Purely In Jest… the (w) thing.
How Would I Fix The New Whole Foods Website?
We’ll get to that. As well as (spoiler alert!) a demo of a new tool I haven’t seen anyone talk about. Keep reading…
It was 11:30pm and I was looking up organic food retailers in the New Hampshire and Maine area (I hope I can tell you why in about 6-12 months). I remembered there being a Whole Foods in Portland, ME. So I headed over to www.wholefoodsmarket.com. Only to find a new design. And it’s a responsive design! Way to go Whole Foods!
Let me just say, Whole Foods does ‘Wholed’ a special place in my heart. Might sound corny, but first time I ever went to one (heck, heard of one) was when my (then soon to be) wife took me to the one in Hadley, MA. One of our first dates! And together we’ve been to just about every Whole Foods in New England, and several across NY, Florida and California (I kid you not).
Right. Back to the site.
Not being able to withhold SEO-geekery, I quickly noticed something quite wrong with their new site. And the realization settled in. I would not be going to sleep very soon. Those of you who’ve read some of my other posts know – when Shurelock finds SEO mysteries, Shurelock doesn’t sleep until he solves them.
The ugly truth is, from a technical view, this site has a number of issues.
First of all, it’s built on Drupal. ‘Nuff said. I just wrote about a site built on Drupal, with common Drupal-like issues. (Someone from Clearme.com even contacted me to clarify what should be fixed. And… I just checked. Not fixed yet. Ahh well…)
So the goal of post is to point out four of the specific issues I found.
Sit back, grab a gluten-free snack, some coconut juice, put on some soothing music and let’s check things out.
Disclaimer: I have NO idea if anyone is doing on-site “SEO” for Whole Foods. Many times new sites go up and SEO changes are not implemented right away. But this is just how I see the site in its current state, although changes could very well be in the pipeline. This post is not implying suckiness of any SEO already in an engagement with Whole Foods. Just some outside recommendations so people can learn something.
Issue #1/4 – Whole Foods Has Many Homepages
This site has a similar (although not as severe) issue as the other Drupal site I wrote about. Many possible homepage URLs all loading.
We can get even more geeky-freaky with it and run the homepage through our friend, the redirect checker tool;
That’s geeked out, right? But seriously, this heads straight towards the bottom line of the company. Here’s the problem though. The NEW site’s default homepage is;
What’s with the ‘whole-foods-market’ on there a second time? Check out what’s happening to your link profile. You’re basically starting over;
You’re ‘starting over’ why? Seventeen THOUSAND links point to www.wholefoodsmarket.com and now that redirects to a new homepage URL that nver existed before.
I would make the homepage go back to loading at www.wholefoodsmarket.com and all other variations should 301 to that.
Issue #2/4 – Store Locator Popup Invisible To Google
You’ve got a neat little popup box to help find a local store.
Only issue is - Google can’t see any of it’s content. This text is inside the popup
But it doesn’t not appear in the source code anywhere, which means it’s buried behind client side scripting. (That’s just geek for “The big G can’t see yo stuff).
You would need to work with the developer to get that code visible in the HTML so Google can crawl it.
Issue # 3/4 – Full List Of Stores Pagination Complication
At this URL here there sits a list of all of your stores in US. Awesome! Except because of poor pagination – only the first page is getting indexed.
What you should really do, is employ rel=prev and rel=next to hint to Google the relationship between the pages.
Issue #4/4 – Links To Individual Stores In Bad ‘Form’
Each store in the main list has a few links, although they don’t work how you’d expect.
The top two basically just select’s that store as ‘my store’. And the bottom one takes you to the info page about that store. But here’s the issue. The top two look like links but they’re really form buttons;
Not *that* huge of a deal because they don’t link anywhere, so we’re not *that* concerned about Google crawling through them. But the link at the bottom links to a /node/ URL, for example;
is the same as
Or in screenshot view;
What I wonder, is why not link to the /store/ page URL? The /node/ canonicals to it anyway;
In one particular case, the store page for Portland, ME (the one I was originally looking for – which got me into this whole thing) is not even indexed;
And it might not get indexed with the way things are set up now. SO…
For issue #4 I would likely recommend some fashion of;
- Use only /store/ URLs for the store pages
- Link to the /store/ URL from the list.
- Rework the “make this my store” buttons so they are more user friendly. And the load time for making it ‘my store’ was verrry slow.
Has This Affected Rankings? – Enter RankPanel
ANNOUNCEMENT: I am only using rankings here, because it is a metric available to the public. It is not a KPI metric by any means, should be taken with a grain of salt, and traffic would be the more appropriate metric. But since I don’t have access to that;
Enter Rank Panel - What’s Rank Panel? A historic rank checker.
That’s right, RankPanel tracks weekly rankings for paid and organic keywords, retroactively. Five hundred THOUSAND keywords. And it’s free. So let’s see if Whole Foods has experienced any turbulence in the SERPs lately. Buckle Up.
1. Drop In Rankings For Three Top Keywords
- organic food
- natural food
Kinda random, but let’s look.
- organic food – jumping around and bumped down a few notches on page #1
- natural food – totally gone from the SERPs
- organic – was bottom of page one, now page two and beyond
Again, not totally scientific, but just getting a broad idea that something is going on.
2. There’s 35% Less Total Keywords Ranking In SERPs At All
This might be my favorite report in RankPanel – the Page Distribution Report. Here’s how to set it up;
And here’s what it shows us;
That’s right. Since January 2012, less queries are ranking on page one – less on page two – in fact, less in just about everything but pages nine and ten. Let’s look at it numerically;
- 2,638 keywords were ranking last January. How many now? Only 1,707.
- 310 were on page one last January. Now? Only 237.
Yikes to both of those. If the data is accurate, that’s quite a drop in visibility. Am I saying the new website caused this? Not necessarily. But it’s not helping it either.
Let’s Review The Four Issues
There were other little issues, and I’m sure more that I didn’t spot that may need addressing. But mainly, you’re looking at;
- Fixing the multiple homepage URLs
- Making the store popup visible to Google
- Using rel=next for pagination of full store list
- Unifying the URLs for individual store locations and fixing how they are linked to.
So. Whole Foods. You’re gonna fix them, right? I’ll be checking!