The issue of duplicate content (i.e. multiple URLs for what’s really a single page of your website) have been well documented across the web for a few years now. Sebastian’s Pamphlets has a nice write-up of the issue here. I stumbled upon this issue by accident today. Here’s how it happened.
1. I received an email promoting EWG’s 2011 safe sunscreens report (side note: It’s awesome you should check it out!)
2. I clicked through to the report. The URL contained Google Analytics tracking tags as follows:
Nothing uncommon about this.
3. I wanted to share the report on Facebook, so I clicked on the Facebook button provided. Notice the URL in the screenshot:
The URL with the Google Analytics tracking variables is now passed to Facebook and is shared among your friends. As you can sell from this Google search, pages with the Google Analytics tracking tags are already in Google’s index for this site.
Update: I’ve just noticed that Search Engine Land is using the same combination (Google Analytics with tracking tags and the ShareThis widget) but the GA tracking tags aren’t attached to the shared URL. I wonder what they’re doing differently?
JCPenney.com has returned to the Google search index with about the same rankings as it had before. (Some nice details from Search Engine Land here.) My takeaways from this:
1. Google manually returned JCPenney.com to its previous rankings, once again showing favoritism to a big brand. I highly doubt they’d do the same for a small website that got caught doing the same thing.
2. Other big retailers competing in the same space such as Kohls.com missed a window of opportunity to accelerate their own SEO programs and grab rankings.
Adobe Systems has just released a new study, “Digital Marketing in the Next Decade.” The entire report is 101 pages. If you’d prefer not to read the entire study, Media Post Publications has an excellent summary. I did find a shocker in the study – only 51% of the respondents have deployed analytics on their websites!
When I advise clients on selecting a domain name, I consider two factors – offline memorability and potential impact on search engine rankings. Success in both areas is usually achieved by adhering at least two of the following simple rules:
- Make it as short as possible – think Amazon.com, Facebook.com, Google.com.
- Make it unique – see above examples.
- Make it dead obvious and related to the core topic – Weather.com is a great example.
The domain name for the recently redesigned Ohio 529 plan website, makefriendswiththefuture.com, fails to follow any of the rules. It’s too long and about as un-unique as a domain name can be due to its overuse of generic words and absence of words connected to either the site’s focus (college savings) or the “brand” (Ohio’s college savings plan). Data suggests that it’s failing:
Domains like this will almost always fail because domains aren’t designed to be branding exercises, they are tools to reach a website. My recommendations would be:
- Ohio529.com (if it wasn’t already taken)
- Ohio529.org (still available!)
A domain like Ohio529.org isn’t sexy, but would be highly effective.
Google has released a huge change to how search results are displayed for searches that include a local qualifier (e.g., “pizza columbus ohio”). No longer will you see a map above the organic search results – Now, Google is integrating the local results into the main organic results and placing the map to the right.
The impact of this change seems to be any website that doesn’t have a physical address in the location that people are searching for will probably no longer be able to rank for local based queries. To state it another way, if a website ranked highly on the old map listings, it will probably rank highly in the new organic listings. Check out this search for pizza Columbus Ohio – note the absence of national pizza chains:
Check Google results for your website. Is it time for some changes?