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SEO Blog

I'll often share my knowledge about SEO, usually in non-technical, easy to understand articles. You can find my latest articles below.

Imagine this scenario: there’s a page on your website that you’d like to get rid of. It’s a fairly popular page, with a few links directing people to it. What will happen when you remove that page? Where will the people looking for it go? If you do nothing, these users will see a 404 error. Most of us know by now that a 404 error means that we won’t be accessing the page we wanted to find, but what does it really mean?

Response codes like this one tell web browsers and search engines alike what happened when they tried to get to a certain URL. In this case, the page was not found. A bad situation for the user indeed!

From a search engine perspective, these response codes give clues as to whether or not it should direct traffic to the page. Our 404 response, for example, tells the search engine that the page cannot be found. A search engine that sends its users to pages that don’t exist soon won’t exist itself, so it’s in the search engine’s best interest not to rank pages that return 404 codes. However, as the page is supposed to exist, the search engine will send a crawler to check it from time to time.

For the sake of protecting our rankings and providing a great experience for our users, we want to ensure that no pages on our sites return a response of 404. There are two things we can do to prevent this.

Shoppers at a flea market

To be effective in SEO, you need to know not only how to find keywords, but how to use them to drive relevant, converting traffic. There are plenty of guides out there to help you with finding keywords, so I’m not going to focus on that here. What I want to teach you today is how to best put those keywords to use for your ecommerce website.

Home Page

The home page is where the majority of your backlinks will be pointing, making it the strongest page of your website from an SEO perspective. You’ll want to use this page for the broad terms that fit almost everything on your site.

penguins

If you’ve paid any attention to the SEO space at all in the last year or so, you’ll know that a frequent topic of conversation is when will Google finally release another update to its Penguin algorithm, which targets what Google considers to be low-quality spammy links.

The last update happened on October 17th, 2014, and while it supposedly impacted less than 1% of English queries, the SEO world erupted with news of websites being toppled by the update. Unfortunately for these sites, they will not be able to regain their rankings until Google releases another update to the Penguin algorithm.

Yugos at the factory
Image: www.autosoviet.altervista.org
(original source not clear)

Let's talk real quickly about duplicate content. Many CMS's (content management systems), including (but not limited to) website solutions like Magento and Wordpress, have a tendency to create several URLs for the exact same content. Such duplication can be caused by any number of things. Common duplication-causing items include category page sorting options, print-friendly versions of pages, cross-merchandised products and plenty more.

As part of a college website design project, I once built and ran a website that encouraged readers to vote for candidates from third political parties (US). Pages on the site included one about notable third party candidates of years past, another listing third party candidates in current elections, and, among others, a page listing every political party in the United States.

In the interest of helping my site's users, I figured I would provide brief descriptions of each party under the link to their site. I could've simply written these descriptions myself, but summarizing the platform of over 50 political parties is no small task. Equally important was making sure that my own personal beliefs didn't interfere with the descriptions, especially considering the fact that a few of the parties listed were, quite simply, terrible.