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SEO and Website Hosting Webcast: What You Should Know
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Here's a rundown of Search Marketing Now's latest webcast on SEO and Website Hosting: What You Should Know, featuring Vanessa Fox. Vanessa Fox is Contributing Editor, Search Engine Land.

In this webcast, Vanessa discussed everything from what to expect from your hosting services, to understanding which databases to use, to diagnosing hosting issues and their impact on SEO. She also touched on items such as which server Operating Systems are used and how hosting services handle load balancing and redirects. Vanessa also shared tips on:
  • How speed affects SEO
  • How hosting services manage parked domains
  • How hosting services manage aggressive bot traffic
  • What to look for in a good SEO-focused hosting service
Here is our live blogging coverage of the webcast. 

Vanessa started out by talking about managing bot traffic.
  • she talked about using Google Webmaster Tools to help diagnose Googlebot issues (see crawl errors)
  • if you have access to server logs, insight can be gained by looking at bot activity there as well
  • ask you web host how they handle search engines and search engine traffic (do thet recomend blocking search engine bots?  yikes) - your hosts need to understand that Search is important
    • avoid answers such as using the robots.txt to crawl your site
    • be cautious of slowing down crawl rates - not as much of your site will get indexed
    • is shared hosting the best option for you
  • in GWT use the "fetch as Googlebot option" to see what Googlebot is seeing
  • use the translate tool in Google to see what Googlebot is seeing
  • some questions to ask include:
    • is your web host robust enough?
    • are you creating infinite crawls?
    • have you blocked login, registration nd other non-indexable pages?
Vanessa then mentioned that bots don't read english citing a well known humourous example from hilton.com/robots.txt: 

She then went on to discuss Page Speed.
  • she mentioned a couple of FireFox plugins that can be used to diagnose page speed issues
  • she discussed using crawl delays in robots.txt to slow rates for other search engine crawlers from Yahoo or Bing
Location Matters
  • depends on if your company is International, but location does in fact play a roll.  (Note we've written a few posts on hosting sites with multiple GEO locales)
  • the first thing Google does is check the TLD (i.e. .com vs. ca, vs. .uk)
    • IP Location
    • you can override this with Google Webmaster Tools (obviously Google only)
  • ask your host where the Servers are located as Google may be associating your site based on server location - keep them in the country that you are focused in
Server Requirements
  • older versions of IIS had some SEO issues - IIS 7 is pretty good.  Ask which version of IIS is being used  (do a search for SEO IIS workarounds)
  • on the Apache side, htaccess does lots of cool stuff

Load Balancing
  • are they doing this behind a proxy?  (avoid ww1 vs. www)
  • she used Hilton as an example - with unexpected user issues
  • pay attention to malware details via GWT
  • visit the Google Webmaster blog for additional tips
Vanessa also talked about server log access which can be used by technical resources to identify exactly what is being crawled on your site?  Is the site being crawled equally or are only certain pages or categories being crawled?  Are there Session IDs being created that you didn't know about?

Vaness mentiond that if you have a thousand sites interlinked Google will look at this suspiciously

Myths About Hosting

  • Class C Block of IPs - does not matter really
Items to Consider
  • host load
  • server capacity - if the server is slow to respond, the search bots may slow their crawl
  • down time
  • status codes serve up a 503 not a 403
  • use 301 redirects as opposed to 302 redirects
  • ensure that your host does not block Googlebot as a capacity management strategy
  • ensure that your host maintains your site on a server in the country you serve
  • ensure that your host uses the latest version of IIS (if using IIS servers)
  • Apache and IIS are both fine for SEO (if used properly)
  • ensure that your host is robust enough to handle the load of your site
  • sharing IP addresses on C-Blocks does not impact SEO
  • use crawl effieicency best practices
Vanessa shared a comment from Google's Matt Cutts:
They were commenting on the misconception that having multiple sites hosted on the same IP address will in some way affect the PageRanks of those sites.  There is no PageRank difference whatsoever between these two cases (virtual hosting vs. a dedicated IP).  Liks to virtually hosted domains are treated the same as links to domains on dedicated IP addresses.
There were some interesting and comical questions from the Q&A portion of the webcast.  Here are a couple of examples with condensed reponses from Vanessa:

Q:  My developer is recommending that we route Googlebot to a dedicated server that exactly mirrors the site presented to visitors.  Would we be penalized for this?
Vanessa:  Cloaking will get you penalized.

Q:  If a person owns different TLDs and 301 redirects them to a .com site with servers in the US can we rank in Google.fr for our .com/fr content?
Vanessa:  France in particular likes the .fr extension.

Q:  If I have a .com with nglish and italian content, hosed in Italy, should I make an association?
Vanessa: Be structured with the English content and the Italoian content.  Avoid having both on the same page.

Q:  If we've moved a site, how long should a 301 (redirect) be in place on the server side and on Webmaster Tools?
Vanessa:  Forever.

Q: shopping.com routes Googlebot to a dedicated server, why are they not being penalized?
Vanessa:  No response, joking that she is not the right person to ask about this as se no longer works at Google.

All in all great webcast with some good reminders and tips for SEO and hosting.

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posted by Jody @ Tuesday, June 22, 2010  
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