Q and A: Why am I getting so few visitors to my site?

QuestionHi Kalena,

Help! I’ve had my Hightower pottery website for about 4 years. On a good day I may get 20 hits and that’s during the holidays. Normally I get between 0-10 hits a day. I have listed my site in probably a dozen directories over the years and submitted to the same number of search engines. What am I doing wrong? Is it a content issue?

Charles

Yes Charles, it is a content issue. More precisely, it’s a Yahoo SiteBuilder issue. Why the heck are you using a rubbish Yahoo Content Management System (CMS) to build your site?

Just like Homestead SiteBuilder, which I ranted about earlier this week, Yahoo SiteBuilder is yet another CMS that creates multiple headaches when trying to optimize your pages so they are found in search engines.

I’m not hugely familiar with the SiteBuilder interface, but here are just some of the problems I see:

  • The Title and META tags are identical on every page. I’m guessing this is a limitation of Yahoo SiteBuilder that you can’t change. This is limiting the ability of each of your site pages being found in search engines.
  • You’ve got a serious case of code bloat, thanks to excessive, code added to your HTML pages by the SiteBuilder program.
  • All of your image files and probably others are stored somewhere on the Yahoo site and referenced by your pages, instead of being stored on your own domain.
  • This isn’t anything to do with the CMS, but your home page doesn’t really have enough text on the page to satisfy search engines and your pages don’t appear to be optimized for target search keywords and phrases.
  • Another non-CMS issue, there don’t seem to be many internal or external links pointing to your site. You should probably try to gain some links from other web sites in your industry as theme-based links will help boost your position in Google. For example, I’m betting that within a month, you will be getting more traffic from this page than any other source. Such is the power of a well-placed link.

If you are serious about your business, you need to get serious about your site’s compatibility with search engines. You’d be better off paying a site designer to build you a REAL site that can be properly optimized. If you can’t afford a professional site design, consider installing the (free) WordPress blogging platform on your server and taking full control over your site that way. If you can’t afford a search engine optimizer, consider posting your requirements on our Search Engine College jobs board as there are a lot of SEO students just itching to sharpen their skills on a real site.

Take a month and teach yourself how to use WordPress if you have to – it’s pretty easy and search engines seem to love pages created with it (this site is built with WordPress). I’d also recommend taking the Search Engine Optimization Starter course at Search Engine College so you can better understand what makes a site rank well in search engines. It will be the best investment you’ll make all year and will help you get that gorgeous pottery in front of more eyeballs!

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Q and A: What files do I need access to when optimizing a site?

QuestionHi Kalena,

No question is a stupid question, right? So please don’t put me on the Dumbass of the Week!

I’m getting ready to optimize a website for someone. I know I would need their files for each page to add title tags and meta description tags, etc, but I don’t know what files I need to ask them for as they are completely unaware of how their website was created. If I wanted to add alt image tags and link title attributes and add keywords and more body text, then wouldn’t those be in separate files? I guess what I am asking, is when you work for a client, how do you get access to all of this stuff to change things? Wouldn’t I need ftp access to his host server too?

I have only worked with WordPress and of course it has its nice little interface where you can edit things right there. But when I go to my host server, I can’t even find the files myself if I wanted to change them there instead of in WordPress. I see my website files, but I guess just not the ones I am looking for to change all those things mentioned above.

So if this client doesn’t have any user friendly interface to work with, I would need to work strictly with the files off his hosting server, right? I just don’t know what to ask for. Please tell me how you handle this? Oh, and if it helps, here is the website: [URL removed]

Thanks again for you time!
Amanda

Hi Amanda

To optimize a web site successfully, you really need access to the site’s HTML code for each page. Sometimes you can grab this straight off their web server. For example, most home pages are stored as index.htm or index.php or index.xhtml or whatever other file extension based on the programming language that the site was built in.

But sometimes client sites are built using a CMS or Content Management System, meaning they login to a web page and edit their page content in a WYSIWYG page editor similar to how you edit a WordPress blog. This means they never access the actual HTML code. This is more tricky because CMS sites are notorious for being difficult to SEO as they don’t usually allow access to the raw HTML code or the ability to edit Title and META tags for each page.

But in some cases, the job is even more tricky. Some sites are free-hosted or piggy-backed onto other sites. And this is the case with the site you’ve sent me a link to. If you look at the source code for the page, there are 2 BIG problems:

1) It’s a frames-based site. This is ancient technology and neither humans or search engines like frames-sites, so they are very difficult to SEO.

2) All the content for the site is actually sitting on another URL and is just being pulled from this location to display on your client’s URL. This means that your client’s domain is virtually invisible to search engines and has no content to speak of. No wonder it’s not performing in search engines and they are seeking help! A search engine indexing that domain will simply find the link to the main site and all link popularity is attributed to that site rather than the sub-site which belongs to your client.

Here’s what I recommend you do: Encourage the client to ditch their piggy-backed site and create them a new site from scratch using WordPress or another WYSIWYG site builder you are comfortable with. I assume they own the domain you sent me? If so, I recommend you install WordPress on their server and build them a new site, optimizing it as you go. Provided you know how to optimize a WordPress site, you should help this client perform very well compared to where they sit now. There are a lot of resources for how to optimize a WordPress site (email me if you want a list) and you can install the SEO related plug-ins that allow you to optimize the Title and META tags for each post and page on the site.

Once you get the WordPress template installed you can easily grab the HTML files from the client’s server if you want to edit the code directly. But most of the optimizing on WordPress occurs in the post edit pages themselves.

Hope this helps!

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Q and A: Do I need to create an RSS feed from scratch?

QuestionHi Kalena

This is Tan from Malaysia, I refer to your article How To Get Your Web Site Content Syndicated and have some questions that need your guidance.

Re the following two paras that were extracted there from, I have written my questions below where I am in doubt:

1. Create a javascript version of the RSS feed to enable other webmasters to syndicate your content on their sites the Wytheville Community College News Center provides this service for free.
(I think the link is not working anymore, could you please provide another link for this?)

2. To keep your feed fresh, try to keep your channel items to a maximum of five, deleting older items from your feed as you update it. The dates next to your news items will adjust depending on when content aggregators pick them up. (If we were to delete the old items, how and where else could we make it available for others to see the old items via the RSS Feed?)

Thanks and please guide me

Best wishes,
Tan

Dear Tan

That article was written many years ago and is now out of date. Instant RSS Feeds are now freely available via blog software and it’s much easier to install this than manually creating a feed from scratch as outlined in the article. Simply use a service such as WordPress or Blogger. They have lots of tutorials to help get you started.

You might also find these Blogging and RSS articles useful. Good luck!

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Welcome to my new home

As you can see, I’ve moved the blog to a new WordPress template and it’s own domain. What do you think?

I bought both askkalena.com and ask-kalena.com and even though the first one is the most obvious, I decided to use the latter as it’s easier to read as a URL. I made sure to park the other domain to this one so I get the traffic from people typing in the more obvious URL. I spent a long time searching the WordPress cellars for a template I liked and then I had to bribe the author to turn it from a 2 column into a 3 column, but I’m really happy with the result.

I thought it was going to be a nightmare moving from Blogger FTP hosted to WordPress but it turned out pretty simple in the end because I decided to keep my archives in place at the old domain and merely redirect the main blog page. If you ever want to scan the archives of the old blog, you’ll find links to them on the bottom left of the nav menu. Archives prior to January 07 are available from any of the old archive pages.

So I’ve been absolutely blown away by how feature-rich WordPress is and by all the incredible plug-ins designed for WP by clever developers. I can’t believe I waited this long before migrating from Blogger to WordPress.

I’d love to hear your feedback on the new blog design, so please leave your comments. If you’re new here, please subscribe using my shiny new red RSS button on the left. Make yourselves at home!

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