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URL Shorteners: Which Shortening Service Should You Use?

URL shortening services are experiencing a renaissance in the age of Twitter. When every character counts, these services reduce long URLs to tiny forms. But which is the best to use, when so many are offered and new ones seem to appear each day? Below, issues to consider and a breakdown of popular services, including recommendations and services to avoid (the new DiggBar being one of these). The URL Shortener Mega Chart NOTE (March 2011): I'm hoping to update this article in the near future. Much of the basics are still valid. But you should also see Google URL Shortener Opened To T [...]

Google’s Matt Cutts On Keywords In The URL

Google's Matt Cutts posted a recent video answering a question about the position of the keywords in the URL. The question asked, does the order of the words in the URL make an impact on one's ranking at Google? Matt Cutts said one should not obsess about the order of the words but he said keywords in the URL "does help a little bit." I asked Matt if this means we should go back to our existing sites and change URLs without keywords to have keywords in them. Matt told me, "If you've got an existing solution that works for you, it's not really worth going back to change your urls. It may [...]

How Many 301s Are Too Many?

Google's Matt Cutts talks about multiple domains and 301 redirects in one of the recent videos uploaded to the Google Webmaster Central YouTube channel. The question essentially asks if Google views the redirecting of many domains toward one domain as a sign of suspicious activity. Matt's answer is that there are many companies -- Google included -- that own a lot of domains and have valid reasons to point them at the main domain. The additional domains might be typos or misspellings, or extra domains that are related to a company's brand. But he also says that 301s can be abused as a s [...]

Act Like A Cybersquatter To Capture Your Long-Tail Brand Traffic!

If your company has a major brand, domainers who exploit cybersquatting have likely already targeted your business. Their practices are often looked down upon, but if their dark powers weren't effective, they wouldn't make money. Still, you can learn the same black magic and turn it into good and profit for your company. In this down economy, don't ignore the shady domainers—instead, strike back by reducing what they're costing you and increasing your profits! Read on and I'll explain how. I don't want to stray too far off into a tangent, but terminology has been rapidly shifting about, [...]

Two Little Things That Make A Big Difference

A lot of the focus in the search marketing world—both paid and organic—is on the technical and quantitative side. And that’s understandable, given the technical background of many of the practitioners and the perception that those elements are relatively easy to control. But many search marketers do themselves and their clients a disservice by not taking a more balanced view, arming themselves with the tools that a solid understanding of the search user experience (SUE) can provide. With all the talk about how to achieve high rankings, the right growth curve to target for inbound li [...]

Google & Microsoft Share Advice For Webmasters, SEOs

The ever-helpful teams writing for Google's Webmaster Central blog and Microsoft Live Search's Webmaster Center blog have published a variety of videos and presentations this week in the name of helping webmasters and search engine optimizers. On the Live Search blog, Nathan Buggia recaps his SMX East presentation on Webmaster Guidelines, shares the slides from his talk, and expands on topics such as paid links, cloaking, and website penalties. He shares some detail on how Live Search handles paid links: Essentially we look at each link individually to understand the degree to which the si [...]

Making Sense Of Google’s New Dynamic URL Recommendations

Google's recent blog post recommending that webmasters avoid rewriting dynamic URLs caused a minor furor in the search marketing industry. Reactions ranged from nervous fears that sites with rewritten URLs should suddenly reverse out their extensive work, all the way to amazement and even anger that Google should recommend a halt to something that many consider a best practice. As the president of a company which provides URL rewriting as one of a suite of natural search optimizations we do for many dynamic sites (via our GravityStream solution), I believe I have a unique perspective on [...]

Google Says, Don’t Rewrite Dynamic URLs To Static URLs

Almost two years ago, Google updated their guidelines to say that they can now properly handle crawling dynamic URLs. But last night, Google posted a blog entry now telling webmasters not to use rewrite rules for dynamic URLs, at least in most cases. Google say, in bold, "avoid reformatting a dynamic URL to make it look static." But Google also admitted that "static URLs might have a slight advantage in terms of clickthrough rates." However, Google said "dynamic URLs should be favored over hiding parameters to make them look static." Does that mean SEOs and webmasters should stop rewriti [...]

For Google, Add .0 To .EXE As File Extensions To Avoid

SEOmoz discovered that ending your URLs with a .0 will prevent your pages from being found in the Google index. That means we need to add the .0 to the list of file extensions you should avoid using. Stephen Spencer's article said, "According to Matt, the file extension in your URL won't affect your rankings." However, "the one extension you should avoid for your Web documents? .exe." So now we have two known file extensions you should not end with, the .0 and .EXE. I wonder if there is a document somewhere of file extensions or URL parameters that one should seriously avoid for [...]

Four Reasons To Avoid Using Dates In URLs

Everything you do has a chance to provide a clean or dirty signal of relevancy to search engines and searchers. While a date in the URL may provide a signal of relevancy to some searchers looking for archived information, many people who are explicitly looking for old information will likely put a date in their search query, which will match page text even if the date is not in the URL. Other searchers have a good possibility of rediscovering the information they read in the past with the help of search personalization algorithms. But most queries are not for old stuff. And that makes me be [...]

How Changes To The Way Google Handles Subdomains Impact SEO

At Pubcon last week, Matt Cutts mentioned a change in the way Google handles subdomains. To better understand this change and what this means for search marketers, let’s revisit common site structure choices, how they’re handled by Google, and how that impacts SEO. Although URLs may take many forms, the overall structure can be distilled into one of three basic types: within a single domain (pages from the root of the domain as well as within subfolders), subdomains, and separate domains. Generally, a site begins with a single domain. You decide to sell widgets online, so you open [...]

Let Google Know The Geographic Location of Your Site

For years, webmasters have wished for a way to tell search engines the country that should be associated with their sites. Starting today, Google Webmaster Central is offering a solution for those geographic woes. Country association is used both in overall ranking (for instance, searchers in Canada will see a greater number of Canadian sites than searchers in the United States will) and in country-restricted searches (for instance, searchers on can choose to see only "pages from the UK"). Historically, search engines use the top level domain of a site to determine location. [...]

Yahoo Site Explorer Adds Dynamic URL Rewriting Tool

The Yahoo Search Blog announced a new Site Explorer feature that enables webmasters to inform Yahoo about dynamic URLs that might be creating duplicate content issues or crawl barriers. The new feature is named "Dynamic URL Rewriting," and it allows webmasters to view potential duplicate content issues and have Yahoo rewrite those URLs at the index level. Yahoo allows you to define which URL is the primary, and the remaining URLs will be dynamically rewritten to that primary URL. One of the most discussed advanced topics in SEO is duplicate content. Duplicate content can often be generate [...]

Google: Actually, Dashes Aren’t The Same As Underscores Yet

Matt Cutts of Google informs everyone that reports of Google now treating underscores as word separators is not yet happening. Matt explains: I wouldn’t consider it a completely done deal at this point. But note that I also said if you’d already made your site with underscores, it probably wasn’t worth trying to migrate all your urls over to dashes. If you’re starting fresh, I’d still pick dashes. It's Not Just Google That Treats Underscores Like Dashes that I wrote a few weeks ago, obviously now needs to be updated. We will keep you informed of any new changes with this, as we [...]

It’s Not Just Google That Treats Underscores Like Dashes

Last week's news that Google is now is treating underscores URLs as word separators, as it does with hyphens, quickly [...]

Best Practices For Corporate Domain Name Management

While a decent percentage of the global business community has become aware of the importance of search engine marketing, very few businesses seem know about the best practices surrounding the purchasing and ownership of web site domain names (e.g. when to purchase, what to purchase, etc.). Unlike SEO problems, where a banned site can get re-included if the webmaster fesses up to bad behavior, mistakes involving domain names are frequently permanent (though sometimes large amounts of cash can be used to overcome problems). Here is an example of a particularly egregious corporate domain name [...]

Search Illustrated: The Power Of 301 Redirects

One of the most common questions we get is "how can I safely move a web page?" When moving a page or even doing something as simple as changing its filename (and thus its URL), it's important to do it the right way. Done properly, you'll let search engines know where the new page is, and ultimately, even transfer the link love and other relevance weight to the new page. What's the right way? Using a "301 redirect." Lisa Barone, over on the Bruce Clay blog, has an excellent post explaining How to Properly Implement a 301 Redirect. Today's Search Illustrated paints a graphic description of t [...]

How To Protect Your Domain Name

True story: A small business owner, who was not a client, called me one day with a problem. Let's call him "Dave." His web site was missing. Not missing from the search engines, missing completely. Gone. No longer reachable at his domain. It was nothing I could help with since he wasn't a client, but we kept talking. I wanted to learn more. Dave had a disagreement with his web developer over money. The web developer took the web site offline. But he didn't stop there. He also took ownership of Dave's domain. And there was nothing Dave could do about it, because the web developer had listed [...]

Domaining & Subdomaining In The Local Space – Part 1:

The practices of domaining and subdomaining have steadily grown into increasingly hot topics in the local search marketing space for the past few years. "Domaining" is the practice of buying domains mainly for their potential keyword value. Speculators purchase keyword domains with a view towards selling those properties at considerable markup, and/or using those domains to host relevant affiliate content links and/or contextual ads to derive profit from the traffic, clicks, and purchases resulting from the users who arrive at the sites by typing their URLs directly into browser address fiel [...]

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