Killing Your Search Engine Ranking in 7 Easy Steps

by demtron on Wednesday, January 14, 2009 07:40 PM
Have you ever wanted to completely destroy your search engine ranking or do it for someone else?  Maybe you never want your site to get found again?  Believe it or not, I've helped clients in the last six months with each of these problems that were torching their search engine profile and strangling their organic traffic.
 
1) Domain masking: I took over one site where the entire site was using domain masking.  In seven years, the client had absolutely no idea that the previous designer was doing this to save himself a buck on a hosting plan for the site.  Only the home page was found in search engines.  It turns out the designer did exactly the same thing with all the rest of his clients' sites that have been live for years.  They, too, only have the home page to show for it in search engine results.
 
2) Use only a JavaScript menu for linking pages: Sure, JavaScript menus are cool.  They can drop down, slide across, have pictures and generally spice up a site.  But they can't be crawled by search engines.  What's more, the links in them don't contribute anchor text, either.  One recent client had over a hundred pages in a JavaScript menu and practically no linking using anchor tags.  Most of the 200 pages of the site had not been crawled at all
 
3) Use a JavaScript page strip: ASP.Net is famous of offering page navigation strips using is doPostBack JavaScript methods.  Another client I acquired had over 6 thousand pages on a site, but only 32 pages actually crawled.  The remaining pages were all accessible through paginated tables.  Another great waste of code that a search engine ignores.
 
4) All pictures and Flash with little text: Some designers with a flair for graphic design take sites a little overboard.  If you're a famous pop star and have zillions of fans finding your site every day by just typing yourname.com, then who cares?  In the real world, most sites are not wildly popular and are only found through search engine results.  SEs love text, especially keyword-rich, backlinked text.  Pictures and Flash sure are pretty, but they basic tell nothing to a crawler.
 
5) Renaming pages without redirects:  One site I redesigned earlier this year had tons of links from other sites pointing to a page that was non-existent.  What a complete waste of free traffic and promotion!  Both search engines AND human visitors wouldn't find the site.  Oh, what a little bit of 301-redirect action did to help out that one.
 
6) Leaving title tags blank:  One of the aforementioned sites had about 60 of it's 200 pages with blank titles.  How is anyone going to find those pages, and why would anyone click on them?  Here, let's write a book, then tear the front cover off and leave one of those "this page intentionally left blank" pages as the new front cover.  Real slick.
 
And last, but not least...
 
7) user agent: *  disallow: / in the ROBOTS.TXT file: This one didn't actually happen, although it was close.  The site had the disallow all set for a user agent of Google.  So, they kissed 81% of their traffic away just by a simple screw-up by the former designer.
 
And there you have it.  If you implement these seven key steps, your success with annihilating your search engine exposure and traffic is pretty much guaranteed.  Good luck and happy destroying!

Web Site Traffic Quantity vs. Quality

by demtron on Monday, November 17, 2008 09:19 AM

I've had numerous people approach me about how to bring traffic to their Web sites.  Of course, everyone wants more traffic, but is traffic volume really the ultimate goal?

Attracting and retaining the right audience is the most important consideration for any Web site, whether for a business, government, school, non-profit, or informational resource.  Without the right audience, there's no real purpose for a Web site.  Here’s a set of basic steps for getting a handle on understanding traffic quality.

First, determine your target audience.  If you organization has significant off-line operations, does your Web site target the same type of customer or a different one?  For example, a law firm may offer services in several facets of law but only promote one of them on their site, making their off-line marketing needs different from those on-line.

Second, find out the source of your traffic.  This is where a good traffic analytics tool can help out.  A popular and free tool for this is Google Analytics.  Think about the attributes that make up your desired traffic.  Is local traffic or regional traffic important?  Are you advertising on sites related to your industry?  How much traffic is coming from keyword advertisements versus natural searches?

The next question is perhaps the most important.  Which type of traffic is most valuable?  Again, an analytics tool can be used to track conversions.  A conversion is a specific action that the visitor is expected to make, such as purchasing one or more items, requesting more information or free written materials, or becoming a subscriber to a service offered.  Matching conversion rate to traffic types is critical to a site’s success.  Which would you rather have – 10000 hits per month with a 1% conversion rate or 3000 hits per month with a 7% conversation rate?  I'll take the higher quality traffic any day of the week!

Finally, consider whether the current traffic aligns with the strategy of the site.  There are three possibilities: 1) traffic does not align well and produces poor conversions, 2) traffic does align well and produces good conversions, or 3) traffic aligns well in an unintended area yet still products good conversions.  The third scenario is intriguing.  I’ve seen a number of situations where a site generates quality organic search traffic based on keywords or themes not previously considered.  After additional research, it’s possible that this traffic arrives because the topic is poorly represented in search results, meaning that it could be ripe for exploitation on your site by adding more related content.

Web site traffic generation is more that just an exercise in "playing the numbers".  Web site visitors know when they’ve found a site with quality content that separates itself from those that favor extreme traffic generation.  Those visitors will be the most loyal, buying goods and services and returning in the future for more great content.  Understanding how to identify, track and measure your exposure to this target audience is crucial to an effective web site.


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