SEO When a Redesign Stands in Your Way

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “SEO: Working Around a Redesign.”

When a redesign or platform change looms in your site’s future, it’s easy to turn off all search-engine-optimization work and focus on planning the new site. After all, why bother making changes that will just be overwritten when you launch the new site? Focusing on a few key areas will enable you to continue improving SEO without fear of wasted work when the new site goes live.

  • Focus on Stable Areas
  • Target Title Tags
  • Build Links and Shares
  • Build Relationships

A redesign doesn’t have to halt your SEO efforts. Look at the areas of the site that aren’t impacted by the redesign. If there aren’t any areas unaffected, focus on title tags and link or relationship building until the way opens for SEO work again.

Read the article in full at Practical eCommerce »

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

SEO Report Card: MotoGP Store, Part 1

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “SEO Report Card: MotoGP Store, Part 1.”

MotoGP Store HomepageEvery now and then an ecommerce site raises its hand for an “SEO Report Card” at Practical eCommerce. It’s a great way for the site to get some free advice and a good link, and an interesting way to give Practical eCommerce readers some, well, practical tips on how we’d handle SEO challenges with real ecommerce sites. Today’s volunteer is the MotoGP Store, the online merchandising arm of the official site for Grand Prix motorcycle racing. The store serves four countries in four currencies and sells MotoGP branded gear as well as fan gear for popular racers and teams.

Home Page Content

Like many ecommerce sites, MotoGP’s home page is jam-packed with images, branding, and featured content at the expense of actual HTML text on the page. When the images are disabled, the remaining text is entirely comprised of navigational links and alternative attributes for images. Neither can hold a candle to an actual piece of permanent body copy for anchoring a keyword theme and enabling a page to rank consistently. Even a short bit of text with 2 to 3 sentences focused on the primary keywords for the page will do the trick. The H1 heading for the home page is “MotoGP Official Store,” placed on the page using CSS image replacement to include both the logo and the HTML text on the page. This practice is above board as long as the words used mirror the words in the image.

Read the article in full at Practical eCommerce for insights into page templates, navigation, landing pages and conversion, keyword research and title tags. This is just part 1 of the report card, so stay tuned!

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Amplifying SEO Keyword Signals

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “SEO: How to Amplify Keyword Signals.”

Search engine optimization is all about “signal” and “amplification.” The signal is simply using relevant keywords. Amplification is about how to use those keywords and encourage linking and sharing. Think of the keywords as the voice of a site and the amplification as a megaphone. The site shouting the loudest and most relevant signals at the search engines will win better rankings for a search and potentially win new customers as well.

Keyword research is critical, but keywords are useless until they are used in some way on a website. How those keywords are used to optimize the content makes the keywords either whisper or shout to search engines.

Content Optimization: Unmuting the Keywords

To give keywords a voice, simply place them on a website. Cramming all the keywords onto a single glossary page will make each keyword whisper so softly as to be inaudible to search engines. But placing a single keyword at the beginning of the title tag for the page for which it’s most relevant turns the signal for that page up to polite dinner conversation level.

Read the article in full at Practical eCommerce »

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Is It Duplicate Content or Just Undifferentiated?

More on one of my favorite topics: duplicate content. Finding it, finding its source, fixing it — it’s like a big geeky puzzle.

Excerpts from my latest article at Resource Interactive’s weThink blog: “Duplicate Content: Destroy or Differentiate.”

Duplicate content is an often misunderstood part of search engine optimization. Most digital marketers know it’s bad, but why? Duplicate content (two or more pages with different URLs that display the same content) makes it harder for a site to rank and drive traffic and conversions.


If 20 URLs each display the same page of content for red shoes, then all the links pointing to that page across a site are split across 20 different URLs. The page would have much more ranking power if all those links were pointing to a single URL. And that’s just internal links; consider the impact of splitting more valuable links from other sites across multiple URLs for the same page. Then add on the Facebook Likes, tweets, +1s, blog links and other actions that signal popularity to search engines, all split across 20 different URLs for that single page of content. In addition, duplicate content burns crawl equity, slowing a search engine’s progress as it crawls through a site to discover fresh new content.

But sometimes, content only looks like it’s duplicate. This is a common issue with ecommerce platforms that offer filtering options for better usability. The filters tend to create new slices of category content that look the same to search engines as the original default category page. For example, a category page of red shoes might have a filter for shoe style that includes tennis shoes, slip-on shoes, flats, high heels, etc. These are valuable pages to shoppers and searchers alike. But search engines can only determine the differences between each of the filters if the page sends differentiating signals in its title tag, headings and other textual content on the page.

Read more to find out how to tell if content is duplicate of merely needs differentiating: “Duplicate Content: Destroy or Differentiate.”

Read the article in full at Resource Interactive’s weThink blog »

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

From Keywords to Content: How to Optimize for SEO

My latest article at Practical Ecommerce, read it in full here.

I discussed keyword research and keyword mapping in detail in the previous two articles in this series on content optimization. But keyword research is like any form of data collection and analysis: It won’t drive a single additional organic search visit or sale until it’s acted upon. With their keyword maps firmly in hand, content creators and search marketers can effectively and efficiently create or optimize content that turns those potentially valuable keywords into real search-engine-optimization traffic.

It’s obvious when content is written for search engines instead of customers. It tends to focus on high keyword density — having a higher ratio of keywords to other words — and tends to lack readability and interest. Instead of this, inform writers of the keyword theme for the page and let them write freely and creatively with the keywords and the brand messaging in mind. When they’re finished writing, go back over the fresh copy with an eye to replacing some phrases with keyword phrases. Be careful not to kill the spirit of the content in the process.

Where keywords are placed can have a big impact on how strong a keyword relevance signal they send to the search engines. This is referred to as “keyword prominence.” If a page is meant to rank for “online games for girls” but the keywords related to that phrase aren’t used on the page in prominent places, it will have a difficult time ranking. So before we start flinging words around the page, keep these content optimization guidelines in mind.

Read more of this article on Content Optimization»

The Complete Series: “Optimizing a Page for Search Engines”

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.