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I am a web developer. As such, I don't take part in hardcore SEO tactics. I leave that to the professionals. I do, however, make my sites compliant xHTML and CSS. I include the usual meta tags and descriptions and also do all the usual alt text on images.

I have a client who is giving me a hard time and is proving to be a bit of a pain in the ass.

Basically, he had developed a site around 6 years ago himself and according to him, all he did was include meta-tags and it was on page 1 of Google. Now after he contracted us to develop a new site, we included all tags and content on the new site that was on the old site, except now it seems its dropped to around page 65.

I'm no SEO expert, I don't even touch on that stuff apart from the stuff I described above. Can someone give me some advice as to what I can tell me client has happened? He seems to think everything revolves around meta-tags, and every time he calls he says that his meta-tags aren't doing anything. I know that meta-tags aren't everything these days but I don't know what to tell him.

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1 Answer 1

It's definitely not because of the meta tags. Google doesn't use the keyword tag or the description tag in their rankings. (Feel free to show your client this so he doesn't think he knows it all).

What may be causing the issue is:

  • Changed URLs. Did you change the URLs the home page or internal pages? If so, did you do a 301 redirect from the old pages to the new pages? If not the new URLs will be considered new pages and start from scratch with PR, etc. If you want Google to associate the old pages with the new ones do a 301 redirect for every page with a new URL.

  • SE Friendly URLs. Are the new URLs SE friendly? Do they contain keywords? Or do use useless query strings (e.g. ?id=123)? If the old pages even had just one keyword in it and the new pages don't you're taking a step backwards.

  • Changed site structure. Did you change how the site is structured? Did you create a hierarchal system of pages with the most important ones being towards the top? To optimize your internal linking and PR channeling your site structure must be done correctly.

  • Loss of semantic markup. HTML is an important indicator about the importance of page content and relevancy of page content. If the new HTML doesn't give the search engines clues about the content then even if the mark up is valid it isn't SE optimized.

There could be plenty of other reasons why this has happened that I didn't list here. It would take too long to do. It's also possible that the change is temporary while Google sorts out the new site. If you don't know much about SEO I highly recommend reading up on how it works as it goes way beyond valid HTML and CSS. Although the home page is its own separate entity and is ranked like any other page it usually reflects how the site as a whole is optimized. If the inner pages are poorly optimized they can do little to boost the home page. Make sure every page from the home page to the privacy policy is optimized.

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Thanks John ... I will have a look into this. –  Chris Dec 7 '10 at 4:14
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+1 Get in Google Webmaster Tools and determine which URL's turn up with 404 errors - the most likely problem if you've implemented changes to the site structure will be pages which have moved, so set up appropriate 301 redirects to correct 404 errors (i.e. show Googlebot where the old content went) or go back and put the content at the location it has historically ranked well at. –  danlefree Dec 7 '10 at 8:06

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