Q and A: Why Doesn’t Google Rank My Site Higher?

QuestionHi Kalena,

My website has been up and running since 2008.

I regularly add new content & update my blog & facebook pages and yet 5 years on, I am still only attracting 30-40 visits per day and it has remained at this level for 5 years.

I believe my website is user friendly, visually pleasing & provides useful information for the visitor looking for the product I offer, so why doesn’t google rank it higher? I only have 83 pages indexed out of 1,400 – please help!

Natalie

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Hi Natalie

Assuming the website you are referring to is the one associated with your email address, I can provide a few recommendations immediately:

1) I couldn’t find a XML sitemap in the expected location of http://www.[brandwitheld].co.uk/sitemap.xml. Now maybe you have one in a different location, but if not, you’ll want to create one as soon as possible.  An XML sitemap is a file that contains a full list of indexable pages on your web site. It is the preferred method of lettting search engines know about all pages on your site that you want indexed. More information about the protocol and format required is available at Sitemaps.org. You can upload your sitemap via your Google Webmaster Tools account. Haven’t got one of those either? Read on…

2) If your site doesn’t seem to be as visible as you’d like in Google or large chunks of it are not getting indexed, make sure you create a Google Webmaster Tools account and check it for any obvious issues. Google provides an exhaustive amount of insight and advice in Webmaster Tools in terms of technical issues, indexing issues, SEO issues and visitor activity related to your site. If there seems to be something wrong, that should be your first stop.

3) Check your site against these 10 Most Common SEO Mistakes to see if you’re guilty of any of them and address the issues quickly.

4) You claim your site has 1,400 pages, but most of those are product and category pages consisting of dynamically generated versions of the same URL, plus a huge number of pop-ups. The site only has a small number of static HTML pages and therefore only a small amount of content that is visible to search engines.

For example: http://www.[brandwitheld].co.uk/fabrics.html is your main curtain category and then you have 11 different sub-categories under that, such as:

a) http://www.[brandwitheld].co.uk/fabrics.html?cat=browns

b) http://www.[brandwitheld].co.uk/fabrics.html?cat=reds

c) http://www.[brandwitheld].co.uk/fabrics.html?cat=golds

However, the content for each sub-category is dynamically generated from a product database, based on the category parameter indicated after the *?*.  To a search engine, a), b) and c) are seen as the same, single, page, with everything following the *?* generally ignored or treated as duplicate content.

Even worse, those sub-categories then break down into individual styles, but the style information is presented as a javascript pop-up dialogs, which can cause their own issues.

I’d put money on your URL structure being the spanner in the works preventing most of your content from being indexed. No wonder you see so few pages ranking well! I would suggest learning more about how Google treats URL parameters and reworking your site content to create flat, indexable HTML pages for each product, category and style.

Natalie, without having access to your Webmaster Tools account, I can’t really give you more advice at this point. However, if you’d like to invest in a full web site audit, I can certainly take a much closer look. Just contact me to get started.

Hope this helps!

 

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Q and A: Are WYSIWYG design tools bad for SEO?

QuestionDear Kalena,

As I have no seo background and nowhere else to turn for professional advice, I decided to submit a matter that is troubling me, as you not only have a staff of SEOs but you have the first professional SEO site I have found that invites questions from the general public.

This is my issue: I am wondering if using a modern WYSIWYG website application would be better than trying to hand-code a 20-30 page website?

I ask since there seems to be a consensus that such programs hinder SEO efforts. The reasons cited is that programs like XsitePro 2.5 use tables. Yet, Google says there is no real difference between tables and CSS regarding SEO.

Others claim that apps like WYSIWYG Web Builder 8 are bad for SEO due to their use of span tags. Finally, both the above-cited apps do allow access to the source code for changes and adding scripts, as well as to meta title and keyword tags, etc.

As I have witnessed multiple instances of websites created by such programs occupying spots #1-#5 on Page 1 of Google, would it not be better to use these design tools and devote the time to “more important” SEO matters such as content, keywords, and other on-off site practices?

Any/all information you can provide would be greatly appreciated as it would put this issue to rest for me.

Sincerely,
Guy

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Hi Guy

There is absolutely nothing wrong with using WYSIWYG software or a Content Management System (CMS) to design your web site. Some web design tools are better than others in terms of SEO friendliness and you should do your own research on this before deciding. But most web sites these days are created using some type of software or application, rather than built by hand.

In fact, the free blogging platform WordPress is one of the most popular CMS’s used to build web sites these days – we use it almost exclusively for our own sites and those of our clients. From my observations, Google seems to prefer indexing web sites built using WordPress. Developers working on the WordPress themes have taken great care to make sure the code validates, is as concise as possible and uses logical CSS. WordPress also has the benefit of SEO-related plug-ins, which short cuts the job of hand-optimizing a web site.

So you’re absolutely right – don’t be afraid to use auto-design tools and WYSIWYG software to create your site. Then you can devote more time to the most important features of SEO: content, keywords and link building.

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Q and A: Are infographics a good investment for SEO purposes?

QuestionHi Kalena,

I’m the SEO for a large online employment agency well known across the US.

Our major competitor has been using a lot of infographics in their blog lately and it has paid off for them in terms of their social media presence and traffic to their site. Our company is about to hire someone who can design infographics for use on our Facebook page to see if they will also work for us.

I have two questions – firstly, the price range seems to vary widely for infographic design services. Can you recommend some good quality infographic design experts who charge reasonable rates?

Now for my second question. One of the design companies we are considering claims that infographics can contribute a lot to SEO efforts, especially since Google Panda and Penguin basically crushed any link building efforts we used to spend a lot of time on. My concern is that I don’t want my company to spend thousands of dollars on infographics only to find out later that they have no SEO benefit whatsoever. I would rather them spend the money to hire blog writers to get more content published on our site.

What is your opinion on this and do you think that having custom infographics designed would be money well spent?

Thank you
Mike

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Hi Mike

What a timely question! One of my clients is actually considering investing in infographics, after seeing the results they have had on traffic levels for one of their regional sites in Asia.

In terms of SEO benefit – yes infographics can contribute to SEO – assuming you design them with search engines in mind. By that, I mean pay close attention to the title and headings on your infographic, the keywords used in your filename, the tags you use to categorize it and the format it is saved as. As social media goes hand in hand with SEO strategy these days, it makes sense to invest in content that will increase your social media reach and therefore create more links back to your site.

If you save your infographic as an image, be sure to include a logical alt img attribute including relevant keywords to describe the content when you embed it. If you embed it in a web page, you can have more control over the optimization of that page and the way it is shared, so I would definitely recommend that. Embedding it in a page also ensures that when you share it, people are taken back to your site, rather than viewing it on another platform.

If you have a Facebook page for your company, you could consider embedding it / sharing it there, as long as that is where you want the traffic to end up – this will be of more indirect SEO benefit – the logic being that people will eventually end up on your site after spending time on your Facebook page / reading about your products and services. My recommendation would be to embed it on your site/blog and then share the post via your social networks.

Whether you share it as a static image or a blog post via social networks, remember to tag it thoughtfully (Facebook) and use a short tweet description (Twitter) to enable others to retweet it without having to edit your description. Same rules for Pinterest – use popular, related category tags to ensure you get as many re-pins as possible.

If you use one of the new Infographic creation tools online like Piktochart (see below), your infographic may have an interactive layer embedded that allows you to enter search engine indexable content such as keywords and a description. This means that search engines will be able to crawl the content of your infographic as they crawl your web page.

Now, as for the other part of your question about whether I can recommend any good quality infographic design experts, I actually I did some research for my client about Infographics recently, to see if there were any online apps that could create them easily. It turns out there are several.

Here are the best ones I’ve found:

1) Infogr.am – this is super easy to use and free. I was able to help my son create an infographic for his homework within about 20 minutes. It includes a few basic templates to choose from and straight-forward functionality to produce something very quickly. It publishes direct to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or you can simply share on the web via URL.

2) Piktochart – I like this one the best – it has high resolution graphics, hover tools, some neat interactive elements, an easy to use interface and even built in SEO. Only problem is the free version comes with just 6 themes and layers a watermark over the top, so there really is no choice but to go the Pro (paid) version to get over 100 themes/templates and remove the watermark. However at USD 29 per month or 169 per year, the price is reasonable to justify this.

3) Visual.ly – this is probably the most sophisticated of the three – it has different free/paid versions for different consumer markets and lots more templates and design styles to choose from. You can publish direct to Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest or you can download your creation. You can quickly create infographics based on 2 or more competing hashtags, Twitter accounts or existing web pages as well. It also has a built-in marketplace if you want to high an Infographic designer who specialises in using Visual.ly if you need help creating your own infographics.

Hope this helps!

 

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Q and A: Do I have to learn HTML before learning SEO?

QuestionHi Kalena,

I’m looking to take your SEO starter course and your site says you can recommend tutorials for learning HTML.

From what I am reading, I think I need to learn that before I take your courses. How can I take that tutorial to prepare for your courses? What is the procedure to get to that tutorial?

Thank you
Larry

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Hi Larry

Thanks for your question and your interest in taking our Search Engine College courses.

Just to reassure you, knowledge of HTML or programming is not a pre-requisite for taking any of our courses. Having said that, if you wish to take an online tutorial in HTML before enrolling with us, you can find some here:

W3Schools HTML Tutorial

HTML Code Tutorial

Dave’s Interactive HTML Tutorial

Getting Started With HTML

Hope this helps!

 

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Q and A: What are the upcoming changes to Google AdWords?

QuestionHi Kalena,

I’ve been hearing rumors that Google is about to roll out some major changes to AdWords. Do you know anything about this yet? I’m a bit nervous about it.

Thanks
Kylie

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Hi Kylie

Google announced some major changes to AdWords today – the main one being Enhanced Campaigns.

Basically Enhanced Campaigns mean that advertisers can now present consistent ads to people via multiple devices in the right context within a single campaign, rather than setting up separate campaigns for mobile/tablet users.

The focus here seems to be Google’s way of increasing the adoption of mobile advertising.

I’m still getting my head around the new functionality and will post an indepth article here about it soon, but if you’re interested to learn more in the meantime, here is a round up of articles about it:

More soon!

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