So I started out today like any other normal day. Got up, looked over our sites. I talked to a few customers. Had a meeting over our new logo and then logged into webmaster tools. Eh or should I say Search Console. I went to one of my favorite places to identify issues with a website, Content Keyword. And the one for this site let me know that everything we well with the site. Google understands what my site is about, thankfully.
But what do you do when it’s not as clear-cut as this one. And how do you diagnose and fixed those issues? I found one of our sites though that didn’t look as nice and neat as this one does which prompted me to lift the hood and start seeking what possible causes are.
Google amasses this information based on what you tell it about your site is about. Create 1000, pages that say Sorry No Blah Blah x 3, the word Sorry ends up being on your list of Keywords and what Google thinks your website is about.
So how do you find the causes of some of this? We started to click through the front side of the website to try and find where the issues are hiding. But it’s amazing to me what happens when you strip all the paint off a website and see what it looks like Naked. So the next thing we did was to open firefox to see what our website looked like.
Firefox provides a great tool, as simple and retro as it may be to look at a site and see what it looks like in its rawest form. Simply download Firefox. And then go to the view menu and pick page style and turn off all the style on the website. This gives you a very different viewpoint as to what the website will look like. Now for my discussion I’m going to use Cigars International as my test site, mostly because it does so much correctly and having the style sheets off on the site only reinforces that.
So here is their site with the markup turned on, and the markup turned off.
Yes the writing is tiny, and if you want to expand this, please do this yourself, but here is the take way. They constructed the navigation of the website to reinforce that they sell cigars and that they are the expert in cigars. They put the word Cigar at the end of every brand they sell. They set up their tabs up so they could make huge submenus and that there could be huge reinforced navigation. And set this up in a non-spammy way.
Now how I know they did this correctly is because of the terms they rank on. They rank #1 on Cigars, and all of their internal links keep Googles attention on that. When they decide to deviate from that topic they do so by maintaining a clear, consistent navigation that keeps reinforcing the term cigars regardless of where the end user clicks. Because CI has done an excellent job in creating their site, and reinforcing what they do they can add other things and make it work for them. The navigation is intuitive and reinforces the overall objective.
I am a firm believer of picking the biggest guy in the pile and then working to beat them. So yes just like it’s my life goal to beat Godaddy at web hosting some day, for me beating CI is just as much on my radar. Yes, the site is large and yes it does have links, and that’s another one of its strengths, but that doesn’t mean I don’t try to beat them. And for all website owners, one of the quickest fixes you can do is reevaluate your navigation. Bad or screwy navigation, can negatively impact a site.
I think of Firefox as a flashlight. Mistakes happen gradually over time. And it becomes a slow drip of things, and it’s not readily apparent. I think over time, website owner fiddle with things and inadvertently cause themselves grief and by simply turning off the stylesheet, it can quickly shine a light on a few issues that might not have been picked up otherwise.
Things too look for when a style sheet is off are:
- The size of the graphics your site is loading
- The order in which your feeding google information
- Any strange word sets that you wouldn’t notice normally
- Make sure you understand what webmaster tools and the Content Keyword is telling you and make fixes based on fact.
The way and the amount of anchor text. Does it reinforce what you do?
I keep being told that SEO is voodoo or magic, and really all it is is common sense. Some day in the not too distant future I”m going to write out some of that common sense. But for now, if you sell cigars, please make sure you title your cigars, with the word Cigar in your title, not just Nat Sherman Host and not just random words. You will havea great content keyword list and Google will completely understand your website.