This is a case study of Surfing San Diego, a successful site being run by a chap called Josh. I flamed a chap one night for having bad code and Josh sacrificed his own site and challenged me to tell him how to put it right.
What Josh is doing right
- It looks great, the first impression is very good.
- There aren’t many backlinks but the ones he has must be good quality as Google ranks the site as PR5
- By having the keywords in his url and some careful signature links on forums Josh ranks highly for San Diego Surf, and combinations
- There is a basic site map at the bottom of the page to help guide the search engines (and humans) through the site.
- Things get trickier when you enter the forum because the coding is more difficult – but by selecting decent forum software this is all done for you.
What Josh has wrong
- It might be a good idea to focus on some other phrases like surfing california where he doesn’t rate.
- There are no <h> tags on the page to guide a search engine to understand what is important and what isn’t. Equally there are no <b> tags and only two <strong>s, and one of those says "new and improved", not really useful words to emphasise.
- Images don’t have alt tags and urls don’t have titles. It’s easy to forget these when you’re trying to get content up and it’s not the end of the world but it does need to be raised.
- Styles and classes aren’t used as thoroughly as they could be.
<td width="542" background="images/mainbar_top_bg.jpg" class="contentcell" valign="top" style="background-repeat:no-repeat;" bgcolor="#EBEBEB">
This example is a curious little hybrid of every way of affecting how the content could look – and it’s repeated over and over on the page.
- The title and meta tags don’t change as I move through the site.
The <title> tag is the most important tag on your page, so a search engine is led to believe that every page is the same. It’s not, there are subtle differences. Start every page with "Surfing San Diego" and then the unique content.
- The forum isn’t skinned to match the site.
- The shot of the day was taken "Date: Long time ago", that long since there was a decent wave? Turns people off, they think the site is stale.
But remember, this site is a good site, and it appears to be successful. All sites can do with improvements and tweaking from time to time.
Before anyone races out and gets their sites revamped remember what the site is about, and the potential revenue it can bring in and don’t spend more than the site justifies. Also consider your target market. Will your site look like it’s trying too hard. Does it still look like people will get service or is it just a big corporate. Manipulate the image to your advantage.