In many ways this site was a breath of fresh air. From an SEO standpoint, Kayak Fishing Stuff is doing a number of things right, and it shows in their No. 1 rankings in Google for “kayak fishing,” “fishing kayak” and “fishing kayaks.” Of course, there is still room for improvement, but it is more a case of finessing and fine-tuning than throwing away the whole site and starting again. This is another MIVA Merchant-powered ecommerce site. Let’s have a closer look.
Discussion forums are great
One of the first things that struck me was its integration of discussion forums into the ecommerce site, even to the point of highlighting recent posts on the home page. That’s fantastic. I’m a huge proponent of forums; it’s search engine fodder that’s already written in your customers’ language (since your customers wrote it). Unfortunately, the forums are located on a different domain name (infopop.cc), which is less than ideal. Instead I would like to see the forum content folded into www.kayakfishingstuff.com to further boost its main domain’s indexation and link popularity numbers.
The discussion forum pages need optimizing. The title tags do incorporate the name of the posts, but they also incorporate superfluous words that offer no SEO benefit. Specifically, the words “topic powered by eve community” are appended to the title tag of every forum post. The forum pages have breadcrumb navigation, which is great, but the breadcrumbs don’t incorporate any links to pages on www.kayakfishingstuff.com (only to Infopop.cc). No H1 tags are used in the forums. I’d suggest placing the name of the forum post in an H1 tag.
Switch to a different cart
Achieving the above-mentioned changes might necessitate switching from a hosted forum solution to software installed on your web server (most hosted forums aren’t very customizable). There are many open-source discussion forum software packages available, including Phorum and phpBB to name just a couple. Make sure the solution you choose generates search-friendly URLs (i.e., you don’t want “stop characters” like ampersands and equal signs in the URLs if at all possible).
The site offers some meaty content within the articles section. The way into those articles is through keyword-rich text links (for example, “Baja Kayak Fishing”). Hurray! I was also pleased to see H1 tags in use. But the title tags leave something to be desired. They do include the article name, but they all follow with the same eight words: “fishing techniques, rigging explanations, kayak recommendations and more.” That could be misconstrued as keyword stuffing. I’d rather see each article have a more focused, deliberate title tag.
Left hand navigation is good
Some nice keyword-rich text links were weaved into the intro copy on the home page.
The site contained some helpful customer reviews, but they weren’t search optimal. The name of the reviewed product is neither in the H1 tag nor is it in the title tag; in fact the title tag is hard-coded to read “Kayak Review Page” across all the reviews.
The site map page is huge with hundreds of links. That is too long. Google advises no more than 100 links per page. Users will undoubtedly find so many links unwieldy, too.
The site needs a custom error page. It’s an ugly IIS server default error page right now.
Needs a redirect
Finally, but critically, the site needs to have a 301 redirect from kayakfishingstuff.com to www.kayakfishingstuff.com. In its current state, this creates two duplicate versions of their site for Google to index (a site at kayakfishingstuff. com as well as www.kayakfishingstuff. com).
SEO Report Card
Home Page Content: B+
Inbound Links and PageRank: C-
Internal Hierarchical Linking Structure: A
HTML Templates and CSS: B
Secondary Page Content: B-
Product Page Content: B-
Keyword Choices: A-
Title Tags: C+
OVERALL GPA: B
Request a site grade by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.