Jacques Mattheij

Technology, Coding and Business

How we improved the SEO performance of WW.com, a mini how-to

Note: before cutting and pasting through to ww.com to see what the site is all about, please read this: ww.com is a webcam site with 100’s of live streams at any time of the day, we do our best to separate out the SFW and NSFW content but this process is not 100% perfect so if you are at work please do not visit the site unless you are sure that you want to take that risk. (thanks to ‘rewind’).

In the HN thread about the changes to ww.com ‘melissamiranda’ asked to share the SEO done to the site (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1709443)..)

The first thing that Charles Pick (phpnode on HN) did was to do a thorough review of the google analytics that we already had, to try to identify ways that things could be improved.

He correctly noted that we score very bad in organic searches for webcam related traffic, it’s as if google is blind to us.

That’s not a really big surprise to me, after all the webcam sites are hyper competitive when it comes to SEO, there is plenty of trickery being done by competitors and I always refused to join the game hoping that google would sort things out. For instance, even though we are the oldest webcam community, have a tremendous number of visitors each day (well over 100K) and tons of backlinks you’d have to go to page 8 of the SERPs before you’d encounter ww.com on a query of ‘webcams’.

So that’s clearly an area that could be improved on, but not something that you could do in a simple way, that will take quite a bit of time.

The second thing that Charles identified as problematic was the way the site navigation worked. Because ww.com has a number of components that are presented as separate websites the navigation was ‘frames’ based, this screwed up the analytics and made it much harder for search engines to find the relevant content on the site.

This has since been remedied, the navigation is now an integral part of every page.

The homepage was re-worked so the abstract text in google was more appealing to people looking at the SERPs, which in turn will hopefully entice them to click on our link there.

Title tags and meta description tags have been changed to be more effective upon Charles’ recommendation, we still need to do a better job on the actual text of the homepage.

The user pages were another area of potential improvement. For example, only a very small part of them got picked up by google, so we improved the visibility of those pages to the outside world (not just to google, but google will pick them up as well).

This has since resulted in an additional 100,000 pages being indexed, the title tags have been improved to make them more descriptive as to what is on that particular cam page.

The internal urls of the site are not very descriptive, this will still need more work.

A missing robots.txt file was added.

Other main items in the report were back-links and analysis, analysis of the referring traffic, social network traffic, traffic sources, conversion rate optimization (which has proven to be very effective), competitor analysis and a number of recommendations.

All in all, the report contains enough information to keep us busy for the next couple of months to implement it all and to analyze the effects of the changes.

So, in a mini-how to as bullet points:

  • 1. Check your page titles aren’t all identical, search engines love variety!
  • 2. Internal link structure is hugely important, get it wrong and your traffic will drop like a stone.
  • 3. Analytics Analytics Analytics! If you’re not already using a package like Google Analytics then you’re missing out on some of the most important and useful information about your website
  • 4. Meta descriptions and title tags aren’t just a place to put keywords, they’re a place to presell your customers on your product before they even hit your page
  • 5. Target the most valuable, lowest hanging fruit first. Find the keywords and pages which can offer the best return vs effort spent and attack those first.
  • 6. Get rid of frames (if you can).
  • Contact me via jacques@mattheij.com for email or http://twitter.com/jmattheij for twitter.

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