Romantic Depot operates six, soon to be seven adult stores offering sex toys and lingerie, in the New York City area. Their flagship stores are in Manhattan and the Bronx. They’ve been around for sometime and over the years their website aged along with other businesses seeking to help drive local foot traffic.
With the move to mobile devices in full demonstration the old RomanticDepot.com site was not responsive. This lead the owner of the chain to build a new site that was mobile friendly and it lead to Ultimate SEO‘s involvement overseeing the process of migrating to this new site without hurting the site’s strong local SEO presence.
Romantic Depot does have an impressive keyword positioning presence in the New York City area. Even nationally they are on page 2 of results for “sex shop“. The goal was to ensure a smooth transition to the mobile site while maintaining the SEO that had been built over the years.
The new site was largely a 1 to 1 ratio. The html static page manhattan.html went now to /manhattan/ on the WordPress site. We placed in any one off redirects, a redirect that took any url that ended in .html and would return it without the html and a redirect for the index.html homepage to come back with the WordPress homepage at /
Backlinks are the life blood of a sit’s ranking and it was important to ensure that those would be maintained with relevant content as well. Using SEMRush.com we collected all of the backlinks and their existing targets and ensured those had rules as well. While the site’s backlinks were in the tens of thousands it quick came down to a few hundred target urls that needed to be accounted for to maintain SEO.
Most of the work involved in preparing for the migration was speed performance in nature. The new site when tested on GTMetrix.com was loading in 12.6 seconds with over 400 http requests. We targeted a 3 second load and through Cloudflare.com we were able to utilize a CDN that brought the site closer to users as well as offered other benefits. Cloudflare alone brough the site load time to about 7 seconds.
We further limited content that could be on other pages for those other pages such as Google maps to the location homepages. Instituting lazy load ended up being the primary aspect of speeding up the site. Image optimization was also completed and a move to PHP7.3 from 5.6. Merging CSS and JS files also worked to reduce the requests.
With our work to provide a faster site complete the migration was completed and load times on the site are under 3 seconds for mobile users.
Multi Domain Strategy Consolidation
The problem that arises from multiple domain strategies is the segmentation of resources and confusion it can cause to Google Analytics. An easy eample of this is the bounce rate and pageviews metrics are actually hurt on the primary domain.
Consider this… a person searches romantic depot on Google. The first result is their site, likely the person is going to want to know what items might be at the store. Once the page loads they find the link to the store, maybe even before the page loads. Clicking that link they are now taken to a new domain.
That visitors actions would have counted as a bounced visitor. See when someone goes to your site and immediately leaves for another site that signals to Google that what was on that original site wasn’t what the searcher wanted. To prevent future searchers from going to a site that people leave directly after going to it they might increase the position of other sites to try and correct for this in the future. That ultimately means the top spot position for the keyword is being hampered by the site’s structure.
Further Google sees that a person wasn’t even interested enough in the site to look at a second page, they just left. In realty the second site is part of the same overall topic or brand its just that Google doesn’t necessarily understand that. An artificially inflated bounce rate and lower page views are all that the first site is getting and the second site is losing out as well as most of the marketing is surrounding the first site’s address…backlinks, social mentions and such.
Lower Bounce Rate
The illustration above shows our page views of the main root domain. Guess when on the graph the romanticdepotsuperstore.com site was rolled into the main domains … late July. The thing is, the traffic isn’t any greater its just not split up anymore. The homepage link to the store is now going to a subfolder of the same domain, its helping by acting as another page view rather than hurting the site as a bounce.
The keywords and authority of this additional site were better utilized under the main domain RomanticDepot.com and this site was migrated to a subfolder /store as a separate WordPress site.
Thats important the site was migrated as a separate site under the original. This was done for multiple reason and it creates its own set of unique challenges but we’ll discuss that later in a future post.
The consolidation of the sites further helps with SEO because after we migrated we put into place redirects from the store’s domain to its new home within the subfolder. That means all the backlinks now combine to help one site. Lets consider the following illustration…
Domain A: DA 30 Backlinks: 10,000 Referring Domains: 1,000
Domain B: DA 30 Backlinks: 9,000 Referring Domains: 900
Competitor: DA 35 Backlinks: 13,000 Referring Domains: 1,300
Lets assume everything else is the same…we’d expect then that Competitor will rank higher on Google Search. But if we combine Domain A ad Domain B.
Domain AB: DA 40 Backlinks: 19,000 Referring Domains: 1,900
Everything else still the same….Domain AB will now rank higher than the Competitor.
Google Announced in September 2019 that it was phasing out support for Flash from its Chrome browser following Adobe;s announcement that they would end support in 2020. Apple users wont likely hear much about the end of Flash, in 2010, Steve Jobs wrote a scathing review of Flash and in it explained why Apple products wouldn’t support it.
Google’s Flash Announcement:
For 20 years, Flash has helped shape the way that you play games, watch videos and run applications on the web. But over the last few years, Flash has become less common. Three years ago, 80 percent of desktop Chrome users visited a site with Flash each day. Today usage is only 17 percent and continues to decline.
This trend reveals that sites are migrating to open web technologies, which are faster and more power-efficient than Flash. They’re also more secure, so you can be safer while shopping, banking, or reading sensitive documents. They also work on both mobile and desktop, so you can visit your favorite site anywhere.
These open web technologies became the default experience for Chrome late last year when sites started needing to ask your permission to run Flash. Chrome will continue phasing out Flash over the next few years, first by asking for your permission to run Flash in more situations, and eventually disabling it by default. We will remove Flash completely from Chrome toward the end of 2020.
If you regularly visit a site that uses Flash today, you may be wondering how this affects you. If the site migrates to open web standards, you shouldn’t notice much difference except that you’ll no longer see prompts to run Flash on that site. If the site continues to use Flash, and you give the site permission to run Flash, it will work through the end of 2020.
It’s taken a lot of close work with Adobe, other browsers, and major publishers to make sure the web is ready to be Flash-free. We’re supportive of Adobe’s announcement today, and we look forward to working with everyone to make the web even better.
Steve Job’s Adobe Flash Note:
Apple has a long relationship with Adobe. In fact, we met Adobe’s founders when they were in their proverbial garage. Apple was their first big customer, adopting their Postscript language for our new Laserwriter printer. Apple invested in Adobe and owned around 20% of the company for many years. The two companies worked closely together to pioneer desktop publishing and there were many good times. Since that golden era, the companies have grown apart. Apple went through its near death experience, and Adobe was drawn to the corporate market with their Acrobat products. Today the two companies still work together to serve their joint creative customers – Mac users buy around half of Adobe’s Creative Suite products – but beyond that there are few joint interests.
I wanted to jot down some of our thoughts on Adobe’s Flash products so that customers and critics may better understand why we do not allow Flash on iPhones, iPods and iPads. Adobe has characterized our decision as being primarily business driven – they say we want to protect our App Store – but in reality it is based on technology issues. Adobe claims that we are a closed system, and that Flash is open, but in fact the opposite is true. Let me explain.
First, there’s “Open”.
Adobe’s Flash products are 100% proprietary. They are only available from Adobe, and Adobe has sole authority as to their future enhancement, pricing, etc. While Adobe’s Flash products are widely available, this does not mean they are open, since they are controlled entirely by Adobe and available only from Adobe. By almost any definition, Flash is a closed system.
Apple even creates open standards for the web. For example, Apple began with a small open source project and created WebKit, a complete open-source HTML5 rendering engine that is the heart of the Safari web browser used in all our products. WebKit has been widely adopted. Google uses it for Android’s browser, Palm uses it, Nokia uses it, and RIM (Blackberry) has announced they will use it too. Almost every smartphone web browser other than Microsoft’s uses WebKit. By making its WebKit technology open, Apple has set the standard for mobile web browsers.
Second, there’s the “full web”.
Adobe has repeatedly said that Apple mobile devices cannot access “the full web” because 75% of video on the web is in Flash. What they don’t say is that almost all this video is also available in a more modern format, H.264, and viewable on iPhones, iPods and iPads. YouTube, with an estimated 40% of the web’s video, shines in an app bundled on all Apple mobile devices, with the iPad offering perhaps the best YouTube discovery and viewing experience ever. Add to this video from Vimeo, Netflix, Facebook, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ESPN, NPR, Time, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, People, National Geographic, and many, many others. iPhone, iPod and iPad users aren’t missing much video.
Another Adobe claim is that Apple devices cannot play Flash games. This is true. Fortunately, there are over 50,000 games and entertainment titles on the App Store, and many of them are free. There are more games and entertainment titles available for iPhone, iPod and iPad than for any other platform in the world.
Third, there’s reliability, security and performance.
Symantec recently highlighted Flash for having one of the worst security records in 2009. We also know first hand that Flash is the number one reason Macs crash. We have been working with Adobe to fix these problems, but they have persisted for several years now. We don’t want to reduce the reliability and security of our iPhones, iPods and iPads by adding Flash.
In addition, Flash has not performed well on mobile devices. We have routinely asked Adobe to show us Flash performing well on a mobile device, any mobile device, for a few years now. We have never seen it. Adobe publicly said that Flash would ship on a smartphone in early 2009, then the second half of 2009, then the first half of 2010, and now they say the second half of 2010. We think it will eventually ship, but we’re glad we didn’t hold our breath. Who knows how it will perform?
Fourth, there’s battery life.
To achieve long battery life when playing video, mobile devices must decode the video in hardware; decoding it in software uses too much power. Many of the chips used in modern mobile devices contain a decoder called H.264 – an industry standard that is used in every Blu-ray DVD player and has been adopted by Apple, Google (YouTube), Vimeo, Netflix and many other companies.
Although Flash has recently added support for H.264, the video on almost all Flash websites currently requires an older generation decoder that is not implemented in mobile chips and must be run in software. The difference is striking: on an iPhone, for example, H.264 videos play for up to 10 hours, while videos decoded in software play for less than 5 hours before the battery is fully drained.
When websites re-encode their videos using H.264, they can offer them without using Flash at all. They play perfectly in browsers like Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome without any plugins whatsoever, and look great on iPhones, iPods and iPads.
Fifth, there’s Touch.
Even if iPhones, iPods and iPads ran Flash, it would not solve the problem that most Flash websites need to be rewritten to support touch-based devices.
Sixth, the most important reason.
Besides the fact that Flash is closed and proprietary, has major technical drawbacks, and doesn’t support touch based devices, there is an even more important reason we do not allow Flash on iPhones, iPods and iPads. We have discussed the downsides of using Flash to play video and interactive content from websites, but Adobe also wants developers to adopt Flash to create apps that run on our mobile devices.
We know from painful experience that letting a third party layer of software come between the platform and the developer ultimately results in sub-standard apps and hinders the enhancement and progress of the platform. If developers grow dependent on third party development libraries and tools, they can only take advantage of platform enhancements if and when the third party chooses to adopt the new features. We cannot be at the mercy of a third party deciding if and when they will make our enhancements available to our developers.
This becomes even worse if the third party is supplying a cross platform development tool. The third party may not adopt enhancements from one platform unless they are available on all of their supported platforms. Hence developers only have access to the lowest common denominator set of features. Again, we cannot accept an outcome where developers are blocked from using our innovations and enhancements because they are not available on our competitor’s platforms.
Flash is a cross platform development tool. It is not Adobe’s goal to help developers write the best iPhone, iPod and iPad apps. It is their goal to help developers write cross platform apps. And Adobe has been painfully slow to adopt enhancements to Apple’s platforms. For example, although Mac OS X has been shipping for almost 10 years now, Adobe just adopted it fully (Cocoa) two weeks ago when they shipped CS5. Adobe was the last major third party developer to fully adopt Mac OS X.
Our motivation is simple – we want to provide the most advanced and innovative platform to our developers, and we want them to stand directly on the shoulders of this platform and create the best apps the world has ever seen. We want to continually enhance the platform so developers can create even more amazing, powerful, fun and useful applications. Everyone wins – we sell more devices because we have the best apps, developers reach a wider and wider audience and customer base, and users are continually delighted by the best and broadest selection of apps on any platform.
Flash was created during the PC era – for PCs and mice. Flash is a successful business for Adobe, and we can understand why they want to push it beyond PCs. But the mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards – all areas where Flash falls short.
The avalanche of media outlets offering their content for Apple’s mobile devices demonstrates that Flash is no longer necessary to watch video or consume any kind of web content. And the 250,000 apps on Apple’s App Store proves that Flash isn’t necessary for tens of thousands of developers to create graphically rich applications, including games.
New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.
What This Means In SEO
If your site uses Flash, you have a year to stop or no one will see your site content unless they uses an older version of a browser that still plays Flash.
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