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  1. #1
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    Not appearing in search results - have I messed up ?

    Am having real problems getting my new B&B directory website, found by google. It's indexed, but doing really badly (position 130+) in search results for my main keyword 'bed and breakfast in herefordshire'.

    It is still a work in progress and I'd really appreciate some advice on what to do with it!

    I think the problems could be :
    - When you first visit the site it basicallly lists all B&Bs (about 350), 20 to a page. From there you can step through the pages, or you can refine the search (to get another list). All this happens on /Home - so to google it is a single page. I was going to change it so each result page is a separate url, but as the reults are in a random order, it would look like duplicate content.
    The only other pages are 3 x profile pages for individual B&Bs (those pages are listed just before the home page in serps), contact, terms & privacy.

    - A lot of the B&Bs have copied their descriptions (about 200 words) straight from their websites - maybe google thinks it's stolen content?

    - I have added rich snippets - <div itemscope itemtype='http://schema.org/BedAndBreakfast'> around each listing - so you get 20 on a page. Is that too many ? (when there is very little else on there!)

    - I didn't have the canonical link in the header to start with - I know google has looked at the pages since I added it (as it knows about the rich snippets which were added later) , but it still reports duplicate page titles in /Home and /home.php.

    - I have virtually no back links - which I am working on!! (I know this is important, but there are sites way above us with none!)

    Please can anyone help??
    Last edited by Stevie D; Aug 31, 2012 at 15:58. Reason: URL removed

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    You answered your own question:
    Quote Originally Posted by treacle0996 View Post
    I have virtually no back links

  3. #3
    Mouse catcher silver trophy Stevie D's Avatar
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    Off Topic:

    Sorry but I've had to remove the URL, as if you're asking people to comment on your specific website then that counts as a review (doesn't matter whether you're asking about content, code or SEO – it's still a review). All reviews must be posted in the Reviews and Critiques forum, and for your review to be approved you must first write reviews of at least three other sites that are listed in the forum. It's up to you whether we leave this discussion here without the URL, or if you want to post it as a review with the URL, in which case you will need to get busy writing reviews of other people's sites first.

    If you've put a canonical link on to stop the duplicate page issue then it should just be a matter of time before Google merges the two pages in its index.

    As cbp says, not having many inbound links is going to hurt you. How about asking some of the B&Bs to link back to your website? (On the other hand, don't be lured down the road of creating links any-old-where on sites of no relevance or authority, because that really is a waste of time).

    But it sounds to me like you need to have a think about how to organise your content. When you filter the results, does this give a repeatable URL that search engines can index? eg example.com/bedandbreakfast.php?town=leominster&dogs=yes ... if so, you've got a better chance of Google bringing up filtered results for more specific queries than if it all happens by Javascriptmagic.

  4. #4
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    If you are concerned with your SERP then you need to do some quallity link building. Take good care mate and be careful with the Penguin update.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by zylun View Post
    If you are concerned with your SERP then you need to do some quallity link building. Take good care mate and be careful with the Penguin update.
    After Penguin, the trend to pay less attention to links was massively increased.
    Today's import of links is very limited unless they are from relevant sites with high trustlevel.
    The number one cause of sites having poor serp results, is low usefulness i.e. little or nothing of interest to be found on the website.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for your feedback.

    Stevie D, my reasoning for doing it all within one page was that there is such an overlap between searches you could have the same results (possibly in a different order) for a number of towns/options. I thought google would consider it duplicate content and at best ignore the page or at worst penalise me for it. Would that be a problem?

    If I did reorganise it, at the moment the towns are in an autocomplete dropdown, and the options are a list of checkboxes. I guess google would never select any of these? so I would sumbit the new urls in a sitemap (or manually) instead?

    One thing that's really not helping is whatever happened to domain crowding at the end of July. Instead of one entry for everyone, tripadvisor, britainsfinest and the other national accommodation directories are all taking up 10+ places each! Does anyone know if google is likely to reverse whatever they've done there??

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by treacle0996 View Post
    ...One thing that's really not helping is whatever happened to domain crowding at the end of July. Instead of one entry for everyone, tripadvisor, britainsfinest and the other national accommodation directories are all taking up 10+ places each! Does anyone know if google is likely to reverse whatever they've done there??
    Google's algorithms change every day; sometimes their strategy changes completely when empirical data show that such a step is needed.
    The official Google strategy is to offer the searcher the most relevant site for their search. Whether or not that is the reason or not is immaterial, because as long as their serps reflect a certain truth, that is what it will remain.

    That means, that a site must offer relevant info for the query. Your site does not offer much relevant information and hence it will not come #1.
    Adding a list of cities will not change that, irrespective of whether those cities are added to one page, several pages or as a dropdown menu.
    What Google (claim to) want, is for you to give relevant information that will help me to decide whether to book a trip to Blackpool or to Morecambe, or maybe to Lancaster if I'm looking to book a trip. The same goes for booking a B&B.

    The reason Tripadvisor ranks so prominently, is that it actually can help people make up their mind. Your site about your B&B (company) does not. It is plainly advertising your company. Nothing wrong with that, but you can't expect Google to bring you up as #1 simply because you would like that.
    What you need to do to rank well in organic serp listings, is provide lots and lots of information from which the obvious and unbiased conclusion would be that coming to your hometown and staying in your B&B would be a great idea, and present that information in an easily accessible way. In other words: organised in a logical structure in relevant pages and directories.

    Ps

    It would help if you followed Stevie's suggestion and put your site up for review in the relevant section so we can see what it is like, rather than merely theorise.

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    Thanks benbob, but why would you think we run a B&B? We don't! Apart from knowing 1 or 2 of the owners, we are completely impartial!

    I think our directory is incredibly useful, not for people deciding where to take a trip, but for people who have decided on hfdshire (holiday, wedding, business trip..) and need somewhere to stay.

    Our aim is to include EVERY b&b in hfdsh - no other directory comes anywhere near that (even tripadvisor only has 185 compared to our 350+). And we offer some really useful searches - we can find a place that takes a dog and serves vegetarian food within 5 miles of some tiny hfdsh villages! How can that not be useful ?

    I have reviewed at least 3 sites over the years, so I will put it up for a review now.

  9. #9
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    Missed the dirctory bit, I suppose; that's what you get for speedreading instead of taking your time.
    What is hfdsh?
    I doubt that extending the volume of B&B's will make a major difference to your serp ranking. What I recommend for the moment, is that you sit down, look at your 3-10 best ranking competitors, and look at what is different in their sites compared to your own. Different, not better, as that is a matter of opinion.
    Then list those differences, and look for common denominators. Adapt your own site accordingly. At the same time, look at ways independent of what you found with your competitors, to improve the value of your site for me i.e. what can you add/make different that would make me use your directory instead of the competition.
    It is vitally important that you are brutally honest with yourself when you do this. Any attempt at justifying previous decisions rather than correcting them, are bound to lead to failure.

  10. #10
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    Biggest difference we have is we are just looking at one county, Herefordshire (hfdsh!) - and doing it all one one page - /Home .
    Our competitors are uk-wide (or worldwide) and have millions of pages - example.com/home.php?town=hereford, example.com/home.php?town=leominster, .. - that all link to each other.
    So even though our single page may be more useful (relevant?) for 'bed and breakfast in herefordshire', the bigger directory's 'hereford' pages (and in some cases pages for neighbouring counties) are favoured .

    Need to do 3 more reviews before I can ask for one!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by treacle0996 View Post
    Biggest difference we have is we are just looking at one county, Herefordshire (hfdsh!) ...
    That is no problem at all. I have successfully optimised my site for south London, and rank nicely for it, whilst getting very few nuisance calls from north and/or west London. In fact, the more specific a site is, the easier it is to rank well.

    Quote Originally Posted by treacle0996 View Post
    ...- and doing it all one one page - /Home .Our competitors are uk-wide (or worldwide) and have millions of pages - example.com/home.php?town=hereford, example.com/home.php?town=leominster, .. - that all link to each other......
    Now that is a problem.
    It is impossible to offer useful content on one page only in such a way that serps will cough you up on page 1, excluding blackhat.



    Quote Originally Posted by treacle0996 View Post
    ...So even though our single page may be more useful (relevant?) for 'bed and breakfast in herefordshire', the bigger directory's 'hereford' pages (and in some cases pages for neighbouring counties) are favoured ...
    That is fully in line with Google's mission of offering the most useful content first.
    You may find that your site is more relevant than your competitors, but I am pretty sure that I would disagree.
    Would I be far off guessing that you have done little or no market reseach in terms of finding out what your target market actually wants?

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    Honestly, we didn't question B&B visitors at all, but we did talk at length to B&B owners about their visitors - reasons for their visits, why they chose that b&b, how they found them, etc

    Location came up over and over again (for specific sightseeing, family occassions, business in the area) so we have focussed very much on that. We also included other facilities/characteristics that our B&B owners get asked about (do they accept children, offer wifi, etc).

    Would love to share the link, but I've done my 3 reviews, and it's still not letting me my request my own!

  13. #13
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    Off Topic:

    Quote Originally Posted by treacle0996 View Post
    Would love to share the link, but I've done my 3 reviews, and it's still not letting me my request my own!
    I'll look into that for you. We've made a few updates recently and there seem to be a couple of glitches arising from those.

  14. #14
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    Have requested my review - please see http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/show...rectory-review

    Thanks

  15. #15
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    As mentioned in the review section, your poor serp ranking is not due to a penalty but lack of optimisation.
    Main issues are: lack of info, too much non-topic clutter, and lack of structure.

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    Thanks for looking at that benbob.

    By lack of info, I assume you mean there is just not enough relevant text on page?
    Too much clutter - you mean all the less relevant text within the ads ouweighs the good stuff? or does the amount of markup count as clutter too?
    Don't understand what you mean by structure. Could you explain?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by treacle0996 View Post
    By lack of info, I assume you mean there is just not enough relevant text on page?...
    Indeed. Avoid wherever possible to simply copy the spiel from the business owner.
    1. It might be a complete lie or strongly exaggerated; one of your most valuable assets is a true and independent reflection of the options your vistors can choose from.
    2. You run the risk of duplicate content penalties sooner or later.
    3. It is bland. They all use a variation of about half a dozen chestnuts. "Friendly service" "warm welcome" "nice atmosphere" "clean" and so on are meaningless. Have you ever seen a hotel that advertised "very cheap, so not quite cleaned every day"? Advertising = being different from the rest.
    It doesn't matter that you dont run the B&B's, your visitiors will still be more attracted to a helpful directory than to one that is the same as all the rest.

    Quote Originally Posted by treacle0996 View Post
    .....Too much clutter - you mean all the less relevant text within the ads ouweighs the good stuff? ...
    Indeed. It is detrimental to your visitor experience and as such penalised by Google.

    Quote Originally Posted by treacle0996 View Post
    ... or does the amount of markup count as clutter too?...
    Mark up does not count for search engines afaik.

    Quote Originally Posted by treacle0996 View Post
    ...Don't understand what you mean by structure. Could you explain?
    Structure as in directories, same as on your disk e.g
    B&B Herefordshire
    luxury B&B--------dog friendly---------senior fiendly--------budget etc as subdirectories under B&B H
    B&B only-------B&B with access to whatever---------B&B + childcare etc all as subdirectories under luxury B&B.

    3 levels deep seems to be about optimum for seo, but if a logical structure gives reason to a 4th or 5th level, that is fine but would avoid going deeper.
    "Pyramid" shaped structure seems to be better for seo purposes than very deep and narrow or just flat. But equally if not more important, it makes it much easier for your visitors to find what they want. That in turn makes it far more likely they will recommend your site, which will increase your traffic.

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    I see what you're saying about the structure, but can't see how I could implement it with my data.
    Two reasons.
    1. the options aren't exclusive - a search for a dog-friendly, country house serving evening meals would belong in 3 categories (and the search might also include within nn miles of a particular town).
    2. If google is going to see different search results as different pages, there is going to be a lot of duplication - won't it just ignore them/penalise me?

    As for the description, again I see what you're saying, but at the moment we let the owners fill it in themselves - maybe we need to give them some strict guidelines.

  19. #19
    Mouse catcher silver trophy Stevie D's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by treacle0996 View Post
    I see what you're saying about the structure, but can't see how I could implement it with my data.
    Two reasons.
    1. the options aren't exclusive - a search for a dog-friendly, country house serving evening meals would belong in 3 categories (and the search might also include within nn miles of a particular town).
    2. If google is going to see different search results as different pages, there is going to be a lot of duplication - won't it just ignore them/penalise me?
    Ideally what you want is one page per property. These then form your main content pages, and the 'search' pages are just that, indexes/lists that summarise and link to the main content ... whereas at the moment, those 'search' pages are the main content, which I think is where the problem may stem from.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by treacle0996 View Post
    I see what you're saying about the structure, but can't see how I could implement it with my data.
    Two reasons.
    1. the options aren't exclusive - a search for a dog-friendly, country house serving evening meals would belong in 3 categories (and the search might also include within nn miles of a particular town).
    2. If google is going to see different search results as different pages, there is going to be a lot of duplication - won't it just ignore them/penalise me? ...
    You can do any structure you want. I'm sure that some structures work better than others for ranking, but I doubt if many people outside Google really know in detail, and Google staff simply don't reveal details. For myself, I go by and large by the rule that anything that makes life better for my readers, will make my ranking better. That is what guys like Matt What'shisname always come back to and it seems to work for me.
    The way I metaphorically see it, is each paragraph produces "Google love" and if they stick well together on a page, that page (keyword) will produce a lot of Google love. More good pages in a sub-directory/folder will make a "strong" and the sub-dirctories support the rootdirectory/homepage.
    I'm sure "proper" seo experts will laugh this off as too simplistic, but it works for my site.
    If you get the book I mentioned ( and read it ), you'll understand how to do it.

    As for duplicate content: as long as you don't use the same text twice, there isn't much risk I think. Others may be more knowledgeable on this point.

    Quote Originally Posted by treacle0996 View Post
    ...As for the description, again I see what you're saying, but at the moment we let the owners fill it in themselves - maybe we need to give them some strict guidelines.
    It's a lot of work to do, but after you have mastered the basics of onpage seo, I think you should do all the writing instead of the B&B owners. You could add an interesting section to your website with people's reviews of places they have been and use that to add/alter your descriptions.

    Another thing that is a must, is a blog. Both in terms of seo and as a point of interest for your users. If you can write blogs of half a page to a page at a time, put those on as often as you can produce them regularly i.e. if you can average 2 per week, write as many as you can, but put them on at evenly space intervals.
    1. It's another thing that sets you apart from the rest.
    2. It can create a group of regular readers amongst those that use different B&B's several times a year.
    3. This is something that will spread over time and attract more readers and possibly mentioning of your site on other sites.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by treacle0996 View Post
    - I have virtually no back links - which I am working on!! (I know this is important, but there are sites way above us with none!)

    Please can anyone help??
    Actually, for the keyword that you target, you must be able to get to Google first page in couple of weeks or a month. Try building some backlinks to your website with target keyword as anchor text and you would see the magic, but dont forget to get the links from good PR websites.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by timesheet View Post
    Actually, for the keyword that you target, you must be able to get to Google first page in couple of weeks or a month. Try building some backlinks to your website with target keyword as anchor text and you would see the magic, but dont forget to get the links from good PR websites.
    That has actually been made almost obsolete. Links have lost much of their value, and if the context/anchortext appears to well matching to be natural, Google may even consider it to be negative.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by benbob View Post
    That has actually been made almost obsolete. Links have lost much of their value, and if the context/anchortext appears to well matching to be natural, Google may even consider it to be negative.
    Thanks for your response Bob...

    But, when you are submitting an article on article directories, will you linkback on names or characters? Links will obviously be provided on keywords or phrases, isn't it? Google is still a code and it can and must understand what has the link exactly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by timesheet View Post
    ... when you are submitting an article on article directories, will you linkback on names or characters? Links will obviously be provided on keywords or phrases, isn't it? Google is still a code and it can and must understand what has the link exactly.
    I have totally abolished artificial link creation; it's just too risky for the little bit of gain it might get you. If you create too many links on "marked" sites, you may even get a standard 50 place penalty if Google decides to qualify it as blackhat. Blogfarms, and anything that doesn't have any value in and of itself, is bound to have a really low score from Google any way.
    High quality content, good structure and good quality blogs/article submissions on relevant sites will create enough presence to rank well.
    The days of easy shortcuts are over, and the days of being able to rank a poor site well due to tags, artificial links, blog farms and so may not be over, but they are counted. In a way this is good for everybody because there will be no need to waste time and money on stuff that serves no purpose other than serp bumping. This will be the point where the only way to go up, is to build a good website, and that is how it should be imho.


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