This month’s report card website is Pawleyfarm.com, a small site that sells personalized country photographs and note cards. The home page says, “Just as a home-cooked meal nourishes body and soul, our custom matted and framed artwork carries along a bit of peace and contentment.” The down-home look and feel of the site is pleasant to the eye, but does it do well with the search engines? The site is simple and built on the Yahoo! ecommerce platform (not the best platform ever), but many basic SEO attributes are in place. Let’s take a look.
The home page has plenty of text, and while there are pleasant graphics, they are secondary to the textual content. While graphics are not necessarily an SEO problem, they need to be balanced with permanent, keyword-rich textual content as represented here. There is a sitemap linked to the home page, and alt tags are properly used. It may not be the slickest home page, but it is quite optimal for search engines.
Inbound Links and PageRank
Pawleyfarm.com needs to do a better job of building inbound links. This is reflected in the home page PageRank, which is only a two, while landing pages immediately dip to zero. Google shows only two inbound links while Yahoo! sees 128. Directory submissions are in order, along with a dedicated link-building campaign. Blog mentions in photography and art-related blogs might be a good way to go. A Flickr account could also be a good addition.
Google and Yahoo! index 33 and 34 pages, respectively. This is a small site, and indexation appears to be fairly complete. No issues of duplication appear.
Internal Hierarchical Linking Structure
Search engine spiders easily find their way throughout Pawleyfarm.com because text-based navigation is used throughout the site. A landing page exists for every category, which is always helpful from an SEO point of view as it allows for a place to describe the category in textual content and also allows for another level of interlinking to the pages within the category. More descriptive text, however, could appear on these landing pages. This is related to keyword choices, which are discussed later.
HTML Templates and Cascading Style Sheets
This is a very simple site, which from an SEO point of view, negates many potential roadblocks for search engine spiders. The HTML and CSS are straightforward and minimal.
Secondary Page Content
While the category pages are light on textual content, the product pages generally have a good amount of descriptive content. Often, it only takes a sentence or two to properly represent keywords, and this could be done throughout the site if keyword research was more thorough.
Pawleyfarm.com is in need of keyword research. This is primarily a photography art site. While keywords often present themselves naturally, much more can be done to hone the site for search engines. Existing category names, for example, are fun and have a farm theme, but they are not at all descriptive. Photographs need to be incorporated into the theme and category names. Category and product page text could be improved as well. Use of free keyword research tools could help to further focus on the photography theme, including Keyword Discovery’s free service.
While unique title tags appear throughout the website and have a general focus to page subject, they could be much more focused. Search engines read at least the first 65 characters of title tags and view them as a primary descriptive attribute. Pawleyfarm.com should use those 65 characters to reflect focused keywords.
While Pawleyfarm.com has URLs with keywords separated by dashes (ideal for search engine spiders to recognize keywords in the URLs), they again suffer from lack of keyword research. The URLs, like the category names, should be focused on the content of the site, and move away from the more general farm theme.
While the farm theme of the website is quite nice, and could most certainly lend itself to sales, a more focused keyword theme must emerge if search engine users interested in buying farm-oriented photographs are to find their way. Equally important, however, is getting links to the site. The PawleyFarm Seasons blog can be leveraged to get mentions and links from other blogs. Pawleyfarm.com should become an active part of the blogosphere and blog more about photography, not farming and family. With more inbound links and better keywords, this site could improve search traffic dramatically.
SEO Report Card
Home page B+
Inbound links F
Internal Linking Structure A
HTML Templates B
Secondary Page Content C+
Keyword Choices C-
Title Tags C
OVERALL GPA C+
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