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Quarterly Site Review: MDC Wallcoverings

Mark Jackson
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First, I would like to thank those of you who have submitted your Web sites for review.

I highly recommend that some of you make sure that your Web site is actually live and available on the Internet. To others, I will simply say, “You need to better define your identity as a Web business” (i.e., don’t try to sell t-shirts, neckties, and framed art on one Web site). Lastly, I am not too comfortable reviewing a competitor site in the SEO space. Sorry!

That being said, there were many great Web sites submitted and I appreciate the response.

For the sake of this exercise, I ask that you open a separate tab/browser session so you can follow along and this will make sense. I will try not to jump around too much.

Website: MDC Wallcoverings

Keywords submitted for targeting: “wallcovering,” “wallcoverings,” and “commercial wallcoverings.”

After doing a quick WordTracker check, I see that “wallcoverings” is the most popular of these, with “commercial coverings” barely making the list. However, after checking “wall coverings” (two words), it appears to be more popular than any of the others submitted, and “wall covering” (singular) is the third most popular phrase.

Current Title Tag: MDC Wallcoverings

This is probably one of the more common “I’ve never optimized my site before” mistakes (company name as the only keywords in the Title tag). Your most important keywords for each page should be at the beginning of the page’s Title Tag. The general rule is that you have less than 68 characters of space to work with in the Title Tag, so make them count.

For your home page, you should be targeting those broad keywords that speak to your entire site and what you, as a company, offer. So, revise this title tag to “Wall Coverings | Wallcoverings | Wall Covering.” That leaves us at 46 characters used. At this point, if brand is important, you can slap the company name up on the end of this title. Your Title Tag is good to go.

The Web site’s current Meta Keywords and Meta Descriptions are okay (probably a little long with the Meta Keywords – you could definitely delete some of these). For the most part, you can just put the three keyword phrases that you’re focusing on in the Title Tag of a given page. Use a Meta Description that is marketable, as this description will sometimes appear in the actual search engine results description.

Technology: Flash Navigation

There are ways to achieve sexy navigation without using Flash. My suggestion would be to find a way to use CSS/text-based navigation. Otherwise, you’d have to repurpose all of your links within the footer of the site, and that’s not ideal.

Content: Home Page

The home page currently contains 53 words. Ideally (again, all Web sites are different), you would want approximately 400 words on the home page, assuming that length does not interfere with usability. Be sure to adjust copy on the home page to include “wall coverings,” as well. Ideally, you will have a Header/H1 on the page to match your most important keyword in the Title. Some internal pages do have a decent amount of content, but there are other issues on this page.

The page I just referenced has this title tag: “MDC Wallcoverings.”

Look familiar? Yeah, that’s a pretty common theme throughout this Web site. And, I noticed many titles that should be headers/H1s are actually images (the words, “Our Products” and “New Designs”). Make them current image titles and convert them to html text as Headers/H1, using better keyword-based phrasing. Then, you could just change the Title Tag and Meta Keywords to match this. Perhaps even link to this page within the Sitemap using those same words. Do this and watch your rankings grow.

Here’s another example:

The Title Tag is basically being generated by the name of the page ("MDC Market Segments – Hospitality"). The same issues apply here with images instead of text/Headers. This page, too, has a decent amount of copy. With a little help, this page could probably do well for “hospitality wallcoverings.” Just put these words in the Title Tag, the H1, and internal links to this page — that should do it. Currently, the link to this page in the Sitemap reads, “Hospitality,” If you add “Wallcoverings” (or “Wall Coverings,” assuming that you decide to focus on this keyword), you should begin to improve.

Canonical Issues

I’ve talked about this before, and I think Google has done a better job of not penalizing Web sites for this. However, it’s always best to present as clean a presence as you can to the search engines and plan for the eventuality that this could become important once again.

Basically, you want your site to exist on only one true URL. Other versions should redirect.

Here’s what’s going on with this Web site:

You get this for www.mdcwall.com/.

And the exact same content for www.mdcwall.com/default.aspx.

Many Web sites will even have their site load/exist on http://sitename.com. This Web site is being properly redirected, however, so you should understand how to ensure that /default.aspx gets redirected to www.mdcwall.com.

I’ve covered some of the higher level tasks that can be done to help this Web site present itself better to the search engines. Certainly, there are about 200 other factors that I couldn’t get into within one article. (That’s why you hire a search engine optimization firm.) Not the least of these is link generation, which is covered by another column within Search Engine Watch.

To the owner of this Web site: I sincerely hope that these recommendations make a difference to your bottom line, and I would love to hear from you once you’ve implemented them. For the rest, I hope that I was able to provide a tip or two that helps you with your own efforts.

I’ll continue to do this on a quarterly basis, as each new site presents new and unique challenges. Please continue to send me your Web site URLs for consideration (using the email link under my photo). For the sake of organizing these, please put “Web site review” in the subject line.

This week, I will be speaking at the Search Engine Strategies Travel Conference in Seattle. So, if you happen to be attending, please stop by and say hello!


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