Previously we reviewed websites of different merchant type companies. Some of them have a chain of retail stores or use catalogs to promote products. Basically, these companies use websites as support tools, working with brick and mortar stores. Usually such websites generate just branded organic traffic in addition to bookmarked/typed-in visitors. There were lots of problems to be found…
This week let’s change it around a bit and take a look at company that uses website as a main source of traffic and revenue.
Calendars.com sells all types of calendars and related accessories. According to Internet Retailer this company had more than $18 million in sales in 2007. The company’s merchant type is web only. We could assume that their SEO should be way better than companies that focus on off-line channels (retail stores, catalogs, etc).
Unfortunately, this assumption is wrong: this website has many SEO related problems. Some of them are listed below.
The homepage is broken in Firefox
This problem is more related to web usability. It’s so obvious and easy to fix that I couldn’t resist to mention it.
Just want to remind you all that more than 20% of Internet users prefer Firefox and the percentage of Firefox users is constantly growing—http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Webapps.svg.
A few minutes to fix these CSS problems could increase sales by at least few hundred thousand a year. Pretty good ROI, isn’t it?
In this particular situation the broken homepage is not just a lost SEO opportunity. The company runs a PPC campaign that uses the homepage as a destination URL. It’s pretty bad landing page for Firefox users. It looks like the company is just throwing away money by driving paid traffic to this broken page.
The homepage has a further problem: a chain of temporary (type 302) redirects.
As a result the homepage got indexed under multiple URLs in addition to just http://www.calendars.com
For example: http://www.google.com/search?q=site:calendars.com+inurl:index.asp+-inurl:dbs&hl=en&pws=0&gl=US&filter=0
This creates duplicated content problems for the most important page of the website—the homepage.
Another reminder: a temporary 302 redirect is not search engine friendly. It would be better to change the content management system to avoid this chain of redirects. Or at least change redirects to a permanent (301) redirect.
404 (Page Not Found) error.
The website has a similar chain of temporary (302) redirects. For example,
Using custom 404 pages is a good idea. It improves the user experience—but don’t forget about search engines. Non-existent pages should return a 404 response code. This shows the search engines that page should be removed from their index. In case of an incorrect response (302 redirect in this situation) the search engines keep URLs of non-existent pages and could show them in search results. For example…
Many pages could be found under multiple URLs.
The URL structure of the website creates duplicated copied of identical pages under different URLs. For example, “Beijing 2009 Wall Calendar” page could be found under 9 different URLs:
This creates a duplicated content problem. There are different ways to fix it. The best solution would be to fix the content management system so as to avoid this problem altogether. If that’s not possible, the canonical URL tag could help.
Titles in DogBreedStore section of the website
There is a pretty big section of the website dedicated to dog calendars. All pages in this section have the page title “DogBreedStore.com”. For example, Google has indexed more than 4000 pages with the same page title.
Page title is one of the most important on-page ranking factors. Page title should include targeted keywords related to text content of the page. Unfortunately, the website doesn’t use this opportunity to get better ranking. Proper titles could boost traffic from long-tail keywords without any additional effort.
More Temporary 302 Redirects
We could assume that domain dogbreedstore.com is owned by calendars.com. There is temporary 302 redirect from dogbreedstore.com to calendars.com. Would be better to use permanent 301 redirect in this situation. It would transfer link power from dogbreedstore.com to calendars.com
The website has a content management system that generates session IDs and includes them as one of variables in URLs (it’s dynamic variable TID). As a result many identical pages get indexed under different URLs. For example:
- http://www.calendars.com/xq/asp/PID.1/MGID.3112/IID.46403/CE.1/TID.5e6dbe1e90ff4eeb87d046f7e363b1d7/qx/product.htmThis also creates a duplicated content problem.
Google has indexed more than 4500 URLs with session IDs. The content management system should be changed to avoid using session IDs in URLs. If that’s not possible, at least include a disallow rule in robots.txt file to stop spiders from reading URLs with session IDs.
As we can see there is plenty of opportunities to get on-page SEO fixed. Some minor changes could lead to significant traffic / revenue.