Your SEO Might Suck If…

There are plenty of people who claim that SEO is a science. They say nearly every problem can be solved with a repeatable solution and that high page ranking is more of a function of long hours than smart work. They are wrong.

Proper SEO is more of an art than a science. Sure, there are plenty of repeatable steps the best guys practice in order to up your website’s visibility, but to think there’s any kind of one-size-fits-all approach will get you in a situation just like JCPenney.

Here are a few of our most-seen SEO mistakes that far too many people make.

1. Serving broken pages with a 200 response code

So you moved content, deleted a page or just didn’t get around to finishing a page you started. Do you leave it there? Of course not, unless you’re Greyhound. Greyhound.com/locations should be redirecting to the new Greyhound locations page, but apparently whomever constructed their site doesn’t seem to think so.

Seems /locations would be the ideal place to find locations of Greyhound terminals on their site.

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How We Moved AuthorityLabs to WordPress

When I started full-time at AuthorityLabs in January, one of our main goals was to get a new design on the main site and on the blog. We discussed a few options and ultimately decided to merge authoritylabs.com/blog/ into the main site at AuthorityLabs.com and get the entire site into WordPress.

Step 1: Planning

We created a Writeboard in Basecamp and started putting notes down. The notes were broken down as follows:

  • Design Needs – this covered things like the style of social icons we wanted (beakers), blog page design, signup page design, and the frame work we decided to use (Thesis).
  • Signup Handling – We needed to make sure that the signup form, which leverages functionality from the overall AuthorityLabs application to run would continue to work similar to how it had worked before. The affiliate program and tracking referrals through that were also part of this planning.
  • Merging the Sites Together – Since the blog was already on WordPress and there were far more pages there than on the main site, we decided to use the blog’s WordPress installation and make changes from there. That meant changing the blog homepage to the /blog/ directory, making sure we redirected pages from the old site, and getting the content from old, static pages on the main site into WordPress
  • Plugins – Yeah, plugins needed their own planning. Most people are using way more WordPress plugins than they need. The old authoritylabs.com/blog/ site had several plugins that needed to be dumped or changed.

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What businesses can learn from Charlie Sheen

“I am on a drug. It’s called Charlie Sheen.” – Charlie Sheen on ABCNews.

If there’s one person just about everyone would likely choose to be for just a few hours, Charlie Sheen in the middle of one of his now epic binges would likely be very high on our secret list. Most people will tell you that Sheen is an absolute madman and is absolutely killing his career with recent choices.

They are wrong. In case you’re unaware with how the celebrity business works, hype rules. The people that are brightest in the public’s eye, and last the longest there, are often the ones that can command the largest paychecks. Not that we would recommend anyone pull anything resembling a Sheen, but there are a few things businesses could learn from.
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What do Transformers, iPad, Dropbox and AuthorityLabs have in common?

Seems Bing has been caught copying Google’s search results. Such an accusation, if true, could have serious ramifications including a noticeable drop in Microsoft trust. Never copy your competitors. Do better.

The flip side is also true. It’s stupid to create useless features in an attempt to differentiate yourself in a crowded market. Here are a list of failures that doomed most of these companies forever.

All I wanted was robot that transformed, not a cap gun that\’s also a robot.

Go-Bots versus Transformers
There’s no way anyone has forgotten about Go-Bots, the retarded, cousin by marriage of the mighty Transformers. They transformed, they had a back story, but they aren’t being brought back by multi-million dollar movie trilogies. Their last attempt at relevance consisted of making cap guns that transformed into a poor excuse for any kind of toy, let alone a robot that was supposed to be advanced. It seems the Go-Bot makers misread their audience, forgetting that pre-teen boys were captivated by cool robots and that we could solve our gun needs elsewhere. With that, the magic was gone, as the Go-Bots weren’t even trying anymore. At least all the Transformers looked like they’d be somewhat functional robots if they became sentient.

Energy Drinks versus Alcoholic Energy Drinks
Lots of people like the energy that drinks like RockStar give them. Lots of people also like getting drunk. So why not combine them? Problem is, the oft-preferred Red Bull and vodka isn’t always easy to carry around, and can’t be manufactured in a mixed state, so a few energy drink companies launched products like Sparks and Four Loko in an attempt to bridge that gap. The combination of malt liquor and caffeine seemed ludicrous at the time, and still does, but that didn’t stop kids from buying a ton of them. In the end, the drinks were outlawed and continue to live in a bit of infamy. I’ll admit I’m unclear if Sparks or Four Loko started as energy drink or a malt liquor first, but either way, adding another ingredient made them lame.

iPads versus every other tablet
This just in: the iPad is a pretty big deal. Its competitors, such as the Galaxy Tab, are hard pressed to equal its success and in doing so, have decided that feature creep is more useful than simplicity, ease of use and excellent UI design. I’m fairly sure that the Galaxy Tab has a USB port, an ethernet jack, an SD card slot, a place to store keys, a place to store D&D cards and a monitor out port on the bottom, none of which do anything to convince me that it’s better than Apple’s offering. The Galaxy Tab could have added features like improved battery life or a higher-resolution screen, but ports seemed to be more important. I laugh when anyone that thinks a non-iPad tablet is any less cumbersome than a small laptop and especially a netbook.

Dropbox versus every competitor ever
Dropbox is a folder that syncs. Michael Wolfe said it best and no one in the cloud storage/syncing industry has come up with anything better than their simple offer. MobileMe offers their iDisk, but that requires permissions and sharing is off by default and it takes a long time to load and it’s not accessible by every browser. Dropbox, which doesn’t offer scheduled backups nor does it mount as a drive on your desktop is just a folder. That syncs.

AuthorityLabs versus every other page ranking software
SEO people, writers and anyone who uses the web to make money knows that where they rank for specific search terms is key to attracting new business and setting prices. Tracking rankings is a useful metric for both creating new content and a way to appease the ego of many an entrepreneur. They don’t always care how long people are on their sites, what pages they read or which URL they entered and exited on, but simply where their site will come up when a potential customer searches a specific term. AuthorityLabs offers this service and that’s it. It doesn’t try to eliminate Google Analytics nor does it do anything regarding fancy and useless like their own version of pagerank. It’s easy and that’s why it works.

Which pocket would you put this in?

The related term for this kind of thinking is “feature creep.” Whenever a company loses sight of their original goal, loses faith in the offering or misreads their customers, feature creep is there to further screw up their product/service.

Not everyone wants a working cap gun that transforms into a robot. Usually we just want a cool robot.

Is Groupon replaceable?

Can anyone unseat Groupon as the local deals leader?

If you’d asked me before the Super Bowl, I would have laughed at this question. Even without backing from a large company, Groupon has managed to dominate the daily deal market, and is a huge favorite among cost-conscious shoppers. Even my mom asks about buying things from Groupon.

Chart courtesy of EvanMiller.org

Buying things from Groupon used to be cool. I’d receive offers from local companies and then share those same offers with my friends. It felt like we belonged to a special club that only the cool kids knew about.

And then came the Gap deal.
We ooh’ed and ahh’ed and everyone told their friends. Groupon’s site was nearly overloaded with customers, but they came at a price – they were no longer a local deal company. The daily deals for obscure local places were no longer a cool thing we shared with our friends.
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How Companies Really Screw Up Public Relations

The popularity of Jersey Shore and the vitriol of internet forums prove that we can’t resist watching disaster unfold, no matter what size the screen. While it’s great fun if no one gets hurt, public relations disasters can hurt companies far greater than most of us will ever know.

From the Motrin moms to Antennagate and BP to just about anything big retail chains do, here are a few stories that are best treated as case studies on what NOT to do.
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