SEO Friendly URLs 403 Access Error

August 28, 2008 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

For those of you using — or thinking of using — any form of SEO URLs mod to rewrite the links on your site you may want to be aware of this common error message many have reported getting.

I’ve run into this myself on a few servers and it made no sense to me as to why I would get it when in other cases the rewriting of URLs worked just fine.

The error more specifically states “403 Access Forbidden” and goes on to provide very little detail. There are a number of reasons this can happen some stemming from incorrect configuration of the .htaccess file itself (used to setup the rules and conditions for rewriting.)

If you are sure the .htaccess file is correct and are still getting the error, then go back and first enter ONLY the following in the .htaccess file itself:

Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^yourdomain.(.*)
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.yourdomain.com/$1 [R=301,L]

Replace “yourdomain” with the domain of your site (and don’t forget the “.com” extension. Use the extension your site has.)

Now open up the following url in your browser:
http://yourdomain.com (again replacing “yourdomain” with your own personal domain.)

If the server is setup correctly (php configured with mod_rewrite and that is loaded) then you should see the home page of your website BUT in the address bar of the browser you should see the “www” form of it.

You entered “yourdomain.com” and you should see “www.yourdomain.com”.

If this works, then your server is setup correctly and the problem likely resides in either the configuration of your .htaccess file OR as I found, the root directory permissions of your website.

How to Correct the Error

Make sure your root directory is set to something that allows “write” access (like 755 or something). Keeping your sever as secure as possible yet allowing it to “write”. You can change these permissions by using your FTP program to login to your server and then performing a CHMOD command on the root directory (of the site that is.)

Change the root to 755 and then reload your page going through the same steps as above.

If all is working, then your SEO URLs module should also be working now.

Hope this helps anyone banging their head around looking for an answer to why they can’t get SEO Friendly URLs to work on their server.

Live Chat’s Effect on ROI

August 26, 2008 by  
Filed under Conversion, Marketing Strategies

It’s been reported for some time now that adding an attended (as opposed to always “offline”) live chat to a website can help increase sales.

Live chat address many buyer needs from customer assurance elements (they understand that there is actually a real person behind the site) to instant help ability which can answer questions and save a sale that would have otherwise been lost.

Forrester Consulting just released a new study on the benefits of adopting an interactive chat strategy.

The report specifically discussed the use of Live Person as the system of choice, but there is a great open source free option as well called Crafty Syntax which works equally well if you have the skills to get it in place.

If you want to read the whole study, the full report can be downloaded for free from here.

Some key findings presented in the study include:

  • 305% ROI from proactive sales chat with a payback period of 6 months (when using paid chat services)
  • 120% ROI from customer service chat with a payback period of 6 months (when using paid chat services)
  • Chat assisted application completion rates 138% higher than self service
  • 59% call deflection rate

So if you haven’t already implemented a live chat solution on your website it might be time to consider that as an option. Just make sure if you do decide to put a chat strategy in place you actually use it. Keep someone behind the “desk” and keep the chat “online”. It does you no good to implement a live chat solution that is always offline.

If you’ve tried live chat on your site and can measure its effectiveness let me know what effect it had. It’s always nice to hear one way or the other real world examples from store owner experiences.

Social Media Links

August 25, 2008 by  
Filed under Social Media

Social media is taking on a larger role for businesses by enabling them to bring more awareness to their product, company and or service.

If you are not utilizing some sort of social media (blogging, social network sites, etc..) in your marketing plan, it’s time to start thinking about it.

In previous posts I’ve mentioned this concept. Links to some off those previous posts are below:
Social Networking Sites Offer Free Marketing Channel

For those of you who do not know where to begin finding a channel that fits your market among the many social networks, I’ve provided a link for you below that may help get you started in your research.

Wikipedia’s List of Social Networking Sites

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