SMX Sydney 2012 – Anne Kennedy – Duplication, syndication & all that other mess

This is a summary of Anne Kennedy’s presentation at Search Marketing Expo / Online Marketer Conference held in Sydney 1-2 May 2012.Anne Kennedy at SMX Sydney 2012

Anne Kennedy has co-authored the first book on international SEO and PPC, called Global Search Engine Marketing. Anne provides search engine consulting to hundreds of companies worldwide and formed an international online marketing consortium with Nordic eMarketing in Reykjavik, London, Stockholm, Rome and Beijing.

Duplicate content happens, says Anne. URL duplication is a big one. This is where you see several different versions of the same page being indexed and/or linked to. For example:

– http://www.site.com
– http://site.com
– http://www.site.com/index.shtml
– http://iste.com/index.shtml

and so on.

You should always use the Rel=canonical tag to lose the canonical versions of pages and also let Google know in Webmaster Tools which version of your pages to index.

Anne says to watch your crawl budget. Your crawl budget is the percentage of your site that Googlebot will crawl. Googlebot rarely crawls your entire site, so keep your low quality pages out of the index by excluding them from your sitemap and blocking them using robots.txt.

Common Duplication Causes

A very common duplicate content mistake is to have printer-friendly versions of your content. Whatever you do, lose the print friendly versions from your sitemap!

Use 301 redirects on your pages, but only when necessary because not all link value will transfer to your replacement pages. PageRank will not transfer 100 percent over to pages if you 301 redirect them – keep that in mind.

Think about using a separate XML feed for your product pages, says Anne. Separate out your e-commerce or product-specific pages from your main sitemap and create a sitemap just for them. Upload the two sitemaps separately in your Google Webmaster Tools account.

Content syndication and site scraping can cause duplicate content headaches. If you are an article syndicator or blogger, make sure you link back to the original article with the title in the anchor text within the article, not the footer, because some syndications sites strip links out of footers. Require syndicators to use the canonical url version or require a no index (exclusion) of the article link in their robots.txt. This will ensure Google finds the original article more easily.

Another trick is to give syndicators a logo or image to go with the article that contains a link to your article and article title in the alt tag of the logo/image. Syndicators will often miss those.

Be sure to update your XML sitemap immediately whenever you publish a new article or blog post – you can use WordPress plugins to update your sitemap automatically for this.

If your article is out of date or no longer accurate and you want it gone from the SERPs for good, use a 410 code to tell Google the article is GONE. This is a more permanent solution than 404.

Dont put your international content on your English TLD. If you want your content to rank well in a particular international market, you should put the content on a related TLD e.g. a German language site should site on site.de or at the very least, de.site.com. Your international content will rank better in regional markets if you have links pointing to it from related TLDs e.g. site.de will rank better in Google.de if it has plenty of .de sites linking to it.

And finally – dont leave it up to the bots! Take control of your content.

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Q and A: How can I improve my local rankings with minimal effort?

Question

Hello!

I have a client that offers a delivery service for their nursery products to approximately 90 towns within a 100 mile radius. We currently have a page on the website listing each town and the corresponding delivery charge in a tabular format.

We would like to begin targeting each town on an individual basis in order to attain better visibility in the SERPs for search queries including my clients’ products & specific town and/or county.

My initial thought, was to build a separate page for each town announcing delivery service to the particular area. However, this would entail a lengthy and time-consuming process, while raising duplicate content issues as well – unless a separate product & blurb was created for every page/town scenario… Can you suggest a more efficient approach to accomplish our goals?

Thank you for you time and input – it is appreciated!

Dino

Hi Dino,

Whenever you plan to make changes to a website you should ask yourself the question :

Am I doing this for my users – or am I doing it for the search engines?

If any planned change is exclusively for the benefits of the search engines, I would think long and hard before going ahead and doing it, as it could be considered ( by both your users and the search engines) to be spammy, and may have a negative impact on both rankings (search engine) and conversions (users).

In this instance, I would consider that a page dedicated to each specific town is probably a better user experience, than a single page with a list of 90 towns on it, so for me it passes the test.  However, as you have pointed out, simply having 90 pages of the same content – with just the location name changed, is not going to help your rankings (because of duplicate content issues) so if you go down this path, I’d recommend that you customise or rewrite the content for each page (“spinner” software may help with this).

You could also consider grouping the different towns into separate regions.  This could result in (say) 9 or 10 pages each covering a group of towns within a particular region.  This presents you with an easier task for providing unique, relevant  content.  It also has the potential benefit of being found on related searches for nearby towns (within the same region) which your client does not currently deliver to (and maybe could).

Writing content for lots of new pages is not a trivial task, so don’t kid yourself (or your client) that SEO is easy…. However, it can often be those little extra steps that you are prepared to take (that your competitors can’t be bothered doing) that makes all the difference between a #1 and a #11 ranking.

Andy Henderson
WebConsulting (SEO Brisbane)

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SMX Melbourne : Google Places – Not Your Father’s SERPs

monte-h-cropThis is a summary of the presentation given by Monte Huebsch, CEO of Aussieweb at SMX Melbourne last month, about the way Google Places and local search are changing Google search results.

Monte starts by saying that 96 percent of Google revenue is AdWords and AdSense, while the other 4 percent is stuff they do to piss off Microsoft. This gets a big laugh from the audience.

The Google Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) of today, Monte says, are almost unrecognizable from the Google SERPs of 10 years ago. The majority of search results are now dominated by local matches, social search and/or universal search. So SEO just won’t cut it anymore. You absolutely need to be in Google Places and social search.

He mentions Page Preview – which is a new search feature launched this month, where Google adds thumbnails of a page, directly into the search results. These previews are accessible via the search navigation menu on the left of the SERPs, under the heading Page Previews.

Monte moves on to talk about the impact Local Search is currently having. Monte showed an example of a SERP for “florist Brisbane” and how it has changed in the past two weeks due to the introduction of Place Search. The traditional “7 pack” of Google Maps search results is gone and in it’s place is a kind of universal local search, with images, videos and map pins all pulled from Google Places listings. Results are algorithmic and predictive, based on the search terms used. You can even drill down to isolate only Google Places results for your search terms. This provides a significant opportunity to businesses targeting local searchers via their Google Places listings.

Google Boost is a brand new beta service offered to to select Google Places users in San Francisco, Houston and Chicago, allowing them to pay a monthly fee to Google for AdWords ad creation. Boost enables business owners to create search ads from within their Google Places account, without the need for an AdWords account. Monte suggests that this is the way local search is headed – with localized ads right there in your maps.

Links on the SERPs now often lead to a Google Places page rather than web site, says Monte. If you claim your spot in Google Places, you’ll get into Universal Search, Google Maps, Google Earth and mobile search, whereas if you don’t, you won’t!

Something to be aware of when you claim your Google Places listing, says Monte, is that you CANT change the email address associated with your listing. Monte suggests creating a new Gmail account JUST for your Places account so you have more control over it and future flexibility. Monte suggests looking at Davidmihm.com as a great resource for Google Places info.

If you have a mobile business, you can mask your physical address in Google Places. So for example, if you have a mobile pet grooming service, where a physical address is not relevant – you can still use Google Places to your advantage.

Also, try to get reviews on Google Places and add YouTube videos and photos about your business as these are all included in your data allowance and you should be making the most of them.

Google Places is another platform for your business! Make the best use of it you possibly can.

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Q and A: Why Do I Need Regional Search Engines for Link Building?

QuestionDear Kalena

You’ve mentioned on your blog about the importance of using resources to locate regional search engines for link building purposes. Could you explain a little further how one would use a regional search engine, and could you give a concrete example of finding one?

Thanks a lot.

Terry

Hello Terry

The reasons you might want to locate regional search engines include:

1) Your / your client’s web site contains information limited to a particular region / country.
2) Your / your client’s business owns multiple web sites with different TLD e.g. widgets.com, widgets.com.au, widgets.co.nz.
3) Your / your client has multiple country target markets they wish to reach via search engines.

The situations above mean that you need to have the web sites listed in the relevant regional search engines so they can be found by the specific target markets. This is all part of the vital link building process – having your site listed in as many relevant locations on the web as possible. This is especially important now with Google placing more emphasis on local search.

Some regional search engines may find your site automatically using their crawler (e.g. Google.com.au, etc.) but others, such as niche search engines and hand-edited directories, may require you to submit the site/s manually. This is why you need to have a list of regional sites handy so you can check them all for the existence of your site/s and submit them if needed.

A couple of sources you can use to find regional search engines worldwide include:

These sites list different sub categories of search engines for various countries and regions. So, for example, if you were looking for a list of search engines and directories specific to Australia, you would click on the relevant country category and be taken to the Australian list. You could also simply type a search into Google for *list of Australian search engines* and find other lists.

You should do this for every country market that your / your client web site targets.

Kalena

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