I like parties, and Social Couture is a high-end party supply website. On its corresponding MySpace site (always a good thing to have, but especially important if your gig is party supplies) Social Couture says, “whether your style is traditional or modern or whether your guests are young or old, our products and services will simplify the way you entertain.” Unfortunately, a descriptive statement like that doesn’t appear on the SocialCouture.com homepage or on any sort of high-level “about us” page. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The site is good-looking with nice graphics throughout. So let’s take it one step at a time and see what’s really under the tablecloth for this installment of “SEO Report Card.”
Home Page Content
As mentioned, the home page lacks quality textual content. In fact, other than the navigation, no text appears anywhere on the home page. The image swapping is nice to look at, but the images contain all of the textual content, which search engines can’t read. While the website’s categories are linked textually, allowing for search engine spiders to follow them into the site, a sitemap link in the footer would give search engines another path into the site. A sitemap can also be a great usability attribute for customers.
Inbound Links and PageRank
PageRank for the home page of the site is 4, which is quite respectable. However, most of the category pages, and everything below them have no PageRank at all. Google sees 114 links from external sites. Yahoo! sees 3,589 links, which is a good number for a website of this size. Deeper links into the site are needed.
Numbers from the three major search engines are varied, which indicates some indexing issues. Google reports 562 pages while Yahoo! sees 722 pages. MSN Live Search shows 2,900 pages, which is quite a difference. The site owners should take into consideration the actual number of pages on the site and determine whether there is duplicate content being picked up by MSN Live Search, or Google and Yahoo! are failing to index much of the website. It would seem likely that it is one of the two.
Internal Hierarchical Linking Structure
The text-based navigation in place for Socialcouture.com is acceptable, and that text would appear to be reflective of keywords. Breadcrumb navigation is in place throughout the site, which is a positive SEO attribute.
HTML Templates and CSS
There are a lot of issues here at the home page and category page levels. These pages are lacking in textual content and heading tags, making it difficult – if not impossible – to reflect keywords in any meaningful manner. Add at least a couple of sentences of text and a keyword-rich “H1” tag to the home page and all category pages.
Secondary Page Content
The Socialcoutrue.com product pages contain a fair amount of textual content. The textual content of these pages should be emulated at the home page and category page levels.
The category names often reflect keywords, like “Vintage Baby Shower.” On the other hand, some category names do not, like “Little Bo Peep.” It is not likely that a search engine user searching for the term “little bo peep” is looking for baby shower supplies. The focus for category names should be as specific as possible without becoming cumbersome. Keywords at the product level – the only level with any real textual content – are acceptable. As always, use of free keyword research tools could help to further hone these themes, including Keyword Discovery’s free service.
Unique title tags are important ways to establish the keyword focus of a given page. In terms of SEO, they are extremely important because search engines place a large amount of focus on what appears in them. Social Couture needs to add unique title tags throughout the website.
A typical Socialcouture.com URL looks like this: http://www.socialcouture.com/store_theme.fsp?catid=128393. From an SEO point of view, this URL (for the Valentine’s Day category page) offers very little value. A SEO-friendly URL has keywords built into it and, for Socialcouture.com, might look something like: http://www.socialcouture.com/store/valentines-day-party-supplies.
Unfortunately, the Social Couture website has a lot of SEO issues, both structurally and in terms of content. If this were a client of mine, I’d be forced to recommend a complete redesign on a search-friendly ecommerce platform like Magento or even Yahoo! Stores. Having said that, the Social Couture people do have some good social media sensibilities. They have an active MySpace profile and they post to a dedicated blog regularly. For that reason, I’m going to curve their overall grade by adding a B for social media efforts.
SEO Report Card
Home page D-
Inbound links C+
Internal Linking Structure C
HTML Templates F
Secondary Page Content B
Keyword Choices C-
Title Tags F
(Social Media Efforts) B
OVERALL GPA D+
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