Last week Search Engine Journal announced the launch of SEO Clinic, a free service where businesses, individuals and organizations can submit their web sites for a review by our search marketing columnists, or our Resident Pimps.
The reaction to the announcement was phenomenal with well over 100 different sites ranging from personal blogs to established businesses to web 2.0 style social networks, all gunning for the chance for a free and public SEO review of their sites.
Essentially, our hope is not for only the lucky sites we chose to benefit from our expertise but also for our reader base to learn from the reviews, and even contribute ideas. Our mission is for SEO Clinic to become a public platform of SEO discussion, and we encourage all readers to sound off, critique our critique and contribute your own ideas to this public forum.
SEO Clinic Patient : TechSmith
For our first patient of the SEO Clinic we decided on a rather well known software company which is looking for some help with their SEO, TechSmith.
TechSmith is the parent company of SnagIt, a rather popular screen capturing and image editing tool which was first launched in 1991, 16 years ago. According to TechSmith, there are over 7 million SnagIt users worldwide and its success led to the expansion of the company into screen recording with their Camtasia Studio tool.
In 2004 TechSmith also launched Morae, a digital user experience testing solution for recording, analyzing and sharing the user experience on software applications and web sites.
Although TechSmith is a large and established web property with a Google PageRank of 8, they seem to be having problems ranking for their more competitive terms.
TechSmith has designated four major keywords for their four major products: Screen Capture (for SnagIt), Screen Recorder (for Camtasia Studio), Screencast (for Screencast.com), and Usability Testing (for Morae). They have performed some link building initiatives and on-site contextual SEO.
TechSmith is being outranked by many smaller sites for some common keywords associated with their products. Although many other sites link to the TechSmith.com homepage, their internal navigation does not share the link love given to their site among their main product lines. Their site needs more of a hierarchical structure, better product pages, more quality linkage to product pages, and better use of their blog for social marketing, which will lead to more organic links among the web and blogosphere.
Today’s SEO Clinic Resident Pimps
Helping us pimp out the SEO of the TechSmith site today will be a group of Search Engine Journal contributors along with one special guest. Today’s SEO Residents are Carsten Cumbrowski, Ahmed Bilal, Jessica Bowman, Gemme van Hasselt and Rhea Drysdale.
If you read SEJ, you’re probably familiar with these contributors.
Our special guest resident is Bill Slawski of SEO by the SEA. I’ve worked with Bill in the past and have been a fan of his for many years. We’d all like to thank Bill for jumping into the SEO Clinic for our first SEO review of TechSmith. I’m kind of sitting in the backseat of this first review as a server change took up most of my time last night and over the weekend, but will be chiming in with my thoughts and connecting the dots amongst our Resident SEO Pimps during the Clinic.
SEO Clinic’s Review of TechSmith.com
SEO Basics : URLs, Meta Tags, Content, Navigation :
1. 301 Redirects, and 404 error pages: www.TechSmith.com (PR8) vs. TechSmith.com (PR 6) :
From Gemme van Hasselt:
www.techsmith.com and techsmith.com haven’t been combined. A 301 re-direct will fix this. Maybe even considering re-directing index.asp/html/htm/php to the root with a 301 as they now give 404’s The domain www and no-www is the first call though.
Interestingly enough Techsmith is already using 301 re-directs for some of its pages, example www.techsmith.com/products/snagit to www.techsmith.com/snagit.asp But they’re not consistent in this. Typing http://www.techsmith.com/products gives me a 404 which could also easily be re-directed to http://www.techsmith.com/products.asp
Suggestion is to check all pages and where needed implement the right re-directs.
2. Title Tags:
Title tags are probably the most important part of defining your site via meta data to search engines. Titles should always include your company’s name and one or two major search terms you want to rank for, which of course are also repeated on other parts of your site.
Gemme van Hasselt adds:
Most Titles are pretty much ok, for the pages that rank well for their preferred keywords I wouldn’t change too much. Changing the order and putting the preferred keyword at the beginning is an option to play with for Usability Testing, Screencast & Screen Recorder as they still trail for these in the Top 10 of Google. They already rank well with their domain screencast.com for the screencast keyword (Wikipedia is the number one result here in both YH and GG:) and having Techsmith rank as well in there is nice use of the available real estate.
This is a bit off topic, but if Wikipedia pages for screencast and screen recorder show up in top Google and Yahoo results, TechSmith should obtain links to their products (or even photo examples) via those pages. Sure, Wikipedia NOFollow’s outgoing links, but don’t think of this linking in terms of SEO. TechSmith has the online reputation to do so and these links can be excellent traffic and brand building tools.
3. Meta Description Tags :
From Carsten Cumbrowski:
Some Search Engines, including Google use the description meta tag content as snippet or short description of the page in the SERPS (Search Engine Result Pages) if they are provided and considered relevant to the actual page content. If no Meta description is provided or if it is considered irrelevant, search engines generate a summary of their own based on content from the web page itself, something you can not control. If you have a Meta Description and it is not used by the SE, change it.
Have the main keyword phrase(s) appear in the description. If you have a Copywriter, great, let him write the description. Keep it under 200 characters and make it as clear as possible what the visitor will find and can do if he clicks on the link to that page. If they keyword is right and the description clear and reinforcing the users intend which he expressed by using the search phrase in the first place, conversion will be greatly increased. A large number of visitors coming this way to the page should at least download the trial versions of the software.
Carsten gives an example from the SnagIt product page, http://www.techsmith.com/snagit.asp
Their currrent description looks in the SERPs like this:
Here the description of the top 2 listings. Which one is more inviting if you would put each of the two next to the one from SnagIt?
Jessica Bowman adds that she would like to see TechSmith test different descriptions and see how those influence click thru:
You can test variations of copy for the SERPs to determine which make the best copy and reel in users, however, Jarrod Spool is a name any usability expert would know. There three big guys in usability – Spool, Nielsen and Norman – they’re the Danny Sullivan of search. Spool gave a great testimonial; weave it into the meta description to see if it improves click-thru rates.
But not all descriptions in the search results are coming from the TechSmith.com description tags. TechSmith may be suffering from the double-edged sword of establishing quality Yahoo and ODP listings as some of the search engines are using those directory descriptions as their default SERP descriptions. Gemme van Hasselt suggests:
Results for “Snagit” in Yahoo and MSN display respectively the description from the Yahoo directory and the ODP.
Using the NOODP and NOYDIR meta tags gives more control on the text to be displayed in the SERP’s and can make it more appealing for searchers.
Results for the Keyword – screen capture – shows the Yahoo Dir description for example
Start with adding the NOODP and wait a little with the NOYDIR as it is a very recent implementation and it’s always good to give it some time and see what experiences are from websites that implemented it. Alternatively test with some less important pages. Techsmith already ranks for Screen capture no1 and 2 in Yahoo so most searchers with this keyword will get to them anyway.
On Site Content
One of the major holes in the SEO of TechSmith.com is the lack of Headers, especially H1, used in the text of the homepage and content pages. An H1 tag is like the Title Tag, but for on the site content. If your title defines your page, the H1 tag defines the content of your page.
From Jessica Bowman:
You’re missing the coveted H1 tag on most pages, including the homepage. Hands down, of all copy on the page the H1 is the most valuable so find a way to incorporate that into the site and include your targeted keyword phrases.