Saturday, 23 May 2009

Back from the Dead - How to resurrect a failed site

What would you do if somebody asked you to get a 2 year old site onto page one of Google for a specific keyword phrase, and then discovered the site hadn't even been indexed by Google under its own name. How is that even possible?

I'm happy to say, I've just watched the site jump onto page one for 'Contract Catering London'. And now I'm after the more useful phrase 'Contract Catering'.

It's worth pondering how a site can be overlooked by Google for two years in a row.

The previous hosting company played a part in this. They provided patchy connectivity, so the site wasn't always online. The client had tried to shift, especially when he lost his email for an extended period of time. He even had new hosting lined up, but couldn't get his domain pointed at the new company. I managed to sort this out thanks to excellent service from the new hosting company.

Then I turned my attention to rescuing the site from oblivion. The three main problems from an SEO perspective were...
  • The title tag
  • Page headline
  • Content
The title tag contained the company name surrounded by underscores, like this: _Centralbay_. I have no idea why, but it seemed to play a part in the site's exclusion in Google even under its own name!

Another issue lies in the fact the company name is a single word (Centralbay), yet it sounds like 2 words. I often found myself entering 'Central Bay' into Google. The solution was to add both versions to the title, and alter some occurrences of the name in the content so it can be found no matter which version a person enters.

The main page headline was a graphic, rather than text. I usually see this on sites produced by graphic designers. They want a particular font, have no SEO skills, but understand they can't have that particular font unless it's a graphic. Google doesn't read graphics, and I changed the headlines back to text enclosed in H1 tags. I also made sure the homepage headline contains the main keyword phrase.

The page content contained few useful words from an SEO perspective, and no internal contextual links. I've changed that, and as is often the case a couple of internal contextual links can do wonders when it comes to ranking for a particular keyword phrase.