Site Analysis | Transalpine Internet Sevices

Transalpine has a department specialised in the highly technical field of website content optimization. We explain here how Content Engineering can improve the search engine performance of your website.

Return to Index

Site Analysis

The first step in an SEO practitioner's service is to make a general assessment of the website in question, within the context of the internet environment of its competitors and related suppliers.

Google adapts its search results to match what its machines believe they have learnt about your online habits. To understand SEO, it is necessary to turn this biased search screen off, so that searches can be run as they will appear on anyone else's screen. Well, almost - the geolocation and language bias remains in place.

To de-personalize the FireFox Search function: open the Bookmarks folder, right click a folder and create New Bookmark.

Enter 'Google de-personalized search' in the Name field, 'http://www.google.com/search?q=%s&pws=0' in the Location field, and 'dp' (or any keyword that is short and you will remember) in the Keyword field.

To run a de-personalized search, enter 'dp ' (dp space) before the search string in the URL field (not the Google.com search field) at the top of the screen where the name of the site you are on appears.

Initial Survey

When assessing a site, start by a very general search, using key words which roughly match the core business of the site.

Identify the general quality of the sites that are returned. Are these sites well-reputed or do they look suspicious and spammy (likely to contain ads and irrelevancies).

Make a list of major competitors for respective search keywords, for future reference.

Next, the site itself is examined. First, the usual non-SEO compliant design problems can be quickly identified and remedied. In particular, searches can find cases of problematic duplication of material, including:

Canonicalization

It is important to ensure that content is unique, and does not appear anywhere else, either on the same site, or elsewhere on the Web. Search engines frown on non-original material, in the same sense that a newspaper would not be happy to see an article it published appear in a competitor's publication.

Every domain has two URL versions: with and without the www. prefix. Good practice is to select one URL and use that as the source for all the material using the same domain name. http://www.sciencelibrary.info and http://sciencelibrary.info are considered distinct domains in the eyes of search engines.

A 301 redirect should be used to redirect one of the domains to the other domain (whichever you think has the most value, which probably means the one with the longest history of link building). Use a tool like http://www.seomoz.org/linkscape/ to measure the page links and authority to a site's homepage.

301 versus 302 redirects

Always use 301 redirects whenever possible. A 301 redirect passes most of the SEO value (link juice) of the redirected site, whereas the alternative 302 redirect passes none at all. The effect for the visitor is the same in both, so use the 301.

To make this redirect, create a .htaccess file containing the following code:

//Permanent 301 redirect of URL without 'www' to the full URL

RewriteEngine On

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^sciencelibrary\.info

RewriteRule (.*) http://www.sciencelibrary.info/$1 [R=301,L]

and place it in the root of the site.

To do the opposite - redirect www. prefixed URLS to the form without the www., use this code instead:

//Permanent 301 redirect of URL with 'www' to the URL without

RewriteEngine On

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www\.sciencelibrary\.info

RewriteRule (.*) http://sciencelibrary.info/$1 [R=301,L]

Site Accessibility

A general principle is that as much link juice (the value gained by backlinking to the site, reflected in page ranking in SERPs) as possible should be passed on to pages contained within the site.

Website owners tend to link to the homepage of another site. This is because the URL address is shorter, and more reliable, since individual page addresses are much more likely to change at some point than the domain name. Consequently, there is the risk that a visitor following the recommended link is dissuaded from pursuing the path. This can occur for a number of reasons:

Compliant Styling

If the site is garishly different or clashing in style, the visitor may be disoriented, and return to the safety and reassurance of the original, more familiar site. This is where an understanding of the 'Internet Community' in which a website resides is important. No site is an island unto itself. To blend in and be accepted as a natural and trustworthy continuation of an online experience, a site should take into account how the linking sites look and feel.

Clear Navigation

If navigation is non-global and unclear, visitors may easily get lost down a blind alley. Global navigation means ensuring that from any page on the site, the user may easily access any other part, and retain a sense of orientation and location within the site structure. Users tend not to follow the URL addresses as a guide (unless they are SEO buffs), but trust the signposts placed along the top or up the left-hand-side of the page.

In a large, complex site, navigation tends to be divided into two bars: one for global navigation, and one for specific area/topic navigation. For example, university sites almost always have a top bar which takes the visitor back to the university lobby and the reception desk, and a secondary navigation system which takes her deeper into the faculty she is currently in. Highlighting the section in the global bar is a good way to retain orientation. These conventions of location and functional grouping have already become established, so it is best to comply to them. Being too original in this regard may only lead to visitor frustration.

Content Quality

In the age of anonymous, third-party click-ads, site owners are plastering their pages with flashy, distracting tins of spam whose sole purpose is to distract the visitor from the core content of the site, and to lead them off somewhere else. This contradiction of purpose leads to the type of site which SEO practitioners label with the highly technical term 'spammy'. The spam sites do not have a primary purpose of rewarding the visitor for their time and trust with quality-controlled content. Instead, they are more often than not full of non-original material and/or rely on erratic UGC (user generated content), such as blogs, for which there is no quality assurance possible.

Hierarchy

In a poorly designed site, paths to sought content can become too long and windy. The ideal site structure is a tree with as few layers (vertical nodes) as possible. Even though Sciencelibrary.info is one of the most comprehensive science education sites on the internet, every core content page is exactly three clicks away from the main catalogue. And all resources related to each core page are only one click away from their mother page. The many thousands of items on the site are indexed by pages with the optimal 10-15 references, yet the site need never exceed its four layer depth.

Internal Cohesion

Cross-referencing between pages. Users who arrive in the bowels of a site should be made aware of available related material elsewhere on the site. Cross-referencing risks becoming convoluted and counter-productive, so careful planning of the site structure is necessary to ensure it remains and grows with repeating patterns that are sustainable. The best way to ensure this is to place material of equal function (e.g. whether an index or core content) on the same hierarchical level.

Global Navigation

This refers to the whole-site orientation of the user. Beyond ensuring that every page has an evident return to home button (a logo is an effective continuity for this), a 'breadcrumb' system is useful. This works like the stub and grow system on wikipedia.org, where the path from the homepage, through the various levels and category and sub-category pages, to the current page can be seen as a sequence.

The URL also acts as a type of breadcrumb trail if set up properly. Ideally, the user does not need to use the back button to navigate, since this defeats the purpose of link juice maximisation. Users should be able to follow a forward trail in a logical, clear way, rather than backtrack.

This information is imported from our site www.sciencelibrary.info. For further information, please visit the site, or contact us.

Lugano English

Quote of the day...

Human history becomes more and more of a race between education and catastrophe.

ZumGuy Internet Promotions

SaraOrdine