Q&A with Microsoft’s Noël Reilly: Data, discovery, customer-first mindset

September 21, 2019 No Comments

Noël Reilly, Strategic Account Director at Microsoft, discusses her upcoming session at The Transformation of Search Summit, which will take place on October 25 here in New York.

As a prelude to the event, we’re doing a series of Q&As with speakers and panelists. First up, we have Noël, who will be on the panel, “Embarking on a search transformation project.”

noel rielly microsoft

Tell us a bit about your role at Microsoft? 

Noël Reilly: As a Strategic Account Director for Microsoft Advertising, it’s my responsibility to partner with our top global clients and ensure they understand our Microsoft value proposition and how to best leverage Microsoft Advertising products to reach their customers.

My main goal is to help build client relationships and partner with them on digital strategies which empower and grow their business.

What are your key priorities over the next twelve months?

NR: Our Microsoft Advertising offering is evolving quickly — we’ve come out with a ton of solutions, particularly in the audience, automation, and ecommerce space.

My first key priority is of course educating our clients on how best to utilize these tools to drive their goals.

We’re also looking at ways in which to bring a single voice from Microsoft to our clients — I’ve been partnering heavily with the enterprise side of our business to learn more about and deepen the relationship across top clients. 

What is your biggest challenge in achieving those? 

NR: Like all digital advertising, search in particular generates a ton of data, and we as marketers can get overwhelmed by it!

While all of this data we have access to has opened a ton of new possibilities for brands to respond, we also have to make sure we are respecting the people behind that data.

So much is changing in this space right now — with GDPR in Europe to now California following suit, there’s a lot out there to be knowledgeable of.

Add that to the way that search and discovery are changing with things like voice and image, and you’ve got yourself a really complex ecosystem.

Microsoft has taken a people-first approach to all of this. We sometimes get questions from marketers on when we’re coming out with this targeting or that data cut.

And while we are committed to client success, we have taken an industry-leading approach to brand safety and privacy standards and creating solutions that provide value while keeping customer data secure. 

What’s your advice to others who may be facing similar challenges?

NR: Ask questions! If you’re working with a partner who isn’t transparent about where their data comes from, or where your ads are showing up, you should ask why that is.

Automation is a hugely powerful tool for marketers. It can reduce a ton of bandwidth and be a key driver of your digital transformation journey.

Microsoft has tons of new products that can make personalization and automation easier, from product audiences which supercharge your ecommerce remarketing across our network, to automated bidding, to even our handy recommendations tab.

They all use the power of the Microsoft graph which can help you save time and work the way you want to work, but also offer that industry leading transparency and trust I mentioned earlier.

What’s an interesting trend you’re seeing in the market right now?

NR: We have a tendency to focus on the tools: voice search, targeting, and audiences — but those things themselves are not the disruptors.

It’s things like conversational AI, and the new consumer experience, which are what’s interesting.

If you think about search and what it fundamentally has always been: it’s a place to discover and get answers.

This has not changed, but the way consumers engage with it has. And I think marketers are working to figure out the best way to tap into this new ecosystem. 

How do you expect it will change in the next 6-12 months?

NR: I think the focus on designing for every customer experience is what will start to take the spotlight in the next 12 months.

We at Microsoft give you a ton of ways to tap into your consumer. For example, if you want to understand what voice search looks like for your brand, you could run a search query report and look for indicators of voice queries in the intent.

If you want to personalize your message, you can leverage responsive search ads.

But, just using the tools does not guarantee success. The brands who know their customer journeys and are investing in unifying their data are the ones who we see improving their marketing performance.

Tell us a bit about your session at the Search Summit?

NR: My goal is of course to inspire you to not be overwhelmed by all of the changes in the world of search but inspired to put it at the forefront of your marketing strategy — there’s no better way to understand the journey of your consumer.

What are you looking forward to most at the Summit?

NR: I’m obsessed with our clients — I’m really looking forward to hearing from the folks at Walt Disney, Volvo, and Conde Nast.

As someone whose biggest responsibility above all is client satisfaction, I have to know and stay in touch with what is top of mind for clients.

What’s one of your favorite search technologies and why? 

NR: You’re talking to someone who has worked in Search for the last 12 years, so I pretty much nerd out on all of them.

If I have to pick a favorite though, it would definitely be our newly created Audience Ads on the Microsoft Audience Network.

It leverages search and web activity as well as demographic and professional targeting to really allow the advertiser a ton of cool options for targeting, and we’re seeing really great success from our clients who are investing time into this product.

What’s something you do every day that helps you be more successful or productive? 

NR: I am an avid yogi and teach fitness classes outside of work, so this has always been an important part of my life.

I recently moved about an hour and a half outside of the city, so I’ve had to do a lot of adjusting on my time table.

I make sure every morning I use the commute time to answer emails and create my working agenda for the day, so by the time I arrive at the office, I’m ready to hit the ground running.

Things always come up, but I have found that rising early and taking advantage of the quietness of the morning has given me time back to still get things done I need to do while keeping my time in the evenings personal for myself, my family, or my students. 

The post Q&A with Microsoft’s Noël Reilly: Data, discovery, customer-first mindset appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Google Website Optimizer Moves to Google Analytics – Experiments under Content Section

September 17, 2019 No Comments

Google Analytics and Google Website Optimizer have merged. Now Google Website Optimizer, a free A/B and Multi-variate testing tool, is available in Google Analytics via Experiments link under Content Section (see image below).

You can create and manage all your tests within Google Analytics without going to Google Website Optimizer site.

Functionality Difference between Experiments and Google Website Optimizer

  1. Easy Implementation – Since you already have Google Analytics on your site, now you will need one script to put on the original version, rest of the work will be done by standard Google analytics script.
  2. No Multivariate Testing Anymore – There is no option to run MVT and only allows A/B testing in the “Experiments”


The last day you’ll be able to access Google Website Optimizer will be August 1st, 2012

We will add more posts as we uncover new functionality in Experiments.


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Why is the Operating System Report not showing iPhone and iPad visits?

September 3, 2019 No Comments

If you recently looked at Operating System Report under Browser & OS Report in or Mobile Devices Report in Google Analytics then you must be wondering what happened to your traffic from iPhone and iPad? Why are you not seeing any more traffic from these devices?

Starting May 30th Google Analytics has consolidated both iPhone and iPad into iOS in the Operating System Report. (See the graph below). iOS is the operating system used by both iPhone and iPad and hence the change to correctly reflect the operating system.
So next time you run your report keep this change in mind.



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Four ways to use marketing feedback loop to optimize SEO efforts

August 31, 2019 No Comments

This is a marketing strategy that may change everything you know about content marketing and SEO.

The customer feedback loop is an effective way to improve your offerings to your customers and modify what they get based on their feedback. It’s a business strategy that has been in existence for quite some time, but here, it’s refined towards content marketing and SEO.

Surely, there are ways you can make use of one of the most effective business and marketing strategy in human existence. And it’ll improve your content marketing and SEO efforts and help grow your brand. I’ll be taking a deeper look into the feedback loop, how it works in marketing and how you can apply this to your content marketing and SEO efforts.

What is a marketing feedback loop?

Firstly, let’s try to understand what marketing feedback loop is and how it works in the traditional marketing world. Done correctly, and with a well documented and measured process, the marketing feedback loop can improve your content marketing and SEO results.

According to HubSpot author, Caroline Forsey,

“A feedback loop is a process in which the outputs of a system are circled back and used as inputs. .. this refers to the process of using customer or employee feedback to create a better product or workplace.”

Marketers will understand that there are gems to be found in the feedback their businesses and products receive online. Both the positive and negative feedback you get, if utilized properly, can significantly transform how customers perceive and interact with your brand.

A marketing feedback loop is created when a business utilizes the responses they attract from a campaign effort or a product on the social web, and this can be later utilized in their marketing efforts. This may also include feedbacks from surveys and research campaigns.

Here, we’ll look at how it can be utilized to improve content marketing and SEO efforts.

How to create opportunities marketing feedback loop

Identifying opportunities for marketing feedback loop is just as important as how to make it work for you. Customers will take to social media to raise concerns or praises about your products and services where potential customers are actively participating in discussions that will determine whether or not to choose you over the competition.

Naturally, you’ll incorporate praises about your services into your testimonial campaigns to promote your business. These content are easily seen. Negative feedback, on the other hand, is where the treasure lies. And you will almost always miss them.

Below, let’s take a look at ways to identify marketing feedback loop and ultimately how you use it to improve your content marketing and SEO efforts.

  • Necessary tools: The first step to identifying opportunities for feedback loop is to actively monitor mentions about your brand on the web. This includes social media, blogs, and forums. In this case, the right tools, and people are what you need. Some tools to employ may include Mention, Radian6 and setting up Google Alerts for known names/keywords (or phrases) your brand is associated with.
  • Surveys: What’s better than the opportunity to secure valuable feedback? One that is solicited. Implementing surveys can help you to elicit feedback from your users right before they share it themselves. This will give room for you to identify potential issues and address them before they become problems.
  • The right person/team: Is someone on your team who determines how customers’ feedback should be responded to and what department gets to see and utilize it. This individual is responsible for its proper documentation as well. Naturally, they should be working very closely with the marketing department.
  • Interpreting constructive and negative customer feedback: Most times, when emotions run high with customers, constructive criticisms may come off as negative feedback. This may be perceived as an attack on your brand if care is not taken to analyze the issue — leaving you with a missed opportunity to improve on both SEO and content efforts. Instead of making a blanket judgment on the surface and writing of the complainant as a troll, look closely to identify what others may agree within their feedback. There, you’ll find your next content fodder and SEO hack.

How significant are feedback loops to content marketing and SEO?

Customers’ feedback can be looped into the whole brand experience output, which includes user experience(UX), answering the right questions on your website (enabling for richer content experience and broadens keyword opportunities).

Getting content marketing and SEO benefits from implementing feedback loop in your marketing would be a successful effort if done the right way. The following procedures will not only ensure you’re creating a better experience for your users but also gaining SEO advantage in the process.

Using a feedback loop to improve SEO – UX improvements

The most significant drawback to most businesses’ web presence is the user experience, and Google — growing ever-smarter with its constant algorithmic updates — is now effective at scoring a website’s rankings based on overall UX score. The best way for businesses to know how their UX measures up is through direct feedback from those using it. Here, customer feedback can be looped to the design team who can improve upon the website feel and accessibility. The result is a website with better UX and improved search rankings.

A feedback loop can prevent worthless content efforts

Say your content marketing team have been working tirelessly, analyzing trends and interviewing industry experts just to improve visibility and rankings. But the result is slow or abysmal. Here, the marketing team should be tasked to score through the complaints that have been left by your customers and come up with problem-solving content to line up your content calendar. This will not only directly address your users concerns but will help you see improved content marketing efforts.

Where have feedback loops improved SEO efforts?

In 2018, I and my partner at Effective Inbound Marketing, Ayodeji Onibalusi conducted a survey asking people to go visit our website and give feedback about what should be improved on. Majority of the responders wanted us to improve navigation and some others wanted us to produce more marketing content on the blog.

We incorporated the feedback loop by upgrading our content output and introduced breadcrumbs that’ll show the users how they navigated our website. These improvements saw our Alexa ranking move from 850,000 in December of 2018 to 272,000 as of today (August 2019) and our navigation improvement saw our users spend more time on site, dropping bounce rate by 50% and also increasing the number of pages visited per user. This has trickled down to our rankings, with terms like “Amazon” and “Russian Marketing” now driving users to our website.

Three takeaways from this

  • The smallest feedback loop implemented can have a significant impact on SEO
  • When implementing feedback loops, consider users satisfaction first
  • A feedback loop can be equally effective if solicited from users

The right way to use a marketing feedback loop to improve SEO

Getting marketing feedback loop right shouldn’t be tricky if you follow best practices. The core purpose of a marketing feedback loop is to use constructive complaints from your customers to improve your content marketing and SEO efforts. This can be accomplished by identifying their pain-points and incorporating this into your content and SEO campaigns.

Successful marketing feedback loop must follow these rules to positively have an impact on content marketing and SEO.

Is timely

Customers feedback should be looped to the right department as quickly as possible. Ideally, the customer should already get a response within the first hour, on the same channel. If it’s worth incorporating into a content, your content marketing team should already have a well-thought-out long-form content that addresses critical factors and answers questions such as:

– Was the complaint legitimate?

– Would other customers face this same issue?

– Was there a solution in place before?

– How did the company help the customer resolve the complaint?

– What did the company do prevent future customers from experiencing the same?

The medium of feedback should remain the same

Marketers should not make the mistake of addressing issues on different channels from where feedback originated from. Instead of providing a solution to a problem, this may escalate situations as the customer may assume you’re being defensive and trying to manipulate the situation.

If complaints are generated on social media, the complaints should be acknowledged on the same medium. Then support can take it up from there either through DMs or tickets. After which marketing feedback loop should be implemented once there is satisfaction, and then a campaign can be created out of it.

Must address concerns generated through implemented changes

For example, if users complain about the inability to access your products due to lack of breadcrumbs and poor navigation features — like the absence of a search tool, a short term solution may be to point them to categories or help them identify tags. But going further to introduce the features that’ll create a better experience would serve a longer-term purpose.

Changes implemented may be the focus of marketing feedback loop campaign

If the above approach is implemented, then a content marketing campaign around the customer’s feedback and the success achieved would be a welcome step. This would not only help attract more users through content marketing but would also show your brand as a listening one.


Getting content marketing and SEO right is critical to the success of your business if you’re competing online. Then the goal is to discover strategies that’ll keep your efforts successful and help you serve your users better. Marketing feedback loop helps you get this done.

Have you tried using a marketing feedback loop to optimize your SEO efforts? What results did you get?

Femi Haastrup is Founder and CEO of Femtrup LLC. He can be found on Twitter @Femihaastrup.

The post Four ways to use marketing feedback loop to optimize SEO efforts appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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How to Create a Filter to Tidy up Email Referrals

August 27, 2019 No Comments

Roll up Yahoo Mail, Hotmail referrals

If you send marketing emails without campaign tagging or an external company e-mail your sites links to its users that have Yahoo Mail or Hotmail, users will arrive at your site via one of the many Yahoo or Hotmail servers. So searching for mail.live.com in your referral report gives you hundreds of referrers which are actually one and the same referral link.



You tend to get referrals like above ( ”xy342w.mail.live.com”). You can roll these together so you can see hotmail referrals grouped together by making changes inside Google Analytics so that reports are clearer and easier to breakdown.


Login to Google Analytics; select your profile you wish to roll up this data. Select Admin > Profiles > Filters



The next step is to create a New Filter.

These Filter you need to create will be a custom filter that will look at campaign sources and replace/rename the string with something that rolls them up into an easy to view source.

Filter type: Custom Filter > Search and Replace

The filter field that will be searched will be the Campaign Source and in order to ensure that all possible variables of the email source are collected a regular expression will be needed.

Filter Field > Campaign Source

Search String > “A Regular Expression”

sn144w.snt113.mail.live.com will need the following regular expression


Replace String with the name you wish to roll it to. I have chosen livemail.

Select Save.

Example below.

Windows Hotmail/Livemail:



This is a guest post contributed by James Cornwall

About James Cornwall

As Digital Analyst at 4Ps Marketing, James is responsible for the recently launched analytics department. After studying Civil Engineering at CITY University, James has undertaken a career in ecommerce and digital marketing. He is Google Adwords and Analytics Certified, and in his spare time is a keen hockey player. Ask James a Question: Follow on Twitter – @jamesc_4ps LinkedIn – http://uk.linkedin.com/in/james-cornwall/


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How to View the Visitor Flow of Specific Pages in Google Analytics

August 24, 2019 No Comments

Open Visitor Flow Report Under “Audience” menu open in “Standard Reports”. See below.  This view will give you the visitor flow for the complete site.

Left click on the page that you want the visitor flow for and select “Explore traffic through here” from the menu.

Now you have the visitor flow for that page (see below)


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How to View Click Map of a Page in Google Analytics

August 20, 2019 No Comments

Click maps are a great way to visually see where visitors are clicking on a page. Google Analytics provides click map under Content –> In-Page Analytics (See below).

Click on In-Page Analytics and the first page that you will see is your site’s home page. To view a different page, either click on a link on the home page (still within In Page Analytics) or select a page from drop down available on top left (see below).

Other options

  • Select click, goal value or a goal to display on click map and also a threshold from the drop down next to it.
  • Show Bubbles – this shows the orange bubbles and the numbers that you see in the report. This is the default view, when you first land on the page.
  • Show Colors – this options add another visual to the way you view click map, it is sort of heat map of clicks.
  •  Browser Size – This options show what percent of your visitors who see the area displayed in your report. By choosing this option you get a slider that allows you to slide and choose percent of visitors. As you choose the visitor percent, the page resizes to show the area of the page, those percent of visitors see.


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5 Reasons Why You Should Use Google Experiments

August 17, 2019 No Comments

Google Experiments is an A/B testing tool that is available within Google Analytics interface.  This post is not about what A/B testing is, why you should conduct A/B tests and what other tools are available but really to make a case for using Google Analytics as your testing platform.  I am not getting paid to write this or have any affiliation with Google. This post is in response to a question I received from a reader of my blog.

  1. Free –There is absolutely no cost for the Tool. You can’t beat Free, it is a great way to start with A/B testing and learn about how testing works. I strongly recommend that you try this tool before moving to more sophisticated paid tools. Additionally, if you are just trying to make a case for Testing within your organization then cost does become a barrier and this tools removes that barrier.
  2. Easy To Setup – Easy to use wizard allows you to choose the pages to test and setup test parameters.
  3. Easy Implementation – Once you are done with setting up (point 2 above) the page(s) you want to test, you have to implement some code on your site.  It may sound daunting but that code is very easy to implement. Google provide you the code after your setup is done and all you have to do is stick that on your pages.  Since you already have Google Analytics installed, you are already half way through. Easy setup makes it easy for you to cross the IT/development team barrier.
  4. Setting up Objective– If you have already defined the Goals in Google Analytics, you can use them as the objective of your test. During your setup you can pick a goal that you have already defined in Google Analytics as your desired optimization objective. If you have not defined them already then you can quickly define them while setting up your test.
  5. Segments – Many tools just gives you the final results based on the data of entire population or based on some predefined segments.  In case of Google Experiments, you can pick Segments that you have defined in Google Analytics and see how each variation is performing for each of your segment. Since not all segments behave in similar fashion this kind of analysis helps you drive even more conversion by understanding which variation of your pages(s) work better for which segments.

Keep in mind that no matter how good your conversions are, there is always a room for improvement and A/B testing helps you with it. As Bryan Eisenberg would say, Always Be Testing.

This post was originally posted on http://anilbatra.com/analytics/2013/11/5-reasons-to-use-google-experiments/

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How to Filter out Bots and Spiders from Google Analytics

August 13, 2019 No Comments

A common misconception is that Google Analytics or any other JavaScript based Web Analytics solution filters out Spiders and Bots automatically.  This was true till few years ago because most of the spiders and bots were not capable of executing JavaScript and hence were never captured by JavaScript based Web Analytics solutions. As shown in 4 reasons why your bounce rate might be wrong, these days bots and spiders can execute JavaScript and hence are showing up in your Web Analytics reports.

Google Analytics has released a new feature that will let you filter out known spiders and bots.  Here are few things to keep in mind

  1. The data will only filter spiders and bots from the day you enable this setting. It won’t be allied to the data already processed.
  2. Since this will filter out bots, you might notice a drop in your visits, page views etc.


Here are the steps to filter out Spiders and Bots

  1. Go to the Admin section of your Google Analytics report
  2. Click  “View” section and choose the right report view
  3. Click  on “ View Settings” (see image 1 below)
  4. Check the box under “Bot Filtering” which says “Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders” (see image 2 below)
  5. Click “Save” button at bottom and you are done.


filter-spider-bots-google-analytics-1Image 1

filter-spider-bots-google-analytics-2Image 2

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Robots.txt best practice guide, part 2: Setting up your robots.txt file

August 10, 2019 No Comments

Part two of our article on “Robots.txt best practice guide + examples” talks about how to set up your newly created robots.txt file.

If you are not sure how to create your own robots.txt file or are not sure what one is, head on over to our first part of this article series, “Robots.txt best practice guide + examples” were you will be able to learn the ins and outs of what a robots.txt file is and how to properly set one up. Even if you have been in the SEO game for some time, the article offers a great refresher course.

robots.txt file how to install on your site

How to add a robots.txt file to your site

A Robots.txt file is typically stored in the root of your website for it to be found. For example, if your site were https://www.mysite.com, your robots.txt file would be found here: https://www.mysite.com/robots.txt. By placing the file in the main folder or root directory of your site, you will then be able to control the crawling of all urls under the https://www.mysite.com domain.

It’s also important to know that a robots.txt is case sensitive, so be sure to name the file “robots.txt” and not something like Robots.txt, ROBOTS.TXT, robots.TXT, or any other variation with capital letters.

Why a robots.txt file is important

A Robots.txt is just a plain text file, but that “plain” text file is extremely important as it is used to let the search  engines know exactly where they can and cannot go on your site. This is why it is an extremely import part of your website.

Once you have added your brand new robots.txt file to your site or are simply just making updates to your current robots.txt file, it’s important to test it out to make sure that it is working the way that you want.

While there are lots of sites and different tools that you can use to test out your robots.txt file, you can still use Google’s robots.txt file tester in the old version of Search Console. Simply log in to your site’s Search Console, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on → Go to old version


google search console example of how to install old version of robots.txt file

Then click on Crawl → robots.txt tester

google search console step two, tester tool for robots.txt fileFrom here, you’ll be able to test your sites robots.txt file by adding the code from your file to the box and then clicking on the “test” button.

google search console tester tool for testing a site's robots.txt file

If all goes well, the red test button should now be green and should have switched to “Allowed”, once that happens, it means that your new created or modified robots.txt file is valid. You can now upload your robots.txt file to your sites root directory.

Google updates to robots.txt file standards effective Sept 1

Google recently announced that changes are coming to how Google understands some of the unsupported directives in your robots.txt file.

Effective September 1, Google will stop supporting unsupported and unpublished rules in the robots exclusion protocol. That means that Google will no longer support robots.txt files with the noindex directive listed within the file.

If you have used the noindex directive in your robots.txt file in the past to control crawling, there are a number of alternative options that you can use:

Noindex in robots meta tags: Both of these tags are supported in both the HTTP response headers and in HTML. However, the noindex directive is the most effective way to remove URLs from the index when crawling is allowed.

404 and 410 HTTP status codes

Both of these status codes mean that the page does not exist, which will drop any URLs that return this code from Google’s index once they’re crawled and processed.

Password protection

Adding password protection is a great way to block Google from seeing and crawling pages on your site or your site entirely (thinking about a dev version of the site) Hiding a page behind a login will generally remove it from Google’s index as they are not able to fill in the required information to move forward to see what’s behind the login. You can use the Subscription and paywalled content markup for that type of content, but that’s a whole other topic for another time.

Disallow in robots.txt

Search engines can only index pages that they know about (can find and crawl), so by blocking the page or pages from being crawled usually means its content won’t be indexed.  It’s important to remember that Google may still find and index those pages, by other pages linking back to them.

Search Console Remove URL tool

The search console removal tool offers a quick and easy way for you to be able to remove a URL temporarily from Google’s search results. We say temporarily because this option is only valid for about 90 days. After that, your url can again appear in Google’s search results.

To make your removal permanent, you will need to follow the steps mentioned above

  • Block access to the content (requiring a password)
  • Add a noindex meta tag
  • Create a 404 or 410 http status code


Making small tweaks can sometimes have big impacts on your sites SEO and by using a robots.txt file is one of those tweaks that can make a significant difference.

Remember that your robots.txt file must be uploaded to the root of your site and must be called “robots.txt” for it to be found. This little text file is a must have for every website and adding a robots.txt file to the root folder of your site is a very simple process

I hope this article helped you learn how to add a robots.txt file to your site, as well as the importance of having one. If you want to learn more about robots.txt files and you haven’t done so already, you can read part one of this article series “Robots.txt best practice guide + examples.”

What’s your experience creating robots.txt files?

Michael McManus is Earned Media (SEO) Practice Lead at iProspect.

The post Robots.txt best practice guide, part 2: Setting up your robots.txt file appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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