Don’t Block Google From Spidering Site Files

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McCord Web Services is a Google Partner.

Google has recently made some nice improvements in how and what it can spider to get a fuller picture of your website. By upgrading technology, no longer does their robot spider see the web in nearly a text version, but now almost as a browser sees the page.

As a result Google is letting webmasters know to not block spider access to CSS files, JavaScript, and image files. Read the full Google release on this subject.

Personally I think that Google is also looking for CSS for hidden text and other spammy and black hat uses but they are couching this “enhancement” as a way to provide “optimal indexing” of your website.

It has previously been common practice for webmasters to block search engine spiders from certain sections of their website using disallow in the robots.txt file in the root of a website’s hosting server, but Google clearly now wants to “see it all” and is instructing webmasters to not block their access.

There is still a place for considering blocking search engine robots using the robots.txt file in this fashion:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /folder-name/

One such case may be your draft file folder. If you work with a team and are doing page change drafts you may want to block those working files and old files so they do not get indexed in error.

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Google’s Webmaster Mobile Usability

Image of a responsive website on multiple devices.
Make sure you set the viewport for your responsive website to display it properly on multiple devices.

Newly introduced into the Google Webmaster control panel is a new section found under “Search Traffic” called “Mobile Usability”. With Google flexing its muscles and readying to penalize websites that are not enhancing the mobile viewing experience your site may be getting flagged as not having the viewport configured.

In fact, if you are using WordPress plugins to render your blog or website as mobile friendly, you may need to manually add in a meta tag too stop Google from flagging this issue.

The viewport is a meta setting that helps a device determine how to display the content properly. Without a viewport setting your site can not render as you had expected. Visit this page online to see images where the viewport is set and is not. It is an eye-opener and once you see it, you’ll know why you MUST update your code to show the viewport properly. (Without the viewport set images may be small and the site may not fill the device screen properly. With the viewport set image that you had wanted to be full screen will be and your site rendered maximized for that specific device.)

Adding a meta tag to the head section of your code is easy. Just grab this snippet and install it using the Editor in WordPress or Dreamweaver on your responsive website.

<meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0, maximum-scale=1.0, user-scalable=no” />

Make sure you are using the code snippet that has the attributes separated with commas and not semi-colons. This little detail will assure maximum compatibility. Read this great article to find out why.

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Myth – Don’t Use HootSuite As You Will Get Dinged With Your SEO

HootSuite will not damage your SEO rankings!
HootSuite will not damage your SEO rankings!

Okay, this is a myth! I have now heard from two different webmasters that “Oh no, you can’t use HootSuite for social media updates, the URL that HootSuite uses and the branding tag they add will impact your SEO efforts in a negative way.”

Hmm, my firm uses the HootSuite Pro control panel for our social media work. We employ 10 writers and do a significant amount of work for clients in the social media space. I have never seen any clients take a nose dive because of our social efforts or the use of HootSuite.

However, to be fair to the naysayers, I did some research for this post to find out just where has this myth come from. First, by default we, personally, use the ow.ly link shortener in the HootSuite control panel for our clients. It appears that for some using the ow.li link shortener that an additional behind the scenes 302 redirect is done. This may be where some have grabbed onto this concept of SEO damage and smeared HootSuite as an agent of that can crash your SEO results.

Here’s what I’ve found, first, use the ow.ly link shortener by clicking the gear button next to the link shrinking field in HootSuite. What happens when you link is shrunk is that a 301 redirect is done pointing to the real URL. As a 301 redirect passes link juice and is not penalized by Google, there is no damage to your rankings.

For more information on this important topic here is some background information that you can read to understand more in-depth.

http://moz.com/community/q/myth-or-fact-social-media-dashboards-bad-for-seo
http://moz.com/blog/url-shortener-owl-li-indexed-in-google
http://searchengineland.com/analysis-which-url-shortening-service-should-you-use-17204

I personally love HootSuite and have been using the portal for years to grow our social media business and that of clients. I find it easy to use and have three social media specialists and 10 writers using it for a wide variety of clients. I have never had a client’s site or rankings be damaged by using this excellent tool that helps us to be productive and on-time for clients.

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Interesting Data on Mobile Usage and AdWords

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McCord Web Services is a Google Partner.

I attended a Google Partner hangout this last week with four marketing reps talking about how mobile has changed their marketing plans on AdWords. The comment that really has stuck with me over the last several days is that mobile is used for research before buying and is not necessarily the device that will drive a conversion. Very Interesting!

When I think about how I use my own smartphone, that comment is spot on. Many times I will be with others or sitting in a car chatting (not driving mind you) and I will quickly do a Google search to ask a question or find out more. Although more often than not, I am not looking at mobile ads while I am getting the information I want, I am using my smartphone to perform research that I may follow-up on later.

From an account manager and advertiser point of view, depending on the product or service that you are selling, the research aspect of mobile may be crucial to your overall marketing plan. With the much smaller screen of a smartphone limiting the number of AdWords ads that can show, you’ve got to be in the number one or two spots with your ad to get action.

Although mobile is not the right place for every single business, if the research phase that would be done on a smartphone is important to your business, keep in mind that actively testing your AdWords program in the mobile arena bidding up 10 to 25% of your desktop bid may be a very smart strategy. By testing this approach over a 60 day period (a shorter time period may not be long enough to really evaluate response), you may find that mobile drives conversions and sales on desktops and tablets and the mobile click can be attributed for the actual conversion. Or, you may find that more expensive clicks from smartphones simply padded Google’s wallet and did not drive conversions.

As Google is very bullish on advertising in the mobile space and many marketers are testing mobile AND the data shows that mobile activity is a very new and exciting landscape, it is time to try strategies in your AdWords account on mobile.

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