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#sbs SEO freebie for Dottie Designs

#sbs SEO freebie for Dottie Designs

In October last year I completed an #sbs SEO freebie for Susan Bonnar of Dottie Designs and in this post I am simply repeating what I said at the time with a few small tweaks. I am doing so as I noticed Susan asking the twittersphere for help on meta tags. They’re easy when you know how :0)

Wondering what #sbs SEO freebies are all about? Check out this post. Never heard of Small Business Sunday? Read all about it here.

Hi Susan,

Firstly, congratulations on your #sbs win last Sunday. As promised, I have gone through your website and provided some suggestions below.

Before you read on, it may help if you look at this post (http://ceo.smartergroup.biz/seo-is-easy-when-you-get-the-hang-of-it/) on my blog which splits SEO into three areas of importance – on-site content, on-site signposting and off-site back links. I follow this framework whenever I review a website.

On Site Content

For the most part, you’re doing quite well here. To improve things further, it would be worth considering:

- image names
- URL structures
- page titles
- page descriptions + keywords (sometimes called meta tags)
- your blog

Image Names

In respect of image names, take this page as an example:

http://dottiedesigns.co.uk/ourshop/

The image names are as follows:

http://dottiedesigns.co.uk/siteimages/21/9/1/219192/2210505/c_313545.jpg

http://dottiedesigns.co.uk/siteimages/21/9/1/219192/2210505/c_313711.jpg

http://dottiedesigns.co.uk/siteimages/21/9/1/219192/2210505/c_314915.jpg 

With images, you have 70 characters at your disposal and you should try to use at least 50. Image names should take a standard structure which includes your company name as well as any product information. For the images above, I would suggest filenames along the following lines:

Dottie Designs – Keepsake Boxes – Jonah Pirate Treasures.jpg;
Dottie Designs – Guestbooks – Butterfly Patterns.jpg; and
Dottie Designs – Photo Albums – Blue Butterfly Cover.jpg.

You may be able to come up with better descriptive terms than I have done, which illustrates why I believe SEO should be done in-house. You know your business better than any SEO company and as such can do a much better job of the optmisation :)

This applies to all of your product images. While you won’t be penalised for using your current numbering system, it won’t be doing anything positive for your site.

URL structure

Moving on to URL structure, consider the following:

http://dottiedesigns.co.uk/ourshop/cat_313545-Keepsake-Boxes.html and

http://dottiedesigns.co.uk/ourshop/cat_313548-Boys-and-Girls-Keepsake-Boxes.html

Again, you won’t be penalised for the numbering system but at the same time it could be better. As the two categories above follow on from one another, consider the following alteration:

……./dottie-designs-keepsake-boxes.html and
……./dottie-designs-keepsake-boxes-for-boys-and-girls.html

Additional sub categories should follow the same pattern.

Moving onto page titles, again this an issue of consistency. For example, your “About Us” page title is “About Dottie Designs”. However your “Blog” page title is simply “Blog” – it would make more sense to have this as “The Dottie Designs Blog”. Inconsistent page titles won’t harm your blog, but it would benefit SEO if they all have the same prefix (DottieDesigns).

I’ll be honest, I’m not familiar with the software you have used to build your website so I can’t just point you to the appropriate settings menu at this point. However, that’s not a major issue as you can manually edit page titles without any knowledge of code. Taking your homepage as an example, the first few lines of code are as follows:

<title>Welcome To Dottie Designs</title>
<meta name=”keywords” content=””/>
<meta name=”description” content=””/>

Essentially you have a (short) page title but no meta description or meta keywords.

To see this for yourself, locate the folder on your computer where you save your web pages and right click, then select “open with notepad”. Editing the page titles is as easy as changing the text between the <title> and </title> tags.

Page descriptions & keywords

From the code I have pasted above, you should be able to see that you haven’t defined any keywords or a page description. Google doesn’t pay much attention to keywords these days but I tend to use them anyway – whilst they don’t get much traffic, there are other search engines out there and you never know, one day Google might meet its match!

With keywords, I tend to use 10-20 on every page on my website: the first few will apply to the whole website and the rest will be specific to that particular page.

Taking your Christening Albums page as an example, you could use the following keywords:

<meta name=”keywords” content=”dottie designs, bespoke cards, bespoke albums, personalised albums, personalised cards, christening albums, christening photo album, new baby girl album, new baby album (and so on…)”/>

To appreciate the importance of the page description, check out this Google site:search of your domain. You will no doubt notice the section of text under each of your links isn’t particularly helpful to someone who is trying to quickly determine what is on any of your pages (as and when they show up in a Google search). Turning up in a Google search is one thing; attracting someone’s click is another!

You can rectify this problem by populating your page descriptions. Use no more than 160 characters and use good English – this is not a place for keyword spam! Taking your homepage as an example:

<meta name=”description” content=”Dottie Designs, a Theo Paphitis #sbs winner, sell personalised cards, keepsake boxes and photography albums on-line and in boutiques across the UK.”/>

Utilising your blog

Finally, and perhaps the most significant issue, is the fact your blog is currently hosted elsewhere. Blogs are a fantastic way to ensure your website always has fresh content, however they are far more beneficial when integrated to your site. To their credit, Google provide fairly decent guidance on integrating a blogspot blog with an existing website:

http://www.google.com/support/blogger/bin/static.py?page=ts.cs&ts=1233381

On-Site Signposting

I’m really pleased to note you have a sitemap (http://dottiedesigns.co.uk/sitemap.xml).

To make sure you are getting the full benefit from your sitemap, sign up for a free Google Webmaster Tools account at https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/home?hl=en. From there, click on “register sitemap” and follow the on screen instructions.

Off-site back links

At the moment it looks as though you have only generated back links from Yell.com and the occasional Tweet. It would be beneficial if you could supplement this with profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ (all free to join). Whenever you add a new product or upload a new blog post, post a link on these sites and over time you will build up a decent amount of quality back links.

You can further supplement the above with active participation on relevant blogs or forums. So long as you aren’t spamming your products or services, the majority of blogs/forums will allow you to place a link to your website in your signature.

Final Thoughts

You’re off to a good start, but with some time you could vastly improve the SEO score for your website. However, it may be that some of the changes simply aren’t possible with the tools you are using at the moment (create.net). If not, I would strongly suggest you consider WordPress (wordpress.org). Not only is WordPress free and highly customisable, it provides the easiest way to run a company website with an integrated blog.

In passing, I note you are using an @aol.com e-mail address. Depending on your hosting company it should be relatively easy to set up [username]@dottiedesigns.co.uk. While this isn’t really an issue from an SEO perspective, there is plenty of research out there which suggests free e-mail accounts can impact the credibility of your website.

~~~~

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