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Changing From Old School Seo Tricks To A Better Way - Where Do I Start


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13 replies to this topic

#1 sparkdigital

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 06:39 AM

Okay - so we've had the same issues as many other on this forum with website traffic to my travel website dropping in October. First of all a big thank you to Jill - because of your great articles I'm finally coming round to the fact that my 'old school SEO tricks and techniques' no longer cut it! And in all fairness - I had become a little lazy (but who can be blamed; after all it did the trick!). We used to be on the first page for many phrases such as 'romatic hotels' but have dropped to page 3 or so (I know this won't be the same for all users but gives an indication at least).

 

As I see it I have a lot of issues to address:

 

  1. Definite external duplicate content - we are an affiliate to another holidaqy accommodation website so list some of their properties - this forms around 40% of my copy and was always a simple copy & paste job with a link at the bottom to their duplicate listing where the accommodation can be booked. Should I stop Google from indexing these pages until we've created unique and good quality pages for them? Is creating unique copy the long term answer for this one?
  2. Possible internal duplicate content - we have quite a strong hierarchy: home > holiday cottages > holiday cottages in scotland > holiday cottages in argyll > holiday property detail page. The holiday cottages page shows a list of excerpts of ALL holiday cottages, the holiday cottages in Scotland page excerpts of ALL holiday cottages in Scotland etc etc. The excerpts are simply the first paragraph and image of each property with a 'more info' link to the property detail page. Each of these 'category' pages has a unique first paragraph and unique title etc. and then a list of the properties. I've always had a gut feeling that this strong hierarchy and number of optimised pages where the key to our seo success - has this changed with the new algorithms? Is it better to have a 'dump' of all pages in the website root and link to them in another way?
  3. Following on from this issue - we have some pages such as 'pet friendly accommodation' that work in a similar way - a unique first paragraph and then a list of properties where our furry friends are welcome. I view this as being user friendly but should we be careful with this?
  4. Social media - we have done a little on twitter - this seems to suit our type of site better than some of the other social media sites, but nothing else. The problem being I don't particularly like social media in the first place - being a very old 35 year old! :disguise:

So, where to start? I'm already doing some quick technical fixes (redirecting non www. to www., moving to faster server etc etc) but which issue would you address first and why/how?

 

Overall I have to say I'm actually quite excited about breathing some new life into our website and focus more on building our brand, creating quality copy and engaging our users more - moving from old school seo tricks to something better so I'm looking forward to hearing from you to see how you would go about this.

 

Many thanks,

 

Konrad



#2 torka

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 10:13 AM

Personally, I'd start with the external duplicate content. That really is a duplication of content that's found on other web pages -- perhaps many other web pages, if there are other affiliates doing the same thing as you -- so there's no compelling reason for your pages to be the ones selected to get shown.

 

Then I'd go on to beef up your social media presence. I'd put up a Facebook page, as posts you make there have more longevity than Twitter posts. Make sure you make it easy for visitors to your site to "like" various property pages on FB as well. You might also consider posting pictures (if you have them) of the various properties over on Pinterest. Maybe also institute a means for customers to send you photos from their happy vacations and you'll post them on Pinterest, or encourage them to leave reviews and/or photos on your FB timeline.

 

I wouldn't worry too much about #2-3. What you're describing for "interior duplicate content" is typical of many websites that have category level pages -- IMO, it isn't really duplicate content, in that the category level page is a unique collection of bits and pieces of content from other pages. I think of it more as an "executive summary" than as duplication. If each of the individual property pages has a good bit more content and you're just pulling a small bit from many property pages to make the category page, then the category page is not a duplicate of any individual property page (and vice versa).

 

If the category pages still make you nervous, then write a unique descriptive summary of each property for the category pages to use in place of the "pulled" first paragraphs from the detail pages. I think the category --> detail architecture is user-friendly for people who want to browse a particular category of properties (as in your example of "pet friendly hotels" for instance) so I wouldn't reorganize the site to get rid of those pages.

 

My :02:

 

--Torka :propeller:


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#3 sparkdigital

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 11:45 AM

Wow, thanks very much for your detailed feedback - very useful. I've been thinking about our affiliate pages. Even though they make up around 40% of pages (or maybe even more) they only bring in around 5-10% of all revenue. So perhaps the way forward is to either drop them altogether or seriously consider each one of them to see if they really add any value to the site.

 

Regarding social media - I like the idea of pinterest, that's something I considered before so now would be the time to get that one going. We're also planning to employ a professional journalist to help write new content. She's of the social media generation so perhaps this could be part of her job description.

 

Any other thoughts welcome - good to mull this over and move things forward.

 

Thanks again,

 

Konrad



#4 Jill

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 12:55 PM

Without knowing exactly what you're doing, I personally do think this could be a major problem:

 

 

Following on from this issue - we have some pages such as 'pet friendly accommodation' that work in a similar way - a unique first paragraph and then a list of properties where our furry friends are welcome. I view this as being user friendly but should we be careful with this?

My guess is that you're talking about some fairly low quality pages that were mainly just generated to gain additional keyword phrases. 

 

If that's what those pages are then due to Panda/Penguin those could definitely be bringing the entire site down.

 

But it really depends. A thorough review of your site and analytics would be  necessary to really try to determine what might be the problem.



#5 copywriter

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 01:28 PM

Is this all that's on the pages?

 

 

a unique first paragraph and then a list of properties where our furry friends are welcome.

 


Nothing more on those types of pages?



#6 sparkdigital

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 03:26 PM

Sorry for the delay it's evening here now!

 

I wouldn't say that the pages such as pet friendly ones are purely there to gain additional search engine phrases - it is something that our users are genuinely looking for. When we get enquiries they usually ask for either a property with ahot tub or one that is pet friendly so adding these pages can be viewed as filling that need. Obviously if we do get any additional trafic through it then that's great too!

 

I would be interested to find out how you would 'lift' these pages from being viewed as just there for the search engines to a high quality page that google values?

 

Thanks,

 

Konrad



#7 copywriter

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 08:52 AM

I would be difficult to say without actually seeing the pages, but some general suggestions would be to add a bit of content that is helpful. Maybe:

 

  • Tips for traveling with pets.
  • Suggestions on evaluating the different pet-friendly hotel options. (A "what to look for" type of thing.)
  • Hotel/accommodation etiquite when traveling with a pet.
  • Etc.

 

You don't need tons of content, but something geared toward the site visitor would help the page seem original (not like every other directory page out there), relevant to the engines and helpful to the humans.



#8 Jill

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 08:53 AM

That's fine if it is just pet friendly or hot tubs. It's when you create a hundred more for things like bike friendly, green shirt friendly, etc where it's probably low quality.  



#9 copywriter

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 08:56 AM

My only concern was that it would be just another directory listing like thousands of others online.  Depending on the specific page/circumstances, I might still put a paragraph and 3 or 4 bullet points with helpful info.



#10 sparkdigital

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 09:33 AM

Hi, thanks again for some excellent feedback. Where our site is different is that we ONLY list properties that have something special that make them romantic, this varies from the setting, location, decor, things to do etc. We try to list properties that aren't listed with too many other sites so we have a unique proposal, even though this is becoming more and more difficult. But at least we're not a copy of any one other website. Even though the fact that the properties are very romantic is fairly obvious from the pictures for each property I think I would like to revisit all the property pages and really focus on this, maybe with a special box that really stands out.

 

I suppose the only thing is that dogs won't really care how romantic a property is!!! :dog: So that one will be the odd one out... But I guess as long as we have somthing that is actually useful it's okay.

 

Another question (not sure if this is the right sub forum though): following from our page hierarchy we sometimes have VERY long urls: www.domain.co.uk/romantic-cottages/midshires/suffolk/property-name-property-location.php. Is this viewed as a good or bad thing? At least it gives users a quick overview of what they can expect...

 

Thanks!
 

Konrad



#11 Jill

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 11:39 AM

Shorter URLs tend to be better but as long as yours aren't spammy (keyword repetitive) they should be okay.



#12 sparkdigital

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 11:43 AM

Thanks Jill, that's great. And thanks for your articles and newsletter - one of the few email newsletters I always read!

 

BTW - what's the warning point for that's below my username? What did I do wrong in 2005 ?!?!? :help:



#13 Jill

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 12:31 PM

Offtopic

 

BTW - what's the warning point for that's below my username? What did I do wrong in 2005 ?!?!? 
 

 

 

 

Hmm...those aren't supposed to be visible! Just upgraded the forum and must have to flip a switch on that. But for the record, yours was in 2005 and my note was:

 

 

link drop and review request slipped into an existing thread.
 

 

:punish:



#14 sparkdigital

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 01:01 PM

I consider myself told off and promise to be on my best behaviour :angel:






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