I am trying to position the site so that it ranks #1 in Google searches for "pizza making", "making pizza", and "pizza recipes". In order to get top Google rankings, the main menu must stay pretty close to the way it is now... Currently the site is #1 for searches on "pizza making" (duh), and is ranked #2 for "making pizza" and doesn't even show up on the list for "pizza recipes". That should change with the new menu as I've incorporated the word "recipe" into the menu as it was not mentioned before.
If this site can jump to #1 for "pizza recipes" then I think we'll see a dramatic increase in new members as that's probably the phrase most people with key into Google. I'm anxious to see if we make the list the next time Google indexes the site.
Steve, the site is looking very sharp! Great work. As for Google placement, there may be a few more things you can do. For what it's worth, out of all of your target phrases, "pizza recipes" definitely has the most demand. Here are the number of searches in January 2005 from overture:
1. pizza recipe (13,752 searches)
2. pizza making (716 searches)
3. pizza dough making (184 searches)
You can see the potential for growth here!
There are 3.9 Million results in Google for "pizza making" and 3.02 Million results for "pizza recipes". This means it should be reasonable to place for that phrase as well. I agree this would probably get a whole bunch of new members for the community.
Looking over the site briefly, there are a few simple things that could be done to make the spiders "see" that phrase a bit more. Some of the more simple optimization techniques seem to really work well in Yahoo! and the new MSN search. I won't go into depth too much, but here are some basic comments:
1. The home page looks great, but make better use of the old-school html tags like H1 and H2. These seem to really tell the spiders what the important phrases are on the site. Also in this line of thought, do your best to make the link phrases key words. In fact, just linking to other pages within the site from the inner pages could boost page rank of the pages being linked to. Consider a fixed navigation at the bottom of every page for the recipes that have made it to infamy.
">Thin Crust Pizza Recipe</A> | <A HREF="http://www.pizzamaking.com/newyorkstyle.php
">New York Style Pizza Recipe</A> | ... etc.
2. Page file names are important nowadays. Consider renaming files like "thincrust.php" to something more spider friendly, like "thin_crust_pizza_recipe.php".
3. I see that some attention has already been placed to TITLE tags and that's good. However, your META DESCRIPTION tags could be more like paragraphs with some key phrases. Some search engines use this as the information they display under your link in the serps so the more info the better.
4. The newer search engine algorithms really seem to favor dynamic pages. This site changes all the time, but you would never know that from the home page. Consider bringing some code to the home page which lists the most popular forum posts or the most recent. The spiders check the home page most often - if it hasn't changed, they sometimes stop there. This has benefits to real visitors too, of course.
5. Get your target phrases in the text content of the home page! I love the words on the home page, too, but "pizza" and "recipes" are not next to each other anywhere in it.
6. There are ways to get a boost in traffic besides search engines. Consider a mailing list (opt-in, of course) for some sort of newsletter. More exciting is the buzz about news feeds for sites with lots of content. You could build RSS into your site which allows people to be notified every time the site changes. I know I would sign up!
7. One more thing... encourage all your members to link to this site if they have a web site (especially if it involves "pizza" or "recipes") Links from the neighborhood can be very valuable for rankings. Give us some graphics, or preferably some text links that we can copy and paste into our sites. Make sure your key phrases are involved!
There's probably more, but I don't want to bore everyone with too long of a post. I hope I've been a little helpful. I love this site too and I'd like to give a hand when I can.