curacao-seo-project-curacaohousescom

Curacao SEO Project – curacaohouses.com

May 21st, 2007 by Joost Schrier

Curacaohouses.com is the website of Curacao real estate agent Caribbean Villas & Yachts (CVAY). They sell and rent houses and villas throughout Curacao and the rest of the Caribbean. As the name of the company suggests CVAY also sells yachts. This is done through their sister website cvay.com.

Real estate is hot on Curacao right now. New houses and villas are being built all over the island and are being sold to locals, Americans and Dutch people alike. It seems like every week a new real estate agent sets up business on Curacao so the older real estate agents really need to market themselves to survive this onslaught of new businesses. One way to do this is by using the internet of course.

The numbers

URL www.curacaohouses.com
Google PageRank Homepage 3/10
Frames No
Incoming links
Google
Yahoo
MSN
12
180
n/a *
Indexed pages
Google
Google supplemental
Yahoo
MSN
313
194
1
0
Open directory listings
ODP
Yahoo
Google
Yes
No
Yes
Age domain 2 Years, 4 months
Meta tag “Description” homepage Als makelaar bieden wij u eersteklas huizen, appartementen en villas te koop en te
huur aan op Curaçao en Bonaire.
Meta tag “Description” internal pages Yes, very similar
Meta tag “Keywords” homepage Curaçao, Bonaire, makelaar, onroerend goed,
luxueuze huizen, luxe villas, appartementen,
huis, villa, woning, woningen, onroerend goed
management, te koop, huur, vakantieverhuur,
vakantieverhuurmogelijkheden, vakantiehuizen,
vakantiewoningen, makelaar, makelaars,
duiken, scuba, diving
Meta tag “Keywords” in internal pages Yes, very similar
Title tag homepage De makelaar met eerste klas huizen,
appartementen en villas te koop en te
huur op Curaçao
Title tag internal pages Yes, the same
Use of header tags No

*: MSN’s interface to see the incoming links has been off-line for a while so we can’t see this number.

Explanation

The first thing that draws the attention when looking at the numbers above is the fact that Google has indexed 313 pages, Yahoo has indexed only 1 and MSN has indexed 0! To be honest; we can’t think of a viable explanation why MSN and Yahoo have not indexed the website besides that it was maybe never submitted to them. All search engines crawl the web by following links to websites to index them, so this should not be the explanation though.

Another troubling aspect of the indexed pages is the fact that, of the English part of this website, only 2 pages are not in the supplemental index. The landing page for the English section is even in the supplemental index. This makes it very, very hard for this website to rank for any English language query, except for the most obvious ones like “Caribbean villas yachts“.
The amount of incoming links is not bad (but could be a lot better). Google shows 12 incoming links, but you should be able to see more when you use the Google Webmaster Tools. Yahoo knows about 180 incoming links, which makes it extra strange that Yahoo has only indexed one page. When you look at the links in Yahoo you can see that there are three different kinds of main sources for the links.

  • The website cvay.com.
    Many of the links to curacaohouses.com come from its sister website. On every page of this website there is a link to curacaohouses.com which Yahoo counts (this is called a sitewide link). Over the last few years there have been many discussions about sitewide links. These discussions focused on whether or not they help or hurt websites and how they would do either one. The general consensus appears to be that sitewide links do not hurt the receiving website, but they also do not add extra value compared to just 1 or 2 links.
  • Listings in open directories.
    The open directories of ODP, Yahoo and Google are human-edited free listings of websites. The websites in these directories are grouped together based on subject matter (and sometimes language). Because the open directories are generally seen as authoritive lists they are often mined by websites that want to start a directory of their own. As a result the links to the websites listed in the open directories are often carried into other websites. Because curacaohouses.com is listed in Google’s and ODP’s directories many other websites also carry links to curacaohouses.com. This is generally considered a good thing.
  • Reciprocal/paid linking schemes.
    On every page of curacaohouses.com in the bottom right corner there are banners and links to commercial link directories. These kinds of websites are on the edge (or over the edge) of being designated linkfarms and linkfarms are usually frowned upon by the search engines. Usually it is not terrible to have these websites link to you because the fact that they have a link to you does not mean that you bought it from them. If you are also linking to them though, it does raise a flag for the search engines that you did not get these links in a ‘natural’ way.

Curacahouses.com uses meta-tags in the website (which is good). The description meta-tag in the homepage has some valuable keywords in it and accurately describes the contents of the website. This meta-tag is usually the same in all other pages though. As a result the search engines are more likely to see these pages as similar content and will be harder pressed to view them as pages that have a right to exist on their own with their own information and keywords.

The use of title tags in the website suffer from the same problem as the decription meta-tags. Especially since the title tag is a very valuable piece of real estate for your keywords the title should accurately reflect the contents of the page, contain the appropriate keywords and be unique for every page.

The individual properties in the website are entered into it with a piece of software called “Jade property suite”. This piece of software generates its own title tags and description meta-tags which are entered into the pages. This is good because it helps with adding unique titles and descriptions to dynamic pages. The template it uses though, already has a title tag and description meta-tag thus duplicating these tags. This is generally not considered very bad for your website, but it does compromise the uniqueness of your pages.

The keywords meta-tag is not seen anymore as a very useful method of ranking a website because it is too easy to abuse. It is the general consensus that if you use the keywords meta-tag the keywords should at least be relevant to the content of the page they are on. So, the keywords in this meta-tag should also be present in the content of the webpage. In this case many keywords in the meta-tag are not relevant to the content and therefore do not help the website. They are also the same in all pages of the website (which does not help rankings).

None of the pages of curacaohouses.com use header tags. Instead, the header of the page is only visually defined with its own stylesheet class. This stylesheet class visually indicates that the header is a header, but to the search engines it looks the same as the rest of the content. Putting the headers in between <h1> and <h2> tags could really help to make the text in the headers more prominent.

The preceding sounds pretty negative. When you read the explanation of the numbers you might think that this website does very bad in the search engines. Searching for “Curacao real estate” in Google would also confirm this supicion because curacaohouses.com is nowhere to be found in the results for this query. If you look in the Dutch-language version of Google though and search for “Curacao makelaar” (Dutch translation of “Curacao real estate agent”) curacaohouses.com is in third place (which is very good, considering the above)! For some other key phrases they are also doing pretty good. So, it is not all bad.

Recommendations

The most important item on your agenda concerning SEO should be to make sure that Yahoo and MSN will also start indexing your website. Maybe it is as simple as just submitting the URL and waiting for them to include your website (you should also submit a sitemap to Yahoo and Google). If submitting the URL and sitemap does not work, more research will be needed to figure out why they are not indexing your website.

The fact that Google has put most of the English version of the website in the supplemental index is, most probably, due to the fact that it is not getting the link love it should get. On several pages in the Dutch version the link to the English version does not work and there is a JavaScript link there that tells visitors that the English version is not finished yet. These links should all be repaired. You could also consider asking the English language websites that already link to you to link to www.curacaohouses.com/english instead of to curacaohouses.com (you can consider the link in this sentence as a good start).

Besides this, it would also be a wise move to create a website footer with links to the most important pages of your website as plain text links (instead of relying only on the buttons in the menu). Here you should also include a link to the English version and vice versa of course.

Those reciprocal/paid linking schemes could really be hurting your website. You should check in your conversations with those websites if a reciprocal link is really necessary and if not, delete the link to them. Maybe you should consider getting rid of these listing anyway.

The titles and descriptions on all pages should be unique and the words in the keywords meta-tag should be relevant to the page they are on. It might take a few hours to change all those pages, but this will definitely be worth the effort. You should also make sure that there is one title-tag and one description meta-tag per page even if it was just to avoid problems in the future. To implement this last recommendation you only need to change your template so this will not be too much work.

One other thing you could consider, but is definitely more expensive than only implementing the above, is to create a new website for English language buyers. In this new website you can then make sure that everything is geared towards all those Americans wanting to buy real estate in Curacao.

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