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Five Steps to SEO-Friendly Site URL Structure

Some people say there is no such thing as SEO-friendly URL structure. They claim that search engines are perfectly capable of making sense of any type of URL and pretty much any URL structure. In most cases, the people who say this are web developers.

I’ve noticed that sometimes web developers and SEOs live in two parallel universes, each with its own center of gravity. While web developers basically care about crawlability, site speed, and other technical things, SEOs are mostly focused on what constitutes their sacred grail: website rankings and ROI.

1-What is an SEO-friendly URL structure?

First of all, let me start by saying that it is always better to call in an SEO manager early in the development stage, so that there is no need to make sometimes hard-to-implement tweaks afterwards.

From an SEO point of view, a site’s URL structure should be:

Straightforward: URLs with duplicate content should have canonical URLs specified for them; there should be no confusing redirects on the site, etc.

Meaningful: URL names should have keywords in them, not gibbering numbers and punctuation marks.
With emphasis on the right URLs: SEO-wise, not all URLs on a site are of equal importance as a rule. Some even should be concealed from the search engines. At the same time, it is important to check that the pages that ought to be accessible to the search engines are actually open for crawling and indexing.

2. Avoid dynamic and relative URLs

Depending on your content management system, the URLs it generates may be “pretty” like this one:

or “ugly” like this one:

Static URLs contain your keywords and are more user-friendly, since one can figure out what the page is about just by looking at the static URL’s name.

Besides, Google recommends using hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_) in URL names, since a phrase in which the words are connected using underscores is treated by Google as one single word, e.g. one_single_word is onesingleword to Google.

3. Create an XML Sitemap

It’s a list of your site’s URLs that you submit to the search engines. This serves two purposes:
This helps search engines find your site’s pages more easily;
Search engines can use the Sitemap as a reference when choosing canonical URLs on your site. The word “canonical” simply means “preferred” in this case. Picking a preferred (canonical) URL becomes necessary when search engines see duplicate pages on your site.

4. Close off irrelevant pages with robots.txt

              There may be pages on your site that should be concealed from the search engines. These could be your “Terms and conditions” page, pages with sensitive information, etc. It’s better not to let these get indexed, since they usually don’t contain your target keywords and only dilute the semantic whole of your site.

The robotx.txt file contains instructions for the search engines as to what pages of your site should be ignored during the crawl. Such pages get a noindex attribute and do not show up in the search results.

Sometimes, however, unsavvy webmasters use noindex on the pages it should not be used. Hence, whenever you start doing SEO for a site, it is important to make sure that no pages that should be ranking in search have the noindex attribute.

5. Specify canonical URLs using a special tag

Another way to highlight canonical URLs on your site is by using the so-called canonical tag. In geek speek, it’s not the tag itself that is canonical, but the tag’s parameter, but we’ll just call it the canonical tag by metonymy.

Note: the canonical tag should be applied only with the purpose of helping search engines decide on your canonical ULR. For redirection of site pages, use redirects. And, for paginated content, it makes sense to employ rel=”next” and rel=”prev” tags in most cases.

Google Reads all your Emails

Google reads every email that you send and receive, so claims software giant Microsoft. In its latest campaign titled 'Don't get scroogled by Gmail', the software maker says that Google reads every email a user sends and receives in order to dish out related advertisements.

 Through the campaign, Microsoft asks users to switch to its own free email service, which it claims "doesn't go through the content of users' emails to show ads." It also asks users to sign an online petition against Gmail to let Google know that "going through personal email messages to sell ads is unacceptable."

On its website, Google says, "In Gmail, most of the ads we show appear next to an open email message and are related to the contents of the current email conversation or thread." Microsoft explains this with a host of examples on its website One example is Google advertising details of divorce lawyers to a woman who has emailed to her friend that she is separating from her husband.

 The maker of Windows operating system says Google has not given users the choice to not show their private emails to the company. It also highlighted that the internet search giant currently faces six class-action lawsuits because of its practice of sifting through subscribers' emails.

 Microsoft said, "We honour the privacy of our users, and we are concerned that Google violates that privacy every time an user exchanges messages with someone on Gmail. This campaign is as much about protecting users from Gmail as it is about making sure Gmail users know what Google's doing."

 Citing a GfK Roper study it commissioned, Microsoft states that 70% of email users in US are unaware that major email providers routinely engage in the practice of reading through their personal email to sell ads. When informed of the same, 88% of the people disapprove of this practice.

 Microsoft recently also took on Google Shopping for offering users' skewed choices.

Google+ Communities for Website Traffic

Content marketing drives business. Today’s online environment essentially demands it. Whether you are looking for more customers, a rise in the rankings, or publicity – creating good content has to be at the forefront of your online marketing strategy.
Blogging helps build valuable content around your message and brand. It gives the search engines something to index. It gives people something to link to. Last but not least, good content answers the questions that your target audience is asking. This helps you build credibility in your niche and can help enhance your company as an authority in your industry.
It’s easy to understand how creating good content is good for business. However, simply writing an article doesn’t make the magic happen. You won’t gain untold fame and link popularity on wit and writing style alone. You’ll need to roll up your sleeves and put in a little elbow grease to attract readers to your blog. Google+.
A Little Background
Google+ Communities is a place like-minded people congregate around a particular topic or niche. Communities are much like forums or Facebook Groups. And, much like Facebook, anyone is able to create their own. However, unlike Facebook Groups, Google+ allows brand pages to participate, and even start their own communities. For bloggers – or any website that publishes content for that matter – this is an opportunity to laser target your audience and drive traffic to your blog posts.
Time to Get Your Feet Wet
Don’t worry, the water’s nice. The majority of people you’ll find in the communities are quite friendly and engaging. Don’t be afraid to hop in and share your opinion. Of course, proper etiquette is required. You don’t want to join a community just to spam them with links back to your blog or website. This shows a lack of regard towards community spirit and the forum environment. Forums are built for the exchange of ideas and opinions. You want to give as much as you share.
1. Time to Mingle
The easiest way to get noticed is to get out there. No one is going to notice you if you’re not pounding the virtual pavement (so to speak). So, the first step is action. The first thing you’ll want to do is join the communities that have a topical relationship to your niche. For example, a website with a focus on SEO and online marketing would naturally gravitate towards Google+ Communities covering these topics. Here are some examples:
* SEO+: Search Engine Optimization / Web Design
* Social Media Marketing for Small Business Owners
You can also take it one step further and think of your target audience. If you are an SEO consultant, you naturally work with other business owners. Why not go where other small business owners are hanging out? The point here is to find groups where your audience congregates or looks for answers.
2. Share Content that Answers People’s Questions
People go online for entertainment or information. That is putting it as simply as you can. Often times people use forums to search for answers, ask questions, get opinions. This is where all that knowledge you have comes in. Show off your skills by answering people’s questions or offering up insight that gets them thinking. Don’t simply post a link to your content. Give them a clear answer that has value, build on the conversation, and then offer a link to one of your posts that explains the concept in more detail.
3. Comment on Other People’s Posts
Shining the spotlight on someone else is almost guaranteed to get you noticed. Aren’t we searching for the same thing? By actively engaging with what other people have to say, you’ll in turn pull some of that attention back to yourself. Do this often and people will appreciate the gesture. They’ll also be more likely to follow you and check out your website or blog.
4. Be Consistent
Consistency always pays off. This ties into everything you do in life. Once you find the communities that are beneficial to your brand, you want to stay consistent. Develop a routine that allows you to stay visible by commenting on posts, sharing your own, and sharing information that people find useful.
5. Become a Bastion of Information
When people see you as a source of information the dividends can be immeasurable. This is what being a thought leader and industry expert is all about. Good information and advice breeds trust. No amount of marketing dollars can achieve that.
6. Build a Community Around Your Brand
Launching your own Google+ Community can also be a great way to generate brand recognition. This can work really well if you already are part of a large network. Sometimes lists are easier to explain an approach, so here you go:
* Create a community around your niche and target audience with your brand page.
* Invite people from your personal network (Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter).
* Have people in your company become part of the group. (They can also help with moderation).
* Generate useful content and start conversations that encourage participation.
Let The Good Times Roll
Google+ Communities to build traffic back to your website. If you walk away with anything from this article it should be this:
Do not focus on getting ‘clicks’ to your website. Instead, focus on building a reputation for yourself and your company. Once people recognize you as a source of valuable information they’ll check out your blog on their own. You’d be surprised how easy it is to win someone over simply by being helpful.

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