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Archive for October, 2008

How to Use Mod_Rewrite to Set a Canonical URL

October 31st, 2008
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The importance of the Canonical URL is well known in the SEO world. However, for most web developers and website owners is something that is often overlooked. The theory in short explains that search engines rank each page individually and typically penalize multiple pages with duplicate content. So, if a site does not have a mechanism that identifies a Canonical URL, (in other words, a unique URL for the main page), search engines may evaluate multiple links that result in the home page separately. As a result, your site may get penalized altogether or simply suffer from lower pagerank due to the fact that the pagerank is now shared among multiple pages. An example:

The home page of a site can be displayed with any one of the following URLs:

http://domainname.com

http://domainname.com/index.html

http://www.domainname.com

http://www.domainname.com/

etc.

To avoid the above, simply use apache’s mod_rewrite and include the following code in an .htaccess file that should be located at the root folder of the web server (replace the domain name text with your real one):
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www.domainname.com$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.
domainname.com/$1 [R=permanent,L]

Now, you’ll need to make sure that all your links that directs traffic to the home page use the chosen canonical url.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Web Development , , , , , ,

Is Magento Commerce the new Joomla?

October 29th, 2008

If you are in the open source eCommerce industry, you probably heard about the new kid around the block: Magento Commerce. If you follow the industry news, you know that since its announcement back in April of 2007, Magento’s popularity is nothing shy of sky rocketing. Certainly feels like mid-2005 with the emergence of Joomla and the demise of Mambo in the CMS space. So, what makes this open source ecommerce platform so popular? What is it still lacking, but seem unimportant? First, we can clearly see an obvious trend: the emergence of Magento and the decline of both Zen Cart and osCommerce:

Search trends for the terms Zen Cart, osCommerce, and Magento

Search trends for the terms Zen Cart, osCommerce, and Magento

The notion of ecommerce built from the ground up with today’s modern tools gives shopping cart owners a warm  fuzzy feeling. Top it with the fact that the modern tools are solid MVC (Model View Controller) design pattern and the Zend Framework and you get a bunch of online stores that are ready to jump on this promising bandwagon. Ok, I am missing one important fact! These days, admit it or not, looks and coolness are gold. Not surprisingly, this is were Magento shines!

But wait a minute, is Magento Commerce ready for prime time? Well, this is where you see a divide in the industry, this is where the chasm and the bell curve comes in. Yes, Magento does lack performance, stability, scalability, and some trivial features that existed for many years in other carts like Zen Cart and osCommerce. But the trend is obvious and there is no going back. If history repeats itself Magento will become a leader very very soon!

Viva la competicion!

eCommerce, Magento, Web Development, ZenCart , , , , ,

How to Use the Footer to Improve SEO and Increase Traffic

October 25th, 2008

The Footer is often overlooked by web designers and web developers alike. But it can be the hidden gem of any well thought website; delivering SEO optimization advantage and bringing additional traffic. Lately, it seems, the footer is showing a new trend in web design altogether. Let’s look at how we can combine beauty and brains in the innocent footer.

Can the Footer improve my SEO?

Yes. The footer is one of the elements of any good website that can boost the overall amount of traffic coming to your site. This is where you work on boosting the ranking of the collection of your pages and even the collection of your sites. The top of every page is SEO optimized for a specific subject which is supported by the page itself. The bottom of all your pages is SEO optimized for a wide range of subjects that is covered by your entire site.

In the recent past, the footer was where you placed the copyright statement and perhaps the link to the site map and the privacy policy. Later, websites started showing links to other important web pages or categories within the same site following the all pages should link to all pages within a site thinking. Today, the footer is used as a basket with all the important keywords and key-phrases.

All you got to do to use the footer for your site’s SEO is add a bunch of lists (<ul> , <li>) with relevant keywords. Ideally you have a page for each keyword and the list is actually a list of links to these pages. This optimized footer shows up on every page of your site – and vualla! you are keeping web crawlers happy.

Can the Footer be Pretty?

Of-course. While this is not a new concept, lately I see a trend in footers where they seem to receive more and more love from their designers and webmasters. Here are some screenshots from footers I thought looked good while delivering a nice SEO optimization advantage:

Footer on Cnet.com

Cnet.com's footer

Footer: New York Times

nytimes.com's footer

Footer Daily SEO

dailyseoblog.com's footer

The footer has, and is, evolving all tFooters In Modern Web Design: Creative Examples and Ideashe time. The latest trend seems to show that the footer is gaining brains and beauty. Most importantly, the footer is often overlooked but in fact, it is a great SEO tool!

Additional SEO and Design in Footers Resources:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Web Development , , , , ,

5 Peculiar SEO Tips You Should Know About

October 13th, 2008

The following are tips we have learned to address with any SEO Project in addition to the usual tasks:

1. Investment: the Length of your Domain Registration

Google will always value quality website and quality content. The length of registration that a domain is registered for is one more indicator for Google that a site is here to stay and that its owners have put some efforts into it. This fact is mentioned in the Google patent for its PageRank. In simple words: register your domain for at least 3-5 years for an improved recognition from Google.

See more: Does the Length of a Domain Registration Affect Your Rank?

2. Performance: Fast Sites Rank Higher

Again, if you are serious about your site you will make sure that your users can read your site fast. In some cases it takes some effort to improve a site’s performance, in particular with dynamic content such as a CMS or a Shopping Cart. Make sure to use the right software, apply updates (usually contain performance improvements), and consider tightening up the server’s configuration. A good rule of thumb for serving pages is an average of one second per page or less, with a half a second or less and you are a head of the pack.

See more: Landing page load time now affects keywords’ Quality Scores

3. History: the Age of Sites Linking to Yours Matter

Having incoming links to your sites is what you want. However, it will take time before you will see any significant result. This is because Google measure the age of incoming links to your site and ranks older links with a higher ranking. There is not much here that can be done except make sure that links to your main site remain indefinitely and avoid short term incoming links. Also, if you were considering disposing of an old site that somehow links to your main site – reconsider leaving it as is and letting the links mature like wine.

Many factors are at play here: the age of the domains from which links are pointing to pages on your site, The age of the links themselves, and the age of your own domain. In short, the older the links and domains, the higher the ranking or the rank influence overall.

See more: The Age of a Domain Name

4. Uniqueness: Canonical URL

Every site can decide what is the full URL that it will use. Most sites add the ‘www’ in front of the actual registered domain and some ommit. The dangerous teritory is when sites are dynamically generated, like a DB backed CMS, and links are relative. Hence if a third party linked to your site with the ‘www’ and another third party linked to your site without – it will produce identical content pages with different URLs. From Google’s perspective ‘www.yoursite.com’ and ‘yoursite.com’ are two different URLs. To solve this issue, setup a redirect to your preferred URL – your preferred URL is what is known as Canonical URL.

See more: SEO Advice: URL CanonicalizationCleaning Up Canonical URLs With Redirects

5. Relevance: Google Uses Geolocation to Serve Local Sites

Once more Google is simply trying to do its job: serve pages that are most relevant to you – the search user. Hence, it will retrieve the geolocation for a site and will rank higher local sites to local users. The geolocation data is derived from the IP address. Hence, to get more traffic from Canadian users for example, host your site in Canada.

Peculiar but simple, isn’t it?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Web Development , , ,

Ektron CMS400 7.0 issues with .NET Framework 3.5 SP1

October 6th, 2008

After upgrading my development machine with Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 SP1, I noticed a couple things. First, the installer also updated the .NET Framework 2.0 instance to Service Pack 2.

Second, my instance of Ektron CMS400 v.7.0.4.20 (which runs under .NET Framework 2.0) starting having problems. Specifically, I could no longer create library items in the workarea. Attempting to save a library item, for example, a hyperlink would cause the page to postback and the icon bar to disappear:

The postback page after attempting to save the library item

The postback page after attempting to save the library item

There is no error message, but viewing the library item list reveals that the item was not saved.

The culprit was the page /workarea/library.aspx. Viewing the HTML source of this page when attempting to “Add Library”, the form tag’s action attribute was:

library.aspx

… no querystring parameters; so when the page posts back in Ektron, it can’t save the library item and fails.

Viewing the same page on a system without .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 results in an action attribute like this:

 library.aspx?LangType=1033&amp;action=AddLibraryItem&amp;folder=98&amp;type=images

Some background: As it turns out, the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 installation changes the way the FORM tag’s ACTION attribute is handled. Prior to this upgrade, ASP.NET would ignore whatever you typed for the form’s action attribute in the markup. ASP.NET would instead render the action attribute to match the original page request. Starting with SP1, the action attribute is no longer ignored and will be rendered exactly as input.

Ektron, as it turns out, supplied an action attribute in the library.aspx form tag. Until the release of this Service Pack, it was ignored by ASP.NET.

Two possible solutions:

This may not be an issue in Ektron CMS400 7.5+, but users of v7.0 should be wary, even if they’re not planning on upgrading .NET Framework 3.5 SP1… Windows Update may upgrade you automatically around November of this year.

.NET Framework, Ektron, Web Development , , , ,