It's been a while since I tipped a blog and I was reminded of that a couple of weeks ago by Tom Humbarger of Catalyze. A job change and side contract greatly shortened the amount of time I could spend on my site each day. Thankfully, that's beginning to turn around now.
First, Some Feedback on a Previous Blog-Tipping
I did get word back from André at Lendo.org that the changes I recommended for his site resulted in some incredible increases in visitors and page views. André had about 290 unique visitors per day and about 700 page views before the changes. Now, Lendo.org has 1200 unique visitors per day, and about 3000 pageviews!!!
Today, I'm going to tip Catalyze – A Community for Business Analysts and UX Professionals – Creative People Designing Extraordinary Software. Catalyze goes well beyond a blog, it's truly a social network so this will be quite a challenge! Tom pinged me a few weeks ago and has been patiently waiting!
Here are your Blog Tips:
- You might laugh at this, but I honestly had to dig around to find out what “UX” meant! I didn't realize it was an abbreviation for User Experience. I'm not sure that folks are searching on “UX”… you may want to write out “User Experience” in page titles, etc. Within the page, you may want to use >acronym> tags: UX so that the search engines crawl both the term and the abbreviation.
- It's going to be a challenge, but I'd really encourage you to provide a feed links on your home page. If you could develop a comprehensive feed of the latest posts, latest forum discussions, and perhaps the latest events – that would really provide a lot of value to readers.
- On that same note, I noticed that I could actually get a RSS feed from your blog but it's not embedded in your header for integration with browsers. All of the latest browsers will look for a RSS link designation in the header of your pages and they will automatically display a RSS subscription button in the Address Bar. Here's what the code looks like:
Here's how it looks when you go to my page in Firefox:
Here's what your page looks like:
If you make it simple for people to subscribe to your site, you'll gain more subscribers. Be sure to use a tool like FeedPress to monitor how many subscribers you have.
- If I was a Google Bot scraping your blog page, I would index your page as “Blog thumbarger”… probably not the keywords you were seeking. If you can change your page titles to the actual title of the page, in this case: Are you a Design Thinker? Catalyze Current Wisdom by Tom Humbarger
- Search engines do pay attention to how content is constructed in your pages as well. In the case of your blog posts, the title of the post is simply a link with a class=”siblog_PostTitle”. That's not going to tell a Search Engine that there's anything important about that Title. If you're able to get into the guts of your application, I would ensure that I have heading tags, either >h1> or >h2> tags enclosing my blog post title. I would also recommend writing posts using heading tags as well.
Perhaps the page with the most opportunity is your home page. This is simply one big page of links when seen by a Search Engine. If it was a page formatted with headings and excerpts that are tagged accordingly, you would be able to get that content indexed better.
- On your calendar page there's a Subscribe link.. but nothing on the link to subscribe to. I would also ensure that you denote the page titles as I wrote about the blog titles.
- Digging into your page structure, I see an incredible complex maze of tables and divs. I don't want to take a shot at my fellow .NET developers, but I see this so often that it hurts. A great .NET developer will have a tough time locating an element, so he throws a table around it to make it easier.
Tables are for data, divs and stylesheets are for content.
Think of it this way – pretend that you're a search engine crawler and you are trying to ‘see' what content is in the page that's useful to index on. Crawlers take a subsection of the page… no one really knows what percentage, but they don't take the entire page. Your application has so much formatting code that it's difficult to actually find the content! And by the time you do, it's halfway down the page. This style is so common in .NET development. It makes the application easier to write, but difficult for crawlers to read. If there's any means for you to provide feedback to your Content Management system, please let them know.
- I actually wanted to take a peak at the “Powered by iRise” to find out more information but it linked to a blank page.
- You've got dynamic Meta tags for keywords and descriptions on the page. Ironically, most search engines don't pay very much attention to these, but they can't hurt. Your meta description needs some work, though. If I saw your calendar page come up as a result, the description would come up as “Catalyze | Events”. I'm not sure you're going to get a lot of folks clicking through on that! Instead, I would utilize your first paragraph, “The Catalyze event calendar is a comprehensive source for all activities ? local or national ? that are of interest to business analysts and user experience professionals.”
- There's no robots.txt file in your root directory. Robots.txt files let Search Engine bots know how you want your site searched. You can find a ton of information on Robots.txt at this FAQ page.
- There's no sitemap.xml file in your root directory and no Robots.txt file to point out where it is. Key to making your site search engine friendly is making it easy for Search Engines to map out your site and discover where things are. A sitemap is a programmatic roadmap to your site. Otherwise, the Search Engines can only scour the site by link… not knowing what's important nor how the site is organized. This may be the most important thing you can do for your site! Read up at Sitemaps.org
- I'm guessing at this last one, but given the lack of back-end tools being leveraged on Catalyze, your site is probably not pinging Google Blogsearch and the major Search Engines when your site changes or blog posts are made. Once again, it's not that your site won't be discovered, but proactively notifying services around the net will never hurt.
You've got one heck of a site, Tom, but no one is aware that it exists because of the lack of any Search Engine Optimization. Take a look at SEODigger on your site and you only come up for “Catalyze”. All of that content is wasted unless you can get the site Search Engine friendly. If you're wondering why “Catalyze” is your keyword, take a look at a reverse search on your site and you'll see why.
Best of luck! I'm not sure if you've got the development resources to make the changes or you have to work through the company who developed the application, but there's quite a bit of work to do.