Today, we’re going to cover the five reasons your marketing sucks and how to fix it. The first mistake most companies make is they are not doing anything. This is not the past where advertising and marketing was unknown, it was extremely difficult, you couldn’t do anything on your own, and nobody really knew what was going on. Marketing in this day and age is extremely easy, especially when you look at campaigns and social and all this organic stuff you can do. You don’t have to have an agency per se. You could do it internally yourselves, even if you have somebody that knows graphic design.
There’s a lot of things that you can do, but the mistake that companies make is they’re just like throwing their hands up, saying, “I’m not going to do any marketing. It’s too fluffy.” We did a video on sales versus marketing. Sales people typically look at it and say, “That’s a waste of money to put into marketing,” but the companies that aren’t doing anything, if you haven’t tried or if you tried in the past, and you said, “I’m going to try this.
I’m going to do this advertising,” or, “I’m going to do this campaign,” and it didn’t work, then you just pull out and say, “All right. This isn’t a good fit for our business.”
You can’t just sit there and not do anything. You have to put some sort of effort forth. Obviously, you have to have a strategy. Number one, you have to be doing some sort of marketing. If you’re doing nothing, then you’re not going to be building that brand awareness, and you’re relying solely on either your historic brand awareness that you had or you’re a newer company or don’t have that brand awareness, you’re solely relying on the sales people to push your brand out there, which that’s an extremely ineffective tactic because you’re working with a group of people whereas, from a marketing standpoint, you can put automation in place and a lot of programs and distribution channels and things like that take over.
Obviously, if you’re not doing anything, then that’s a pretty big mistake.
Do something. Look into the strategy. Look at other videos we’ve produced with where to start, but you have to do something. The second mistake companies make is their budget is too small. Most of the time, when people set budgets, they are unrealistic. Usually the reason why they’re unrealistic is because they just don’t know what the cost is. Since you don’t know what the cost is, maybe you’ve gone out and gotten quotes and things like that from companies and said, “Hey, this is roughly what it’s going to cost, in this range.” You’ve set your budget and say, “All right.
Next year, this is what I want to spend on advertising, on marketing, on brand awareness, on digital, and all that stuff.” Most of the time, that budget isn’t accurate unless you choose one of those companies that you quoted with that say, “Based on where you’re at and where you want to go, this is what you need to happen,” and they build out that marketing strategy. They say, “Boom, here’s the cost for that.” If you set your budget to that, you’re okay, but most of the time, people don’t do that. Budgeting is an afterthought from a marketing standpoint. They just haven’t allocated enough financial resources to be able to accomplish what they think they should do.
From a general budgeting standpoint, you can say, “I only want to spend 20 grand this year on marketing,” and you can only spend 20 grand, but your expectations of what that 20 grand is going to produce better be in alignment with what that value is and what you can actually do with that amount of money. We did a whole video on budgeting and the issues with budgeting. We’ll link it up here.
That dives deep into the issues around and how people think you can get more, their expectations are too high for what they’re trying to spend, and your budget is busted from the get-go or you say, “I have no budget.” From a general standpoint, you should budget something.
If you’re a larger corporation, I’m not going to throw a percentage out there like some people do and say it should be 1% of net revenue, 1.5% or .5% of your total revenue. You need to budget something, but make it realistic to what you are actually going to do in that next year. Calendar Q4, Q3 or Q4 of that year, start planning for the next year. Engage with agencies. Engage with whatever it is that you need to do. If you’re doing a new website, if you want an agency to come on like ours and do all of your digital marketing for you, engage them upfront before you set your budget, before you go to your bosses and say, “This is how much I want to spend next year.” Get those numbers.
Get them to be accurate and plan out that strategy because if you go into it and you say either, one, have no budget, or, “Here’s the little bit that I can do,” sometimes it’s not even worth it to do that little bit unless you’re going to do the full suite of things. Not having a budget, that is a huge mistake that people make.
The third mistake companies make are they are focused in the wrong areas. Where are you focusing your marketing? Where is the attention of whoever you’re trying to get as a customer or get into your brand awareness and learn about what you’re doing, your product, your service? Where is that attention? Most companies are usually focusing on the wrong areas.
Some of that depends on their department and who’s leading that department and what experience they have, the agency, if they’re using the agency. What is their expertise? What are they good at? If you’re focusing on the wrong areas, it doesn’t matter how much money you throw at it, you’re not going to get the return that you’re looking for.
From a traditional standpoint, people are focusing on things like trade shows and print and brochures and ads in magazines and things like that. That may work to a certain percentage, but for the most part, you can get way more of a return on your investment and bang for your buck if you go onto the digital side because that’s where all the traction and attention is moving, is people are less focused on the traditional ways and more available to get their attention when it comes to a digital standpoint.
If you’re focused in the wrong areas, you can throw all your money at it, it’s not going to do anything. Switching it over to a digital standpoint and focusing on things like organic SEO, organic social media, paid social media, PPC campaigns, whether it’s with Google or YouTube pre roll or whatever it is, looking at it from a digital standpoint, to be able to track that activity back to wherever you want it to go, typically, your website, landing page, whatever it is, track the engagement, look at the timeline sight, re-target those people, do all those things that we talk about in our videos.
If you’re focusing on the wrong areas, then you’re never going to get there. You’re just going to be throwing dollars at the wall, and you may as well just be burning them. Usually a company’s older generations are used to doing it a certain way or somebody that has experience in doing heavy into print, and if they’re in charge of your marketing, they’re going to want to go the print way. If you bring in somebody that’s doing things differently, it may stir up that bee’s nest a little bit too much, and people get uncomfortable.
They say, “You know what? I don’t want to do this because I don’t know anything about that, so I’m just going to stick down this path of what I do know. It’s working okay. It’s not as effective as it used to be.” You have to change that mindset. It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight unless you make major employee changes, cut the people out that aren’t pushing things forward, bringing either new people or bringing in an agency that’s going to take you from the traditional, let’s say the stone age era of just doing print and focusing more on digital standpoint. They’re going to bring that newer age and new technology and capabilities into your company and say, “This is how we’re going to focus on this growth.” Stop looking at the traditional way.
Start focusing on the ways that are working and wherever the attention of your target demographic is, that’s where you want to be pushing your marketing out from.
The fourth mistake companies make is there is no distribution. All right. You’ve made this content, whether it’s an article, video. You’ve got branded graphics. You’ve got print collateral, whatever it is that you have. You have some piece of marketing material now, but you’re not distributing it. Does not matter if you say, “I’m going to put this on my website. I’m going to put it onto the homepage of my website.” You’re only going to get eyes on that traffic of anybody that goes to it, and then you’re kind of flipping the coin to say whether or not they’re going to click it or read it.
If you have a newsletter list, and let’s say you send it out to that, that’s just one aspect of distribution.
Companies are making the mistake of creating content, and every company that I talk to, when we look at it from them bringing us in as an agency to assist them with their digital, they talk about, “All right. We just want you to make content for us.” I say, “Who’s going to distribute it? Because if we can make content for you, and you put it up on your website, you’re only getting a small percentage of traffic that’s going to actually look at it. You have to have some distribution method.” Look at things like email marketing, although it’s not as effective as it used to be. It is still an effective, to a certain extent, play. Look at social organic, social advertising, doing things for SEO to drive new traffic in, doing PPC campaigns around whatever marketing piece you’re doing, but you have to have a distribution of that content thought about first before you create it because your creative is going to be affected based on how you want this to be distributed.
Things that you push out on social, you’re going to have different creative than things you’re going to put on your site than things that you’re going to do through email marketing.
Everything has to match the distribution source. You could get away with creating one piece of content and distributing it through two of the four channels, but most likely the piece of content you’re going to create, the piece of marketing collateral you’re going to create, you can not just say, “Here it is.
Send it out through everything,” because it’s going to be less effective. If you don’t have a distribution source, it’s not a waste of time because you’re at least creating content, but it’s going to be way less effective if you just say, “I got it. Throw it up on this one location. We’ll just wait for people to come and see it.” You have to go on an ongoing standpoint and push that out hard to bring new people into the funnel. The fifth mistake companies make is there’s no consistency. All right. Everybody talks about creating content.
We talk about it a ton. We just talked about content creation, how to do it, what you should be doing, how to distribute it. We just covered that in the last point, but it all comes down to consistency. Consistency is everything.
If you look at every single algorithm out there, Google, YouTube, social, they’re always looking for people that are consistently posting things because they know that there’s going to be a higher likelihood of engagement. You have to be consistent. You can start small and say, “I’m going to do one piece of content a week,” or, “I’m going to do one piece of content a month,” or you’re going to do it quarterly.
Just start doing something consistently and then ramp it up from there because as soon as you start showing consistency, you’re going to get that dopamine drip of people liking and engaging, and you’re going to say, “I want to create more and more and more.” That will give you the motivation to put the financial resources or personnel resources behind it and the time allocated to do it on a daily, weekly basis or multiple times a week. Without that consistency, if you’re just doing it sporadically, you’re not going to have enough people that are waiting for that piece of content.
If you’re producing a weekly or a monthly piece of content, eventually, people, after they’ve seen it over an extended period of time, maybe it takes six months or a year, they’re going to be like, “I’m waiting for my monthly newsletter from ABC company.” They’re going to be expecting it, and they’re going to be wanting it. Then, when you don’t give it to them, there are some people, if they follow very closely, will reach out and be like, “Hey, where’s your content?” If you’re doing it daily, it’s going to be even more so. You’re going to speed that up even further to where it’s maybe in the first 30 days, by the end of that 30 days, you’ve got people that are expecting you to post a video or an article. Once they expect it, it’s going to be a lot more engagement and bringing them into your brand awareness funnel and really looking at the rest of the things that you do as a company. You have to show consistency.
Do not do this sporadically. Don’t just create something and then forget about it. Don’t go crazy and do three months of creating it and then fall off the face of the earth. Whenever you do that, you’re basically starting over from scratch.
It’s just like sales. When you’re pushing hard to fill up your sales funnel, and you’re like, “I’m good. I’m not going to pull anybody else into this sales funnel. I’m going to work these deals I’ve got,” as soon as those deals dry up and you say, “Oh, shit. I don’t have any more deals. I need to go get some,” it’s not like you can just go get some and bring them right in, typically. It’s going to take a little bit of time to get that funnel pumping again, a couple months, maybe six months, and then you get things flowing. Then, you’re going to stop again. Same thing with content and the same thing with marketing. You have to be consistent. You have to keep pushing along.
Like I said, start small, get more repetitive from there, and shorten the timeframe in between marketing pieces, but you have to be consistent. Those are the five reasons why your marketing isn’t working and how to fix them.
1. Yоu nееd tо аlwауѕ kеер thеm іn уоur purse, pocket, wallet оr briefcase оr аt thе reception area оf уоur office. It іѕ important thаt уоu hаvе thеm оn hand ѕо thаt whеn уоu nееd thеm уоu саn easily tаkе hold оf іt аnd introduce уоurѕеlf tо а customer.
2. Yоu саn аlwауѕ place thе cards іn libraries, supermarkets, local restaurants оr bulletin boards. Whеnеvеr thеrе іѕ аn opportunity fоr уоu tо post оr leave уоur card in, gо ahead. Sоmеbоdу important mіght ѕее іt аnd contact you.
3. Include уоur business card іn аll уоur correspondence. If уоu ship products уоu саn include а card іn еvеrу package. Yоu саn аlѕо include уоur contact information іn уоur email signature. It serves аѕ аn electronic business card.
4. Kеер уоu cards іn а nice holder ѕо thеу won t gеt bent оr wet. Storing уоur cards іn а stylish case creates а bеttеr presentation. If уоu аrе аlѕо receiving ѕоmеоnе еlѕе ѕ card treat thеm well. Yоu won t impress thе person bу mishandling thеіr business card.
5. Give people а reason tо hold уоur card. Yоu саn print ѕоmеthіng unique аnd dіffеrеnt аt thе bасk ѕuсh аѕ а calendar, list оf important events оr аnуthіng relevant tо уоur business.
6. Uѕе thе business card tо introduce yourself. However, don t bе tоо pushy. Mаkе ѕurе thаt thе time іѕ аррrорrіаtе whеn уоu hand them. Yоu саn аѕk fіrѕt fоr thе оthеr person ѕ card. Thіѕ wау thеу wіll аlѕо аѕk уоu fоr уоur card іn return.
Business cards саn dо mоrе thаn јuѕt provide уоur contact information. Yоu саn uѕе thеm аѕ marketing materials tо hеlр уоu bring іn mоrе business. So, don t јuѕt leave thеm tо sit іn а box collecting dust. Thеу аrе inexpensive еnоugh tо print bу thе thousands, ѕо hand thеm оut ѕо thеу саn serve thеіr purpose.
But уоur thіrd product, thе mini-mouse, wаѕ pure magic! Yоur cat consumer tооk оnе look, ѕоmеthіng іn hіѕ brain clicked, аnd а sale wаѕ made. It wаѕ аѕ іf уоur product wаѕ а key thаt unlocked thе part оf thе customer’s brain thаt triggered thе buying impulse. Jackpot!
That’s whаt mу cat taught mе аbоut niche marketing. Yоu muѕt find а product thаt ѕоmеbоdу desperately wаntѕ (preferably а large group оf somebodies). Thаt product muѕt bе еxасtlу whаt thеу wеrе lооkіng for, еvеn іf thеу didn’t knоw thеу wanted it! It muѕt bе ѕо tantalizing thаt уоur customer іѕ mоrе concerned аbоut playing wіth hіѕ nеw toy thаn hе оr ѕhе іѕ аbоut paying fоr it.
Yоu see, I mаdе а classic info-product mistake wіth mу cat. I gave hіm whаt I thought hе wоuld like. I wasted money promoting large stuffed rodents аnd heaps оf оthеr toys tо him. Whаt I didn’t dо іѕ аѕk hіm whаt hе needed аnd give hіm that!
If уоu hаvе а rеаllу good product thаt people can’t find аnуwhеrе еlѕе уоu ѕhоuld hаvе nо problem. People wіll love tо recommend thе product tо thеіr friends. Thіѕ works bеѕt іf thе product іѕ unique аnd valuable. If уоu hаvе created а product thаt уоu intend tо sell уоu mіght wаnt tо соnѕіdеr giving іt аwау fоr free instead. It wіll thеn bе а trulу unique аnd valuable product thаt hаѕ thе potential tо bесоmе а powerful viral marketing machine thаt wіll generate а lot оf traffic tо уоur site.
Tо install а tеll а friend script оn а web page іѕ vеrу easy. Yоu јuѕt copy аnd paste а bit оf code аnd уоu аrе done. Tо find а script јuѕt gо tо Google аnd search fоr “tell а friend script” аnd уоu wіll find а lot оf free scripts. Sоmе mоrе advanced scripts саn give уоu statistics аbоut hоw mаnу оf thе people whо receive а message frоm уоur script thаt асtuаllу visits уоur site. Sо bеfоrе уоu chose а script it’s а good idea tо compare а couple оf dіffеrеnt оnеѕ аnd check whісh features thеу have.
Sо lеt уоur visitors dо thе work fоr уоu аnd lеt thеm spread thе word аbоut уоur site. Uѕе thе power оf viral marketing!
In the client-server architecture of the World Wide Web, the interaction between browsers and websites is handled through the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP). This protocol was introduced in 1991 and is an official web standard. Almost all traffic on the web is handled through HTTP.
When search engine spiders like Googlebot crawl a website, they behave like browsers requesting web pages from a site and rely on HTTP for this exchange. This is why it’s important for search engine optimization specialists (SEOs) to understand how the HTTP protocol works and the impact it has on search engines’ crawling and indexing of web pages. In this column, I’ll explain everything you need to know.
But first, let me tell you about the tools you’ll need to perform the necessary tests on your site. Google Chrome DevTools allows you to view a uniform resource locator (URL) full HTTP response, but it can be cumbersome to view. I prefer using the Ayima Page Insights and Ayima Redirect Path Chrome plugins to show me a URL’s full HTTP response.
Using the Ayima Page Insights plugin in Chrome, this is what an HTTP response looks like:
Another tool that does the same job is Live HTTP Headers for Chrome.
HTTP status codes
Let’s talk about HTTP status codes.
When a web page is requested from a website, the website’s server responds with an HTTP status code. This code is an acknowledgment of the client’s request and indicates the type of response the server is sending to the client.
There are hundreds of different HTTP status codes that a web server can respond with and you could encounter in your day-to-day search engine optimization (SEO) work. It will help you to familiarize yourself with most of them so you know how to work with them. Here is a list of the more common HTTP status codes:
300 Multiple choices.
301 Moved permanently.
302 Moved temporarily.
304 Not modified.
307 Temporary redirect.
400 Bad request.
404 Not found.
429 Too many requests.
500 Internal server error.
501 Not implemented.
503 Service unavailable.
550 Permission denied.
Seach engine optimization specialists need to know these status codes intimately and understand the purpose that each response code serves. Moreover, SEOs should understand how search engines like Google handle these status codes. Let’s look at some of the more common ones.
Let’s start with the obvious one. A 200 response from a web server means the request was successful, that the web page that was requested exists and the web server will start sending that page and its associated resources (images, CSS & JS files and so on) to the client.
This response code is very simple. Often, additional headers are sent along with the response code that can impact how search engines handle the URL. We’ll look these in the HTTP Headers section below.
301 moved permanently
The 301 HTTP status code is one of the SEO industry’s favorites because it lets browsers — and search engines — know a web page has been replaced by another page and the change is a permanent one. For search engines, this is a signal they need to update their indexes and associate the old URL’s link metrics with the new URL.
The amount of link value from the original URL that is associated with the new URL through a 301-redirect is a matter of speculation, and Google has given contradictory statements about this.
I believe a 301 redirect has the same PageRank damping factor applied as a link — so when page A redirects to page B, it has the same effect as page A linking to page B.
Overall, 301 redirects are a crucial tool in the SEO arsenal and have a wide range of useful applications that can help a website preserve its rankings or even improve them.
302 moved temporarily
The other type of redirect is the 302 HTTP status code, which indicates a page has been temporarily replaced by another URL.
In the short term, this means search engines will keep the original URL in their index, while users are sent to the redirect’s target URL. In the long term, however, Google interprets a 302 redirect as a permanent 301 redirect and will start to handle it accordingly.
Many sites use 302 redirects for automatic geographic redirects, to send users to the correct country/language version of their content. While this may seem fine in theory, it’s generally not recommended to use redirects for this, as it can mean search engines like Google only see one country’s version of the site’s content.
Google crawls primarily from US-based IP addresses, so an automatic 302 redirect for all US traffic means Google would only see a site’s American content. Other country and language versions would be effectively invisible to Google unless you find ways to make exceptions for Googlebot.
304 not modified
The 304 HTTP status code is not used as often as it should. What this code does is inform browsers and search engine crawlers that the resource has not changed since the last visit. This means the resource doesn’t have to be re-sent across the internet, and the client can just rely on the version of the resource that’s been cached.
For large websites, judicious application of 304 status codes can help save a lot of server resources. If you serve 304 resources to Googlebot when a page hasn’t been updated since the last crawl, the page (and all of its associated resources) doesn’t have to be generated or sent across the internet, so you can preserve a lot of central processing unit (CPU) cycles and bandwidth.
307 temporary redirect
The 307 HTTP status code is a bit of a false flag. We see it from time to time on websites that are served over HTTPS and are on the HSTS preload list. According to the Chromium Projects:
HSTS tells a browser to always use HTTPS. HSTS is supported in Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Edt and Internet Explorer.
Basically, what happens with a 307 is that the browser recognizes a request made to http://website.com should instead be to a https://website.com and will go straight there.
So it’s not really an HTTP response code; the website’s server never sees the original request. The browser implements this redirect itself, as it knows (due to the HSTS Preload list) that the URL in question is served over HTTPS rather than HTTP. Google, PayPal, Twitter, Stripe, DropBox, Facebook and LastPass are a few of the well-known sites on the preloaded HSTS list.
The Ayima Redirect Path plugin will show this accordingly:
404 not found & 410 gone
In the 400-range of HTTP status codes, there are two I want to highlight since they are important for SEO.
The first and most common one is the 404 not found HTTP status code. This indicates that the URL doesn’t exist, and Google Search Console will show these errors in the site’s Crawl Errors report. Most often, 404 responses are the result of a faulty link somewhere on a website that Google discovers and then tries to crawl.
A website will start serving a 404 not found HTTP response on a page after it has been removed. In my opinion, you shouldn’t allow this to happen. A 404 error is indicative of an accidental error, a wrongly entered link somewhere. If a URL used to serve valid content has since been removed, you shouldn’t serve a 404; you should either 301-redirect the URL to a valid active page or serve a 410 gone status code.
The 410 gone HTTP response is a “deliberate 404.” With the 410 response, you are saying that yes, there used to be a page here, but it’s been permanently removed.
Search engines treat 410s differently than 404s. While both status codes are reported in Google Search Console as “not found” errors, a 410 is a clear signal to Google to remove that URL from its index. While Google will interpret a 404 as an accidental error and will keep a URL serving a 404 in its index for a while, a 410 response is seen as an explicit request to remove that URL from Google’s index.
The following is an older video from ex-Googler Matt Cutts explaining how Google handles 404 and 410 status codes, but it’s still a very good one to watch:
429 too many requests
In the course of your SEO career, you will come across many 4XX HTTP status codes, but few will be as infuriating as the 429 response. You will most likely see this HTTP status code when you’re crawling a website with your favorite SEO crawler tool.
The 429 response indicates a client has made too many requests in a given period, and instead of a URL’s proper response, you get the 429 response instead. This is the result of some form of rate-limiting technology that prevents websites from being overloaded by external requests. Often it will also interfere with crawls on a website by SEO tools, and you may need to ask the website’s tech team to make an exception for the IP address(es) you use for crawling the site.
Some rate-limiting technologies also block Googlebot this way, which could have profound repercussions on the speed and efficiency with which Google can crawl a site.
This can be hard to identify, as Google doesn’t report 429 responses in Search Console. If a website uses rate-limiting technology, it’s always worth double-checking that there is an exception in place for valid Googlebot crawls.
500 internal server error and 503 service unavailable
Any type of 5XX HTTP response indicates some sort of server-side problem. They are codes to avoid as much as possible.
They are quite common, especially on large-scale websites. Google reports these server errors in Search Console:
For SEO, the impact of these errors is primarily one of crawl efficiency. Because of the severity of these errors, when a website starts server 5XX-type responses, Googlebot will reduce the rate at which it crawls the site or even stop crawling the site entirely until the errors disappear.
So, these errors have a similar effect as the 429 response and can impact on a site’s crawl rate. The result could be evident in delays in getting new or changed content indexed. As a rule, a website should minimize the number of 5XX HTTP responses it serves.
If you absolutely have to serve a 5XX error message, for example when you’re taking a site down for maintenance, you should always use the 503 service unavailable HTTP status code.
A 503 is to a 500 what a 410 is to a 404: It’s a deliberate signal, so crawlers like Googlebot know you’ve purposefully taken the site down.
When Googlebot sees a 503, it will slow its crawl rate and not change your page’s status in its index. You can safely keep serving 503s while you work on your website with no impact on your site’s rankings in Google.
Only when a 503 error persists for a prolonged period of time will Google start interpreting it as a persistent error and update its index accordingly.
The status code is just part of the full HTTP response that a server sends to a client. Additional information is sent across with the status code. The full response of a status code plus additional information is called the HTTP header.
This header can contain instructions that clients and search engines can use to properly handle the URL.
Because of the extensible nature of HTTP headers, there is literally no limit to what a URL’s full HTTP header response can contain.
Let’s look at a number of important HTTP header elements for SEO next.
We are used to looking for canonical tags in a web page’s hypertext markup language (HTML) source code. However, you can also send a canonical link as part of a URL’s HTTP Header. This is fully supported by Google and has the exact same impact as a rel=canonical link in the page’s HTML source.
Because it’s relatively easy to implement rel=canonical tags in a page’s HTML, it’s rare to find canonical links sent as part of a page’s HTTP response. However, it’s always worth double-checking the page’s HTTP headers for canonical links, especially if you see unusual indexing and ranking issues on a website.
In the same way as canonical links, you can also include hreflang links in a page’s HTTP Header response. Hreflang link references indicate that a page has alternate versions targeting different languages and/or countries. Usually, these are included in the page’s HTML source in the header, or as part of an XML sitemap.
Hreflang implementations using HTTP headers are rare, and personally, I’d not recommend it as it can be very tough to troubleshoot. Implementations with extensible markup language (XML) sitemaps are the easiest to manage, followed by HTML link references.
Robots meta tag and X-Robots-Tag
When we want to instruct search engines not to index a page, we can use the robots meta tag to do so. This meta tag tells Googlebot and other search engines not to index a page and also not crawl any links included on the page.
There is a limitation with this meta tag: it can only be implemented on URLs that serve a web page.
For example, you want to make sure all PDF files on your site are not indexed, but you can’t use this meta tag because it doesn’t work with PDF files. Instead, you can use the X-Robots-Tag HTTP header to send the exact same signal.
It’s relatively straightforward to configure a web server to send the X-Robots-Tag HTTP header with the “noindex” value for all files ending in PDF.
On Apache web servers, it is just a few lines of code to add to the site’s .htaccess file:
Because X-Robots-Tag HTTP headers can easily be configured for entire directories, that can also serve as an effective method to prevent search engines from indexing secure folders.
In addition to “noindex” and “nofollow,” you can provide several other X-Robots-Tag responses that affect how Google handles the URL:
Another set of HTTP header responses can influence how a browser caches a page and its associated resources. For example, you can provide a “max-age” response which tells a browser that after a certain amount of time the page needs to be re-requested from the server.
Cache-control headers primarily affect a page’s subjective (re)load speed and won’t have a huge impact on how search engines crawl and index the page. Nonetheless, due to the importance of load speed for SEO and usability in general, it’s worth familiarizing yourself with these HTTP headers to make sure you can provide accurate and valuable advice to a client who wants to enhance a website’s load speed.
The Vary HTTP header serves a range of purposes relating to compression, cookies and mobile websites.
For use with mobile websites it is especially important, when a site uses dynamic serving for mobile users, to serve a specific Vary HTTP header so that search engines know to crawl the site with both desktop and mobile crawlers. This specific HTTP header is Vary: User-Agent.
This HTTP header tells Googlebot that the site will serve different code to desktop and mobile users. As a result, Google will crawl the site with both types of user-agent and determine which version of the code to rank for which type of users.
HTTP headers for security
While not directly related to SEO, helping a site be more secure is never a bad thing.
HTTP headers play a big role in security, too, as proper use of the right HTTP headers can make a website less vulnerable to a range of potential security issues.
There are dozens of HTTP headers that serve security purposes, such as:
We’ve just scratched the surface
I have provided a small sampling of HTTP status codes and HTTP headers. If this article has piqued your interest, the web has countless resources for you to learn more about the HTTP protocol and the web’s client-server architecture, such as:
Becoming well-versed in this aspect of the web will help you be a more effective SEO and also serve you well in other areas of digital marketing.
After all, what we do is mostly focused on the web, so a better understanding of the web’s underlying technologies is quite useful indeed.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.
About The Author
Barry Adams, Founder of Polemic Digital, is an award-winning SEO consultant specializing in technical SEO for news publishers and e-commerce websites. He’s been active in SEO since 1998 and has worked with a wide range of clients from micro-businesses to the world’s largest media companies. Barry enjoys sharing his knowledge and experience with the industry; he regularly speaks at digital conferences around the world, delivers annual guest lectures for several universities, and is the chief editor at popular European marketing blog State of Digital.
Google confirmed Wednesday on Twitter that it released a “broad core algorithm update” this week. This was after the search community noticed shifts in rankings and traffic earlier this morning. Google will release several algorithm updates per year that it may confirm, while many others are not confirmed or recognized by Google.
Here is the tweet:
This week we released a broad core algorithm update, as we do several times per year. Our guidance about such updates remains the same as in March, as we covered here: https://t.co/uPlEdSLHoX
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) August 1, 2018
The March update and April update from earlier this year were also “broad core algorithm updates.” Google said its advice to webmasters on these updates has not changed. Here is what Google said back then:
Each day, Google usually releases one or more changes designed to improve our results. Some are focused around specific improvements. Some are broad changes. Last week, we released a broad core algorithm update. We do these routinely several times per year.
As with any update, some sites may note drops or gains. There’s nothing wrong with pages that may now perform less well. Instead, it’s that changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded.
There’s no “fix” for pages that may perform less well other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.
In short, Google will continue to refine its algorithms in order to make its search results better for their users. Google is telling webmasters that there is nothing a webmaster can do to “fix” their pages to rank better after an update. Instead, try to keep making your website better over time, and Google may recognize those improvements over time, and your rankings may improve.
About The Author
Barry Schwartz is Search Engine Land’s News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on SEM topics.
[+] Direct and to-the-point training for completely outsourcing your social media management
[+] How to free up your time and have a larger social reach than you currently have now
[+] What to look for in a Social Media Manager and how to avoid being ripped off
[+] Where to find someone who won’t cost the earth, but delivers value and reliable results
[+] And much more – all within this special FREE report!
If you’re not using Instagram Stories, you’re missing out on a major marketing opportunity.
Instagram is a great source to build your brand’s identity, engage new followers and expand your reach. However, if you’re simply posting images to your business’s Instagram page, you’re missing out on a major opportunity on the platform: Instagram Stories. With Stories, you can show a behind-the-scenes look at your brand while developing its personality and building authentic relationships with your followers.
If you’re still wondering: What’s the point? There are nearly 250 million active daily users of Stories, and 33 percent of the most popular Stories are from businesses. Not only that, but 20 percent of Stories posted by businesses result in direct messages.
While it might sound daunting at first, you’ll never know until you try. To help you get started, here’s a quick guide to using Instagram Stories.
First and foremost, it’s important to prepare — brainstorm a plan for the story you want. And don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be live — you can upload older images to Stories now too. Next, figure out the best time of day to post by taking a look at your audience. Generally, user engagement levels are highest on Mondays and Thursdays between 7 and 9 p.m., but this can vary based on your followers. Another important piece of advice is to make an impact in the first four seconds of your story. Viewers’ attention drop after four seconds, so it’s important to get to the point.
From using geotags to hosting takeovers, there are a number of ways your business can utilize Instagram Stories. To learn more, check out Headway Capital’s “Small-Business Guide to Instagram Stories” infographic below.