SEO Site Audit Case Study – Halfords.co.uk

Domain Statistics

Halfords.com is a 15 year old website with a good domain authority and Google page rank 5 for the homepage. The main stats are as follows:

  • The domain halfords.com has IP address 195.219.49.11 and is located in UK.
  • The domain’s age is 15 year(s), 2 month(s).
  • Domain PR  Domain Google PageRank    RP PR 5
  • Alexa Rank  Alexa Rank                 10355
  • Compete Rank  Compete Rank in Compete.Com               128960
  • Compete Traffic  Traffic according to Compete.Com        11823
  • DMOZ Listing  DMOZ Listing         Yes
  • Yahoo! Dir Listing  Yahoo! Dir Listing         Yes
  • Rel= canonical has been implemented on all pages
  • ok  0 pages have duplicate rel=”canonical” code
  • ok  0 pages have conflicting character encoding

Content and Structure Crawl Stats

I looked at the main SEO factors of page titles, meta description, content, graphic alt text, sitemap, robots.txtx and URL structure. Below are the most important metrics, the best practices and what was found following an http://pro.seomoz.org/tools/crawl-test  crawl of Halfords.com.

seofactorstable

Server Response Codes

Crawl-ability affects the way the search engines crawl and index the site. You want to see a high number 1xx or 2xx server response; a few 301/302 redirects and even fewer error pages indicated by 4xx and 5xx pages. A crawl test using http://pro.seomoz.org/tools/crawl-test produced 3885 pages with the following outcomes:

  • 2719 (70%) pages are good to crawl (their server response code is 200)
  • 9 (0.23%) pages redirect to other pages (their server response code is 301)
  • 690 (18%) pages redirect to other pages (their server response code is 302)
  • 1 pages have server errors (their server response code is 404)
  • 1 pages have server errors (their server response code is 500)

Server response 301 redirects pass link and page authority value but 302’s are meant for temporary redirects. We would need to investigate the high number of 302 server responses to determine if they are a correct use.

Load Speed

Google has stated load speed could be a factor in ranking similar sites.  The PageSpeed Score indicates how much faster a page could be. A high score indicates little room for improvement, while a lower score indicates more room for improvement.

Running Halfords.com in Google page speed tool  got an overall PageSpeed Score of 77 (out of 100) which is fast enough.  However a crawl of the site showed a warning 2727 pages have too big size (> 100 kB) which can affect load speed of the page and site. Main improvement recommendations are to leverage browser caching, combine images into CSS sprites and specify a cache validator.

Duplicate Content

Some product description has been copied from elsewhere possibly the manufacturers’ catalogue. An example is seen on the Carrera Kraken Mountain Bike page where copyscape.com has detected duplicate content with other websites.

Information Architecture

Information architecture affects the way search engines robots navigate the site and crucially also the user experience. Here we look at how easy it is for information top flow through Halfords site.

  • Site navigation: The main departments are represented by main categories from homepage with dropdown features detailing sections. This gives a good user experience and is search engine friendly.
  • Labelling and naming conventions: The category labelling is user friendly and keyword rich and without being over optimised.
  • Directory structures: The directory structure goes from main navigation to individual products in 3 layers or less which is what is recommended.

URLS

It is important to use a URL that includes a keyword, effectively describes its corresponding content and is not much longer than 115 characters. The URL’s on the site are not search engine or human friendly for example:

Observed: http://www.halfords.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/categorydisplay_storeId_10001_catalogId_10151_categoryId_165555_langId_-1

It is better to implement a URL rewrite to get a URL like “Halfords.com/bikes”.

Page titles

Some page titles are not optimised – e.g. hybrid bikes category shows “Halfords | Hybrid Bikes | Best Hybrid Bike | Hybrid Bikes Reviews”. The word reviews should be substituted with a “buy” term to better describe the page.

Competitor Benchmark Report

Halfords.com is effectively in three markets of bikes, car accessories and camping. I benchmarked the bikes and car accessories keywords of Halfords.com against main competitors of each industry. The competing sites with high keywords visibility are evanscycles.com for bikes and eurospares.com for car accessories.

The keywords I used were selected by scraping the respective parts of the Halfords.com site using Google keyword tool. The resulting keywords for bikes and car parts can be seen in appendix 1.

Keywords Visibility Reports

In general Halfords.com has more visibility for the keywords than evanscycles.com in Google and Bing. The keywords visibility report shows Halfords has 59 keywords in top 10 (first page) of Google and Bing compared to 36 for evanscycles.com.

 

Keywords visibility report

The visibility of 136 keywords related to car accessories shows Halfords.com has 102 keywords in the top 10 first of Google and Bing compared to 37 for eurocarparts.com.

 

Keywords visibility report - car maintenance

Backlink History

The historical backlink history report is used to demonstrate the velocity and diversity of link acquisition. It should ideally show a steady rise in both number of links and linking domains over time.

Backlink profiles – Halfords.com/bikes vs. evanscycles.com/categories/bikes.

The historical backlink profile shows Halfords has had a higher velocity of links since October 2010 from a higher diversity of domains than evanscycles.com.

 

The chart below shows rate of link acquisition and linking domains to halfords.com/car-maintenance has also increased significantly since October 2010 whereas eurocarparts.com/car-parts has had a steady increase. It is noticeable however that http://www.eurocarparts.com/car-parts has surpassed Halfords in its diversity of linking domains which is a positive aspect of their profile.

 

Anchor Text Distribution

It is good to have some keyword rich anchor text links without overdoing it which can result in a Google penguin update penalty. A good rule of thumb is that 75% of anchor texts should be brand and the rest a mixture of money term keywords. So a high percentage of brand and other anchor text is a good indication of a healthy backlink profile.

Halfords.com/bikes has a healthy distribution of anchor texts with only 25% being keyword rich “bikes”. The majority of evanscycles.com/categories/bikes links (67%) are internal which do not pass as much value.

 

MajesticSEO Anchor text diversity

Below pie chart shows the anchor text report for eurocarparts.com/car-parts page has far more keyword rich anchor texts such as “car parts” (54%) than halfords.com/car-maintenance. This could be considered over optimised under the Penguin update which suggests only about 20-25% of anchor texts should be keyword rich money terms.

MajesticSEO Anchor text diversity car parts

Page Metrics

A high page authority demonstrates likelihood of the page to rank well for given keywords regardless of content.

Comparison of evanscycles.com shows they have a lower page authority than Halfords.com/bikes. Although they have more external links, Halfords have more links in total, more links to root and C blocks (diversity).  Halfords also has a better social profile in terms of likes and shares on Facebook, Twitter and Goggle +1. Evans has more external followed links which is a positive vote in their favour.

Open site explorer site metrics

The car maintenance comparison shows halfords.com/car-maintenance  has a higher page authority than eurocarparts.com/car-parts possibly as result of more links in total. This is despite eurocarparts.com/car-parts having more followed links, more diversity in Linking, links to root domain and C blocks and social shares.  There is a better SEOmoz authority (page MozRank and MozTrust) for eurocarparts.com/car-parts due to the better link profile.

Open site explorer site metrics car parts

Keywords – Bikes & Car Maintenance/Accessories

Adwords Keywords list