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Ensuring Your Site is Technically Sound for Spiders and Visitors Alike By Anthony Piwarun


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From the SMX East 2014 Conference in New York City, NY. SESSION: Conquering Today's Technical SEO Challenges. PRESENTATION: Ensuring Your Site is Technically Sound for Spiders and Visitors Alike - Given by Anthony Piwarun, @APiwarun, Manager of SEM - Zeon Solutions. #SMX #23A

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Ensuring Your Site is Technically Sound for Spiders and Visitors Alike By Anthony Piwarun

  1. 1. C O N Q U E R I N G T O D A Y ’ S S E O C H A L L E N G E S Ensuring your site is technically sound for spiders and visitors alike. ANTHONY PIWARUN @apiwarun Manager, Search Engine Marketing Zeon Solutions Slides: @apiwarun
  2. 2. @apiwarun AGENDA ü I n t r o d u c t i o n ü Wai t . . Wh y do e s t h i s mat t e r ? ü O h , t h e r e a r e b e s t p r a c t i c e s ? ü F i n a l T h o u g h t s ü Q&A
  3. 3. @apiwarun HELLO! ü Practice Lead, Search & Content @ Zeon Solutions ü 7+ years digital marketing experience ü Contributing Editor / Author for Search Engine Journal and MarketingProfs ü SMX East, SMX West, Outdoor Retailer & LavaCon Speaker
  4. 4. QUICK SURVEY! A Little Participation Never Hurt ;) @apiwarun
  5. 5. @apiwarun THE SURVEY SAYS… ü Who here is responsible for “digital marketing”?
  6. 6. @apiwarun THE SURVEY SAYS… ü Who here is responsible for “digital marketing”? ü How many of you do “search marketing”?
  7. 7. @apiwarun THE SURVEY SAYS… ü Who here is responsible for “digital marketing”? ü How many of you do “search marketing”? ü Who can guess the difference?
  8. 8. We’re Technical GEEKS, duh! @apiwarun
  9. 9. INTRODUCTION So… Why Are We Here? @apiwarun
  10. 10. SO… WHY ARE WE HERE? ü Whether we’re optimizing a lead generation or ecommerce site, let’s face it… technical factors matter… ü Regardless of the server, out-of-the-box platforms just don’t cut it when it comes to “plug and play” ü If we want to weather the storm, we need to first recognize @apiwarun that…
  11. 11. @apiwarun MILLENNIALS!
  12. 12. HOLD UP… WINTER IS COMING?!?! @apiwarun
  13. 13. HOW CAN WE WEATHER THE STORM? ü Utilize technical best practices to ensure search engines can effectively crawl, index and of course rank the pages relevant to a user’s query ü Taking a proactive approach to guiding search engines in the @apiwarun right direction ü Board up the windows, lock the doors and buckle up for the ride!
  14. 14. @apiwarun HOW WE’LL DO IT ü URL Structure ü Gateways & Mall Directories ü Mobile & International ü Redirects ü Structured Data Markup (i.e. & microformats) ü Rel=Canonical & Next/Prev (The never-ending battle)
  15. 15. GATEWAYS & MALL DIRECTORIES I.E. Robots.txt and Sitemap.xml @apiwarun
  16. 16. @apiwarun ROBOTS.TXT ü Critical to managing access to content as well as indexation ü No one-size fits all robots.txt file ü Highlights ü On-Site Search ü Sitemap.xml File ü Assets of Value Directory!
  17. 17. @apiwarun SITEMAP.XML ü Segmented sitemaps allow for increased visibility into what bots are indexing ü Add index & subfiles to webmaster tools to measure crawl-to-indexation ratio ü Identify areas needed for improvement
  18. 18. MOBILE OPTIMIZATIONS Walking Through The Options @apiwarun
  19. 19. MOBILE EXPERIENCE OPTIONS ü For mobile browsing, three primary options: ü Responsive – desktop view & functionality shrunk to device size. Full, desktop experience is kept intact. ü Adaptive – experience is tailored to mobile or tablet. Focus on efficiency & navigation. Like a “new” site. ü Hybrid Responsive – incorporates elements of both Responsive and Adaptive design @apiwarun
  20. 20. MOBILE OPTIONS – THE RUNDOWN ü Caution – controversy ahead! ü Google says you should use responsive design ü My take? Adaptive OR Hybrid Responsive almost always @apiwarun preferred… ü It’s about the experience… remember?
  21. 21. Why make it harder to convert? Source: Monetate eCommerce Quarterly 2014 @apiwarun
  22. 22. RESPONSIVE & HYBRID CAVEATS @apiwarun ü Since content & experience is altered dynamically, need to tell the G what’s going on ü VARY: User-Agent HTTP header status does the trick Image Credit: Google
  23. 23. @apiwarun ADAPTIVE CAVEATS ü Separate desktop & mobile experiences cause duplicate content ü Eliminate the potential by utilizing the one-two punch of rel=canonical and rel=alternate ü Implementation can be easy or complex.. It’s entirely dependent on the platform
  24. 24. ADAPTIVE CAVEATS (CONT.) <link rel=“alternate” href=“” > @apiwarun On the desktop page: <link rel=“canonical” href=“” > On the mobile page: <link rel=“canonical” href=“” >
  25. 25. REDIRECTS A Tale of Two Hosts… @apiwarun
  26. 26. @apiwarun LINUX - APACHE ü 301 redirects and RewriteRules handled in one of two (sometimes three) files: ü HTACCESS – file used for one-off redirects if a URL changes, product is discontinued, etc. ü HTTPD.conf – file used to batch process rewrite rules and redirects. ü Use HTTPD.conf for massive quantities of redirects / rules to prevent hit on server performance
  27. 27. @apiwarun MICROSOFT - IIS ü Two methods to 301 URLs: ü Redirects – one-to-one mapping in web.config or IIS manager implementing client-side 301s ü Rewrites – server side configuration utilizing regular expressions and patterns ü Rewrite rules are ideal as they are server-level and can cast a wider net using regular expressions… plus, there’s a lot less manual work ;)
  28. 28. @apiwarun REDIRECT CAVEATS ü Everyone knows the difference between 301’s, 302’s, 307’s etc… BUT… redirect chains? ü Redirect chains occur due to rewrite rules implemented server side that execute in order ü So… a non-www to www, force lower case, force trailing slash and remove file extension could potentially amount to FOUR redirects!
  29. 29. @apiwarun REDIRECT SOLUTIONS ü First we need to identify chains… use one-off tools like or a crawler like Screaming Frog to follow redirects ü After they’re identified, regex wizardry must ensue to stop execution of rewrite rules in IIS and Apache if matches are found ü After the call is stopped, combine rules into one to remove chains
  30. 30. CANONICAL VS. NEXT/PREV Let’s Do This… @apiwarun
  31. 31. REL=CANONICAL VS. NEXT/PREV… FIGHT! ü Rel = canonical should be the standard for eCommerce websites ü This is in stark contrast with Google’s suggestions ü Let’s think logically, however… @apiwarun
  32. 32. REL=CANONICAL VS. NEXT/PREV… FIGHT! ü Rel=Canonical is simply a recommendation ü Yet, it’s critical for eCommerce sites with faceted navigation / filterable attributes ü Too many sites take “recommendations” on setting canonical to ViewAll state ü What suffers? Page load speed = user experience. @apiwarun
  33. 33. SPEAKING OF CANONICAL… Cross-Domain Canonicalization FTW! @apiwarun
  34. 34. CROSS-DOMAIN CANONICALIZATION ü Cross domain canonicalization is like the standard rel=canonical tag, but points to a page on another domain @apiwarun ü Markup is structured as so: ü Main Site: <link rel="canonical" href="" /> ü Duplicate Site: <link rel="canonical" href="" />
  35. 35. ECOMMERCE USE CASES ü Brands / Distributors that have either a B2B & B2C site with the same catalog or a separate content site with duplicate articles on the store’s blog… that’s duplicate content, right? ü Identify which category/subcategory/product is most relevant to audience of each site and implement accordingly @apiwarun
  36. 36. @apiwarun CONTENT USE CASES ü Hosted Content ü Let’s say you’re hosting content on a site like or Tumblr and you decide to self-host ü If you don’t have access to the server, you can’t 301 ü Cross-domain canonicalization will help send those soft 301 signals to Google ü Original Content ü Say, for example, you write a post and publish it on your corporate blog or a news site. If you own a personal blog, you want to publish your work without rewriting, right? ü Cross-domain canonical can help YOU get the message out without duplicating content and impacting potential traffic for the original site
  37. 37. HREFLANG Saving The Best For Last! @apiwarun
  38. 38. HREFLANG IN A NUTSHELL ü International / global websites often struggle with with duplicate content post-translation. Even if it’s in another language, it could still potentially be viewed as duplicate ü At a high-level, it tells search engines “Hey, the canonical tag says THIS PAGE is relevant, however, there are other versions that are language-specific so please don’t discard those.” @apiwarun
  39. 39. Note: rel=alternate and ISO language call need to be ON EVERY SINGLE PAGE of EVERY SINGLE POSSIBLE language option. Canonical tag should accurately self-refer. @apiwarun IMPLEMENTATION
  40. 40. @apiwarun MISC. TIPS & NOTES ü HREFLang will NOT geotarget. That’s what GWT is for. This will only handle duplicate content issues with localization ü If you have a language selector page, you can assign hreflang=“x-default”, meaning there’s no specific language and to consider it the default ü Track international indexation / implementation success in GWT -> Search Traffic -> International Targeting report
  41. 41. PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT Concluding Thoughts… @apiwarun
  42. 42. C O N Q U E R I N G T O D A Y ’ S S E O C H A L L E N G E S Ensuring your site is technically sound for spiders and visitors alike. ANTHONY PIWARUN @apiwarun Manager, Search Engine Marketing Zeon Solutions Slides: @apiwarun