Three months ago, I started writing Quarterly Site Reviews, a free service I'll provide readers as long as Search Engine Watch asks me to go au Natural. My weekly columns provide valuable nuggets of information on organic SEO. Live Site Reviews (popular at Search Engine Strategies conferences) show actionable tactics to help your site rank higher.
Site reviews flesh out advice, best practices, and tips and tricks. This column is for readers who want to see SEO in action.
Best Intentions, Best Practices
Here's the thing, though: In my last Quarterly Review, I gave some really solid -- and free -- advice to a Web site that offers contract wallcoverings, coatings, and specialty wall products to make their site more search engine friendly and improve their organic search engine results. Not only did they not implement any of my recommendations; they've redesigned their Web site and somehow eliminated the best aspects of their SEO efforts.
So, before I begin this review, please read this: SEO is only as good as the correct implementation of the necessary components.
When your SEO firm suggests your title tags should say "whatever" and your META descriptions and META keywords say "whatever else," there's 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: eHobbies.com
I love what this site does. They sell items such as radio control cars, arts and crafts supplies, puzzles, and a number of other items.
If you haven't already heard it a thousand times, it bears repeating. To search engine spiders, your title tags are the most important thing you can address in order to rank well within the search engines. EHobbies' home page title tag is currently "eHobbies.com - Radio Control RC (and R/C) Cars, Trucks, Airplanes, Model Trains, Plastic Models, Toys." First, it's too long. An astounding 102 characters. The recommended length for title tags is 70 characters or less.
Secondly, they made a mistake too many companies make. EHobbies has their company's name first in the title tag on the home page. If someone is searching ehobbies.com (the first word in the title tag), they're going to find www.ehobbies.com without it being in the title tag. You should always have your most important keywords listed first, followed by the next most important, and so on.
I recommend something like "Radio Control Cars | Model Trains | Plastic Models | Toy Cars." Mind you, I have neither conducted keyword research to determine the importance of these keywords, nor have I discussed this with the folks at eHobbies.com.
Title Tags for Interior Pages
Currently, there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to how the title tags are generated for interior pages on this site. Here's an example: The title tag for this page is "Diecast - Hot Wheels Autoart Maisto Ertl Testors Jada Muscle Machines." This isn't a horrible title, but it would be much more effective if it actually described the page.
My suggestion would be "Diecast Replicas | Hot Wheels Diecast Replicas | Autoart." Again, I'm making this suggestion without doing keyword research. I'll leave it up to the company to decide how their audience searches for their specific products, but the word "Diecast" alone doesn't really describe what they do. This page leads me to my next point.
The diecast page mentioned above has no "Header" tag. These are noted in the HTML code as "H1, H2, H3," and so on. Interestingly, the words "Diecast" in their "breadcrumb area" on this page, is spelled "Die Cast" (two words; not one). Simple enough. Make all of these instances, site wide, into header tags. Make sure the header tag matches up well with the first words in the title tag and we're close to being in business.
The anchor text (words used in the links pointing to the page) for the Diecast page is "Die Cast Replicas." If this proves to be the way people search for this product (the exact phrase they use), then I suggest the title tag be "Die Cast Replicas" and not "Diecast Replicas." Make sure all components are working together. You can refer to my recent article on Synergy In Search to see what I mean by this. Again, repeat this step for each category, and you'll be well on your way.
Using the same Die Cast (new name) page as an example, you will see the page is a list of dynamically driven products/images, with links to other areas of the Web site. It's almost as if this is just a sitemap to other areas of the Web site. That's fine if that's what was intended, but there's no reason why this page cannot become an optimized entry point into your Web site. By adding 250 characters of static content, this page may very well rank for "Die Cast Replicas." While I would prefer to have this content at the top of this page, for usability sake it is sometimes necessary to place this content at the bottom of the page. This Web site will require a lot of unique content on many pages of the Web site, to fully reach its potential.
I know I wasn't able to get into too much detail with eHobbies in my Quarterly Site Review (character limitations on my columns, too). If there's something you'd like to chat about with me in more detail, feel free to drop me a line. I'd love to hear from you. This column lives, eats, sleeps, and breathes actionable tips and tricks you can put into practice.