Thursday, August 28, 2014

Significance of Using the URL Parameters Tool in Google Webmasters Tools

As Google evolves it provides a number of features that can restrict or permit the crawling of the bots on a website. We have already seen the use of the robots.txt file in a separate hub which is used to meet this end. We are also aware of the ‘noindex’ meta-robots HTML tag which is placed at the page level in order to prevent crawling of bots at page level. We are also aware of the rel= “canonical” attribute which redirects the bots to another intended page and, thereby, prevents indexing of that page. All these measures are used in different circumstances and for meeting different ends. However, all of these actions can be taken only when you have the access to the website FTP and the URLs are not having too many parameters and the website is easy to manage. 
Besides these commonly used measures, Google has also provided an additional tool in its webmasters tools which can be effectively used for handling the pages having URL parameters. You can find it under the Crawl section, as can be seen here:
You shall be careful while using this tool because it restricts crawling totally or partly for parameters which are added. Using this tool does not redirect bots. The most important benefit of using this tool is that it allows you to handle multiple parameters in a site even when you do not have the access to FTP. 

When the Content is Same on Pages having same URL Parameter

When you begin to add the parameter, it would ask you whether the pages containing this parameter have same content or different. If there is same content, you just have to select NO and save because the parameters on these pages are essentially used for tracking visits or referrals. If you would restrict the access of bots to these, it would jeopardize tracking which is crucial for management information systems. 

When Content is Different on Pages having same URL Parameter

However, there are other types of pages having a single URL parameter where the content is not same on every page.  In this scenario, four options are available to the webmasters through URL Parameters tool. These are:
1.       Let Google Bot Decide
2.       Every URL
3.       Only URLS with value=x
4.       No URLs
‘Let Google Bot Decide’ is selected when you are not very sure about how to handle the pages with URL parameters. In this scenario, Google decides the behavior of parameters.

‘Every URL’ shall be selected to make the bots understand that every URL having a particular parameter is unique. When you make the bots consider these pages as unique, you must ensure that the content on these pages is not same because, if the content on pages is same and bots treat page URLs as unique, then there is a case of duplicate content. This might adversely impact your rankings.  This command is not meant to permit or restrict the crawling of bots but only to tell bots that the URLs are unique.

‘Only URLs with value=x’ allows Google bots to crawl only those pages where the value of ‘x’ matches the one which is entered by the administrator. This command has been developed for a typical situation where the content on the site is same but the parameter is used to sort the order of displayed content. You might want Google bots to crawl only one sorted order of the page rather than the other.  

When a parameter is entered against ‘No URLs’ category, it is a clear indication to the Google bots that all URLs containing this parameter shall not be crawled. This shall be used carefully. Most essentially, it is used in cases of long tail URLs having multiple parameters when there is a need to restrict crawling up to the last one or two parameters only. 

Cases of Multiple URL Parameters

There are instances when a URL might be having more than one parameter, often 3 or more. In these cases, you might have already used this tool on one or the other of parameters appearing in the URLs. In this scenario, in case of pages having multiple of these parameters, the most restrictive blocking will take precedence over the less restrictive ones.
I will use the same example as given in Google but make it easier for you to understand this function.
Suppose, there are 3 parameters and against each of these there is a separate command used, such as:
  • shopping-category (Every URL)
  • sort-by (Only URLs with value = production-year)
  • sort-order (Only URLs with value = asc)
Now, there are two URLs:
On the basis of the above three commands, the bots will crawl the first option and not the second one because the second command makes it clear to bots to crawl only that URL which has ‘sort-by=production-year’ and not by size. 

The web development companies shall ideally use different names of URL parameters while developing the complex websites since there might be a need to control the crawling behavior of Google bots using this tool.

Monday, August 25, 2014

SEO Copywriting- Tips For Developing YouTube Videos From Photos

YouTube is one of the top web resources for branding purposes. It is one medium which is visited by millions of people every day for watching the visual content. If you are able to create a visually appealing content and optimize it suitably, you are likely to gain a good amount of traffic from this top resource. So, how do you go about using YouTube for SEO copywriting without diluting the branding objectives?

YouTube takes content by way of the photo albums, real videos and even a mix of both. You can directly upload a real life video that you have shot (after duly editing it) or can opt for creating a photo-based video. Main points to be noted in this respect are:

1. Photos shall be top-quality with high resolution.

2. These shall be organized sequentially in a well-thought out manner. If needed, you can even create suitable graphic images of your own to fill the gaps in content organization.
This is a crucial step in the process of video creation and, therefore, time shall be devoted to development and arrangement of content.
This step can also be used to bind the visitors to video with skillful maneuvering on what is to be shown and when.

3. Time duration of a frame being displayed and the time gap between the frames are the other two important factors which affect user experience. Appropriate time shall be given to the visitors for mental assimilation of what they are seeing. However, too much time between the frames might leave visitors waiting and they might drop out in between. You can seek opinion of people around you on whether it is too fast or too slow or proceeding at just the right pace.

4. Transition Effect: This is another feature of YouTube videos which provide you the option of choosing the way of transitioning between the two frames. This factor also has impact on user experience. You can apply different transitions between two different frames or a single one uniformly across the video. This difference has been noted in the two videos embedded below. ‘Leh Ladakh Tour’ video uses fading transitioning effect throughout.

5. Captions and Annotations: Captions tell you about the frame and the annotations tell you more that frame. Captions can be placed at predefined places- either at top, middle or bottom of the photo. The font and its size can also be controlled. Annotations, on the other hand, can be positioned at the user-desired location on the frame. You can also place links to the outsides resources within the annotations but these are nofollow in nature. These are used to send the visitors to some other location. Example of annotations is given in the ‘Leh Ladakh Tour’ video below.

6. Video Title and Description: It is better to do proper keyword research through Google Adwords and also at the Google Trends (where you can know which terms are searched popularly in YouTube and even make comparisons). These are then used to optimize the title and the description of the video. Please note that you are also allowed to place the first word as a link in the description. This can be noted in the ‘Leh Ladakh Tour’ video below.

7. Background music or voice-over: You can lend your own voice to the video, describing the story frame-by-frame. You can also opt for the already provided background music in YouTube. When lending your own voice, you have to make sure that frame display time coincides with what you are discussing or describing about it and does not overlap with the next frame.

Example: The Leh Ladakh Tour Video

Friday, August 22, 2014

Managing the Social Media Works For Online Marketing

1.       Define the purpose you want to achieve. Ask yourself what do you want to achieve from social media. Do you want to have valuable inputs? Do you want to generate traffic only? Do want to actually have business leads from these resources? Or, it is simply that you want more visibility? Most of the time social media is used for brand building. It provides exposure to your brand. However, companies also use it for generating more sales either directly through these media or by way of generating referral traffic to their own sites.

2.       Define the right web-resources for attaining that purpose. You will have to list down or find all those resources where you want to develop the brand. This is guided by the fact whether your brand is local or global in nature, how many visitors come to it, what type of content it permits (image, videos, tweets, discussions, networking, etc.) and whether that would able to meet your objectives of web marketing.

3.       Ready your creative team for developing different types of content. Once you know what all platforms you would be using for social media marketing, the next step is to select a suitable team. You would need really good copywriters, designers, writers and people experienced in using these resources to maximum advantage.

4.       Segregate the selected web-resources based on content formats to be used and align the creative teams for this purpose. YouTube and Vimeo is for videos, Tumblr, Pinterest and Flickr are mostly for images, graphics and photos, Twitter and Plurk are for tweeting, Facebook, Google Plus and other networking resources can share information in various formats. Similarly, other web resources use specific formats of content. Your social media marketing (SMM) company shall be align these resources as per the content format to use these effectively.

5.       Develop a comprehensive and integrated social media marketing strategy. This would chiefly take care of what types of promotions are to be done on these resources, how frequently and how would these be related to one another in terms of content and timing of dispatch.   

Generally, the interactions on social media are by way of:
a.       Questions and answers
b.      Interesting anecdotes
c.       Polls and surveys
d.      Quotable Quotes
e.      Content sharing (graphics, photos, videos, etc)
f.        Participation in discussions
g.       Reviewing
h.      Announcements (offers, news, etc)

6.       Tracking and data compilation. Social media efforts would be wasted if the data from these resources is not used fruitfully. Data on usage and visitors has to be compiled in a comprehensive manner for analysis and impact assessment. You might not be able to see much sense in doing this activity at first, but slowly, as numbers grow, more meaningful data can be derived. This analysis will show what type of marketing effort is bearing better results and will provide valuable information for use in future.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Reducing HTTP Requests To Reduce Page Load Time

What would you do with a website which is taking ages to open? Most probably, you will skip it provided it does not contain unique and exceptional content. Page load time is a critical element which defines user experience. Quite naturally, therefore, there is a direct relation of page load time with rankings in SEO since Google considers all those factors important for ranking which have relation with user experience.  One of these elements which impacts page loading time is that of the HTTP requests which are made between the elements of a webpage and the server. Whenever a page loads, each element of the page is fetched from the server by making request. So, more are these elements, more are such requests and hence, more time it takes for page to load.
How to reduce the HTTP requests?
There are basically three elements: images, scripts and CSS which need to be taken care of while developing the site, if the objective is to reduce the HTTP requests.

Images: while reducing the size of images is definitely a viable option, that might still not be sufficient where are many images on the site. So, the best way to deal with these is to make use of CSS Sprites. Using this method, you would be able to make a collage of all the small icons and background images so that there is only one image in the end for which the requests would be send to the server.

How these sprites are created is mentioned in this article:

However, there are some issues associated with the use of CSS Sprites which shall be considered duly. These are not hindering factors. This article brings out these issues in greater detail and explains ways of tackling common problems associated with it:

How would you locate it? I have taken example of India’s leading online travel agency, Yatra, to demonstrate this here. Simply open Mozilla Firefox and open the website Right click on the page and then click View Page Info. On the dialogue box which appears, go to Media. It will show paths of different images. If you click on these, the respective images will appear in the box below. When you see the following three images, these are Sprite images.


CSS and JavaScript files: With respect to the CSS and JavaScript files, two points are important to note. First is that all the script which is present in the header section and is blocking the page load time, shall be removed from there and placed in the body part. This becomes important because browser will not start to render the page till the time it has loaded the page and if there is some script which is hindering this process due to its being in the header section, then it needs to be removed.

The second important aspect is that of reducing number of CSS and JavaScript files. This can be done by using the ‘Minify’ function of the W3 Total Cache which removes the unnecessary comments and also combines the files.

Using the CDN: CDN refers to a content delivery network, which is nothing but a group of servers around the world that has the benefit of being closest to the website of your visitor. (Check out the wikipedia on CDN for more information).