• Frequently Asked Questions about Search Engine Optimisation

    Thanks to the users of #SEO @ EFnet for providing the questions.

    1. Is and treated as the same page by search engines?
      • No, search engines view them as two separate sites.
      • Consider this: .com is a domain, is a domain, is a domain, is a domain, etc. Therefore they are treated as separate entities.
      • It is recommended to focus on one domain, see: What’s a preferred domain?
    2. Does CSS effect SEO?
      • No, it doesn’t CSS is purely visual for users, search engines have no interest in your site’s style.
      • However, using CSS generally forces you to use correct markup, which makes the site better for indexing.
      • Remember though, search engines are build to be backwards compatible, from when we used tables for layouts.
      • Common sense tells us that search engines have no interest in style.
      • Although, this does NOT mean you won’t get reported if you use CSS to try and trick the crawler.
    3. When is the next Google PageRank update?
      • The true answer is “We don’t know”.
      • Nobody notable attempts to guess when the next update is.
    4. Do unique visitors in your web stats include things like hits from people on google image search?
      • Of course they do. You should check with the webstat software vendor to be certain.
      • Common sense tells us that if it’s in the logs, it’s in the stats.
    5. How do search engines work out what country my site is in?
      • Where the IP address of your domain hosting is located.
      • The ccTLD (ie: .uk).
      • Backlinks from sites with the above.
    6. When should I use rel=”nofollow” on anchor links?
    7. Should I use dashes (-) or underscores (_) in my URLs?
      • The short answer is dashes (-).
      • In most search engines if you type in two words separated by an underscore (_), it treats the whole thing as you see it. (ie: mobile_phone is read as mobile_phone)
      • In most search engines if you type in two words separated by a dash (-), it detects it as one whole word or even two separate words. (ie: mobile-phone could be mobilephone or mobile phone)
      • Common sense tells us that if google sees a dash (-) as a space we should use that.
    8. Do aged domains rank higher on search engines than newer domains?
      • Short answer is no.
      • Search engines do not care how old your domain is.
      • They do however care about the backlinks.
      • Common sense begs us to ask why should they?
      • However, they do care about aged websites.
      • Even Matt Cutts agrees.
    9. How can I find keywords relating to “keyword”?
    10. Where can I find a list of web directories?
    11. I have two domains, one is a .com the other is a, which should I use?
      • If you are focusing on a UK market, use the “” domain.
      • If you are focusing on the global market use the “.com” domain.
      • If you are focusing on both, try making geo targetted urls. (eg:
      • This is just classic common sense.
    12. Is PageRank important?
      • Short answer is no.
      • Do not focus on trying to increase your PageRank
      • Focus on marketing and SEO and PageRank should follow
      • Common sense says: it’s just a number, it doesn’t make money.
    13. Is cloaking a good idea?
    14. How important are the description and keyword meta tags?
    15. Are static URLs better than dynamic URLs?
      • Static URLs look nicer, and are friendly for your end users.
      • Google suggests that many search engine crawlers do not like dynamic URLs as much as static URLs.
      • In a recent article from Google dynamic URLs vs. static URLs, the conclusion is that it simply doesn’t matter.
    16. Should my URLs have a trailing slash?
      • The short answer is mostly yes, unless it’s a file.
      • Including a trailing slash when creating anchors (links) can reduce load, as it means the web server won’t have to redirect you there.
    17. What is that list of links found on the first result on Google?
    18. How do I check how many backlinks my site has?
    19. Should I register my domain for more than one 1 year at at time?
      • Yes, but it probably won’t help with SEO.
      • Domain name “whois” records are slow to lookup, often limited and cumbersome to parse, so using this wouldn’t be logical.
      • Matt Cutts suggests that the domain expiry date is mentioned in the patent, but isn’t used by the Google search algorithm.
      • Domain registrars would have you believe that registering domains for 10 years helps improve SEO, but the reality is, it’s just a marketing ploy.
    20. If I get secure hosting and make http://whatever redirect to https://whatever, will it hurt my rankings?
    21. Matt Cutts answers: Can switching to HTTPS harm ranking?

    Where to get further help: Try #SEO on EFnet (IRC), you can also try the SEO Help Forums.

    Note: Answers are provided using via the general consensus and common sense theory, I do not believe in third party articles due to the speculation and Chinese whispers factors, any sources provided are first hand.

  • Developing a Facebook Application on PHP4

  • I want to create a facebook application, however currently all my production servers run PHP4.

    Ultimately the project will be appear on your Facebook profile as a profile box.

    I’m writing this while I begin creating my facebook application to assist people in a similar situation to myself.

    Read More »

  • Morals of Downloading

  • When downloading using protocols such as BitTorrent and other file sharing networks you should adopted some rules to ensure that what you're doing is justified and morally right.


    • If we didn’t download music we’d still be taping it of the radio anyway.
    • Most artists don’t care about you downloading their music, they are usually quite flattered by it.
    • If you like their music, go to their shows, buy their merchandise or just give them money directly.
    • If you like the record label and the artists they sign, buy their record, go to their events or buy their merchandise. These companies are responsible for marketing the artists you like, without them you may never hear of some artists.
    • People make music because they enjoy it, not because they want to get rich.
    • However, nothing is quite like owning the record on vinyl or even CD.

    TV Shows

    • We watch your adverts and pay our license fees, does it matter if we watch it now or later?
    • If we didn’t download or stream them, we’d just record them on VHS anyway…
    • Even TV channels themselves are offering the ability to watch them online now.
    • If you like something enough, buy it on DVD.


    • Watching a film at the cinema is no comparison to watching it at home.
    • The less we go to the the cinema the more the prices for tickets will be, which SUCKS.
    • If you like films, pay the price, support the company that creates them.
    • If you do not pay for films, they will simply not make as many good films due to a lack of budget.
    • If you like a film, buy it on DVD, don’t download it.
    • Independent film companies don’t have the same funding as large corporations and therefore cannot make films on the same scale.


    • In many cases, software is created as a solution to a problem, if you don’t make it, someone else will.
    • Would you find alternative open source or free software if you were forced to pay for the software you use?
    • Would you develop (or invest in) your own solution if you were forced to pay?
    • If you like the software and cannot live without it, pay for it.
    • If you are happy to use open source or free alternatives, use them.


    • Reading an entire book on your computer screen? Seriously? That’s just dumb.
    • So you’re really going to print that off and bind it? Just buy the damn book!
    • Having said that there’s plenty of websites out there you can read for free instead. Try those.

    Whatever the case, piracy is here to stay, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. We just have to live with it the best way we can.

    Please note: I neither encourage nor disapprove of downloading illegally.

  • Xen on CentOS Host running FreeBSD Guest

  • Recently i've been investigating Xen. In short, Xen is open source virtualisation software that provides you with the ability to split a physical hardware server (host or dom0) into multiple virtual servers (guest or domU).

    What makes Xen so special above the rest is that it offers such a wide span of guest operating systems. Read More »

  • My AVI files crash explorer.exe

  • Often when I am browsing files using explorer I will come across a file that is an avi, when I move my cursor over the file or click on it, explorer will crash with the following message (or similar):

    explorer.exe – Application Error

    The instruction at “0x04080db8” referenced memory at “0x00000000”. The memory could not be “written”.

    Click on OK to terminate the program

    Click on CANCEL to debug the program


    Read More »

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