American Express Axes Ellen DeGeneres: Au Natural On Amex Site

I'm issuing a challenge to all online marketers and SEOs (define) at American Express. I didn't attend the Yahoo Searchlight Awards, but I heard you lost this year. No offense, but after reviewing your site for Search Engine Watch, I can't say I'm surprised.

The challenge? Well, you don't have to fire Ellen DeGeneres as a spokesmodel if you take me up on it. At the end of this two-part column, I'll let you know exactly what you need to do.

Nine months ago I started reviewing sites and writing short site audits. Providing real life recommendations helps flesh out SEO "in action" for our readers.

In my first Quarterly Review, I gave a company some really solid -- and free -- SEO advice. If followed, the tips would've made their Web site more search engine friendly. Their search engine rankings would have risen in organic SERPs (define).

I just looked at their site again. The company still hasn't implemented any of the recommendations I provided, even though I called them out in my last Quarterly Site Review.

So, before I begin, please read this: SEO success lives or dies in the proper execution of necessary SEO components. I said as much in my last Quarterly Site Review, but I can't say it enough. If you really want to do SEO, implement some stuff.

Recommendations alone don't make your site rank.

When your SEO firm suggests your title tags should say "whatever" and your meta descriptions and meta keywords say "whatever else," there is a reason behind this. So, before you even decide you need to get involved in SEO, make sure you have the "buy in" from the IT department, marketing, executives or whoever else may be involved in getting things done.

OK, I'm done with my soapbox. Let's move on to our next participant.

Web site: American Express ( oh…wait, I mean

If you're a regular reader of my columns, you may recall I recently addressed "opinions" American Express published on their small business owners' site, "OPEN BOOK, a Practical Guide for Business Growth." A contributor mentioned businesses should not hire a "so-called SEO specialist." American Express replied, essentially saying that everyone's entitled to an opinion on whether SEO is a worthy investment.

Well we all know what opinions are like. Sure, everyone has one.

During our conversation, I mentioned American Express should do a search for "credit cards" on Google and see which companies were showing up in the organic results.

Today, I thought I'd take this one step further because I just don't know when to stop; as one of my readers mentioned to me, "you seem to take this very personally." Well, that's probably true. I care a lot about helping SEO become more of a mainstream portion of all marketing budgets.

Here are some recommendations American Express might want to consider for optimization of their Web site.

URL Redirection

As I mentioned above, does not show you their Web site. You're redirected (301 redirect) to Bad enough you're redirecting to a subdomain. I'm sure there's a reason related to financial services sites and I'd love to hear it. From an SEO perspective, however, it just doesn't make sense.

The page the main site is redirected to exists on "https." That's right. It's a secure page. Aside from SEO, visitors might be a little concerned they were redirected at all. I'd think they'd expect to exist at

I also wonder why they're doing this, since they do have actual pages at

Another interesting note: when you do a search on Google, you don't see at the top of the list. You should always see the home page first for these queries. You see their travel page mentioned again, below.

For the purposes of this demonstration, I'm not going to spend any more time on the https issues, and just "move on" with the review.

Next week, you can read the conclusion of this Web site review. Until then, keep your feedback coming to me! I'd like this column to be a reflection of your needs and what you want to read.

About the author

Mark Jackson is President and CEO of Vizion Interactive, a search engine optimization company. Mark joined the interactive marketing fray in early 2000. His journey began with Lycos/Wired Digital and then AOL/Time Warner. After having witnessed the bubble burst and its lingering effects on stability on the job front (learning that working for a "large company" does not guarantee you a position, no matter your job performance), Mark established an interactive marketing agency and has cultivated it into one of the most respected search engine optimization firms in the United States.

Vizion Interactive was founded on the premise that honesty, integrity, and transparency forge the pillars that strong partnerships should be based upon. Vizion Interactive is a full service interactive marketing agency, specializing in search engine optimization, search engine marketing/PPC management, SEO friendly Web design/development, social media marketing, and other leading edge interactive marketing services, including being one of the first 50 beta testers of Google TV.

Mark is a board member of the Dallas/Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association (DFWSEM) and a member of the Dallas/Fort Worth Interactive Marketing Association (DFWIMA) and is a regular speaker at the SES and Pubcon conferences.

Mark received a BA in Journalism/Advertising from The University of Texas at Arlington in 1993 and spent several years in traditional marketing (radio, television, and print) prior to venturing into all things "Web."

Read more of Mark Jackson's columns at ClickZ.