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Curing the 302

Well, it seem like the domain name change has propagated in a flash (translation – it looks like everything is working properly). So, what was that all about last week? The short version was to improve my Google Ranking. Read on if you are into Search Engine Optimization (SEO), or we’ll see you at the next post!

I originally created The M Show and set up a domain name, and I rent the services of a server from the good people at WestHost who make sure it stays running for me. When I created Ronin Marketeer I purchased that domain name and pointed it the blog directory on The M Show server. You may have noticed that you get here from RoninMarketeer.com, but all of the article links start with http://www.themshow.com/wordpress

Everything worked, so I was satisfied and went on my way for a couple of months. Then, one day I was informed that I had made Todd And’s Power 150 (now the Ad Age Power 150). It was great to be on the list but I noticed that my Google Page Rank was a 4. I didn’t think that could be true, but it was. The Google Page Rank is a score that every page gets that is the judged importance of your page. The score runs from 1 to 10, and the normal progression I have seen is a new domain will score a 5 and after you get some links and credibility you go up to 6. 7 or more and you are getting to be big time, last time I looked things like Amazon and Wikipedia get 9’s and Google is the 10 (this may have changed, I don’t pay much attention to scores beyond my own).

I spend most of my days doing marketing activities and I am lucky enough to work with some extremely smart people who take care of my hardware and networking needs. As a result, I only play around with servers and their software that runs on them (such as Linux and Apache) for my own projects.

Every time you type in an address or click a link a request is sent from your machine to the server that sends back the page to you. When information comes back there’s a code that’s returned with the info – a 200 means all is good in the kingdom. You probably have seen a 404 – the “Sorry buddy, no page like that here”. When a server is set up you can change that 404 message to something friendly, but many people never get around to that.

300 Error codes are sent when pages are redirected to another page. A 301 is a permanent redirect – “Hey, this page is always over here” and better search engines will remember that and not come back, in order to save bandwith. A 302 is a temporary redirect, and commonly used for spammy activities.

I had set up a URL redirect to send requests from roninmarketeer.com over to the blog. It was my understanding that this type of redirect was more respected than using CNAME (e.g. “respected” as in – would send back a 301). Unfortunately that was bad advice, and when I checked the codes using Rex Swain’s HTTP viewer, I saw I was getting a 302.

The solution? Rather than having users check in at the domain name and then be sent over to the other domain, I added the domain to the original themshow.com account. The good news is that since both domains were at WestHost the transition was painless, if the domain had been with another hosting company the URL could have gone down for a couple of days as the DNS settings propagated throughout the interwebs.

So now I finally have a setup that Google is supposed to like – we’ll see if the page rank responds…