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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Web Site Redesign Case Study

I'm currently working on a website redesign project for a palm tree grower in Queensland Australia. The main problem is the site just isn't getting any search engine traffic and has not been effective in generating business for the owner.

These are the issues I've identified:

SEO

Try this; go to Google and type site:www.simpalms.com.au/ into the search box. The results you see are the pages which Google have indexed and the information it has on those pages. What do you see?

Google have partially indexed the home page but gone no further. There is no description showing, only the url. Click on the link that says "Google's cache". What do you see here? Nothing! The cached page is blank.

Google knows the url of this page and that's pretty much it. This is all due to the way the site is constructed, and this is why the site is getting poor search engine results. Basically, Google knows nothing about the site other than it exists.

Keyword Research

First priority is to establish the keyword phrases we are going to target e.g. "palm tree sales queensland". Next we will build a list of keywords and put them in the page titles, headings, links and throughout the visible text. If you have a look at the keywords meta tag for this site you'll see the previous designer has listed a number of keywords hoping that this will be sufficient for the search engines to rank the site well on those keywords. That stopped working years ago. It's not enough to just put keywords in the keyword meta tag. You must use your keywords in the visible text throughout the site as well as in the links which point to your site.

Get rid of the splash page

Splash pages serve no purpose other than to add an extra step for the visitor to find the information they want. Why do that? If you have a look at this page you'll see it's basically one big image file. Search engines can't look at a picture and understand what a page is about. They can only read text, and there is no text on this page at all. The home page is vitally important both for search engines and visitors.

Another problem is if you view the page in Internet Explorer there is a "click here to enter" link. But, if you view it in FireFox the link is invisible. The visitor has to guess there is a link on the image. Also if you view the page full screen on a high res monitor the image is repeated which just looks messy.

Add content to the interior pages

Again, they are mainly just images. For example, on the Canary island page add information about the trees - the sort of things potential buyers will be interested in e.g. growing conditions, maintenance etc. This is good for visitors and search engines.

Set up a proper hosting account

The site appears to be hosted on BigPond (probably through free space provided with an Internet access account) and the domain name is forwarding to it. This is why the URL doesn't change when you click through the site. Yet another reason why the site isn't ranking well.

Hosting accounts aren't expensive these days and are essential for a business website. With a hosting account there is no need for crude "hit counters" which scream "home made". With a hosting account you will have comprehensive behind-the-scenes stats as well as many other benefits. Free web space is fine for personal or hobby pages, not for business.

Link Building

Basically there are no relevant inbound or outbound links. Link development is vitally important important for search engine rankings. There are a many ways to build links and this will be a priority once the site is redesigned.

Copywriting

We need to stress benefits. Why do people want to buy a palm tree? What's the benefit to THEM? Why should they buy a palm tree from this business and not someone else? As I said, we need to add more information to the interior pages. If someone searches for "Cuban Royal Palm", what are they looking for? Information. Get their attention by providing that information.

Design

I'm retaining the basic design elements but makining it cleaner with better navigation. Meanwhile the client is working on new content. Once finished I'll post here and you can compare before & after and follow changes in SE rankings.

Keywords:
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