEO CTR now counts and has been confirmed by many experts that it does influence Google Rankings. In SES 2011 @ London many experts has confirmed that it does influence your ranking. 

What is Clickthrough Rate (CTR)?

CTR = Number of Clicks / Number of Impression

This usually tells you what percentage of impression that makes an actual click. For PPC, CTR is a great measure for you to understand how well the ad is. For SEO, this also can tell how well the content is in the perspective of the keyword searched in Google. 

Is it Possible to Know the CTR for SEO?

For SEO, evaluating CTR was tough. However, Google Webmaster now provides this insight, which can also help you understand how you can improve your SEO. This is an earlier step, before the clicks get stored in your web analytics application.

SEO CTR in Google Webmaster Tools

Take a look at the new feature by Google Webmaster from where you can find the SEO CTR for your site for individual keywords.

What Would be the SEO CTR?

The SEO impression is how many times your site get ranked in Google SERP. Even if no one clicks your site, you will get a impression count, when someone searches for any keyword that you rank for. And based on the clicks and this impression, you can get SEO CTR.

Calculating SEO Click-through Rate (CTR)

e.g. Your site ranks 5th for the keyword SEO PPC SMM. Searchers made about 200 searches in a day for that keyword. So, you will get 200 impressions as the 5th site every time. But, only 20 people among the searchers actually clicked your site. So, your SEO CTR would be 20 clicks out of 200 searches or impression, i.e. 10% is your SEO CTR. Good news is that Google Webmaster does show you the SEO CTR to you:

SEO CTR in Google Webmaster

Why SEO CTR is Important?

Searcher or User Vote

Pagerank and inbound links are external vote for your site. But, Google also needs to evaluate the user or searcher vote for a content. So, if you have quality external votes and also get many searcher votes, Google may like you a lot for the keyword.

Google’s Perspective

If Google sees that a site is less clicked from 1st page of search result (SERP), while another good page in 2nd SERP is getting good amount of clicks. Then Google has every reason to believe that the page in 2nd SERP is more meaningful for this search query.

Evaluating Search Intent

Google has been heavily emphacizing on Personalized Search for few years. One of the thing they lacked, was to analyze the search intent of the searchers. The CTR can also be used to analyze the search intent of the user. But, my assumption for using CTR for search intent is not something that is prevailing now, may be in future. CTR has been applied by Google to not only rank the pages, but also to understand the search intent of the searchers.

Why Many People Did not Realize it?

I guess no one realized it since, Google may not be emphacizing heavily on this signal. Moreover, the searchers’ behavior stayed the same for clicking more on top 1-5 and less on top 5-10 search results. So, the external links’ vote is still prominently responsible for getting your site ranked. And very less people go to the 2nd or 3rd page of SERP. But, low quality and irrelevant Page Title can wipe out your site from 1st page of SERP and place you in the back seat.

What to do for Getting High CTR for Your Keyword?

Character Limit

Place the most important message including the keyword on your Page Title in the first 65 characters, anything beyond that will be replaced by 3 dots (…) and the searchers will not be able to see them.

Keyword Prominence

Keyword Prominence (i.e. how close the keyword is on the Page Title) is an important factor for SEO. So, try to complete the whole message in first few words; don’t just push the main keywords back to the end. e.g. title like “A Comprehensive List of Tips and Tricks for SEO” can be “SEO Tips and Tricks - A Comprehensive List”. This way, by reading first few words, people will know what the link is about.

Using ASCII Art

To increase the CTR, you can use ASCII Art (e.g. ::-::-:: Link Title ::-::-::) on Page Title to attract more attraction. However, this is not encouraged, since absurd use can lead to spammy looking titles. If you ask my opinion, ASCII Art does attract my attention, but I’d also evaluate the relevance of a search result aka page. So, be careful in using it.

Category and Brand Keywords

You might have other noises in the Page Title, like category keywords or brand/site name. Try to push them at the end of the Page Title or beyond 65 characters. Don’t bother about the brand keywords, if you have the keyword on your domain name. Moreover, for having multiple pages of the same category, the category page might also get some boost.

Keyword Usage Limit

Previously, I used to suggest people not to target more than 5 keywords for a page. But, to gain high CTR, I’d advise you not to target more than 1 keyword for a specific page. Why? If you want to keep Category Keyword and Brand or Site Name Keyword in the Page Title, then 1 keyword is your maximum limit.

Human-friendly Optimization

You have to frame the Page Title within first 65 characters and choose the best title that can create a spark of attention in the searchers. Apply the Human-friendly Optimization of Page Titles. e.g. many SEO software will tell you not to use any stop words. But, can you really make a good Page Title without using stopwords?

Short Page Titles

Long Page Title does not influence CTR, since Google does not show the keywords that are used further at the end. But, also make sure that you don’t have a short Page Titles.

Link Baiting Strategies for Increasing CTR

All the Page Title developing strategies of Viral Marketing and Link Baiting also apply for choosing the best Page Title, so feel free to Google around for “titling strategy for link bait and viral marketing” for more tips to increase CTR.

Keyword in URL

The Page Title is the most prominent thing that attracts most searchers. But, keyword in URL also is bold in green. So, that also can attract the attention of the searcher and create more relevance value in the relevance analysis in the searcher’s mind.

Keyword in Meta Description and Body Contents

Keyword in Meta Description and Body Contents is also very important in creating more relevance value in the relevance analysis in the searcher’s mind. It creates the text chunk, which is called snippet below the page title in SERP. This part becomes useful to searcher, when they think all the page titles in the SERP are relevant. So, in those cases, this can give you some competitive advantage.

Place the keywords in the body content with more relevant information. That way, when the adjacent relevant information will create more relevance value in the relevance analysis in the searcher’s mind.

© of SEOPPCSMM.COM - Source: SEO Click-through Rate (CTR) Influence Ranking in Google, What to do now?

9 March 2011 ·

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About Me

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Professionally, Asif Anwar is working as National Consultant (Web Optimization) of Access to Information (A2I) program of UNDP for various Web Marketing Solutions for the Bangladesh Government, small companies as well as large brands.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Social Media Marketing (SMM) consultant and specialist for various high PR sites and large brands.

Professional Internet Marketing Blogger and occasional guest blogger for Search Engine Journal, Social Media Today, and Marketing Pilgrim.

SEO Trainer, Mentor, Moderator, and Co-founder of Bangladesh Internet Marketing Professional Association (BIMPA).

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