The 'SEW Labs- Social SEO' session held on the third day of SES San Francisco, worked on the site clinic approach. The panel of the session constituted:
- Lee Odden, SES Advisory Board & CEO, TopRank Online Marketing
- Jonathan Allen, Director, SearchEngineWatch
- Ian Lurie, Chief Marketing Curmudgeon and President, Portent
- Todd Malicoat, Independent Search Engine Marketing Consultant, stuntdubl
The live web site audits from the experts was focused on Social SEO. The attendee sites to be audited were lined up, and the first one- Tauck.com. Tauck' is a travel site providing enriching guided tours, small ship cruises, river cruises and family travels. They operate at international level. The social aspect of SEO was analyzed for this operator of guided tours and cruises.
The speakers first laid down the parameters on which the site was to be audited:
- Site Command
- Calls to Action
- Phone Number
- Site Map
- Off the site information
- What keywords
- User and Commercial intent
- What is reasonable for ranking
- Social mentions
When the experts audited the site, they focused on the goal of the site-inform, and consult. So, what came out in the audit:
- Too many links, which can be confusing and distracting for the visitor. The "Why Tauck" drop down menu was most specifically problematic. They advised to remove drop down asap.
- The Site speed was then monitored and the comment was- “turn on gzip on your server”.
- Tauck.com had another issue. The experts concluded that the title tags needed to be better.
- The social presence was monitored through Facebook. The fan page had – 7,906 Likes. This is a good number, and they advised the same to be displayed on the website. It will be a good social influence.
- They also noted that the larger type is better for Seniors and Teenagers.
- Further exploration of the site, came out with the observation, that it needs Alt Attributes.
- To enhance the social aspect, the experts advised the site to replace the Facebook Login button on th top of the page with a simple yet more effective -'Like' button.
- Another advice for social SEO was to consider implementing a blog on the site. The site was given an idea to use customer generated content. The topics for the blog can be found from the issues people are posting on your forums.
- The experts also pointed out that the forum of the site is hosted somewhere else, and the search engines can't see them. They were told to focus more on the forum.
- The last tip was that the horizontal bar on the site was harder to navigate.
The next site up for audit by the experts was- USBank.com. The bank is known for advising its customers to bank smarter with checking and savings accounts, loans, banking packages.
After a close look at the site, here are the issues that were pointed out by the experts:
- Homepage redirect needed to be fixed
- They pointed a 302 redirecting error
- The link equity of the site was appreciated.
- The keywords were found to be lacking. The site got the comment- “Need to focus on the generic search terms”.
- The expert advise was to take care of the numerous little things that were wrong with the site. Only then could the SEO move to social.
- An important advise here was that- “Social is not the best way to go with a banking site”
- They found huge flaws in the customer services page.
- Too complicated for users. Ian Lurie suggested added a "Ask us on Twitter" button on the customer services page.
The conclusion- “The site comes across clinical, doesn't have to be changed.”
The next site for analysis was- Hookah-shisha.com – a retail site, dealing with hookahs and hookah accessories.
This is what the experts came to conclude about the site:
- The social approach, through Facebook was appreciated by them. However, the site was advised to show the same on the homepage.
- They pointed out many unoptimized images.
- The experts advised that if the site has a dedicated audience – then they must use their dedicated audience to help their business further.
- They were told to work on their domains and use IIS for errors.
- The next advise- “Watch out for site that only have duplicate content at bottom of pages.”
- The blogging on the site was appreciated by the experts, and they further advised, “Move blog to same domain – you want your blog to be a part of your site”
- Takeaway advise- The site was told to index its archive and beef up product links.
The fourth site up for audit was- Drsfostersmith.com. The site deals in Pet Supplies & Pet Meds. The audit of the site ended with these observations from the experts:
- Missing pages need to refer to a 404 not a 200.
- The social element gained approval, specially the blog. The advice- “Add Twitter and Google plus on each post. Install Socialable pluggin on your WordPress blog.Great sticky post at the top”
- The professionals further advised to remove gray on gray text from the top of the site.
- Another observation – “Too many links and duplicate content and make site appear low quality.”
- To prevent any speed issues with the site, the experts advised to ensure that the Java Script is at the bottom of the page.
- Takeaway advise- “Structure menus better as they are too long and use author pages for you blog.”
- The next and the last site in line for audit was- scilearn.com. They make educational brain fitness software designed to help struggling readers improve brain fitness and strengthen brain processing.
This is what the experts observed about the site:
- They advised not to show the entire blog post on the homepage of your blog and also to reduce number of blog tags.
- For the site to load faster, they were advised to turn on gzip.
- Videos are important element of social and the experts advised them to label YouTube Videos better.
- They were told to work on finding what people came looking for on their site, and then work forward.
- Last advise – “Make your call to action easier to find on each page.”
In conclusion- the experts gave these takeaways- that for every site understanding what your user is looking for is the most important thing.
We have more SES San Francisco, Day 3 coverage coming up. Stay tuned.SEW Labs - Social SEO: SES San Francisco 2011, Day 3!,