Entrepreneurship & Small Business

Website Critique and SEO Direction

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Jr. Member
Apr 12, 2004
100 posts
19 upvotes
Lasalle

Website Critique and SEO Direction

Hey RFDers, this post has been a long time coming. Every time I seem to get started I always end up on the “Hot Deals” forum buying something I wasn’t looking for! :D

Anyways, here goes…

[INDENT]Site A (old with good steady traffic): http://www.diamondadvisor.ca
Site B (new with little traffic): http://www.diamondanddiamonds.ca[/INDENT]

*To keep things simple I’ll just refer to the sites as A and B from this point forward.

I have some time to invest in my project site(s) and am looking for feedback:

[INDENT](1) Some direction in terms of SEO and multiple domains (Site A and B)
(2) Critique of my current site’s features and content (Site A). If I revamp the existing site getting feedback on what works and what does not is going to help shape what that overhaul will look like
[/INDENT]

A bit of background…
A few years back I wanted to learn Joomla so I started a website (site A). That website was about buying diamonds online and unfortunately really wasn’t updated often nor did it have great original content. In short, it was a rehash of the 4C’s of diamonds.

A few months ago, I had some luck with affiliate marketing and that inspired me to write better content to help drive new traffic. This new content was tailored around information that people would actually find useful (i.e. buying tips, reviews between diamond vendor 1 and vendor 2). The new content did help bring a lift in traffic and conversions, so I made the decision to further update the site. As I had been a newbie to Joomla when I started, the structure behind the site (Site A) wasn’t great (outdated version of Joomla, basic inflexible template, lots of code tweaking, poor CSS). I figured that starting from scratch (with a premium template) would be easier so I got a new keyword domain and worked with WordPress this time around (Site B).

On this new site (Site B) I started posting recommendations for diamonds and some questions I had been asked in the past. I was happy with the look and feel and direction of the new site but as I started to add more content, I realized I was duplicating effort by having two sites. And more importantly I was splitting my SEO juice. I’ve come to a crossroads where I need a bit of SEO input before deciding how to move forward.

SEO Questions:
  • I know that Google puts a fair amount of weight on the age of a domain. Should I keep Site A which is more established (Google may consider more “authoritative” because it is older), or keep Site B which has a target keyword (“diamond and diamonds”) in the domain name? According to Google keyword tool, the keyword has 2400 queries a month. That’s currently more than my traffic to Site A.
  • If I were to go with the latter and redirect all my traffic to the new domain (via 301 redirects) and inform Google the site has moved (via Google web master tools), would Google consider the new domain to have the same age as the old domain?
Site Critique Questions:
Please critique the site as you see fit. I listed some questions I had which feedback on would be invaluable. I also listed a few shortcomings I’m aware of and planning on addressing so as not to “beat a dead horse”.
  • What would you find helpful to see on the front page as a consumer in this niche?
  • The vendor reviews section never really took off. Any advice on trying to entice more people to submit their reviews or should I abandon this section and leave it to the big boys (iVouch)?
  • Is the left navigation a useful feature? I like having everything laid out but I can see this getting long as the content on the site grows.
  • As a site aimed at affiliate marketing, my goal is to get highly qualified “leads” to my site. I was thinking of running a contest to bring in traffic/leads. One contest prize would be for a random drawing and one for the person who refers the most traffic (using InviteBox tool). Any recommendations on how to best market this? marketing has traditionally been a weak point so I’m trying to avoid this being a contest with little reach.
Shortcomings to address:
  • Poor SEO artifacts (no real keyword targeting, duplicate titles and descriptions, etc)
  • Page style is a little inconsistent from page to page
  • Lack of real recommendations and/or money saving tips
Thanks and pardon the long post!

- Jason
17 replies
Sr. Member
Dec 27, 2010
720 posts
114 upvotes
Hello,
Wanted to just give you a few tips, its getting a bit late so I will make this short. Sorry I can't cover all the topics but hopefully other member can chip in.

The websites are good and they look appealing but its easy for anyone to install joomla or wordpress throw in a theme and some content and have a website because of that exact reason Google really searches for unique content and lots of it. Some people will say SEO is about getting as many backlinks as possible or to make sure that your website has a good keyword density but Google sees past all of that, they know when you are trying to fool them and they will rank you negatively. (Example) Their crawlers know that having the keyword "Diamond" 26 times in a paragraph is not natural and not normal so you get penalized. Several of these updates by Google have knocked out websites that have duplicate content as well as spammed backlinks from non-authoritative sources.

Content is king and that is the real secret to SEO, search engines were designed to deliver the most relevant data for a certain keyword and having as much related content is the best thing to do. Try to have about 1300 words of relevant data in each page (You don't necessarily need to have that on your main page) and change your titles as well, add a few extra keywords that you would like to have.

As for the question on which domain to keep and develop I would take your first domain diamondadvisor.ca. You mentioned that Google puts weight on the age and authority of the domain and that is correct and it is actually called Pagerank, Pagerank is measured from 0 to 10 and is the overall authority of a domain name. The pagerank for diamondadvisor.ca is a PR2 out of 10 while diamondanddiamonds.ca is a PR0. Here is a pagerank checker: http://www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php

If you already have Pagerank that will definitely help you out in your rankings as PR takes time to develop. With that PR if you optimized a few of your pages to carry content for the keyword diamond and diamonds you could probably get to the number one position pretty easily anyways.

Make sure you have the basics covered such as uploading a Sitemap, having H tags etc. I would also recommend you try this tool: http://www.woorank.com/ just enter in your website and its going to give you tips on things to improve on your website.

I hope this helps, if you need any more advice or have any questions just PM me!
Best regards,
-Matt
Hosterbox Web hosting - Free web hosting
Deal Addict
Jul 7, 2004
4196 posts
331 upvotes
Put it back on one domain. You've built a decent base, why not keep at it instead of starting from scratch.
Maybe if you had a decent EMD (exact match domain) like buydiamonds.com, they it might be an okay idea to start a new one, but even then I'd probably just 301 redirect the old site to the site instead of creating a whole new site.
Even EMDs don't have the value they did a year ago. We're in an age where Google wants the big authority sites to rule google. They want the big players up top. A site that's aged, with good content, and good links coming in is what they want. Your first site was on that path. Move the blog back to the 'blog' not he microsite link. What you are thinking about doing is something I've considered doing years ago that I now know is not a good idea. Plus over the last year with Google changes have more than confirmed that.

SEO is really not as big as it was a year ago either. Google is really trying to get away from it, and stuff like social media will eventually have a bigger role as well.
I like the layout, it's pretty clean and professional.
I dont like your logo hiding behind the twitter bird. Your whole site name should be visable. Not to mention that twitter bird is blocking the category below it.
I dont like your second logo an image. You can keep the hand written logo, but get away from it after that. It's difficult to read, and people don't want to be sitting there trying to figure out what it says. Plus it's nice to have an h1 tag there, though as I mentioned not as valuable as it once was.

Your page title could use a bit of work. Take out the descriptive crap, and remove "and more". I'm too tired to come up with anything better at the moment.

Lastly, go to "google keyword tool" and search for a bunch of diamond keywords. Use "exact search" on the left hand column. Create a list of related diamon terms that are relevant to you.
Whenver you write and article, try and include a number of these terms into your article. It'll help rank you for long tail keywords, ie "Advice on buying diamonds online", etc.

Keep doing what you are doing. Do the blog, but also add more main content if you can, 2-3 articles per month even.
And if you don't mind, PM me your traffic details. I might have some ideas on monetizing it better.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Nov 18, 2002
6500 posts
432 upvotes
Toronto
Some topics have already been covered. In terms of 301s, you will regain your rankings though it may take a little time. It's important to redirect not only the domain root i.e. olddomain.com 301 newdomain.com but also pages if you have it structured similarly so olddomain/old-page 301 newdomain/new-page. Remember that google also ranks your pages not just the domain. This should help speed things along for you but you're still looking at up to 6 weeks for the rankings to follow.

Once you have duplicated your content and setup the 301s on the page level it is highly advisable to destroy it on your old site and ensure google doesn't try to index it as duplicate content (you can block this easily via robots.txt, htaccess or even chmod your web root to make your pages non-readable to the public).

On a side note, your new site loads consistently slowly for me, maybe optimize it a bit. To be honest I prefer the layout of your old site to your new one. :) Sorry. I'll give you a more thorough critique once I have some time.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Apr 12, 2004
100 posts
19 upvotes
Lasalle
Hi Matt,

First off, thanks for taking the time to share you comments!

In the past, I did spend a lot of time "thinking" of how to get backlinks (via whitehat tactics only). The eventual outcome of all that thinking/procrastinating was exactly what you are recommending - I need MORE ORIGINAL CONTENT. That being said, this is definitely my no. 1 goal for the next few months, to beef up the content and let the backlinks come more or less organically (as Google would want them to).

I took a look at Woorank.com. WOW!!! I have my laundry list of things to do but this just blows it away and really helps put structure and priority to all the "to do's". Big thanks for this link!

Hosterbox wrote:
Dec 30th, 2012 1:19 am
Hello,
Wanted to just give you a few tips, its getting a bit late so I will make this short. Sorry I can't cover all the topics but hopefully other member can chip in.

The websites are good and they look appealing but its easy for anyone to install joomla or wordpress throw in a theme and some content and have a website because of that exact reason Google really searches for unique content and lots of it. Some people will say SEO is about getting as many backlinks as possible or to make sure that your website has a good keyword density but Google sees past all of that, they know when you are trying to fool them and they will rank you negatively. (Example) Their crawlers know that having the keyword "Diamond" 26 times in a paragraph is not natural and not normal so you get penalized. Several of these updates by Google have knocked out websites that have duplicate content as well as spammed backlinks from non-authoritative sources.

Content is king and that is the real secret to SEO, search engines were designed to deliver the most relevant data for a certain keyword and having as much related content is the best thing to do. Try to have about 1300 words of relevant data in each page (You don't necessarily need to have that on your main page) and change your titles as well, add a few extra keywords that you would like to have.

As for the question on which domain to keep and develop I would take your first domain diamondadvisor.ca. You mentioned that Google puts weight on the age and authority of the domain and that is correct and it is actually called Pagerank, Pagerank is measured from 0 to 10 and is the overall authority of a domain name. The pagerank for diamondadvisor.ca is a PR2 out of 10 while diamondanddiamonds.ca is a PR0. Here is a pagerank checker: http://www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php

If you already have Pagerank that will definitely help you out in your rankings as PR takes time to develop. With that PR if you optimized a few of your pages to carry content for the keyword diamond and diamonds you could probably get to the number one position pretty easily anyways.

Make sure you have the basics covered such as uploading a Sitemap, having H tags etc. I would also recommend you try this tool: http://www.woorank.com/ just enter in your website and its going to give you tips on things to improve on your website.

I hope this helps, if you need any more advice or have any questions just PM me!
Best regards,
-Matt
[OP]
Jr. Member
Apr 12, 2004
100 posts
19 upvotes
Lasalle
Thanks for the feedback Baz5,

The twitter bird was an example of something I tried to "tweak" which went awfully wrong (depending on your browser and screen size). I will definitely remove / relocate him when I clean up the site. I'll also incorporate your other feedback too. For the Google keyword tools, this is something I already use and have my target list. Unfortunately only my last 2 articles were really keyword targeted. I'll continue to do so for my new articles.

Will PM you with my traffic details. Thanks for offering!

Cheers,

Jason
baz5 wrote:
Dec 30th, 2012 4:05 am
Put it back on one domain. You've built a decent base, why not keep at it instead of starting from scratch.
Maybe if you had a decent EMD (exact match domain) like buydiamonds.com, they it might be an okay idea to start a new one, but even then I'd probably just 301 redirect the old site to the site instead of creating a whole new site.
Even EMDs don't have the value they did a year ago. We're in an age where Google wants the big authority sites to rule google. They want the big players up top. A site that's aged, with good content, and good links coming in is what they want. Your first site was on that path. Move the blog back to the 'blog' not he microsite link. What you are thinking about doing is something I've considered doing years ago that I now know is not a good idea. Plus over the last year with Google changes have more than confirmed that.

SEO is really not as big as it was a year ago either. Google is really trying to get away from it, and stuff like social media will eventually have a bigger role as well.
I like the layout, it's pretty clean and professional.
I dont like your logo hiding behind the twitter bird. Your whole site name should be visable. Not to mention that twitter bird is blocking the category below it.
I dont like your second logo an image. You can keep the hand written logo, but get away from it after that. It's difficult to read, and people don't want to be sitting there trying to figure out what it says. Plus it's nice to have an h1 tag there, though as I mentioned not as valuable as it once was.

Your page title could use a bit of work. Take out the descriptive crap, and remove "and more". I'm too tired to come up with anything better at the moment.

Lastly, go to "google keyword tool" and search for a bunch of diamond keywords. Use "exact search" on the left hand column. Create a list of related diamon terms that are relevant to you.
Whenver you write and article, try and include a number of these terms into your article. It'll help rank you for long tail keywords, ie "Advice on buying diamonds online", etc.

Keep doing what you are doing. Do the blog, but also add more main content if you can, 2-3 articles per month even.
And if you don't mind, PM me your traffic details. I might have some ideas on monetizing it better.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Apr 12, 2004
100 posts
19 upvotes
Lasalle
Thanks for confirming the site loads slow. I have caching setup in WordPress but for some reason it keeps garbage collecting every hour even though I haven't updated anything. I get the garbage collection notification emails about every hour or so. Thanks for brining it up. I'll look into it.

So, 3 for 3. Thanks for everyone's input on the SEO portion. I will keep the original site (SITE A) and tidy up the layout / content and add new original content.

Cheers,

Jason
ichpen wrote:
Dec 30th, 2012 9:55 am
Some topics have already been covered. In terms of 301s, you will regain your rankings though it may take a little time. It's important to redirect not only the domain root i.e. olddomain.com 301 newdomain.com but also pages if you have it structured similarly so olddomain/old-page 301 newdomain/new-page. Remember that google also ranks your pages not just the domain. This should help speed things along for you but you're still looking at up to 6 weeks for the rankings to follow.

Once you have duplicated your content and setup the 301s on the page level it is highly advisable to destroy it on your old site and ensure google doesn't try to index it as duplicate content (you can block this easily via robots.txt, htaccess or even chmod your web root to make your pages non-readable to the public).

On a side note, your new site loads consistently slowly for me, maybe optimize it a bit. To be honest I prefer the layout of your old site to your new one. :) Sorry. I'll give you a more thorough critique once I have some time.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Nov 18, 2002
6500 posts
432 upvotes
Toronto
Good choice on keeping Site A. In terms of caching you can try a few easy to implement tricks:

1. CDN for images and static assets. Signup for cloudflare.com, it's free
2. htaccess - put in some expires by directives to let the browsers cache static assets like your .css/js/images longer (though in theory your CDN will make this moot)
3. If you have a vps and root access I thoroughly recommend going all out and optimizing your box i.e. apc for php opcode caching, a reverse proxy cache like varnish or nginx (you can use this purely as a cache) etc etc. It will make everything lightning fast. There's a bunch of tweaks you can do before you even touch your webserver config.
4. Wordpress cache plugins though I'm hesitant to recommend any as I've never had good experiences with any of them

Use blitz.io and webpagetest.org to test how your site scales to traffic and how quick it loads worldwide. Both tools have their own use.

Having said that Site A seems to be loading ok for me now.
Member
Dec 3, 2010
301 posts
49 upvotes
Waterloo
Have you ever visited a website and get the spidey sense that it's a SEO spam site with no useful content? That's where your website falls. Your articles does not appear to have any useful content (even if you are actually trying to write useful content). The key to good content is to not do it for SEO. Do it for the genuine purpose of educating and informing your customers. Here's some tips for improving your articles

1. Focus on useful articles. Write articles with titles such as "How-to", "The reason", "Where to", "What you should", etc.
2. Put more pictures in your article - real pictures that you made or photographed. The key to good content is to supplement it with pictures so that it's not a wall of text. Real photos, instead of stock-photo looking ones, will make your article look better. Add captions and diagrams in your photos to make it more interesting.
3. Separate your content with headers. This makes your article easier to scan and these header tags (ex. <h2><h3><h4> etc.) will help improve your SEO.
4. Write like a human. People go through university writing technical and grammatically correct articles. Unfortunately, this makes it boring. Add personality to your articles and people will lose the sense that it's just a SEO spam site.
5. State a clear goal on the header of your homepage. Instead of saying "Ensuring blah blah blah" (sounds like the objective in a resume), write "Diamond buying tips", "How to buy diamonds", or other simple and direct phrases.
Sr. Member
Sep 19, 2007
633 posts
25 upvotes
Scarborough
I think the look of your second site is great and more up-to-date, while the first one definitely can tell it has more content but look may be improved.

I skimmed of the replies and in response to your thread, I have some tips:

1. Content is king like many people have mentioned here but no matter how many times I mention it, some people still believe tricks and tweaks here or there will be better. Yes they do work in some cases or have some effect, but are minute compared to creating actual content.

2. Use Google analytics and continually review and analyze user behaviour to know how to better tailor your site. You will learn 50%+ only visit the home page and leave. Make use of "above the fold" space and don't waste any of it. For example, the banner you have of the starfish and the ring looks nice, but is a waste of potential space to display something you want to pop out at someone that is visiting. You could add some text and have it link to another article.

3. Think of what is important from a third-user perspective rather than from the website owner perspective. For example, in the home page, you have Diamond Advisor in cursive and have a short blurb about diamonds. I would love to win diamonds but I have to read that paragraph before I realize I can, and a lot of people don't have the patience to read that paragraph.

4. Google a bit about off-page SEO. It is very useful.

5. There's a broken image above your nav and I think the logo leading to your Twitter page may not be the best for accessibility since I was expecting it to go to your home page. It seems to be the default for most sites today.

Good luck!
Freelance Web Developer - Over 4 years of experience in developing professional websites and SEO work =)
[OP]
Jr. Member
Apr 12, 2004
100 posts
19 upvotes
Lasalle
Thanks, just signed up for Cloudflare and reading through the feature list now ;)

Not sure if I have VPS and root access but will check and look into your recommendation.
ichpen wrote:
Dec 31st, 2012 10:03 am
Good choice on keeping Site A. In terms of caching you can try a few easy to implement tricks:

1. CDN for images and static assets. Signup for cloudflare.com, it's free
2. htaccess - put in some expires by directives to let the browsers cache static assets like your .css/js/images longer (though in theory your CDN will make this moot)
3. If you have a vps and root access I thoroughly recommend going all out and optimizing your box i.e. apc for php opcode caching, a reverse proxy cache like varnish or nginx (you can use this purely as a cache) etc etc. It will make everything lightning fast. There's a bunch of tweaks you can do before you even touch your webserver config.
4. Wordpress cache plugins though I'm hesitant to recommend any as I've never had good experiences with any of them

Use blitz.io and webpagetest.org to test how your site scales to traffic and how quick it loads worldwide. Both tools have their own use.

Having said that Site A seems to be loading ok for me now.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Apr 12, 2004
100 posts
19 upvotes
Lasalle
Thanks for the honest reply! I like the clear and simple recommended you posted. I'll work these in when I revamp the content/look.

In all honestly, I have to agree that most of my content (newer stuff excluded [hopefully]) is VERY SEO centric. I guess I drank too much of the SEO coolaid!

In regards to (4), when I had started the site I had envisioned writing it like a "bro helping bro" website. Something that would be comical yet informative. At some point, I decided against that approach went with "safe" and professional. In your opinion, what would be more engaging? The "bro helping bro" approach, or the clean and professional approach but with more personality?

YourBuddy wrote:
Jan 3rd, 2013 12:39 am
Have you ever visited a website and get the spidey sense that it's a SEO spam site with no useful content? That's where your website falls. Your articles does not appear to have any useful content (even if you are actually trying to write useful content). The key to good content is to not do it for SEO. Do it for the genuine purpose of educating and informing your customers. Here's some tips for improving your articles

1. Focus on useful articles. Write articles with titles such as "How-to", "The reason", "Where to", "What you should", etc.
2. Put more pictures in your article - real pictures that you made or photographed. The key to good content is to supplement it with pictures so that it's not a wall of text. Real photos, instead of stock-photo looking ones, will make your article look better. Add captions and diagrams in your photos to make it more interesting.
3. Separate your content with headers. This makes your article easier to scan and these header tags (ex. <h2><h3><h4> etc.) will help improve your SEO.
4. Write like a human. People go through university writing technical and grammatically correct articles. Unfortunately, this makes it boring. Add personality to your articles and people will lose the sense that it's just a SEO spam site.
5. State a clear goal on the header of your homepage. Instead of saying "Ensuring blah blah blah" (sounds like the objective in a resume), write "Diamond buying tips", "How to buy diamonds", or other simple and direct phrases.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Apr 12, 2004
100 posts
19 upvotes
Lasalle
Based on the feedback, I'm going to keep site A but redo the layout and look to be more like site B (i.e. cleaner).

About point 3, you bring up a good point. When I look at my analytics reports, I do see a lot of drop off very quickly after entering the page. I guess this explains it. Instead of long text, what would be more attractive? Poster like "click this, win that" short text in big block letters?

thanks!

Jason
crazlunatic wrote:
Jan 3rd, 2013 2:13 am
3. Think of what is important from a third-user perspective rather than from the website owner perspective. For example, in the home page, you have Diamond Advisor in cursive and have a short blurb about diamonds. I would love to win diamonds but I have to read that paragraph before I realize I can, and a lot of people don't have the patience to read that paragraph.
Newbie
Nov 15, 2009
41 posts
2 upvotes
Barrie
diamondanddiamonds.ca was very very slow for me, it maybe worth getting a better web host than hostgator. If your target audience is Canada I would advise going for a web host with servers located in Canada, the Canadian IP will help your search engine rankings.
Newbie
User avatar
Dec 12, 2012
71 posts
3 upvotes
BARRIE
zipcode wrote:
Jan 8th, 2013 6:17 pm
diamondanddiamonds.ca was very very slow for me, it maybe worth getting a better web host than hostgator. If your target audience is Canada I would advise going for a web host with servers located in Canada, the Canadian IP will help your search engine rankings.
Agree.
Stay with old domain(for traffic and pr reasons); look of new site is much better though.
Also agree with writing original content, and keep it to the point. SEO will come naturally if you state exactly what you need to say and don't write "for SEO" necessarily.
However like you said you're unsure of tone, so until you pick one direction and stick to it your site is going to look and feel "messy". I think either way could work for you, if you feel more comfortable with a "bro helping bro" approach i'd say stick with it....what you think you can do best will ultimately turn out the best. If you're going to struggle with "professional" content then maybe that's not the best route for you to go. Create your own niche!
(Obviously don't go to way overboard in the other direction, but you can still be professional and legitimate while being conversational. I.e. no "DIAMANDS BRAA GIT CHO GURL DIS WUN B****ES LOVE DIAMONDS")
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