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i hope this is the appropriate forum to address my situation. as always, thanks in advance for any suggestions.
You can redesign a site without affecting your keywords. The best resource I can point you to is Successful Site in Google Alone [webmasterworld.com] for SEO and Usability 101 [webmasterworld.com] as a way to make sure your site is basically presentable and easy to use.
I also suggest doing some reading by Jakob Nielsen on usability, this can have a dramatic effect on your sales.
[edited by: Woz at 11:57 pm (utc) on Jan. 7, 2003]
[edit reason] fixed link ;) [/edit]
it's an affiliate/info site and we donate a percentage to charity (donations have so far come out of pocket). i get a couple hundred people a day and sales are basically flat-lined. i have read extensively on usability but the thing that baffles me is that, although the site doesn't look like much, it employs a model that has been HUGELY successful for some existing sites, albeit with mega-ad budgets.
and i know from tinkering that keyword/serp interaction is a fragile matter. one main keyword dropped 80 places in the last go-round. and until then i didn't realize i'd even changed that one.
If you split the content of the homepage into several more pages it may lead to more conversions.
Also, I don't know if you have a contact form on the site in addition to an e-mail address. For some reason surfers to sites seem to prefer filling in forms instead of e-mailing in the usual manner. :)
". . . your home page is very long and some visitors like me may be put off"
- sem4u, GSM: thanks so much for taking the time to check things out. i wouldn't be at all surprised if you're right. believe it or not i have already cut the page down by at least half (to no result)! and my uncertainty stems from the fact that the 800lb gorilla in this field has pages far longer (better content but even 'busier') with up to 100 links (i've counted 'em), banners, and pop-ups per page. go figure.
What I think you should do:
1) Decide on your major keywords that you want to optimise for. Make a much shorter, snappier page with knock-em-dead copy targeting your major phrases.
2) How can you break up your content into separate pages with separate keywords? Optimise one page for just a few keywords.
Identify the prime keywords by looking at your server logs and the overture keyword suggestion tool.
E.g. if your business is cushions then optimise your front page for cushions and then have subpages to velvet cushions, leather cushions, fluffy cushions etc. If it's all together on one huge page, you're unlikely to get fluffy cushion traffic because the title isn't fluffy cushions and you don't have "fluffy cushions" as H1 text at the top of the page. Plus all the other important factors.
If your site isn't doing well now and you can afford to, then I'd cut your losses now, do a major redesign and launch the new site before the crawl at the beginning of February. You'll be in Google at the beginning of March and probably doing much better in the SERPs. A site that's not well optimised is more likely to jump around a lot in the SERPs because if it's ranking it's doing so for single factors, e.g. just the page text but not the title, the incoming link etc. If you go the whole hog for a keyword you're likely to be much more stable.
The logo text is too small to read and you could do with a bit more graphical oommph to it, e.g. shadows, lighting effects, something a bit more professional looking. You'll probably get a better conversion rate if the site looks more like the best sites in the field.
Lots of potential for improvement here - that's the very good news. :)
You need to sit down with a pen and paper and brake down your entire site into sections and subsections and create a navigation tree. Each leaf should be connected to a branch and each branch connected to the trunk.
Also, try not to use so many different colors and fonts, it's uncomfortable to read and your visitor's eyes get tired much quicker.
All things said in this thread help in satisfying your site visitors and could improve your conversion rate.