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How to Create a Custom Google+ Vanity URL

November 3, 2013 Leave a comment

Well by now you probably know about the new Google+ feature available for Google+ users. But if you are not aware of it yet or you are not able to get your custom vanity URL yet, keep this post on hand or return when your profile is approved by Google for the new vanity URL feature.

The Requirements to Obtain Custom URLs:

SEO Bullet Points You must have a profile photo.

SEO Bullet Points You must have at least 10 followers.

SEO Bullet Points Your Google+ account must be at least 30 days old.

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Visit Your Google+ Profile

Navigate to your Google+ profile first to get it started. You will need to repeat these steps for each Google+ page you have created that you wish to create your custom vanity URL. Once you are on your Google+ page, look at the top of the page to find the Get URL button in blue if your profile is approved for it.

Get URL button for Google+ Vanity URL

Get URL

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Option to Change Vanity URL

Next, you will be prompted with a dialog box giving you the option to change the vanity URL. If you agree to change the current URL to the new vanity URL, then you will need to select the check box agreeing to the terms of service. Google has made the suggestion in the terms of service that they may charge you in the future for the vanity URL. Some say this is a marketing ploy by Google or a means to determine the validity of the business. It has been said that it may also effect the outcome of search results as well.

Change to Custom URL

Agree to Terms of Service

Of course the option to not change the URL is available but for this post we are going to select Change URL

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The Verification Process

The next step is just simply entering your mobile number into the input box for verification. Once you receive the text message (SMS) containing your verification code you are going to need to enter it into the next prompt.

Verify Mobile Number

Verify Mobile Number

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Enter the Code

Finally, enter your text message code into the input box and select the Verify button. Although you may have to be a little patient because it can take up to 15 minutes to get your verification code from Google. If the code does not come to your mobile device or you entered the wrong number, you can try again to obtain it.

Enter Text Message Code

Enter Code

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Conclusion

Well besides how easy it is to get a custom Vanity URL, you may want to keep in mind about the possibility of Google charging for this new feature. There have been a few other questions that have risen from this new feature offered by Google. One of the concerns surrounds the rel=”author” attribute. Of course this is set in the a href tag as an attribute or with a ?rel=author parameter in a URL string as a query parameter. Google of course will be providing the redirects for the new Vanity URL’s so at this point it should not be of concern. Will need to keep an eye on it though, just in case.

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“The ever changing Google”.

About Ty Whalin

Full-time Web Designer, SEO Manager, Cold Fusion Developer, business owner and Internet marketing entrepreneur. Educational background includes Central Florida Community College, where I majored in Computer Information Administration and Rasmussen College; Computer Information Technology. I am the Founder and CEO of Link Worx Seo, played drums for almost 30 years and proud father of one daughter.

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Free Sitemap Creation, Validation and Submission

October 28, 2013 1 comment

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Sitemap Validation and Sitemap Submission

Sitemap Validation

Free Sitemap Creation

Considering all the available resources for creating sitemaps, this one is the best around as far as I am concerned. I personally have tinkered around with several sitemap programs and multiple sitemap generators online. Some charge for these services but there are plenty of free resources available online. The option is yours. If you want a good free sitemap or are willing to pay for some extra goodies, then this is the one for you. I use this one to get started usually; then add-on from here. XML Sitemaps.com

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Free Sitemap Validation

After you have created your sitemap or changed the original you may want to validate it. Which of course is a good suggestion if you are changing or adding XML code to the sitemap. The code itself is really not that complex and relatively simple to change, but since you are human; errors can occur. Usually typing errors or forgetting to close a tag or two. Do not worry validating is as easy as copying and pasting your code from the sitemap into a text area. There are several validator’s available, but this is the best one you will find online at no cost. W3C Sitemap Validatorblog-white-inner-seperator Free Sitemap Submission

Finally, you will need to make sure the sitemap or sitemaps are submitted to the search engines. There are several options for sitemap submission available, but once again the best option if you got the time is the free option.

This is a free account and actually is very nice of Attracta to offer for free of cost. I have been using this site for years. Very easy to manage and e-mail notifications are sent when updates are needed. One part that is different about Attracta is the fact that the company creates their own version of an HTML sitemap and submits it to the search engines. You do not actually get the sitemap code, but for quick and easy submission without worrying about the sitemap and code. This is a good start.

For those more experienced webmasters, webmaster tools (Bing) are the best to submit your sitemaps to the main search giants. Bing, Yahoo! and Google. Of course your websites must be validated through the webmaster tools accounts first before doing so. You must have access or provide access for to your webmaster to add certain validation code to your website. Although there are three options available to validate your website with webmaster tools you will need access to the code no matter what way you decide to validate your website.

Once you are connected to webmaster tools, (Google) you can then manage your website and submit your sitemaps very easily at no cost. This is the best and most recommended way to submit your sitemaps. As always, if you have questions or concerns, just drop a line. Will be glad to help.

“This was all free sitemap services”.

About Ty Whalin

Full-time Web Designer, SEO Manager, Cold Fusion Developer, business owner and Internet marketing entrepreneur. Educational background includes Central Florida Community College, where I majored in Computer Information Administration and Rasmussen College; Computer Information Technology. I am the Founder and CEO of Link Worx Seo, played drums for almost 30 years and proud father of one daughter.

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How to Prevent Your own Visits on Google Analytics?

October 20, 2013 Leave a comment
Prevent Google Analytic Tracking Code

Google Analytic Code

Recently, I implemented some changes to the source code that allowed visits to not be recorded by the developers and designers visiting a clients website.  These visits when recorded are producing false results in the Google Analytic accounts. In light of these recorded events, it seemed to me that the information was not giving an accurate account of data to the clients on the weekly and monthly reporting. So I went in search of a solution to prevent the data from being recorded. I found several way’s of preventing the visits from being recorded.

First, I started off by locating a post on LinkedIn. This discussion board provides some user discussion and interaction about the topic at hand. You can also find other links to sources covering the topic as well.

If you are in search of a more complicated method and have the skills and access to source code, then you might want to do it yourself with the Google Analytic Code. This is a link to the Google Developers website. You can find a variety of information pertaining to the Google Analytic Tracking Code for implementation.

You may also opt to make use of the Google Filtering option with-in Google Analytic. You can set IP filtering easily with a static IP or by using specific regular expressions to filter by IP addresses as well. This is not one of the easier methods to prevent tracking of your visits because you have to manually implement it with-in GA. Although you will need to be careful about creating the IP filter, as not to filter out any other IP’s you may want to track as a visit. There is also an IP Address Range Tool available on the page for creating the filter.

The Google Opt out ad on is one I personally have not used but the reviews say it works well for most situations. It works the same as Ghostley. You can install the plug-in on Google Chrome browsers to prevent you data from being recorded by Google Analytic. I personally installed a the Ghostley plug-in because it comes with some other features such as the ability to shut it on or off and whitelist creation. I recommend this plug-in for the added features. May need to test the other one from Google to find out how well it works. There is a final one named the Analytics Blocker which is actually receiving bad reviews. Have not used this one for any length of time. Just shows that reviews are powerful.

Conclusion

Well hope this was a helpful post for all of you. As you can tell there are a variety of methods available to prevent Google from tracking your website visits of yourself or employee’s. Of course the method of prevention is going to depend on several factors such as having access to the source code and the technical expertise of being able to implement it vs. being able to just install a plugin directly on the Chrome Browser. At this point you decide. Until next time enjoy.

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“Remember Help is Just Around the Corner”.

About Ty Whalin

Full-time Web Designer, SEO Manager, Cold Fusion Developer, business owner and Internet marketing entrepreneur. Educational background includes Central Florida Community College, where I majored in Computer Information Administration and Rasmussen College; Computer Information Technology. I am the Founder and CEO of Link Worx Seo, played drums for almost 30 years and proud father of one daughter.

Follow us on TwitterJoin us on FaceBookFollow us on LinkedInFollow us on PinterestFollow us on YouTubeFollow us on WordPressLink Worx SeoCome Join me on Google+

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How can Geo-Targeting Help Businesses

October 13, 2013 Leave a comment
Expand your business reach by targeting cities and states.

Location Specific Targeting

What is Geo-Targeting?

This is a form of location specific targeting where you literally choose specific locations to market your services or products too. A simple way to understand this objective is to think of it as local listing services that show local results in the search engines. But the main difference is that you have to create specific pages targeting those areas you wish to advertise too. But since these pages are not actually listed in the local results that are truly not local result listing’s, but actual web pages targeting locations by city or state.

Many businesses do not have the time or resources to create such an array of pages aimed at targeting by a city or state basis. This is a time-consuming production of pages that requires research and resources to make it happen. As a result of this large under taking, the cost can sky-rocket quickly and exceed the usual small business budget. Although it is a great strategy, you must consider all variables of time, scope and cost.

Here is an example of page specific and not local listing specific geo-targeting.

Page A: Home Page. The business is located in Indianapolis, IN.

Page B: Geo-Targeted Page. The page is still part of the Indianapolis based business but the outreach is being extended to a larger targeted audience or radius of distance extending beyond Indianapolis, IN.

For a local listing the radius of reach can be set but may not always appear in the local results since the business is based out of Indianapolis, IN. So the work around to grow the business is to create the pages targeting areas beyond Indianapolis, IN. This details writing and marketing your services or products to the next city or state that you already understand will not show in the local listing results.

Since you are required to provide a website address, telephone number and an address for local listing results, establishing more local results is not possible by using the same information of which you already have used for the local listing created for the business unless you actually have a place of business in different areas of which you can do so. Because of this, page specific geo-targeting is beneficial because you do not need to create new local listing’s which require a different address and telephone number.

There are two basic forms of geo-targeting pages. One is a landing page style and the other is an informative or project based page that matches the look and feel of the actual website design for the business. The landing page type are great for A/B testing and mixing it up. This form of page can be tested and measured to learn what works and does not work. So one location may have the contact form on the right while a different page may have the form on the left. By measuring the results, you can gain proper insight about what works well when customers land on those pages. Other parts of A/B testing include changing the content on the page, using different bullet points, wording it differently and even changing color of call to action buttons.

What is the Value of Geo-Targeting?

The greatest value is in the expansion of the business. You essentially are going to gain a greater outreach equating to a larger target audience. You are going to gain the SEO value of more pages targeting more keywords and establishing more possibilities of search engine results. Now, whether you are deciding to create pages with the same effect by displaying projects you have worked on or just want to create landing pages targeting location specific states or cities, the value is worthwhile as a long-term strategy.

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“Business Growth is Essential”

About Ty Whalin

Full-time Web Designer, SEO Manager, Cold Fusion Developer, business owner and Internet marketing entrepreneur. Educational background includes Central Florida Community College, where I majored in Computer Information Administration and Rasmussen College; Computer Information Technology. I am the Founder and CEO of Link Worx Seo, played drums for almost 30 years and proud father of one daughter.

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How to Increase Traffic to Your Website With Images and Sitemaps

July 31, 2013 1 comment

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Our Blogging Delay Update

First off, if anyone who is a subscriber has been wondering why the news letter has been the same for about two months now, it has been because of being extremely busy. There has been an extensive amount of work being completed elsewhere for another company over the last few months. Secondly, behind the scenes programming has been at a slow for a few due to the complexity of programming and the other work being completed for another company.

Currently, programming is taking place to include tags and categories a long with a website search functionality. Most of the programming is completed, except for some minor details with the indexing of the pages and documents being searched. The project has been extended for several reasons and will be completed as time allows. Has definitely been more than I bargained for at this time.

This new search function and tagging system corresponds to a previous post about external or internal blogging platforms and of which type is better. Because of this, the transferring of the blog post is still not completed yet and is primarily due to the amount of web content and ongoing work being completed elsewhere. Sooner or later it will all be completed, but not holding my breath for it any time soon from this point.

“Now, to the main purpose of the article.”

Add images to a sitemap for indexing

Image Sitemaps

XML and Image Sitemaps

After researching several areas of creating sitemaps for images and covering other areas of image optimization, it would appear that the use of images in sitemaps is extremely important when getting images indexed. I noticed that through the years images on sites without being in a sitemap seemed to get indexed anyway but were random and dependent on the names of the images, width and height inclusion, alt and title text and proper url formatting.

So figuring out the significance of placing images in a sitemap took a little thought and research. I suppose the most beneficial portion would be that placing these images on pages into a sitemap is beneficial because the images are for sure going to be indexed and not just by chance.

I learned a great deal about images being inserted into sitemaps and found some great resources while doing so. Most of the good sources I found required some kind of payment to actually get the images and pages properly formatted into a sitemap with no effort of coding.

I ended up creating my own sitemap from scratch to get the images for each page aligned/correlated to the specific pages without any additional cost. Although this was much more time-consuming to perform, the benefits are worth it since there were no out-of-pocket cost and the images are for sure going to be indexed.

Between the combination of images being inserted into a sitemap and providing specific instruction on not blocking certain image directories in the robots.txt file. My images are increasing in organic image results which overall more exposure. I also managed to insert a filter for GA to show the results of progress from the data in Google’s Analytic’s. This is leading to more success in results and brings more value to the sites at hand.

Image Optimization Tips

SEO Bullet Points Check every image has its size dimension (width and height) defined in the HTML

SEO Bullet Points

Name each image relevant to your page or image

SEO Bullet Points Do the same for the ‘Alt tag’ and ‘Title tag’ text

SEO Bullet Points Check your robots file for blocked image directories from being crawled

SEO Bullet Points Check for proper image paths (no broken links)

How to Check Images are Being Indexed

To easily check on whether or not your images are being indexed on Google, try doing a site search with your domain name (site: yourdomain) in www.images.google.com Any relevant images that are indexed for your site will appear in the image search results. Try it, it works.

Creating Image XML in Your Current Sitemap

Option one to let the search engine know your images exists for indexing. This is a combination of the current sitemap being used with XML images information added to it.

<!–?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″ ?>
<urlset xmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9” xmlns:xsi=”http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance
xsi:schemaLocation=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9 http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9/sitemap.xsd“>
<url>
<loc>http://www.yourdomain.com</loc>
<lastmod>2013-07-13</lastmod>
<changefreq>daily</changefreq>
<priority>0.5</priority>
<image:image>
<image:loc>http://www.yourdomain.com/images/jpg/imagename.jpg</image:loc>
<image:caption>My Image Caption</image:caption>
</image:image>

You are allowed to have up to 1,000 images per page for indexing purposes, so adding more will not matter to the search engines at all.

A Separate Image Sitemap

Option two to let the search engine know your images exists for indexing. This can be done by creating a sitemap for just images in a non-combined XML sitemap for images only.

<!–?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>
<urlset xmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9
xmlns:image=”http://www.google.com/schemas/sitemap-image/1.1″>
<url>
<loc>http://www.yourdomain.com</loc>
<image:image>
<image:loc>http://www.yourdomain.com/imagename.jpg</image:loc>
</image:image>

The two look very much the same but there is one significant difference you may notice on the XML declaration. The declaration specifies namespace differently as you can see from the examples. This is the main factor when differentiating the two sitemaps. You can name the images sitemap as sitemap_images.xml and place it into your root directory for indexing. These sitemaps allow for more accessible and faster crawling by the search engine bots. Overall, it helps improve the efficiency of the crawl process and ensures all of the important pages and images are indexed.

Extending the Sitemap

The tag’s <image:image> and <image:loc> are both required tags for the images indexing to work properly. As for the addition of the <image:caption> it is not necessary but is an added feature that possibly could be used in the future by the search engines. Basically it could be worth it to add now instead of going back into the future and adding it later. There is also another tag <image:geo_location> which can be added as well along with the tag <image:title> or even an <image:license> for each and every image. For the full list see Google’s page on Image Sitemaps.

Sitemap Tools and Webmaster Guidelines

Plus, here is a list of tools which will generate a sitemap for you. If you run a WordPress site you can install a plugin (e.g. Google XML Sitemap for Images) which will create the specialized Image sitemap for you.

Conclusion

My overall experience by playing around has led to the correct path of adding images to a sitemap as one sitemap and not two separate sitemaps. This seems to be my preferred method of adding images to a sitemap, but could be different for you. So play around with what works best for you and then decide. Plus, images have always been a great way to get more traffic to your website, especially since the search engines have placed more emphasis through the recent years on image search.

“Image optimization adds value”.

About Ty Whalin

Full-time Web Designer, SEO Manager, Cold Fusion Developer, business owner and Internet marketing entrepreneur. Educational background includes Central Florida Community College, where I majored in Computer Information Administration and Rasmussen College; Computer Information Technology. I am the Founder and CEO of Link Worx Seo, played drums for almost 30 years and proud father of one daughter.

Follow us on TwitterJoin us on FaceBookFollow us on LinkedInFollow us on PinterestFollow us on YouTubeFollow us on WordPressLink Worx SeoCome Join me on Google+

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