Hello and welcome to the Friday Flop Fix, or #FridayFlopFix. Every Friday I randomly choose and review a retail jeweler's website. Normally I just choose the first jeweler that appears in the SERP listing for whatever town I look at; sometimes I find good sites, and sometimes I find bad sites. I'm going to change it up and intentionally look for sites that have problems, the website flops as it were, and offer ideas to fix them.
My search this week to me to Warwick, RI, specifically the Google search for "jewelers in warwick ri" and these results:
I've indicated a very important message that appeared in the search results. The description for the Baxter's Fine Jewelry website says "A description for this result is not available because of this site's robots.txt."
This is a perfect candidate for #FridayFlopFix! Let's have a look...
Website First Impression
You can visit the Baxter's Fine Jewelry website here:
This is what it looked like when I visited:
I will guess that the design of the site matches their store. A few years ago I would have said this was a decent looking website, but now it seems like the font sizes are too small. I'm very impressed with the speed of the website and how they lay out their content to be more than just the routine jewelry store website.
Sadly, it seems like few people will experience this engaging content and fast speed because the website suffers from a fatal search engine optimization flaw.
The Website's Fatal Flaw
Although they have Google Analytics installed on their website, and have put a lot of time into the site, I have a feeling that Baxter's is struggling to figure out why they can't get more people to their website. On the other hand, I'm sure their local competition, one whom I know will read this, is rather enjoying Baxter's fatal website mistake.
The fatal flaw is simply that Baster's is telling all search engines to ignore them. Ignore the website. Don't list it in search results. The Baxter's website is set up as an island that no one will find in organic search results, and that will only gain attention through paid online marketing and tons of social media efforts.
How did they cause this fatal flaw? By simply uploading a "robots.txt" file to their website with two deadly commands in it. Here they are:
Contents of the http://www.baxtersjewelry.com/robots.txt file:
The robots.txt file contains the instructions that all search engines use when visiting a website. In this case, the file says "For all visitors to the website (that's the user-agent = * command) you are not allowed to view any files in the root directory (that's the disallow = / command).
Technically speaking, if the search engines knew about other sub directories, like the /page/ directory, they would be able to read pages like:
However, the search engines are not allowed to read the home page, and have no way of springboarding to other pages on the site.
Utilizing the robots.txt command like this is normal when you are setting up a new website. But it should be changed or deleted on the day the new website goes live. I even list it as my 4th most important task to handle the day your site goes live.
What they need to do is change it to this:
According to this screen shot, the robots.txt file has been on their website since June 5, 2014:
That means they have blocked people from finding their website for more than 16 months as of this writing. I can't imagine how confused and frustrated they must feel with the lack of results their website produces.
According to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine (http://web.archive.org), the Baxter's website has been online since May 15, 2001. Here's a screen shot to show you the number of times the Wayback Machine has visited their website:
Websites with that much online history should be ranking very well in search, that is, assuming they have quality content and kept their website updated. It seems like Baxter's is taking steps to provide that quality content.
I cross referenced the Wayback Machine to see if June 5, 2014 was the first time the robots.txt file was misconfigured. Sadly for Baxter's, it seems like that robots.txt file was first uploaded sometime around February, 2, 2011! Here's the screen shot:
That's a long time to be investing in a website that's not allowed to attract organic visitors.
They've also invested some time and energy into good SEO techniques on their website. It looks like they thought out their website structure with pages like this one that contain plenty of good keywords:
They've also taken care to guarantee that all the page titles on their website are unique and their meta descriptions are well written. This represents a lot of work, yet it's all for nothing right now.
They should fix their robots.txt file immediately, and I suggest they fire the company or employee who is working on their website.
FTC Notice: I randomly choose this website and won't be telling the retailer jeweler that I'm doing a review. Unless someone else tells them, they will only find out about this review if they examine their Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. I'm not doing this to solicit business from them, but rather as an educational exercise for everyone. This review is completely impartial and all my comments are listed in the order that I discovered them.