Practical Ecommerce

SEO Report Card: a “Train Wreck”

This month’s “SEO Report Card” victim, er, volunteer,, is quite simply, an SEO train wreck. The mission of the online business (to provide eco-friendly products that reduce landfill waste) is laudable, but its execution is seriously flawed.

Putting aside the fact that our “Conversion Review” columnist would most likely have a field day with this site, I see that pretty much every area of search engine optimization is lacking. From its completely content-less home page, to near content-less secondary level pages, to keyword-stuffed meta tags and title tags, to rampant duplicated content and duplicated title tags, it isn’t hard to figure out why this site doesn’t rank. This is really basic blocking and tackling. Let’s take a closer look and see what needs shoring up.

Screencast SEO Analysis of Simple Family Living

Home Page

Starting with the home page, there are no category links — nor a single word of text — present on this all-important page. One level deeper in the site, in the “Products” section, is where you’ll find the categories. At least those category links are text, and that’s a relief. I’d really like to see that left-hand category on the products page moved up to the home page.

Category Pages

The category pages don’t fare much better. They are devoid of copy other than link text, which isn’t very effective at conveying a keyword theme on the page on which it is contained. At least the product pages offer the spiders some text (the product description). But there are no heading tags (such as H1 or H2) to be found. Heading tags are missing on both the category and product pages.

Google’s duplicate content filter is getting tripped by the rampant duplication. Some pages are exact duplicates of each other, such as and, which are both contained on the Laundry category page. Duplication exists within tags on pages, too. The same title tag and meta tags are employed across a number of pages, confusing Google into thinking those pages are probably duplicates of each other — even though many of them contain different page content.

Curiously, some contain no content at all (such as The spiders should not be allowed to access these, yet I did find them in Google’s index (they probably live in the Supplemental index).

SEO Report Card

Title Tags and Keyword Choices

The site may be tripping a spam penalty as well. For one thing, some of the title tags are keyword-stuffed, such as: “Simple Family Living natural, organic and fair trade items for infants, babies, children, women and men handmade and socially and environmentally responsible items” (23 words). Some of the meta keywords tags are stuffed with too many keywords as well. This is pointless, since meta keywords don’t help rankings. It would probably be best to just remove them all from the site altogether.

The meta description is a list of keywords instead of human-readable sentences or phrases. This looks spammy, and it’s a no-no in terms of click-through effectiveness from the search engine results pages, too.

Inbound Links and Page Rank

PageRank on the home page is a paltry 3 out of 10. This is quite low, considering that the PageRank scale is logarithmic. Yahoo! Site Explorer reports 1,781 inbound links to This may seem like a decent number, but many of these are sitewide links from the same site. (100 links from one site is worth considerably less than 100 links from 100 different sites.)

Heading over to the SEOmoz Linkscape tool, I discover how poor the domain diversity and anchor text diversity really is. Linkscape found only 21 domains linking to Of those 21, none incorporated important keywords in the anchor text (such as “green products,” “eco friendly products,” or “eco products”). Pretty much the only anchor text Linkscape found was the company name.

Given the eco-conscious nature of, it should be easy to garner links from similarly inclined bloggers. It’s nice that the,, and blogs are linked to; now it just needs 100 times more sites to do the same. Otherwise, Simple Family Living won’t stand a chance to rank for anything other than their company name and a few esoteric, non-competitive search terms.

SEO Report Card

Home Page Content F
Inbound Links and PageRank D+
Indexation C-
Internal Hierarchical Linking Structure D+
HTML Templates and CSS D+
Secondary Page Content F
Keyword Choices C+
Title Tags D


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Stephan Spencer

Stephan Spencer

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Comments ( 4 )

  1. Chris "Cartel" English June 23, 2009 Reply

    How long has this site been in business? If the site is just starting up, you can’t fault it for not having a lot of inbound links as this takes time to build. Heck, I know just how difficult getting those inbound links can be.

  2. Christopher Cuellar June 25, 2009 Reply

    Often times it is difficult to get links if you dont display your actual physical address that too is part of the problem. On a more positive note it might be better to explain how the seo can be improved from a more positive perspective. The article had the tone of berating the site for many mistakes, ok. But they are a Google Page Rank 3 and that is good place to start rebuilding from…

  3. Kerry Murdock June 25, 2009 Reply

    Thank you, PetsRight and Christopher Cuellar, for the comments.

    No one likes to be unfairly criticized, and certainly we don’t relish offering criticism. However, please remember that the sites we grade in Stephan’s "SEO Report Card" have specifically requested it. We would never grade a site that hasn’t. We do believe in being as honest with our readers, and the site owners, as possible.

    Thank you.

  4. Kristen June 25, 2009 Reply

    Hi Stephen,
    Regarding the importance of links being text rather than images…
    My designer and I are going back and forth on this one. Can you please settle this question? If the alt-tags on the images contain the same keywords as what the links would have if they were text, is this equivalent from an SEO perspective? Or is the value of the words as text really much greater than having images with alt-tags?