Thursday, September 25, 2008

Teleflora’s eFlorist Program Templates & The Nofollow Attribute (SEO Road Spikes)

I was recently inspired by a member of the Flower Chat community to take a look at various template designs provided by Teleflora for their members. While I had reviewed Teleflora websites in the past, something jumped out at me this time that I either previously missed, or, it is relatively new. I’m talking about the “nofollow” attribute. 

What is a “nofollow” attribute? 

According to Wikipedianofollow is an HTML attribute value used to instruct some search engines that a hyperlink should not influence the link target's ranking in the search engine's index” (reference). The concept was first introduced by Google in an effort to combat paid text links and their effectiveness of gaming Google’s algorithm.

Since that time, use of the attribute has evolved to include the ability to control PageRank flow within the internal workings of the website itself. The idea behind this particular use of the attribute is to cap off non-important pages (e.g “My Account,” “Shopping Cart,” or “Security & Privacy” pages) in favor of channeling the PageRank to flow and influence the rank of important pages (e.g. “Product” pages etc...). In that regard, the entire fleet of FTD’s FOL sites correctly has this type of link-condom in place and the energy is properly being channeled to the product pages.

However, in reviewing Teleflora’s template designs and use of the “nofollow” attribute, I discovered that all of Teleflora’s websites that have a product navigation menu have the “nofollow” attribute embedded in the properties of the product menu and not in the less important tabs to pages. The exact opposite of the way it should be.

What this means is that PageRank flow is currently being channeled away from the product pages and directed toward the less important pages: “My Account,” “View Cart,” and “Help” pages (etc...). In other words, all the navigational links that provide link juice to the important pages are capped off with a link-condom: no link juice is going to those pages.

[pictured to the right in red highlight is the "nofollow" attribute in action. I highlighted this image myself for identification purposes. Actual website is www.affairstorememberflorist.com. Currently, Google will not pass PageRank influence to those pages through those highlighted links]

Now Teleflora may attempt to argue that a secondary navagation menu exists at the bottom of most Teleflora sites where the "nofollow" attribute is absent. But this secondary menu is in a bottom feeder area where there is less value & influence in ranking pages internally.

Moreover, any custom pages that are created for specific targeting and placed in the Navigation area are defaulted to the "nofollow" attribute.

From an SEO perspective, this is the equivalent of driving over Police "road spikes" on a Freeway.....and the Police in this case is Teleflora.

2 comments:

StriderSEO said...

Actually, the nofollow attribute pre-dates the paid link wars. It was created to fight comment spam in blogs, as a way for site owners to indicate links that can't be vouched for. Google co-opted the nofollow attribute when they were getting their SERPs handed to them by link buyers. Just one example of what some would say is Google stepping beyond indexing the web and instead trying to control how the web is created.

Page Rank sculpting with nofollow is a poor-man's version of siloing - aka good site architecture. It should also be noted that some credible sources opine that there is a cost to nofollowing links in your own site, that the share of PR from the page is not redirect but is instead lost.

Example:
A page with a toolbar PR of three may have an actual PR score of 216. If there are 12 links on the page, each link gets 216/12=18 PR. If 2 of those links are nofollowed the theory says that each of the ten links will still receive 18 PR and the remaining 36 points are lost.

It's hard to argue that the nofollows hurt the crawling of the site when the product pages are clearly being indexed.

What's more telling about TF's horrible site templates is this search:
http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&q=site%3Awww.affairstorememberflorist.com+inurl%3Aproduct

The fact that Google views all the product pages as being duplicate content because of the same title & meta tags shows just how out of touch TF's web department is.

The only other option is that they are intentionally offering crappy sites. But that's not plausible, is it?

Everyday Flowers Tustin said...

I'm going out on a limb and say that its both being done intentionally and with the lack of knowledge by the florist that have a Teleflora hosted website. I see many of these sites with the exact same Title Pages however I do some that are unique.

Having a Teleflora website four years ago I found that our site did very well considering how little we did with the actually contents of the site. At that time there was no option to change these Meta Tags but traffic mostly came from other websites that out ranked most Teleflora websites. Over the years these Teleflora websites have become more custom but one of things that I noticed when shops participated with the find a florist directory. Telelflora did not pass along PR and always included some specialized script embedded in the website so that they could gather more information about the user.

I feel the two biggest threats to Teleflora members besides there websites is The Find a Florist Directory that continues to use store fronts that directs consumers to a website allowing consumers to place orders thinking they are placing orders with this member only to have their order sent through the Teleflora network.

The second threat would be the fact that each member is listed on Teleflora.com allowing consumers to choose these florist from their list allowing their order to be filled by that specific florist. However the consumer may not realize that once again their order is being sent through the network allowing Teleflora to keep their percentage.

Its fine line when it comes to what Wire Service is the better of the evils. Florist need to be aware of what is going on and they need to pay attention to what these Wire Services will do to get in-between the consumer and its members.