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Planned downtime? Setup a 503 service unavailable status code

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Apologies for the extremely delayed posting of this, however – I’ve just started my new job at Starcom MediaVest and have been pretty busy with new projects. Earlier in the month a number of .gov websites were taken offline due to the US shutdown, whilst a week later WH Smith were forced to do the same due to a porn e-book scandal. So, what should you do when your website is down for either scheduled or unscheduled maintenance?

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Canonical tag used for pagination – is it right?

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Apologies for the lack of posting, although I have a decent excuse as I broke my arm playing football two weeks ago! One handed typing does take its toll! I should have posted this earlier, but I did a blog for Intelligent Positioning on “Who is winning the early Christmas race?” and I noticed that Firebox had ignored the pagination rules and placed a canonical tag from all archived page to an “all” page. I’ll explain the methodology a little more and then you can have your say on whether this works or not.

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Google returning more UK specific results?

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I will be expanding on this subject a little more, but wanted to post this chart to inform you of some changes I noticed in Google over the weekend.

www.facebook.com has been replaced by gb-en.facebook.com within the UK SERPs, which appears to be a Google change, rather than a Facebook inspired one.

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Google News now has a META keyword tag

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Any SEO worth his or her salt knows how useless the META keyword tag is. It has been for years. Having said that, Google released the news yesterday that they will now support a META keywords tag for Google News. The obvious benefit is that you can have some additional freedom in creating headlines, although it is obviously still advised that you mention important keywords with the title, <h1>, caption (if you have one) and opening paragraph.

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Google News submission & follow up

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Google News. I should have done it a long time ago with my football blog but you know how is is. Writing the content, maintaining the forum, uploading statistics – it all takes time. Having updated the skin of the blog last summer (general downtime in football blogging unless you want to write pointless transfer rumour stories!), I felt it was time for me to get my blog into Google News.

Here is how I did it and the results the website has gained since it was accepted.

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Best Google News WordPress plugin

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To be honest, I really should be experimenting with more WordPress plugins than I currently do. I focus (as you would expect, considering it is my job) most of my efforts on SEO, but there are some really cool plugins that can make your job a hell of a lot easier. Over the weekend I experimented with a number of different Google News plugins, but the best one was by 4visions.nl.

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Google sends out GWT penalty notices

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The dreaded Google link penalty message made its way to a number of terrified webmasters yesterday, as Google ramps up – again – its quest to clean up ‘unethical’ linking techniques.

Buying links or participating in link schemes with the sole purpose of passing PageRank from one website to another is against Google’s guidelines – every SEO knows this and is probably the first point you were told when you started working in the field.

None of my current client websites received such a wanring, but a website I used to work with (that I am still verified for) did indeed get one.

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Google+ SERPs manipulation

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Looking in the SERPs today, I was quite baffled when searching for ‘Wayne Rooney’ information, to find that two of the UK’s leading newspapers appears to have had their Google+ strategy (or lack of strategy!) influenced by a hacker of some sorts OR is this an automated result from Google? I’m still unclear as to how this was achieved but I am going to try and investigate, whilst notifying Google of the issue. Could Google even be forcing both websites into implementing a Google+ strategy to stop these “automated” results returning?

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XML sitemaps support rel=alternate tag

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Apologies for the lack of posting in the past month, I’ve been so busy and have just come back from a wonderful weekend in the Cotswolds with my wife. But enough about that – you’ve come here to read about a new way to setup your alternate content through an XML sitemap. Google recently blogged about a new standard and method to setup rel=alternate tags through your XML sitemap. Here we’ll do some testing as we did with the original rel=alternate blog to show you how it works – also for cross domain setup.

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Google stepping up with DMCA

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I’ve been quite outspoken about Google’s half hearted attempts in the past to create an environment that offers the best quality results – that of course are legal for the general public. Google wouldn’t allow a website to sell class A drugs over the Internet, so why allow websites to offer pirated material? It is a big debate, which I address in the Google, piracy and SOPA blog a couple of months back – but I generally think if Google had not have taken the “It has nothing to do with us!” policy, then the need for SOPA would have materialised.

Having said that, in the last few months, I’ve noticed a vast amount of URLs being removed due to DMCA complaints. I’ve even received one, wrongly, myself!
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