Chris M made a bold statement the other day. He rated that 1 in 500 sites have proper, basic SEO principles instated. Initially, I thought it was a bold statement, but once engaged in discussion, combined with a bit of research, I would have to say that the figures can’t be far from his estimate.
Basic SEO principles might seem a bit of a broad term, but I will hopefully be able to describe things as I go along.
Initially when I saw Chris’ tweet providing those numbers I thought he was crazy. I knew that many sites do not have some, or a lot, of the fundementals SEO foundations in place, but I thought 1 in 500 was an absurd number. With being so interested to learn and grow from the industry experts around me, I asked him what he based this on.
He gave me a recent example that he had come across of the Century City website. First of all, the basic SEO principles on that site are shocking. For a site of that size that surely must drive a fair amount of traffic, it had virtually no SEO principles implemented. The analytics code was in the header which could lead to inaccurate statistics and just leads to a mess. Then their meta data is terrible. Actually I can’t say that as there is virtually no meta data. They have the following title: <title>CENTURY CITY</title>.
Are you telling me that they could not think of a single keyword to link to century city? Nothing at all? Or was this a home made site? I wanted to find out so I did a bit of digging.
Oh no not at all was this done by one man in his basement. The company that designed it is called The Artery. The rank number one for the search term “the artery”, but naturally they should as that can’t exactly be the most competitive keyword out there. Otherwise, Google didn’t really seem to know who they were.
So I moved onto investigating their website itself. I didn’t really like what I saw. The site is mainly flashed based, but at least it has some decent meta data. The title is good and includes relevant keywords without it starting to look too spammy. It could possibly be shorter, but nonetheless it is actually alright. Hey look, there are actually some keywords for the meta keywords, and once again those are actually quite decent. No real surprises as this is a company that have designed a website, so naturally those should be in place. However, there is no meta description. How can there not be meta description? Surely you want your site to rank in the SERP’s, and once you have started to rank, even at the wrong end of the results, you would someone who might come across your result, you want to provide them with some information about your site, and probably sneak in a few relevant keywords in there. Instead, they had nothing. I tried to do a few searchs for them by using keywords that they had listed, and I got no results in the top 20. Not exactly good for business.
Sorry, I was side tracked. Back to the main website in question – Century City. So after investigating the company that developed the website, it is clear to see that they sort of know whats going on and should have at least implemented some keywords and a better title. The front page is also full of flash, and provides no real content for the spiders to pick up. Which once again is not going to drive traffic towards your site. You could argue that with an establishment the size of Century City, that someone will know what they are searching for if they are looking for the place, and that if they are not searching for century city, then it is sort of pointless in terms of implementing these fundementals.
That takes me back to my main point. Even if you do feel it is pointless, why would you still ignore these basic foundations that should be implemented regardless? I investigated further into some of these basic principles and whether they seem to be deemed added features by web developors or not by going through the directory of sites listed on the Century City website.
What conclusion did I come up with? The exact same on that Chris came up with. There were an absolute handful of sites that had proper meta data. By now, you should know that when I refer to proper meta data, I mean a decent title with something more than just the name, a decent bunch of targeted keywords that actually match your search terms and brand, as well as a decent description that could be used effectively in the SERP’s.
Unfortunately, I was very disappointed with the results. So few sites had these in place, and on the odd occasion that the site had all three, they were normally not very well done at all. It seems that basic SEO principles are unknown by those companies, they are taking advantage of the customer when they purchase a website design from them, or these basic principles are deemed to be surplus to building a website.
Surely these principles should be included in the design phase, and not seperately? What is the point of a website if you are not driving traffic to it? What is the simpliest way to drive traffic? To be indexed, and to be indexed correctly, and to the best ability that your site can be. That is how you are going to drive effective, targeted traffic.
It seems the basics are just being shoved out of the window, and what a pity that is for these sites. On the other hand it could work out fairly well for SEO’s as they can come in and clean up the mess, and create some business for themselves, so I guess it is not doom and gloom after all.
P.S I recommend you doing a few tests for yourself. I decided that not even a no-follow for these sites was worth it so that is why there are no links to show you what I was talking about.