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Though what I've done could be interpreted as de-optimization, I see it as optimizing for user retention and perhaps the future of Google and others. Moreover, I’m not condoning de-optimization per se, as clients’ sites that I did long before I knew what a keyword was have dropped off of the radar screen too.
Specifically, I'm focusing on what I’ve done that’s keeping me smiling through these troubled times about a site that's my bread-&-butter because it brings money straight to my mailbox for a change. I’m in on this one for the long haul:
No more Virtual IPs on sites that count for me. With traffic down for some, now might be a great time for a move to that dedicated IP you've always had your eye on. The moving trucks are at my house as we speak.
It's dreary work, but I re-optimized all images, made thumbnails even a little smaller, and spit out a few less products on each page. Additionally, I trimmed up my lazy, in-a-hurry, resource-hogging "SELECT * FROM.." to just select what I need for each page. I've also started to chant Brett's words every morning when I wake:
The smaller the better. Keep it under 15k if you can. The smaller the better. Keep it under 12k if you can. The smaller the better. Keep it under 10k if you can - I trust you are getting the idea here. Over 5k and under 10k. Ya - that bites - it's tough to do, but it works. It works for search engines, and it works for surfers. Remember, 80% of your surfers will be at 56k or even less.
I created a new local folder, downloaded everything from my bloated images folder into it, viewed as thumbnails, deleted the long unused images, deleted the remote images, and uploaded my cleaned images folder. Take out the trash. It saves resources all around.
I had several pages sometimes for each product, all with different photos but same basic content. Lazy old messy design that I consolidated to one page and 301'd the other 3 pages. It saves bandwidth, lets the bots focus on more crucial things, and most importantly doesn't feed my customer duplicate content.
Internal Anchor Text
Mine is now optimized for the user. Sure you use it where it counts, but I've tossed 'kwd kwd homepage', etc. within the header & footer hocus pocus. My guess is most people leave your site at the header or footer--make it count and tell the spiders to take a hike. Same with the site map, that's my help desk. If somebody's there, they're probably lost or confused; don't make it worse and lose them forever.
How many times have you had the credit card out and find that product you're salivating for, and the DB guy has a a bunch of meaningless kwd phrases or a couple of words pasted that you've already seen on the manufacturer's site? Guilty here, but I've turned those lazy few phrases I pounded out into several eloquent, concise, flowing paragraphs that's my best attempt (after a few glasses of wine) to seduce them into having no other choice but to click 'Buy Now'. I also authored my new content in an app that doesn't have copy-&-paste. The keywords should come naturally if you know a little about marketing and writing. If you can't write, pay someone who can. It's cheap.
I thank WW (and Google) for seeing me through the Florida drought with the stellar performance of my sub pages. Competitors that have 5 page sites must be reeling right-smart about now in my favorite industry at least. I've gone back and given every single one of those pages much more of an effort at user retention instead of bot attraction. And of course ad new quality pages, not bot food you’ll be embarassed by and end up re-authoring later.
My new favorite sorts now for site stats are 'Length of Visit' and 'Views per Visit'. Retaining that user that stumbles onto your site from a directory is now more important than ever; optimize for it!
Well that's what I've done so far in an attempt to soothe my deflated SEgO. What have you done to one of your sites to help you sleep better at night with regard to your target audience, not your target SE? I'm hoping comments on just one site will keep this from straying into another fruitless link strategy, de-optimization, algo-filter anchor text analysis runaway. Think SELL.
The decision to do nothing is equally powerful in the decision-making process as the decision to do doing 'something'. And in cases where you have no idea what this 'something' is - doing nothing would appear to be the clear winner!
[edited by: superscript at 9:32 pm (utc) on Dec. 4, 2003]
I've started to change all my pages like this and Google is liking it..putting my pages back into the top 10!
However, my homepage is simply dead for keywords. oh well.
Felt good, like there weren't any boundaries I had to design within. Plus, if there's anything to the whole "over-SEO filter" theory, it could help us in the long run.
I've printed out your post - I might as well be doing something while my business crashes! Seriously though, these quiet times can be useful - my sites have been in need of some spring cleaning - and you have some good suggestions.
Too much of the copy was written in gibberish
quiet times can be useful
Felt good, like there weren't any boundaries…
Right on...reads like an old English prof’s red scribble on various papers. :) His favorite word was ‘cope’ & he had it engraved into the wall of his classroom (military school). Funny how a crusty old English prof can teach you more about business with one word than anyone you’ll ever know.
Another great thing he taught me was to write something and sit on it for a night. This can be especially critical with client/potential client relations via the written word. I know I can post something here thinking it sounds OK, only to peruse it again the next day & damned if it doesn't sound overly harsh. When time allows and especially when things become heated: reply, save, sit, think & review after a few hours(preferably after a good night's sleep)--then hit 'Send'.
Once the pre-xmas traffic has died down, the office parties have destroyed my liver and the kids have destroyed the house I'm going to take skipfactor's advice.
Now 404 appears only for truely nonsense requests rather than simply for pages that were moved.
That and a few 410 for pages that were vaporised in the last spring clean.
But it's nice to see such a thoroughly positive thread, that's not Pollyanna-ish or "I did fine so quit your whining"-ful. (Mmm... making up words... such fun. Not going to optimize for made-up words, though.)
So, best of luck, everyone.
Dictionary Saw a thread about adding dictionary terms for google to collect. I think this could be a winner.
We are in a field that deals with a lot of complex terms and ideas so we put up a glossary of definitions for most of the common terms. We get more hits for people searching for these terms then we do off the entire rest of our site.
My site that has affiliates selling my product is doing just as great now as it was before Florida. I have over 400 affiliates promoting and sending me traffic. Some affiliates are sending less after Florida and some are sending more after Florida. Overall, however, I am still seeing a steady increase in affiliate traffic.
I don't promote affiliate products, I offer an affiliate program on my site. I now plan to have both sites rely on affiliate traffic. This is something that has proven a winner for me since December of 1997, when I first managed my own affiliate program. It works, because with so many affiliates, the eggs are in so many different baskets. Some affiliates promote to their newsletters, repeat visitors, etc. My top affiliate was hit hard by Florida and is no longer sending me great traffic. However, another affiliate that was just "ok" is now doing great in Google and sending me great traffic.
When you have hundreds of affiliates selling/promoting your site, then it doesn't really matter what the search engines do cause when someone goes down, someone else must go up.
(* I would also highly recommend people to start unique membership sites. If it wasn't for the guaranteed income of my membership site, I would be very very scared right now.)