Q and A: Why hasn’t Google indexed our 301 redirected site?

QuestionHi Kalena,

I have been asking around forums with no luck and you were suggested. I have a site which is 4 years old. One year ago we changed our url and management system and did a 301 redirect on all urls. The problem is one year on and Google is still seeing the original page and title and not recognizing the new work and page title, Any ideas?

Thanks so very much,
Steve

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Hi Steve

You don’t provide your site URLs, so it’s going to be a tricky one to answer. It’s very unusual for Google not to recognize the 301s after such a long time. I have a couple of questions:

1) Have you moved from a free hosted site?

2) Is the old site still live?

If you moved your site from a free hosted site, you may not have had full control over the redirection or the 301s may not have been implemented correctly. If you no longer have control over the old site, or you only have access to some pages (through a CMS or similar), you could try using rel=canonical instead of a 301 redirect as recommended by Matt Cutts of Google in his video below:

If your old site is still live in some form, you should try to remove any remaining pages to ensure that Googlebot can no longer index the old site. If Google can still index some original page content, it may impact their ability to obey the 301 redirects. The ideal scenario is to maintain ownership of the old domain until your new site stabilizes, but this may not always be possible.

3) Did you redirect the old pages to their corresponding new pages on the new site?

You should always redirect on a page to page basis, rather than just using a top level 301 to redirect all old pages to a new domain.

4) How many redirect hops did you use for individual pages?

While there is no limit to the total number of 301 redirects you can use, there is a limit to the number of *hops* or the number of redirect levels you can use for a single page. 1 or 2 hops might be ok, but if you have a page that has been redirected 3, 4 or 5 times (a chain of 301s), Googlebot probably won’t follow them all.

In his video for Google Webmaster Tools, Matt Cutts explains how to use 301 redirects correctly:

5) Is your old XML sitemap still being indexed? Did you create a XML sitemap for the new site and upload it to Webmaster Tools?

One of the first things you should do when migrating sites is to create an XML sitemap listing all the new pages and get that sitemap uploaded to Google and Bing Webmaster Tools. Make sure you remove any outdated sitemaps from your Webmaster Tools account/s.

Aidan Beanland of Yahoo Australia recently gave a fantastic, detailed presentation about migrating a large site using 301 redirects. This might help you.

It’s hard for me to pinpoint what went wrong for you Steve, but the points above and Aidan’s checklist should help narrow it down. Also refer to Google Webmaster Tools for more 301 redirect advice.

Let us know how you get on and best of luck.

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Yahoo! Tops Google for Web Traffic

Yahoo beats GoogleWow. I’d never thought I’d get to type this in 2013: Yahoo! has ousted Google to become the number 1 source of US web traffic.

The comScore Top 50 US Web Properties report for July 2013 reveals that Yahoo! owned sites attracted more unique visitors than any other networks, including Google. The numbers are pretty close – Yahoo! traffic only beat Google traffic by less than 300,000 visits, but this win is a significant one for Yahoo!, given they haven’t been at the number #1 spot since 2008, according to Greg Sterling.

You might think these numbers were influenced by Yahoo!’s recent purchase of Tumblr, however Tumblr is ranked separately in the report, way down at position #28. Which makes me think that the hard work put in by Marissa Mayer and her new management team over the past 12 months is finally starting to gain traction.

It must be a sweet victory for ex-Google executive Mayer, who took over the top job when Yahoo! was in crisis – struggling from years of poor leadership and financial mismanagement. Despite an overall revenue dip of 7 percent compared with this time last year, Yahoo!’s latest financial figures reveal solid income growth for the past quarter – up 150 percent on the previous year.

The upshot of this for webmasters is: you simply CANNOT continue to put all your eggs in the Google basket. I say this until I’m blue in the face: Google is NOT the Internet. Both Yahoo! and Bing are major players in the search industry with the potential to provide as much – or in Yahoo!’s case, more – traffic than Google.

If traffic from Google dominates your site stats, take action now:

  • Optimize your sites with ALL the search engines in mind. Learn what content / tag structure ranks well on Yahoo! and Bing. Optimize your pages accordingly.
  • Study your analytics and learn what keywords convert better on Yahoo! and Bing. Better optimize your content for those keywords.
  • Observe how much traffic you get from Yahoo! and Yahoo! partner sites. Compare conversion rates for this traffic with the traffic you get from Google and other sources.
  • If you haven’t already established a Bing Ads account, create one and start experimenting with paid advertising on the Bing and Yahoo! networks.
  • Verify your web site/s via Bing Webmaster Tools and start observing your site performance via that account.
  • To encourage indexing, upload your XML sitemap to Bing and Yahoo! via Webmaster Tools and keep it up to date.
  • Monitor your performance in all search engines to reduce your reliance on Google traffic.

Taking action now will mean that you’ll be one step ahead of your competitors and more importantly, if your Google rankings suddenly plummet – *cough* Panda, Penguin *cough* – you’ll have traffic from other sources to catch your fall.

Q and A: Are WYSIWYG design tools bad for SEO?

QuestionDear Kalena,

As I have no seo background and nowhere else to turn for professional advice, I decided to submit a matter that is troubling me, as you not only have a staff of SEOs but you have the first professional SEO site I have found that invites questions from the general public.

This is my issue: I am wondering if using a modern WYSIWYG website application would be better than trying to hand-code a 20-30 page website?

I ask since there seems to be a consensus that such programs hinder SEO efforts. The reasons cited is that programs like XsitePro 2.5 use tables. Yet, Google says there is no real difference between tables and CSS regarding SEO.

Others claim that apps like WYSIWYG Web Builder 8 are bad for SEO due to their use of span tags. Finally, both the above-cited apps do allow access to the source code for changes and adding scripts, as well as to meta title and keyword tags, etc.

As I have witnessed multiple instances of websites created by such programs occupying spots #1-#5 on Page 1 of Google, would it not be better to use these design tools and devote the time to “more important” SEO matters such as content, keywords, and other on-off site practices?

Any/all information you can provide would be greatly appreciated as it would put this issue to rest for me.

Sincerely,
Guy

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Hi Guy

There is absolutely nothing wrong with using WYSIWYG software or a Content Management System (CMS) to design your web site. Some web design tools are better than others in terms of SEO friendliness and you should do your own research on this before deciding. But most web sites these days are created using some type of software or application, rather than built by hand.

In fact, the free blogging platform WordPress is one of the most popular CMS’s used to build web sites these days – we use it almost exclusively for our own sites and those of our clients. From my observations, Google seems to prefer indexing web sites built using WordPress. Developers working on the WordPress themes have taken great care to make sure the code validates, is as concise as possible and uses logical CSS. WordPress also has the benefit of SEO-related plug-ins, which short cuts the job of hand-optimizing a web site.

So you’re absolutely right – don’t be afraid to use auto-design tools and WYSIWYG software to create your site. Then you can devote more time to the most important features of SEO: content, keywords and link building.

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Introducing: Search Engine College Subscription

Happy Search Engine College subscriberToday marks a very exciting day at Search Engine College.

For the past few years, we have listened to feedback from existing students and graduates who told us they LOVED our courses, but wished there was a way they could study more units without having to pay a premium for each one separately.

Well, now that’s a reality. It’s taken us over a year to put it together, but today we have finally flipped our online learning model from pay-per-course to pay-per-month subscription. Instead of paying for individual courses, you can now pay a single flat fee each month to receive access to our entire curriculum of courses!

INTRODUCING:  Search Engine College Monthly Subscription

Subscribe now

What Do You Get?

Your monthly subscription of USD 99 entitles you to INSTANT access to the following online courses:

  •         Search Engine Optimization Starter
  •         Search Engine Optimization Advanced
  •         Paid Search Advertising Starter
  •         Paid Search Advertising Advanced
  •         Web Site Copywriting
  •         Web Site Usability
  •         Copywriting for Pay Per Click
  •         Article Marketing and Distribution

New courses coming by the end of the year:

  •         Link Building
  •         Keyword Research
  •         Social Media Marketing

These courses normally have a retail value of between USD 295 and 395 EACH.

How Does it Work?

Sign up for a trial subscription. Pay just USD 99 for your first month and that’s it. Once you subscribe, you will receive instructions for accessing our courses via the email address associated with your subscription. You simply create a student account and login to our course area. After you login, you can view any/all of the courses we have on offer and take the lessons / quizzes / presentations in any order you like.

There is absolutely no ongoing commitment beyond your initial month. If you enjoy our online courses, keep your subscription up to date. If you don’t, simply cancel your subscription before the due date of your renewal (i.e. within 30 days).

We haven’t abandoned the Certification model either. For those of you who would prefer to study under tutor guidance and receive industry-recognized certification for a particular course, that option is still available as an add-on to your subscription.

Industry Discounts

As an added incentive to become a Search Engine College subscriber, we have put together a range of industry discounts worth up to USD 500, exclusively for subscribers. The discounts relate to a wide range of keyword research tools, online subscriptions, time-saving software, competitor analysis tools, magazines and books that are all very popular in the search marketing industry.

Subscribers are automatically given access to this Industry Discounts area upon login.

In short – a Search Engine College membership is your One Stop Shop for training, tools and industry knowledge. Join our members from 59 countries and see how we make learning FUN.

We’re Listening

We’re really excited to bring you this subscription model, particularly because you’ve been asking us for such a long time. We know this suits the budgets and learning style of most of our students, but we would be very keen to hear your feedback on this. As always, if you have any questions, please contact us or post here in the comments.

 

Introduction to SEO: Workshops in Auckland, Wellington

google-keyMost of you know that I’ve been running training workshops in conjunction with the Institute of IT Professionals (IITP) here in New Zealand now for over 12 months and really enjoy it.

The next round of workshops coming up are on the subject of: Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation.

These full-day workshops will show you step-by-step how to optimise your or your clients’ web sites to get noticed by Google and other engines. It will be a fun day, with some group activities, games and (if time permits), live analysis of the web sites of willing attendees.

Whether you’re an IT manager, marketer, coder, website coordinator or business owner, getting well placed for your key terms on search engines is hugely valuable and important.

At the end of the course attendees will be able to:

  •     Understand how Google and other search engines rank pages.
  •     Understand what makes a web page search engine compatible.
  •     Understand what type of content search engines love.
  •     Research and select appropriate keywords to target.
  •     Successfully integrate search keywords within web site copy.
  •     Create effective and optimised web pages.
  •     Learn why social media can improve their search rankings.
  •     Monitor their search positions and report meaningful data to stake holders.

Below are the details and booking links for Auckland and Wellington events, so please share with anyone you know who might benefit from attending:

Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation – Auckland
Date: 28 August 2013
Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Venue: University of Otago House

Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation – Wellington
Date: 30 August 2013
Time: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Venue: Terrace Conference Centre

Thanks for your support!