SEO Report Card: Change Home Page Links
This month’s selectee, Millcraftfurniture.com, is an outdoor furniture manufacturer operating a small (less than 100 pages) MIVA Merchant-powered ecommerce site. Its rankings are in the doldrums. The store does not appear in the first 100 listings in Google for critical terms “Adirondack chairs” and “Adirondack chair.” This site is buried deep in Google’s results for many other key terms, such as “outdoor furniture,” “patio furniture,” “garden furniture,” “porch swing” and “bench swing.” Millcraftfurniture.com does rank No. 2 for both “poly furniture” and “poly outdoor furniture,” but these two terms get little to no search activity, according to Yahoo! (specifically, the Overture Keyword Selector tool at Inventory.overture.com).
Considering its home page PageRank is only a three out of 10 (on a logarithmic scale) and many of its product and category pages fare worse in terms of the PageRank importance, it’s not surprising the site’s rankings are so poor.
Because this is such a pivotal issue, let’s dig a bit deeper before we cover any other SEO issues. A look at the links (with the help of Yahoo! Site Explorer at Siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com) reveals 711 web pages linking to pages in the Millcraftfurniture.com site, excluding internal links of course. The number of links seems passable at first glance, but in reviewing the links, I find a number were obviously obtained through commercial means, such as Seowebdirectory.info/index.php?a=search&q=chair and Laddermart.com/links.html.
nullClearly, its site needs an injection of new high-quality links. The company doesn’t need links from a bunch of directories and link exchanges though; it looks like they’ve already gone down that route. Considering how much ground they need to make up, I think this calls for some serious link baiting.
Time to think creatively:
Idea No. 1: Create an article or blog post featuring wild and wacky furniture. Great examples of this include: Scrabble Furniture (Freshome.com/2007/04/08/furniture-inspired-by-scrabble-game/), furniture made from FedEx boxes (Fedexfurniture.com) and DIY cardboard furniture â?? complete with patterns and instructions (Foldschool.com). Consider commissioning the guy behind the FedEx furniture to create a gazebo out of FedEx boxes and leverage that into a PR campaign.
Idea No. 2: Launch an outdoor patio decor blog in a similar vein to the popular blog Apartment Therapy (Apartmenttherapy.com), perhaps even calling it “Patio Therapy.” Maybe even develop it as a satire of Apartment Therapy, poking fun in a playful, but not litigation-inducing, way.
Idea No. 3: Shoot a video showing the process of recycling milk jugs into Adirondack chairs: The grinding up, cleaning, drying, melting, mixing and extruding. Make the video fun â?? e.g., add a funky soundtrack and make it into a music video, hire a comedian to do the narration. Try to get it featured on Rocketboom.
Drop some mentions of this link bait in the blogosphere and in social networks like Digg (with the help of a social media consultant, so it’s done right). Make sure the link bait article is devoid of commercialism or there will be a backlash from Digg users. After the link bait has peaked in its popularity and the Digg traffic has died down, you can then change out some of the content and links on the page to make it more commercial â?? e.g., adding links pointing to important products/categories, and search engine optimizing the page and conversion optimizing the page to drive more purchases.
Switching gears, let’s look at the SEO within the site. First off, I was pleased to see most URLs were devoid of “stop characters” and contained keywords separated by hyphens. The tabs at the top of the pages are comprised of keyword-rich text links. These are great SEO features.
There were plenty still to optimize, however. For starters, I’d advise:
â?¢ Changing the links that point to your home page using /index.htm to / instead, so the spiders will no longer find a duplicate home page while exploring the links of the site.
â?¢ Switching from using HTML tables for layout to using CSS. Such a change is friendlier to users and spiders alike.
â?¢ Appending rel=”nofollow” to the product image and “more info” links, because those links aren’t as useful as the links with the product name as anchor text. Nofollow is a great way to channel a larger share of PageRank through to the links that matter most.
â?¢ Not having so many H1 tags on the home page. That looks over-optimized.
â?¢ Dropping the “links” page, or, at a minimum, drop all the directories from that page.
â?¢ Installing a 301 redirect on http://millcraftfurniture.com/ because there’s currently a duplicate site for the spiders to index there â?? which isn’t helped by the fact that all the links are relative instead of absolute.
From the fundamentals of link building to the nuances of natural linking patterns, virality, and authority.
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