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Thread: FAQ: Google

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    He's No Good To Me Dead silver trophybronze trophy stymiee's Avatar
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    FAQ: Google

    PageRank

    PR stands for PageRank. As explained by Google:

    PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves "important" weigh more heavily and help to make other pages "important."

    Important, high-quality sites receive a higher PageRank, which Google remembers each time it conducts a search. Of course, important pages mean nothing to you if they don't match your query. So, Google combines PageRank with sophisticated text-matching techniques to find pages that are both important and relevant to your search. Google goes far beyond the number of times a term appears on a page and examines all aspects of the page's content (and the content of the pages linking to it) to determine if it's a good match for your query.
    As explained by WikiPedia:

    PageRank is a patented method (an algorithm) to assign a numerical weighting to each element of a hyperlinked set of documents, such as the World Wide Web, with the purpose of "measuring" its relative importance within the set. The algorithm may be applied to any collection of entities with reciprocal quotations and references. The numerical weight that it assigns to any given element E is also called the PageRank of E and denoted by PR(E).

    PageRank was developed at Stanford University by Larry Page (hence the name Page-Rank) and Sergey Brin as part of a research project about a new kind of search engine. The project started in 1995 and led to a functional prototype, named Google, in 1998. Shortly after, Page and Brin founded Google Inc., the company behind the Google search engine, which still has PageRank as a key element.
    Summary: PageRank is your page's popularity on the Web. (Notice I didn't say website).

    PageRank != Page's Rank. They are two very different things.


    Google API

    With the Google Web APIs service, software developers can query billions of web pages directly from their own computer programs. Google uses the SOAP and WSDL standards so a developer can program in his or her favorite environment - such as Java, Perl, or Visual Studio .NET.

    To access the Google Web APIs service, you must create a Google Account and obtain a license key. Your Google Account and license key entitle you to 1,000 automated queries per day.

    The only way to query Google's index without violating their terms of service is through the Google API.


    Google SiteMaps

    Google Sitemaps is an easy way for you to submit all your URLs to the Google index and get detailed reports about the visibility of your pages on Google. With Google Sitemaps you can automatically keep them informed of all your web pages, and when you make changes to these pages to help improve your coverage in the Google crawl.

    The Google Sitemap is an XML file in a specific format that tells Google the information it needs to find the pages of your website.


    Google Search Shortcuts

    site:www.example.com/ - Indexed pages in your site
    allinurl:www.example.com/ - Pages that refer to your site's URL
    link:www.example.com/ - Pages that link to your site
    cache:www.example.com/ - The current cache of your site
    info:www.example.com/ - Information Google has about your site
    related:www.example.com/ - Pages that are similar to your site


    What is Googlebombing?

    Googlebombing is a certain attempt to influence the ranking of a given page in results returned by the Google search engine, often with humorous intentions. Due to the way that Google's PageRank algorithm works, a page will be ranked higher if the sites that link to that page all use consistent anchor text. A Google bomb is created if a large number of sites link to the page in this manner.


    Why does my site rank well in MSN/Yahoo but not in Google?

    MSN and Yahoo have vastly different algorithms then Google. With MSN and Yahoo on-page factors (page titles and content) tend to have a greater influence on a page's ranking whereas Google tends to put more value in off-page factors (incoming links). Many websites tend to rank well in MSN and Yahoo before they rank well in Google as it takes time to acquire the backlinks required to influence Google's rankings.


    How do I find out what my PR is?

    There are many different ways to do this:

    Websites that check for you: DigitalPoint, PageRank.net, WebmasterBrain, StarGeek, PR Lookup
    Software: Google Toolbar, PageRank FireFox Extension


    How often does Google update their PR?

    Google representatives, such as engineer Matt Cutts, have publicly indicated that the Toolbar PageRank is republished about once every 3 months, indicating that the Toolbar PageRank values are generally unreliable measurements of actual PageRank value for most periods of the year.

    However, PR is updated at Google daily (or close to daily). New links are factored into the equation and they are applied to a page's PR. You just cannot see this this PR until Google does its next public PR update.


    How important is PR in Google's algorithm?

    This subject is open to great debate. It's overall weight has been reduced since it's original inception. Anchor text has far surpassed it in importance.


    How do I increase my PageRank?

    Since PageRank is an indicator of a page's link popularity it should be obvious how to increase your PageRank - GET MORE INCOMING LINKS! High PR links are ideal but don't underestimate the power of low PR links. After all, PR does add up.


    Why does <website goes here> have such a high PR/high ranking with so few backlinks?

    1) They have a lot of low PR links pointing to the home page. These usually don't show in Google's backlink report but can still propel a site high in the rankings.

    2) They have a lot of links pointing to internal pages within the website. These links will only show when you do a backlink report for that specific page, not the homepage. These pages usually pass on a lot of PR to the site's home page and propel it in the rankings.

    3) Web pages with high PageRank have linked to the site's home page. High PR links carry much more weight then links from low PR pages. A link from a PR8 or PR9 page can make quite a difference in a web page's PR and ranking.


    Why does my website have a higher PR with the 'www' then without it?

    Google sees your website with the 'www' (http://www.example.com) as a different page the without (http://example.com). Pages that link to the page without the 'www' are hurting your pages with the 'www' as the PR is essentially being split between the two pages. Fortunately this is easy to fix. Use a 301 redirect to redirect Google, and everyone else, to the 'www' page from the non 'www' page. The code would look similar to this (mod_rewrite required):

    Code:
    Options +FollowSymlinks
    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteCond &#37;{HTTP_HOST} !^(www\.|$) [NC]
    RewriteRule ^ http://www.%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301]
    To go from the 'www' to non 'www' use this code:
    Code:
    Options +FollowSymlinks
    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST}//s%{HTTPS} ^www\.(.*)//((s)on|s.*)$ [NC]
    RewriteRule ^ http%3://%1%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301]
    An even easier way to do this is to use Google Webmaster Tools (a.k.a. Google SiteMaps). There is an option to force Google always use the 'www' or to always remove the 'www'.


    How do I stop search engines from indexing some of pages?

    You can use a robots.txt file to tell search engines (and other bots, too) where they can and cannot go. An excellent tutorial can be found at http://www.robotstxt.org/wc/robots.html.

    I just switched domain names. How do I transfer my PR from one domain to another?

    Use a 301 redirect. Put this in .htaccess file in the root directory of the old website:

    Code:
    RedirectMatch 301 ^/(.*) http://www.example.com/$1
    How should I handle external links? (Because I don't want to send PR out of my website)

    Outbound links are a balancing act. You need to decide how much PR is worth to you (as compared to your users' experience at your site) and then decide what is the best way to achieve your maximum PR without sacrificing a satisfactory user experience.

    One thing you could do is use a robots.txt file to prevent search engines from crawling pages with outbound links. Then no PR is lost because the search engines aren't even crawling those pages. But keep in mind that any internal links on those pages won't be counted either. This is common to do with a directory.

    Another thing you may want to try is to use a script that redirects users to external sites (example: http://www.domain.com/outboundlinks.php?id=linkidhere) and then put outboundlinks.php into your robot.txt file. Then the search engines won't follow the links because they can't access the script that does the redirect. Why would you want to do this? Because search engines do follow redirect scripts so the PR is being sent out of your site anyway.

    The latest technique available is to put 'rel="nofollow"' in your anchor tag. Google, and others I do believe, will no follow these links and in Google's case not pass along PR.


    Does having Adsense on my website help me with my search engine ranking?

    Not really. It may get Google to spider your site more completely and frequently as it needs to know what the content is on your pages so it may serve up the right ads. But it won't give you a boost in any way in the rankings. Won't give you any extra PR either.


    My site has gone from PR<whatever> to zero. (Or the Google Toolbar is grayed out) Why?

    or

    My site has disappeared from the SERPs. Why?

    This seems to happen on occasion and the natural tendency is to think you've been banned. However, this is rarely the case (if you've been doing bad things then you're not asking this question because you already know why this has happened!). For reasons known only to the powers to be this just happens. After a while, usually next update, things return to normal. What can you do about it? Nothing really. You can write to Google but all you'll get is one of the generic responses that doesn't really tell you anything. The best thing you can do is to sit back, have a beer or three, and wait for things to be set right again....on their own.

    Also, new websites can take a while to have visible PR assigned to them. This doesn't mean the site doesn't have PR. It just means the Google Toolbar or other methods of checking just haven't been updated yet.


    Buying Text Links

    For SEO purposes webmasters often buy links for their sites. As links from higher PR pages are believed to be more valuable they tend to be more expensive. It can be an effective and viable marketing strategy to buy link advertisements on content pages of quality & relevant sites to drive traffic & increase a webmasters link popularity. However, Google has publicly warned Webmasters that if they discovered to be selling links for the purpose of conferring PageRank and Reputation, their links will be devalued (ignored in the calculation of other page's PageRank). The practice of buying and selling links is intensely debated across the Webmastering community.


    What is "rel=nofollow"?

    In early 2005, Google implemented a new attribute, rel="nofollow", for the HTML link element, so that website builders and bloggers can make links that Google will not follow for the purposes of PageRank— they are links that no longer constitute a "vote" in the PageRank system. The nofollow attribute was added in an attempt to help combat comment spam.


    How do I rank well in Google?

    Ranking well in Google is fairly straight forward.

    1) Acquire incoming links with the anchor text you wish to rank well for (This is the most important by far).

    2) Optimize your title tag

    3) Use and optimize your Header tags (h1, h2, h3, h4)


    Why does Google have less pages indexed then MSN/Yahoo?

    This should be addressed by the Bigdaddy update. Google has admitted to having issues indexing some websites. Their Google Sitemaps does address this issue as well and is probably the best thing you can do to ensure Google crawls your website. The PR of your pages is also a likely factor. If they are very low (PR2 or less) they tend not to be indexed well.


    Why does Google show less backlinks then Yahoo and MSN? Why doesn't Google show all of my backlinks?

    Google purposely does not list all links pointing to a particular page. This is an effort to keep webmasters from manipulating their system. They also only update backlinks on a periodic basis so you may have acquired new backlinks but they haven't been reflected in Google's update. That doesn't mean Google doesn't know they are there. They just haven't publicly acknowledged them yet. It is also important to keep in mind that Google only shows backlinks for the specific page you requested (usually the homepage), not the whole site like other search engines do.

    Also, Google also only displays the number of backlinks to one specific page. This is usually the homepage since that is what most webmasters check for. Yahoo, and other search engines, report the number of incoming links per domain.


    Why doesn't Google index all of my site's pages? Why does Google update some pages more often then others?

    1) Your site is new. You don't really expect Google to index every page you have immediately, do you?

    2) Your site has low PR. Consensus indicates that Google will crawl sites that have higher PR deeper then sites with low PR. They figure the more popular your site is (PR is a popularity contest, remember?) the better a resource it must be.

    3) Your site uses dynamic pages/session ID's and they are not search engine friendly. Session ID are search engines like garlic is to vampires. They repel them. Have your site remove them when the bots come around and you will fare much better (yes, this is ethical and acceptable to the search engines). Query strings that are either very long or contain "id=" tend to limit the amount of pages some search engines will index (Google is a good example of this). Change "id=" to "page=" or something similar and you should do better. Or read the article about search engine friendly web pages.

    If a site has high PR and updates its content frequently, Google will index its pages more frequently (usually every few days or even sooner) then low PR sites that do not update frequently.


    Future PageRank

    Future PageRank is not accurate. It is for amusement purposes only. If you choose to use one of these tools it is for your amusement only. You should not be making any decisions based on the results you get.


    How do I get listed in Google?

    There are several ways to do it:

    1) Submit your site directly to them

    2) Submit a Google Sitemap

    3) Get incoming links to your homepage. These will be followed by Google's crawlers and will lead them to your site.


    When does Google update?

    Google updates its SERPS every day. The changes may be subtle or they may be large but they do occur daily.

    Big algorithm changes occur once a year or so but technically are no different then the daily updates other then the fact that large changes may occur to some pages' rankings.

    Google Dances, as they were once known, no longer exist and have not existed for at least a couple of years now.


    How do I check to see if I am banned from Google?

    Type the following into Google search bar:

    site:yourdomain.com (Use your real domain)

    If your site is over six months old and nothing appears you may be banned.

    If your site is less then six months old and nothing appears then you may be banned or Google may not be aware of you yet. If you haven't submitted a Google SiteMap you should do so right away. Also get some incoming links to point to your website.

    If your site does come up, even if it is only one page, then you are not banned.


    How do I get the 'additional links' shown in Google top results?

    As with anything Google it's all part of an algorithm that no one but Google knows. The one common factor is that this typically occurs only for the top ranked site and is usually a major brand/popular site. You can read more about it in Matt Cutt's blog.


    If I buy an expired domain with PageRank do I get to keep it?

    No. Google, as a registrar, can tell if a website has expired and changed hands. They reset the information for that domain automatically as a result.


    How do I optimize an image for Google image search?

    1) Use the keyword in the ALT attribute
    2) Name the image with the keyword
    3) Put the image in a directory containing the keyword
    4) Put the image on a page about the keyword
    5) Link to a page using that image with the keyword in the URL


    How do I stop Google from using the DMOZ description in their SERPs?

    You can add a meta tag to your pages that will prevent Google from using the DMOZ description for your site. The tag is used like this:

    Code:
    <meta name="robots" content="noodp">
    Which is better: <b> or <strong>?

    According to Matt Cutts <b> is supposedly slightly better although by such a slight margin is really doesn't make a difference.


    Does using a Google Sitemap help me in the SERPs?

    No. Google Sitemaps are just there to assist Google in discovering your pages. It does not help you improve your rankings in Google's SERPs.


    What is Googlebombing?

    Googlebombing is a certain attempt to influence the ranking of a given page in results returned by the Google search engine, often with humorous intentions. Due to the way that Google's PageRank algorithm works, a page will be ranked higher if the sites that link to that page all use consistent anchor text. A Google bomb is created if a large number of sites link to the page in this manner.

    In Early 2007 Google made a change to their algorithm that effectively eliminated Googlebombs.


    Why doesn't Google index all of my site's pages? Why does Google update some pages more often then others?

    1) Your site is new. You don't really expect Google to index every page you have immediately, do you?

    2) Your site has low PR. Consensus indicates that Google will crawl sites that have higher PR deeper then sites with low PR. They figure the more popular your site is (PR is a popularity contest, remember?) the better a resource it must be.

    3) Your site uses dynamic pages/session ID's and they are not search engine friendly. Session IDs in URLs are search engines like garlic is to vampires. They repel them. Have your site remove them when the bots come around and you will fare much better (yes, this is ethical and acceptable to the search engines). Query strings that are either very long tend to limit the amount of pages some search engines will index.

    If a site has high PR and updates its content frequently, Google will index its pages more frequently (usually every few days or even sooner) then low PR sites that do not update frequently.



    What weight does the age of a site and the amount of time a domain is registered for have on it's search placement?

    In the majority of cases, it actually doesn't matter--we want to return the best information, not just the oldest information. Especially if you're a mom/pop site, we try to find ways to rank your site even if your site is newer or doesn't have many links. I think it is fair for Google to use that as a signal in some circumstances, and I try never to rule a signal out completely, but I wouldn't obsess about it.
    Matt Cutts



    Since Google is against using ranking software (ie:WebCeO) to monitor SERP rankings, is there any plans on Google creating an approved, in-house rank check application that webmasters can use?

    It's something that we've talked about. My concern is that sometimes people get too worried with paying attention to their "trophy phrase" and want to rank for that even if that's not the best phrase for them, or concentrating on one phrase to the exclusion of all the other stuff they rank for isn't the best idea. I think paying attention to server logs or analytics data gets you a really nice array of keywords that are practical to work on. But this is feedback that we've heard, and personally I think it would be nice if we offered this for some reasonable size of keywords.
    Matt Cutts



    Do inbound links from other sites owned by the same company help or hurt rank?

    I find that inbound links from the same company tend to break down into two camps. You'll find mom/pops that have a very few sites in one camp, and that can make sense if those sites are linked; in the other camp, I've see SEOs have 1000 or 2000 different domains and cross-link them. I definitely would not recommend that.

    I think a lot of the litmus test in my mind is whether it makes sense to a regular person for those domains to be interlinked. If you look at a product like Coke, people aren't surprised to see that they have coca-cola.co.nz and several other domains. If you go to coke.com, it's perfectly reasonable to ask users which country they're coming from, and then send them to one of a bunch of domains. But if a regular user lands on example.com and finds 20 or 30 cross-links at the bottom of the page and they look like off-topic or cookie-cutter or spammy domains, that's going to look bad to almost anyone.
    Matt Cutts


    Are .gov and .edu back links still considered more "link juice" than the common back link?

    This is a common misconception--you don't get any PageRank boost from having an .edu link or .gov link automatically. Hah John, I beat you to it! If you get an .edu link and no one is linking to that .edu page, you're not going to get any PageRank at all because that .edu page doesn't have any PageRank.
    Matt Cutts



    Many believe that to rank well, you simply need "quality" backlinks. But how important is having your keywords in the , and throughout your site? Is keyword density of any importance to show what the page is about? What % is suggested?

    Links are just one factor involved in Google's ranking of pages. We look at both on-page and off-page content, so what you have on your page can be an essential part of ranking. However, there is no recommended "keyword density." Your content should be high quality and written for users. If you try writing for search engines, the language can become very unnatural, which may end up hurting you more than it helps.


    Any chance of Google favouring sites with valid markup anytime soon? On the principle that if the webmaster has taken the trouble to write valid markup, it's less likely to be a spammy site?

    Since less than 5% of the pages out there actually validate according to study done by Opera, it wouldn't make much sense for us to give the other 95% of the pages any trouble. You can find the study at http://dev.opera.com/articles/view/m...dation-report/


    Google Links

    Submit your website
    Report Spam to Google
    Google Information for Webmasters
    Google Sitemaps
    Google PageRank Explained
    Google API
    WikiPedia's Explanation of PageRank
    Webmaster Help Center
    Remove Pages From Google's Index
    Matt Cutt's Videos
    Backlink Anchor Text Checker

    Google Blog entry about duplicate content
    Google defuses Googlebombs
    Last edited by HAWK; Oct 22, 2008 at 16:26. Reason: Addition of new questions

  2. #2
    perfect = good enough peach's Avatar
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    Nice faq stymiee, alltough not very indepth about actual SEO.

    Quote Originally Posted by stymiee
    How often does Google update their PR?
    You didn't really answer that one. Google updates their PR continuously, on average they update it daily I think.
    Every 3 months, they update the visualisation of their Toolbar PageRank, that's not the same thing. (because it's only a rought approximation of actual PageRank.)
    Last edited by peach; Mar 9, 2006 at 09:01.

  3. #3
    He's No Good To Me Dead silver trophybronze trophy stymiee's Avatar
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    That is something I intended to add but completely forgot about. And it is a very copmmon question. Thanks for pointing it out.

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    eXtremE StorMeR
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    nice FAQs ... really helpfull

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    SitePoint Addict
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    indeed very nice fags

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    The knight who said ni! RockyShark's Avatar
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    Yep - nice post Stymiee - another one to bookmark!

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    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy hooperman's Avatar
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    Good idea stymiee!

    Is it worth adding something about different results from different data centres?

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    SitePoint Zealot
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    Great FAQ and very useful! This should help alot of people. Well Done Stymiee!

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    SitePoint Wizard Nikolas's Avatar
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    Great information there. Thanks

    I think this thread should be sticky.

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    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    excellent stymiee!!
    Linda Jenkinson
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    SitePoint Evangelist spinmaster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nikolas
    I think this thread should be sticky.
    I agree... nice post!

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    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    Ya, nice job.
    Chris Beasley - I publish content and ecommerce sites.
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    SitePoint Guru momos's Avatar
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    yet an other question though: Is it possible to make google clear that you had a page-makeover (lots of links stay the same, but some will not work anymore)

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    SitePoint Zealot Cheyne's Avatar
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    Excellent. This should help out the beginner users and filter some of the repitative questions.

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    _ silver trophy ses5909's Avatar
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    Very helpful. Nice work.
    Sara

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    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Jelena's Avatar
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    Stymiee, great job! Ctrl + D
    -- Jelena --

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    Now available in Orange Tijmen's Avatar
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    Great post Stymiee
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    SitePoint Evangelist djdykes's Avatar
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    good job, i never knew of the rel="nofollow" tag thanks!

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    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Bleys's Avatar
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    Excellent work, stymiee.
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    Really nice faq stymiee. I ´ll get mor backlinks, after read it! And what happens if you want to rank nice in local googles: ie: www.google.CA or .ES. Is any difference?
    There is the possibility to rank well in google.com and not so well (lol) in google.ca or others.
    Thanks for this great post!.

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    SitePoint Zealot sidhighwind's Avatar
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    Very good info.
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    SitePoint Wizard cpvr's Avatar
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    Excellent FAQ stymiee, thanks!
    Love pets? Why not discuss virtual pets?
    Contact me on Twitter @cpvr

  23. #23
    From downunder but sure 2 rise Hazardous's Avatar
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    Great work stymiee!
    Hazardous
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  24. #24
    SitePoint Addict Miraculix's Avatar
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    Thanks for taking the time for writing these things down in such an easy to follow way.

    May questions be addressed in this post or would you rather have separate threads be created in SEO forum?

    Thanks again,
    Mx

  25. #25
    He's No Good To Me Dead silver trophybronze trophy stymiee's Avatar
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    If you have a generic Google question or SEO question it would get a better response in its own thread. If you have a question about the FAQ itself, here would be appropriate.


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