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.
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.
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.
Two things are important for you to take away from this post and they are listed right below. We’ve then included Google content explaining these two changes in backlinks. If the text is italic and navy blue, its quoted from Google.
Are two additional rel=”” tag options introduced by Google. UGC Sponsored can be used together or separately in an attempt to show a difference between the two backlinks. Nofollow remains a link option but if the link isn’t a paid advertisement or User Generated COntent yet you want to ensure if is not seen as an endorsement you may still use No Follow as an attribute.
Rel+”NoFollow” used to mean don’t follow this link and give the target any credit for this backlink. Thats changing, all links will now be rewarded potentially…some links have been described as “hints” with “signals” still in the rankings. It’s not clear if they are one in the same or separate.
rel=”nofollow”: Use this attribute for cases where you want to link to a page but don’t want to imply any type of endorsement, including passing along ranking credit to another page.
When nofollow was introduced, Google would not count any link marked this way as a signal to use within our search algorithms. This has now changed. All the link attributes — sponsored, UGC and nofollow — are treated as hints about which links to consider or exclude within Search. We’ll use these hints — along with other signals — as a way to better understand how to appropriately analyze and use links within our systems.
Why not completely ignore such links, as had been the case with nofollow? Links contain valuable information that can help us improve search, such as how the words within links describe content they point at. Looking at all the links we encounter can also help us better understand unnatural linking patterns. By shifting to a hint model, we no longer lose this important information, while still allowing site owners to indicate that some links shouldn’t be given the weight of a first-party endorsement.
We know these new attributes will generate questions, so here’s a FAQ that we hope covers most of those.
Do I need to change my existing nofollows?
No. If you use nofollow now as a way to block sponsored links, or to signify that you don’t vouch for a page you link to, that will continue to be supported. There’s absolutely no need to change any nofollow links that you already have.
Can I use more than one rel value on a link?
Yes, you can use more than one rel value on a link. For example, rel=”ugc sponsored” is a perfectly valid attribute which hints that the link came from user-generated content and is sponsored. It’s also valid to use nofollow with the new attributes — such as rel=”nofollow ugc” — if you wish to be backwards-compatible with services that don’t support the new attributes.
If I use nofollow for ads or sponsored links, do I need to change those?
No. You can keep using nofollow as a method for flagging such links to avoid possible link scheme penalties. You don’t need to change any existing markup. If you have systems that append this to new links, they can continue to do so. However, we recommend switching over to rel=”sponsored” if or when it is convenient.
Do I still need to flag ad or sponsored links?
Yes. If you want to avoid a possible link scheme action, use rel=“sponsored” or rel=“nofollow” to flag these links. We prefer the use of “sponsored,” but either is fine and will be treated the same, for this purpose.
What happens if I use the wrong attribute on a link?
There’s no wrong attribute except in the case of sponsored links. If you flag a UGC link or a non-ad link as “sponsored,” we’ll see that hint but the impact — if any at all — would be at most that we might not count the link as a credit for another page. In this regard, it’s no different than the status quo of many UGC and non-ad links already marked as nofollow.
It is an issue going the opposite way. Any link that is clearly an ad or sponsored should use “sponsored” or “nofollow,” as described above. Using “sponsored” is preferred, but “nofollow” is acceptable.
Why should I bother using any of these new attributes?
Using the new attributes allows us to better process links for analysis of the web. That can include your own content, if people who link to you make use of these attributes.
Won’t changing to a “hint” approach encourage link spam in comments and UGC content?
Many sites that allow third-parties to contribute to content already deter link spam in a variety of ways, including moderation tools that can be integrated into many blogging platforms and human review. The link attributes of “ugc” and “nofollow” will continue to be a further deterrent. In most cases, the move to a hint model won’t change the nature of how we treat such links. We’ll generally treat them as we did with nofollow before and not consider them for ranking purposes. We will still continue to carefully assess how to use links within Search, just as we always have and as we’ve had to do for situations where no attributions were provided.
When do these attributes and changes go into effect?
All the link attributes, sponsored, ugc and nofollow, now work today as hints for us to incorporate for ranking purposes. For crawling and indexing purposes, nofollow will become a hint as of March 1, 2020. Those depending on nofollow solely to block a page from being indexed (which was never recommended) should use one of the much more robust mechanisms listed on our Learn how to block URLs from Google help page.
These backlink designations came about to combat link schemes. Yes, I can see any effort to build backlinks as a link scheme but there are permissible and forbidden ways to build links. Here is Google on what is a link scheme.
Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.
The following are examples of link schemes which can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results:
Additionally, creating links that weren’t editorially placed or vouched for by the site’s owner on a page, otherwise known as unnatural links, can be considered a violation of our guidelines. Here are a few common examples of unnatural links that may violate our guidelines:
Note that PPC (pay-per-click) advertising links that don’t pass PageRank to the buyer of the ad do not violate our guidelines. You can prevent PageRank from passing in several ways, such as:
The best way to get other sites to create high-quality, relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community. Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.
If you see a site that is participating in link schemes intended to manipulate PageRank, let us know. We’ll use your information to improve our algorithmic detection of such links.
I hate missing out just as much as anyone else. Its why Ultimate SEO has accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest, Flickr, Youtube, Blogger, Instagram, SnapChat and more. But the only thing worse than not being on a platform is to not appear active on that platform. If someone’s first impression of you or your company is your activity on a forgotten profile it is more damaging than not having been there to begin with.
Thats where IFTTT has stepped in and been able to save time while helping to get a message out consistently. From WordPress IFTTT automatically shares and posts each update to a slew of other sites and until recently its been the most effective means for auto updating social media. Now that Google+ has ended and with the loss of Gmail applets on IFTTT it may be a good time to look again at social media auto posting techniques. Recently it appears LinkedIn may have discontinued its connection to IFTTT as well, which is a shame and hurts both LinkedIn and IFTTT.
In researching IFTTT applets Buffer.com came to light. Its mostly a paid version of what IFTTT did for free but it also includes a free options which allows integration with 3 social media platforms. In the use case of Ultimate SEO that meant connecting to LinkedIn. The other two positions going to Facebook and Twitter as those are the powerhouse social media platforms.
My ultimate goal is to fully automate this process and I haven’t yet seen that in Buffer.com but further testing may reveal that an action from IFTTT completes this chain. Its not enough to be able to post an individual article from one site to all, we need something that checks all sites and then auto publishes what isnt published on others to those sites.
You might think of this daisy chain of social media as if it were a PBN. It’s a network of separate sites but all you.
I’ll keep you updated on this case study. At present though IFTTT still appears to be the best auto posting option for social media. It can start from a sites RSS feed or an integrated service like WordPress then post to a central site such as Blogger which has a lot of versatility due to the number of connections available.
Some connections utilized for Ultimate SEO include:
(The WordPress to X recipes are available but I’d recommend making these connections through Blogger where possible for consistency)
It may appear that I love Blogger but its important to have a centralized distribution point. Consider how easy it would be to accidentally create an auto updating loop if you didn’t have a defined start. I accidentally created one of these months ago and it was annoying first discovering it and second reviewing where in the chain I was picking up the update I was trying to put down. So blogger serves in that regard as a check point on redundancy. I also prefer a secondary site from WordPress. If after publishing something on WordPress you realized the permalink is too long or something just didn’t look right, you at least have another spot to stop that mistake from going out to everything else.