So it’s been months, almost a year, a lifetime in blogging and a lifetime in life. Back in the UK for unforeseen reasons for a month or so and working a LOT. Anyway, had to work through a series of 301 redirects a few days ago on a non-CMS driven site and pulled a few tricks which I thought I would share.
Setting the scene
Client has changed a sub-folder name and individual page names, which as a result meant all URLs had changed, which obviously meant any links pointing at these pages will now 404. If it were just the subfolder you could easily add a mass server side rule; but as usual it never works like that… I needed to add 301’s to the old pages via IIS7.5 & IT (nightmare) and importantly check the 301’s had been implemented correctly.
Really it’s only two tools you need, unless you decide to only 301 the files with external links pointing to them in which case you can run a backlink report using OSE or similar, these are:
SEO tools for Excel
1. Download pages prior to update
Use ScreamingFrog to extract the files relating to the subfolder you are editing. You can either run the entire site or simply extract that specific folder. Using ScreamingFrog means that you will have a comprehensive list of all pages within subfolder-X, meaning nothing slips through the cracks. It is important to rip the site prior to any changes being made. I have been witness to developers with quick hands that resulted in hours of trawling through the waybackwhen machine, GWT & historical server logs…
You will basically end up with a CSV file which if sorted by address (I find it easier) will list all the pages you need to monitor.
2. Add the new file location
For this project the 301s were added by the in-house IT crowd, which meant that I had to provide a list of current and new URLs. Having mapped out the on-page updates this was just a case of adding a column to the above spreadsheet with the new URLs.
3. Wait for IT to make the updates
I put the kettle on at this point.
4. Check the 301s were implemented correctly
Now I know you can run header checkers and trawl through GWT but for being able to instantly check any number page’s server status; SEOTools for Excel really is AMAZING. If you don’t currently have SEOTools installed then I really cannot stress how quickly you should install it.
NB: Remember to actually extract the installer etc from the .zip prior to running/installing or like me you won’t get very far.
SEOTools for Excel has been around for a while now but essentially is a large suite of invaluable SEO tools accessed via your Excel ad-ins panel:
Insert a column (I named it ‘status’) next to the URLs you want to check (obviously you can use any column but I like them being next to each other).
Open the ‘Onpage’ tab of SEOTools for Excel and select ‘HttpStatus’, ensuring that you have the cell into which you want the server response to be added selected:
Select the cell with the URL which you want to test the server status of and hit OK/return/88mph:
The formula should return you a server response code:
You can then copy the formatting down through the rest of the URLs you want to check which will highlight how well or badly IT have added the redirects and dictate how urgently you need to make the necessary phone calls/emails:
I know it’s not cutting edge and you could use Screaming Frog for it all if you need but in my opinion the combination with SEOTools for Excel made the process much more immediate, visual and ultimately successful.
So this is maybe four months later than I had promised myself I would post it; but an SEO campaign I have been working on for the last two years won the ‘Best SEO Campaign’ at the 2011 UK Search awards!
I hate to blow my own trumpet but recognition from peers is something really special. So so proud of the team at Verve Search with whome I continue to work and love. The awards came of the back of a full service search campaign which included:
- Site audit and technical SEO overhaul
- PPC campaign overhaul and management
- Full on-page optimisation
- Google Products feed creation, management and optimisation
- Extensive and on-going link building campaign
More than happy to discuss client, strategy and applications with anyone who wants to know. Just contact me via any one of the routes listed in the site footer.
I know for a lot of you will be reading this thinking “sooo 2009″ and you would be right, impression share data has been available for a long time. However, for those of you reading this that aren’t familiar with ‘impression share’ within Adwords you might walk away from here with a few new analytical angles of attack under your belt.
Let me set the scene. For most Adwords advertisers the thought of your ad showing for 100% of searches makes credit cards hide in dark places and the accounts team take a long lunch. For most of us it is just too expensive, but impression share information will allow you to know for what percentage of searches your ads were served.
Reasons this knowledge is awesome
Firstly this info allows you to know exactly how much room you have for increases in spending. If you have strict ad scheduling you can easily determine via CTR and hopefully some sort of ecommerce/defined goal tracking a definitive ROI. If you flip this PPC train into reverse; impression share information could also encourage you to create a new campaign or ad group. As if your current campaign is running at say 97% impression share, there is very little point in throwing more cash at it (unless your goal is world domination) – in which case you should do some maths to work out what you need to make up the 3%…
Secondly, impression share data can give you accurate search volume figures! In a world where an accurate search volume is as seemingly hard to find as water on Cybertron; using impression figures combined with impression share will provide you with as accurate number as you will get outside of Google HQ.
Limitations of impression share
Right now I can hear hundreds (or probably 5 taking an average of analytics figures…) of you running off to your PPC accounts and trying to set impression share on every keyword across every ad group you can. The problem is unfortunately you can’t. Impression share is only available at a campaign level, meaning you will have to be creative with your application. How do I get individual keyword volume data then? The answer comes in two parts:
1. Use the Adwords keyword tool volumes compared to your impression numbers.
2. Create a new campaign specifically for each keyword/ad group
Neither of these options are ideal or IMHO relating to option 1. accurate , but they like all tips and ideas give you another method with which to attack your data.
How to track impression share data
Head to the campaigns tab >> once selected click on the columns button >> then click on the ‘customize columns’ button >> check the ‘impression share’ box within the ‘competitive metrics’ column >> hit ‘save’. You are now ready to spend a lot of time looking at impression figures and concocting world dominating PPC schemes.
Sorry that this blog post isn’t anything more than a massive exhalation after the last couple of mad months. London is calling from a faraway place as I am now fully settled in Houston Texas, whilst a collection of increasingly random belongings float their way across the Atlantic… Once they arrive we can get our excited behinds over to Austin. I honestly can’t wait.
All I can say about my freelance work is that it has taken off, then more freelance creatures have joined it and they have taken off as well. If I didn’t randomly bump into family members and occasionally leave the house for food I could be still in London. No complaints, I am LOVING the clients and the work.
Well. I made it through visas, renting out flats, transporting belongings and starting a business. Not too bad I recon.
So I have been putting off writing this post due partly to excitement and equally due to nervousness. As of June 2012 my wife and I will be setting up residence in the state capital of Texas, Austin. Over the past few years Landyn and I have been to Austin a number of times, they still stick in my mind as some of the best trips we have made together. From my first introduction to “Texas” country music to the dramatic hill country scenery; Austin has always impressed.
Leaving the UK was always going to be hard, but having made the US > UK trip countless times + having a lot of technology; the distance begins to disappear. I guess the main thing for me is the knowledge that friends and family are eager to come visit (nothing to do with free accommodation and the countless festivals they have researched) right from the get go. How long that enthusiasm lasts I guess we will have to see… Fingers crossed.
I will therefor be entering the job market at the end of the month, which is a pretty exciting prospect. I have a head brimming with SEO knowledge and cannot wait to fully submerge myself into the Austin search scene. I will therefor be open to job opportunities in and around the Austin area, so if anyone knows of anything please just get in touch.
Very exciting times indeed.