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#sbs SEO freebie for FrenchPolishes.com

#sbs SEO freebie for FrenchPolishes.com

Welcome to the first of the ‘new style‘ #sbs SEO freebies. Congratulations to Ian McAslan for winning the 1st Small Business Sunday of 2012.

Smith & Rodger have been manufacturing and supplying wood finishes since 1877. Full contact details are available on their website, FrenchPolishes.com, however they also maintain a Twitter account (Smith_Rodger).

Tracking the impact of SEO tweaks

I strongly advise signing up to Google Analytics. As with all of the websites mentioned in this post, the sign-up process is free and easy. Once you have entered your URL, you will be given a snippet of code which must then be added into each of your pages.

As you only have a few pages, the easiest way to do this is simply open up your pages in a plain text editor (notepad will do) and paste the code before the </body> tag. Save the page and then overwrite the existing file.

More detailed instructions are available on Adding the tracking code – Analytics help.

There are entire training courses dedicated to Google Analytics but you can’t go wrong by focussing on the summary page. More visitors spending more time on your ‘products’ and then ‘contact us’ pages is typically a good thing!

The basics of SEO

SEO can be broken down into three parts:

- on-site content;
- code; and
- off-site content.

In your case, the first two are related to one another and thus I shall treat them as a single section.

On-site content & Code

Sitemap files

These act as a map for search engine crawlers. To create one for the first time, go to http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/ and enter your URL. Once the generator has finished, you will be presented with links to download your sitemap in many different formats.

Personally, I run with ‘sitemap.xml’ and ‘sitemap.xml.gz’. Save these and then upload to your FTP, in the same folder as all of your web pages (most likely ftp://frenchpolishes.com/httpdocs/).

Once you have done that, register an account with Google Webmaster Tools. This can be done using the same e-mail address that you used for Google Analytics.

From there, go to “Add Site” and “Add Sitemap”. In the space provided, add the location of your sitemap files:

http://www.frenchpolishes.com/sitemap.xml &

http://www.frenchpolishes.com/sitemap.xml.gz

It can take a while for Google to index your sitemap files but once it does, you can use Google Webmaster Tools tools to ensure this has been done properly. If there are any errors, you will see an exclamation mark inside a yellow triangle, with a link to a list of any problems.

Page Titles

There are many ways you can structure the above, but the main thing I go for is consistency. For your website, I would go with:

Smith & Rodger Wood Finishes – [Page name] – [Short Description]

Some examples:

Smith & Rodger Wood Finishes – Index – Bringing Wood Back to Life (65 chars)
Smith & Rodger Wood Finishes – Products – Shellac Wood Polishes (62 chars)
Smith & Rodger Wood Finishes – Contact Us – G3 8EA, 0141 248 6341 (65 chars)

You want to try and use as close to 70 characters as possible as this is the amount of text a search engine will show.

These can be edited in your .html files by changing the text between <TITLE> … </TITLE> tags.

Page Descriptions

To illustrate the importance of page descriptions, take a look at this site: search for your website.

For each page, Google displays 160 characters of text to give a quick indication of what can be found by clicking on any of those links and you can make better use of this allowance.

Again, this can be done via notepad. All of your pages have the right section of code at the very top, you just need to tweak it a little.

<meta name=”description” content=”enter your 160 character summary here”>

Try to be consistent and focus on your products. Using your contact page as an example:

Current code:

<meta name=”description” content=”Opening Hours, Contacts. Online Viewing.”>

Potential code:

<meta name=”description” content=”Smith & Rodger – Wood Finishes since 1877. View our opening hours, plus contact details for sales, account, technical, press & general enquiries. “> (146 chars)

Images

When using images it is important to consider how you name the individual files and to use alternate text.

As an example, this is an image used on your Shellac product page:

http://www.frenchpolishes.com/images/shellac_introduction.JPG

Similar to page titles, you want to use around 70 characters and ensure files are named consistently.

The above image could be called:

Smith & Rodger Wood Finishes – Products – Shellac Polishes.JPG

Once renamed, be sure to amend your code accordingly. At the same time, you can deal with the alternate text, which for convenience can be set the same as the file name.

Current:

<img src=”../images/shellac_introduction.JPG” width=”333″ height=”213″ border=”1″ alt=”Shellac Polishes”>

Proposed:

<img src=”../images/Smith%20&%20Rodger%20Wood%20Finishes%20-%20Products%20-%20Shellac%20Polishes.JPG” width=”333″ height=”213″ border=”1″ alt=”Smith & Rodger Wood Finishes – Products – Shellac Polishes (alternate image  text)”>

Please note, your file name can be written as Smith & Rodger Wood Finishes – Products – Shellac Polishes.JPG. However, when linking to the file you are wise to use “%20″ instead of spaces to ensure compatibility with older browsers.

Dead links

Your “courses” page links to no-where. Either correct or delete the link from your navigation bar. In short, dead links are bad for SEO!

For websites that are changed frequently you can implement some advanced SEO and have a 404 error page that searches your site for the missing link, but I suspect this would be overkill given the small number of pages at the present time.

In the event you decide to host your shop on your own server, this would be worth considering.

Shop

On that note, hosting your own shop would be beneficial to SEO. Whilst it would be a time consuming process, you can now process payments securely using Paypal, which supports all major credit cards, and thus have no need to rely on a third party website.

Blog

Similarly, hosting your own blog (or at least, appearing to host your own blog) can have massive SEO benefits.

Full instructions for making your posts appear at blog.frenchpolishes.com or frenchpolishes.com/blog/ can be found on this Blogspot help page.

Off-site content

Google Places

I always start by suggesting people sign up for Google Places. Once you have registered your company information and been verified (an automated phone call from Google) your business will be given its own place marker on Google Maps.

From within your Google Places account click “See your listing on Google Maps”. On the next page, click on the map on the right hand side, which will open up your listing on maps.Google.co.uk. From there, click on the link button (looks like a paperclip on its side) and you can copy the code for embedding this map in your website.

Open up your Contact.html file and paste the code where you see fit (at the bottom of the page is absolutely fine).

Directories

In addition to Google Places, make sure you are registered with all of the key directory websites, such as Yell.com, and anything specific to your industry or local area.

Blogs & Forums

Finally, try to seek out an engage in relevant discussion on blogs and forums. So long as you are adding something of value, the majority will allow you to display a link to your website in your signature or profile.

Over time, this will build up a strong portfolio of backlinks to your website. A quick Google search for “wood stain forum” led me to http://www.diynot.com and http://www.ultimatehandyman.co.uk/.

~~~

Should you get stuck, please feel free to get in touch!

Good luck :)

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