Author Archive

WordPress and PHP on Windows Server 2008

Guess what? WordPress rocks on Windows Server 2008 and IIS7. Congratulation to Microsoft for the effort. If you didn’t know Microsoft created the FastCGI component to address previous performance issues with PHP on Windows. At the same time Zend worked to make PHP more stable on Windows. The two combined to make reliable and high performance PHP on Windows. FastCGI support is now built in to Windows Server 2008. There is plenty of documentation available for setting everything up manually but let me tell you this, don’t waste your time. Microsoft is really getting serious about PHP on Windows. They have created the Web Platform Installer 2.0 and that’s all you really need. Once you install the Web Platform Installer you can run it and choose to install applications like WordPress and Joomla. The installer checks to see if you have the necessary components, if you don’t then it downloads and installs them. This includes PHP, MySQL, and the application, like WordPress. It also installs an IIS URL ReWrite module so you can have pretty permalinks for your WordPress Blog. For novice or inexperienced Windows server admins I recommend you let the Platform Installer take care of everything for you.

For advanced users I will warn you that, at the time of my last install you could not change the default install path for MySql or PHP. This is easy to get around, just download and install PHP and MySql before you use the Platform Installer for the first time to set up WordPress. The Platform Installer will recognize your installations. Happy Blogging.

Almost forgot, here is how you create 301 redirects on Windows Server 2008 (and server 2003 with IIS6) if you are migrating from an existing site to a CMS platform.

—David Blizzard

301 Redirect on Windows Server

I see a lot of complaints from SEO and Internet Marketing agencies about the hoops they jump through to get Windows Server admins or hosts to create 301 redirects for clients. It is really not difficult at all. I decided to outline the steps so the next time one of you has an issue with a web host you can just copy this info and send it to them or link to it ūüėČ That might make them feel pretty dumb, but it will get the job done.

IIS6:

Redirect a single file.

  1. Open IIS Manager and locate the website
  2. Right click the file you want to redirect and choose properties
  3. Change the selector to “A Redirection to a URL”
  4. In the “Redirect To:” box type the new URL
  5. Put a check in “A permanent redirection for this resource” (this results in an HTTP status code of: HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently)

That’s it!

Redirect an entire domain name – website.

  1. Open IIS Manager and locate the website
  2. Right click the Website you want to redirect and choose properties
  3. Select the “Home Directory Tab”
  4. Change the selector to “A Redirection to a URL”
  5. In the “Redirect To:” box type the new URL
  6. Put a check in “A permanent redirection for this resource” (this results in an HTTP status code of: HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently)

OPTIONAL: Check “The exact URL entered above” if you want all pages redirected to the home page of the new domain rather than relative pages in the new domain.

IIS 7:

Redirect a single file.

  1. Open IIS Manager and locate the website under sites
  2. Right click the website and choose “switch to content view”
  3. In the right hand pane locate the file you want to redirect
  4. Right click the file and choose “switch to features view”
  5. Important! Verify that it shows the correct file name at the top of the screen
  6. Under the IIS section open “HTTP Redirect”
  7. Put a check in “Redirect requests to this destination” and type in the new URL
  8. Change the status code to “Permanent 301”
  9. Click Apply (this results in an HTTP status code of: HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently)

That’s it!

Redirect an entire domain name – web site.

  1. Open IIS Manager and locate the website under sites
  2. Important! Verify that it shows the correct website name at the top of the screen
  3. Under the IIS section open “HTTP Redirect”
  4. Put a check in “Redirect requests to this destination” and type in the new URL
  5. Change the status code to “Permanent 301”
  6. Click Apply (this results in an HTTP status code of: HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently)

OPTIONAL: Check the “redirect all requests to exact destination (instead of relative to destination)”

New in IIS 7:

For those that understand XML and the web.config file you can add a line similar to the following in the <configuration> section rather than using IIS Manager:

Domain redirect:

<system.webServer>
<httpRedirect enabled=”true” destination=”http://www.my-new-site.com” httpResponseStatus=”Permanent” />
</system.webServer>

File Redirect:

<location path=”my-old-file.htm”>
<system.webServer>
<httpRedirect enabled=”true” destination=”http://www.new-domain.com/my-new-file.htm” exactDestination=”true” httpResponseStatus=”Permanent” />
</system.webServer>
</location>

* copy and pasting the web.config examples could result in the wrong quotes which will cause an error. Re-type your quotes.

—David Blizzard

Google Under Attack – Serious Money!

News and Search – The Winner Is?

Recently Google has been taking heat from some of the media moguls like Mark Cuban and Rupert Murdoch. If you are out of the loop on this one then read “Rupert Murdock to Block Google“. The question is how will it affect search? Will they get shut out from some content? Is it just a ploy, a business tactic to get Google and Microsoft to pay up? For the small players and the general public it’s hard to comprehend the size and scope. I see a lot of chatter and opinions but it reminds me of a day trader trying to give Warren Buffett advice. It’s the same when average bloggers try to debate the likes of Cuban and Murdoch on big business. Some of it is obvious Google fanboy speak or on the other end the haters, but in the middle are some really smart bloggers in the search community that are giving opinions based on zero experience in the big game. You may have helped a million dollar company but we are talking, in Rupert’s words “serious money“. We will see what happens but for now I’m not completely counting out a paywall business model although I don’t see it being good for either side. I would push my chips toward Google and Bing paying up for the feeds just like they did with Facebook and Twitter. That looks like a profitable model that the big boys could work out. But it’s all a crap shoot to me, I have zero experience with “serious money“.

Raw Data and Privacy – What’s the Value?

On a smaller scale we also have some chatter about raw data and the cost. Some of the industry leading SEO and SEM talent are¬† talking about the value of the data that is being given away for free. When someone types in a search term it is mind boggling what gets crunched and how fast the results are produced. Plenty of these result algorithms have been built with personal data and business data from a number of sources. Google builds free services and “trades” them for your data, in a sense. People are starting to ask which party is getting the better deal. Free mail, free analytics, free apps, not really. You are trading privacy and numbers that are worth more than the time and effort it takes Google to build the “free” products.

There is also the concern that giving up your data on a PPC account can cost you more money. Think about it, without Google Analytics then G only knows when someone clicks your ad and where it lands. With GA script on your site they can see the entire transaction process after the click. Like they say, nothing is free.

AdSense and PubCenter

A new battle is brewing between rivals Google and Microsoft. Microsoft is now in Beta for their competing product that could rival AdSense. With the hope of better customer service and higher payouts this could bring some much needed competition. Currently publishers are playing with fire if they depend on AdSense for most of their revenue. If you wake up one day and you are deactivated by Google then you are out of business. Currently Google prefers to be vague and for the most part, ignore those that have their accounts deactivated. It would be great if the competition opens up new channels of support and a little help when you truly don’t know why they deactivated you. Looking at Microsoft’s AdCenter site you can easily find customer service and support numbers and they encourage the use. There have been complaints about recent AdSense payout cuts too so this might be a plus for Microsoft. If Microsoft can get enough advertisers to choose their ad network then this is really big news and could result in “serious money”.

Support Experience

Microsoft AdCenter (Good): A warm body answered within 30 seconds and was able to answer a question about linking accounts without transferring the call.

Google AdWords (Slow): We have waited 4 days for a level 2 to determine why there is a landing page glitch for a client where they can’t get an ad to show at any price. Google’s own tools say the keywords are targeted and relevant. The first thing we did was to verify they are within guidelines. They run a legit vacation rental web site with their own rental property. They are not resellers and have zero ads on their site. As I’m writing this I find out that the issue has been resolved. How did I find out? I checked the campaign and sometime after my second request for an update the ads started showing but guess what? Not a single reply or response from Google. Forget finding out what was wrong, they didn’t even acknowledge it was fixed. This small business had no ads for 5 days.
Note: I changed the rating to slow from poor. We did finally receive a response and Google admitted the landing page was evaluated incorrectly by the system. Everything is working now.

Google AdSense (Poor): No answer to requests about disabled accounts. Repeated attempts to get a reinstatement go unanswered. Google implies that everyone is disabled for click fraud when they might be disabled for poor content or maybe something as simple as having the words “pick a link” as link text. Please fix this system before it becomes “serious money“.

Update: Another Blow? Microsoft extends their search deal with FaceBook, adds Bing features and will power search for FB outside the USA too. Read more about it at Search Engine Land

—David Blizzard

Link Building in 2010

It wasn’t long ago that you could join a link exchange network or add free¬†link building software to your site and watch the links pour in. Well, let me rephrase that, you can still watch the links pour in but the quality and the value of the links has diminished. You can sign up at the popular LinkMarket and watch the link swap offers pour in from hundreds of new websites that aren’t even indexed yet or the masses of template built funnel pages created for a few clients of “Dirty Dan” the SEO. Or you can add a hundred or more link partners from Asia or the Middle East because those are the “partners” that you think your visitors will find value in, right?

There are many conflicting theories on where Google is with filtering link swaps and farms. Although Google seems to be hiding the page rank for some of these built out link swap pages some people believe they still count. If you have thousands of inbound links from unrelated low quality sites with overflowing outbound links¬†it still appears to work according to some “experts”. But is it working for the new sites? Is Google leaving the old link swappers rank alone but discounting the newcomers? Do the filters only apply for the new sites using the old tricks? Is Google just hiding the pagerank on link farms to discourage others from joining in or are they filtering the results and value passed by these farms? Is the toolbar page-rank any indication of the value or the actual page rank of a links page, or is that page’s value actually higher? If your URL includes the word “link” or “links” is it penalized? Should it be? A real test would be for someone to take a well positioned site with a high number of “low quality” inbound links that were acquired with a link swapping campaign and start removing those links. Obviously this would be a challenge because the link partners would have to be contacted. It would be a time intensive manual process to undo an automated build and it put’s the site at risk for a drop in the search results. The inverse would be easier, take a new site and try an old-school link swap build. That still wouldn’t tell us about old builds though.

What about blog spam and the boneheads that use keyword laced link text rather than a name when they comment? Is there still a value in that? Do forum signatures still work? Should they?

We have seen so many abuses in the past like the early days of meta keywords and tiny or hidden text that you just know we are going to see some innovation in “real time” search results abuse. Do the search giants have a plan or did they roll out the feeds as quick as they could for fear of being last or missing the game?

Should we all be spamming twitter with links to our website and blog posts right now? Is one tweet enough per site, page or post? Should we tweet swap? You tweet me I tweet you! Can I pay you to retweet me? Should I? We have all seen the spam that ruined Twitter Trends.

So I have asked a lot of questions and given no answers. For now¬† I can only say that in 2010 you still have the same old reliable opportunities. The following is a list of link building techniques that should always work, they are so white-hat that you should not incur penalties. As always, you need content and you need on page optimization and conversion optimization. Without those then what’s the point in building traffic?

  • Request links from friends, affiliates, and business partner sites
  • Join relevant industry groups and request or add links to your profile
  • Find business directories that are still known to count like Best of the Web , Yahoo Directory and the Open Directory Project (DMOZ)
  • Join business networks like linkedIn and Merchant Circle
  • Write and submit articles to quality article networks (Read and obey the rules). Be sure your profile and the article links to your site.
  • Add your blog to your profile at sites like Technorati , MyBlogLog , BlogCatalog
  • Make sure you have set your blogging software to ping update services like Technorati, Pingomatic, URLfan etc. *
  • Blog, Blog, Blog – Write good content and it will get linked to if it can be found. It’s perpetual.

While most do-it-yourself web masters could manage these tips on their own there is still plenty of work involved and I see plenty of work for SEOs in 2010. Not just the hard stuff, most successful business owners will not have the time or be inclined to perform these simple tasks. Not only are they time consuming but most search professionals will provide more than what I have listed here even for entry level link building.

Good luck in 2010 ad post comments on what has worked, what stopped working, and what is working for your link building campaigns in 2010.

* In WordPress the update services can be found under Settings > Writing and scroll down to Update Services.

Link Building 2010 Revisited – Why Blog Networks Don’t work

—David Blizzard

Link Building – White, Gray, and Fade to Black

SEO PoliceThis year, search has changed for a number of reasons, including the popularity of social networking. The SEO community is seeing change, and with change is fear, and we see plenty of talk about the effect it has on traditional link building. Two months ago, a heated battle between Aaron Wall and Rand Fishkin resurfaced about outing and link buying. Some think we should police the competition, and some think we should get better at what we do and leave the detective work to Google and Bing. Either way, there is more than one sheriff in town, so you better watch out.

There is plenty of information available now that suggests that building links too fast can result in discounted links or reduced value.¬†Link text is a factor too, and some of the self appointed sheriffs might be using the same tools they use for link research to find “spammers” based on link text patterns,¬†and then they can report web SPAM to Google. It’s very common to build links using directories and article sites as well as making trades.¬†Natural links are often built with link bait or just good content (imagine that), but sometimes the need might arise for even the whitehat to bleed a little gray and buy some links. With recent changes, you could burn some links and some cash if you get too aggressive too fast.

What about the old fashioned spending spree? Well, SEOmoz used to endorse buying text links:

“… and the process of buying links couldn’t be easier. Inventory at Text Link Ads is of a very high quality, and the links often provide more than just a boost in organic rankings, but also some click-through traffic. The company’s dedication to service and willingness to provide exceptional quality links makes them my first choice for a link broker with every client.” – Rand Fishkin

But in September, they released their new SEOmoz position on link buying. No more link buying from SEOmoz? If they can pull that off and still be successful then times have really changed.

Not everyone has given up on buying text links though. SEOROI is still in the game and at your service for discrete link buying services. ūüôā Some call it ballsy, and some call it honesty or transparency.

Whichever direction you choose to throw your balls, there is one thing for sure: link building, link acquisition, and link value has changed in 2009.

—David Blizzard
ÔĽŅ