Within the SEO industry there is a lot of information that must be monitored and followed in order to stay on top of the latest developments, tactics and other strategies used to increase or maintain ones search engine rankings. Due to the overwhelming nature of change that occurs these days, the importance of staying abreast of technological changes is of the utmost importance.
As a search engine optimization agency, it’s our job to stay on top of these rapid changes and ensure that our client’s websites keep growing & increasing visibility. As much as we try, there are instances where technology passes us by for a short time. Since we’ve already hit a few of these stumbling blocks and overcome them, I thought it would be a good idea to share them with you so you can avoid them altogether.
Cell Phone & Mobile Redirects
This is the latest technology problem that we’ve run into and to be honest, we’re still working our way through some of the repercussions of implementing cell phone/mobile redirects on our client’s websites.
You would think that adding a mobile redirect to your existing website would be pretty straight-forward right?
Put in a simple “if mobile” statement and redirect users to a mobile-only version of your website if they are in fact a mobile user. Ok, so what if the user is on an iPad, an iPhone or one of the other new tablet PCs? Where do you send that user? It gets complicated very quickly.
Cell phone & mobile technology is advancing at rates that requires constant monitoring & adaptation by your IT/tech department to ensure you’re still showing users the right version of your website for what they’re viewing it on.
It’s also important that you invest in an SEO-friendly mobile redirect script or that whoever develops your mobile redirect has SEO training and/or knowledge. There are a lot of smart IT people that can create a redirect for you, but done incorrectly, you could be jeopardizing your entire livelihood – seriously.
So how could a mobile redirect kill your SEO efforts?
Here are a few things you need to look for when you’re implementing and/or considering adding a mobile redirect to your website:
Improper status code presented on the HTTP Headers.
404 Error – This happened to a site we manage recently and was really out of the blue. When one of our most important landing pages disappeared from the #1 Google ranking, let’s just say “we were alarmed”.
302 Redirects – Want your mobile site to start showing as your regular site? Similar to the old days of hi-jacking a domain, we have seen this occur when the redirect is setup incorrectly and/or other errors are occurring (see 404 error).
301 Redirect – This is the biggie, in terms of what it could do to your existing website rankings. Incorrectly utilized or communicated to the wrong bot, you could essentially tell the search engines that your page/site has permanently moved to your mobile site. Most mobile sites are bare-bones versions of the primary site so I’m sure you can imagine what effects this might have on your SEO work.
Using the wrong code in the wrong place could tell the search engines your page has moved, disappeared, etc. You definitely don’t want this to happen.
So how do you prevent a mobile redirect from hurting your SEO?
Test, test, test… It’s that simple. If you implement a redirect, test it on all different levels – both from a user standpoint and from a search engine standpoint to make sure that nothing has been compromised.
AJAX & Other New Scripting Methods
AJAX is nothing new – in fact it’s been around for quite awhile in various forms and permutations. It’s use has increased dramatically over the past few years, however, and has presented many unique SEO problems during its course. (See Drawbacks)
There have been some improvements and recent workarounds to making AJAX content more SEO-friendly, but for most sites, it’s still something that may negatively impact what they’re trying to accomplish with the search engine optimization strategies.
Just a couple quick drawbacks of using AJAX to power (all or part of) your website:
AJAX content is dynamic and/or generally resides on a secondary page. This means it’s not indexed by the search engines as being content on the actual page it’s displayed on.
More calls to the server may be required when using AJAX-powered applications/content. This may increase the load time.
Of course, using AJAX does have it’s benefits and is supposed to be pretty fast (just checkout Google Instant search, Twitter feeds, etc.).
I’ve personally had mixed results using AJAX-powered sites… I’ve definitely noticed the speed variable, but at the same time, I believe that the functions running in the applications are responsible for my PC freezing up and/or browser windows crashing.
In general, advancements and workarounds are being made to make AJAX more SEO-friendly. If you find the right developer, you can get the best of both worlds.
These few items of technology impacting SEO are just the tip of the iceberg… there are so many people doing unique & great things in this world that new problems are created on a daily basis – just as quickly as solutions are as well. All we can do is keep up-to-speed on the technology, test the impact it has on our websites and continue working on building sites & our SEO efforts to the best they can be.