February 20th, 2013, 08:02 PM
Linking to a checkout elsewhere - is this bad for SEO?
Warning: this may be kind of hard to follow. I'll provide some links at the bottom so you can see what I'm talking about..
A buddy, for whom I run a number of mattress store sites with shopping carts, recently bought a domain and I installed Wordpress on the thing. I did nothing but change the Wordpress "slogan" to "All kinds of MATTRESSES" and the thing is being indexed really well on Google. Why? I have no clue, at all - it's completely crazy. Today I found a Wordpress theme that is designed to link to the checkout on an existing e-commerce site. Basically, I thought the thing was perfect for this guy.... He doesn't sell much online, and for reasons we can't figure this new domain is getting indexed like it had been around for years. Wordpress is easy to manage, and I viewed it as just another couple of swings at the bat - just a greater chance of selling something. I called him and he said, "Oh no - redirects are bad!". On each product you could just add something like, "You will check out out at our sister site, LowestCostMattress.com". I don't really see this whole setup as a conventional redirect, nor, anything bad. On the other hand, maybe I'm an idiot. I run a server, design sites, etc. - I'm no SEO wizard. He spends a lot of time on a relatively fanatical SEO forum and, in my view, gets some good info and periodically appears confused about some things (to me). Again - what the heck do I know...?
You can see what I mean by going to the following site, looking at a product, and hitting the checkout button:
I just do not see how such an outbound link - when neither site has any SPAMMY junk, would negatively impact SEO - and he's sold two mattresses on the older site in 6 months. In my view, what's to lose? Anyway: is he right? Is this a "redirect" in the negative sense......is it a big problem?
Last edited by 88guy; February 20th, 2013 at 08:11 PM.
February 20th, 2013, 10:11 PM
Search engine rankings are done via an algorithm that considers hundreds of factors so there is no exact answer.
In general it's best to avoid redirects. The 301 redirect is there to tell search engines that a page has permanently movies to a new location. Useful if you changes the url structure or redesigned the site using another language etc. In such a case search engines usually pass page rank and you should be okay in the long term. 302 if mostly used by e-commerce sites that generate lots of random URL's.
In your case your linking to check out page of another site. So you can easily link to that page without doing redirects. So in this instance I have to agree with your friend.
February 20th, 2013, 10:52 PM
I'm so confused....
Okay - I think that either myself - or my buddy - misunderstand what constitutes a "redirect". We are in the midst of a huge argument. In this theme, in the back, you add a product and there's a box where you paste a hyperlink to the existing shopping cart. That's how this Wordpress theme was designed. The link, under the product (on the finished page) is a button which says "PURCHASE NOW". In my mind, this is simply a link - this is nothing on the order of a redirect. There isn't any sort of oddball htaccess file, or any other mechanism shooting people to another site - there's a button that takes them there via a standard, plain-jane, hyperlink. Wouldn't this simply be a link....and not a redirect....?
February 20th, 2013, 11:53 PM
What you have on the site is not a redirect in any technical sense of the word. A redirect occurs when:
1) Your browser sends an HTTP request to the server.
2) The server responds and tells your browser that the URL you requested is somewhere else - not at the address you requested - and the server gives you a new URL for the content.
3) Your browser automatically sends a new (2nd) HTTP request to the new address and displays that content to you without any intervention on your part.
From the perspective of a human, what you're doing could be consider "redirecting" the visitor from your site to a third party site. But that has zero bearing on the technical meaning of the term "redirect", and has no meaning to a search engine, because obviously search engines are not human. Search engines do not care if your pages have links to third party sites*; virtually all websites do, that's how the internet works.
* Unless you do something dumb like link to a site hosting malware or put a thousand keyword loaded links onto one page to try to cheat the system.
I'm just making up numbers, but based on what I've seen as a moderator on these boards, 75% of people who talk about SEO on SEO boards are spammers trying to boost the search engine ranking of their SEO business**, 5% of people actually know what they're talking about, and the remaining 20% learned everything they know from the 5% and just go around repeating it (often incorrectly or in inapplicable situations).
The truth about SEO is that very very few people actually know scientifically how search engines rank sites, and those people are not allowed to shared that information. Everyone else is just making educated guesses; it's not an exact science.
** This is not to say that all SEO business owners who post on SEO boards are spammers. Obviously, if they run a successful SEO business then they are well qualified to post on an SEO board, but then they would be part of the 5%.
February 21st, 2013, 09:01 AM
Thank you....I owe you, in a big way!
E-Oreo: Thank you for the incredibly well organized, comprehensive answer. And as completely insane as this is going to sound, I knew the answer.... But the guy with whom I was dealing (I've dealt with him for the last 7 years) simply would not believe it, coming from me......irrespective of my argument. I, literally, argued with this guy from 8:30 PM (EST) until 2 AM (EST). I had to take an extra blood pressure pill - this guy is going to kill me! I explained to him - 1000 times - that he was confusing a technical term ("redirect") with something as mundane - and as comparatively innocuous - as a hyperlink. He's never run a web server. He's run a mattress store for the last 12 years, and, spent the last 4 years on the Wicked Fired Forum picking up bits of information about which, really, he knows nothing. He's spent 8 grand on all sorts of questionable "link pushes" and other SEO "tricks" that has driven his primary site from the front page of Google (for relevant searches) to page 72! He came up on page one, but in about the 4th or 5th spot - wasn't good enough.....he wanted to be the first return. With the help of some high-priced SEO wizards, he's almost non-existent on Google...
He'll listen to people who will tell him anything, to get his money, but he won't listen to me (the guy who has built and hosted 4 or 5 of his websites for the last 7 years at no charge). However, when you've spent 8 grand "going to school" on one of these wacky forums, you must know what you're talking about.....right? I absolutely could not get him off of this whole thing. He's heard buzz words, and various phrases and presumes he knows what he's talking about when he simply does not. I explained, as you did, that from a human perspective the two concepts could be confused - I suppose. A hyperlink moves you - or redirects you - to another site. But it is nothing on the order of what web folks are referring to when they use the word "redirect". I talked to him about htaccess files and meta-tag redirects, tried to explain why they're used (often maliciously), etc. - but, again, coming from 'ol Guy, it meant absolutely nothing.
I loved it when you said, "that's how the internet works...." - I mean, I had been shouting that to him for hours......it's a flippin' link - it is NOT a redirect! Holy cow. He was determined that they constituted the same thing.
I actually was reading your answer to him, on the phone, and had to close the page before I finished. I blew up at the guy and said, "Do you realize these people are going to think I'm a complete idiot...?? NOW do you believe me???" He plays hockey twice a week, at 46, and has too much testosterone - the guy simply has to be right. I had to "share".... At 61, dealing with someone like him - and, generally, I like the guy - is almost too much. Thank you, again, for an extremely cogent answer to this question. Believe it or not, as I've said, I had told the same thing and in very much the same way. But I'm an idiot. Thanks again - you have helped me countless times...
A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.
Last edited by 88guy; February 21st, 2013 at 01:12 PM.