When Flash Strikes: Another SEO Disaster

The following is what I just emailed someone who contacted me about why their site isn’t showing up in the top 500 Google results for “interior decorator denver”:

I looked at your site, and it falls into a common trap: Flash. Because most of the content of your site is a Flash movie, there’s really nothing for robots to consume. They can’t look inside Flash (or photos, or images, or movies, etc.). So they return to the Google mother ship and pretty much shrug their shoulders when the mother ship asks “What is the site about? What terms should it rank for? How high?”

Sure, your designer put in meta tags, but a) too many and b) Google’s not going to rely blindly on them when nothing else says what the site is about.

Flash isn’t inherently evil when used sparingly, but when it’s the “everything” of the site, search rankings suffer.

That’s it in a nutshell. Common problem.

I know that Adobe is making effort to have Flash be more transparent to bots, but I kept it out of this email conversation because it may or may not be what the client ends up choosing to do. I’ll provide an array of choices.

We plan to meet next week and get him out of this SEO mess.

I’m not anti-Flash (I use it on this site), I’m anti-dumb-use-of-Flash.

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AdWords bids getting too costly?

I had two clients ask me what to do about this in two days. Here’s what I told them:

“Ramp up your bid per click every couple days until you’re comfortable, keeping in mind you might run out of comfort before you get good clicks. In that case, the market has bid those terms to a level above what you’re willing or able to pay.”

The market in AdWords for your term might be so small that a) some newbie idiot is bidding up the term for everyone, or b) the term might not be small, but people are willing to spend more than you per click and make a profit with their services. Probably their site converts better than yours, so for instance they make more money out of 100 clicks than you do.

My AdWords Bidding Advice is to

  1. Use misspellings and see if you can poach terms for cheap… for instance I bid on “vovlo” for my Volvo site.
  2. Try another text ad marketplace (sorry, no recommendations).
  3. Increase your site’s conversion rate so you CAN spend a couple dollars per click and still eat… put another way, make your site a better salesperson.
  4. Or lastly, forget AdWords and simply improve your site’s visibility and relevance to search engines.

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How Can I Get More Website Traffic?

Traffic levels are all about content. People ask me about SEO… should they do some SEO basics to their site? Well yea! Do the basics of SEO and promote your site.

I’ve never asked a webmaster if he’s doing everything he can to promote his site and gotten a “yes”.

Real world, online, whatever. If you don’t have your URL in your signature, get it in there! If you don’t hold your website in high regard, nobody else will.

But most importantly, write good content as frequently as possible and users will come. If you can do only one thing do this.

That’s why it’s important to have a site where you can write without noodling with HTML. This is where WordPress comes in, and it’s why I’ve recommended WordPress for probably 19 out of the last 20 websites I’ve consulted on.

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When not working on client projects I’ve been very busy over the last month with massive changes at my Volvo site matthewsvolvosite.com. It was very important that I do things correctly because I make a significant part of my income from the site. Miscalculation could have stopped the search engines from sending traffic to MVS and cost me big $. Income from that site goes up and down almost in lockstep with search engine traffic.

I did a trio of big changes in one swoop, and brought up parts of the site slowly over a few weeks as I was able. The process worked well, and I wouldn’t do a whole lot differently.

1 Server Switch

I moved MVS to my dedicated private server from shared hosting:

  • I have more granular control of the way sites work on my server
  • Sites on my server have better uptime
  • Sites on my server are served faster

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Keep it Simple: Domains

Here’s why it’s best to keep things simple with domains.

Summary: a webmaster wonders why a domain isn’t getting love from Google. Answer: duplicate content penalty… she has a handful of domains that are duplicates, showing the same text.

The lesson here is to keep things simple. The minute you start thinking about plans that involve two or more domains to get more traffic, a BIG RED LIGHT should go off in your head. Unless you are an advanced webmaster who knows exactly what you are doing, forget about complex, multi-domain plans.

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