Practical Ecommerce

SEO Report Card:

This month’s report card website is, 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.

SEO report card for

Inbound Links and PageRank 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 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.

Keyword Choices 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.

Title Tags

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. should use those 65 characters to reflect focused keywords.


While 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. 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
Indexation A
Internal Linking Structure A
HTML Templates B
Secondary Page Content C+
Keyword Choices C-
Title Tags C


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Jeff Muendel

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Comments ( 9 )

  1. Legacy User May 13, 2008 Reply

    I love it how you write off the entire Yahoo Store platform as a side note.

    I guess you aren't aware that Yahoo Store has the more merchants in the Internet Retailer Top 100 in the hosted service category than any other company.

    That speaks for itself.

    I run a $5 million a year business using Yahoo Store that gets more than 90 percent of its traffic from organic search and has a PPC budget of $1,000 or less each month.

    Yahoo Store itself is an extremely search engine friendly platform, provided that you know what to do.

    Your SEO suggestions were indeed relevant and accurate though, I'll freely admit. But writing off the Yahoo Store platform is a big mistake, if you want a successful ecommerce site.

    — *LH*

  2. Legacy User May 13, 2008 Reply

    Jeff, Many thanks for an informative post.

    My questions is related to Yahoo Stores: What platforms do you suggest as top platforms from an SEO perspective?


    — *Rick Kiley –*

  3. Legacy User May 13, 2008 Reply

    Hi LH,

    Thanks for your interest and comments. For the record, I didn't write off the Yahoo Store platform, but rather said that in the context of search engines and optimizing for them it's "not the best platform ever." It sounds like you're having great success with the platform, and if your numbers are accurate, it's a great testimony to Yahoo Store. I encourage you to share your success with the fine people at Yahoo, who I'm sure would be interested in hearing your positive story.

    But, having said that, I do think more search-friendly platforms and content management systems exist, especially for smaller and less SEO-savvy businesses like – Drupal, WordPress, Gravitymarket – there are lots of platforms that support e-commerce and lend themselves to SEO in ways that Yahoo Store currently cannot.

    — *Jeff Muendel*

  4. Legacy User May 13, 2008 Reply

    You made the comment in the first paragraph about the ecommerce platform used in this site.
    “The site is simple and built on the Yahoo! ecommerce platform (not the best platform ever)”
    What is a good ecommerce platform?
    I started with Sam’s Club site ( about three years ago with very limited sales. Nowhere near enough to cover the cost of the site. We where told numerous times that it wasn’t a good platform for search engine. Then a year ago we added a second site ( using Yahoo ecommerce platform. So far we have had one sale.
    What are we doing wrong?
    For the thousands and thousands of dollars and hundreds and hundreds of man hours we have dump into our sites with not enough return to pay the monthly fee. Why would any one ever consider a ecommerce site. Does anybody really make any money with a ecommerce site or is it all marketing hype by companies that want to sell you web development services?
    Please take our site and put it to the test. We need all the help we can get.
    Keith Kelley
    Radiant and More

    — *Keith Kelley*

  5. Legacy User May 13, 2008 Reply

    Jeff, This is a follow-up to an earlier question regarding your references to Drupal, WordPress and Gravitymarket. If one were to choose one of those platforms, are there shopping cart/e-commerce modules you'd suggest using with them?

    — *Rick Kiley –*

  6. Legacy User May 14, 2008 Reply

    E-commerce stores do make money, but not everyone who sells you development really understand how they need to work. There are many factors that attribute to sales and having site with a few seo tweaks really won't do the trick. It doesn't matter so much on the platform you build it on (relatively speaking), what matters is the person who builds it. They need to focus on seo, usability, standard compliant html, accessibility, marketing, advertising and knowing your target audience. There is quite a lot of expertise needed to properly execute a site, but in the end the product you sell also determines success. I'm not trying to sell you, but below are two store I've recently created.



    — *Brady*

  7. Legacy User May 16, 2008 Reply

    It’s great to see so much interest in the subject of search-friendly e-commerce platforms. I have to admit I'm a bit biased on the subject because my company, Netconcepts, has a great SEO-centric e-commerce platform called GravityMarket. If you're looking for a free platform, OSCommerce – WHEN CONFIGURED CORRECTLY – can be reasonably search-friendly. It'll be a far cry from search-optimal, however. There's a big difference between search-friendly and search optimal. My boss Stephan Spencer wrote about this recently: In the end, though, you get what you pay for…

    — *Jeff Muendel*

  8. Roshambo July 23, 2008 Reply


    I would love to hear what you think about Infopia’s "seo-ability". We are consdering using there platform to manage various channels we operate in but have some concerns about the structure of their site and have heard bad things about the SEO ability of their solution. is a representative site.

    Thanks ….Roland

  9. Jeff Muendel July 24, 2008 Reply

    Roland –

    I am not familiar with the intricacies of Infopia’s platform, though a very quick look at the website you mention – – doesn’t strike me as particularly optimized, and Infopia doesn’t position itself as SEO-friendly like, say, GravityMarket does. It is probably a matter of how much you put into it. If you use Infopia out-of-the-box, I don’t think you’d have a leg up on anyone in regards to SEO.