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Website concerns

A

Abacus

New Member
Hi All

I would be very grateful for any input or advice on some concerns I have on my website please as I am struggling a bit.

My website has been live for about 8 months and, whilst it looks ok and does what it's supposed to do, as I have become more knowledgable on running a website I have come to realise over the last few months that there have been some serious design issues behind the scenes e.g. around SEO, functionality, etc. Most of these have now been fixed either by myself or by badgering the developer (who is also my host).

Some concerns remain though but I'm not sure if these are real issues or nothing to worry about:

1) For reasons that I don't understand, it seems that my website has been set up as one big homepage and the 5 other pages don't have their own identity as such - well, they do when using the site and when I want to amend content but not when it comes to how external sites analyse/report the usage of the site, i.e. all users are assumed to enter and exit via the home page. This therefore makes it very difficult to understand the stats from Google Webmaster, Analytics, my own host company etc as all stats just refer to /index.php for all pages. Is this normal ? If not, what can I do about it ?

2) In the last few weeks, whenever I have accessed my site from my Blackberry the formatting is all over the place. It seems to be ok in IE though. I have asked my developer to sort this with no joy so far. Should I be concerned about this and is it an easy fix ?

3) I have a contact page on my site which includes a contact form as an alternative to email. After a few security issues relating to the form, the developer done a few things including putting in a "no-follow" instruction for that page. The contact details page never shows up in a Google search, which I'm (maybe wrongly) assuming to be because of the 'no-follow' instruction. Is this normal ?

4) As an aside, my site was hacked yesterday (as were a few others on the same server). The host has sorted this but should I be concerned that the host's security arrangements are not up to scratch or is this something that can happen to anyone ? Do you think it is time for me to change host ?

Thanks in advance for any help with this.

Abs
 
Mike Lewis

Mike Lewis

New Member
Hello Abacus,

I'll try to answer a couple of your questions, although I should say that there are people in the forum who are much more expert in this area than I am. I'm sure you'll get better advice from them.

First, can you tell us the URL of your site. It will be easier to make suggestions if we can see the problems for ourselves.

Re the formatting for the Blackberry. In general, a web page has to be designed differently for a hand-held device compared to a full-size browser. That's a consequence of the constraints imposed by the screen size. Although the browser in a hand-held device might be capable of displaying any web page, in most cases it involves a lot of panning and zooming. It's better to design the page specifically for the smaller screen.

That doesn't mean you need a completely different set of pages for Blackberry users. It might be possible to auto-detect the browser and apply a different style sheet depending on the screen size. But the point is that you (or, rather, your web designer) does need to take specific action to achieve that.

I don't know how easy it is for a professional web designer to do that. I recently tried to optimise one of my own sites for display on the iPhone/iPod screen, and found it difficult, but I'm not an expert.

Whether its worth the trouble depends on how important Blackberry users are in your market.

Re the "no follow" on the Contacts page. This does not prevent the Contact page itself appearing in search engines. The nofollow attribute tells search engines not to take the target of the link (as opposed to the page containing the link) into account when calculating page rank. Engines vary in the degree to which they observe this attribute.

If you want your Contacts page to be excluded from seach engine results, the solution is to add the page to your Robots.TXT file, or to add appropriate attributes to the page's meta tags.

As for the decision on whether it's right to exclude the Contacts page from search engine results, personally I think it is. The page in question probably contains many of the keywords that people will use when searching for your product or service. When your site appears in the search results for those keywords, it's better for the results to show the page that contains your main selling points, rather than one than simply has an address and phone number.

Put another way, it's not enough to get the site listed in the results; it's got to be done in a way that encourges the searcher to click through. They have no reason to go to the Contacts page before they even know who you are or how you can help them. So focus your SEO on pages that directly promote your product. (For the same reason, I would exclude the privacy policy, company legal informatioin, and other non-selling pages from the search results.)

I hope this is of interest. I'll leave it to others to answer your other points.

Mike
 
aviemorebusiness

aviemorebusiness

New Member
Hi Abacus

Mike seems to have covered most of your queries there quite comprehensively. However I can probably help with the analytics queries - it would be helpful if you could provide the URL so that I can see how the pages are set up advise accordingly.

Regards
Gavin Fenton
SEO specialist
 
Canary Dwarf

Canary Dwarf

New Member
Hi Abs

I know you're not entirely happy with revealing yourself at the moment, so I'll try to cover what I can without your URL.

There are many reasons why the stats might be pointing only to index.php.

Perhaps the domain is forwarded away from the host server to your files on an ISP server for example.

Or your site may include frames (unlikely).

Or your site may indeed be one big home page and all the links point to different areas of that page.

Lastly, but probably most likely, your stats software might only have code on the home page which only records traffic for that page.

Excluding the contacts page from search results is not the right way to secure it.

As Mike says, mobile browsers display websites differently to desktop browsers and, in the past, there has been no obligation on the part of web designers to ensure that websites will display correctly on mobile devices, although it's becoming an area of increasing importance. For example, we test on some mobile browsers as standard, but charge extra for formatting into a mobile format.

Point 4 comes as no surprise, after the points you have already made.
 
A

Abacus

New Member
Many thanks all for taking the time to reply.

I appreciate it is easier to provide a proper response with the site address and although I'm not comfortable yet displaying this on an open forum I'm happy to pm the url if that's okay.

I'm not quite sure which one of you is best able to shed more light on the issues for me so I'll PM you all and leave it up to each of you how you wish to play it. Any further info would be very much appreciated by any of you.

Would it be stretching the goodwill too far to ask if one of you could double check something else for me at the same time ? The site was originally set up by the developer without the wwws but after my insistence they changed this to with the wwws and told me they had put in a 301 redirect to ensure they all went to the www site. I also told Google via Webmastertools that the www should be used at all times. However, I am not convinced the 301 has been setup propoerly but am not sure how to check this.

Many many thanks

Abs
 
Mike Lewis

Mike Lewis

New Member
Abacus,

I've just searched in Google for what I think would be a short description of your main service. Your site came up in tenth position (just after HMRC),which isn't bad for a new site in a crowded market.

I see that your Contacts page has "noindex, nofollow" in its meta tags, which means that most search engines will not show that page in their results. As I mentioned earlier, I think that's a good thing, though others might not agree.

I also noticed that you don't give much information about your geographical location. I'd guess that your service would mainly appeal to businesses that are local to your area, or at least to central Scotland. Yet the word Scotland does not appear in your page title, description, or any of the text in your home page, and nor does the name of your town.

Regardless of the above, I think you should also put your complete postal address on your contacts page, and also make the phone number more prominent. I know I'm more comfortable dealing with companies where I can see their physical presence, and no doubt your potential customers might feel the same. There are also legal requirements about disclosing postal address, names of directors, and similar stuff.

Apart from those points, I'd say you have the making of a very good site.

Mike
 
H

HostThree

New Member
4) As an aside, my site was hacked yesterday (as were a few others on the same server). The host has sorted this but should I be concerned that the host's security arrangements are not up to scratch or is this something that can happen to anyone ? Do you think it is time for me to change host ?

It can happen to anyone, but it does deppend on the hosts security features. Have they been able to give you a reason why someone got into the server?

I would suggest keeping your eye on the website, if it happens again it may be worth while considering what other options you have.

Scott.
 
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