This panel of SEO experts reviews sites live on the web and offers advice on improving indexing and ranking.
Moderator: Rob Kerry, Editor, Sphinn Panelists: Jake Baillie, Managing Director, STN Labs Christine Churchill, President, KeyRelevance
First site: pbreview.com.
It's a paintball website, they don't sell the products, but have reviews of the products. It has had partial optimization (meta tags and meta descriptions). He doesn't have specific issues, but is looking for suggestions. The people find his site by either the search engines, or direct (they're regular users that use the forums.)
Rob: Going to look at inlinks. Are they anything to do with the company?
Jake: URL structure looks good, site architecture looks OK. New window spawn is a little annoying (from a user's perspective). Nothing terrible. Check title tags for individual products, you need to make sure that the titles are unique.
Jake points out a usability issue, that the breadcrumbs are very small. There are several steps to get to the end product page, need to make it bigger.
Christine asks if he knows where the revenue comes from. The AdSense ads are where you would normally see navigation, so people might immediately leave the site. It was good to put paintball as one word on the site, he might put it as two words in the keyword tag.
Jake: don't worry about doing a site map, the site is indexed and you don't need to spend time on that right now.
Looking at articles. They have catchy titles, you need to balance with compelling titles and putting in keywords in titles. They have outside content firm writing articles, one issue is getting in keywords and phrases.
Jake thinks they're leaving a lot of money on the table, they rank very well for many paintball terms. AdSense is probably not the best way to monetize.
Jake makes suggestion about standardizing some of the product reviews, have hyperlinks from some of the components in a review list to the actual component.
Next site: United Safes Corporation. unitedsafescorporation.com
First recommendation was to see if they could buy unitedsafes.com, it's a parked page. The desired keywords are safe and safes. Suggestion to look at secondary keywords (gun safes, fire safes). You might also want to target brand names of gun safes. Put your products into Google products.
It's going to cost a lot of money to rank for safe or safes. Should try to focus on something like gun safes, and get inlinks with that phrase in the anchor texts.
Four 302 redirects on home page, not redirecting non-www to www. Google is indexing multiple versions of the home page. Contact developers to have them fix this.
Needs unique title tags, switch content order on title tags – put product first, then company name. Helps both SEO and click through rate.
Looking at "question about the product" page, looks like one page for each product. No unique content, looks like duplicate content. Either make one form that populates with the product with a cookie, or put a noindex on the pages so they don't get indexed. Also get rid of CAPTCHA on the customer inquiry page. You don't want to put in barriers to a customer contacting you on an ecommerce site.
Home page title. Do a little keyword research, put your most important keywords in the title, keep it under ten words. Right now only three words, so you have some words you can work with.
Need to pull headings out of graphic and put it in text, use CSS to make it attractive so search engines can see it.
Next site: thefruitcompany.com
Done well organically, looking at paid search, and ways to make it better. Fruit baskets is main term, ranks number one for that. They rank well, Christine is disagreeing with Jake. She feels that there should be a little more text since the site is targeted to women since they like text. Jake says it ranks one, don't mess with it. Site in general looks great, the one issue they can find is that the link to the home page goes to default.htm. Change title tags to something unique, that will really help with long tail. Suggest to make live email address in graphic to make it harder for spammers to get email address. Also needs to have site not go to default.htm for home page.
One thing is to look at offline conversion tracking and paid search conversion tracking. Hole in analytics is all of the people going to the 1-800 number.
Next site: dailystrength.org Online life support groups, free signup. Asks why he wants the review. Wants to rank for main phrases – support forum, support group, chat, advice paired with a condition name (depression support group). 80% women. Conversions much better with second term (help, support). He's not on front page for anything (aside from domain name), but good on long tail because of journal entries and discussions.
Suggestion: use online in your keywords, because people may be looking for in-person support groups.
He realizes they don't have original content on home page. Not ranking well for many things. Jake trying to figure out why. Needs more unique content, stuff is looking like duplicate content right now even though conditions are different. Put a couple of lines of post under the recent discussions.
Next site: become.com
A couple of competitors are ranking really well for all kinds of terms, they want to rank better too. Jake: There are lots of subdomains, not really needed. Google treats each subdomain as a different site. You have to do a strategy for each subdomain, strongly advises to put it all under www. A lot of the huge number of indbound links are being wasted, because they are going to www and the site is using subdomains. The inbound links are very good links from good sources.
Jake: When you change back from subdomains, it will hurt for some time. Do one category at a time, use a 301 redirect. URLs need to be shortened, they are really long right now. Nobody will print such a long URL, it will wrap if you email it to anyone, and nobody will type it in directly. Don't keyword stuff the URLs and title tags.
Christine: A 302 redirect is being used to go from non-www to www, it should be a 301. You need to get some of the keywords on the home page in natural text. Even if you're a big company, you still need to have your keywords on the home page. She points out a broken part of search that doesn't take visitors where they want to go.
Jake suggested hidden divs for the reviews to help mitigate the use of Ajax for the reviews.