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Why Dated Content And Dead Links Will Punish Your Site
Along with the Internet boom came the massive proliferation of web sites. Since many web sites are made not just for private use but to make money as well, web sites find themselves having to compete with other web sites of the same category when it comes to reaching and keeping their target audience.
SEO and Factors Affecting Page Rank
In order to reach their target audience web sites find that they have to rely on search engines to list their site among the top results of specific search strings. This is because of the fact that it is impossible for Internet users to memorize each and every web site they need to and are interested in visiting due to the unbelievably large number of web sites dealing with almost all kinds of information and offering all kinds of services and goods out there. Most Internet users doing research are found to not type web sites' URLs directly but instead usually click on the top results that their preferred search engine gives. Because of this fact, web sites who wish to be noticed by a large audience actually has to be noticed by search engines first.
To get noticed by search engines, web designers use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. SEO is the method used to increase a web site's ranking in search engine results listings. Using SEO web sites have a greater chance of getting noticed by search engines and thus get noticed by their target audience. Each search engine has their way of ranking web sites but has at least several common ranking factors. The importance of the factors, however, varies for each search engine and some of the factors themselves are unconfirmed by search engine engineers. Although there are many factors that do affect a web sites ranking in search engine results only two very important factors will be discussed in this article - content and links.
Despite the unknowns SEO experts agree on most of the factors and their importance. According to SEO experts the 10 most important factors that can influence a web document's rank at the major search engines, namely Yahoo!, MSN, Google & AskJeeves, for a particular term or phrase are the following:
* Title Tag * Anchor Text of Links * Keyword Use in Document Text * Accessibility of Document * Links to Document from Site-Internal Pages * Primary Subject Matter of Site * External Links to Linking Pages * Link Popularity of Site in Topical Community * Global Link Popularity of Site * Keyword Spamming
Importance of Links in Page Rank
As shown on the list above links rank among the top factors that affect a web document's rank. As a matter of fact it was listed five times. Links, however, can affect a page rank both positively and negatively. Both internal and external links can affect a web sites ranking. However, if many of the links on the web site are dead links or links that lead to 404 pages then instead of being an asset those links actually create a negative effect. The quality of links found on a page is therefore very important. They should have relevant anchor texts to point visitors to more information they need and should lead to relevant pages as well. Dead links is considered to be undesirable and will subtract from page rank.
Importance of Links to Visitor Retention
Links do not only affect the web sites page rank but will affect visitor retention as well. Dead links is a sure turn off to visitors. Visitors who click on links expect to go to an existing page with relevant information. If there are dead links on your web site visitors might conclude that the site is updated that frequently and that the site is not of good quality. If this happens they will automatically try other web sites that they feel caters to their needs and is less irritating.
It is also true that links to relevant sites might affect visitor retention for the worse since visitors might opt to stay with the relevant site. However, good anchor texts leading to relevant sites are still important. Remember that if your web site really is a quality web site although your links may increase the traffic to other sites visitors would still stay with your site and keep on coming back. Aside from that, visitors might perceive your web site as a good starting point in their online activity and thus keep on coming back because of your links.
Importance of Content
As mentioned earlier, although you might have no dead links and your links may all be relevant, your web site can still suffer if it is not a quality site or a site with quality content. Quality content means relevant and fresh content delivered regularly. Dated content is almost always a web site killer. Visitors often go on the net to look for relevant and timely content, unless they are doing research in history or some other well established facts. However, being such a dynamic community, more often than not it is the new trends, new information, new products, new discoveries, and everything else new, that people who go on the net look for. Although the content of the web site might be interesting and well written, visitors will not opt to go back more than twice or thrice if they see that the content is not updated periodically. After all what is the use of reading the same article over and over. Some web sites even have last updated dates dated more than three years back. As soon as visitors see that date they will know that the content is dated and will most probably never visit the site again.
The Deadly Combination
Dated content and dead links should never ever be taken for granted if you want your web site to be a success. A web site with either of the two will be penalized enough by visitors who opt to never come back or by search engines that will rank the web site a little lower. But a web site with a combination of dated content and dead links is sure to be relegated to the end of search engine results listings. And if people ever do visit the web site with such a low ranking, they are bound to never return to visit the site again.
About the Writer of this Article
Why Search Engines Are Adverse To Identical Content
Reasons for Replicating Data
According to a study done by Krishna Bharat and Andrei Brodner there are several reasons why data are replicated or why mirror sites are created - Load Balancing, High Availability, Multi-lingual replication, Franchises or Local versions, Database Sharing, Virtual Hosting, and Maintaining Pseudo Identities.
In load balancing, replication of data is done to decrease the servers' loads. Instead of just having one server to handle all the traffic from web surfers interested in the data or content, the site is mirrored or the data replicated so that the traffic is split between two or more servers.
Data are also replicated to make them more highly available. An example of this is when data are mirrored within the same organization for geographical purposes to make them easily available.
Multi-lingual replication of data is also very common. Data translated into different languages are very useful for reaching a wider audience who all need access to the same data. Good examples of multi-lingual replication are many Canadian sites that are the same in everything except for the language of the content wherein English or French is used.
Data is also replicated for franchises or local versions of data. This happens when data or content is franchised to another company, which then offer the very same data or product but under different branding.
Sometimes data is replicated unintentionally. This happens when two independent web sites share a common database or file system. The sharing of database sometimes results to mirroring even without the web sites' intention.
Virtual hosting also sometimes result in mirroring. This happens to services with different web sites and host names but use the same IP address and server. What happens is the path to one site is the valid one while the path to the other site simply gives an identical webpage as a result.
The last reason, unlike the first six reasons, is often not a valid reason for site mirroring. This is because mirroring to maintain pseudo identities is often done to spam search engines with different web sites of the same content as a means getting a higher page ranking. This reason is considered unacceptable and is one of the very reasons why search engines tend to be adverse towards identical content or replicated data.
Google's Webmaster Guideline about Duplicate Content
Search engines are blatantly against replicated data so much so that Google even has a warning against them in their Webmaster Guidelines. Google's Webmaster Guidelines were a list of Do's and Don'ts that ought to be followed by web sites to help the search engine in finding, indexing, and ranking web sites. Following the Do's will of course increase the chance that Google will list a specific web site and ran it favorably as well. However, doing any of the Don'ts will of course detract from a web site's rank.
In the specific guidelines for quality of the web site part, it was stated clearly that web sites should not create multiple pages, subdomains, or domains with substantially duplicate content. The term duplicate content is however a dubious term since it isn't clear how many duplicate words it takes for search engines like Google to penalize a page. It can take ten words or maybe an entire sentence, or paragraph, or even need an entire document or page for content to be considered duplicate content. The key thing to remember is that the guideline says to not create pages with substantially duplicate content. So to be on the safe side it would be better to always have a fresh original content. This is however not possible at times especially when quoting articles so that it is your call to determine whether the duplicate content might penalize your web site. If your conscience is clear that the duplicate content is there for the user's benefit and not to up your page ranking then the crawlers will hopefully interpret it as the same and not penalize your site.
Annoyed Surfers and Speedy Crawlers
Search engines exist to point surfers to web sites containing the information relevant to their search string. However, they do not exist to point surfers to different web sites containing the exact same or nearly the same information. When surfers click on different links they expect to be getting different web pages with maybe the same or different take on the same topic but with definitely different content. However there are many sites out there with partial duplicate content and even the exact content simply replicated. Clicking on mirror sites irritate surfers since it is only a waste of time waiting for the same thing to load twice or maybe even more times. This is especially irritating if the site happens to be a spam site whose content is not of a good quality. Due to this problem web crawlers now do not crawl exact duplicate and near-duplicate web pages or web sites that they have determined from a previous crawl. This means that the mirror sites not crawled will not even make it to the search engine's results listing since only one of the duplicates is indexed by the web crawler. Because of this search engines will not have more than one of the mirror sites among its results listing thus avoiding irritating the web surfers.
Satisfied surfers are not the only result of the new technique crawlers use. Search engines benefit as well since not having to crawl mirrored pages lessens the load of the crawlers and thus speeds up crawling. The bandwidth is also saved because of this resulting to a faster more efficient crawling operation wherein the web crawler can cover and index more significant web sites.
Valid Mirrored Sites
However, for valid mirror sites like those mentioned above (multi-lingual, franchise, etc.) there should be no worry since search engines have provisions for such things and take into account the motive behind them. You can help your mirror site by making sure that you follow all the other guidelines to get noticed and ranked by Google. Following the guidelines will surely help not only your ranking with Google but with other search engines as well.
Reasons Why Fresh Content Is Imperative To Successful SEO
Gone are the days when people memorized web site URLs to get the information or service they want. With the exception of a few popular web sites like http://eBay.com, http://NBA.com, and http://CNN.com people have come to rely more and more on search engines to get to web sites containing the information or service they need. Because of this, search engine optimization has become an invaluable tool in web site design for people and companies to be able to reach their target audience. Without search engine optimization, even a quality web site would find it difficult to reach a very wide audience.
Factors Affecting Page Rank
Search engine optimization (SEO) is simply the method of increasing a web site's ranking in search engine results listing. According to an article by SEO experts, the top ten ranking factors that can influence a web document's rank at the major search engines like Yahoo!, MSN, Google & AskJeeves for a particular term or phrase are the following: Title Tag, Anchor Text of Links, Keyword Use in Document Text, Accessibility of Document, Links to Document from within the Site (Internal Pages), Primary Subject Matter of Site, External Links to Linking Pages, Link Popularity of Site in Topical Community, Global Link Popularity of Site, and Keyword Spamming. Note, however, that although keyword density does affect page rank it is often frowned on as is considered to be a questionable technique when it is over 10 to 20% the actual content since it appears to be spamming then.
The Effect of Fresh Content in SEO
It is not enough for your web site to apply the other SEO techniques like meta tag optimization and link analysis. Fresh content, meaning relevant content delivered on a regular basis is imperative to a successful SEO. Although not mentioned as one of the top ten ranking factor, one of the recurring factors affecting page rank mentioned in SEO articles is content. Not just any content but the freshness and consistency of content. Since it is a factor mentioned in many existing articles I've come across, common sense dictates that the freshness of content is indeed an important factor in page ranking. Major search engines like Google are known to rank pages not only according to the relevancy of the content but also according to how fresh the content is. Dated content can lower the page rank of an otherwise well designed web site and ruin SEO efforts. A fresh content on the other hand will contribute to the success of search engine optimization.
Ways to Deliver Fresh Content on a Regular Basis
However for SEO to be successful the fresh content delivered by the web site should be in a form that is readable to search engine. Ordinary content writers, of course wouldn't know how to make their content readable by search engines. The good news is that there is no special effort needed on the part of content writer to make their content readable by search engines. All that is needed is a good dynamic, database driven content management system (CMS).
Content management systems might seem hard to manage but they are actually relatively easy once you get the hang of it and get past the learning stage. Learning to use them can, however, prove to be tricky. It is best to get the help of web developers when setting up a web site's content management system. CMSs are however very useful especially for web sites with multiple users who can contribute to the site's content. Mambo and PHPNuke are recommended for starters.
Another way to deliver fresh content at a regular basis is by using a weblog. Maintaining a weblog is an easy and cost effective way of updating your site. A good weblog should always be frequently updated, full of rich and informative articles, and should allow readers to post comments. According to an article by Matt Foster, aside from the ability to add fresh content regularly, a weblog integrated in your web site will also achieve the following desirable results:
* It will increase the amount of inbound links to your web site * It will increase the frequency at which the web search engines will spider or crawl your web site ( this is due to the frequent update in content ) * It will increase the interactivity for the web user; and * It will ultimately improve your search engine ranking.
Two of examples of good easy to use blogging tools that can be integrated into web sites are Blogger and Wordpress.
For those who are a bit more tech savvy and know how to use Macromedia Dreamweaver, Dreamweaver is a design software that can help you update your web site with more control. With Dreamweaver you can add or change not only the written content but the whole look from color schemes to fonts and even the layout of your web site. But if you do not have a need for such control over your web site and feel a bit daunted by Dreamweaver, Macromedia Contribute would be a good option. There are, of course other design software out there, which you can use.
The Importance of Fresh Content Beyond SEO
After learning how to regularly deliver fresh content to optimize your web site's rank it is important to know that its importance and effect to your web site goes way beyond that. Aside from the success it contributes to SEO efforts, fresh content will not only get the web site noticed by search engines but is imperative in keeping the web site audience. People usually go on the net not just for relevant information but for timely information as well. After the search engines show a web site as a result of a search string and people get to visit the site it is up to the fresh content to convince the people to keep on coming back to the site. If the web site content is outdated and is updated rather infrequently and erratically, the chances of the target audience going back to the site on a regular basis, if at all, will be rather slim. Even the best SEO efforts will be wasted if the target audience decides that the web site is not worth visiting. Therefore fresh content really is one of the keys to a successful SEO and thus a successful web site.
Creating Fresh Content for Search Engines
Fresh content is very important in terms of search engine optimization. Users surfing the net are always looking for the latest information. Search engines understand this and therefore places a great emphasis on the content freshness. Sites that are regularly updated also encourage the spiders to visit often. For example, a page that has its content updated daily will find that search engine crawls the page more often than the other less active pages. This explains why blogs have frequent bots visit as compared to other sites.
Perhaps the easiest way to get fresh content for your site is through RSS feeds. These feeds can be found by searching for RSS feeds in the search engines. Some of the most popular feeds directories are Syndic8 and Feedster. All you need is a RSS parser that can convert these feeds to real time content for your site and you will have daily content instantly! A common RSS parser used by many webmasters is the Magpie Parser; this powerful open source PHP parser allows the coder to transform any feeds to relevant content pages. RSS feeds are a great way to create fresh content when one has no time to write.
Reprinting articles on your site is another great way to have fresh content. There are a lot of article directories that allows the webmasters to reprint their articles. Reprinting articles involve very little effort and often allow the search engines to have new content to index for your site. However, many article directories limit the amount of times the articles can be reprinted on your site. Nevertheless, this is one of the easier methods to have fresh content.
The above methods are great in creating fresh content but it is also important to note that creating unique content for your site is another issue worth considering. The only way to create unique content is to write them yourself or get someone else to write for you. Weblogs are extremely useful when it comes to adding of new unique content. WordPress is one of the most popular tools for content management. It allows the owner to enable multiple people in a company to post new content so that a group of people can manage the content more efficiently.
Another method to acquire for unique content is to create a forum for your members. This is a very low cost operation if you have many supporting members who are active and willing to commit.
In the eyes of Search Engine Optimization, fresh and unique content is of paramount importance. In order to show the latest information on your site to the visitors through search engines, your page must be updated regularly so that the spiders will visit and index more often.
KC is a SEO consultant with several years of related experiences. KC is the founder of USESEO.COM, a site that offers free seo techniques.
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