Your Online Furniture Store

140px-PillowSacJr-SolidSomething seems to happen over time when you own an online retail store.  The longer you’re on the internet, the longer the tentacles of your website seem to embed themselves into the internet.  My Pillow Place, my online retail experiment in the furniture niche, has been online since January 2006.   And over that time, the site has changed, evolved and grown.  We’ve added products, removed products, found new companies to partner with and more.

But one of the biggest challenges was the attaining of visitors and trying to turn those who made it to My Pillow Place into customers.  Part of that was offering good products and customer service, which we strive to do every day.  But another part of that is optimizing and managing the website to get found for key search terms in Yahoo, Google, and Bing….(back when we started, there was a lot more search engines, but a lot of them have faded.)

When we started in 2006, the speed at which I had to learn about SEO  or search engine optimization, was break neck…and what’s worse, is that the techniques you learn seem to change even faster.  When we first started out, the big thing was getting links to your site.  They would say, get a lot of links from other sites and you will start to rise in the search engine listings.  Then there were all of these specific ways to get found for certain keywords, which I will not go into here.  Most of them are completely useless today, in 2013.

But back to the “getting links” thing.  You see, I exchanged links with a ton of sites over the years.  Different sites, different anchor texts, deep linking…all of this variety of linking in order to get more people to visit our store.  And My Pillow Place had a modest run of success in that respect.   I would have liked to see more, but unfortunately, we’ve been in a recession since our store was created.  I still would like to see how we fare in a booming economy….maybe someday, after 2016 we will.

350px-5Ft-Jaxx-GirlBut I’ve exchanged links with hundreds of sites…my links page for my pillow place is here (click for links hub) and each of the links on this page hub has 50-100 links exchanged on it.  Now, why am I even bringing this up?…well.  I’ve been in the process of auditing these pages. Recently, someone who I exchanged links with many moons ago sent me an email asking me to remove their link from our links pages.  Google might be penalizing some of the old link building processing and this site was trying to get back in to Google’s good graces.  After this person emailed about 3 times, I got around to removing their link.   It was under one of our earlier pages.  But I started to click around to some of the other sites on this page. And I found that over half of them didn’t exist anymore.

Wow! That was an eye opener.  My traffic has been dropping since Christmas and I found that my site is leaking page rank like a sieve.  When Google did a recent update a few months ago, this may have been the penalizing factor that caused some of our top keyword phrases to start losing rank.  You see, after 7 years, many sites just go away.  Then you have a bunch of broken or redirected links.  That could be bad.  I’m not sure how bad, but the current results are not looking good.  Strangely, at least this month, our traffic has dropped, but our sales have actually been better.  That I can’t explain.  But I still want people to be able to find us.  If we have no traffic, we have no customers.

So, with that, earlier this week, I started auditing every single links page on our site, and removing the bad or questionable links.  I will continue to optimize and exchange links with legitimate, and related sites.  But the clean up has begun.  It is long, tedious, and a pain in the arse.  But it has to be done.  I am not sure how long it will take the spiders to realize that we’ve cleaned up our site, but I hope that when they do, they start helping up get our listings and traffic back.

I plan to follow this article up once they pages get re-indexed and I’ll report if that helped get things back to normal.  If it doesn’t work, I may have to look for other ways to fix things.

Update 1:  6-July-2013

A few weeks have passed.  The traffic has increased a little bit, but the pages I fixed have not yet been reindexed.  I’m chalking it up to luck that the traffic has gone up.  I’ve also implemented a technique whereby, I’ve targeted a few long tail keywords in order to boost rankings for pages I already get traffic for, but haven’t really targeted.  I’ve done about 4 pages with this new technique.  If I see a boost from that, I may implement it more site wide.

I’m not sure how long it will take for Google to know that I’ve cleaned up my links pages, but it will hopefully help if they’ve been punishing me for many, many broken links.  I’ll keep you posted.

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