It is time for another MIVA Merchant-powered ecommerce site to get picked apart. I will try to be gentle. This month’s “selectee” has the coolest name – Scrappopotamus. It is a pretty nice-looking website as far as ecommerce sites go, but with an Alexa rank of 1,338,118 (i.e., the 1,338,118th most popular site on the Internet), that design is wasted on a paltry few visitors. As you’ll soon see, there is much they can do to improve the site’s SEO.
Home page content
The category links in the left navigation only appear on internal pages, but not on the most important page of the site – the home page.Worse yet, these left nav links (as well as all the top nav links) are images, not text. That’s a shame since many of these contain important keywords, (e.g., beads, buttons, eyelets, rivets, zippers). If, however, the designer insists on keeping the glowing words mouseover effect, then CSS Image Replacement could be an alternative approach to try (for more on this, see my “Harness the Power of CSS” article in the August 2006 issue of Practical eCommerce magazine).
At first glance, the site has good indexation in Google with thousands of pages indexed. Indexation on Yahoo! is not nearly as good with 110 pages indexed. Some of those pages are at Scrappopotamus.com (without the www), so canonicalization issues have to be cleaned up.
They have a “Browse by Product Line” page, which is good, and that page includes text links to brands they sell, which is also good. Too bad they are not ranking well in Google for most of the brands they represent (e.g., Pixel Decor, Marah Johnson).
In fact, I am finding many of these brand pages are not even indexed in Google. That would explain the lack of rankings. Many of the product pages are not indexed either. I think this is a consequence of the spider-unfriendly URLs combined with the low PageRank score of four on the home page. Rewrite the URLs to eliminate the stop characters (?, =, &). Then embark on some serious link building. That might be accomplished by running a “world’s best scrapbook contest” and have a photo gallery of worthy submissions.
Many dozens of “MIVA merchant fatal error” pages are in Google’s index (www.google.com/search?q=intitle:%22fatal+error%22+site:scrappopotamus.com&filt er=0&num=100). Eliminate those from the indices by returning status code 404 in the HTTP headers on error pages.
Secondary page content
SEOChat.com’s PageRank search tool reveals that, other than the home page, the highest PageRank score that their internal pages have achieved is a two out of 10. PageRank is not being distributed well within the site, again probably due in part to the spiderunfriendly URLs.
All this brings me to believe that the estimated number of pages reported by Google is vastly overstated. On further inspection, I find that Google reports a mere 88 English pages (www.google.com/search?q=site:www.scrappopotamus.com&hl=en&lr=langen&fil ter=0&num=100)—using my super-secret trick which I shared in the October issue’s SEO Report Card.
The title tags are relatively keyword-rich and contain the product or category name. The word “scrappopotamus” is in the home page title three times and is included at least once in every other page’s title tag. I would drop “scrappopotamus” from all the titles. No one searches for that word.
The site doesn’t appear anywhere in the first 100 results in Google for “scrapbook” or “scrapbooking.” They are in the top 10 for “scrapbook eyelets,” but unfortunately that is a very unpopular term according to Google Suggest, Overture Keyword Selector and WordTracker. In fact,WordTracker shows no searches during the last 90 days. A much better keyword to target would be “scrapbook supplies,” which is 2,188 percent more popular than “scrapbook eyelets” according to the Overture tool.
SEO Report Card
Home Page Content: B-
Inbound Links and PageRank: C
Internal Hierarchical Linking Structure: C
HTML Templates and CSS: C-
Secondary Page Content: C
Product Page Content: A-
Keyword Choices: B-
Title Tags: C
OVERALL GPA: C-
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