The F.O.D. Control Corporation is a manufacturer and distributor of a range of very useful devices used to clear airport runways of debris known generically as foreign object debris (FOD), which can cause serious foreign object damage to aircraft when these objects are sucked into jet engines.
FOD typically consists of nuts, bolts, fuel caps and other objects that tend to accumulate on runways. While that in itself sounds pretty scary, the damage that results when these objects find their way into jet engines is much more frightening. FOD control is quite literally the use of runway cleaning techniques used to remove this debris from airfields. FOD Control’s product offering consists of airport runway sweepers, vacuums and other devices used to remove debris from airport runways and thus prevent foreign object damage from occurring.
With this project we partnered with a creative design firm in Tucson, Arizona called Dreamco that inherited the maintenance of the FOD Control web sites from another company that originally designed the sites. We provided the analysis, advice and coaching, and the staff at Dreamco reworked the site. Greg and the team at Dreamco were very easy to work with, which helped accelerate the project. This type of arrangement can be very beneficial for any web design company, because over the course of the project they learn a new way to design web sites that naturally rank higher and display faster.
The FOD Control Challenge
The FOD Control project focused on a family of three related sites. FODControl.com is the main company site. FODNews.com is a content rich site filled with information about FOD control methods and products. MakeItFODFree.com was essentially a duplicate of the FODControl.com site. Make It FOD Free refers to a popular book on FOD control methods that is authored and sold by the site owner.
The basic problem presented to us was that the FOD Control web sites ranked very poorly for their most important search phrases and even ranked poorly for their own range of brand names. Almost all of the company’s rank positions in search engines were much lower than the resellers they sold their products to. In fact, many of FOD Control’s web pages were found ranked in positions in the 80s and 90s in search results, which is way too low to be found by searchers looking for their products.
How We Approached the Project
The first step with any SEO project is always to identify the keyword search phrases that are important to providing qualified traffic to the web site. The site owner provided a list of phrases. We performed a keyword analysis and verified that these phrases were indeed the best to be used to represent the web sites.
The second step was to identify all the problems areas found in the web sites. These are the areas where penalties are likely to be applied by search engine algorithms. Penalties can be cumulative and each tends to drive down the natural ranking position of a web page. The good news with the FOD Control web sites is that they were not banned by any of the search engines and many pages did show up somewhere in top 100 rank positions. When pages do show up, even in low rank positions, we view the site as “on the radar”, which typically means the site has been penalized or is lacking elements that search engine spiders search for.
The first problem identified was the duplicate pages under the FODControl.com and MakeItFODFree.com domain names, which created a mirror site situation. Mirror sites are sites that are duplicated under more than one domain name. This results in a penalty for one or possible both versions of the web site.
The second issue was the heavy interlinking of the sites on the same IP address. The sites were so heavily interlinked, that they appeared to be one site. Interlinking of sites can result in additional penalties, and thus interlinking among sites should always be kept to a minimum.
The fourth issue was the lack of basic SEO elements in the general design, such as proper HTML title tags, heading tags, focused content, etc.
The fifth problem area was a general performance issue due to excessively large image file sizes. This causes web pages to load very slowly and is one of the major reasons that users abandon web sites.
A lot of detailed work went into the proper optimization of these sites. The following covers the most important aspects of the project.
First, the three sites needed to be separated. Each site was focused on what was intended to be accomplished by that site. FODControl.com became the corporate site and the one that presents the bulk of the product information. MakeItFODFree.com was focused on selling the Make It FOD Free book. The FODNews.com site was simply separated and continues to hold articles and information about FOD control.
Third, we provided the coaching necessary to develop the page elements that search engine spiders seek.
Last, all of the images with excessive file sizes were identified and optimized.
Within a few months the penalties started to drop out and the sites began to rise in the rankings for the site owner’s targeted search phrases in Google, MSN and Yahoo. Today, the site ranks very well in the free or natural rankings in most search engines and numerous web pages hold top ten positions.
Update: As of August of 2009, the three FOD Control sites are still going strong and can be found in the following rank positions for the targeted search phrases listed on the left.
airfield sweeper – #1 in Google
airfield sweeper – #1 and #7 in Bing (MSN)
airfield sweeper – #1, #2 and #9 in Yahoo
FOD – #3 and #8 in Google
FOD – #2, #7 and #8 in Bing (MSN)
FOD – #2, #3, #7 and #8 in Yahoo
FOD control – #1, #2 and #4 in Google
FOD control – #1, #3 and #8 in Bing (MSN)
FOD control – #1, #2, #3, #4 and #6 in Yahoo
FOD prevention – #3, #4 and #7 in Google
FOD prevention – #2, #3, #5, #7 and #9 in Bing (MSN)
FOD prevention – #3, #4, #5, #6 and #9 in Yahoo
FOD program – #5, #6, #7 and #8 in Google
FOD program – #4 in Bing (MSN)
FOD program – #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 and #6 in Yahoo
FOD sweepers – #1 and #2 in Google
FOD sweepers – #1 and #2 in Bing (MSN)
FOD sweepers – #1, #2, #3 and #4 in Yahoo
foreign object damage – #2, #4 and #5 in Google
foreign object damage – #3 #4, #5 and #7 in Bing (MSN)
foreign object damage – #3, #4, #6 and #7 in Yahoo
foreign object debris – #3, #5, #6 and #7 in Google
foreign object debris – #4, #5 and #6 in Bing (MSN)
foreign object debris – #4, #5, #7 and #8 in Yahoo