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Lifehacker has some SEO Problems

May 13th, 2010 by Nathaniel

lifehacker seo

Lifehacker.com is one of the most popular blogs online.  But their on-page SEO is hurting their traffic.

I bet if they made a few small changes they’d see a nice spike in traffic, that would stick around for the long-term.

I’m calling you out Lifehacker!

It sure isn’t about your incoming links (they have ~8 million), or unique content.  People love Lifehacker and the site puts out great content.  It’s funny, cause that’s the ‘hard part’.  They are messing up on the easy parts.

Here are the Problems

1. Title Tags
I wouldn’t be a nerdy SEO without looking right away at Lifehacker’s sloppy title tags.  First off, they need to drop the Category and the omnipresent “Lifehacker” from each post’s title tag.

Looking at this post on Webmonkey Stopwatches, the current title “The Browser Stopwatch Speed-Tests Page Load – Bookmarklets – Lifehacker”.

That should be changed to “The Browser Stopwatch Speed-Tests Page Load”.  Why?  They lose relevancy as the title tag gets longer.  Also, they are going to rank for “Lifehacker” regardless of including it in all their page titles, and Google might view this as duplicate crap.

This is a quick change in their CMS.  If you use something like WordPress, be sure to do this on your site.

2. Title Tag decouple/Keyword smarts
Second thing with these title tags is to try to be more aware of what keywords are worth ranking for.  This post entitled “First Look at Window’s 7 Backup and Restore Center”.  That’s a good title to show users on the site as a headline, but Lifehacker should go do some keyword research on Windows 7 before they post on it.

A keyword like “Windows 7 Review” gets 135,000 exact match searches a month.  This post could easily have a <title> of “Windows 7 Review – Backup and Restore Features”.

With 8 million freaking backlinks, and such a popular site, I bet they’d rank very high for ‘windows 7 review’ with that title, and ultimately get more traffic.

Decoupling a post headline and the <title> of a page is easy in any CMS.

3. Take the 4949422 out of the URLs.
That Windows 7 post’s URL is http://lifehacker.com/5144757/first-look-at-windows-7s-backup-and-restore-center

Why with the ‘5144757’?  Take that out.

Or look at http://lifehacker.com/5535583/first-look-at-ubuntu-light-and-unity-the-super-fast-mac+like-netbook-os

Any time there’s a “:” symbol in the post title, it goes as a “+” in the URL.  And look how long that is.

Lifehacker should micromanage their post-URLs to be shorter, cleaner, and more keyword-focused.  Cleaning up the <title> values is part 1, then translating that into the URL is part 2.  So http://lifehacker.com/5144757/first-look-at-windows-7s-backup-and-restore-center might become http://lifehacker.com/windows-7-review-backup

That’s how I’d do it, and I bet the traffic would go up, up, up across the site.

Easy Changes
That’s 3 simple things that are on-page changes Lifehacker should do that would instantly increase their traffic.  The current setup is poorly leveraging all the link popularity they’ve built up.

The point is these are easy changes that have the greatest effect when it’s a big site like Lifehacker.  I just wish they’d take a listen . . .

  • Great view to see. Great site.

  • Thanks for all these keyword tips you've given. I would use this in order to get me ahead of my craft in my SEO job.

  • On Web page Search engine optimization is a strategy through which your website gets a high position on various search engines like google, yahoo, MSN etc. On-page aspects are proportional to the articles and framework of the website.

  • oldhat

    lol shows you know about onpage seo. hint : its not as important as you think.

    at least the rest of us know whos NOT on the cutting edge of SEO ;)

  • thomasplunkett

    Hi Nathan - Interesting thoughts. Full disclosure: I am the CTO of Gawker Media. I do not produce any content for Lifehacker (I could never come close to producing what they produce; that is a great team of writers).

    Point 2 is, in my opinion, the most important. Our CMS can handle this easily, so not a technical issue. It is tied to the business of editorial. We definitely need to work on this (we = Gawker Media, not just Lifehacker).

    I am not in agreement with the other two points in terms of SEO. I discussed these specific issues (and a few others) with a key person at Google last May, and the takeaway was that in terms of SEO, the suggested changes (the first & third, and some others we had been considering) are not relevant. Their relevance to CTR is another issue. This is of concern to us. Unfortunately, we have done little testing on this front, and it is something we hope to address in the next few months.

    That said, we are in the process of implementing several changes to URLs and page structure as we work through a redesign process. We hope to address issues related to your second point, and believe these specific changes will have a big impact on SEO (along with other improvements that are focused on reader experience.)

    - tkp

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