1 Hour SEO Audit Challenge: Veuve Clicquot
The New Year is nearly upon us and now is a time to celebrate everything that has happened over the course of 2015. Much has changed when it comes to best practices in digital marketing, and in order to help celebrate this and the coming of a New Year many will be popping bottles of champagne to ring in 2016 and the new trends in the world of digital marketing that are sure to come with it.
In honor of that fact, this month’s “1 Hour SEO Audit” will be taking a look at highly respected champagne brand Veuve Cliquot. Founded in 1772, Veuve Cliquot is widely regarded as one of the finest champagnes on the market and are proud of their motto: “Only one quality, the finest.”
Have Veuve Cliquot’s search engine optimization efforts in 2015 done everything right and does 2016 look to hold a bright future for them in the world of search engine marketing? Does the site reflect the motto that they are so proud of when it comes to their champagnes? Our audit will explore this question by using our standard tools and ranking factors:
- Schema and SERP
- Site Speed
- Meta Tag Issues
- Title Tag Issues
- Screaming Frog
- Open Site Explorer
- Microsoft IIS
As 2015 comes to an end, much of the focus in the world of SEO is on link quality and backlink profiles due to a series of Google announcements as well as recent widespread changes to domain authority score from the widely used Open Site Explorer tool at Moz. However, content remains one of the best ways for businesses to rank for long tail keywords by providing an avenue to create high-quality content that keeps visitors engaged with a brand while building long-term customer loyalty.
Particularly right now, with many businesses and consumers winding down at the end of Q4, there is a lot of opportunity for businesses to make fantastic new pieces of content to keep a business top of mind with potential consumers while positioning evergreen content for longtail keywords so that they can get the most value possible when things start up again as normal at the beginning of Q1.
Is Veuve Cliquot taking advantage of content marketing to try and capitalize on these trends? Unfortunately the answer is a resounding no. While their website does have a decent amount of information about the history of the brand and its differentiation factors along with a few interesting videos, the pages are small and don’t provide a ton of value outside of branding. There is very little copy, and while the imagery they do have is big and bright their content can be difficult to navigate at times – with some pages thoroughly hidden from their main navigation. Furthermore, 97% of their images are missing image alt text, a huge problem for a website that is already lacking on copy and uses tons of imagery to keep visitors engaged. Alt text needs to be added in order to keep search engine crawlbots just as engaged with image content as users.
Schema and SERP Friendliness
While we have recently seen a few sites that have done better with schema and SERP friendliness on this series, by and large most websites that we’ve explored in this series have been extremely underwhelming when it comes to making sure that their website has these extremely helpful elements. Schema in particular can be a huge help to any business, but is one of the most lacking elements sitewide that we’ve seen out of the categories we take a deep look into.
Last month’s audit, Dollar Shave Club, did a surprisingly good job in this field by making sure that their branded search had lots of extra mark-up from places like Wikipedia, and also included sitelinks to make navigation to their site as easy as possible. They even had schema markup on their blog, an extreme rarity from what we’ve seen on other sites. Altogether this earned them a grade of a B+, and unfortunately this is a grade that Veuve Cliquot cannot quite earn.
While Veuve Cliquot does do an impressive job with their sitelinks and also takes the time to make sure that they have wikipedia information showing up in their branded search, we couldn’t find schema markup anywhere on their site. This is unfortunate, because their champagne section in particular has a lot of reviews that could have been marked up to create better informational pages that might have ratings and reviews included on them.
With so much focus currently on a website’s inbound links there has never been a better time for online business owners and digital marketers in general to take the time to check and make sure that their website has a solid link profile. Inbound links are one of the most important factors in how well individual pages and an overall domain ranks for individual keywords, and it is extremely important that businesses are able to identify where their backlink profiles are strong and what aspects might need more work in order to get to the next level.
Veuve Cliquot does a pretty decent job with their backlink profile with a domain authority of 66 and a total of 25,030 inbound links from 2,106 root domains according to Moz. This means that each domain that links to the Veuve Cliquot website does so at least 10 times, which is a bit higher than average. That being said, their website does feature strong inbound links from websites like the BBC, CNN, the New York Times, the Guardian, and the Huffington Post. So they certainly have links from authoritative sites that have come naturally through good public relations efforts or just through the natural strength of their branding efforts within their marketplace.
Their anchor text is also quite good, with a variety of different terms that include product specific words like “champagne” but also a number of different variations of their branded keywords. The only real issue with their backlink profile is the lack of inbound link variation, which ideally there should be more of if possible.
While site speed is certainly not the most important factor in ascertaining how a website will rank for individual keywords, it is an important part of SEO that certainly deserves to be in this audit and should be a focus for any business owner that is looking to take their website to the next level when it comes to attracting organic traffic. Good site speed is so important because it provides so much more value than just helping you rank better for individual keywords – it helps things like usability, brand credibility, and on-site conversion rate by giving users a much better experience with your site. Sometimes a website that loads quickly can be the difference between your business an a competitor’s getting a potential customer – and this fact alone should give a business owner enough of a reason to make sure that site speed is working as it should, if the added bonus of potentially ranking better for key organic terms on search engines like Google isn’t enough.
Meta Tag Issues
After schema markup and SERP friendliness, meta tag issues have been the biggest issues for most websites on this series. The greater percentage of websites seem totally okay allowing Google to pull the first copy it finds on a page in order to populate a meta description, and while this doesn’t necessarily have directly negative SEO ramifications for a website, it doesn’t allow website owners to come up with their own meta descriptions that might increase click-through rate and as a result overall traffic to a page. Furthermore, user behavior is an SEO factor and having more people click through from your search result is a positive signal for a website, so taking the time to properly, manually define a meta description is key to take your website to the next level.
At face value Veuve Cliquot’s meta descriptions are extremely lacking. More than 42.31% of the descriptions are missing from the website entirely, and much of what the site does have are either over and under the character the allotted character count.
Furthermore, Veuve Cliquot has an issue with their meta descriptions that we are seeing for the first time on this series – they have meta descriptions across their website that are in more than one language. As a French brand, it’s not particularly surprising that they might have French on their website, but what is surprising is that the site itself has no French copy on it anywhere else and it is clearly not tailored to French audiences. Why the website has French meta descriptions for an English site is a bit difficult to justify as a result – and why the same French meta descriptions show up on more than one page is particularly strange. This should be rectified immediately.
One positive thing that Veuve Cliquot has going for it is that unlike last month’s audit the site doesn’t include unnecessary and potentially harmful meta keywords on each page, but this fact isn’t enough to offset the massive problems they have with their descriptions to pull their grade up above a C.
Title Tag Issues
I’ve said it before on these audits, but when it comes to one SEO element that you absolutely must have right on any site to stand a chance of ranking for anything at all it is all about the title tag. This has been the case for almost the entire history of search engine optimization and things show little sign of changing in the near future. Making sure that your have title tags on every page, they are unique to each page, and they are within the proper character limits of 55-60 characters is fundamental to making sure that your website ranks.
While Veuve Cliquot might be lacking in some areas of their SEO efforts, their title tags are are relatively well done. The site is not missing any title tags on pages, and while there are some duplicative title tags most are only seen on two pages at most. The only real problematic area that Veuve Cliquot has is that most (62.50%) of their title tags are over the 60 character limit. This is a bit problematic because when a title tag goes over this limit their business leaves itself open to potentially having Google rewrite their title tag into something completely different than they would like. This issue needs to be solved, and reoptimization needs to take place to cut down on the number of characters on pages where the tag is too long.
Veuve Cliquot clearly has a lot of strengths when it comes to their overall brand. This is particularly easy to see with their backlink profile and the strength of the inbound links they’re able to attract. That being said, there are a lot of smaller technical elements that need to be fixed – most notably their meta descriptions. These need to be added to the site immediately and should help increase traffic noticeably if done correctly by helping to create a search result for each page that has a clear description of the page that makes users want to click on it instead of hoping Google-generated descriptions are working properly.
Furthermore, Veuve Cliquot needs to think about adding a blog and more information about the history of their brand. A dedicated “about us” page would be nice, as there is some information that needs to be better organized around who the brand is and what they’re all about currently and historically. As things stand now, everything is a bit all over the place.
They also have some great video content and one particularly interesting “how to” video about how to serve champagne, and there is no reason they couldn’t have a dedicated section of their website to provide more of this information. It would provide them with a huge opportunity to attract new traffic through longtail keyword targeting while coupling their on-site branding with more educational and entertaining content than they currently feature.