On the 12th of November 2015, the biggest Mall in Sweden will open up; Mall of Scandinavia. Just some 20 minutes walk from where I live. I had a look at their site today because I wanted to see if they had any information about stores and such, so that I knew before hand what to expect if I would go there.
Oh my, I shouldn’t.
This is a project that started back in 2008 (more than 7 years ago) and with an expected cost of somewhere in the range between 4 billion SEK ($460m) up to 5,8 billion SEK ($670m) depending on what source you’re looking at. One would expect that during these years someone would have thought something in the lines of “We need to invest some money into our digital presence as well, make it just as good as the mall itself!”
I spent a few minutes on the site an told my self that, well.. this is insane. So here you are Mall of Scandinavia, a breakdown on issues you really should fix. Or let someone fix for you.
The most basic SEO stuff is missing
If you ever have been involved into anything remotely close to search engine optimization you know that a page’s title tag is very important.
A title tag is the main text that describes an online document. Title elements have long been considered one of the most important on-page SEO elements. (Moz)
We know that in order for a page to rank well in organic search, it’s well known that the particular term or keyword has to be included in the title tag. So, let’s have a look at one of the most important tags on their site and how they use it.
So, having a look at their “Store Overview” page, it’s empty. I had a look at all their other pages as well, still empty. The only page with an actual title set is the front page, where the title reads “Mall of Scandinavia”. Score!
Let’s start our digital journey with some duplicates!
Google has been playing pretty hard to fight pages with duplicate content for quite some years now. Usually, it’s the content management system behind the scenes that generates duplicate pages. On some rare occasions for some old sites that dates way back and hasn’t been taken care of there are also a way to implement these duplicate issues with a domain that answers on multiple locations.
And in our case, it just happens to be just like that.
I never, ever type in “www.” before the domain name any longer, haven’t done it for many years now. Same goes here, I type in “mallofscandinavia.se” in my browser and expect to end up on the site.
I also noticed that their AdWords ad was using www. which of course made me click it. AARGH!
Yep, the site responds to both ‘mallofscandinavia.se’ and ‘www.mallofscandinavia.se’. Good work, introducing duplicate content on the web before you’ve even opened up yet. End result being, Mall of Scandinavia now have pages competing with each other for no reason what so ever. Which in the end probably will reduce their visibility on more competitive searches on Google, such as the localized query for ‘fashion stores stockholm‘ or ‘toy store solna‘.
And given the fact that they are doing paid advertising, which they really should be doing, there’s also the fact that they are most certainly going to pay more money for each click than they necessarily should due to a low Quality Score in AdWords. Mostly based on the lack of the Title Tag and other dependencies.
Making indexation easier
Having your content indexed as soon and as often as possible is pretty sweet. And by telling the search engines what parts they are welcome to and not helps as well.
Well, apparently all search engines are welcomed everywhere. That might be fine, I don’t know if they really do have a section of the site where the search engines aren’t welcome to. Another reason for using the robots.txt file is to point the search engine spiders to the location of the sitemap, which usually resides under domain.com/sitemap.xml
Having a dynamically created sitemap is de facto standard today, and I would assume that the CMS they’re using are able to handle that as well, as soon as someone figures out where to look and why it’s needed.
Non standard URLs
http://mallofscandinavia.se/NewsEventDetails/The Designer Gallery
Can you spot the error?
Yep, for some odd reason, Mall of Scandinavia is using spaces in their URLs. Spaces. 2015.
That means that actual URL resolves to http://mallofscandinavia.se/NewsEventDetails/The%20Designer%20Gallery, which doesn’t really affect the organic visibility in a negative way. It just looks bad. Like, really bad.
A more viable approach 2015 is to use dashes (-) instead of spaces, which would yield the following URL instead with some proper removal of capital letters:
URLs pointing into Oblivion
Speaking about URLs, for being such a young site they really do have some issues with sending visitors (and search engines) to the correct place from time to time.
Let’s start by doing a quick search on Google, shall we?
While they do have some pages from mallofscandinavia.se visible in the search results, the page I’m really looking for – mallofscandinavia.se/Restaurants/OLearys – is not there.
Because that page isn’t optimized to be visible on that term.
- There is no <title> tag.
- There is no <H1> tag.
There are a lot more to be done as well, but getting these two pieces in place is at least a good start.
So, after some struggle navigating on their site trying to find the actual O’Learys page, I end up on the page I’m intended to. And while I’m there my wife comes along and says “Hey, Let me look at what kind of stores they have!“.
Sure thing, let’s click.
Oh, look! A 404 page telling me that the page doesn’t exist.
$ curl -I “http://mallofscandinavia.se/Page404-A?error=An+unhandled+exception+occurred.&user=extranet%5cAnonymous&site=MallofScandinavia”
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8
Set-Cookie: sc_expview=0; path=/
Set-Cookie: ASP.NET_SessionId=xiihdakqdu55vrz3wxulmd53; path=/; HttpOnly
Set-Cookie: SC_ANALYTICS_GLOBAL_COOKIE=17408ac7f7b342d098b4915b7e8569a8|False; expires=Tue, 11-Nov-2025 21:04:10 GMT; path=/; HttpOnly
Date: Wed, 11 Nov 2015 21:04:10 GMT
Carrying on with URL errors
We’ve spoken some about why you should have one single page about a specific subject and not duplicate versions on other URLs, right?
So, I found their start page spread out over 4 different URLs, with no canonicalization, what so ever.
For the sake of simplicity here, I linked all eight documents they have about the store American Vintage. Sorry ’bout that Mall of Scandinavia.
This is the part where my eyes start to bleed and I begin to wonder if they’ve had anyone on board this project with some digital knowledge?
Today, when everything is measurable we expect that sites have proper tracking. But in their case, I can’t really find any…
- There is no Google Analytics Tracking
- There is no Google Tag Manager installed
- There is nothing related to Webtrends
- I can’t find anything sending data to Adobe Site Catalyst
- I really can’t find any tracking what so ever on mallofscandinavia.se
But I do find SC_ANALYTICS_GLOBAL_COOKIE which tells me they are using Sitecore and that they at least are tracking something from within the CMS.
But seriously Mall of Scandinavia, is that all?
Give me a call if you need help, because you’ve got no idea what you’re doing. Sorry.