Practical Ecommerce

SEO Report Card: Oreweb.ca

ORE stands for Office Resources and Equipment, and not surprisingly the website sells business office equipment. What is surprising about this Canadian company is the way its website is designed. It’s an interesting blueprint that uses JavaScript and frames to load pages into a single URL. At the same time, if JavaScript isn’t active (as would be the case with search engine spiders) the site is crawlable via unique URL addresses. Would this be considered cloaking (which is a technique where the web pages presented to search engine spiders are different from that presented to a human user’s browses) by Google, Yahoo! and MSN Live Search? Its clever coding creates a borderline situation, and we’ll investigate that while we look at other site parameters as well.

SEO report card for Oreweb.ca

Home Page Content

The content on ORE’s home page is quite good. At the top of the page there is a description of ORE and what it sells. The section is peppered with decent keywords as well as a call-to-action, which, from an SEO point of view, promotes click-through. The home page also uses heading tags, which augments words contained within them; search engines give extra weight to those words. Images representing categories and products have alt tags that accurately describe them. A link to an internal sitemap would be a good addition, however, especially since there are issues with the main navigation. As a note, I refer to the sitemap as “internal” to separate it from XML sitemaps, which are a wholly different technology. Linked to the home page(and other pages) an internal sitemap, with links to all major pages within the site, will give search engine spiders a defined path to those important pages.

Linked to the home page (and other pages) it gives search engine spiders a defined path to all major pages in the site.

Inbound Links and PageRank

PageRank for the site is 3, which is rather low. Inbound links create PageRank, and Google sees only 5 inbound links. Yahoo! shows 3,295 inbound links, from external sites, which is quite good, but a quick spot check of these links showed many to be from sites with low PageRank, and from some directories that Google may see as link farms, especially since the recent update in that regard — Google recently mandated an update, tightening its parameters in concerning the purchasing of links. More, high-quality directory submissions like DMOZ — the open directory — are in order. Also, adding a company blog is a good way to garner more inbound links.

Indexation

This is where things get interesting. Depending upon whether or not a visitor to the website has JavaScript, the website offers up two different versions of the site. These days, the vast majority of user browsers feature JavaScript support. On the other hand, search engine spiders do not have or use JavaScript — they ignore all of it. Thus, the search engine spiders get one version of the site while JavaScript users (i.e. most users) get another. With JavaScript, the site loads into frames in a single web page with a single URL. Without JavaScript, the site loads page-by-page using unique URLs. So, the site does get properly indexed, but this could be interpreted by search engines as being a form of cloaking. The content ends up being the same, which is good, but nonetheless the dual versions of the site could raise a flag. We’ll examine this further as it applies. However, keep in mind it is not the JavaScript that is a problem at all. Rather, the cloaking comes into play when the use of JavaScript, or any other technique, causes one version of a site to be viewed by the average browser while a different site version is offered up to the search engine spiders. As an example, simply view the site with JavaScript on (standard for most browsers) and then turn the JavaScript off in the browser and view the website again, noting the page structure and the URLs the browser receives.

Do this in IE: Tools Internet Options Security Custom level. Scroll down to scripting and choose to either disable or prompt.

In Firefox: Tools Options Content tab. Turn off the JavaScript option.

Internal Hierarchical Linking Structure

ORE uses a JavaScript-based navigation. When JavaScript isn’t present — as is the case with search engine spiders — the main navigation is not available. Search engine spiders don’t purposely have the capacity to read or interpret JavaScript, so anything contained in JavaScript is ignored by search engine spiders. Furthermore, no internal site map is available. This is detrimental to getting search engine spiders all the way through the site. It also hurts the flow of PageRank from the home page to the rest of the site. A non-JavaScript navigation is recommended along with a sitemap linked to the home page.

HTML Templates and CSS

This site features H1 and H2 heading tags in its HTML template, which is good. The templates are very JavaScript heavy, however, and more use of off-page JavaScript (stand-alone .js files referenced by each page) would help to relieve the clutter in the template. The use of CSS technology for the main navigation is recommended, making it crawlable by search engines where the JavaScript-based version is not. Again, the use of frames to load pages into a single index URL is not optimal for many reasons, including its role in the cloaking aspect of the site, but also the ability for customers to link to specific pages for specific items.

Secondary Page Content

Besides the fact that secondary pages load into frames on one primary page, the content is actually quite good. Descriptive content surrounds images, heading tags are used, and focused keywords are generally in place.

Keyword Choices

Keywords are nicely descriptive of products, and product names are used on each page. ORE might look into some keyword research for alternative keywords that might be popular search phrases and that apply to its products.

Title Tags

While unique title tags do not appear to JavaScript-enabled users because all secondary pages are loaded into frames on a main index page, the tags do appear to search engine spiders. Once more, from the search engine perspective, this toes the line of cloaking and puts ORE in dangerous territory. The title tags that the search engines see, however, are basic but acceptable; they feature the name and model number of products, but they lack further descriptive keywords and any reference to ORE. Title tags are an extremely important SEO parameter as search engines place a large amount of focus on what appears in them.

URLs

Like title tags, URLs should be keyword–rich and descriptive. When JavaScript is not present and the URLs appear, they are quite good. They use keywords separated by underscores (dashes would be better because most major search engines read them as spaces while not all search engines recognize underscores as spaces) and organize the URLs logically by including category and subcategory titles in the URLs.

ORE is a very interesting site from an SEO perspective. While it is evident that the website is using JavaScript for display and tracking reasons and not deceptive purposes, the fact that a different site is offered up to users than is offered up to search engines is serious. It begs for a Google review. Why take the risk of getting flagged and penalized when there are so many other effective ways to get the same job done? As for the final grade, I’d like give a “C for Cloaking,” but unfortunately I must go D for “Don’t do it!”

SEO Report Card

Oreweb.ca

Home Page: B

Inbound Links: C-

Indexation: C

Internal Linking Structure: F

HTML Templates: D

Secondary Page Content: B

Keyword Choices: C

Title Tags: C-

URLs: C-

OVERALL GPA: D

Want your site graded? Email seo.report@practicalecommerce.com.

Jeff Muendel

Jeff Muendel

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  1. infoore August 13, 2008 Reply

    Hello;

    Thank you kindly for the review, you have given us much to think about…

    I do want to point out one issue which you mentioned in the review…Site Map…

    The Site map is actually at the top of the page…if you click on the words "ORE-Office Resources and Equipment" at the very left top of the site, the site map will display.

    The other issue is our website is OREweb.ca – NOT Oreweb.com as you have titled the article.

    You also have the words: Office Resources and Equipment – which is linked to the incorrect Oreweb.com website, rather than OUR site OREweb.ca – NOT the same company.

    Thanks again – we do appreciate the review and suggestions!

    Kind regards; OREweb.ca

  2. infoore August 13, 2008 Reply

    Thank you for updating the link. The title is still incorrect :-)
    "SEO Report Card: Oreweb.com" – Should be OREweb.ca
    Cheers;
    OREweb.ca

  3. Brendan Gibbons August 13, 2008 Reply

    While we at Practical eCommerce do publish company titles as the company spells it, we spell all URLs with the first letter capitalized and the rest lowercase as a matter of style and consistency.