Thursday, 31 October 2013

Create custom Google plus URL for Google page or profile

This may be an old news for few but I came to know about it today so thought to share it here.
Like Facebook provided feature of having custom URL for Facebook profile and Facebook fan page, one can have custom Google plus URL too.
I created my custom URL like https://plus.google.com/u/0/+SwatiTripathi/ 
Some easy steps to be followed:

  1. Open up http://gplus.to/.
  2. Fill in two fields, the nick name that you wish in your Google plus profile and the Google plus numeric ID. Customized Google URL
  3. As soon as you are done, Google plus will ask you to confirm the customized name that you've requested for. 
  4. The verification will be done after you provide a phone number.
  5. A verification code is will sent on the phone number and the URL will be confirmed.
Few things that are to be taken care of are:
  1. There should be a profile picture.
  2. There must be 10 followers.
  3. The account should be 30 days old.
Some similar steps can be done for customizing Google plus page too. Be quick as Google may charge for custom URLs in future.

Advantages:
  • No need to remember those long URLs for pages.
  • While typing google.com/+something , Google will auto suggest the things.
  • Branding is more easy.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Why you need a canonical tag?

"Duplicity" is the scariest word for website owners.

Duplicity can be of two types:

  1. Internal duplicity: When the content within the website is duplicate or there are multiple versions of URLs existing (specially in case of e-commerce websites) 
  2. Let's call it external duplicity: When you are lazy to write more and accidentally writes the website's content onto some other websites (like, company profile in linkedIn) or someone was lazy and copied your website's content onto his.
It was duplicate content which made Google to conceive Panda update. Panda target websites with poor, low quality content or duplicate content.

By now, many of you must have found a tool to check duplicate content, but for those who are searching, copyscape.com is the fantastic tool to check the duplicate content. Copyscape, shows the various websites having similar content as that of your website. 

While copyscape helps is tracing external content, how can you trace internal duplicity? Well, webmaster tools are the solution. Webmaster will not show you the duplicate content, it will show the duplicate meta tags (meta title and meta description). These details are available in "HTML Improvements" section. 

Now that you have tracked the internal duplicate content, what is the next step? Check why these pages are duplicate. You may notice there are pages where you tend to have same content over different pages. Such issues are faced by e-commerce websites. 

Let us understand with an example, say you sell shirts online, you decide to show 10 shirts on one page and make such 8 pages. For SEO purpose you add a small content in the end of the page. Now when crawlers crawl the website, they'll notice that the URL is changing from, http://myshirtsexample/shirts/page1 to http://myshirtsexample/shirts/page2 and so on up to 8 pages, but the content is same on all of the 8 pages, it raises the trigger, considering the content as duplicate. But in actual, the content is not duplicate and it is practically impossible to write content of 8 pages (or more pages). 

Let us take one more example, which is a general problem in every website. At times, the home page tends to have many versions of URL. www.mywebsite.com , www.mywebsite.com/index.html, mywebsite.com etc. In such cases too, crawlers will treat each version as different websites containing same content.

Now with the two examples above you have managed to track types of duplicity that are possible. Some are easily removed and for some other is the "canonical tag".

With help of canonical tag, you can notify Google that the content on these pages are not duplicate. The canonical tag looks like,

 <link rel="canonical" href="www.mywebsite.com" />
Let's understand, I'll put this tag in the head section of, www.mywebsite.com/index.html and mywebsite.com. This notifies Google that my original website is "www.mywebsite.com". 

For the shirts example, the canonical tag that Google has suggested is rel=”next” and rel=”prev”. Now about using it.
On the webpage http://myshirtsexample/shirts/page1, add the following canonical tag:
<link rel="next" href="http://myshirtsexample/shirts/page2" />
On second webpage http://myshirtsexample/shirts/page2, add following canonical tag:
 <link rel="prev" href="http://myshirtsexample/shirts/page1" />
<link rel="next" href="http://myshirtsexample/shirts/page3" />


Now there's may be a chance when you are changing the domain and some how 301 redirect is not possible, for such cases, Google supports, cross-domain rel="canonical" link element. Choose wisely.

Note:  
  1. While Google can understand numbers of canonical tags on single website, Bing usually advice not to use too many canonical tags.
  2. Choose canonical link wisely, the link that is put along it is the main link.
  3. While using next, prev canonical use, next tag on first page, prev on last page and next and prev together on second-to-second last page.
  4. Before using cross-domain canonical tag, try 301 redirects but if somehow it is not at all possible then go for cross domain canonical tag.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Now run Video ads on Facebook

With so many updates and hits, Google is disappointing marketers and making them work hard to get desired SERP; while Facebook is luring marketers with new ways to market with them.

Facebook developer

Facebook has officially announced that:
  1. Mobile apps can now have video ads. 
  2. Pay for actions only
Video ads as per Facebook will increase the chances of more downloads of apps. Facebook suggested this as users can get a brief intro of the app that they are about to install on their phones. Great thought Facebook.
Earlier, the advertisers bid for their ads on basis of CPC (cost per click) or oCPM (optimized cost per impression). Facebook has introduced a new concept for advertisers, which they named as CPA (cost per action). According to CPA, the advertiser has to pay only for the number of downloads. To know more about CPA click here.

If you are running an app and want to try for these two new features proceed here

Original press release by Facebook: https://developers.facebook.com/blog/post/2013/10/21/get-efficient-installs-with-video-creative-and-cpa-buying-for-mobile-app-ads/

Friday, 18 October 2013

Types of sitemap and their importance

The SEO people must be knowing what sitemap is and how they are important. The two most important sitemap are, one, the .xml sitemap and the other sitemap for users. The other sitemaps are image sitemap, video sitemap and mobile sitemap.
Sitemap is basically a file that has all the links of the website (that you want search engines to crawl). Since all links are at one place it becomes easier for search engines to crawl every link that it might miss because of lack of internal linking in website.

Let's know bit more about them:

  1. Sitemap: A usual sitemap is provided to users to help them to ease their navigation on the website. A sitemap should clearly define the links, the sub-parts of those links(if any). The best example of sitemap that I could find is http://www.apple.com/sitemap/ . Do visit and check the navigation.
  2. XML Sitemap: XML sitemap is an .xml file that contains all the links of the website and this sitemap is submitted on Google and Bing webmaster. This sitemap eases the work of search engines.
    The code looks like
    <?xml version='1.0' encoding='UTF-8'?>
    <urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9">
    <url>
            <loc>http://myexample.com/</loc>
            <lastmod>2013-10-17T07:06:03Z</lastmod>
            <changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
            <priority>0.5</priority>
    </url>

    You can easily generate this sitemap by using online tool http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/ . The steps are mentioned on the tool.
  3. Mobile Sitemap: Now that mobile websites are in trend, having mobile sitemap is an intelligent move. The mobile sitemap can be submitted to webmaster for a better mobile website crawling. The code looks like
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9" xmlns:mobile="http://www.google.com/schemas/sitemap-mobile/1.0">
    <url>
            <loc>http://myexample.com/</loc>
            <lastmod>2013-10-18</lastmod>
            <changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
            <priority>0.5</priority>
            <mobile:mobile/>
    </url>

    if you compare the two codes (normal sitemap and mobile sitemap), there are only two extra notations added, else it is just the same.
  4. Image Sitemap: I have discussed about this sitemap in the Image Optimization post too. This sitemap is particularly for images. The image sitemap helps in getting images index faster. The code looks like:
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9"
    xmlns:image="http://www.google.com/schemas/sitemap-image/1.1"
    <url>
           <loc>http://www.myexample.com</loc>
           <image:image>
                <image:loc>http://myexample.com/image.jpg</image:loc>
           </image:image>
           <image:image>
                 <image:loc>http://myexample.com/photo.jpg</image:loc>
            </image:image>
      </url>
  5. Video Sitemap: Video sitemap is helpful when there are lots of videos on website. There are number of fields that you need to provide some important details about the videos. Keep them handy so that you can quickly create a video sitemap.
    The important fields are:
         *Title
         *Description
         *Play page URL
         *Thumbnail URL
         *Raw video file location and/or the player URL (SWF) and some more.
    The code looks like:
    <urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9"
    xmlns:video="http://www.google.com/schemas/sitemap-video/1.1">
    <url>
            <loc>http://http://myexample.com/videos/video1_landing_page.html</loc>
            <video:video>
                 <video:title>The title of video comes here</video:title>
                 <video:description>Write a brief description about video here</video:description>
                 <video:content_loc>http://myexample.com/video1.flv</video:content_loc>
                 <video:player_loc allow_embed="yes" autoplay="ap=1">http://myexample.com/videoplayer.swf?video=1</video:player_loc>
                 <video:thumbnail_loc>http://myexample.com/thumbs/video1.jpg</video:thumbnail_loc>
    </url>
    </urlset>
         
Important Points:
  • You can add up to 50,000 URLs in single sitemap, if numbers increases then create two sitemaps with different names (like sitemap.xml and sitemap.1.xml).
  • The file size should not be more than 50MB, if limit exceeds, again create two sitemaps.
  • To ease your work, name sitemap like, mobilesitemap.xml, imagessitemap.xml, videositemap.xml
  • If you carefully compare the codes discussed above, there is a declaration for every type of sitemap which is being created (mobile, video, image)
  • Before submitting sitemap to Google webmaster, test the sitemap first and if there are no warnings or errors then proceed with submitting it, else remove errors and warning and then again test and then submit (if all goes well).
Important Links:

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Few tips on Image optimization

"A picture says thousand words"

Many of you must have heard this famous saying. All of us know the importance of images. If you are running E-commerce website then importance of images is well known to you; Image optimization thus becomes an important task for you.
There are various factors that are important while optimizing an image, like, size, format(.jpeg, .png, .gif etc), file name, etc.

Let's discuss the the factors and know how to optimize the image:
  1. Name of image: While you save the image on your computer and upload it on the website, make sure you are saving it with relevant name. Do a bit of keyword research so as to keep the best keyword as your image name. For example, the image that I've pasted below is saved on my desktop as "HID KIT Advantage"
    HID KIT Advantage
    HID KIT Advantage
    Though HID KIT Advantage is not a keyword, but HID KIT is a keyword. Remember not to be a spammer.
    Saving by name makes it easier for you to understand the picture and upload it where it is exactly required. You will agree, the image by name "HID KIT Advantage" is better than "image001213" .

    CAUTION: DON'T MAKE YOUR IMAGE NAME TOO BIG TO UNDERSTAND OR TO READ. 
  2. Alt Tag: Since search engines don't crawl images, they provide an alternative to crawl images which is called as "alt tag". The tag looks like
    <img source="/file.html" alt="Keyword here">
    Alt tag helps search engine to understand what image is there on your website. Another advantage of using alt tag is that if image is not loaded properly then the visitor can read the tag in place of that image and understand what image is there.
    TIP: If you are running e-commerce website and provide multiple angle images to user (side view, front view, rear view etc as commonly seen today), then make sure the alt tags are also changing accordingly.
  3. Reduce file sizes of images: websites with large image takes more time to load and we all know "page speed" is an important factor for on page SEO. You can easily do this by selecting the option "save for web" option in Photoshop, this reduces your burden.
    ? don't have photoshop? You can go to pixlr.com. This is the best online tool that solves every kind of picture issues (like re-sizing, adding effects etc) This online tool works similar to that of photoshop.
  4. File type: There are various file type, .jpg, .gif, .png etc. While saving images be careful what these formats can do to the images.
    .jpg: Good for small images, gives you best picture quality
    .gif: lower image quality, bad for large/complex images, good for icons or decorative type of images.
    .png: Better color quality then gif, file size may increase for large images(as compared to similar .jpg image).
    See the images below to understand the difference:
    Suv car fog lights GIF
    Suv car fog lights GIF
    Suv car fog lights JPG
    Suv car fog lights JPG
    Suv car fog lights PNG
    Suv car fog lights PNG

      GIF image is blur, JPG is finest and PNG is ok.
  5. Last one is to use image sitemap and submit it to Google webmaster for faster indexing of images.

The last image is the summary of what we learnt so far:
Lesson learnt

So what do you know about rich snippet?

You must have searched for recipes, reviews about a mobile phone or about some particular information like "Penguin update"; then you must have observed that there are ratings (stars), or information about author (their picture, their Google+ profile link etc).
The picture below can make a better picture in your mind
Did these things ever crossed your mind how does this all come from?
Yes, Rich Snippet is your answer. Now the thing is how to use it. This is quite easy, you have below mentioned available for this:

  1. Visit schema.org and there find the most suitable snippet for yourself and apply it on your website/blog. 
  2. If you have your hands tight with coding, Google webmaster has ease your task, use the "data highlighter" tool and provide the structured data to Google. As soon as Google indexes your website/ blog the meta tags will be added and provided by Google search results. 
Important links:

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

How to get webpages indexed fast

In my last blog i discussed about on "How to stop Google from indexing your pages?" but that was a rare situation when you want that search engines should not crawl certain pages/ content of your website.
In this post I am going to mention quick ways that helps to get your webpage/site to get indexed faster.

  1. Google webmaster: After you create an analytics account for checking traffic generation, the very next step should be to submit the website on Google Webmaster. As soon as website is submitted you can easily see certain stats about the website. Two most important tools in webmaster are submission of sitemap and fetch as google bot.
  2. Bing webmaster: Follow the same steps as above.
  3. Social Sharing: Social sharing is the best way to get your content indexed faster. As soon as you share, there are chances for people to visit it and thus solving the purpose.
  4. Pinging Tools: There are many pinging tools available over the internet. Choose according to your suitability. Like http://www.pingoat.net/ can ping individual website/page. and http://www.masspinger.com/ can be used for mass pinging.
    Pinging basically messages the crawlers that there are certain updates on the website/page and that they should crawl it.
    CAUTION: Don't use these tools much frequently as they can have negative impacts.
  5. Frequent changes on web site/page: If web site/page is updated frequently the crawlers tends to crawl the web site/page to cache the changes. 
  6. Back-links: While creating back-links, make sure that the back-links are also getting indexed. This will help in two ways, one, number of back-links would increase and two the link that you have posted will also get indexed fast. Try to create back-links on website that tends to get indexed faster like, blogs, forums, news websites etc.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

How to stop Google from indexing your pages?

This may be a confusing title but there are requirements when you may want Google not to index particular page (like pdf's, word docs etc.). Check out the options available.

  1. Robots.txt:  This is the best way to make Google not to index your pages. SEO experts might be using it too. The usual code that is seen on robots.txt file is:
    User-agent: *
    the above syntax allows to index the website by every search engine's robots. Now if you put this code as:
    User-agent: *
    Disallow: /

    Now the above code will stop every robot to index the website. Read more about robots.txt on robotstxt.org.
    Here we want to disallow only a particular web page or particular file types like pdf files.
    Use syntax,
    User-agent: *
    Disallow: /pdf/  

    or
    User-agent: *
    Disallow: *.pdf
  2. The second way is to use meta tag:
    <a href="something.pdf" rel="nofollow">Download PDF</a>
    This way Google understands that this pdf is not be scrolled. The "nofollow" attribute makes Google understand "not to follow" the link. Also if you add, "noindex" attribute then Google will not index the web page.
     If you want to be more precise then use following code When your page is about to expire on stated date:
     <META NAME="GOOGLEBOT" CONTENT="unavailable_after: 28-November-2013 12:00:00 EST">
  3. The third way is to use X-robot meta tag, whose syntax is like:
    x-robots-tag: noindex
    Put this code in .htaccess file:
    <FilesMatch "\.pdf$"> header set x-robots-tag: noindex </FilesMatch>
    x-robot tag can also be used to notify Google that a particular page is about to expire; use the syntax:
    X-Robots-Tag: unavailable_after: 22 Dec 20014 17:00:00 PST

What did we learn?
  1. While the above codes help in not to index particular page they also act as warning to use these codes as caution. Put the codes where they are require. If you website is not showing enough pages on Google search, cross check robots.txt file and the meta tags. It may happen that these codes were put accidentally on wrong web page.
  2. If you want to your website to get scrolled quickly don't forget to add sitemap in robots.txt file. This will increase the chances of the website to get indexed faster.
  3. Use Google webmaster to check the proper working of robots.txt file.
  4. The codes that are to be put in are highlighted in yellow.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Here comes the Penguin again

Seems Google people are too active in too aggressive to remove spam (or should i say kill SEO)

Too many updates have flooded website owners, Google is not even giving them a chance to recover or to guess which update has effected their website's rank and traffic.

After a major update "Humming bird", Google has now released its another and old soldier "Penguin 2.1". 
As usual this started with a tweet by Matt Cutts.
While reading many articles and forums, I got to know many webmasters are happy and many are on the edge. 


What new gun has Penguin 2.1 has?
1. This is not related to backlinks..stop checking the backlinks and putting them on disavow tool.
2. Check on-page optimization rule guide by Google (like 404, redirects etc)
3. Do you multiple domains for different type of users that redirects them to one page?
4. Are you still not following "no copied content on website" rule? 


Check out the above points see where your website is lacking. Don't worry SEO is yet not over, it is not in I.C.U, you still have your chances.

Read about previous updates as part 1 and part 2.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Humming Bird for human's queries on Google

After 12 years, Google updated it's "Search Algorithm".

How is Humming bird different from Panda and Penguin?
Panda and Penguin were working for 12 year old search engine algorithm, while humming bird is absolute new algorithm. Panda and Penguin will now work for Humming bird.

What was the need of Humming bird when Google had Panda and Penguin to fight spam?
Humming bird update is related to "search queries" posted by user and the Google wants to give "the most" relevant result.
To be more precise, Google will lay stress on "expressions" and not "keywords". The keyword theory seems to doomed now. Content writers now have to work on information and not on keywords or keyword density etc.

Difference between expression and keywords?
This can be best explained by taking example. Let's say I type "what contains more fat butter or olive oil?". Earlier the searches contained info either on both things or about one thing but with new update Google will give you only comparative result as asked by user.

While writing content what do you need to focus?
1. What would user type to get a particular information?
2. Since Google now can understand synonyms, forget about spinning the content.
3. Exact match keywords are not helpful now, go for phrases.
4. Provide information stop writing stories.

What type of optimization is required now?
1. Strong on page optimization (like page load, no use of frames etc)
2. For meta tags stop keyword stuffing
3. Update website with information.
4. Avoid cheap and fast ways of getting back-links
5. Mobile website optimization

Mobile websites are more to be focused for this update as mobile users can post query by speaking and Google's only aim is to provide relevant info. So give a serious thought on "user friendly over search engine friendly".

Many websites have faced a serious hit by this update. If your website has not received a hit, that means you are gifted.


Friday, 4 October 2013

Is Facebook now a search engine?

Facebook a young toddler is a great competitor to teen Google. Both of them share good rival relationship.
With so many things introduced in a social platform, Mr. Mark is planning to take Facebook at another level. Recently I read about, searching Facebook status and posts updates. Check-ins, were already a way of knowing "local places around", or the emoticons showing blessed, depressed and stuff or you are listening to music or watching movies and things; this new update is also very interesting.
Though this update is not circulated worldwide but people are those who have this updated are enjoying it.

The updates that you can now search can be like:

  • Posts about Big Boss by my friends
  • Posts by my friends from last month
  • Posts I commented on
  • My posts from last year


Facebook has learnt a lot from Google's flop show "Orkut" that users want something "new" every now and then, so Mark is serving user's plates with all sorts of items. They are taking care of every type of user, whether you are a normal user or you are a entrepreneur, or you are marketer. They are trying to impress every type of client.

I've started feeling to use Facebook as "search engine" at least for local searching. Hoping for this update to strike India soon.

Google street view for Indian monuments

Have you ever tried to capture the "Panorama" view? I tried in my childhood with my father's cam--Olympus. It was fun. Currently I am doing it with my mobile phone.
What's Google doing that has made headlines for today? Its the panorama view of Indian monuments that Google is showing. It is said that it has captured around 100 monuments of India to give the beautiful view.
As soon as I learnt about this I tried to see it, it was interesting.
If you wanna try, click here

I tried Jaipur-Amber Palace, Delhi--Qutab Minar, Agra---Taj mahal. The view is certainly enjoyable. I think this is why people love Google.

I've also attached a screen shot below. Enjoy it!! Feel it!!




Thursday, 3 October 2013

The data you are looking for is "not provided"

Another storming update by Google. All the organic data is now under section "Not Provided". Does Google seriously wants that link building should be "natural"? I still doubt how to create a website and then leave it to have "natural links". The only option that I can see now is "PPC". After 15 years all Google wants is "money".

Many of you must have faced the similar situation, the numbers were increasing for "not provided" data, I kept wondering what the hell is happening, so now here was the punch.

SEO experts are suggesting to have a closer look to Google Webmaster and Bing Webmaster to know your "organic traffic". I tried for this trick too but it was not very much helpful. SEM rush is also bit of help or I should call it as "ray of hope".

Learn for more tips and tricks here