by Anna Green
I have, in my short career life, had three “bosses” and at least that many that superiors tasking me. I do not mean three over the course of my career—I mean three supervisors all at the same time. Therefore, it is a little difficult to think of anything that I did or was told to do, that they all (at the same time) thought was done wrong or done quickly. However, in at least one instance, I believe I have seen this phenomenon.
I began my job while still in college. Initially, I was contracted for data entry, entering lists of keywords and ads one at a time (literally) in Yahoo/Overture’s old pay-per-click advertiser interface. When I graduated, I came on staff with the company part-time, and was given both PPC and SEO assistant management responsibilities before I even knew what those acronyms stood for. Thankfully, I worked most directly under someone who did…somewhat.
The functional Web site for the company was a newly-created ASP e-commerce Web store and didn’t, at the time, rank well organically with the search engines. Additionally, we had an old, very ugly static html site that was easier for the search spiders to crawl for a number of reasons. Many of the higher-ups in the company wanted to forget we had the embarrassing old site, but as it still drove traffic and phone orders by its good search ranking, so we couldn’t eliminate it yet.
One of my first projects at this company was to do whatever was possible to improve our new e-commerce site’s ranking. There was much discussion about how best to do this. My supervisor believed that creating static html pages on the old site that mirrored the new site’s information (containing the option to purchase the items online via our Web store) was the best option. And truly, it was the most thorough, “right” way. However, this meant that numerous pages had to be written for each item type, then linked into the pages of the old site. If done comprehensively, this would result in coding hundreds of new pages for a site that many in the company were planning to kill as soon as possible.
I suggested that we simply link the two sites at the pre-existing corresponding pages for the same item type, with “To View These Items for Online Purchase, Click Here” type links. For some technical reason, this was not a good idea to my supervisor. He decided we needed to create the new pages on the old site. However, we noticed that after several weeks some of the pages we had done so far weren’t being indexed. Again, I suggested that we simply link the two sites at existing pages, and not worry with continuing to create new ones. No dice.
My supervisor called me after a few weeks of experimenting with the original course of action, and said, “Hey, I know what we can try, linking the two sites with existing pages!” What a great idea! In the end, we morphed the two plans, we linked the pages that we had been adding to the old site to the new site, but for the rest we simply added links where appropriate without creating anything new.
After a few weeks, we noticed something neither of us had expected—it was the new site that was getting indexed! The crawlers were following the links from the old site to the new and indexing that content. While that was what we had originally wanted, we hadn’t expected this plan to make it happen. The best we had hoped for was the pages on the old site to be promoted because of the links that we were adding, thus indirectly driving visitors to the new site for online purchases. Apparently, however, the search engines were skipping those pages altogether and going to the linked page and indexing it.
Though not the technical, “correct” solution to our problem, linking the new pages without the intermediate description pages saved time, money and work, and ended up with a better result than we had expected. It was the wrong solution quickly, but achieved a better result than we expected for even the “right” answer.
Posted August 3, 2007
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