Archive for the ‘Search Engine Optimization’ Category

Google Crawling HTML Forms IS Harmful to Your Rankings

June 3rd, 2008 tony 5 comments

A couple of months ago Google officially announced it would be “exploring some HTML forms to try to discover new web pages“. I imagine more than a few SEO’s were baffled by this decision as was I but were probably not too concerned about the decision as Google promised us all “this change doesn’t reduce PageRank for your other pages” and would only increase your exposure in the engines.

During the month of April I began to notice a lot of our internal search pages were not only indexed but outranking the relevant pages for a user’s query. For instance, if you Googled “SubConscious Subs” the first page to appear in the SERP’s would be something like:

rather than the page for the establishment:

This wasn’t just a random occurrence. It was happening a lot and in addition to the landing pages being far less relevant for the user, they weren’t optimized for the best placement in the search engines so they were appearing in position #20 instead of say position #6. These local search pages even had pagerank usually between 2 and 3.

Hmm, Just How Bad is This Problem

Eventually I began to realize how often I was running into this in Google, noticed my recent, slow, decline in traffic and it occurred to me this may be a real problem. I’ve never linked to any local search pages on and I couldn’t see that anyone else had either. I queried to find out how many search pages Google had indexed:

Google submits forms

Whoa. 5,000+ pages of junk in the index with pagerank. I slept on it for a night, got up the next morning and plugged in

Disallow: /ads/search?q=*

in robots.txt (and threw in a meta robots noindex on those pages for safe measure). Within a week we saw a big improvement in rankings due to properly optimized pages trumping crap and traffic is up 25% since the change and back to trending upwards weekly instead of stagnant, slow decline.

Get outta here!

Bit of Advice

The robots.txt disallow works but it is slow to remove the URL’s from Google’s index. I added the meta noindex tag to the search pages a week later and saw much faster results.

Categories: Google, Search Engine Optimization Tags:

Duplicate Content *Can* Penalize

February 4th, 2008 tony No comments

duplicate contentFor some time now I’ve been telling clients and friends that publishing duplicate content will not cause you to receive a penalty but that Google will only choose one version of a unique piece of content that it believes to be the authority and refuse to allow other copies to be indexed. So if you publish a copy of one of my blog posts, Google will likely allow my original copy to rank but yours won’t be found.

I think I’ve discovered that enough duplicate content can actually do harm to a domain.

I had an old site we’ll call I was publishing fresh, unique, well written content there several times a day. would always enjoy nice rankings for the content published there and new content was indexed quickly. I had always intended to eventually 301 redirect all of’s pages to which would be hosting identical content. Past experience tells me that the 301 will cause all of’s backlinks and authority to transfer over to and within days I’d see the new site perform nearly as well as the old site’s.

Now here is the mistake I made: some time ago I setup to mirror (for some offline promotional reasons). I had zero backlinks to but it was crawled and indexed anyway. Obviously it was 100% duplicate content and nothing but duplicate content. But I didn’t worry too much about it. The day came to 301 redirect and within days the traffic plummeted. Its been several weeks and no recovery has happened.

Categories: Google, Search Engine Optimization Tags:’s new tool is so good I kinda feel dirty :)

July 17th, 2007 tony 1 comment

I received a beta account to test’s competitive analysis tool dubbed “Search Analytics”. They should rename it to “Login to Your Competitor’s Web Stats” because the “Site Referrals” tool is exactly that.

For instance I have a site that competes with so I plugged it into the site referrals tool and it spits back a list of keywords sorted by click volume that for which receives organic traffic. Whoa! Thats kind of scary.

I’m off to London but will write more later on’s new tool that will leave you feeling dirty. :)

At London SES, Will Party with London SEO

February 14th, 2007 tony No comments

Last year I was unable to make it to the London SEO party but this year I’m there! If you are in London for SES don’t forget to round the corner of the ExCel conference center at 5PM and join us all for some free beer. I know that Cutts, Naylor, and Rand are coming.

Categories: Search Engine Optimization Tags:

Better Search Engine Friendly URL’s with Ruby on Rails

February 4th, 2007 tony 8 comments

In my last post about SEO and RoR I gave really BAD advice on how to accomplish clean URL’s that are search engine friendly. Our first RoR project consists of pages that are nearly 100% unspiderable by the search engine bots because its an app that requires login to do anything so I hadn’t really sat down and worked out the proper way to do URLs.

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