SEO for large Dynamic sites

Over the last year I have worked very close at improving the SEO for a large dynamic website.  The website has 200k+ pages, 99% of which are user content.  The website currently relies solely on Google traffic and has no large inbound links.

Here is some of the things that I have learnt first hand that have improved our traffic.

Step One – Start measuring it.

Without measuring something you are trying to improve, you will never improve it. Period.

I will only assume you already have Google Analytics installed and tracking on your website.  If you are not at that stage then I can’t help you other than to say, INSTALL GOOGLE ANALYTICS, IT IS EASY. If you are tracking your traffic with Google Analytics, great, thats your first measurement.  Next step is reading those mesurements, Google makes it easy.  On your dashboard it should show you the important details and it has a couple of nice little graphs to gork at too, cute.

Become obsessed with tracking your traffic.

If you are serious about improving your traffic, all I can say, and I can only say it because it is what I did,  become obsessed with tracking traffic.  Check Google Analytics once a day.  It’s only updated once* a day so it makes sense, I do it every morning.  Learn your traffic profile.  Know which day on average is your highest, know your lowest day.  After a while you will become attached to your traffic.  If your traffic is a couple thousand higher one day than normal you will get a little buzz and a nagging question as to why it happened!  More importantly, how can you make it happen again! And every day!

You can track more than just traffic on your site.

At this point you are quiet capable of changing content on your pages and trying to see changes in traffic.  Some things might work, some things might fail.  Mostly you will see minor changes and won’t really be worth the effort, yet. (Changes you could do is keyword improvement or some such.. changing the heading, etc.)

Next on the list to track is the actual numbers that effect your traffic.  Create a Google Web Masters account and add your site/s.  You will have to verify that you have access to the website before you can start touching Google’s prized tools, but that is easy.  Google gives you a file/text and you plop it into your site in a randomly named file at the root, Google tells you what to do, don’t fret.  It then finds the file/text and you win.  1 week later you receive your prize in the mail, an onion.  I like onions.  Now that you have webmaster tools, open it up and run around inside.

Do you like onions?

You can change things that will directly effect Google’s search engine result pages.  If your website is a .com but focuses on a certain geographic location like New Zealand, you can set it up and Google will make sure you sit highly in the New Zealand Google index (Yeah, every country has it’s own version of the index, or at-least ranking of it).  You can change the rate Google crawls your site, whoa that sounds like fun!  Google warns you not to do that and that it will work out the best rate by itself .  Sort of like how my dad grew a apple tree in the middle of this garden we had, then told nobody to eat the apples.  Eve my step sister ate one and got us all in trouble. “Diagnostics”, this is where all the action is.  Crawl errors, Crawl stats, HTML suggestions.  Have a look at those and you will see that Google has noted down a rough number of how many 404 pages it has found, or rather not found.  How many pages gooGle has crawled in a day over the last couple months.  Stats on riveting stuff like how many duplicate title tags you have in your site or how many pages are missing title tags.

For me the key ones have been

  1. 404’s
  2. Duplicate Title Tags

But for you it might be different ones which are high and need fixing.  If you have 0 everywhere then your good to go.  High is a relative term, it depends how big your site is to how much Google is going to hit you for it.

So now every day you check your Google Analytics traffic reports, you log into webmaster tools and check your 404’s and duplicate title tags (Google seems to update the diagnostics every other couple days).  Good, now you are tracking some numbers.

Everyday, check the numbers.

Now you can start to work out why you have 404’s, redirect them to the right place or remove the links to the 404’s from your site.  Linking to a 404 on your site, from your site is bad.  Fix it.  It is like buying a car.  If for example Toyota’s cars started crashing a lot, people would find out and eventually people would stop buying Toyotas.  If you link to pages which don’t exist then Google won’t want to send it’s hungry visitors to your website and have a bad experience.  You have to think about from Google’s point of view.  Google wants to send people to good quality content related to the search.  If your site loads slowly, is buggy, missing files, then it isn’t good quality and Google will be hard pressed to want to send anyone over to look.

While your at it, fix your duplicate title tags.  It’s easy to find, web master tools links to them.  Think of a lovely replacement title tag that will suck the life juice out of the SEO.  That makes no sense.  Fix those duplicate title tags, or missing title tags or short/long/width title tags.

Now watch the traffic rise.

Over a couple weeks you will notice the number of 404’s will go down (takes longer for Google to forget your 404’s than it does to find them), the duplicate/long/short/fat title tags will go away too.  You should see your traffic go up, yay!

Wait, why did this happen? I will discuss this on the next post in this series about Search Engine Optimization.

3 Responses

  1. Written by Goalranks
    on April 19, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    very good article and informative on seo. I’ll look forward to see next post.

  2. Written by Skyranks
    on August 17, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    Thx for the article about seo consultant and very nice summary. I can get a picture in my mind.

  3. […] for managing and optimizing you website.  I covered some of it’s benefits in my other posts SEO for large Dynamic sites & SEO for Large Dynamic sites – […]

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