In my spare time when i’m not doing Search Engine Optimisation I enjoy watching property renovation shows when a crew of “experts” work on an old building and turn it into something beautiful.
It always goes something like this:
- - They look over an old house, typically in a state of dilapidation.
- - They examine the fundamentals of the house, including its foundation and structural elements, the navigation path through the house (including how many levels there are in the structure), the layout of the rooms, the plumbing and other systems linking the rooms together, the design and presentation of the rooms, the decorative elements used (including colour and artwork imagery), the home site’s landscaping design, and the ability to easily maintain the house once the renovation is complete.
- - They also rely on the newest tools and technologies available to renovate the house, bring in specialised, industry experts to consult on the projects, and most importantly, do all of the work within the homeowner’s budget (which means sometimes making hard compromises).
Do you see what I do? These television shows are a perfect metaphor for doing a fully-blown SEO site review and website re-design!
If they made a TV show out of the Search Engine Optimisation work I do for my clients it would go something like this:
They’d start off finding a website that is no longer performing well, uses an inefficient design, is not easily extensible, is hard and costly to maintain, and looks like it was designed back in the early 1990s (that’s ancient history in Web time). They’d talk with the site owner to determine renovation goals. Then it’s time for the Eseyo team to make things better.
The series would begin the site review, looking over the antiquated foundation (web platform). We’d look at the CMS (assuming there is one!), any ecommerce and blog platforms, and determine how easily the existing site can be updated.
We’d examine the URLs for keyword-friendly file and folder names, not GUID-based gibberish. We’d check the URLs for use of concatenated words, mixed case letters, underscores and other special characters, as well as dynamic URL parameters that can easily lead to content duplication in the search index.
We would advise keeping the site structure shallow and wide as content buried in deep directories will likely not get much attention from search crawlers.
We’d advise that these platforms are time-tested with plenty of tools available for easily maintaining the site long after the renovation has been completed.
Next, we’d bring in the master carpenter, to review the site metadata and keyword usage. We’d check on the length and keyword optimisation effectiveness of the text in, <h1>, and <img> alt tags used to define the theme of each page. We’d note that a title of “Page 1” is a sure sign of a shoddy workmanship from past site renovations, and that a missing <h1> tag or omitted <img> alt text is a lost keyword development opportunity.
But we’d also advise that investing time and effort into building outkeywords tags is not a cost-effective use of SEO resources. Then a check on how well thedescriptions are written. While they don’t generate any keyword relevance to speak of themselves, we would advise that a concise (160 characters max), compellingdescription is what converts impressions to clicks among searchers in the search engine search results pages (SERPs).
Eseyo would evaluate whether or not the site is easy to crawl and start by looking at page source code validation issues. We’d explain that pages with serious code validation problems may not necessarily suffer page rank problems based solely on that issue, but they may in fact suffer from crawler abandonment problems, which can limit indexing.
Search crawlers are typically not as forgiving as full-featured Web browsers with invalid source code, and if the crawlers struggle to interpret the meaning of the code on the page, the site’s crawler budget may be used up prematurely. We’d also check for the use of temporary 302 redirects when a permanent 301 is needed for transferring link juice to a new URL.
Lastly, we’d also help properly set up the site’s robots.txt and sitemap.xml files to ensure all of the content pages were properly crawled.
Then comes plumbing review. We’d look at the internal links between pages to ensure they are well-interconnected rather than in little silos. We’d examine the external links to other sites to be sure they are relevant to this site and there weren’t too many such links on the page, which might make the page look like a spammy link farm.
We’d check to see that the links all use absolute URLs, and that there are no links to be crawled buried in
A review of the site navigation world come next. We’d recommend a crawler-friendly navigation system using styled text links rather than images. And finally, we’d make sure the internal plumbing of the home page was properly canonicalized, channelling all of the link juice to the various URL versions over to the canonical URL via 301 redirects configured in the .htaccess file.
We’d also review the site for the use of <link> rel=canonical tags when needed, as well as <link> rel=prev and <link> rel=next pagination tags for multi-page articles.
Next up would be the landscaping review. We’d look at the overall thematic design of the site, ensuring the theme was applied consistently across all pages in the site. We’d also develop the master keyword list for the site and the targeted keyword lists per page, and confirm there are descriptive, keyword-rich anchor tag text used across internal site links.
Finally, we’d even add a special flourish by adding a custom 404 error message page (with the page template applied, of course).
The Program Host.
Lastly, there is host which I guess would be me. I’d look at the storyline of the site. I’d make sure the content there is rich, interesting, and accessible to the targeted audience. I’d put unique story content on each page, and ensure there is sufficient content there to enable search crawlers to discern the theme of the page.
This content would include enough technical detail to keep the audience interested, but not so much as to lose their interest or skimp and make the content so thin so that there is no real story to tell. I’d ensure great content was created for every page the site owners wanted to be found in search.
I would make sure that if the site was a local brick-and-mortar, the business address and phone number was easily found on the page and was listed in text form (rather than buried inside an image). Lastly i’d generate an RSS feed so both end users and search engines could subscribe to new content as it was published.
Expert Specialists Brought In.
We’d also bring in specialists, such as page designers who would look at the use of artwork and colour on the pages. Web security experts would review the site and the web host for both malware vulnerability and web spam concerns, such as hidden text, keyword stuffing, cloaking.
The team would also have consultants come in and demonstrate how the latest tools and technologies can really make a difference for maintaining and optimizing a site. Also, specialists would advise on link building strategies, the old, trusty method for improving a site’s page rank, which never goes out of style or becomes ineffective.
At the end of the series, the site owner would marvel at all of the changes put into place. Not only would the site be more easily crawled, users would find much better, more compelling content, easier navigation between pages of the site, and a faster load time, making the site a joy to use, which translates into higher search engine rankings, greater user awareness, longer visitor time on site, and most importantly, an improved conversion rate that pays for the cost of the renovation many times over.
Yep, I’d watch that show. Wait a minute — that’s a show that I produce 5 days a week. No wonder I like it so much!