We cannot Optimize that site

Unbelievable!

I got a call yesterday from a guy who wanted to learn more about our SEO services. Actually, first a lead landed in my inbox from one of our websites. I think it was bostonlogic.com. So, I responded to the lead via email. The lead had written that they were interested in optimizing their website www.harrymoore.com. So, I wrote back. Then he called me to discuss his site.

I felt like I was a mechanic telling someone that their car had been totaled or maybe like a cop telling the victim of a robbery that they shouldn’t expect to see their possessions again any time soon. All I had to do was look at the site for about 15 seconds and I knew that there was nothing we could do.

First of all, the site is built by Advanced Access. The readers of this SEO blog have read my post about them. That post met refutation from someone in their marketing dept and there was a sting of about 7 comments and responses that followed. They told me that their sites could be SEOed and yes, some of them were based on old technology, but they help lots of agents…etc, etc.

ANY SEO worth half their IQ would know that this site was built improperly if you want to achieve organic ranking. Let’s look at why. The problems with this site spell out an education in how not to build a website:

1 page website
This site is, in fact, only one page! Click around Harry’s site. You’ll notice that the pages have names like:

/Nav.aspx/Page=%2fPageManager%2fDefault.aspx%2fPageID%3d2020443

Now, Nav.aspx is the file name and the rest is a database query. That query is actually telling the system that powers this real estate site what page to put into the iframe on the right side of the page, which makes up the majority of the page.  (more on iframes in a moment)  So, as you navigate around the site, you’re just reloading the Nav.aspx page again and again with a different bunch of content in the iframe.  A 1 page website will NEVER rank well in the search engines.

The “pages” of this site (I use that term loosely) are actually just 2 iframes each. There’s an iframe on the left, which contains the nav and an iframe on the right, containing the body

I-Frames =  No SEO help
Iframes are universally regarded as poor SEO. Sure, they get used all the time. They are not without purpose, in some situations. Google uses them to build some of their applications, even, but this is not the right place to use an iframe and here’s why. When spidering a site and considering it for search engine ranking, the search engines ignore the content that’s inside any iframe. It may as well not exist on your site at all.  Most folks would say that iframes just don’t help whatsoever. They’re certainly not the right way to construct AN ENTIRE SITE!!!

So, a 1 page site made up of iframed content…well that’s the ballgame. But let’s proceed with this analysis assuming that this weren’t the case. Maybe there’s some imaginary real estate website out there that’s similar to this one, but without the iframes and actually made up of more than 1 page.

Nav made of images
The navigation is made up of a number of images on this site.  When possible, you want your nav to be made up of HTML text. If you’re implementing some design that requires a font that is not an html font, then you want to make image files with names that are the same as what the images say. You also want to use alt text to tell the search engine spiders what the images say. The file names for the these images on this site are all similar to this: 1165984.jpg.  Oh, and there’s no alt text.

Being Constructive
Before I get carried away with more ranting about the snake oil that the people at advanced access will sell you, I want to be constructive. I want to give our readers a few tips on how to avoid getting yourself into an SEO hole.

Know what you’re buying. Realize that you can’t achieve good ranking for $50/month. A $15,000 car is never going to do 150 MPH either. Don’t believe the salesman when he tells you that it will.

If the company that sells you a website doesn’t offer organic SEO services for thousands of dollars, don’t buy your website from them. I’m not saying that you have to have a huge budget. Follow this logic: If a company sells sites and then takes on expensive SEO contracts and optimizes sites for superior placements for marquis terms using the technology that those sites are built on, then at least you know that the technology CAN support good SEO. You might even try calling the company and asking them to show you some sites that rank for marquis terms (and not just the agent’s name) and then make sure your site is built on the same software platform.

Lastly, remember that if you want to achieve good placement, you’re going to need an seo expert on your side. Ask your real estate seo consultant to look at the site that you’re going to be investing in and have them give their opinion of whether or not the system running the site is suited for SEO in the future. Most honest SEOs will do this for free in the hopes that they’ll get your business later on. We sure will.

Have a great holiday weekend.

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2 Responses to “We cannot Optimize that site”

  • Jerry Mosher says:

    Real estate websites are generally more difficult to SEO as they are all pretty much hosted through some crappy CMS with a multitude of limitations.

    From personal experience I can tell you that AA sites can be optimized for SEO. Although it may be a little more difficult to figure it out, It can be done.

    When I was selling real estate, my Advanced Access site with SEO done by me, was ranking in the top three for my main keyword and in the top 10 for at least many other targeted queries.

    There are some problems with advanced access, but there are workarounds. The iframes has a workaround that just involves a little tweaking of the url’s took me maybe an hour to switch it all over.

    The nav being images can actually benefit SEO as you can’t fit your desired keyword phrase in a nav bar and as recently discovered, only the first link anchor text counts in Google and Google is what really matters. =P

  • david says:

    Jerry, thanks for your thoughts, but did you look at this site? This site cannot be SEOed! Maybe you were on a different AA system than Harry. I don’t know. But this site cannot be SEOed.

    If there is no content on a page, then there’s no way to make it rank. Google will not count the content in your iframes as content on your page.

    Lastly, I must disagree with you. Real Estate sites, when properly built, are not hard to SEO. Systems used by advanced access and other cheap and low quality providers are notoriously hard to SEO. This is mainly because the technology is ancient and was built before SEO was a priority for Realtors.

    These days, smart real estate agents know what questions to ask of their website provider before they sign on. In fact, maybe I’ll make that the topic of my next post.

    Thanks for the inspiration.
    Dave

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