SEO Report Card: StayLeaner.com

March 1st, 2006

by

Originally published in Practical Ecommerce

Report CardEach month it gets harder to select an ecommerce site to assess, as the requests from readers keep coming in increasing volume. This month I’ve chosen Stayleaner.com, the ecommerce site for J & J Health Foods, which sells vitamins, herbs and supplements for sports nutrition and body building. Their shopping cart platform is ShopSite Pro. Fred Evaristo of J & J Health Foods states: “I rely heavily on pay-per-click advertising as I can’t get ranked in the natural searches no matter what I do.” We feel your pain, Fred! Let’s see if we can’t help Fred and his team…

Overall, I found much search engine unfriendliness.

  1. SEO Report Card: StayLeaner.comBesides the anchor text and the disclaimer, there’s very little content on the home page. The text that’s there doesn’t develop a keyword theme around “vitamins” or “supplements.” Surprisingly, “supplements” isn’t even used once on the page.
  2. PageRank score on the home page is 5, which is pretty run-of-the-mill. Would have liked to have seen a 6 here. The Nutrition category in the Google Directory, at http://directory.google.com/Top/Shopping/Health/Nutrition/, lists numerous competitors outranking them with higher PageRank scores.
  3. They’ve got hundreds of inbound links, not counting their own internal links or mirror sites of the Open Directory (DMOZ), according to Yahoo! (http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=linkdomain%3Awww.stayleaner.com+- site%3Astayleaner.com+-inurl%3AShopping). However, only a small number are of high quality and actually doing them good, such as these two: http://www.enzymedica. com/online.php and http://www.npclasvegasclassic.com/. The rest are useless links from bit players or spammers siphoning off search results or Open Directory results, such as this one: http://sexhealthdiet.com/
  4. The Brands and Categories drop-down lists are not spiderable. That’s a huge missed opportunity. Make these text links. At least the Top Sellers navigation is textual.
  5. There’s a “Link Exchange” page, but as you’ll have read in my article this month on links, reciprocal links are not worth pursuing.
  6. Category pages have no intro copy. The only text on these pages is from the products listed and the huge disclaimer at the bottom of the page.
  7. H1 tags are not used on category pages or product pages. The product name should be within an H1 tag on each product page; the category name on each category page. The only heading tag in use on the product pages is an H2 tag, which is applied to the words “Suggested Dosage Ranges”
  8. Indexation looks good across the three major engines, owing in part to the static, search engine friendly URLs (no question marks) and having some decent inbound links.
  9. Many of the site’s title tags have a “Free Shipping” and/or “Guaranteed Low Prices” call-to-action which then shows up in the search listing, which is nice and compelling. The category or product name leads off the title, which is good for keyword prominence. Too bad no other important keywords are present, like “vitamins” or “supplements”! For example, “Jarrow Vitamins and Supplements at Guaranteed Low Prices! Free Shipping!” would have been much better than the current “Jarrow at Guaranteed Low Prices! Free Shipping!” on http://www.stayleaner.com/jarrow.html. The meta description tags also leave something to be desired (these are sometimes displayed in the search listings).
  10. The HTML is bloated with lots of in-line Cascading Style Sheet code and JavaScript code that should be removed and replaced with a reference to an include file containing that code.

By Stephan Spencer. This article first appeared in Practical eCommerce magazine in March 2006.