This week we continue our review of websites from Top 500 list of online retailers. It is very interesting to see how many of these giant ecommerce websites have poor organic search optimization. It looks like some of these companies focus on off-line sources of revenue (for example, retail store or catalog orders) and use the website as an extension of their “traditional” marketing—as a catalog or some other promotion piece—and not as an important outlet for sales.
Hanna Andersson Corp sells children’s apparel. The company started this business in 1983 by promoting products through their catalog. The company’s website—www.hannaandersson.com—generated about $65M in 2007 and while we don’t have access to website’s analytics, we can assume that some percentage of revenue is coming from paid search, bookmarks and typed-in traffic.
Let’s take a look at their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to see what kind of traffic/revenue the company gets from organic search.
Right off the bat, the website has some major problems in this area…
The homepage redirect
One of the most typical problems: a temporary (type 302) redirect from http://www.hannaandersson.com/ to http://www.hannaandersson.com/home.asp?cchkrd=y . This type of redirect is not search engine friendly. The website is losing an opportunity to utilize the inbound link power coming to http://www.hannaandersson.com/ . It would be better to have a permanent (type 301) redirect in this situation.
The website has a simple design with good usability and easy navigation. However, top level pages (the homepage, division pages, and category pages) don’t have enough text content. Adding some text just above the footer will not affect the design of the website, but will give visitors and the search engine bots more text information related to the topic of these pages.
The website has a search feature with search refine page http://www.hannaandersson.com/search.aspx?search_for= . Links on this page generate an almost countless number of pages with very similar search results. For example, Google indexed 1,410 pages with refined search results. These pages don’t bring the value to the website and will likely stay in omitted organic search results. It makes sense to block these low quality pages from indexing.
The website’s content management system generates duplicate pages with almost identical content under different URLs. It’s not search engine friendly at all. There are different reasons for this problem and some of them listed below.
Shopping basket pages with unique IDs.
All pages of the website have a link to the shopping basket. Each link generates unique ID on a fly. For example:
Basically, it’s possible to generate unlimited quantity of copies of the same shopping basket page under different URLs. For example, Yahoo indexed more than 5,000 identical basket pages. Duplicate pages don’t bring value to the websites in eyes of the search engines. It would be to block page basket.asp from indexing.
There are pages with different gift sets, for example: http://www.hannaandersson.com/giftSet.asp?from=GS|1|3|8|224|9|5. Text content on these gift set pages repeat text on related product pages. These gift set pages don’t bring value in eyes of the search engines and should be blocked from indexing.
Identical pages under different URLs
The website’s content management system generates pages with identical content under different URLs.
Duplicate pages do not bring value to the website. The content management system should be updated to eliminate these duplicate pages.
Product pages with items in different colors.
Many products on the website are available in different colors. The content management system creates different URLs for the same product in different colors. For example:
Basically, these pages have duplicate text content. It makes sense to use canonical URL tag (http://blog.vkistudios.com/index.cfm/2009/2/18/Cannonical-URL-Tag-Getting-a-Helping-Hand-with-Duplicate-Content-Problems ) to show the search engines what URL should be used for indexing.
Page title tags play a very important role in search engine optimization. It is important to use proper title tags with targeted keywords related to content of particular page. Unfortunately, this website doesn’t make use of this very powerful optimization opportunity: the homepage title is the name of the website and top level (division and category) pages don’t have titles at all.
Hanna Andersson’s website is not very search engine friendly, and if you need more proof do some test searches. I did and didn’t find the website anywhere near the top search results for any of the standard keywords one would use to locate their products. Therefore we can assume that the website doesn’t have much organic traffic. It is possible, perhaps, that a major percentage of organic traffic is coming from branded keywords, but even then making the website search engine friendly could increase organic traffic volume and revenue generated by this traffic. SEO is a great long-time investment (especially, when it comes to websites with multi-million revenue) and hopefully this company will realize this soon.