MySpace and CitySearch recently made big waves in the Local Search and Social Media community with the announcement of MySpace Local. The two companies agreed to a revenue share but no details were released as to what percentages each company would receive. MySpace quickly stressed that this was a completely new revenue source for the company and was not only seen as great opportunity for both companies, but one of the few advantages MySpace would have over rising competitor Facebook.
SEO mistakes abound
Here’s a look at MySpace Local, with some comments on the botched or ignored SEO on the new site.
MySpace Local currently uses ip Geotargeting to display a customized home page based on detecting your location. Obviously the SEO guys over at MySpace or CitySearch did not read Andrew Shotland’s article entitled Geotargeting Location by IP Address = SEO Death in which he explains that it doesn’t usually work to your advantage to geotarget users and display unique content based on detected location. Geotargeting is still an inexact art, and is often wrong at guessing the exact location of a user. Worse, it also screws up your link juice distribution in your website. When I visited MySpace Local for the first time it told me I was in San Diego, whereas I am not even in San Diego County (I’m slightly north).
I also noticed the nice feature that shows recent reviews section at the bottom of the page which updates as new reviews come in for your determined location. It moves the most recent reviews to the top while the old ones slide down. The bad part about this is that all the links and content are inside the java script, so no link juice is passed onto the recent reviews—therefore they won’t be indexed as quickly as they could be.
As long as we are on the subject of link juice distribution, you will also notice that MySpace does not use the nofollow tag anywhere on the page, including the footer.
In fact they do not even link to a sitemap that lists all the cities covered; they only link to the top cities in the U.S. At first I thought that maybe this was a sign they have only launched in major cities but when I do a search for restaurants in Murrieta, California I get some Murrieta restaurants as you see by clicking here.
MySpace Local also shows the top restaurant categories on the home page but doesn’t actually use the word “restaurants” in the anchor text of the link to the “San Diego restaurants” page but instead the anchor text “All Cuisines” down at the bottom of the page.
It currently looks like MySpace Local is limited to bars, clubs, and restaurants.
City + category pages
City + category pages are usually the bread and butter for any major IYP. These are the pages that list the top plumbers, restaurants and so on in a city and can rank very well in Google, as we see below with the Yelp page for the search San Diego Plumber:
The first thing that stands out on San Diego Restaurants page is there is no H1 tag. This isn’t a disaster, but it is basic SEO stuff that they should be able to get right since, after all, they are MySpace. They did however get the title tag of their page right for “San Diego Restaurants,” but the fact they used “San Diego Restaurants” vs. “Restaurants in San Diego” makes a big difference in the search volume; 65,00 vs. 27,100. Even though they did get the title tag right it doesn’t mean they had an SEO go through and properly optimize the site. Getting the title tag right was most likely a coincidence instead of tactical move as we take a look at the botched URL as you see below:
The SEO mistakes don’t stop with the URL though, which can easily be fixed by implementing URL rewriting. They actually haven’t even implemented meta description tags but instead opted for the useless meta keywords tag:
The pagination is not much better. All the links to pages including the “next” button are in java script, so needless to say these pages will most likely not be indexed unless a user links to a page from an external website and makes sure to leave out the nofollow tag. The bad part isn’t that these pages will not be indexed. I actually would recommend adding the noindex tag to all the page twos and beyond. The real disadvantage they have now is that the business listings on those pages will not be indexed since MySpace does not provide a sitemap for all the business listings it has.
Business listing pages
The business listing pages have serious problems with duplicate title tag issues. You can view an example of a Business Listing page here. They have the current title tag set up as “%Business Name% Reviews and Ratings|MySpace Local.” Aside from adding a space in between the divider and the words “Ratings” and “MySpace,” they should add the city name and phone number of the business to the title tag. There will be cases where there is more than one business with a particular name in the U.S. and perhaps even in the same city.
They do, on the other hand, have an H1 tag in place which is the business’s name. MySpace Local does have one great feature where users can easily grade a business which is this nifty little slide bar:
I do have to admit that one of the best features I did find on MySpace Local was the fact that CitySearch did negotiate to have every single business listing page link back to the original CitySearch listing page. The button looks like this:
Most likely users will be expecting to the view the business’s website as the button does say “Visit Website” but what they get is the CitySearch listing page that looks like this. They do have a parameter in the referring URL that does track the referrer and adds a parameter “&placement=moneybar” which I imagine CitySearch probably does a revenue split on all ads clicked on from users sent over via MySpace. The best part of this is when you jump to the listing page, you get a big graphic that advertises users to share their reviews via Facebook.
MySpace Local has potential to be a useful local listings site, as well as a good competitor to Facebook—but only if they clean up their SEO act and fix some of the mistakes they’ve made with basic search engine blocking & tackling.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.