Packaging becomes particularly important at this time of year when many of us are shipping gifts for the holidays. I’ve lived in several parts of the country and I don’t much do cards. I’m the type to either ship a gift package or send an email greeting. With that in mind, the website for this month’s “SEO Report Card” is Pkging.com, a site dedicated to selling all things related to packaging. From a SEO perspective, it doesn’t appear to be a bad site at first look, but one never knows for sure until you dig deep down in the proverbial box. Let’s take a gander.
Home Page Content
While there are improvements that could be made to heading tags (the first H1 tags are around a graphic, not text, which is a no-no), overall the content on the home page is quite good. Text surrounded by heading tags is given more weight by the search engines, and the H2 heading tags on the site include the term “Shipping and Packaging Supplies.” The home page also has a couple of paragraphs of focused textual content describing the site. Navigation is also textual. The main navigation is in the middle of the home page, which is unusual, but it is still “above the fold” of the page, meaning that it appears on most screens without having to toggle down.
Inbound Links and PageRank
Pkging.com has PageRank of 1 for the home page. This is very low, but the site appears to be relatively new. Still, inbound links to the site are an issue. Google shows 4 links and Yahoo! sees 83. Another big issue here may be dual, conflicting URLs. A website should have a single canonical URL, like www.pkging.com. This website has two unique domains: http://www.pkging.com and http://pkging.com are set up as separate entities. In this scenario, PageRank is often split between the two URLs. One of the two – most likely the non-www version – should be redirected on the server to the other using a 301 redirect.
Pages indexed by the three major search engines further point to issues with the dual domains. Google reports 168 pages for both the www site and the non-www site while MSN Live Search shows 132 for the www and 52 for the non-www site. Yahoo! sees 50 for the www site and 51 for the non-www site, which isn’t a huge discrepancy, but still isn’t a match. These numbers reinforce the need to create a single canonical domain for the website.
Internal Hierarchical Linking Structure
Internal linking is done via textual links, which is good, and often the anchor text for those links is reflective of keywords. The site also features an HTML sitemap, which gives search engine spiders another path through which to discover the site.
HTML Templates and CSS
HTML and CSS are acceptable on this site, but some of the keyword meta tags feature keyword stuffing. Because of past abuse, keywords no longer carry much weight with regards to the search engines, but they can still get you into trouble if you practice keyword stuffing. Ideally, there should be no more than four or five keywords for a page. As an example, the home page has, incredibly, over 50 keywords in the keyword tags.
Secondary Page Content
Secondary pages contain decent textual content, though category pages could use some permanent content as opposed to just the content that represents subcategories.
Keywords are descriptive and ample, but as mentioned, keyword tags tend to be stuffed throughout the site. A review and edit of all keyword tags should be implemented sooner rather than later.
Search engines see title tags as a primary descriptive attribute. The pkging.com title tags appear to be automated, which is fine, as they tend to be unique throughout the site. If manual editing is an option, improvements could be made on top-level pages to augment keyword themes.
While the URLs do not break any major SEO rules, they are also not optimized. Search engines do a better job now than ever in parsing through appended URLs, but they are not ideal. Keywords should be reflected in URLs. Often, the pkging.com URLs end up looking something like this, which isn’t pleasant for search spiders or humans: http://www.pkging.com/productdescription.aspx?catID=1002&range=1&IsSearch=0&desCr=Bulk+Cargo+Boxes&imgURL=images/subcat/1002.
While this site has some positive attributes, it also has some deep SEO pitfalls. Creating a single canonical URL should be first on the list of things to address, as it is a relatively easy fix for any webmaster or hosting company. Clean up those keyword meta tags, too. A link building campaign is in order, and additional textual content should be added to category pages. The improvement of URLs is most likely a large and expensive change that would require some sort of site redesign, but eventually should be done.
SEO Report Card
Home page: B
Inbound Links: D
Internal Linking Structure: C+
HTML Templates: C-
Secondary Page Content: C+
Keyword Choices: B-
Title Tags: C+
Final Grade: C-
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