Home Decor Site Gets a Makeover

February 24, 2010 Steve

Janice runs a quality home decor, furniture and gifts site selling a carefully selected range of French styled products over at www.divineinteriorsandgifts.co.uk.  Janice recently had the site overhauled by her designer and although it’s not strictly an affiliate site, the key information and questions are relevant to any site owner/affiliate:

“I have just had my website re-designed and this went live last Friday.  Previous to that I had an off-the-shelf template website from EKM Powershop.  I must now wait for the SEO the designer has done as part of the new website to start working which I know can take several weeks.  However, I already had SEO in place on the previous website, but now when I check certain keywords in Google I’m appearing in some reasonable positions, but when clicking on them it says the web page is not available as obviously this is relating to the old website.  Is there anything that can be done?  It seems a shame to have actually gained some reasonable places by virtue of the SEO I did with EKM to now start at the beginning again.”


Hi, Janice, how are you?

I don’t think this is really an affiliate question, but here are some notes that I hope will help you.  I’m going to tackle it in 3 parts and I’m also going to assume that your domain name hasn’t changed.

Here are the 3 parts of my answer:

1) What you’d do if you were going to fix this problem
2) Why I wouldn’t bother in your case
3) What you should do instead!


The most straightforward fix would be to tell the search engines firstly that your pages have moved, and secondly where they’ve moved to.  The standard way of doing this is by using a ‘301 redirect’ for each page.

You’d generally do this using either ‘.htaccess’ or, in your case (as your site is database driven, on an apache server, with thousands of pages), a better option would be a ‘mod_rewrite’ rule.  Mod_rewrite is a little module that helps out your server, looking for certain formats of URL & translating them into your preferred format.  For example, if your old format was ‘/category/bathrooms’ and your new format is ‘/bathrooms.html’, you’d set up a rule to look for the word ‘/category…’ before mod_rewrite would work its magic, pass people to the correct pages, and notify everyone that this was a permanent change.  You’d do that rejigging your old style URLs to your new ones.


In your case though, it looks like the site only has a couple of links coming into it, and that all of the links are to your homepage anyway.  That’s good news, as it means there’s not a huge advantage to sorting out this problem with dead links (and so you need not worry about the complexities of mod_rewrite).

It’s bad news however, as inbound links are hugely important as far as search engines are concerned, and a lack of inbound links probably means you’re not getting very much traffic from search engines.


Instead, I’d firstly start putting some effort into building links to the site, and secondly I’d fix some other little SEO issues on the site.

I won’t give you any linkbuilding tips here, as there are many ways to do that and it’s far removed from your question.  I do know that one of the other doctors has a very good linkbuilding service over at http://www.contentnow.co.uk/link-building.php though.

My gut instinct is that your new site could do with some big changes.  My gut instinct is often wrong though, so instead here are 3 quick on-site SEO Tips and 2 conversion tips:

1) Fix the Titles on your Category Pages

If you go to this page: http://www.divineinteriorsandgifts.com/Lamps_and_Lighting–c6.html, you’ll see that the page title is “Products: Divine Interiors and Gifts”.  There are hundreds of category pages on your site with that same title, all of which are very unlikely to rank anywhere in Google.  You should ask your web developer to fix those so that they’re relevant to the individual pages (in that case something like “Lamps and Lighting at Divine Interiors” – this could be automated for every page on the site with about 30 minutes work).  While they’re at it, it would be worth you asking them to put your page headings into ‘h1’ tags too.

2) Dot com or Dot co dot uk?

Google has latched onto your .com address, yet in your question you referenced the .co.uk address.  You can fix this by redirecting the.com to the .co.uk. (again your web company should be able to do this very easily).

3) Register with Google’s Webmaster Tools

Google would happily let you know about both of the problems above (and many more) if you signed up to their set of fantastic tools and notifications totally free (‘Google Webmaster Tools).  Visit www.google.com/webmasters/tools/, follow the instructions, and it will give you various bits of info and offer suggestions for improving your site.  A little sidenote is that you’ll probably have to fix the 404 page on your site in order to do this.  Again, your web developer should be able to do that.

4) Conversion Tip: Move your ‘Buy’ buttons

At the moment, the ‘buy’ buttons on your product pages are miles away from the product image, price and stock information.  They’re also in the same colour as all of the other buttons on the site.  I promise you that if you move them nearer the price and change their colour to contrast with the rest of the site, they’ll do better.

5) Conversion Tip: Fix your cart process

When I hit the ‘buy’ button, it’s taking me to a cart page with a link that says ‘Confirm’.  That’s fine, though perhaps ‘Check Out Now’ or something would be better.  But the rest of the cart process is a real struggle to get through.  I’d recommend that you go through this yourself, pretending you’re a first time buyer and then hassle your web people to fix the painful bits.

Semi-finally… there are plenty more little fixes, and bigger fixes, that could help out your site, but I’ve already gone on forever here.  Feel free to get in touch if you want more.

Completely-finally… your site isn’t an affiliate site, but you could benefit from setting up an affiliate program.  A few of the other doctors could help you out with this so do add a comment if you’re interested.

I hope at least something there helps.



Redirect the pages that are ranking to the new versions via 301 redirects.  It’s not ideal, but it’s better than losing the visitor to a 404 error page.  Your 404 error page is the same as your homepage at the time of review, and that’s going to cause you issues with Google unless of course the server is correctly telling Google it’s a 404 page and it should ignore the content.  Either way, it’s a bad idea to have any 404 showing, check your logs and 301 redirect the links to another page and or front of the site.  Less than ideal but not the end of the world, you have a sitemap in place, and would imagine that Google knows about it, so it should be a case of just waiting for the new pages take effect, but the time can vary on when this will happen in full.

What you should have done where possible is to re-use the same URLs and site structure, unless of course it was not SEO friendly in the 1st place.  Keeping the same page titles during a swap to a new layout and design can help when it comes to not losing rank on the pages that do rank, you can then slowly edit them over time.  I have noticed in the past that any complete shift in site URL structure and page titles leads Google to treating the site like it hasn’t seen it before, and not always a bad thing.  Sometimes you need to take short term pain for the longer term gains the new site structure, page layout and SEO can bring.

By the way, each of your sections in the product menu has the page title “Products: Divine Interiors and Gifts”.  This must be killing you on the SEO front; I would advise you get each title renamed to reflect the products sold in each section.  You also have no description meta-tag for each of your products, again not great for SEO.


Your web designer should have used 301 (permanent) redirects on your site.  This is to tell all the search engines that a particular page is no longer available and automatically directs them to the new page.  Here’s some more information, 301 redirect, but your web designer should already know how to do this.


Well, if I were you and if the pages that have been 404-ing have counterparts on the new site version, I’d be pulling on my big tackety boots and asking the developer if they wouldn’t mind just bending over and giving me a minute or two to take a good run up.

It’s an easy job for a developer to set up redirects from old page versions to new ones to ensure a smooth transfer for your new site version in the serps. 

Even if there are some pages which didn’t have counterparts in the old site version, your developer should have anticipated 404s and set up a nice looking custom 404 page to help your site visitors find their way around.  


Hi Janice.

If I understand you correctly the issue you’re having is that with the site change, URLs from the old site are still showing up in Google but aren’t leading anywhere as the URL structure has changed.  To remedy this you need to use what’s called a 301 redirect for all the old URLs and have them redirect to the most relevant page on the new site structure.  You can find more info here.

Editors Note

Hi Janice.  Thanks for sending in your site for review, and apologies for taking so long to get it published.  It’s a very nice looking site overall and fits well with the product offering you have.  However, aside from the Docs reviews, I also noticed that you have a Twitter account associated with the site, although it doesn’t look like you’ve been very active with it since setting up.  You would definitely benefit from putting a little effort into this direction to pull in some targeted traffic to your website.  Without going into all the ins and outs of twitter, take a look at the following two articles by Kieron and Clarke on how to use twitter to grow your business and some general twitter advice and tips.  Kieron has used twitter to great effect in building and promoting his large userbase for ShareMyPlayLists.com.

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Filed under: Domains, General, SEO, Surgery

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