Q and A: Should I optimize my existing site or start over?

QuestionHi Kalena,

I have a question. I want to start optimizing my own site. Would it be better to start fresh with a new site or should I try to fix the existing site? And does it make sense to purchase a template or have a webmaster design it from scratch?

Thanks
Nelson

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Hi Nelson

Whether you optimize your existing site or start from scratch depends on a lot of factors:

  • Are you happy with the design of your current site?
  • Is the current web site designed with users in mind?
  • Does it convert well and/or attract a lot of traffic?
  • Does the current design allow for SEO to be performed easily?

If you’re able to quickly answer YES to these questions, then you may not need to start from scratch. If you hesitated even a little, you would probably be better off redesigning your site from the ground up.

In other words, if there are more ticks in the *negative* column than the *positive* one, you should absolutely not fear scrapping your existing site and starting a new one. If you are worried about losing current search rankings for existing pages, you should consider 301 redirecting those pages to their replacement pages when you create them.

In terms of a new site template, I have been recommending WordPress for SEO purposes for a long time now. I advocate keeping your own domain and installing WordPress on it, with an attractive theme that is easy to use. Google and other search engines adore web sites built with WordPress and there are a lot of SEO-related plugins that will help you. Plus it’s free! Can’t argue with that.

If you aren’t confident using WordPress, there are a lot of talented WordPress designers out there who can be of assistance, or you can teach yourself using the detailed WordPress user documentation.

As an alternative to WordPress, you could also consider Google Sites.

Hope this helps.

Kalena
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Say Hello to Panda Update #24

evil panda

Evil Panda is Evil

Google rolled out another Panda update this week, making it update #24 since Panda first hit the SERPs in early 2011.

According to Google’s related tweet, the Panda refresh impacted approximately 1.2 percent of English language search queries.

You can see a handy timeline of all Panda updates on the Search Engine Land site.

Has Panda #24 impacted your site yet? Let us know in the comments.

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Google Gives the Gift of Panda for Xmas

‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the web, people noticed their site traffic was at a low ebb.’

Yes, just in time for Christmas, Google has decided to rollout another Panda algorithm update, this one affecting 1.3% of search queries. According to Search Engine Land, this is the 23rd Panda update since the original Panda rolled out in February 2011.

You can see a handy timeline of all Panda updates on the Search Engine Land site.

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Q and A: What steps can I take to recover from Google Panda / Penguin?

QuestionHi Kalena

I work for an online retail site and our company was hit really hard by Google Panda and then the ongoing Google Penguin algorithm updates.

We haven’t used any obvious spam tactics and we don’t use link farms, but a lot of our content is auto generated based on our product database and it is also duplicated on the sites belonging to some of our distribution partners. For example, we sell toys and promotional gifts made in China and these categories and product descriptions are replicated on our partner sites.

Two years ago, we hired a SEO firm to optimize our blog and write some articles for us that integrate links to our products. I think all these things have contributed to us getting wiped off Google search results after the Panda and Penguin updates. From what I’ve read, we may be guilty of over-optimization. Is this right?

Our traffic from search engines is down by at least 40 percent and has stayed that way for the past 6 months. What steps can we take to get back in Google’s good books? This is really hurting us.

Thank you in advance,
Tim

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Hello Tim

I started to answer this and then realized that Jill Whalen has already written an excellent article on this very subject. I believe it answers all your questions, including specific problems that have likely contributed to losses of organic Google traffic for many sites in the past year.

Please go have a read of  Jill’s article: 18 SEO Killers You Must Clean Up and Avoid for 2013 and all the best!

Kalena
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Q and A: Is it good SEO practice to cross link related sites in the footer?

QuestionHello Kalena

I took your SEO classes at Search Engine College a while back. I’m hoping you might be able to help me with a question that I really don’t know the answer to.

I now work at an advertising agency and we have various clients…some we work on their SEO and some we don’t.

One of our client’s websites [link removed] has their sister companies listed on the bottom of the site with links pointing to each. All the companies are related and interlinked in the same way. They were told by their “SEO” company that having the companies linked is not a good SEO move.

I would think that since these would be quality links that it is good practice to link them.

Can you please weigh in on this?

Thanks
Lena

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Hi Lena

Actually, I can see where their SEO’s concern lies. All of the sister sites are linked together in the footer, in a kind of feedback loop. This can be misinterpreted by Google to be a mini link farm of sorts.

Please read Google’s guidelines about links and you’ll understand what I mean. They particularly highlight this issue:

“Here are a few common examples of unnatural links that violate our guidelines… Widely distributed links in the footers of various sites…”

By all means link to the sister sites, but use the *rel: no-follow* tag on those links so that no link value is attributed to them. That should prevent Google from misinterpreting the link intention.

Hope this helps!

Kalena
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