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When It Comes To SEO, Don’t Always Believe The Engineers…

December 12th, 2012
6 Comments


Argo Airport Scene

A friend who is a former spook told me how he once smuggled an Arab man out of the Middle East.  ”I dressed him in short pants.”  ”Why?” I asked.  ”Because Arab men never wear shorts.  People tend to only see what you tell them to see.”

Which brings me to the following response I got from a client developer when I pointed out to their in-house SEO that one of their templates was linking internally with 302s, which is not necessarily a good thing SEO-wise:

Actually there is no redirect in this case. What you experience is the result of caching in the browser, ie we set headers on the page to cache the response for few hours, so next few hours you re-access the page you get the cached result of the browser, which is returning with a 302 response.
A script, ie google bot, that tries to download the page, doesn’t experience this response, so google sees 200 response code and the way you can see that is by by-passing your browser and calling the request via a terminal…

I am sure he thought it was true and his email certainly sounded convincing – and there was enough tech jargon in there to give the in-house SEO pause – but a quick search in Google showed that the redirects were getting indexed in Google. A quick crawl of the site with user-agent=Googlebot showed that the 302s were being seen by “a script”. And a quick “Fetch as Googlebot” from Google Webmaster Tools showed that Googlebot was fetching these links.

And once this stuff was pointed out to the dev guy, he realized, without any drama btw, that there might be something to these observations.

I like to say that doing SEO for clients is like going on a blind date with an engineering team. Despite that, I often find the in-house devs become huge enthusiasts of SEO because it usually drives making their site better. But just because they have technical knowledge doesn’t mean you should not notice that they are wearing shorts.

CYA Note: If the dev who sent the email mentioned above is reading this, I have no problem with how you responded. Thought you were totally pro about it. :)


Tags: Enterprise SEO · Uncategorized

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mike Stewart

    “And he found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, and put out his hand and took it, and with it he struck 1,000 men.”

    my quote: ” A thousand Philistines were killed with the jawbone of an ass, and a thousand sales were lost the same way.”

    At least he didn’t argue with your logic Yoda!

  • 2 Andrew Shotland

    Great quote Mike. Reminds me of a scene from an Invaders comic book I had as a kid. A disembodied Nazi brain in a robot/jar aka “Brain Drain” convinces Hitler not to kill some lackey who has failed him, because “in fear, he will be your willing slave,” or some such awesomeness like that.

    More on Brain Drain here.

  • 3 Gregg Stewart

    Seriously, no shorts. How about Culottes?

  • 4 Andrew Shotland

    You seem more of a clam-digger kind of guy Gregg.

  • 5 Glenn Paul

    SEO is more inclined towards analytical thinking and resource hunting than just carrying some technical knowledge isn’t it?

  • 6 Andrew Shotland

    Correct Glenn.

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