Williams-Sonoma: WSHome.com Site Review

wshome-site1I like to learn from the world around me. As I browse the internet I look to see what makes one site successful and another one a flop. WSHome.com is one of many sites owned by Williams-Sonoma. The site has a wonderful design and feel to it. When I went to the site I could tell that they were targeting people who want high-quality luxury products. This site exudes quality in its design and also uses a lot of good SEO practices. Even though the site is huge, it maintains unique titles even on the deep pages. Along with this, the entire site has unique meta keywords for each page and unique meta descriptions. The on-page optimization seems to be good throughout most the site. The Google toolbar shows a page rank of 5 on the home page. When looking at WSHome.com’s back links they seem to have a lot of links. According to Google they have over 300 links pointing to their site. That may not seem like a lot but those familiar with looking for back links using Google will realize that this is a significant amount of back links. According to Yahoo they have over 25,000 back links.

Even with all the things that WShomes.com is doing right, they are not showing up as well as they could be in the search engine results. I took the keywords that WSHome.com was targeting on their home page and did a little research to find out how they were doing. Below is a sample of the keywords on their home page and how they are ranking for them.

Keyword Ranking for WSHome.com

I ran this report two different days to make sure that I had a good representation of how they were doing. The numbers on the left side of the dash or arrow show where they show up in Google for that particular keyword. The number on the right of the dash or arrow show how much it has moved (green arrow showing upward movement, and red arrow showing downward movement). For the most part, these keywords seem to be staying about the same. In this report the site has only three keywords on the front page. I used the Google Adwords keyword tool to see how competitive these keywords are. Below is a screen capture showing how competitive the words are.

WSHome.com keywords

This shows how competitive these keywords are for paid advertising in comparison to other keywords. By looking at advertising competitiveness and the number of searches for the keywords, it is fair to say that these are competitive terms.

As I looked through this site I felt that there was a need for more content on the pages. The search engines like to see unique content on the site and WSHome does have good content on their individual product pages.  However, aside from the product pages, the rest of the site doesn’t have much content. The pages look good but there is little more than navigation and links into the individual products on most pages.

The navigation needs some changes to be more search friendly. The site uses images in their navigation instead of words. Why not just make it easier for the search engine bots to do their job? At least they’ve labeled their images with alt tags.  However, it would still be better if they changed these images to words.  One benefit of doing this would be to provide keyword rich internal links to the inner pages. The other major problem with the navigation is that it uses Java Script to control the drop down menus. In general it is not a good idea to use a lot of java script in site navigation as it makes it more difficult for the search engine bots to crawl and index every page of a site.

After looking at WSHome.com I wanted to see how other Williams-Sonoma websites were doing. I looked at PBTeen.com, and just like WSHome.com, it did a good job with having unique meta tags on all of its pages. The Google toolbar page rank is only a 4 on this site. There are not as many links to this site either. Google says they have just over 200 links while Yahoo says they have 3,900. With all these numbers I expected this PBTeen.com to be doing worse in the rankings than WSHome.com. The image below shows what I found.

PBteen.com keyword ranking

PBTeen seems to be doing very well in the rankings and has a fair amount of number one positions. It would seem same to assume that these keywords must be less competitive, right?  This is what the Google Adwords tool showed:

PBteen.com Keywords

WSHome.com had a keyword with over 134,000 monthly searches on it in February but averaged 50,000 searches most months. PBTeen.com’s highest searched keyword, teen bedding, averaged over 60,000 searches most months.

Both sites have about the same amount of content on their pages and they both use images in their navigation. So why does PBTeen.com seems to be doing so much better in the rankings? Take a look at this graph showing the difference in traffic the each site.

PBTeen.com seems to have a lot more traffic. I have my feelings as to why these two sites are experiencing differences in ranking and traffic to their sites.  One reson is that PBTeen.com has a better navigation system.  PBTeen.com uses ‘breadcrumb’ naviagation which is more user freindly and also seo friendly as they add keyword rich links.  There are a couple other reasons, but I can’t give away all my secrets in one post!

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