Caught Out by Canonicals – A Quick Tip When Migrating from HTTP to HTTPS

Cannonical! Get it? Canonical, cannonical?! Ahahahahahaaa...It’s been a while since my last post on here (over 4 months – yikes!) but I thought I’d quickly put this out there based on a recent private Facebook group interaction. A few people said it was a good tip, so I thought it’d be a good idea to blog about it just in case anyone else encounters the issue as well…

A friend of mine added me to a private SEO group on Facebook and subsequently posted asking the group for advice. His client had just migrated their website from HTTP to HTTPS (something I’ve written about before by the way, if you’re looking for a guide) but unusually the Google Search Console (GSC) profile for the HTTP version (e.g. “http://www.example.com/”) was still showing data in its Search Analytics section and he couldn’t figure out how or why.

Funnily enough, I’d just had this exact issue with a client of mine so I chipped in with my experience. The culprit? That cheeky canonical! *shakes fist*

Short version: if you’re migrating from HTTP to HTTPS, making sure your canonical URLs follow suit, i.e. they all reference HTTPS versions of the URLs, not HTTP versions!

Seems obvious, right? And it might be. But it’s worth double-triple-checking just in case they don’t behave as expected, especially if you have some that have been manually configured in the past (in which case they may not simply auto-update in conjunction with your migration efforts).

For more detailed info, read on…

That pesky canonical tho

First things first, my friend didn’t reveal his client, and I’m under an NDA with my client, so this is going to be an entirely anonymous anecdote. Sorry!

A canonical URL tells search engines that the page you’re serving is the ‘primary’ version of the URL, which is a good way to side-step potential duplicate content issues. There’s a good guide on canonicals over on Moz if you’re new to the concept and want to learn more about it.

Click to read more!

My Trip to MozCon 2018 in Seattle!

Steve & Roger MozBot photoWhat a month July was! On Sunday 8th July I flew to Seattle to attend MozCon 2018, having won a VIP ticket in a competition by Moz. My submission was a short story about Roger MozBot (Moz’s brand mascot) discovering a time machine, visiting various points in Moz’s past and potential future. You can read it here! (FUN FACT: I only know of 3 people so far who have found the story’s Easter egg…)

Hightlights of my trip included:

When I got back I blogged my notes from two of the lunch discussion round-tables for a post on State of Digital.

And you can see all my tweets, notes, pics, etc. of MozCon and Seattle here.

I also did a talk at Welsh ICE (my coworking space) as part of their ICE Breaker series, which is when members of the ICE community do a 20-minute talk during Wednesday lunchtimes (formerly known as Friday ICE, which used to be held – no surprise – on Fridays). The guys at ICE videoed it and published it to Facebook Live, which I’ve embedded below! 👇

Become Cardiff SEO Meet’s Site Review Sponsor and Have Your Software Demoed to a Room of Digital Marketers…

Cardiff SEO Meet has some fantastic sponsors, including food sponsors and – as of the next event (our 8th one) – a website sponsor (website coming soon!) and a photo/video sponsor.

Recently however I realised that there’d be a great opportunity for someone to be a site review sponsor too, who’d get all the usual perks (listed below) and – if they’re an SEO software/tool provider – a really good added extra…

What is a site review? How do they work?

Our site reviews are essentially live SEO audits, where we quickly audit a volunteered website in 20-30 minutes, running it through a few different SEO tools and trying to give the website volunteer as much ‘quick win’ info as possible – whether that be related to keyword research, technical SEO, inbound link building, Google Maps optimisation, ecommerce SEO or whatever else is applicable to them/their business/their site. The volunteered site is announced privately to the Meetup group a few days before the event, giving them time to do some homework (if they want to) and come to the event prepared. We take suggestions from the audience on what might be wrong with the site and what they could be doing to get the most out of SEO.

Wanna learn more? I wrote about site reviews in more detail over on State of Digital.

We’ve run site reviews since the 2nd event, so we’ve done 6 in total so far. Only one has been filmed, which I’ve embedded below if you want to get an idea of how they go…

Notes on the video: a) you’ll have to forgive the filmed-on-an-iPhone quality; b) the first one we did was a bit clunky and we ended up veering away from SEO-specific topics in parts – they’ve run a lot more smoothly since then; c) it starts about 3 minutes and 25 seconds in

What do you mean “demoed to a room”…?

Cardiff SEO Meet Bierkeller stage photoWell usually we jump into a variety of tools: so I might run Screaming Frog, take a look at the site’s links using Majestic, etc. etc… and even get some random suggestions from the audience (the best one we’ve had to date is Keyword Shitter – LOL). There’s no particular reason why I choose these tools – I just go with what I already use and know.

But then it hit me: with the site review sponsor, we could showcase an SEO software tool for 5-10 minutes of the site review, giving it extra attention and focus during the audit. So if a technical SEO tool takes the slot then we spend longer looking at technical SEO; if a link analysis tool takes the slot then we spend longer looking at link analysis; you get the picture. And if someone takes the slot, I’ll make sure that we don’t use any of the sponsor’s direct competitors – so if it’s a link analysis tool, we won’t use any other link analysis tools – just the sponsor’s.

Click to read more!

MOM Turns 5 – A List of Thank You’s

My freelance businessMorgan Online Marketing (or MOM for short) – turned 5-years-old on Monday, as I officially took the plunge and went full-time freelance on Tuesday 7th May 2013, having left my last agency role the previous Friday. I celebrated with branded gluten-free cupcakes, like the one pictured. Yum.

When you’re self-employed, you sometimes hear that infamous “#% of businesses die in their first 5 years” statistic, which seems to vary depending on who you ask (it’s anything from 20% to 50% apparently), so I’m chuffed to have passed (survived?) this particular milestone.

I’ve posted on anniversaries before (here’s the links to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd years), but this time I just wanted to say a few thank you’s to people who have helped me along the way.

Thank You’s

In (sort of?) chronological order…

Firstly, thank you to Max Minzer of Max Impact. As I was in the process of going solo, he produced some videos as part of his Max Impact series (a weekly series of Google+ Hangouts webinars, each covering different SEO/digital marketing topics) and the Choosing Clients one was massively useful. A big thank you to Lauren Hall-Stigerts and Mackenzie Fogelson for the advice that they dropped in that one. See also: Building an SEO Practice with Bill Sebald (another good one).

Thank you to GO Wales. Although I’ve never utilised them in the way that most people have (either by being a graduate getting a job, or an employer getting funding towards a hire), they also used to run Freelancer Academies, week-long workshops that gave you an intro to freelancing life. I was very lucky to go on one in my second week as a freelancer. It was extremely useful so early on.

Click to read more!

Roger MozBot & the Time Machine – My MozCon 2018 Competition Submission

Roger MozBotUpdate: I actually won!!!

For years and years, it’s been a dream of mine to attend MozCon, Moz‘s annual SEO conference.

Just over a week ago, Moz published a blog post announcing that they would offer a free ticket and accommodation to MozCon 2018 for the best example of a “unique, compelling piece of content telling [them] why you want to come to MozCon.” Examples they gave included blog posts, videos, drawings, slide decks and even songs. Straight away my brain went into overdrive and had a (ridiculous) idea: what if I were to write a story…?

I checked with the Moz team if it’d be ok to do and they gave me their blessing, so I’ve written Roger MozBot & the Time Machine, a short story involving Roger – Moz’s mascot – who discovers a time machine and visits various moments in Moz’s past and (potential) future: a total of 6 different time periods.* Parts of it act as a tribute to why I’ve admired Moz so much over the years and therefore why it’d mean so much for me to finally make it to MozCon. Expect appearances from Mozzers past and present (yes, don’t you worry, Rand is featured – a lot) and a bunch of name-drops of other SEO industry folk, too.

I wanted to do it Choose Your Own Adventure-style (inspired by a speaking gig I did years ago), but a) with only a week until the deadline, I thought it’d be too complicated to pull off effectively, and b) I think CYOA might be copyrighted anyway, so I didn’t want to imitate it too closely. Either way, the way I’ve done it means that you don’t have to do all it in chronological order – i.e. you can visit different times in different orders.

* There’s actually a 7th – but it’s hidden. Consider it the story’s Easter Egg! There’s a clue buried in one of the years, and there’s no straightforward way to get to it, so you’ll have to ‘hack’ your way to find it. The first person to find it – and to tweet me a message confirming their discovery – will win the prize of… a link. From this very blog, in all of its DA 30 glory. Because I’m an SEO through and through. (Terms & rules apply.)

If anyone wants to translate the story into another language, let me know. I’d happily update this post with links to any translations.

Oh and let’s be clear: other than blogging, I am not a writer, and I don’t think I’ve ever written fiction (outside of my school days) – except for Rorschach’s SEO Journal, which hardly counts. And we all know how messy time travel stories can get… So be kind, yeah? 😜

A big thank you to my Welsh ICE buddies Jane Oriel for editing and Josh Hicks for the illustrations.

So… Let’s get started, shall we?

> Begin the adventure! <

(For the Mozzers – my name is Steve Morgan and my email is [email redacted now that the competition is over], as per the competition’s submission rules. I’ll also leave them on the final page, just to be safe.)

[Image credit – Josh Hicks]

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. The author’s views are entirely his own and may not reflect the views of Moz or the individuals mentioned.