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The First Place #FridayFlopFix Review

The First Place FridayFlopFix Review daily-golden-nugget-1440-32
This is the #FridayFlopFix edition of the Daily Golden Nugget. Each week I seek out a website that needs some help, and I make improvement suggestions. Most of the time, I simply do a random Google search for a jewelry store, sometimes I come across a store randomly during work, and sometimes one of my friends sends me a website that perplexes them.

Last Friday night, my dear friend Cindy Edelstein sent me an email with one such website that she found.

Hi Matt -

Happy New Year my friend! I hope all is well in your world.

You know how I like to send you awful websites when I'm doing data research……….. well, here's a doozy to start off 2016!

The store sells a few key important designers — whom I'm sure would die if they knew they were listed like this.

First off, I googled The First Place Wichita and didn’t find the site until the 2nd page. How does that work? And then I find it and………well………. You'll see.

See you soon!

I had a quick chuckle when I saw the website and I knew exactly why it appeared on 2nd page. I've decided to publish my reply to her in today's #FridayFlopFix because this is a good lesson for everyone to learn, and it's one I hadn't thought to specifically write about until she asked.

The name of the store is The First Place with the website:

All the screen shots are at the time of this writing.

First Impressions

The home page seemed simple enough, and I quickly noticed that it is using a responsive website design on the WordPress platform. Here's what it looked like;

The First Place FridayFlopFix Review 1440-the-first-place-home-12
(click to enlarge)

Initially I thought that they were just taking a very minimalist approach with their website because they only had store hours and their address on the home page; but wait, that's not their full address, it's only their street. Even though their URL says, they should still have Wichita, KS 67226 on that page. You have to write out your full address in order for the search engines to correctly associate your website to your location.

They have 3 designers listed on their home page: Stefan Hafner, Michael Beaudry, and David Yurman. Each of the pages look a bit like this:

The First Place FridayFlopFix Review 1440-stefan-hafner-page-97

Quite a bit sparse for a designer line page.

What's Really Going On Here...

I understood what was happening here when I started clicking around to the rest of the site. Here's a screen shot of the About Us page:

The First Place FridayFlopFix Review 1440-about-us-page-74

It starts with Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Nam blandit pretium commodo. That's the random fake Latin placeholder text that agencies use during the design and construction phase of a website. You should never see that on a live website, but yet, there it is.

It looks like this website is under construction, but the time stamp on all the pages says August 14, 2015. That was 5 months ago. That's a long time to flounder with an under construction website.

To their credit, they didn't have their website listed on their Facebook page, Foursquare page, Twitter account, Google Maps, YellowPages, or CitiSearch. From what I can tell, they started all their social media account before building this, their first website.

I tried figuring out what search query Cindy might have used to see their website on page 2 of Google. From best I can figure, her query string was "the first place Wichita." That returns the Hours & Location page on the bottom of page 1 or top of page 2. The only reason they even have that placement with an under construction website is because Google does rank individual pages, not websites. The Hours & Location page doesn't have the fake Latin text on it.

Hiding Websites in the Works

Google has a way of discovering it all. You don't have to tell Google about your new website; they will find it magically. While you might think that it's less work for you if Google finds your website, you don't want it to be found before it's ready. You don't want your under construction pages to appear in Google history because it will take a while for that history to go away once your site is live.

I've seen websites that were live for more than 3 months yet their under construction pages still appeared in the search results. The situation is aggravating and it's best to just avoid it by blocking your website from the search engines until it's ready.

There are two ways to block your website from Google and all search engines. The first way is to set the meta robots tag to noindex,nofollow on every page of your site like you see here:

< meta name="robots" content="noindex,nofollow" />

Or you can create a robots.txt file and place it in the home directory of your website. I did check if they implemented either of these, but nothing was found. Their robots.txt file was missing, as shown here:

The First Place FridayFlopFix Review 1440-robots-txt-98

You should always have a robots.txt file on your website, even if it's blank. Google strictly follows the directions in that file, if any. However, if the file is missing from your website, Google will put an error message in your Google Search Console account telling you that they will not spider your website fully until you have that file. They are being cautious until you give them full permissions to do so.

This is what your robots.txt file should look like to block Google and everyone else from reading your under construction site:

User-agent: *
Disallow: *

Then, once your website is launched, you need to follow these 5 important things to do on the day you launch your website.

SEO Concerns

I did come across one page of their website that concerns me. This wouldn't be an issue if they had robots.txt to block Google, but they don't. Their Designers page has keyword spam on it right now, look:

The First Place FridayFlopFix Review 1440-designers-page-spam-26

Repeating the names David Yurman, Michael Beaudry, Stefan Hafner. David Yurman, Michael Beaudry, Stefan Hafner. over and over again is considered to be serious keyword spam. Google will typically penalize this page, and they might penalize your entire website for this one page. Even if this is only meant as a placeholder until appropriate text can be written, the fact is that Google sees this now, and might apply a penalty.

Penalties are much harder to have removed from your website, much longer than 3 months. Thus, it's best to avoid this practice.

That's it for this review. Cindy, as always, thank you for finding another good one for me to look at.


FTC Notice: I randomly choose this website and won't be telling the retailer jeweler that I'm giving them these flop fix ideas. Unless someone else tells them, they will only find out about this Nugget if they use Google Alerts or examine their Google Analytics and Google Search Console. I'm not doing this to solicit business from them, but rather as an educational exercise for everyone. This #FridayFlopFix is completely impartial and all my comments are based on previous experience in my website design and marketing agency, and from my personal research data.

AT: 01/29/2016 08:08:33 AM   LINK TO THIS GOLD NUGGET
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