Posted by Dr. Pete

A while back, I started thinking about how the different status codes and redirects (301s, 302s, etc.) might look visually. I started drawing up some ideas for what was going to be an illustrated blog post, but then it suddenly dawned on me that I was slowly creating an infographic. I then proceeded to have a conversation with myself about how I could never create an infographic and was probably doomed. Depression turned into mania which turned into depression – this happened about 47 times between 9:00 and 9:14am. Actually, that’s the start of my typical day.

I could go on, but I’ll just cut to the chase. I took the most useful HTTP status codes, from an SEO perspective, and illustrated how they work. It’s half cheat-sheet, half-infographic, and mostly just an excuse for me to have some fun. Hopefully, somebody learns something. This is completely my fault, so if you gouge your own eyes out with a spork to escape the horror, don’t sue SEOmoz.

Click the image to see the full-sized version. A few technical notes:

  • As I mention about 301/302, I’ve abbreviated some of the official names for design purposes.
  • The visual format required a black-and-white interpretation. Search-engines handle 302s inconsistently.
  • Rel-canonical is obviously not a status code, but it’s a functional relative that I felt should be included.

Comments are welcome. Did I miss any of your favorites? There are dozens, of course, but many are similar or almost never used. The 400-series alone has dozens of status codes, actually, most of which I had honestly never heard of in 13 years of full-time web work.

When I was about 90% done with this infographic, I found out that fellow SEO and Moz friend Richard Baxter created a status code diagram earlier this year. It’s pretty cool, too, and you should check it out.

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FAT Lab member Greg Leuch’s browser plugins have been mainly whimsical (abolishing mentions of folks like Justin Bieber and Charlie Sheen), but now, the developer has gone political with the release of China Blocker. It serves as a protest against the detainment of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

Ai was arrested April 3 for evading “huge amounts” of taxes, according to Chinese state media. However, many, like Leuch, are not satisfied by this explanation — Ai frequently spoke out against the Chinese government, which some think a likelier reason for his detainment.

FAT Lab has a history of creating projects that endorse open source technology and Internet freedom,” Leuch says. “We are attempting to raise awareness of Ai’s and others’ issues in China, and this is just a small part toward some of our larger goals of protecting Internet freedom and artistic expression.”

This awareness comes in the form of a browser plugin for Chrome, Firefox and Safari that blocks all Chinese websites. When you come across such a website, a middle finger (a homage to one of Ai’s works) will pop up, as well as info detailing how long Ai — and other artists — have been detained.

When Ai is released, users will be alerted, and the block will be lifted.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Daquella manera

More About: ai weiwei, china-blocker, FAT-Labs

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If you are actively building links as part of your SEO efforts, you are probably tracking your metrics, but are your metrics helping you? You should be actively watching KPI’s to ensure your link building is heading in the right direction. This begs two questions two questions: What KPI’s do I track and how do you record these metrics so that they are actionable?

The second question is pretty easy – you should be tracking your KPI’s in a dashboard. This is great because it allows you to see trending data for your important metrics that should be shaping your link building efforts. I have made a link building dashboard template that you can download here.

So what metrics should you be tracking? You should be watching KPI’s that indicate the results of your efforts so that you can reshape your link building efforts as needed. The following are the metrics that I track, as they impact how I focus my time:

Total Links

This is pretty straightforward – How many external links are pointing to your entire domain. If you want to create a competitive intelligence dashboard, you can also include your competitor’s links. I recommend using Google Webmaster tools data for this KPI – Don’t forget to subtract internal links as Google includes this number in WMT.

Number of Linking Domains

While it is good to know the number of links pointing to your site, the number of linking domains has a higher correlation with good rankings and is vital to track. This is really good to watch alongside your total links graph as it will help you understand if you are getting a lot of contextual links or if you are getting less valuable links, like sidebar links.

Number of Linking Domains Gained

How successful are your efforts? How many linking domains are you gaining each week? This is a good number to look at to judge the scalability of your efforts in order to help evaluate your effectiveness. If you are putting a lot of effort in but are only getting a few mediocre links, then you should probably look into a different tactic.

Number of Phrase Match Anchors

I like to know the number of links I am building with targeted anchors. I track how many links use phrases containing the anchors that I am targeting. While the raw number is helpful for seeing the effectiveness of your efforts, it is really important to look at this as a proportion of your links. You want to make sure you don’t have 50% of your links being targeted anchors as this is indicative of targeted link building efforts that could easily be detected by search engines.

Number of Branded Links

How many links contain your brand name? Create a percentage of the number of branded links compared to your entire backlink profile. You should know your competitive landscape and what the branded backlink portfolio of your competitors looks like.

Links to the Homepage

How many of your links are pointing to your homepage? You want to create a dashboard that will show you the ratio of links going to your homepage. Compare this ratio against that of your competitors and the top ranking sites. The purpose of this is to make sure that you are still building links in the appropriate ratio to corresponding pages so that your backlink profile doesn’t appear unnatural.

I created a template that you can download and put your own data in that you can download here.

While there are a huge number of other metrics you can track, and that you should probably look at, these are the KPIs I track consistently. As this is for a dashboard, you want to only include the vital metrics that give you a quick overview of the performance of your link building; you should be able to tell if something looks off and needs further investigation.

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

Creating a Link Building Dashboard


Looking to partake in the latest infographic craze? Look no further as you’ve come to the right place. In case you were counting on the rapture and were hiding under a rock for the past, oh two years or so, infographics are simply visual representations of information, data, or knowledge.

Infographics have turned into a widely popular and viral format of link bait because, since no one on the internet reads or has any sort of attention span, they are filled with pictures and easily digestible stats and bullet points.

Search marketers love infographics given their viral nature and inherent link bait abilities. And as social factors are beginning to play a larger role in terms of contributing to how content can rank organically, it has become increasingly important to develop types of content that will motivate readers to hit the Facebook “share” button and tweet out links to their friends.

Mint.com has been hugely successful with the use of infographics as a strategy to gain brand awareness, blog readership, inbound links and better rankings. Over the past couple years they’ve pumped out countless infographics which with the help of Digg.com, have earned them a killer backlink profile with links from the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN.com, Wired, Time, Lifehacker, Business Week, TechCrunch, CNET, Mashable, you name it. Additionally, they’ve been able to obtain top rankings for competitive keywords that have clearly been targeted for SEO purposes.

So how can you translate this into a successful strategy for your business? For starters, you should probably have a blog as this is a natural place for the infographic to live. Next, you need an idea – many, many infographics have already been done.

For example make sure you do a Google search for “green living infographics” before you spend a ton of time and energy to go about creating one just to find out your idea has already been done. There are a few approaches one can take in terms of concept development – either a timely piece based around breaking news (the recent floods, the Charlie Sheen debacle, etc) or a piece that isn’t tied to any current events and will have a longer lifespan. Both of these can be effective, the first will garner a lot of links and visibility upfront whereas the latter will have legs that will likely gain links over a longer period of time.

There are many resources to research different ideas, InformationIsBeautiful.net, Daily Infographic and The Good infographics for example.

Of course, remember to add the snippet of code to allow other bloggers to copy and paste the infographic on their site. Within the code, optimize the anchor text that links back to your post with the keyword you’ve targeted for SEO (see above example with Mint.com and the keyword “budget planner”).

With internal development resources and some upfront research to find what stats to include, these can easily be executed in house. Otherwise, development can easily be outsourced to a third party with relatively short turnaround times. Infographics are an unbelievably easy way to gain visibility and inbound links, so take advantage while they are still viral gold mines.

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

The Infographic Slam Dunk


I guess one may have a different definition of “SEO web hosting” than mine (most people refer to it when talking about different C-class IPs). The way I see it is that an SEO-friendly hosting is one that provides a reliable platform for your website. That’s it.

Again, this may sounds somewhat “cliche”, but your website hosting is actually the foundation of its success. Therefore choosing a reliable hosting provider is crucial – and with such a huge range of available services in that niche choosing the optimal (the most favorable in terms of price, the feature set and reliability) solution is so hard.

We have had quite a few very solid guides on choosing the best web hosting solution so far – this one is a good example: Finding Genuine Customer Reviews to Help in Your Web hosting Choice – this post lists some of the most important factors to consider when choosing a hosting provider:

  • Uptime;
  • Security;
  • Fast Customer Support;
  • Price.

While the above are very essential factors to consider, there are many other things you may want to keep in mind like, for example, various specifications (bandwidth and space).

One site that makes your job of comparing hosting plans and providers easier is Web Hosting Geeks which I already shared in the post on hosting reviews linked above. The site creates handy side by side comparison charts – and you know that I love charts (and often build them myself to compare various SEO and social media tools).

The site is broken into sections:

  • Web Hosting Reviews
  • Top 10 Web Hosting
  • Multiple Domain Hosting
  • Reseller Web Hosting
  • VPS Web Hosting
  • Dedicated Server Hosting
  • cPanel Web Hosting
  • Green Web Hosting

Each section features a handy chart that allows to quickly review and choose best hosting alternatives:

  • Hosting provider and rating;
  • Core specifications (Space, Bandwidth, Price)
  • Bonus features (like technical support, unlimited domains, instant set-up, etc).

Website Hosting

The main reason I love it is that the site is very clean and easy to navigate and use. It’s a great example of how loads of information can be packed in a usable format. Besides, on the plus side, the tool is absolutely free and requires no registration to access all the information.

Note: Disclaimer for SEJ tool reviews can be found here.

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

Select the Best Web Hosting Service with Webhosting Geeks


Apple will start its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) with several important software releases: iCloud, Apple’s upcoming cloud service, as well as the next iteration of its desktop and mobile platform, Mac OS X Lion and iOS 5.

Apple announced earlier that the focus of this year’s WWDC will be software, in particular iOS and Lion, and recent rumors claim that the next generation iPhone will not be announced at the event.

The really big announcement this year is iCloud, which is rumored to be Apple’s cloud service for music. In an announcement Tuesday morning, Apple confirmed that iCloud is coming as a “cloud services offering” but didn’t mention music or provide details. Recent reports said that Apple has signed a licensing deal with EMI and was close to signing similar deals with Sony and Universal, which would pave the way for iCloud. Apple’s music offering comes hot on the heals of announcements of similar services from Google and Amazon.

SEE ALSO: Steve Jobs To Participate in Keynote at WWDC

The WWDC starts Monday, June 6, at 10 a.m. in San Francisco. For more details, check out the conference’s official site, and don’t forget to check Mashable for coverage of the event.

More About: apple, icloud, iOS, lion, mac, mac os x, wwdc

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Over the next few weeks, you’ll see performance metrics for directions alongside those for clicks and phone calls. We’ll also begin to charge for clicks on directions in the same manner as clicks on your ad’s headline or phone number.

When it was announced in the early portions of 2011 that Eric Schmidt, long-time CEO and established C-level guru, was handing the control of Google back to original founder Larry Page, we knew that big changes were ahead. It was hard to say, however, whether Page’s leadership would mean more of the same or if Google may turn over a new leaf, for better or worse. Now it’s clear that Page is breaking from many of Schmidt’s examples; while Schmidt was the “adult supervision” and active mentor for Page, and continues to fill an advisory role, Page’s path has taken on a very different focus.

More specifically, Page is narrowing the efforts of the company. This began with the April management shuffle, wherein several VP positions were eliminated, several were created, and almost all the “key player” roles in the company changed. Several unexpected twists also took place, with Jonathan Rosenburg leaving the scene entirely (being unable to commit to a long-term role at Google) and Marissa Mayer being dropped from the leadership of the company; could it be her comments on Google’s failure at social upset someone?

But a management shuffle was only the beginning. Google has also dropped a number of projects, either halting development for, shutting down, or merging numerous key projects. This includes the Newspaper Archives project, the Android OS 3.x line for tablets, Google Hotpot, and many developer APIs (18 in total as of the May announcement). But what does this cleanse really mean?

For one, it means that Google is pooling its resources for more critical projects. Want a hot tip? The critical project in question is almost certainly social. Googlers have their bonuses tied to Google’s success in that arena, Google recently released two major social search elements (+1 and promoted results), and Google Circles (the rumored name of the social network) may still be on the horizon.

But what is Google sacrificing to narrow their efforts? Sure, the company is dropping a lot of dead weight, but they’re also dropping several profitable projects. As Google continues in its minimalist cleansing, it’s possible that they’ll lose some flexibility in innovation, one of the strengths that previously defined the company, and may upset developers in the process. Considering the importance of web and mobile app developers to core Google projects (especially Android, Chrome, and Chrome OS), Google must proceed with caution.

 

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

Google’s Re-Focus, Its Meaning, and Its Risks


A strange new report. Supposedly this site owner was penalized for having a poor newsletter open rate, as determined by gmail. After purging all the people on the list that hadn’t opened the emails in the last 90 days, he filed a reconsideration request, and the penalty was lifted.

Posted by randfish

Many of us trained in the ways of classical SEO are familiar with the link building process:

Step 1: Find relevant sites from which to get a link.

Step 2: Search for contact information (email or phone number).

Step 3: Get in touch and find a way to make the link happen (sell them on great content, do a trade in-kind, plant a seed and hope, etc.)

If you’ve ever done this (for the first 2 years of my SEO career, it’s practically all I did), you know how much it sucks. Conversion rates are low. Time/link is high. The ROI is there, but it’s a painful, boring, awkward slog.

I’ve got some good news. There’s a better way.

Try this instead:

Step 1: Find relevant human beings (bloggers, journalists, forum participants, members of online communities, active social networkers, people in media, PR, or simply the well-connected).

Step 2: Follow their contributions to the web world and engage (in blog comments, over Twitter, via LinkedIn, through Q+A sites and forums, or directly over email). Ask for nothing.

Step 3: Build something highly relevant and useful to them. If you’ve truly built that connection and gotten to "know them," even if it’s just virtually, you will know what they need/want/will appreciate.

Step 4: Let them know about it. This can be over Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, email, in a blog comment, or whatever medium makes sense.

There’s huge advantages to this method, including:

  • More Scalable Link Building: Content plays can approach dozens of folks who may influence, write for or control multiple properties leading to a much higher ROI for each successful contact.
  • People Like People: People who answer webmaster@somesite.com don’t particularly like link requests.
  • Authenticity: Rather than simply begging for a link to help your SEO, you’re actually forming connections that can help with every form of marketing – greater brand awareness, attention from influencers, social sharing, etc.
  • Future Proof: No matter what signals engines evolve to measure or what forms of discovery become popular, your work carries value. If Facebook sharing takes over the web, it’s not a problem because that’s how people will share your links. If some new platform wins, you can rest assured that your content will make its way there.
  • Better Web Content: Since you’re producing material that fill a need, you’re helping to make the web a better place – there’s nothing more deserving of a link or rankings than that.

Admittedly, the hardest part is Step 1: "Finding the Right People." Allow Google to assist:

Profile Search for Travel Bloggers

Pictured above is a Google "profile" search. You can search Google’s public user profiles with search query strings like this http://www.google.com/search?q=travel+blogger&tbs=prfl:e or by appending &tbs=prfl:e onto any search URL.

It’s also easy to use tools like FollowerWonk and LinkedIn Search to supplement these results. Armed with these tools and this process, I’m bullish that any SEO with the passion to invest time and the freedom to build quality resources can earn great links, mentions and social metrics from real people across the web.

Good luck out there link builders. I’ll have my fingers crossed that this process can reduce friction and pain for people on both sides of the link equation. If you’ve got any additional recommendations, tools or methods to share, feel free to do so in the comments!

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