In Which I Give SEO Advice on Search Engine Watch

Chatting through a tin cans connected by a string

I take great pride in my knowledge. I don’t assume I know something unless I’ve had actual experience with the subject, or have consulted extensively with someone who does. Usually, the latter doesn’t even count for me—I have to test their knowledge on my own, so I know I understand their experience.

All pride is ultimately fragile, and while my knowledge acquisition is a strength, my pride in my knowledge is a major downfall. Nothing makes me angrier than an “expert” who has never applied their knowledge, except perhaps an “expert” who questions my knowledge when I know first-hand their application did not do what they thought it did.

Client-server communication is core to SEO, but I’ve probably met only two professionals with an understanding of response codes. I felt it was important to get some practical information out on status codes—one of the most misconstrued areas of SEO.

You can read my Beginner’s Guide to Server Response Codes at Search Engine Watch. Thanks to the editorial team there for letting me contribute!


SEO and Valid HTML: How Critical Are W3C Standards?

Woman screaming in terror at the Google logo

If I made a list of requests from new SEO hires, “Fix these HTML errors from the W3C validation tool” would be in the top 5. Thankfully, John Mueller took time in the latest Google Webmaster Central hangout to address the ranking importance (and intended meaning) of “valid HTML” in Search Engine Optimization. He helpfully described the SEO situations well-written HTML avoids, each of which has its own testing tool from Google.


Protocol, Schmotocol


Update 5-23-16: The Official Google Webmaster Blog just announced a new feature rolling out that solves the issue of multiple properties for the same site!

For the last two months, I’ve watched a relaunched client’s Search Console charts spiral downwards. Their indexing dropped, their SERP rankings were meh, and external SEO report crawls showed numerous errors that the Search Console just didn’t echo. Anyway, I had a great big “D’OH” moment this morning upon realizing that Google sees http and https URLs as two separate sites. No amount of proper URL-change redirecting will affect this view, and Google’s Change of Address tool does not apply to a protocol change. Once I began tracking the newly-secure site as its own Google property, BOOM–all the data was there, along with all the mysterious errors other crawls had produced.

I’d assumed that Google, having spearheaded the “use HTTPS or suffer our wrath” initiative last year, would gracefully accept redirects and other change of address techniques when a site changes protocol, but no. Make no assumptions, friends–even Google doesn’t know what it’s doing.


Changing your domain protocol (http to https) makes Google view your domain as an entirely new site and it must be tracked in Google’s webmaster tools as a new site.


No, You Really Can’t Talk to Customers This Way


Oracle is in the hot seat with the InfoSec community once again with the focus on CSO Mary Ann Davidson and her lengthy rant titled, “No You Really Can’t”. In the now-deleted blog post, Davidson rails against cybersecurity experts who find and report vulnerabilities in Oracle software. Featuring hilariously demeaning language and wildly exaggerated statistics, Davidson speaks with obvious disdain for both security researchers and everyday users of Oracle’s software. The company pulled her post within 24 hours, showing for the second time in those 24 hours a lack of understanding for tech culture in 2015.


Coding with Style: Basics of HTML and CSS


Have you ever told your kids (or were told as a kid), “I am not making different food for everyone. I spent a long time cooking, so this is what’s for dinner and we’re all eating it”? If so, congratulations! You understand the basics of programming logic.

No one likes to do the same thing over, and over, and over. A great deal of innovation in manufacturing began because someone like Eli Whitney said “screw this, if the same motion has to be made over and over again, why can’t I build a contraption to do the motion for me?” Computers are much the same way, and constantly being optimized–that is, they can do the same thing over and over but faster this go-around.

Why HTML is not a programming language

The cotton gin didn’t do much if there wasn’t someone loading cotton into it, and manufacturing today doesn’t get far if the materials aren’t loaded correctly. Websites are the same way–you can write all the fancy executable code and styles you want, but until you’ve aligned your materials correctly, no computer knows what to do.