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SEO Tip of the Week – How to Be Careful with Your URLs

October 29, 2012

Bill Ross Linchpin SEO

How URL Management Can Hurt SEO

This week’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tip comes from a good friend and a great SEO. Bill Ross runs SEO for a Chicago agency. Bill also created LinchpinSEO to answer questions and share articles from friends. Read my article about SEO and the Amazon Paradox BEFORE you sign up to become an Amazon partner (lol). I owe Bill a followup to discuss Amazon’s same day shipping, but not today.

Today’s post is about URL management. Quick note: URL stands for Universal Resource Locator and it is your web address, so when you see “URL,” think website name such as www.Atlanticbt.com (URLs become numbers too, but that is another post for another time).  After Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates, what you don’t know about URL management can hurt your website’s SEO.

Bill outlines excellent tips for URL management in his How to Do Site Consolidation the Right Way article. I learned about URL management from SEO Guru Bruce Clay. Here is a quick summary of what I learned during Clay’s week long SEO training:

Marty’s SEO URL Management Tips

  • Never redirect every domain you own to your core domain.
  • Never create small sites that do nothing but link to your main site.
  • Never interlink to excess between properties you own.

Even if you are smart enough to play the variable IP game, the pattern of your linking can be seen clearly now post-Panda. I understand how to randomize IPs, and I don’t do it anymore. I don’t play games with URLs because Google knows, the math always wins and it was a pain. The over, what can be gained, is small compared to the under, what you stand to lose, when you play URL games.

When you create an external website with keywords in the URL, one good reason to create a “snapsite” for example, NEVER link to other properties you own without a disallow (code that tells Google’s spider NOT to follow the link). If Google senses you are trying to multiply one site into two, they will divide your PR.

If you were a PR6 on your core website and Google detects you are playing games, your PR6 website could become a PR3 and your new site a PR3. You DO NOT want this. PR  is equal to strength, and 6 is more that 2×3 in this context (more like the 3 squared, due to how hard it is to move up the PR ladder). If you create a snapsite, it must establish its own identity.

BTW, adding a site is not just 2x the work. When we added a robust alternative site after observing our traffic was splitting due to inconsistent branding, it was the work of one site SQUARED to manage two active websites. This is why that second website can start to look like your other properties. Everything online is MATH, and you don’t fool math forever. Even my black hat SEO friends know they have a limited window to have a tactic “game the system” and gain SEO traction. Google’s magical algorithm always wins, so wear a white hat and manage your URLs with care.

One last tip I learned from SEO Guru Bruce Clay. In my last company we owned hundreds of URLs that all pointed to our main website. Never do that, because pointing inactive URLs to lock down search was a common spam tactic. Hold those URLs and point to a junk URL that doesn’t matter. There isn’t any benefit to pointing non-active URLs anywhere, but there is a HUGE potential penalty to pointing inactive but owned URLs to your crown jewels.

Interlinking Lesson Applies to SM Accounts Too

If you have multiple social media (SM) accounts. be careful about how you inter-link. I manage a handful of Twitter accounts. I’ve learned the hard way to send original Tweets. I don’t RT my content in the same way over and over. I NEVER RT my links with my accounts either. If I tweet something on @atlanticbt, I don’t RT that Tweet with @Scenttrail. Google and Twitter know I manage both because it is in the math. When I tweet, there is a signature. Twitter and Google have my “fingerprints”  in their models, so be careful what you touch and how in social media marketing.

Facebook Link Our Rules image of FB logo Facebook’s Link Out Rule

If you have a solid Facebook presence, make sure you are linking your hard-won Facebook PageRank, the number Google gives every website from 0 to 10 with ten being best, out to properties you own. If you don’t link out to sites you own, you just make Facebook richer, and they don’t need it. If you send links out out, make sure you consistently create content IN Facebook too. Never ONLY link out, as that will kill your Facebook rank.

Finally, I just realized something. I discuss PageRank frequently, but many reading these posts may not know how to find their web page’s PR (you have PR for every page on your website). There are a number of free Page Rank Checker tools. I use PageRankChecker.info, because it is free and gives results I trust. Put your URLs into the box, type the captcha, and these tools show your current PR. PR fluctuates every 90 days too, so don’t think because your homepage was a PR5  a year ago it still is; check PR frequently.

Read Bill’s excellent Site Consolidation the Right Way article to learn more.

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