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Google To Warn Searchers When A Mobile URL Redirects To The Homepage

Google To Warn Searchers When A Mobile URL Redirects To The Homepage | Technical and on-page SEO |

Google alerted webmasters late yesterday that it will let smartphone searchers know if it thinks a website has a “faulty redirect” in place that sends the searcher to your home page, not the page they clicked on.

Via Bonnie Burns
Norman Pongracz's insight:

We’d like to spare users the frustration of landing on irrelevant pages and help webmasters fix the faulty redirects. Starting today in our English search results in the US, whenever we detect that smartphone users are redirected to a homepage instead of the page they asked for, we may note it below the result. If you still wish to proceed to the page, you can click “Try anyway.”

But Google’s not just warning searchers; there’s also help for webmasters. The “Crawl Errors” section of Webmaster Tools will offer specific information about faulty redirects affecting smartphone crawling.

Bonnie Burns's curator insight, June 5, 2014 11:08 AM

Google stated: We’d like to spare users the frustration of landing on irrelevant pages and help webmasters fix the faulty redirects. Starting today in our English search results in the US, whenever we detect that smartphone users are redirected to a homepage instead of the the page they asked for, we may note it below the result. If you still wish to proceed to the page, you can click “Try anyway.”

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Interesting bits of the Page Quality Rating Guideline

Norman Pongracz's insight:
Here are some of the interesting parts from Google's Page Quality Rating Guideline. Considering that Google is trying to mimic user behaviour and rate websites based on these factors, one or more of these below can have impact on rankings:

Broken pages
- Broken links and elements can impact page rating but only if it is significant in scale (implying bad site maintenance).
- Custom 404 pages can have ratings as well, for example the following is a highly rated 404 page:
Update frequency
- Already published articles don't have to be updated frequently except if it is encyclopaedia style like Wikipedia
- Frequency of updates on websites matter. Would that mean we should recommend adding timestamps to pages?
External ratings
- External ratings such as Wikipedia, forums and other rating organisations an be used to rate websites or page quality
- Few negative reviews won't impact page quality 

On-page content
- The amount of on-page content necessary for the page depends on the topic and purpose of the page. A High quality page on a broad topic with a lot of available information will have more content than a High quality page on a narrower topic
- On-page content behind tabs can be considered main content and can thus improve page quality.
- Product pages should feature recommender systems (i.e: "complete the look", "those who bought the product also bought")
- On copied content: Content copied from a changing source, such as a search results page or news feed. You often will not be able to find an exact matching original source if it is a copy of “dynamic” content (content which changes frequently). However, we will still consider this to be copied content. Other times the content found on the original source has changed enough that searches for sentences or phrases may no longer match the original source. For example, Wikipedia articles can change dramatically over time. Text copied from old copies may not match the current content. This will still be considered copied content
- Video quality can have impact on page rating.
Supporting information, support pages
Shopping websites can be judged on 
- How detailed the contact information is
- How detailed the store policies are on payment, exchanges, and returns
- Customer service information available
- About us, contact and FAQ pages influence page rating (this includes Facebook pages and corporate websites as well!)
- Shopping cart functionality impacts page rating
These do not have to be presented on the page but need to be somehow linked.
Highest quality product page - The purpose of this page is to provide information about, and allow users to buy, a specific type of school backpack. The page provides a lot of helpful product information, as well as 600 user reviews. Since the store produces this backpack, they are experts on the product, making the page on their own website authoritative. In addition, this store has a reputation for producing one of the highest quality and most popular school backpacks on the market. This page also has a high quality MC, placed on a trustworthy website and has good reputation.
Highest quality “Custom 404” page - The MC of this page is the cartoon, the caption, and the search functionality, which is specific to the content of the website. It is clear that time, effort, and talent was involved in the creation of the MC. This publication has a very positive reputation and is specifically known for its cartoons. Keep in mind that for any type of page, including pages with error messages, there may be a range of highest quality to lowest quality pages. Therefore, it’s important to evaluate the page using the same criteria as all other pages, regardless of what type of page it is. This page also has a high quality SC, placed on a trustworthy website and has good reputation. 

High quality category page - The purpose of this page is to allow users to buy a school backpack. The page provides a lot of different backpack options, and some of them have user reviews. This is a well-known, reputable merchant, with detailed Customer Service information on the site. The SC features are particularly helpful. For example, the filters allow users to show results by categories such as color, style, and price. They have satisfying amount of high quality MC, good SC and positive reputation.
High quality category page - The Company sells its own line of high end, fashionable baby and children’s furniture and accessories. It has a positive reputation as well as expertise in these specific types of goods. Many products sold on the site are unique to this company. They have satisfying amount of high quality MC, expertise in given field and positive reputation.
High quality product page - There is a very large quantity of MC on this page. Note that the tabs on the page lead to even more information, including many customer reviews. The tabs should be considered part of the MC. They have satisfying amount of high quality MC, good SC and positive reputation.
High quality product page - The page from “Target” provides the manufacturer’s product specs, as well as original product information, over 90 user reviews, shipping and returns information, multiple images of the product, etc. Note: Some of the MC is behind links on the page (“item details,” “item specifications,” “guest reviews,” etc.). Even though you have to click these links to see the content, it is still considered MC.
Medium quality “Custom 404” page This page is on a well-known merchant website with a good reputation. However, this particular page displays the bare minimum of content needed to explain the problem to users, and the only help offered is a link to the homepage.
Lowest quality category page This page is selling Nike Air Jordan shoes. When you look at the “Contact Us” page, it does not give the name of a company or a physical address, which also cannot be found anywhere else on the website. This amount of contact information is not sufficient enough for a shopping website. In addition, the “Shipping and Returns” page has the name of another company that seems to be unrelated. There are also official looking logos at the bottom of the homepage, including the Better Business Bureau logo and Google Checkout logo, that don’t appear to be affiliated with the website.
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PDF files:SEO and Accessibility | Carmelon

PDF files:SEO and Accessibility | Carmelon | Technical and on-page SEO |

"...there are often situations calling for the use of PDFs...the parameters for grading PDF files are known to be different from HTML the final result- PDFs on sites can successfully compete with HTML pages and rank very high, even in first places on the organic search results."

Norman Pongracz's insight:

Ranking PDF files in the SERPs

Introduction to PDF document optimisation and accessibility

When to use PDFs instead of HTML

When it comes to on-site content, it is always preferable to place content in HTML and not PDF. However, there are often situations calling for the use of PDFs, for example- user’s guides, forms that need to be downloaded by the user etc. It is important to realize that even in such situations, usually the use of PDFs does not necessarily mean that we must give up the strategic choice to place the content authority in HTML pages.

Search engines and Google specifically, can crawl and index PDF files. As far as the location in the search results is concerned, PDF’s can and do fully compete with HTML pages.

Although not publicly published by Google, the parameters for grading PDF files are known to be different from HTML files, mostly due to the large textual (and therefore- keywords reach) content volume of PDFs (in comparison to average website’s HTML pages). The difference in grading is created in order to allow a correct comparison between HTML and PDF versions of content, and in the final result- PDFs on sites can successfully compete with HTML pages and rank very high, even in first places on the organic search results.

The Best Practices in SEO for PDF Files

Best practices for PDFs in SEO include general on-page recommendations and accessibility recommendations, both of them ensuring that the content of the PDF files can be accessed by both the search engine and the user.

SEO RecommendationsIndexation: For several technical reasons, crawling and indexing PDFs takes SE longer than HTML does (usually on the scale of hours to days, but sometimes up to a month more). Therefore, one should encourage and speed up PDF indexing by marking the address of a PDF in the website’s sitemap file, as in any HTML page. It is also possible to use Google Search Console to submit the PDF for crawling (“fetch as Google”), and after the crawl- to submit the results for indexing.Size limitation: as a general rule of thumb, it is advisable to create PDFs as small as possible, and to avoid sizes larger than 2.5 MB. Specifically for Google, PDFs are temporarily transformed to HTML during the crawl, and Google will only index a maximum of 2.5 MB from the temporary HTML file. If the temporary HTML is larger than 2.5 MB, Google will usually crawl the whole file, but index only 2.5 MB of data (usually the first 2.5 MB). Title and Heading markup: Google crawls and indexes titles that are stylistically marked as titles (using Headings), and utilizes them to improve the indexing and association with keywords. Therefore, it is important to use headings markup for titles when creating PDFs.Links within PDFs: As previously mentioned, Google can index links within PDFs, and treats them as it would links in HTML. For this purpose, links must be have a standard link structure (ie structured as >a href=”/page2.html”>link to page 2</a> ). As it is not possible to mark links in PDF with the “no follow” and “no index” tags, if it is undesired that a specific link would transfer authority, then it must not be placed in the HTML.Usage of Rich Media: Google will not index rich media (including pictures of any kind) placed in PDFs. It is necessary to avoid placing texts in images (same as in HTML pages). If a picture is to be indexed, it is possible to place a link to the picture in the PDF, and then the crawler will follow that link and index the picture (as a separate file from the PDF and not as part of its content).PDF produced with text from scanned images of texts (OCR):As previously mentioned, SEs will not index text located in a picture. However, if the text was produced through OCR, it is still considered text, and there should be no problems with indexing.Indexing PDFs but preventing displaying cached versions in Google: if the PDF contains temporary content, or content that changes often, it may be desired to prevent Google for keeping and displaying cached versions of files that are outdated or don’t exist anymore. This is possible to achieve by implementing the X-Robots tag with a “no archive” markup in the PDF HTTP response.Avoid using password-protected PDFs: when creating a PDF, it is sometimes possible to add a password lock to it, to prevent unauthorized access to the file. Obviously, locking the file with a password will prevent SEs from accessing it, so if indexing is desired, password protection must not be used.Preventing content duplication: If, under any circumstances, there is a PDF file available for indexing and at the same time an HTML page with the same (or highly similar) content, or other PDF files with the same (or highly similar) content, it is necessary to specify the proffered version for SE in order to avoid content duplication penalties. This can be achieved using the canonical tag (similar to HTML). However, it’s important to remember that the tag has to be implemented in the header of the PDF’s HTTP response. For further details on this subject, see the following link (and specifically- the example at the bottom of the page for implementing canonical in PDFs) It’s important to remember that such a canonical markup will only work if the PDF is available for indexing- otherwise, the SE will never see the canonical request.Accessibility recommendations

The accessibility level of a document can be scaled from completely inaccessible to greatly accessible. The way the different page elements and text are defined is of major importance to the accessibility of a document. Assistive technologies interpret the tags of a document and renders content to the user accordingly.

One standard that explores all the things that are relevant to creating accessible PDFs is ISO 14289-1 (PDF/UA-1). The official international guidelines for creating accessible web content, WCAG 2.0, also include many of these.

Types of actions needed for PDF accessibility

It is important that all text in a document is tagged, be it a paragraph text, a heading, a list, or similar. Not only do you make this evident visually but also clear to all users by providing the correct tagging, as this is what assistive tech­nologies use. This includes:

Markup of file languageMarkup to indicate reading directionCaptions for images and photosMarkup of tables (column titles, direction of reading)Creating alternatives for tables and/or complex diagramsMarkup and ensuring readability of foliosPresenting the page as a “single page”
Tagging elements of the page
Language: There should be an overall definition of the language the document is written in. Furthermore if lines or blocks of text within the document change lan­guage, then the text should be tagged separate­ly.Reading order: The sequence in which a screen reader will ren­der the page content depends on how the doc­ument was created. Therefore it is important to ensure that a document has a sensible reading order. Most remediation tools provide the ability to check the reading order of a document.Images: An image can have different purposes depending on how it is used in the document. Many images have a purely decorative purpose and this purpose needs to be conveyed. This is done by giving it a definition of ‘‘artifact’, described further on. Other images may have some sort of function or convey important information, and therefore these need an alternative text stating this.Tables: When data tables are used it is important to tag the structure of these. As a minimum defining which are the column / row headings.Bookmarks: For many users the easiest and most accessible way to have a table of content is to have book­marks provided from the headings in the docu­ment. Stating these gives the user the option to have a panel open with the document containing the bookmarks.Title: As a minimum documents should include basic information such as a document title. Providing the name of the author, as well as a description and some keywords is also a good idea.Security settings: Make sure that the document is not locked in a way that makes assistive technolo­gies unable to extract content and render it to the user.It is also important to ensure that the color of the background and the color of text are in sufficient contrast to each other. The ‘Web Content Accessibility Guidelines’ gives guidance on this in term of recommendations for text sizes and compliance level.Also avoid using references to content and information solely based on a location. Some users will receive the content in one long sequence so for instance a ‘box on the right’ does not exist to them. Make sure to supplement this by referring to a heading also for instance.Make sure that the documents can be zoomed to enlarge text without it becoming difficult to read. One example is when text becomes very pixelated.Images of text should be avoided as they don’t work for well for several user groups, such as those with reading difficulties. Text in an image can be identified by the fact that the text cannot be highlighted.
What files need complex PDF accessibility?
Company newslettersCommunication documentsCatalogues and brochuresAnnual reportsSustainable development reportsChecking the accessibility of your PDF file

Check the readability of your PDF file using Jaws (text or image). You can visually and aurally compare them to see if all of the information has been conveyed:

Check that you have used an appropriate fontCheck that any words in capitals have the right accents on themCheck the heading levels using Jaws (heading levels 1, 2, 3, etc.)Check the alternatives behind the photos, images, etc.Check that any diagrams that have been marked up as tables or lists of bullet points have been correctly understoodCheck that the links are clear and well indicated with JawsCheck the accessibility of the forms (explicit fields, possibility of filling in the fields and validating them, check that the tab key moves the cursor along through the fields correctly)Check the readability of the cells in the tables and that they relate to a specific headerCheck the file languageCheck any changes in language (for example an English word in a French document); Jaws should be able to change languageTools to export accessible PDFs ad to test accessibilityMicrosoft WordAdobe InDesignQuark XpressJAWS Screen Reading Software - Using JAWS 2.0, a free accessibility checker.CommonLook PDF GlobalAccess, a commercial accessibility validator and remediation tool
References and guidelines
Hubspot and Siteimprove white paper: How to create accessible PDFs: 14289-1:2014 Document management applications: Electronic document file format enhancement for accessibility: Part 1: Use of ISO 32000-1: to Meet WCAG 2.0 Matterhorn Protocol 1.0 PDF Accessibility - Converting Documents to PDF: Creating accessible Adobe PDF files – A guide for document authors: Accessibility: Vaknin PDF Files: SEO and Accessibility (Carmelon Digital Marketing): Bandremer: SEO for PDFs (Lunametrics)
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A Guide To Schema Markup & Structured Data SEO Opportunities By Site Type

A Guide To Schema Markup & Structured Data SEO Opportunities By Site Type | Technical and on-page SEO |
Structured data can help you to send the right signals to search engines about your business and content. But where do you start? Columnist Tony Edward has some suggestions.
Norman Pongracz's insight:

Google’s John Mueller recently stated that the search engine giant may add structured data markup as a ranking factor (more info: So it is definitely worth the effort to implement schema markup on your website, as this is becoming more important to Google.

All Sites

Organization Schema Markup
/ The organization schema markup helps generate brand signals which can enhance your Knowledge Graph entry and website snippet presence in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
/ Be sure to specify your logo, social profile links and corporate contact information.

WebSite Schema Markup
/ The WebSite schema markup helps generate the Sitelinks Search Box feature for brand SERPs and can help your site name to appear in search results. You must, of course, have an existing site search on your website to enable the Sitelinks Search Box element.

Breadcrumbs Markup
/ The BreadcrumbList schema allows you to mark up the breadcrumbs on your site to generate breadcrumb rich snippets for your pages in the SERPs.

Site Navigation Schema Markup
/ The SiteNavigationElement markup can help increase search engines’ understanding of your site structure and navigation and can be used to influence organic sitelinks.

Video Schema Markup
/ A site with embedded or hosted video content can leverage the VideoObject schema. Google primarily displays video rich snippets for YouTube videos, but this will help video rich snippets to appear for your Web pages in Google Video Search.

Schema Software Application Markup
/ Leverage the SoftwareApplication markup on your software apps to enable app rich snippets.

E-Commerce sites

Schema Product & Offer Markup and
/ Used together, the Product and Offer markups can help product information to appear in the SERPs, including price and status information. Note that the Offer markup is required in order for the price to appear in Google SERPs.

Schema Rating Markup
/ The Rating schema is primarily used on e-commerce sites but can also be used for a local business site, such as a restaurant. When an item has multiple ratings that have been averaged together to produce an aggregate rating, you’ll want to use the AggregateRating schema.
/ Note: Google assumes that you use a five-point scale, with 1 being the worst and 5 being the best. If you use anything other than a 1–5 scale, you’ll need to indicate the highest possible rating with the “bestRating” property. These markups will help generate star rating rich snippets in the SERPs.

Publisher Sites

Schema Article Markup and
/ If you’re a publisher website, the NewsArticle or BlogPosting schemas are recommended (choose one or the other, depending on your site/content).
/ Leveraging these markups accordingly can help your content to appear in Google News and in-depth articles search suggestions.

Local Business Sites

Schema Local Business Markup and
/ You can leverage LocalBusiness and PostalAddress schema markup to impact your local listing. This markup can be implemented on sites with brick-and-mortar locations. The schemas can be used to indicate your physical address, opening hours, payment types accepted and more.
/ Keep in mind that there are also industry-specific schemas, such as AutomotiveBusiness, SelfStorage, TravelAgency and many more.

Event Sites

Event Schema Markup
The Event markup can be used for sites that organize events, musical concerts or art festivals to generate event rich snippets.

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SEO - How to improve your site indexation – XML Sitemaps Case Study - Bruce Clay

SEO - How to improve your site indexation – XML Sitemaps Case Study - Bruce Clay | Technical and on-page SEO |
Google Webmaster Tools (GWTs) is always a good place to start when optmising a site for Search Engines (SEs). In fact this can give you an indication of site health as it highlights any possible issue or problems your site might have. One important indicator is the number of pages you have indexed in Google …
Norman Pongracz's insight:

There have been numerous case studies on how XML sitemaps benefit different sites with increased visits, revenues by just allowing the crawlers to find the important pages faster.


Google himself produced a case study years ago called "Sitemaps: Above and Beyond the Crawl of Duty" that analysed multiple domains such as Amazon, CNN to demonstrate the effectiveness of sitemaps.


According to the most statistics, Google finds over 70% of the important URLs through XML sitemaps and only about 30% of the URLs through crawling the interlinking structure (often referred as “Discovery”). We, at Forward3D consider XML sitemaps an essential part of every website and these studies show that Google significantly relies on the URLs and information listed in these documents – hence the complexity of the XML sitemap implementation; crawlers will only trust well-defined directives.


XML sitemaps has been tested across multiple industries and domain of different sizes: MOZ’s case study on the UK based Razoo ( indicated that after the XML sitemap implementation, the number of pages ranking were increased from 486 to 1240, while the keywords sending organic search traffic were more than doubled (from 548 to 1347).


A case study on a large site ( showed an increase in page indexation from 24% to 68% in the initial period, right after the XML sitemap was implemented; this resulted in significant improvements in SEO traffic.


Also, there have been some smaller scale experiments; reports showed that Google’s crawl rate on the domain “Scaling Bits” ( has increased by 100% after the XML sitemap was implemented driving up traffic by 30%. Finally, TechCrunch had a case study on an extensive SEO project that included an XML sitemap implementation with very similar results: 30% additional traffic across site (


When it comes to New Look, we expect similar results. If pages are indexed properly, traffic can show an increase as much as 30% percentage with a potential increase in revenues by 5.25% at least (based on our initial forecast).

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Whitepaper: Taking on big competitors with local SEO | STAT Search Analytics

Whitepaper: Taking on big competitors with local SEO | STAT Search Analytics | Technical and on-page SEO |
How do people really do local search? We looked at auto insurance in the USA, and found some surprising things about local SEO that folks in every industry should know.
Norman Pongracz's insight:

Case study on American auto insurance local queries by GetStat


Auto insurance industry was chosen because it offers localized products and services but isn’t dependant on brick-and-mortar sales, and one of the biggest American brands "Geico".


Study was based on syntax variants of 33 basic short-tail keywords related to auto insurance with search volume per keyword greater than 100 per month.




Query Structure Matters
As we expected, when you only look at search volume, the short-tail unmodified queries win hands-down. A strong majority of desktop searchers do not geo-modify (geo-modify: add location to query) queries for local services that are not tied to brick-and-mortar locations. Instead, they are using simple short-tail keywords like [auto insurance quotes] and letting Google geo-locate (show localised result for any keyword query) them.


Every Query is Local
Even if your sales aren’t tied to brick-and-mortar locations, you still need to be looking at the local picture. The reality is that every search is now local. Google routinely modifies desktop and mobile search results based on a location — even for queries that do not explicitly include geo-modifiers.That means if you’re not tracking keywords on a local level, you’re missing the majority of the competitive landscape


Big players have weaknesses as well
Things can seem hopeless looking at the national picture. But by going deeper with localized ranking data and analysis, you’ll find that even the biggest brands aren’t dominating the SERPS in every local market. These are opportunities that you can identify and strategically exploit in any industry. And it’s not just about large regions like states or provinces. You can dig down to the level of individual cities or even postal codes and ZIP codes to micro-target your SEO strategy.

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Google To Warn Searchers When A Mobile URL Redirects To The Homepage

Google To Warn Searchers When A Mobile URL Redirects To The Homepage | Technical and on-page SEO |

Google alerted webmasters late yesterday that it will let smartphone searchers know if it thinks a website has a “faulty redirect” in place that sends the searcher to your home page, not the page they clicked on.

Via Bonnie Burns
Norman Pongracz's insight:

We’d like to spare users the frustration of landing on irrelevant pages and help webmasters fix the faulty redirects. Starting today in our English search results in the US, whenever we detect that smartphone users are redirected to a homepage instead of the page they asked for, we may note it below the result. If you still wish to proceed to the page, you can click “Try anyway.”

But Google’s not just warning searchers; there’s also help for webmasters. The “Crawl Errors” section of Webmaster Tools will offer specific information about faulty redirects affecting smartphone crawling.

Bonnie Burns's curator insight, June 5, 2014 11:08 AM

Google stated: We’d like to spare users the frustration of landing on irrelevant pages and help webmasters fix the faulty redirects. Starting today in our English search results in the US, whenever we detect that smartphone users are redirected to a homepage instead of the the page they asked for, we may note it below the result. If you still wish to proceed to the page, you can click “Try anyway.”

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Basics of Debugging Google Analytics Code: GA Chrome Debugger and other tools

Basics of Debugging Google Analytics Code: GA Chrome Debugger and other tools | Technical and on-page SEO |
An overview of debugging tracking code, with information on common debugging tools and a deeper look into Chrome GA Debugger
Norman Pongracz's insight:

Debugging GA with GA Chrome Debugger and other tools without no code access (summary)


Common Debugging Tools
-Fiddler2 makes it easy to view every request to Google Analytics (and any other javascript-based Web Analytics tool). You can even try out changes to your tracking code on your live system before releasing them to everyone, the tool is independent from browsers – and it is free!
-Web Analytics Solution Profiler (WASP)
-Charles Debugger
-Firebug/Chrome Developer Console
The function I use most of the time apart from the Console (where errors are being logged) is the Network Tab. It can tell us if the tracking beacon has been sent to Google Analytics successfully. To find out, look for the __utm.gif request. If it displays a “200 OK” status code (see the green light in the screen shot), you know that Google Analytics has received the current Pageview or Event. You can take a look what is inside that request in the “Headers” tab (Cardinal Path’s Kent Clark’s marvelous “Cheat Sheet” helps interpreting the values).

Chrome GA Debugger / ga_debug.js
Google’s recommended debugging tool for Google Analytics is Chrome’s Add-On “GA Debugger”. It is basically a form of using the “ga_debug.js” script without having to alter your page’s code at all (if you use ga_debug.js, you will have to change ga.js into /u/ga_debug.js on every page you want to debug). Chrome GA Debugger is a nice and easy-to-use tool that logs every Pageview and Event that you send to Google Analytics in your Chrome Developer Console (right-click on any part of the page => “Inspect Element” → go to tab “Console”):
Chrome GA Debugger shows you in an easy-to-read format what is being sent to Google Analytics without having to understand or inspect cookie variables or the Network Tab of your Console. It gives you hints like:
-Does my visit have the correct source/medium/campaign?
-Are there pages that accidentally override those sources?
-Are there pages where conflicting JavaScript or other reasons hinder the Tracking Code from being executed?

Fiddler, the browser-independent HTTP debugger and manipulator
With Fiddler, you can even debug your iPhone apps or anything else that does not run through a classic browser.
-The filters to capture only the requests you need (e.g. the Google/Adobe/Webtrends Analytics HTTP requests)
-The inspector tab where you can investigate all the request’s parameters under “Web Forms”
-The AutoResponder that allows you to “kill” specific files or replace one (JavaScript or other) file by another one on your computer or somewhere else

Rewrite the HTML with FiddlerScript
With the AutoResponder, you can easily have your browser load the file you want instead of the default one. So if the code you want to debug is in that specific analytics_code.js file, you just download that file, change it the way you think it could work, save it to your hard drive as “my_analytics_test_code.js”, and then tell the AutoResponder that whenever it encounters “analytics_code.js”, it shall replace that file by the test file on your PC.
But there are some cases where you really have to alter the very HTML code of the page, not simply replace an entire file. Examples when you need this are:
-You want to change a line (or more) of the tracking code inside of your HTML, e.g. add a Webtrends HTML meta tag or a custom variable for Adobe Analytics or Google Analytics
-You want to rewrite an inline Event Tracking call (“inline” are those “onclick” handlers that are inside the link, e.g. < a onclick=”yourcall” >Link< /a >. You should avoid them by the way to keep JavaScript and HTML separate so it is less likely that you have to resort to the method I am describing here)
-You want to test-drive another tool, for example a Tag Management System, a heatmap tool, some conversion tracking for your email marketing tool, or whatever else that requires you to insert code into the web page – which would usually mean working yourself through your development release cycle first (and wait months, ask for budget etc…)
-You want to check whether it is the Tag Management System’s fault that a tag is not working. I had this case recently with a tag in Google Tag Manager (GTM). When I inserted it “the traditional way” by rewriting the HTML via Fiddler, I saw that the tag fired correctly. I realized that it was one of those tags that have to load synchronously, but GTM can only fire tags asynchronously (see some more drawbacks of Google Tag Manager). After some more hours of re-coding the tag, I finally got it working via GTM as well.

Additional tools: AddOn “FiddlerScript” and execute: => “Syntax-Highlighting Add-Ons”



Main article:

Additional articles:

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Homepage Sliders: Bad For SEO, Bad For Usability

Homepage Sliders: Bad For SEO, Bad For Usability | Technical and on-page SEO |
One of the most prevalent design flaws in B2B websites is the use of carousels (or sliders) on the homepage. Carousels are an ineffective way to target user personas, which ends up hurting the site’s SEO and usability. In fact, at the recent Conversion Conference in Chicago, about 25% of the speakers mentioned carousels — […]
Norman Pongracz's insight:

Problem with B2B Homepage Sliders (Summary)


With B2B websites, carousels seem to only be used for one of three reasons: branding, thought leadership or product/service promotion.


Alternating Headings - Many of the carousels the headings in the slider were wrapped in an h1 tag. Basic SEO best practices state that there should only be one h1 tag per page, and it should appear before any other heading tag. The problem with using h1 or any heading tag in the carousel is that every time the slide changes, the h1 tag changes. A page with five slides in the carousel will have 5 h1 tags, which greatly devalues the keyword relevance.

SEO issues
-Flash Usage - few of the websites serve up slider content using Flash. Avoiding Flash to serve up content is SEO 101.
-Poor Performance - As with any website, the more you complicate and add things, the slower the page loading speed. A few sites featuring full-width carousels packed with high resolution images greatly impacts the page load speed.
-Content Replacement - As stated earlier, carousels are used as an ineffective method of targeting user personas. Many websites take this to an extreme by using shallow content on the page.

Usability Issues
-Nobody Clicks On The Carousels
-Content Is Pushed Below The Fold
-The Megaphone Effect - When a user lands on a page, his or her attention is drawn to the carousel because it has revolving content, alternating text, colour changes, and all sorts of other attention-stealing features.
-Confusing Objectives - When a carousel is used, the user will assume the page talks about whatever heading is used in the carousel.

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Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Infinite scroll search-friendly recommendations

Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Infinite scroll search-friendly recommendations | Technical and on-page SEO |
Norman Pongracz's insight:

Infinite scroll search-friendly recommendations

With infinite scroll, crawlers cannot always emulate manual user behaviour - like scrolling or clicking a button to load more items - so they don't always access all individual items in the feed or gallery. To make sure that search engines can crawl individual items linked from an infinite scroll page, your content management system should produce paginated series (component pages) to go along with your infinite scroll.
-Chunk your infinite-scroll page content into component pages that can be accessed when JavaScript is disabled.
-Determine how much content to include on each page while maintaining reasonable page load time.
-Divide content so that there’s no overlap between component pages in the series

Implement replaceState/pushState on the infinite scroll page (The decision to use one or both is up to you and your site’s user behaviour)for the following:
-Any user action that resembles a click or actively turning a page.
-To provide users with the ability to serially backup through the most recently paginated content.

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Beginners Guide to Universal Analytics - Creating Custom Dimensions & Metrics

Beginners Guide to Universal Analytics - Creating Custom Dimensions & Metrics | Technical and on-page SEO |
Beginners Guide to Universal Analytics.Learn some quick tips to get started. Learn creating custom dimensions and custom metrics.
Norman Pongracz's insight:

Difference between Universal Analytics (UA) and Google Analytics (GA) - Excerpt


Data Collection and integration - UA provides more ways to collect and integrate different types of data (across multiple devices and platforms) than Google Analytics (GA). UA provides better understanding of relationship between online and offline marketing channels.

Data Processing - UA is visitor based instead of visit based.

Custom Dimensions and metrics - UA allows 'custom dimensions' and ‘custom metrics’ to collect the type of data GA does not automatically collect (like phone call data, CRM data etc). GA uses 'Custom variables' instead. Vostum variables are available in UA still (not sure for how long). User Interface only changes when using custom dimensions and metrics.

Javascript library - UA uses ‘analytics.js’ JS library whereas GA uses ‘ga.js’.

Tracking Code - GA uses UA tracking code

Remarketing - UA does not support ‘Re-marketing’ yet.

Referrals Processing - in UA, returning referrals considered to be wo web sessions.

Cookies - While GA can use up to 4 cookies (_utma,_utmb,_utmz and _utmv) to collect visitors’ usage data, UA uses only 1 cookie (called _ga).

Privacy and data usage - You need to give your end users proper notice and get consent about what data you will collect via UA. You also need to give your end users the opportunity to ‘opt out’ from being tracked. That means you need to make changes in your privacy and data usage policies. Google recommends using Google Analytics opt out browser add on if you want to block Google Analytics.

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Bruce Clay EU - Theming Through Siloing

Bruce Clay EU - Theming Through Siloing | Technical and on-page SEO |
Theme building through directory based and virtual link silos. Europe
Norman Pongracz's insight:

Possible Alternatives to Eliminate Excessive Navigation or Cross Linking (Excerpt)

When it is impossible to remove menus that contradict subject relevant categories, instead use technology to block the search engine spider's indexing of those specific elements to maintain quality subject relevance.


IFRAMEs: If you have repetitive elements, add an IFRAME to isolate the object to one location and eliminate subject confusion from interlinking. The contents of an IFRAME is an external element that is not a part of the page, or any page except the HTML of the IFRAME contents file itself. As such, IFRAME contents does not count as a part of any page displaying the IFRAME code.


Ajax: Ajax code included dynamically into a web page cannot be indexed in search engines, providing the perfect haven for content, menus and other widgets for user's eyes only.

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Local Landing Pages: A Guide To Great Implementation In Every Situation

Local Landing Pages: A Guide To Great Implementation In Every Situation | Technical and on-page SEO |
With the right types of landing pages, you can dramatically increase your local visibility. These helpful guidelines and tips will help you ensure proper implementation for your specific business model.
Norman Pongracz's insight:

Local Landing Pages: A Guide To Great Implementation In Every Situation - Summary


1) Single-location service area business (SABs) - E.g: Plumber with 30 mile work radius incorporating multiple cities or even a state
Most SABs will be unable to obtain rankings in Google's local pack of results for any city other than the one in which they are physically located, and this leaves business owners wondering how they can accurately represent the fact that they serve in a variety of locations. The answer is to pursue organic rankings, rather than local ones, for these other service cities.

How it works:
Identify the key cities in which you serve, beyond your city of location.
Create a unique page of content on your website for each of these cities.
Link to these pages from a top level menu, perhaps under a heading such as "Cities We Serve."
If possible, earn social mentions and links for these pages.

Start by identifying your very most important cities (maybe 5 or 10 of them). Develop well-planned, high-quality pages for each of them. You can then continue to build out new pages over time, or, consider the idea of developing an on-site blog to begin publishing ongoing content about your less-important service cities as well as your important ones.

2) Single location brick-and-mortar business - This is the restaurant, dental office, or retail shop with just one physical location.
If your business has more of a link than this to surrounding towns or cities, you might have something of value to write about. A legitimate connection might include, but not be limited to, the following hypothetical scenarios:

3) Multi-location brick-and-mortar or service area business - E.g: Solicitors
In this scenario, you have more than one office, either from which your staff travels to offer services or to which your customers come to do business. In both cases you will be creating local landing pages for each physical address. Provided that each location has a unique phone number and is staffed during stated open hours, you are allowed to create a Google+ Local page for each office, too.

4) National company desiring a local presence - E.g: Estate businesses
If you have staffed, physical locations in some cities and make in-person contact with your customers, then you are eligible to create a local landing page and attached Google+ Local page for each physical office.

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Getting hreflang Right: Examples and Insights for International SEO

Getting hreflang Right: Examples and Insights for International SEO | Technical and on-page SEO |
If you're trying to figure out exactly what hreflang will and will not do for your sites, this post (complete with examples of hreflang implementations from several major brands) should help set things straight.
Norman Pongracz's insight:



Section 1: How to check international SERPs the right way

Mimicing international searches:
Where: - national search engine (change it to, .es, etc.)
hl=es - language of search (change it to en, de etc.)
gl=us - country of search (change it to uk, au, etc.)
pws=0 - de-personalised search, don't change it
q= - query, add query parameters (for example q=seo, q=red+dress, etc.)

Full list of language/country codes:

Section 2: What should hreflang do and not do
Hreflang will not replace geo-ranking factors and will not fix (general) duplicate content issues
Will: Help the right country/language version of your cross-annotated pages appear in the correct versions of *google.*

Section 3: Examples of hreflang behaviour

Case 1: <head> hreflang, 302 redirect on homepage, and subdomain configuration
<link href="" hreflang="en-us" rel="alternate" title="CNN" type="text/html"/>
<link href="" hreflang="es" rel="alternate" title="CNN Mexico" type="text/html"/>

This ranks the spanish site neither for mexican searches nor spanish searches in the US
Let's try to explain this behaviour: actually 302's to; this is regular SEO behaviour that causes the origin page URL to display in search resuls and the content comes from the redirect. is not the right answer for "es" (Spanish language) IMO, because it's the Mexican version and should be annotated as "mx-es" ;)
Since exists and seems to have worldwide news, I would use this as the "ES" version.
Cross hreflang annotations are missing, so the whole thing isn't going to work anyways.

Case 2:
Configuration: <head> hreflang, language/country variations and duplicate content
*FYI - I've shortened this for simplicity
x-default -
en_GB -
en - href

X default ranks for UK searches
Let's try to explain this behaviour:
One thing you may not notice is that the EN, X default, and GB version are almost entirely duplicate (around 99%). Which one should the algorithm choose? This is a good example of hreflang not handling dupe content.
The GB version doesn't display in UK search results, and the rankings are not the same (US ranking is higher than UK on average). The hreflang annotation is using the underscore rather than the standard hyphen (EN_GB versus EN-GB)
They use a self-referencing canonical, which, contrary to some beliefs, has absolutely no effect on the targeting

Case 3:
Configuration: <head> hreflang, subdomain & cctld, country targeting and x-default
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-gb" href=""; />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="x-default" href=""; />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-us" href=""; />
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="fr-fr" href=""; />

X default works. US nad FR query works, but FR sitelinks does not.
Let's try to explain this behaviour:
Perfect example of perfect implementation
One thing to notice is that they double list the EN-GB page also as the X-default
The English sitelink in the French results is pretty weird, but I think this is the perfect situation to escalate to Google as their implementation is correct as far as I can tell.

Case 4:
Configuration: XML sitemaps hreflang, subfolders, rel canonical and dupe content
Sample of hreflang annotations:

<xhtml:linkhreflang="en-US" href=""; rel="alternate"/>
<xhtml:link hreflang="en-CA" href=""; rel="alternate"/>
<xhtml:link hreflang="en-PH" href=""; rel="alternate" /> should appear in the US, should appear for Canadian - English queries ( and should appear in Google Philippines for English queries.

Canadian results are wrong. US nad PH is ok.
Let's try to explain this behaviour:
All 3 homepages are almost exactly identical, hence duplicate content
The Canadian version contains <link rel="canonical" href=""; /> - that means it's being canonicalized to the main US version
The Philippines version does not contain a canonical tag
Google is choosing which is the right duplicate version to show, unless there is a canonical instruction

Section 5: Tips from many screw-ups and successes
Use either the <head> implementation or XML sitemaps, not both. It can technically work, but trust me, you'll probably screw something up - just stick to one or the other.
If you don't cross annotate, it won't work. Plain and simple, use Aleyda's tool to help you.
Google says you should self-reference hreflang, but I also see it working without (check out If you want to play safe, self reference; we don't know what Google will change in the future.
Try to eliminate the need for duplicate content, but if you must, it's okay to use canonical + hreflang as long as you know what you're doing. Check out this cool isolated test which is still relevant. Remember, mo' dupes, mo' problems.
Hreflang needs time to work properly. At a bare minimum, Google needs to crawl both cross annotations for the switch to happen. Help yourself by pinging sitemaps, but be aware of at least a 2-day lag.
You can double-annotate a URL when using X-default, in case you were afraid to. Don't worry, it's cool.
Make sure you're actually having a problem before you go ranting on webmaster forums. Double check what you're seeing and ask other people to check as well. Check your Google parameters and personalized results!
You can 302 your homepage when you're using a country redirect strategy. Yes, I know it's crazy, yes, a little bird told me and I thoroughly tested this and didn't see a loss. There's 2 sites I know of using this, so check them out: The Guardian & Red Bull.

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Making Angular sites indexable

Making Angular sites indexable | Technical and on-page SEO |

Angular, injects HTML into an already loaded page, meaning that clicking on a link doesn't reload the page. However AngularJS cause some indexation issues on websites. Deepcrawl has advised some best practices on how to solve indexation issues.

Norman Pongracz's insight:

Making Angular sites indexable


Angular JS is a framework for building dynamic web apps that use HTML as a base language. Put simply, Angular, injects HTML into an already loaded page, meaning that clicking on a link doesn’t reload the page, it simply uses the framework to inject a new set of HTML to serve to the user. This means the page doesn’t have to reload and the website is significantly faster and saves the developer time as considerably less code has to be written.


However Angular JS causes many indexation concerns. Deepcrawl built TransferWise that is indexed.


Recommendation to make Angular site indexable


1. Removing the forced hashes that Angular has set as default.
The URL structure should match the most common path that the user follows to reach a page:
- com/
- com/category/
- com/category/page/
By default, however, Angular sets your pages up as such:
- com
- com/#/category
- com/#/page


Hash bang allows Angular to know which HTML elements to inject with JS. Hasb bangs can be removed by configuring $locationProvider: In Angular, the $location service parses the URL in the address bar and makes changes to your application and vice versa. We have to use the $locationProvider module and set html5Mode to true.


2. One might have issues with relative URL’s: Writing these as “<a href=”en/countries/united-kingdom”>…</a>”, when they should have been <a href=”/en/countries/united-kingdom”>…</a>. 

Although everything can be seemingly fine for the user, when crawling this with a bot, the strings in the links will be appending to whatever the URL already was. So, for example, the homepage link in the main navigation would append an extra “/en” to the URL, rather than just pointing to itself. This meant that crawling the site gave you an infinite list of URLs with more and more subfolders. (Just adding this as a side note as it is something you might want to test for).


To link around your application using relative links, you will need to set a <base> in the <head> of your document. HTML5 mode set to true should automatically resolve relative links.


3. Rendering


If your server can’t handle the crawlers’ requests, this can result in an increase in server errors seen by the search engine. One solution to this is to pre-render in advance server-side, so that when crawlers reach the server, the page is already rendered.
An alternative method is to add the fragment Meta tag to your pages. When this is present, Google passes a URL string parameter that looks like: ?_escaped_fragment_. What this does is redirect Googlebot to the server in order to fetch a pre-rendered version.



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When to Hide Content Behind Forms and When to Give Content Away

Understand your users’ intents and stage in the sales funnel before you gate content.
Norman Pongracz's insight:

Should you gate content — that is, keep white papers, case studies, or e-books behind a form that becomes the gate-keeper for allowing users access?


Traditional websites have relied on heavy forms to find and convert leads, even at the high risk of losing potential customers. Gated content is particularly common on B2B sites.


There are situations, however, when people are more likely to fill in such forms. Mapping content to the user’s journey will help you determine whether or not to gate content on a case by case basis. The type of content as well as the implementation of the actual “gate” also affect the users’ willingness to go past the gate and fill in the lead-generation form.


When Not to Gate
Content such as articles and blog posts should not be gated if your main goal is to establish stronger thought leadership, increase site traffic, and improve SEO. Search engines usually can’t see content behind gates, so it’s best to keep content within view if you want to make it findable.
Additionally, content that is meant to increase awareness or answer fundamental product questions should remain ungated as well. Early in the buying cycle, people need to understand what the thing does and how it benefits them.
Gating content prematurely creates tension and distrust. Many organizations make the mistake of placing items such as case studies, FAQs, and product specifications behind gates. These content assets don’t usually belong behind gates.
People in the initial stages of the buying cycle have lower commitment and a higher propensity to abandon forms than people in later stages. At low-commitment stages, one way to shine is to immediately appear transparent and courteous. This is your chance to initiate the conversation and make a good first impression. If users perceive value, they will be more inclined to move the relationship forward and provide you with their personal details later.


When to Gate
People are more willing to risk offering their personal information when they perceive your content as valuable and unique. Sometimes it’s appropriate to gate high-value content in resources such as research papers, webinars, and training videos. The challenge for organizations is to determine what content visitors consider valuable enough to be worth their personal information.
Site visitors are most apt to complete forms when they can’t get the information elsewhere and when the purchase intent is high. People do expect to have to answer a few questions in exchange for free trials, quotes, downloads, webinars, and consultation requests.

If you decide to gate content, make sure you:


1 / Provide a reasonable level of content outside of the gate to demonstrate the value of your offering. Prove your worth before asking for something in return. Use the reciprocity principle to motivate engagement. Placing the gate within the content could be a viable option. For example, give people a list of tips but save the most critical ones for after the reader completes the form.
2 / Balance SEO with lead generation. Keep in mind, locking your best content behind gates will significantly diminish your search rankings. It’s no good to have great content if no one discovers it. Landing pages and gateway pages can improve SEO and increase user engagement by reassuring users that they are in the right place and by setting proper expectations.
3 / Find the right moment in the workflow to gate content. Do it when people are ready to have a conversation with you about your services. Determine where users are in the sales funnel and tailor your communication to the buyer’s state and commitment level.
4 / Keep the questions short and targeted. Studies show that shorter forms have higher conversion rates. Only ask for essential information that you can use now and leave out questions that merely satisfy some vague curiosity: every time you cut a question from the gating form, you’ll get more responses to the remaining questions. A single question (such as a request for an email address) is low risk for users and appropriate especially during the initial phases. The less work required to access content, the more willing people are to exchange information.
5 / Consider employing progressive profiling to nurture the relationship. Rather than asking people to complete a long and tedious profile form, collect information about each prospect over time, by asking different questions that are customized to the situation and buyer’s intent.
6 / Make sure you have stellar content behind gates. Users are more willing to give personal information when they trust the content quality. Your challenge is to find out what content people value and to make it consistently remarkable.
7 / Ensure that people understand the value of your content before having to pass through the gate. If users have downloaded some of your gated content before, then their level of satisfaction on that earlier occasion will dictate whether they’ll try to do it again. For new users, you must work harder to increase their comfort. Providing a clear summary or list of benefits could lower their resistance to completing the form.
8 / Protect the user’s inbox. Once people trust you with their email address, use it respectfully.

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Beyond Rich Snippets: Semantic Web Technologies for Better SEO

Beyond Rich Snippets: Semantic Web Technologies for Better SEO | Technical and on-page SEO |
Google can reward structured data use with rich snippets. But semantic web technologies can improve search visibility in other ways too.
Norman Pongracz's insight:

The benefits of employing structured data and associated semantic web technologies extend past rich snippet generation.


Some history


OG and Schema
The introduction of (2011), though, provided webmasters with the first general-purpose set of schemas that were officially sanctioned by the search engines. The Open Graph protocol (2010) grew out of the Facebook Platform, and enabled developers to integrate web pages into the social graph (a graph of the relationships between internet users).


Knowledge graph
Google introduced its Knowledge Graph in 2012, which draws on a number of structured data sources to populate this knowledge base that currently resides alongside Google's main search results. Just as Google leaned on structured data sources to build its knowledge graph, Facebook Platform technologies facilitated the release of Facebook Graph Search in 2013.


Data highlighter
Around the time that the Knowledge Graph events vertical started to appear, Google introduced the Data Highlighter, which allows webmasters to visually match visible website information with properties supported by the Highlighter. In other words, it provides a mechanism to provide Google with structured information about a resource without marking it up in the code.
The first (and at time of writing, only) content type supported by the Highlighter? Events.


Structured data and eCommerce

Ecommerce-related structured data has changed this. Using, not only can ecommerce sites expose the same information in markup that is supplied in feeds, but websites can now markup more detailed information about their products, offers and services than are supported by product feeds.

Structured data helps the search engines better understand your site. A breadcrumb rich underlying code helps the search engines more clearly understand the hierarchy of your site and the relationship between pages. 

Well-executed structured data can help provide a more consistent and positive experience for website users, whether their exposure to your content is through search results, social media or third-party applications.
Employing structured data can help developers and optimization specialists see what underlies a resource through a data lens – that is, as related data points and data values, rather than disconnected widgets and disparate pieces of information. For example, a page's "like" button seen through this lens is not generically a widget for Facebook, but a mechanism to provide Facebook users and Open Graph consumers with precisely crafted information.


Data fidelity as a trust-building measure: Consistency of data is important for search engines. In particular, as this principle applies to structured data, search engines will trust your content more if it can see that your visible content aligns with the data provided in your markup.


An additional point of data reference for the search engines are XML product feeds. The search engines will accord greater trust to ecommerce pages if the product feed, markup and visible content are in sync.
Note: Consistency is, in fact, almost certainly one of the reasons that the search engines put their weight behind, which was literally designed for attribute-based markup, rather than opting for Open Graph-like invisible metadata (remember <meta> keywords?). And this is also the reason Google makes a point of advising against marking up non-visible content except in situations where a very precise data type is required but is not available on a page, such as a numeric representation of review star ratings, or event durations in ISO 8601 date format.


Local markup:
The true strength and ultimately the great potential of Google+, namely, as a interlinked network of verified, canonical, named entities (rel="publisher", Google+ profiles and Google+ pages). The role that Google+ could potentially play in determining provenance is obvious. The combination of a Google+ Profile or Page and structured data means Google can connect the dots between a web resource and the entity that produced that resource.


Structured data and semantic architecture
While it's perfectly possible to markup a site with structured data after it's been built, a site that's constructed with an eye to semantic structure will fare better in the long run than one that's not.
The BBC World Cup 2010 website did not have structured data applied to it, but was actually assembled with the aid of semantic web technologies. The result is a rock-solid resource that at once reliably meets human visitors' needs, and at the same time provides search engines with explicit, utterly unambiguous data (the BBC has taken a lead role this sort of semantic architecture).

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Understanding web pages better

Norman Pongracz's insight:

Google indexing JavaScript: Implications and Risks


The “Googlebot” finally has the ability to interpret JavaScript, the last remaining core construct used to create and manipulate content on web pages (HTML and CSS being the other two).


Implications and potential risks with solutions:


Better Flow of Link Juice

Entire navigation menus are sometimes fully reliant on JavaScript. The ability to parse these links will result in better “link juice” distribution.


Poor Load Times

The use of excessive JavaScript is rampant and, often times, a browser has to make a significant quantity of additional requests and spend time downloading this JavaScript. Now that the Googlebot has to do this too, many sites’ load times in the eyes of Google are likely to increase. To see if you’re affected log in to your Google Webmaster tools and check your “Crawl Stats” graph over the past few months. Also, if your web server is unable to handle the volume of crawl requests for resources, it may have a negative impact on our capability to render your pages. If you’d like to ensure that your pages can be rendered by Google, make sure your servers are able to handle crawl requests for resources.



If resources like JavaScript or CSS in separate files are blocked (say, with robots.txt) so that Googlebot can’t retrieve them, Google's indexing systems won’t be able to see your site like an average user. We recommend allowing Googlebot to retrieve JavaScript and CSS so that your content can be indexed better.


Graceful Degradation

It's always a good idea to have your site degrade gracefully. This will help users enjoy your content even if their browser doesn't have compatible JavaScript implementations. It will also help visitors with JavaScript disabled or off, as well as search engines that can't execute JavaScript yet.


Content indexation

Some JavaScript removes content from the page rather than adding, which prevents us from indexing the content.


Additional resource:

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Top 20 SEO requirements for scoping your eCommerce platform

Top 20 SEO requirements for scoping your eCommerce platform | Technical and on-page SEO |
Having spent the last 6 years Client side as Head of eCommerce and agency side managing digital marketing teams, one constant has been confusion in new platform builds over what a “search engine friendly” website actually is.
Norman Pongracz's insight:

SEO requirements for setting up new eCommerce domain


Accessibility and Navigation
The key content is still visible to search engine spiders/bots as well as to visitors when elements like JavaScript are disabled
The site can be used in different browsers and devices
XML sitemap generated dynamically and is submitted on a regular basis
HTML sitemap is auto generated based on product catalogue and site structure
Robots.txt file is provided
Rich snippets are supported within platform
Custom 404 error page and automated report to flag error pages
Flat information architecture
Thin content pages are blocked from crawling
Site search is blocked from crawling
Flash objects are search engine friendly
Pdf content is readable
Page load time to meet agreed threshold


301 redirects from legacy pages, non canonical URLs and orphaned pages (non www or no trailing slash) to preserve search engine rankings
Canonical tag used to avoid duplicate content
Hreflang directives are set up for pages having version in different languages and regions


Dynamically generatet search engine friendly URLs for product and content pages
Ability to specify / edit URLs for individual pages via CMS for campaign landing pages and microsites


On-page Elements
Keyword optimised H tags within html for headings – structure for use of H1 to H6 to provide a relevant hierarchy of content
Core provision for meta content (title, description, keywords) that is auto generated
Images have appropriate ALT tags
Keyword in title tag (unique for each page, include keywords)
H1 with keyword can be found on each page


Major headings are clear & descriptive
Critical content is above the fold
Font size/Spacing is easy to read
Clear path to company information and contact Information
Main navigation is easily identifiable
Navigation labels are clear & concise
Number of buttons/links is reasonable
Company logo Is linked to home-page
Links are consistent & easy to identify
Site search is easy to access
Provide text alternatives for all non-text content
For all non-text content that is used to convey information, text alternatives identify the non-text content and convey the same information. For multimedia, provide a text-alternative that identifies the multimedia.
For non-text content that is intended to create a specific sensory experience, text alternatives at least identify the non-text content with a descriptive label (for instance: colour guide).
Captions are provided for pre-recorded multimedia.
HTML page titles are explanatory
Social media content such as blogs are hosted on your primary website domain


Visitor tracking
Visitor analytics (such as Google Analytics or Omniture) is implemented
Google & Bing Webmaster Tools accounts set up
Event and Goal Tracking set up




Main article:


Supporting articles:

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15 Great Citation Resources for Local Search

15 Great Citation Resources for Local Search | Technical and on-page SEO |
For many SMBs & SEOs that are new to local search, understanding citations and what’s important about them can be a bit mystifying. On the surface, local directory listings seem as plain as day – how complex can business listings on a website be right?! But once you start getting drawn into the murky world
Norman Pongracz's insight:

Citation Building Basics (Summary)


In simple SEO terms a Local Citation is simply where your company is mentioned on other websites and places found on the Internet. Local citations are used heavily in helping you to rank in local search results.
An example of a citation could be a business directory such as Yell, Thompson Local or Brown Book where your company is mentioned explicitly by name. Local citations do not to include a link to your site. It could also be where your company is mentioned, cited, referenced or spoken about on other local websites.

Citation sources come in 6 main shapes & sizes (see below). Some are specific to an industry or city, while some are much broader in scope and provide listings for all types of business in all towns across the country. As long as the site has some relevance to your business (e.g. offers correct category to list or covers same geographic location) and is decent in quality then it’s a goer.

Local Directories
-Niche or Vertical directories
-General Directories
-Event sites
-Social platforms
-Local news & blog sites

How can I find out where I’m already listed?
-CitationTracker (by BrightLocal)
-CitationFinder (by WhiteSpark)

Knowing where you’re listed gives you &frac12; the picture. To really bring your citation situation into focus you need to know what your business data looks like on these sites.
-Do they have your business name stored correctly?
-Do they have your exact address & zipcode?
-Are they using the right local number for your business?

-Yext Local listings scan tool
-Brightlocal SEO Check Up
-UBL Visibility Tool

Where else can I get myself a listing? -The best way to work this out is to spy on your competitors and see where they’re listed. If your competitors can get a listing on a site it follows that you should – in most cases – also be able to get a listing. The same 2 tools that help you find your existing citations (CitationTracker & CitationFinder) can also be used to spy on your competitors.

What category should I use for my business? - Selecting the right category/categories to list your business on aggregator & citation sites is very important. But identifying & selecting the right category can be tricky for some businesses. Tools:

How long does it take for listings to go live? If you submit listings manually, direct to sites then the speed of go live tends to be much faster than if you submit via a 3rd party or aggregator service. We typically see 70% of our direct submissions go live within 4 weeks of submission, with many going live instantly or in 48-72 hours.

Most important UK Citation Sources:
Brownbook. net (verification required only for claiming listing)


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Google Analytics Troubleshooting Guide & Auditing Resources - MarketingVOX

Google Analytics Troubleshooting Guide & Auditing Resources - Publisher: MarketingVox
Norman Pongracz's insight:

Debugging Google Analytics Setup - Common Mistakes (Summary)


GA 101: accounts, trackers, domains:
1) the tracking code is in your website's HTML source code,
2) you are using the right tracking code,
3) you are checking the right GA account in the application's settings,
4) GA is acknowledging that it is receiving data for that account, and (For testing this, see:
5) there are no "rogue" sites using your UA code out there. (If someone puts your Google Analytics tracking code on their site (the same UA-#), visits to their site will show up in your Google Analytics profiles - for more details read:

Goals, funnels, and filters
If your goals are not being tracked (i.e. GA never reports any match) make sure your URLs are an exact match, or double-check your regular expressions, depending on how the goal rules have been written. Exact match is easier to use but less flexible and more brittle if you are going to change URLs or want to match a whole family of similar URLs.
Badly set up funnels can show incoherent data such as everyone leaving after an early step while your goal conversion does show conversion events further down the funnel. See
When running filters, check you understand their syntax. If you are using several filters, bear in mind they are executed one after the other and "feed" into each other. Using more than one Include filter can lead to data loss and should be done with caution.

Campaign tracking
If you have already made sure your various traffic generation efforts (e.g. in email newsletters) embed the right URL parameters, the next step is to verify that the redirects properly work. In larger teams it is advised to use a centralized online document or spreadsheet to keep track of normalized campaign parameters.

Site search, site overlay, site speed
Some GA features do not work if you rewrite URLs, so if you want to use site search or site overlay, make sure to use a separate profile from the one where you generate readable "fake" URLs. If your CMS allows it or if you can run custom server-side code (e.g. in PHP) you can also make GA believe you are using a search query parameter even if you are not.

Asynchronous tracking, ecommerce and custom variables
While CMS upgrades and migrations are a leading cause of analytics problems on accounts that used to work, moving to the newer async GA code has to be done with similar caution. Among specific problems with the latest generation of GA scripting:
-Stick to the exact spelling and casing of method names (e.g. _trackPageview) - they are case sensitive.
-Be careful to not have leading or trailing whitespace when you're pushing the tracking code.
-Pass along strings within quotes, but do not otherwise use quotes for other value types such as booleans.
When coming from the older (synchronous) syntax, make sure you have converted everything, including ecommerce integration. Speaking of which, check that you do not have improperly escaped special characters or -apostrophes getting in the way. See more on this topic.
If you are using custom variables, verify that you are following these guidelines. Mixing page, session and visitor-level variables in the same slot is not recommended. Migration from the deprecated _setVar method to _setCustomVar should be done carefully. And while the dreaded "%20" bug was finally fixed in May 2011, this means filters need to be rewritten. Also, know that custom variables typically take longer to appear in GA than "regular" data - it can take up to 48 hours on very large sites.

Auditing and support tools
Auditing and support tools - with a mix of a javascript console and a http live header sniffer, it is possible to instantly know what's going on with your code. To that effect, Google Analytics Tracking Code Debugger is a very convenient Chrome browser extension.




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There's no place like home (page)

There's no place like home (page) | Technical and on-page SEO |
Your home page is one of the most visited pages on your website. Few people will visit your site without seeing it. But a lot of home pages suck. Read this, and make sure yours doesn’t.
Norman Pongracz's insight:

Homepage Optimisation (Summary)


-Show whatever it is you’re selling - sounds obvious but often sites don’t show off their products. The first thing users should see is whatever you’re selling. It should be big, bold and beautiful.
-If, you sell a service rather than a physical product (see Mailchimp), try to encapsulate what you do in the simplest, shortest way you can. So if you’re a lawyer, you could say ‘No-nonsense legal advice’, an accountant ‘Tax returns the easy way!’
-Keep it short, punchy and use real language. And try to include (where appropriate) words of quality like ‘easy’, ‘simple’, ‘discover’, ‘free’ as these are the words that people tend to respond to. Visitors then know what they’re getting and if they’re interested, they’ll stick around.
-Use really eye-catching images. For instance ASOS draws in your eyes so you can’t help but look at ‘SHOP MEN’ and ‘SHOP WOMEN’. T
-The key here is that all your products need to be “above the fold”. That is to say, you shouldn’t need to scroll down to see them.
-Make the next step clear - make sure it’s blindingly obvious. It’s sometimes difficult to summarize what your business does as succinctly as this. But try, because it will make your website much more compelling. Retailers can’t use the home page to sell individual products (that’s what product pages are for), but they can, should and do, sell themselves. (see: ASOS)
-Use a disruptive homepage design! A very linear, blocky site, where everything is aligned and there are lots of right angles, might be clear and even, but it’s very difficult to make anything stand out. This means users’ attention won’t be channelled towards your ‘call to action’. Use elements that break up alignments and hierarchies, and push your users’ eyes to where you want them to go. The more something sticks out, the more people will click on it.
-Testify! As a webmaster, you need to do all you can to reassure your customers that you’re trustworthy. One of the easiest ways is with testimonials, quotes from people who have used, and liked, your service. A lot of companies ask for feedback automatically after a purchase is complete.
-Videos. You don’t need to produce the next blockbuster, but you should turn your hand to making a video or two. Videos, as well as being great content that search engines love, reassure your customers.
-Remember the visual hierarchy - Some of the pages on your website will make you lots of money, others won’t. Navigation should always be easy and intuitive, but you can still nudge your users in the right direction. Don’t feel you have to treat all pages equally. You can make some pages easier to find than others.
-Consider making the social icons bigger, to make my content easier to share. (And try to put the icons on the right hand side of the page, because more people will click them.)

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Ecommerce SEO Tips: User-Focused SEO Strategies For Deleted Products | Linchpin SEO

Ecommerce SEO Tips:  User-Focused SEO Strategies For Deleted Products | Linchpin SEO | Technical and on-page SEO |
Ecommerce SEO Tips: User-Focused SEO Strategies For Deleted Products by Linchpin SEO
Norman Pongracz's insight:

Options for handling changes in product pages



Redirect to the Deleted Product’s Category Page - this should be the category that is one level up from the product page, or if there is less than 3 products in the defined category, keep climbing the taxonomy until there is at least 3 products in a category.
Once this category is defined, 301 redirect the old product page to this category.
-Good for seasonal products
-Pushes ranking value into the category page.
-Allows the ranking value to be split between remaining products in that category
-Gives users the ability to find other relevant products that could fit their needs
-Lowers the risk of users going back to the search results page and visiting a competing website
-Once the search engine re-crawls the page and finds the 301 redirect the product will be removed from the search engines index.
-Possible user confusion. This risk can be mitigated by serving a small JavaScript overlay on the category page (this can’t interfere with the search engines ability to crawl the category page) explaining that the previous item is not available, but that these might be helpful.

A 301 redirect coupled with a noindex/follow meta-tag on the search results page - Whenever a user clicks on an external link – 
return the search results page to the user that includes similar products
-Keeps users engaged with the website.
-Using the noidex/follow meta-tag allows ranking metrics to flow through the internal links on the search results set, but keeps the search results page out of the Google index.
-Allows for discovery of similar products
-Once the search engine re-crawls the page and finds the 301 redirect the product will be removed from the search engines index.
-Possible user confusion. This risk can be mitigated by serving a small JavaScript overlay on the category page (this can’t interfere with the search engines ability to crawl the page) explaining that the previous item is not available, but that these might be helpful.
-Leaves the product selection up to the user. Thus, the website owner can’t control the outcome of the user journey or directly match/recommend a single product that best matches their intent.

Manually Redirect to a Similar Product - Manually create a 301 mapping by selecting a similar product or page from the remaining product set so whenever a user clicks on an external link – either from the search results, bookmark, social website, or from a link on another website they are taken to the new page. Create an environment to allow for the deleted item to be redirected to this newly identified page.
-Ability to easily match relevancy based on user need.
-Ability to redirect to a similar product that high conversion rate – or even a new product that has a high relevancy to the deleted product.
-Keeps users engaged within the website.
-Allows for direct flow of ranking and social metrics from one product to another.
-Once the search engine re-crawls the page and finds the 301 redirect the product will be removed from the search engines index.
-Possible user confusion. This risk can be mitigated by serving a small JavaScript overlay on the category page (this can’t interfere with the search engines ability to crawl the page) explaining that the previous item is not available, but that these might be helpful.
-This is done manually and can be time consuming for large ecommerce websites.

Redirect Based on Relevancy Value
Title relevancy is high enough redirect directly to related product.
Whenever a user clicks on an external link – and it is detected that a 404 error will occur, dynamically spin a search on the back end utilizing title of the product.
-If there is a product that matches at a high enough relevancy (this will be defined based on product set) send the user directly to that product.
-If the relevancy of products is not high enough, send the user to a search results page with a group of related products.
-This is a combination is serving the best option to the user based on value and relevancy.
-Keeps users engaged within the website.
-Keeps ranking and social metrics flowing throughout the website.
-Once the search engine re-crawls the page and finds the 301 redirect the product will be removed from the search engines index.
-Possible user confusion. This risk can be mitigated by serving a small JavaScript overlay on the category page (this can’t interfere with the search engines ability to crawl the page) explaining that the previous item is not available, but that these might be helpful.

Custom 404 Page - Whenever a user clicks on an external link, redirect the user to a custom 404 page This page should: Inform the user the product is no longer available; Provide related product selections; Provide a search box for the user to search the website for other products.
-Directly informs the user that the product is no longer available
-Once the search engine re-crawls the page and finds the 301 redirect the product will be removed from the search engines index.
-Loss of ranking or social value that the deleted item had built.
-Higher risk the user will hit the back button and go to a competitor of yours who still has the product.

Permanently delete the expired product’s pages, content and URLs. When you have no closely related products to the one that’s expired, you may choose to delete the page completely using a 410 status code (gone) which notifies Google that the page has been permanently removed and will never return.

Reuse URLs. If you sell generic products where technical specifications and model numbers are not relevant, you could reuse your URLs. That way you will preserve the page’s authority and increase your chances of ranking on Google.

Some items deserve to live on. Certain products may have informational value for existing customers or others wanting to research it. Leave these pages intact. Previous buyers can get information, help and service through these pages.

In case of out-of-stock items
-Leave the pages up. If the items will be in stock later, leave pages up just the way they are. Don’t delete, hide or replace them. Don’t add another product to them or redirect visitors to other pages.
-Inform users when it will return. Always offer an expected date when the product will be back in stock so visitors will know when to come back and buy.
-Offer to backorder the product. Let them order and promise to have it sent out to them as soon as fresh supplies arrive. Prospective buyers who really want the product won’t mind waiting a few extra days for it.


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Page Title & Meta Description By Pixel Width In SERP Snippet | Screaming Frog

Page Title & Meta Description By Pixel Width In SERP Snippet | Screaming Frog | Technical and on-page SEO |
Norman Pongracz's insight:

For page Titles Google now use 18px Arial for the title element, previously it was 16px. However interestingly, Google are still internally truncating based on 16px, but the CSS will kick in way before their ellipsis is shown due to the larger font size. The upshot of this change is that text is no longer truncated at word boundaries. Bolding pushes he size of text in pixels. We also see Google moving brand phrases to the start of a title dynamically.

For meta descriptions actually the CSS truncation appears to be around 920 pixels.

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How to Remove a Manual Penalty | World of Search

How to Remove a Manual Penalty | World of Search | Technical and on-page SEO |
This guide explains, in depth, how to get over a manual penalty for inbound links and uses: This Excel template DISCLAIMER: There are undoubtedly faster and shorter processes to audit your links and submit a reconsideration request. Taking shortcuts like that may work, or it may not. This process is the full-blown, no cut corners …
Norman Pongracz's insight:
SummaryFirst Steps / Basic Analysis on Pitch LevelDid the client receive any link warning message in Google Webmaster Tools?Did the client experience any sharp decline in visibility via Search Metrics? (Penguin and manual penalty tends to be a sharp decline in rankings compared to the slow downfall of Panda penalty)Is it possible that the decline was caused by competitors' sites getting penalty removed and regaining their ranking?Did the client experience any sharp decline in traffic via GA? Does this correspond with decline in visibility?Is it possible that decline in traffic was caused by tracking or other issue than penalty?Did the company lost its ranking for brand terms (Google search "Brand term")Has there been any link removal done beforehand? Are there any documentations on it?Does the client have any white/safe-list of links/domains?Does the domain interlink with any other domains? (such as and Did they implement HrefLang or any other solution to prevent looking spammy?What Is a “Bad” Link?

Basically a “bad” link in Google’s eyes is anything that isn’t editorial – any link that you created for the purpose of SEO.

If someone created a random link to your website on some unrelated forum, that might be a link that we consider not great from an SEO perspective, but from a penalty perspective there’s theoretically nothing wrong with it.

However, if you discover that you have many backlinks from low quality and unrelated domains, they may be worth removing – even if you didn’t make them. Look for patterns. One link from a Spam directory will not result in penalty. A dozens of links from Spam directories might.

In addition, Google seems to give the most relevancy when it comes to penalties to your most recent links (as opposed to links you made five years ago). Try getting your “latest links” look around to see if there is any suspicious recent activity.

Link Metrics Analysis

Link Research Tools Detox Analysis

What risk did LRTs assign to the domain?Did you classify at least 80% of keywords?What is the risk distribution?Does anchor text distribution look natural?

LRTs is not that useful to determine the site’s spam backlinks but provides an excellent benchmark to understand the toxicity.

Backlink Data Collection

Majestic (Historic preferably)OSEaHrefsMajestic and/or OSE apiUpload list of links on LRTs

Spreadsheet analysis

The best practice is to review each domain (or a linking page/domain) manually, but many times this isn't possible. So here are some shortcuts.

Are any of the links appearing in previous disavow files?Do they have a white list of links?What are the top referring domains? (Worth reviewing the top domains manually)Do links have suspicious domain names and/or URL paths? Spam links tend to have at least one of the following words in their URLs: SEO, link, directory (or many times: dir), submit, web, site, search, Alexa, moz, domain, list, engine, bookmark, rank etc.Spam domains tend to have unusually long URL names (example: or have marketing sounding path names and titles (example: importance-of-selling-your-stuff-online)Spam domains tend to have low citation and trust flow metrics (under 15)Spam domains tend to have low amount of backlinksSpam domains often created within a short period of time – i.e. low domain age.Are referring domains all have unique IP address? Does some of the domains look like a link network?Are press releases and sponsored posts as well as guest blogging guidelines no-followed?Review for high quality directories that can be whitelisted (dmoz, yahoo directory, yell etc.)
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Case Study: The Impact of HrefLang Tag | SEER Interactive

Case Study: The Impact of HrefLang Tag | SEER Interactive | Technical and on-page SEO |
A client came to us few months ago wanting to improve their organic presence in (US) for their sub domain ( Their main domain
Norman Pongracz's insight:

Case Study and Examples of Hreflang Implementation:



1) Diff URLs with same Language

Google UK:

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en” href=””/>
(in this example their .com domain is for Google UK)

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-gb” href=””/>
(for sites)

Google US:
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-us” href=””>

Google Australia:
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-au” href=””>



Google France: <link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”fr” href=””/>

Google Germany: <link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”de” href=””/>


3) Subfolders

Google Italy: <link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”it” href=””/>

Google Spain: <link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”es” href=””/>



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