Critique Part Three: Search Engine Optimization

The Problem: Long, complex URLs create search engine indexing issues.

The Fix: Rewrite the URLs to eliminate “stop characters” from the URLs. You might wonder, “why bother?” when the dynamic pages are clearly getting indexed. Even so, studies undertaken by my company, Netconcepts, show that sites with dynamic URLs suffer greater PageRank leakage. Since the site is running IIS Server, I’d recommend using the ISAPI_Rewrite plugin. The goal is to change a URL like: to something like:

Here’s the directive for httpd.ini to do this magic: [ISAPI_Rewrite] RewriteRule ^/category/([0-9]+).htm$ /index.asp?PageAction=VIEWCATS&Category=$1 [L]

Replace links to the old-style category URLs with the new style. Repeat this approach for the product and manufacturer-page URLs.

The Problem: Search engine spiders can’t operate pull-down menus. The Fix: Change “search by brand” from a pull-down list (search engine spiders can’t fill in forms) to a list of text links. Since Daddies Board Shop carries too many brands to set up text links for all of them, only the top 20 should be linked. Then make a “brands” page with links to the full list of brands and include a link to that page.

The Problem: Duplicate pages create multiple problems.

The Fix: To reduce the amount of duplicate pages currently in Google’s index, change the link URL for the logo on the top of the pages from /index.asp to /, and 301 redirect all pages under and to the corresponding page on

The Problem: The blog needs a new location.
The Fix: Move the DBS Blog off to a domain the business controls (e.g., or This will link the SEO-rich blog content to Daddies Board Shop’s website.

The Problem: A lack of links.
The Fix: Build links and PageRank through “link bait” campaigns that will draw attention and links. For instance, invite video submissions of tricks/stunts, then award winning entrants a “Daddies Black Belt” web badge they can proudly display on personal blogs or sites, linking back to Daddies’ review of their stunts.

The Critique Project

Melanie Loveland and her son Dan built a business together around a mutual passion — snowboarding. What started as a small, brick-and-mortar store in Portland, Ore., has evolved into a full-fledged multichannel merchant. It was a process the owners didn’t foresee when the business started in 1995.

Their business has seen dynamic change in the seven years since it launched a website. Daddies Board Shop now generates 80 percent of its sales through online channels and only 20 percent at the Portland store.

In February, when Practical eCommerce offered a once-in-a-lifetime complimentary website critique to one lucky recipient, Dan (along with many other website owners) petitioned for the critique — and his site was selected.

As part of the critique, five firms took an intensive look at to analyze its problems, the opportunities for search engine optimization, its general Internet presence, site search, pay-per-click advertising and customer experience/usability. The firms were:

  • Search Engine Optimization: Netconcepts, Stephan Spencer, President.
  • General Internet Presence: Red Door Interactive, Reid Carr, President.
  • Site Search: SLI Systems, Shaun Ryan, CEO.
  • Pay-per-click Advertising: Key Relevance, Christine Churchill, President.
  • Customer Experience/Usability: Optimal Usability, Richard Kerr, Usability Consultant.
Stephan Spencer
Stephan Spencer
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