This is the launch of a new series called the “Handshake Audit.” Handshake what? I’ll explain…
Many search marketers and SEO consultants know the feelings that result from meeting a business owner who inspires you. You visit their website and immediately see a few items that can be easily improved. You don’t want to solicit business but just want to help. That scenario happened on February 2, 2013 upon visiting ShariFitzpatrick.com. I had just heard Shari Fitzpatrick speak and was incredibly touched and motivated by her. I decided it was time to give something back to business owners who make a difference in my life and/or the lives of others.
The Handshake Audit is Born
Breaking it down…
- A handshake symbolizes meeting, greeting, wishing someone farewell. It’s an exchange between two people. Five fingers and a palm clasp each other in a momentary grip. The handshake is short and not lengthy.
- An SEO audit is like a health check of one’s website. Audits are often lengthy, in-depth, and address technical issues, content, and how search engines and people see a website.
Our handshake audits will identify the top 5 or so SEO improvements for a website - a quick overview. The goal of this mini audit is to identify quick essentials, issues that a business owner can easily fix or implement to improve their online presence and visibility in the search engines and the experience of their website visitors.
Enter Shari Fitzpatrick
Shari is the founder of Shari’s Berries. Known originally as a “chocolate dipper” who created the world’s finest line of gourmet-dipped strawberries, she is also an author and speaker. I attended a workshop where Shari spoke on How to Build a Business with Integrity at Thrive Women’s Conference at Bayside Church in Granite Bay, California. I learned that her previous million-dollar company was sold to a well-known e-commerce company in what Shari calls her “David-and-Goliath story.” It’s what can happen when an unknowing entrepreneur allows investors to get more than 51%.
She transparently shared how failure has opened doors to new ventures and other success opportunities. ShariFitzpatrick.com is now her online home base and launching pad for her speaking engagements and where you can buy her book, Berried in Chocolate. (She explains how she took her dream from start-up to multi-million dollar success and how you can do the same!)
You can even get the book dipped in chocolate!
Alright, let’s get to the audit…
Mini SEO Audit of ShariFitzpatrick.com
The first optimization tip relates to another site Shari mentioned may be going live later this year, and the other key points provide some low-hanging fruit (not dipped in chocolate) that will increase and improve her online visibility.
>> TheBerryFactory.com – Redirects
TheBerryFactory.com is one of her brands that 301 redirects to the home page of ShariFitzpatrick.com. I explained to Shari that she should remove the redirect and host this site on its own. Why?
- A 301 redirect tells search engines that a page is permanently located elsewhere.
- This redirect passes most of the PageRank to the target page.
- The signal being sent says TheBerryFactory.com has permanently moved and whatever “authority” it had should be passed onto ShariFitzpatrick.com.
- Removing the redirect will allow TheBerryFactory.com to gain/regain strength, give it some history again, thus enabling it to have online visibility. Heck, it can then start acquiring links to build life back into the domain!
- The WaybackMachine (archive.org) shows the site did live, as early as December 2007.
If TheBerrryFactory.com is to live again, Shari and company would do well to build out a website that has at least 3 pages (preferably more) to stake its claim in Internet ground. Options would be:
- Home page with content about the The Berry Factory, maybe a little about its history and/or future goals.
- A page that has a gallery of chocolate-dipped strawberries with a little information on how they are made or possibly the most unique chocolate-dipped items ever made. Maybe pictures of its former location in Sacramento.
- A contact page or email subscribe page so visitors can contact or sign up for Shari’s email list.
This gives the search engines something to index and let’s them know this domain is alive and kickin’.
>> ShariFitzpatrick.com – Tips
Below are a few tips to improve the home page.
The title tag is one of the most important elements on a page.
- It is code in the <head> that tells people and search engines what your page is about.
- It controls what shows in the browser tab and when someone bookmarks a page.
- Most importantly, the title tag is the first thing people see about that page in the search engine result snippet (SERP).
They should be written like the title of a newspaper article – short, and containing keywords (phrases) that describe the page.
The SERP shown below is the display from a search for “Shari’s Berries Book.”
A more optimized title tag that’s under 70 characters could be:
“Shari Fitzpatrick – Founder of Shari’s Berries – Speaker – Author”
The meta description tag is also code in the <head>, yet it’s not visible anywhere other than in the search snippet. This is an opportunity to write a call to action or text that summarizes the page, copy that will entice the searcher to click through to visit the page.
ShariFitzpatrick.com doesn’t have any meta descriptions on the pages, which means that Google determines what to write.
The SERP shown below is the display from a search for “Shari’s Berries Book.” Notice how it’s different based off the search query?
A more optimized meta description that’s under 150 characters could be:
“Shari Fitzpatrick, the creator of Shari’s Berries gourmet dipped strawberries, is a speaker and author. Learn about her book, Berried in Chocolate.”
(Caveat: Google maintains the right to rewrite the meta description and the titles if you don’t do a good enough job!)
There are a number of reasons why it’s best not to use a slider at the very top of your home page. There are better ways to present your information. Enough said on that for now.
Shari’s image slider is showing some valuable images that depict the connections and some famous fans. The value in this can be invaluable. How can this be improved is she feels it’s necessary>
- Images need “alt” text, alternative text that describes what’s in the images to search engines and when users mouse over them.
- The display needs to be static is size without adjusting to fit the size of the images. The current slider causes the page to “jump.” Some really good content about Shari and the history of Shari’s Berries follows the slider, but one’s eye has to jump to read it.
She has some really cool images taken with Willie Nelson, Kathy Ireland, Demarcus Cousins, and more. She could get double value by hosting those images on Flickr. This would bring traffic in from Flickr, and she could embed a Flick slideshow on the site – DOUBLE WIN!
Be strategic about links from your home page. The home page of a website is often the page that has the highest PageRank (value). Linking out from that page sends a little of that value to the linked pages. It’s especially important that none of those precious links are broken.
Follow Links: The term “Follow” when used to describe a set of links usually refers to following, liking or becoming a fan of them on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc. The section to “Follow Shari” leads to links that are not her social properties.
Plus, one of these links is broken, and another goes to a news site that has no reference to Shari or her berries.
Save these links for an “About” or “Testimonials” or “As Seen In” page.
Broken Link: The footer “Twitter” link to https://twitter.com/berryfactory – OOPS, no one is there! It’s a broken link and let’s down the site visitor who is expecting a Twitter profile. Not much more needs to be said about that.
OK, that’s a wrap for our first Handshake Audit.
In the world of SEO, details matter. Sometimes, especially in competitive spaces, minor details matter a lot!
Shari Fitzpatrick has huge potential with her 2 websites. A takeaway for Shari from this audit parallels her life story: