Every marketer begins a new job with a significant look at the company website. A website is visible to everyone: employees, customers, shareholders, prospects and can be tangible evidence that the marketing department/marketer is doing their job. Unfortunately, the website review usually has more to do with how the site looks and not how it works. Not functionally, in terms of navigation and page load, but in the context of "Being Found" on the Internet. What is the point of creating a wonderful, graphics award-winning website if no one ever finds you, your company, or your products?
One of HubSpot's top Inbound Marketing Specialists asked me to join a sales call in an effort to show the prospect that waiting for a website redesign, instead of concentrating on building relevant content for their site with keyword-rich, consistent copy points, was putting the cart before the horse. They did not have - and were unlikely to get in the relatively near-term - budget approval to proceed for a complete overhaul of their site. Yet, they were persistent in their belief that the new site would solve all of their lead generation problems. Baloney!
I pointed out that a
website launch or website redesign
(I've done seven during my marketing career) is a painful and much-lengthier process than any website development company will tell you. This prospect wanted to wait for the budget, then the redesign, and finally, the launch before turning to lead generation tactics for their business. All because some internal folks didn't like the "look" of their existing website. Is that a smart marketing move?
Website Optimization Webinar
with Prashant Kaw, we reviewed three websites: one relatively new; another one that was a consolidation of several geographically far-flung sister sites; and one that has been around for over a decade. They were all "NOT PRETTY" in the standard, graphically-enhanced marketer view of the world. But, each site worked for the marketer responsible for lead flow. More importantly, each site had some opportunities for optimization and improvement despite decent Website Grader scores. The marketer on the call for each of review walked away with ideas for increasing their Search Engine presence, their Social Media efforts, and Lead Generation.
URL: sweetgrace.net | Grader Score: 77
A custom cake (wedding primarily) creator, Lisa did a great job with her 4-month-old site with geo-tagging in her meta descriptions and page titles.
Suggestions for optimization:
1. Use Google Local and Google Street Maps to get found geographically. Even without a storefront, being found online is critical when looking for brides in a specific geographic area.
2. Move the blog from blogspot.com to the Sweet Grace website as soon as possible. Right now, her pictures of wedding cake designs are giving Blogspot traffic and search rankings that should be the website's. Consider using video on the blog, in addition to the pictures for maximum visibility.
3. Increase your authority on search engines by executing a 301 redirect on the sweetgrace.net to www.sweetgrace.net. Right now, there are two sites in the eyes of Google and the diluted effect is hurting rankings.
URL: tigerturfworld.com | Grader Score: 84
This site launched in December, 2007 and as the marketer responsible for the effort, Kim had her hands full. First of all, all of the different geographic points had "unique" and inconsistent fonts, graphics, etc. Kim did a wonderful job of bringing everyone under the main Tiger Turf World site.
Her next issue was trying to figure out how to start moving towards Social Media. Kim wanted to know if she should have different Twitter and Facebook accounts for each geography (as with the sub-domains on the main site).
Suggestions for next steps in optimization:
1.Have a main Tiger Turf Blog on the home page navigation. Right now, the North American site (Grader Score: 43) has a blog (the main site does not) with just four posts, the last one in July 2009. She has the content to make consistent blog posts easily and it needs to be done in order to feed her social media accounts.
2. Create single Twitter and Facebook accounts for Tiger Turf World. She has not grabbed the
yet and it needs to be done immediately. (Looks like it was done, now the bio and image needs to be updated for their profile with relevant keywords).
3. Update all meta descriptions to fill in the missing data and keywords. There were many pages completely missing the information to Get Found by search engines.
4. Their domain is set to expire in less than a year. Get it renewed for another 5 or 10 years and do it quickly.
URL: cssp.com | Grader Score: 98
This 10-year-old website is a textbook example of Best Practices in website functionality. With a free ebook download, easy-to-find and above-the-fold information, Charles works at constantly tweaking this site for maximum visibility. But we had a few ideas for improvement.
1. With "blended" results occuring as search continues to evolve, this site would benefit from having a social media presence. Using the help of community that is part of the Center for Strategic Planning's world, their content is a perfect way to utilize Twitter and Facebook.
2. The CSSP heavy-duty blog is working to gain lots of authority (MOZ rank of 4 and 724 inbound links) but they need to consider renaming the articles with keywords and not numbers in order to maximize these posts. Last Google visit was almost two weeks ago and with the content CSSP generates, spider visits should be much more frequent.
3. The use of testimonials on the Home Page is terrific. Why not repurpose them on individual pages and tweet them frequently? Or, use on their Facebook page as well? Lots of low-hanging fruit here.
What do you think these sites could have done differently? Do you agree that design is not the most important factor in website effectiveness?