Ok so Jason Calacanis is talking smack about bad SEO’s again and I think it’s time to clear the air. First of all if you want to talk to SEO’s and good one’s go to an SEO conference not a web 2.0 conference. I don’t know who spoke there and really don’t care, but if you want the best advice go to the best conference you can. I’d especially recommend Pubcon or any of the SMX series. Want to see some really helpful sessions try sitting in on a site audit session you’ll really get a much better understanding of what people in the real world have to go through. Now to prove my point I’ll do a little mini review of Mahalo for you, free of charge no $199.95 or call me later at the office tricks …
You have a canonical problem, what this means is http://www.mahalo.com and http://mahalo.com both work. What you need to do is choose one or the other and 301 redirect the other so you don’t get hit with a duplicate content penalty. Yes search engines should be smart enough to figure it out, but they aren’t.
You aren’t serving 404 pages properly for example http://www.mahalo.com/This-page_doesnt-exist/ gives you a 200 response code see for yourself. You’ve got a bit of a hack going adding this meta tag <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex,nofollow” /> but that’s really not the best/right way to do it.
There are some pages that should be blocked in your robots.txt file that aren’t like http://www.mahalo.com/Special:userlogin?returnto=Bin/ again you have the meta tags in place but as Matt Cutts of Google has shown each search engines handles things a little bit differently, so you need to use things in the right combination.
You aren’t maximizing your internal anchor text for example on your homepage you have “more” twice
Try to use words that actually describe what’s on the following page. It’s a bit of a usability function as well, in fact even the W3C recommends doing it
You could also speed up getting new pages in the index if you featured more than one like you are doing now on your homepage (see dinosaur comics from screen shot above).
Your “stubs” may not be the best content, so it might not be worth making it easy to index with a bot followable link
Remove the superfluous non KW rich words from your internal anchor text
On Page Factors
Your layout isn’t overly complex you could easily adapt it to get the content before the header using CSS. That’s something called keyword prominence. It’s kinda hard to make the claim that you aren’t interested in SEO when this is a comment on your page <!– Main Content for serps ***********************–>
What’s with the inline CSS styling like this <h1 style=”border-bottom: none;font-weight:bold;margin-bottom:.4em;”> or empty tags like this <div style=’position:absolute; top:.6em; left:0;margin-left:-1em’><div class=’guide_note_sprite’></div></div> that’s what we call code bloat and easily fixed.
You’re using <i> and <b> tags again not horrible but they are deprecated tags <em> and <strong> should really be used especially when you are using this doctype like you are <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd”>
Your links are formatted like this
<a href=”http://www.nypost.com/seven/04252007/tv/dream_teen_tv_linda_stasi.htm” class=”external text” title=”http://www.nypost.com/seven/04252007/tv/dream_teen_tv_linda_stasi.htm”> you are pumping the destination URL into the title attribute, which was really meant for improved accesability and should contain natural language not URL’s.
You images use really poor alt text. Most of them are blank the few that aren’t have “warning” messages. In addition to improving accessibility it can also help a little with internal anchor text. Don’t think it’s important, Target is getting dragged into court because of it.
Looking at your page layout you are “wasting” a lot of your prime real estate, for example you have the Google Ads buried in the lower right, move them up to the top right where the guide note section is now.
You’re a new site and you want to work the social media angle as much as possible, so I’d move the bookmarks up too. You could also maximize your screen real estate by adding the “email this page” into that box as well. I’d also put that combination box at the bottom of every article instead of just the “email this page” again.
The login info can be made much smaller and go above the logo on the right.
You list some names in related searches that aren’t clickable, bad for usability, as it teases your users
Since your pages are DB driven it really wouldn’t be that hard to serve them up in RSS format. This way people could subscribe to them individually and instantly be notified of changes. It’s a killer way to bring new traffic, trust me …
You need the ability to isolate the HTML title, URL structure and H1 tag into different elements for example this page is a mess http://www.mahalo.com/How_to_make_flawless_pie_crust_%28it%27s_easier_than_you_think%29
for example the HTML title should be: How to a Make Flawless Pie Crust – Mahalo
URL: http://www.mahalo.com/How_to_make pie_crusts
H1: How to Make Flawless Pie Crusts (It’s Easier Than You Think)
The HTML title is focused, the URL is cleaner (and has a plural), the page title is still interesting (and helps with the plural).
Try for some uniformity in picture sizing it just makes for a more professional looking article.
Also when I click on a picture I should get a really big version not a rinky dink one like this.
Everybody needs more external links to deep pages, you need more because you are new. I bet a lot of your green house people run blogs. Why not build a widget that lists the pages they worked on. Have it hard link to your home page and their profile page (which needs to be changed to be crawlable). The widget should show their “rank” cause people dig that.
Stroke the egos of the linkerati, set up pages for every A-List blogger and some B-Listers, people with podcasts, or popular YouTube Channels. Let them know about it, set them up with a login and invite them to correct any errors or add things. Oh and for heavens sake clean up bad/awkward grammar like “Jeffrey Zeldman is a much-respected web designer” on this page. There shouldn’t be anyone in the technorati top 100 like Go fug yourself who isn’t in Mahalo.
Get some shirts made, get them in startup schwag hold a photo contest on flickr of people wearing your shirts in cool places. Get some laptop stickers working, enter everybody who posts a picture of it on their laptop into a contest for something cool.
Do something really outrageous and viral like set up a Mahalo dunk tank with you in it at an SEO conference, charge like $10 to throw and donate the money to charity, just think of the link love …
This list is by no means exhaustive or all encompassing, but almost all of these are pretty easy things to fix. These are the kind of things an SEO should be telling you and helping you with, and if they aren’t you aren’t talking with the right people.
Why did I spend the time writing this? I know you’re a smart guy, and just because you happen to have run into some sleazy SEO’s in the past doesn’t mean we are all bad. We’re no different than any other profession, there are good people and bad people, but it’s unfair to critcize an entire industry just because of a few bad apples. I also would like to think that you’re a big enough person to realize when you’ve made a mistake, and aren’t afraid to admit it.