This is the first in a series of blog posts titled “The Top 5 Things You Can Do to Improve your Organization’s Organic Search Ranking.”

Over the years we’ve completed hundreds of SEO audits for clients. The first thing we check for is whether a web site is competing against itself in Google. If this is the situation and it is not remedied, then all other attempts to improve your organic ranking may be futile.

If checking for 301 redirects seems overwhelming it doesn’t have to be. gShift’s SEO Management System makes it an easy fix and it can mean the difference between ranking on page one in Google or not. Here’s a further explanation and how to check on your own.

The majority of web sites (and likely yours), have two domains visible to the world – a “www” and a “non-www”. If these domains are set up incorrectly on your web server then you are competing against yourself in the search engines. Proper 301 redirects need to be set up to avoid this. But how can you test for this and what can you do about it?

Open two browser windows or tabs and type your Web site URL in both, one starting with www and the other without. Does one version end up changing to the other (i.e., does get changed to or do they both remain as originally entered?

If one does not redirect to the other than your redirects are not set up properly and you may be competing against yourself for organic rankings. So, although this might not affect the visitor experience, it’s not uncommon for the search engines to crawl and index the www and non-www versions of your site separately thinking they are two separate sites. You won’t be penalized for duplicate content, but you will definitely dilute your results in the search engine results pages (SERPs). And, not only will you lose some link authority, you’ll essentially be competing against yourself for the same keywords.

So what do you do if the redirects are not set up properly? The one and only correct way to redirect visitors from one page to another is via a 301 redirect. 301 redirects are controlled on the server side, with Internet Information Services (IIS) or a .htaccess file. While pushing all visitors to the proper page, a redirect also tells the search engine spiders that it’s a permanent relocation of page “a” to page “b” and the only page that counts now is “b”.

gShift’s is one of the SEO management software solutions that we use to automatically check and ensure your site’s 301 redirects are properly set up and helps you through the process of fixing them if they are not properly set up.

A special shout out to Krista LaRiviere from gShiftLabs for sharing this article with our network.

I’m here to help when you need me.

Chris Kiersch
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