Q and A : Will changing web servers affect my rankings?

QuestionDear Kalena…

I have a query related to web server migration and corresponding effects on search engine rankings.

I have a website of my client for which I was doing SEO for quite some time and getting some pleasant search engine rankings for the same website.

Recently he migrates his web server without notifying me and instantly I observed a major downfall in search engine rankings in Google. I have lost the rankings on almost all the keywords.

My question is, is this downfall in rankings is due to server migration as that website was ranked on top search engine result pages before the server migration?

If this is the reason of downfall, then how can I retain those rankings and how long it will take??

Thanks in anticipation.

Manish

Dear Manish

There are a lot of things that need to be considered when moving a site between servers/hosts. These include (but are not limited to):

Other sites hosted on the same server
If you were to move house and relocate to a shady neighbourhood, people would start wondering if you’re associated with other people in the area, if you’re having financial troubles etc. The internet is the same. Move your site to a server that hosts a lot of gambling, pharmaceuticals and adult sites, Google may start to question the quality of your own site and if you are in some way associated with those other sites.

Server congestion and load times
Google has to index a LOT of content, so if the server your site is hosted on is overloaded, doesn’t have the necessary bandwidth available or is simply slow to respond, Google may be forced to only index part of your site, or even skip it altogether and move onto pages that respond more efficiently.

Linking patterns
Google looks at linking patterns and relationships that exist between different sites. If you have 100 links all from the same IP address, those links will generally not carry the same weight as 100 links spread across a wide range of networks. If your client’s site was moved to the same server that coincidentally a lot of your inbound links were coming from, Google could devalue the weight of these links.

Unsupported features
Server security policies can vary between hosting providers as will the features they support. I’ve seen some hosts block the use of .htaccess files causing URL rewriting and many other little issues. Some files/folders may automatically be set with read-only permissions causing dynamically generated content features to break and the more complex the site, the more chance there is for things to go wrong.

Location
While Google is pretty good at determining what geographic region a site is aimed at (through use of domain extension, where a majority of inbound links are from etc.) the physical location of the hosting server also plays a role in this. If the hosting was moved to a server in a different country, it may affect your local search results. There are ways around this through Google’s Webmaster tools, and if you’re doing everything else right, it may not have a huge impact, but it’s yet another factor to be considered.

It’s hard to say with certainty that the migration of your client’s site is responsible for the drop in rankings, but hopefully some of the above suggestions will give you a few things to start investigating. As mentioned above, these are just a few of the more common things to check and I encourage readers to add their own server-related SEO feedback in the comments.

Hope this helps

Peter Newsome
SiteMost’s Search Engine Optimisation Brisbane

A Bing Powered Yahoo! – It’s Official

News has just broken on Twitter that Microsoft and Yahoo! have finally closed a deal where Bing will power Yahoo! search results while Yahoo! will become the worldwide sales force for both companies’ search advertising.

@Bing broke the news with this tweet:

“Bing. Yahoo! Two great tastes that are now going to be great together. Check out http://bit.ly/9eUh7″

I can hear the mobile phones of a hundred Google executives ringing from here. Talk about a wake up call!

More details available on my SiteProNews blog post: It’s Official: Bing to Power Yahoo! Search.

Added: more industry coverage here:

It’s Finally Official, Microsoft and Yahoo Make a Deal, Yahoo Gives Up on Search (Search Engine Land)

Microsoft and Yahoo Finally Announce Deal (WebProNews)

Live Blogging The MSFT – YHOO Search Press Conference (Search Engine Land)

Top 10 Things the Microsoft/Yahoo! Deal Changes for SEO (SEOmoz)

The Microsoft-Yahoo Search Deal, In Simple Terms (Search Engine Land)

How to Win Customers and Piss People Off (a Tale of Customer Service)

Yesterday I experienced the entire spectrum of customer service from FAIL right through to WIN and it got me thinking – how many companies really *get* customer service?

This story starts with a tweet. I was logged into Twitter yesterday when saw a tweet from @BestBlooms for free chocolates with a beautiful orchid bouquet with a unique New Zealand kete wrap. My husband is always buying me flowers and I had been wanting to buy him some in return, but had never seen any style that wasn’t too girly. When I saw the orchid wrap, I thought it was quite a masculine yet beautiful – perfect! So I placed the order with @BestBlooms and they promised to deliver it that afternoon.

A short time later, I received a call from them. It turned out that @BestBlooms are located in Auckland on the North Island of New Zealand, while I am in Christchurch on the South Island. So they would be arranging the bouquet and delivery via a Christchurch-based florist. Not a problem. The bouquet arrived late that afternoon via a florist who drove an hour each way just to get it here.

My husband was delighted and the bouquet was very nice and came with 2 liquor chocolates as promised. BUT it didn’t have the kete wrap that was in the photo and convinced me to buy it in the first place. Here’s a picture of the bouquet that arrived (click on it for a larger view):

Orchid wrap BEFORE

Slightly disappointed and because they had asked for feedback, I got in touch with @BestBlooms to let them know I received the bouquet but it wasn’t quite what I expected. Immediately, they asked how they could make it up to me. I responded that I didn’t know, perhaps a discount on my next order or something. They replied via DM:

“Hi – leave it with me – i will make it right. thank you for your order – we do really appreciate yr business and hate it when not right!

and I forgot all about it.

Today, there was a knock at the door and the same florist who drove an hour to my house yesterday was back again today, only this time she was holding a much larger bunch of orchids, with a larger box of chocolates, in the elusive kete wrap! Here’s a picture (click on it for a larger view):

Orchid wrap AFTER

The card said:

“To Gerald and Kalena, This was how it was supposed to look! Our mistake. Sincere apologies, Best Blooms”

I was absolutely blown away. This was gold class customer service! They had managed to turn a customer’s disappointment into delight and if ever anyone in my family or circle of friends needs flowers, who do you think I’m going to recommend? Yep, @BestBlooms. This post will also likely give them positive exposure as well. When I got in touch to thank them, they replied:

“Thank you and you are more than welcome. Guaranteed service is what we promise and thats not what we delivered! Had to be fixed!”

Compare this with another customer service experience on the same day. Yesterday morning, a friend of mine @kiwidvr showed me an email exchange she was having with the manager of a local theatre following a performance of Slava’s Snow Show she had taken her family to on the weekend. They had been seated in the gallery area of the Isaac Theatre Royal and could only see half of the performance due to the location of their seats, much of the action taking place at the front of the stage (which they couldn’t see) and people standing up or lifting their kids up in front of them.

Apparently their tickets in the gallery were inferior to the regular tickets because they booked late, but nobody at Ticketek had told them this upon booking. Having paid $150 for the tickets, my friend was disappointed enough to contact the theatre and complain. What she didn’t expect was the rude and arrogant response she received from the General Manager of the Isaac Theatre. Let’s call him Mr Cox.

Here are some extracts from his email:

“…it was your choice to opt for the cheaper tickets which based on current ticket prices for international shows were extremely well priced and accessible for all ages.”

“We have had no other complaints of this nature… the joy that this show is bringing to is clear to see on the patrons’ faces as they leave the Theatre each night.”

“If there was case for refund we would have considered it. Most times if we believe there are real concerns we’d invite patrons back at our cost. In this case though there isn’t a case for either.”

“I have seated myself in every level, on all sides of the theatre and experienced every show I possibly can here at the ITR. I do know though that unfortunately, as much as we’d love to, we can’t please everyone all the time, its the nature of the business.”

I couldn’t believe that this representative of the company chose not only to completely ignore my friend’s concerns, but to dismiss them as unimportant and make an assumption that SHE was the one with the problem. He also assumed that she wanted a refund when all she wanted was an apology.

I was amazed at the arrogance of the guy. He had a chance to turn an unhappy customer into a grateful one and he chose instead to compound the situation with a condescending and rude response. It was customer service FAIL of the worst kind. Do you think that theatre will be losing business over this? You betcha. My friend and I will be telling everyone we know about it and avoiding any shows at the Isaac Theatre in the future.

Having just experienced a customer service WIN on the same day, the comparison was black and white. So the question is – if you’re in business, how good is YOUR customer service? Is it more likely to win customers or piss people off?

Please share your comments below:

[Added - it was noted in the comments that I didn't give the South Island florist any link love. Fair point! The wonderful South Island florist who made all those trips out here was Hornby Florist. Hats off to you as well.]

Q and A : Will changing content negatively affect my rankings?

QuestionDear Kalena…

I recently got promoted on my job and I’m now responsible for the SEO of the company website.

We’re currently ranking number 1 on Google but I would like to do some changes to the content of the site (use more keywords, make it more appealing to the visitor, etc) but I’m afraid that with these changes, the website can go down on the ranking. What’s your opinion?

Thank you.
Victoria

Dear Victoria

Changes in content can affect your search rankings, but this shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing (as long as you do it right).

There are two things to consider – first and foremost, your website should be designed for your clients. If your planning on improving the content, adding more value to the site, making it more user-friendly etc. then please don’t let the potential loss of a ranking or two stop you. These types of improvements to a site usually reduce bounce-rates which, although not instantaneous, will have a better, long-term effect on your site’s overall rankings and performance.

The second thing to be mindful of is that while making these changes, you still keep the most important keywords in the right places. This includes all the obvious stuff like title tags, headings etc.

Also, if these changes only affect the content, but not the actual architecture of the site, then ignore this next bit, but if you’re planning on changing file names, or moving pages around, ensure you use the appropriate 301 redirects to avoid losing any of the link value these pages have built-up.

Hope this helps

Peter Newsome
SiteMost Search Engine Optimisation

Could the Google Gigantosaurus be challenged by a Yahoo / Bing Tyrannosaurus-Rex?

Could the Google Gigantosaurus be challenged by a Yahoo / Bing Tyrannosaurus-Rex?

That’s the question I pose in my latest SiteProNews blog post Could it be Bing(o) for Yahoo? in response to the rumors that Yahoo and Microsoft are about to announce a major search advertising partnership.

What are your thoughts? Is a Yahoo / Bing T-Rex going to be strong enough to take a bite out of the Google Gigantosaurus? Please leave your comments below.