Design, layout, colors, styling, formatting, User Interfaces, and other interesting Design topics will be discussed here.

Pagination and Duplicate Content in SEO

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Pagination Duplicate Content and SEO

Pagination and Duplicate Content in SEO

Pagination and Duplicate Content is a very real issue within SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Pagination is basically breaking up long "stuff" into shorter chunks, with a navigation system to move on to the next or previous piece.

Duplicate Content means pretty much what you’d expect it to mean, however…

Let’s look at what these things are, how they interact, what they have to do with SEO and what best practice to put into place.


Pagination

Wikipedia defines it this way:

Pagination as the process of dividing (content) into discrete pages, either electronic pages or printed pages.


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Paginated content exists all across the internet. Websites paginate in different ways. For example:

  • Long articles divided into several shorter pages
  • eCommerce sites might divide a list of products in a large category into pages
  • Forums often divide threads into URLs of a sequence

Duplicate Content

Wikipedia defines it this way:

Duplicate Content as a term used in the field of search engine optimization to describe content that appears on more than one web page. The duplicate content can be substantial parts of the content within or across domains and can be either exactly duplicate or closely similar. When multiple pages within a web site contain essentially the same content, search engines such as Google can penalise or cease displaying that site in any relevant search results.


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Interaction and SEO Effects

When you take a look at your average SERP, you’re looking at a list of (hopefully relevant) pages. That word, pages is key here. It’s what we optimize in SEO – pages.

Each page should have unique titles, descriptions, and most importantly, content.

So if you break up a long article across several pages, won’t each and every one of those pages have the exact same title, description, etc.? And that, my friends, is the rub.

What Google Says

In short, there are three things that Google says you can do in order to use Paginated Content and still whoop tail at SEO:

  1. Specify a View All page
  2. Use rel="next" and rel="prev" links
  3. Do Nothing

Specify a View All Page

Google attempts to detect the View All version of our content and, if available, its associated component pages. However, to make it more explicit, you can include rel="canonical" from your component pages to your view-all page to increase the chances that your series of pages are found.

Use rel="next" and rel="prev" links

Google’s default is to search for a View All page. However, if you’d like to override this, or if you don’t have a View All page, then using the rel="next" and rel="prev" links would be your best bet.

Let’s look at an implementation example. On the site, www.example.com, there could be an article titled abc and is broken down into three pages.

On the second page, http://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=2, in the <head> section, you would put:

<link rel="prev" href="http://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=1" />
<link rel="next" href="http://www.example.com/article?story=abc&page=3" />

Do Nothing

Um… What?

That’s right. Doing nothing is actually a viable alternative in the eyes of Google.

The reason? Paginated content is extremely common, and Google will still attempt to return the most relevant results, regardless of content’s pagination or lack thereof.

My Take

So out of these three options, what would I do?

Sorry but I’m not opting for doing nothing.

I’d honestly suggest doing both of options one and two. Create a View All page for your users; I imagine this may come in handy in other ways as well.

And also use rel="next" and rel="prev" links. This overrides the Google View All default, giving you complete control over Duplicate Content issues, but allows your creation of the View All page to help your users.

Keep in mind, however, that when using the rel="next" and rel="prev" links, they need to be complete and correct; one mis-step and Google will pop back into its default search for the View All page.

And here’s a handy little video from Google putting all this into perspective.

Quality vs. Quantity

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Quality vs. Quantity

Quality vs. Quantity

Which is better?

If you know me at all, you’ll bet I choose Quality; and you’d be right – every time.

Consider all of the times you’ve dealt with Customer Service for a large company. Out of all the interactions you had, what percentage of them were pretty awesome? I’m going to take a stab and say that it’s a very low number.

So if you have a bad experience, what do you do? Perhaps you complain. And do the companies care? Do they actually do anything about it?

Think now about the "Occupy *blank*" movements. Quite literally, hundreds of thousands of people around the world have complained to governments and big business to change their ways. And what positive change has that brought about?

Now head over to oDesk.com. Do a search for an SEO project or long term job. Look at the rates being bid upon, look at the average rate the employer pays; it’s pennies on the dollar.

Go to LinkedIn.com. Look at the discussions in an SEO group – if the group manager is slack (like most are), then you’ll see the majority of "discussions" are mainly spam. Get bold and become a manager of a group like I did. Delete those topics, send warning posts, delete shady members and…it never stops – they don’t get the message nor care.

Or how about reporting Spam email messages. Does it stop them?

Why Quality is so-often overlooked in favor of Quantity

So why, in all of these examples, and countless others, does nothing positive happen?

Because the world is obsessed with Quantity over Quality. Why on earth should they care about dissatisfaction from a relatively small number of complaintants when the potential opportunities or the non-complainers occupy a much higher number?

And then there is the appearance of the ever-decreasing natural resource: TIME. People feel they have less and less of it – so they need to make those efforts multi-faceted and cover as much ground as necessary in as little time as possible.

Think About It

What would happen if

  • At a restaurant, your waiter buzzed from table to table, getting orders incorrect, not clearing your dishes til after you left, not re-flling your drinks, etc.?
  • You practice a martial arts technique 10,000 times without focusing on proper execution, power, speed, timing, relaxation, application, body structure & alignment, footwork, etc.?
  • You have several job interviews planned in one day and cut each employer short because you’re going to be late to the next one?
  • As a student, you blaze through all required reading assignments and remember nothing from them?
  • Your legs and ribs are broken from an automobile accident, where a driver didn’t have time for pesky stop lights?
  • You spent tens of thousands of dollars in the hottest new automated marketing delivery software and yet…you have a .07% ROI?
  • After your father dies in the hospital due to malpractice, the judge says "Well, 1 out of 10,000 isn’t bad at all"?
  • People used the bathroom without wiping (it takes up too much time)?

Now let’s look at the flip-side. What would happen if

  • Your waiter did their job amazingly well, was conversational, cleared dishes on time, did not seem rushed, smiled, apologized for any mistakes, etc.,?
  • You practice said martial arts technique perfectly, paying attention to all important details, perhaps even focusing on one aspect at a time?
  • During rush hour traffic, someone paused and waved you into the line of traffic?
  • A brand actually responds conversationaly to you after you left a comment on one of their Facebook posts?

Quality Does Matter

You get the point. And the point is Quality DOES Matter!

This has HUGE effects on not only life in so many different aspects, but more specifically to Online Marketing and SEO as well.

THINK before you blast out 500k email marketing campaigns – did you really create your customer personas? Did you really select all the relevant criteria when creating that query of your CRM or database? Are you really sending the email at the right time to the right people? Does your offer really stand out?

THINK before you engage in another mad-genius Social Marketing effort of blasting links, Tweets, blog posts, re-sharing etc., nearly a hundred times a day. Do your customers or potentials really want or need your stuff in their faces that frequently?

THINK before you post a project on oDesk and accept a bid at $2 per hour or some other ridiculous thing (I was personally just approached about an Online Marketing & SEO Manager role, paying $16 per hour – and the average Costco employee makes $17 per hour…get a clue)

THINK before you send out the fifth touch-point email to a potential customer in a month

THINK before you release your Customer Service reps into the wild – Do they really understand the processes enough that they can Converse with the Customer?

And THINK before you enter into some sort of Link Scheme.

In short, Quantity over Quality is the way of the World. In some instances, this is necessary, for example direct sales (those who don’t understand the difference between Sales and Marketing drive me up the wall, by the way). Yet in most other circumstances, it’s a horrible trend that rarely produces anything resembling a positive experience for either party.

Think about it. And feel free to leave your comments.

Styling for Google

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Google with Style

Style

Google recently released their new HTML/CSS Style Guides for Webmasters; to help create better websites, as well as the nudge-nod-wink to enhanced SEO.

While some of the suggestions seem fairly obvious, some are a bit surprising. Let’s take a look at a few.


Google’s Suggestions

General

Protocol

  • Leave out protocols (http:, https:) from URLs pointing to various files unless they aren’t available for both protocols.

Indentation

  • Google says to Indent by 2 Spaces in code; don’t use Tabs.

Capitalization

  • Use only lowercase in code, including element names, attributes, attribute values, selectors, properties, and property values (except strings)

Encoding

  • Use UTF-8

Action Items

  • This is a new one on me – Mark "To Do" and action items with the keyword TODO in code, along with the contact name of person involved. Examples given are:

    {# TODO(john.doe): revisit centering #}
    <center>Test</center>

HTML Styles

Document Type

  • Google suggests using HTML5 instead of XHTML. <!DOCTYPE html>

Validity

  • Use Valid HTML where possible. Test with the W3C HTML Validator

Semantics

  • Use Elements / Tags according to their original intent and purpose.

Multimedia Fallback

  • Google would like for you to provide alternatives for media. Always include Alt attributes; alt="" if necessary.

Separation

  • Separate structure from presentation from behavior.

Format Block Level Elements in Code

  • Start each new block-level element on a new line in your code.

Quotation Marks

  • Use double Quotation marks ("") for attribute values.

CSS Styles

Validity

  • Use the W3C CSS Validator to validate your CSS whenever possible.

ID and Class Names

  • Use meaningful class and ID names, based on the element’s purpose; make names short as possible but as long as necessary.
  • Avoid qualifying ID and class names with type selectors. Instead of ul#example {}, use #example {}.

Shorthand

  • Google says, in short, use the shorthand when possible.

Zeroes

  • Don’t specify units after a 0 value but instead like margin: 0;
  • Don’t lead with a 0 value, but instead like font-size: .8em;

Hexadecimals

  • Use 3 digit declaration when possible. For example, instead of color: #eebbcc;, use color: #ebc;.

Declaration Order

  • Alphabatezie declarations.

Stops

  • Use a semicolon after every declaration, including the last one.
  • Use a space after the property name’s colon.

Declarations

  • Start a new line for each selector, declaration and rule.

Quotation Marks

  • Use single quotation marks for selectors & property values (”).
  • Do not use quotation marks in URI values (url()).

And that’s about it. Good luck with your implementation!

Social Media Buttons and their Impact

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Social Media Buttons

Social Media. Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. Pinterest. I’m fairly certain you’re familiar with those names.

Branding hasn’t been much of an issue for Social Media. Most everyone at least knows about them, what they are and even their branding images – even if they don’t actively participate.

You can find those little Social Media icons and buttons all over the internet. Like us here, Share us there, Follow us everywhere.

Everybody uses Social Media and they recognize the social media buttons and icons.

For example on this website, you can find ways to share articles on your favorite social site – just scroll down. And up top? You can see links to my various social sites as well.

Social Media Buttons and Proximity

Do these little social graphics actually have any effect, aside from being a click-able way to share?

Some recent research suggests they do.

A joint study by the University of Miami School of Business Administration, Empirica Research and StyleCaster Media Group hints that consumers are affected by these little jewels…Subconsciously.

When social media icons were in close proximity to items that users would be proud to show off, such as sportswear or fragrances, it was found that users were 25% more likely to make a purchase.

However the flip side seemed also to be true. When those social buttons were near items that might embarrass them, like a weight-loss product or acne medication, users were 25% less likely to buy the product.

Interestingly enough, the buttons had the same impact on the users regardless of whether or not they consciously remember seeing them…

As an aside, however, it’s important to note that if you are using a WordPress-powered site, the majority of Social plugins out there cause huge bloat, meaning that they seriously slow down your site. So this is a trade off. Consider CSS sprites or hard-coding out the links yourself.

Social Media Buttons Study

Top 5 Free Image Sources

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Google Image Search

Google Image Search

In today’s web, a good site needs imagery; design, colors, and yes, even photos. Finding them (for free) on the internet for re-use can be difficult, if not downright dangerous. Here, I’ll give you a tip or two on doing just that.

UPDATE 10/12/2011
I’ve added a few new image sources at the bottom of the list.

A week or so ago I received a letter from Getty Images‘ Legal Department, claiming my unauthorized use of a licensed image here on my site. (YIKES!!!)

Reading further into the documentation, I realized that they had made a mistake, and a phone call later it was cleared up. However, the mental panic of being targeted for $1000 before it was solved was a bit unnerving. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen to you.

Firstly, as you should already know, you can’t just grab any image off the net and use it. There are copyrights and licenses in place to protect the photographer, artist, designer, etc. If you do, and you get caught, running won’t help you.

So what to do? Well here are few tips for finding free online images for your web use:

  1. Google
    Go to Google & enter the search term. Look on the left side-bar & click "Images". Here you’ll see lots of images, and many filtering options in the left sidebar. You’re not finished yet. Look under the Search box on the right & click on "Advanced Search". The filtering option almost at the bottom of the page is what we’re looking for – Usage Rights. Needless to say, Google’s Image Search rocks.
  2. Flickr
    One of the cool things about Flickr, is that it allows you to search and filter by Licensing. They even allow for uploads to be tagged with their Creative Commons licensing.
  3. CompFight
    A 3rd party interface into Flickr, this tool provides even more advanced search features.
  4. Flickr Storm
    A simple interface that not only pulls in flickr images relevant to your search, but it also pulls in what it believes to be related images as well. And of course, they have options for searching via licensing.
  5. EveryStockPhoto
    A free license-specific photo search engine with some cool parameters.
  6. Stock.Xchng
    Free image search with relaxed licensing, not requiring attribution. However, be careful of the higher quality, not free iStockphoto thumbnails right next to the free results.
  7. 123 RF
    This place offers both paid and free stock images. The free selection are of smaller sized images.
  8. Nachofoto
    Although really niche, this site is pretty darn cool. Semantic Search!

So that’s that in a nutshell. I hope you now have a launching pad to do some of your searching for design inspiration, images, etc. and never receive one of those letters!