Q and A: Should I restrict access to my website?

Question

Hi Kalena,

This is Pratik from India. I am working here as an SEO and dealing with a lot of overseas clients from SEO perspective. Here, I have got a query while working on a website. I have found that my website is receiving traffic from different countries which is not the actual target to get the leads converted; my main target is United States only, so the additional traffic will be of no use. Therefore, I am wondering of blocking other countries visitors to visit my website and redirect them on a simple page. The question is what disadvantages you see on blocking the traffic from other countries? Will this effect on SEO in anyway? Will I be able to rank well on Google as I am doing today? I am more concerned on SEO results because my website is ranking well for more than 500 keywords in top 10. Could you please let me know comments on the same? Looking forward to your feedback!

Thanks,
Pratik

Hi Pratik,

Unless there is a VERY good reason, I would be very, very cautious about blocking any sort of access to your site.

Just because traffic may be coming from a source that is not your specific target market, does not necessarily mean that it will not result in a lead.  A US resident may be on holidays or working abroad (there may be a lot of potential leads in US Military personnel posted abroad for instance), or may have outsourced research to an overseas service (much like what you are apparently offering for SEO).

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you the importance of links…Although backlinks from websites local to your target market are likely to be of better value than those from other countries, it is probable that you could generate some very good, relevant links from other countries.  If they were unable to access the site, clearly you would be missing out on backlinks.

Perhaps the most important reason why you may not want to block other countries though is related to search crawlers. Search engines, won’t necessarily crawl your site from the country where your target market is located.  If you block access to other countries there is a very real chance that it will limit the ability of search engines to crawl (and therefore index and rank) your site.

Traffic, even if is not coming from your target market, is rarely a bad thing as you never know what might lead to sales, leads, enquiries or links, unless you have a specific need to keep your site hidden from specific users, you should not be limiting access.

Andy Henderson
WebConsulting (SEO Brisbane)

Search Engine College Newsletter Vol. 11, Issue #1

In case you missed it, the first issue of our revamped Search Engine College newsletter was published this week.

We’ve been publishing the Search Light newsletter for over 10 years now and figured it needed a makeover.

Our first issue includes an article based on a fascinating test-run of Google’s new Books Ngram Viewer, as well as a bunch of Q and A’s from this blog.

It also features a range of terrific job vacancies in the search industry and a USD 50 discount on our SEO and PPC courses, exclusive to subscribers.

Enjoy!

Q and A: Why have my Google rankings dropped for my key phrases?

QuestionHi Kalena

I’ve contacted you because I feel frustrated. Until last night my site was listed within the second page results in google with the key words “learn Spanish free”. Thanks to the SEO course at SEC and my work , I was proud to see results like this. However for some strange reason this morning (UK time) I am nowhere to be seen with this key words. I have checked other search engines (yahoo, bing) and I am listed there (3rd and 2nd pages). Would you be able to tell if I have done anything to upset google? And if I have what?

Furthermore, I have checked all key phrases that have brought me visits before and I am nowhere to be seen within google index. (I used to appear on the first page with these key phrases). The only time I am in google listing is when I search the words “Spanish aid” ( the name of my domain) or the full URL of my web pages. I am also appear in google listing with the  word “Spanish colours” under Images. I find this extremely weird as it seem that google has penalised me for something I don’t know of. As I said on my previous email I was progressing and I was happy that I was learning an seeing positive result, now it seems that I have taken a big step back. I hope you can give my an explanation as at the moment I am banging my head against the wall.
Thanks a lot for your help

Thank you
Luis

Hi Luis

Fluctuations in your Google rankings are completely normal. Sometimes, they’ll make a slight tweak to their ranking algorithm which can result in other sites ranking above yours and/or lowering your previous ranking for certain keywords. But this doesn’t mean you’re suffering a penalty.

See some previous blog posts about this, particularly:

Why is my CMS based website only ranking for the home page

Why does my website not rank high on search engines?

Your site is still in the Google index and you rank #1 for your brand name so you haven’t been penalized. I could see nothing wrong with your content that would trigger any alarm bells with Google.

However, the big problem with your site is the low Google Toolbar PageRank score (1/10) reflecting the very low number of incoming links pointing to your site. Has your PR score always been 1/10? If it has recently dropped from a 2 or something, that might partially explain the ranking drop. While a higher PageRank score is not a pre-requisite to high rankings, it can be a key indicator of your site’s link popularity, which in turn has a strong influence on your ultimate keyword positions in Google.

The more links you have pointing to your site from related sites and using relevant keywords in the anchor text of the link the better you should rank for those keywords. The best thing you can do for your site right now is to build links pointing to it and to add new content. That will gradually improve your PageRank score and your link popularity – then the rankings will follow.

If you’re still worried, you can take the steps outlined in these posts:

How do I fix ranking penalties?

Why doesn’t Google index my entire site?

Kalena

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Q and A: What web-based software do you recommend for practising SEO?

QuestionHi Kalena,

I would like to practice integrating SEO techniques. In your SEO101 lessons, you recommend using a web based site editing software. Please recommend one I can use for this purpose?

Thanks
Darlene

Hi Darlene

Probably the best option for you to practice on is to create a site using Google Sites.

Another good option is to create a free hosted web site using WordPress.com. It is traditionally used to create blogs, but because of it’s functionality and search engine compatibility, many companies use it to build their web sites these days (including Search Engine College!).

Just keep in mind that this creates a hosted site on wordpress.com (e.g. http://yoursite.wordpress.com) rather than your own domain. To achieve the best results using SEO, you need to use a hosted domain with your own domain name e.g. http://www.yoursite.com. If you have your own domain and want to use WordPress to build a site on it, go to WordPress.org and follow the instructions for installing WordPress on your domain.

WordPress offers a range of SEO plug-ins that pretty much automate the SEO coding process (e.g. All in One SEO Pack).  But for educational purposes, you should really work on integrating your SEO tags into the raw HTML code rather than taking these short cuts at first.

Kalena

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Q and A: How Do I Tackle Regional Keyword Issues in SEO?

QuestionHey Kalena,

I’m trying to optimize a site for the first time. Its a fashion jewelry site. I have come up against a couple of stumbling blocks that I need a little clarification on. One is the target market – its a New Zealand website, but we want to target New Zealander’s, Australians and the rest of the world this brings up issues of spelling – do we focus on Jewellery (New Zealand/British spelling), Jewelry (US spelling, but where a lot of the current customers come from) or Jewellry (a common misspelling).

Secondly, I’m having a hard time trying to choose my keyword phrases. Silver jewelry and costume jewelry (which seems to be the most common way people search for fashion jewelry, even though fashion jewelry sounds so much more modern!! – found out through the Google Keyword tool) seem to be the best as they are well searched for. I want to be more specific however i.e *women’s silver jewelry*, or *silver jewellery nz* or *buy silver jewelry* etc. but the search volume according to the Google Keyword tool is well below 20 per day.

Can you please suggest what I should do in this situation?

Thank you!
Mitchell

Hi Mitchell

To answer your questions:

1) The regional spelling issue is a tricky one. There are a few ways you can approach this – do you have the .com as well as the regional Top Level Domains (TLD) .co.nz and .com.au? If so, you can use the American spelling on the .com domain and the British spelling on the regional domains. However, this may create duplicate content issues unless you block robots from the near-duplicate pages.

Alternatively, you can simply use the appropriate language version for your largest target market as the default throughout your site. For example, although we are based in New Zealand, our main target market for Search Engine College is the US, so we use American English throughout our web site. Most regional markets will understand that American English is common on the Internet, so you should not isolate them by doing this.

Another, trickier, option is to use British English on your main site to attract organic local search traffic and then create a Pay Per Click advertising campaign (e.g. Google AdWords) with tailored landing pages and ad text using American English to suit your other markets. Then, run your PPC campaign targeting only those countries where American English is used more commonly, making sure you block search engine robots from indexing your American English landing pages. You could do the reverse if you decide American English should be your default language.

As for misspellings? Those are fantastic for picking up extra traffic your competitors are missing. Best way to get that traffic is by targeting the misspelled keywords within your Pay Per Click campaign or by including the misspellings in your Page Titles and META Tags (the META Keywords tag is a particularly good place for them if you don’t want human visitors to see them).

2) You are spot on wanting to target the longer tail keyword phrases such as *women’s silver jewelry* and *buy silver jewelry* because it is these specific phrases that are more likely to bring you qualified visitors who are more ready to purchase. But the beauty of targeting these longer phrases is that they also contain the more popular shorter search terms such as *silver jewelry* and *women’s jewelry*. So, by default, you are also optimizing your web site for these shorter phrases by integrating the longer ones into your tags and page copy.

Choosing long tail phrases that contain more generic popular search ones is a great way to save valuable keyword real estate in your page titles and meta tags. For example, instead of having to include both *buy silver jewellery*, AND *silver jewellery* in your meta description tag, you only need to include the longer one as it covers both. A META Description tag of “Buy women’s silver jewelry from French Fashions” sounds a lot less redundant than “Buy silver jewelry and women’s silver jewelry and silver jewelry from French Fashions”, don’t you agree?

When researching keywords for multiple international markets, remember to use a keyword research tool that offers regional search data so you can pinpoint what persons are searching for in each country. Apart from regional spelling, regional jargon such as (accommodation vs lodging) can impact keyword search trends considerably.

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