The past week I've been corresponding with one of those annoying people that spam you offering SEO services. I replied to their original email that said they would give me a website analysis just to waste their time more than anything else. In their analysis they said the following:
First of all your website needs to fix all On-page factors I mean proper title fixing, meta keywords and description fixing for all pages. You know Google gives more importance to meta elements. So we should fix all these points according to Google guidelines.
Also your website having no facebook fan page, twitter page and many more. If you do SMO work, you can get some traffic from Facebook, twitter and many more websites.
Your website having very very less backlinks. Also your main keywords are in TOP position in Google. If your main keywords will be in first page, you can get more traffic towards your website.
Also your website having no XML sitemap. Which is important at search engine point of view. Please let me know if you need any more information from our end.
Let's break that down:
First of all your website needs to fix all On-page factors I mean proper title fixing, meta keywords and description fixing for all pages.
I'm pretty sure all my pages have a 'proper' title. Admittedly, not all the pages have meta keywords and description tags. Adding them would be very time consuming due to the large number of pages.
You know Google gives more importance to meta elements. So we should fix all these points according to Google guidelines.
Well, Google doesn't give any importance to the keywords meta tag. Google does make use of other meta tags, but they won't help you rank better. A well written meta description tag could help with click-thru rate though. Maybe they should read the Google guidelines on meta tags.
Also your website having no facebook fan page, twitter page and many more
I do have a facebook page for the website and a twitter account (plus flickr, pinterest etc).
Your website having very very less backlinks
My understanding from the Google Webmasters forum is that creating backlinks for the purpose of SEO is likely to see your site dropped or banned from Google. There are plenty of people posting in there that hired a firm to do 'SEO' for them only to then find their site removed from the search index or having their position in results dropping a lot.
Also your website having no XML sitemap.
My site has an XML sitemap.
The bit that particularly made me think this SEO service was completely useless was that they said the site had no sitemap. Checking that is simple.
After a few back and forth emails, they sent me a screenshot to show the error with my XML sitemap. It was a screenshot of Firefox showing an error that stated the XSL stylesheet was served with the wrong mime type. (I use an XSL stylesheet for styling the XML sitemap for human readers. I hadn't noticed this error before as in Chrome the sitemap renders without any errors.
I looked into this, and found that the XSL was being served with a mime type of text/html. The XSL file on the server is actually a PHP file, so I opened it up in my editor, and it had near the top
. So I couldn't work out why the file was being served with a content-type of text/html. I thought that nginx (my web server software) must be overwriting the PHP generated header.
header("Content-Type: application/xml; charset=utf-8");
But after looking into it a bit more, I realised the problem. In the file I was starting an output buffer, including the file that has the top of my page template, and then emptying the buffer into a string, to use the file as part of the XSL. Now, in the top of the page template file, it sends a content-type header of text/html. The output buffer doesn't capture headers, so this header was replacing my previous content-type header of application/xml.
The solution was simply to move the application/xml content-type header to down below after the top of the page template file was included. This way the application/xml content-type header replaced the text/html content-type header, instead of the other way round.
So my email to the SEO shyster was actually useful since it helped me find a bug in my site I wouldn't have noticed otherwise. (The bug had been introduced when I switched my site from XHTML 1.1 to (X)HTML 5).
But they were still wrong about the site not having a sitemap. I'm pretty sure Google et al. don't care whether your sitemap has an XSL stylesheet, or whether that stylesheet is served with the correct mime type or not. Certainly, there haven't been any notices about it in GWT or BWT.