Fix My Site

Does your site suck? Do you need professional advice? Do you not want to pay for this advice? Send me an email, and I'll take a look at your site and provide you with some real suggestions. By real, I mean real.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Concept vs. Reality

Dennis writes:
Hi Edelman, your site is a great concept.

Aww, shucks. Thanks :)

I have moved from the uk to turkey, and have opened up a real estate office in a small village called Akbuk. My website is could you have a look and make some suggestions? ... I could do with a complete overhaul and pointing in the right direction with how to best promote my site, eg should I try and increase my pagerank, submit to directories, use an automated links program, or does this not matter at all? Should I be looking into building more fresh pages? But these would really only be entry pages for the search engines anyway! Just really needing some guidance from the ones in the know.
Well, Dennis, there are some good things and some bad things with your site.


Throughout your site, you have a ton of content, and it is all quality content. This is by far the most important facet of a website, and one that many, many sites fail to do well. So long as you keep your writing good, plentiful, and fresh, your site should fare well, at least when it comes to search engines (see BAD below for how content can be a double-edged sword).

Another GOOD I observed is usability. Again, this is a very good GOOD. Basically, this means that when a user clicks on one of your property links, they are presented with a page full of the necessary information in a tight, concise, bulleted format. Your links along the side of each property are very helpful and not overbearing. Also, the pictures and floorplans included in most (or all, I didn't really look at all your properties) are presented in an easy-to-access format with descriptions below each one. This is good. A lot of sites will provide the user with a smorgasbord of thumbnails and no guide as to what they are.

Your navigation is relatively intuitive, so the user is not presented with any surprises when they click to go to a new section. Your side links are, for the most part, relevant and descriptive. You even have a somewhat-comprehensive site map. So all in all, good work, Dennis, on the conceptual "beef" of the site.

Which leads us to...


From the glowing review above, you would probably assume the link above will take you to some amazing site where flowers shoot out of your speakers and gold pieces pop out of your USB ports. Not so much. While conceptually very strong, this site is very weak aesthetically. First of all, if I were a company selling properties, houses, and bare land, I would probably not have my logo look like the symbol for radioactivity. The site overall lacks any sense of design or formatting, which, despite the great content, can really drive a user away by decreasing your legitimacy as a company. People buy from professional looking sites, not sites that look like Two-Toof Timmy took a picture of a boat and uploaded it to his favorite WYSIWYG tool, took a step back and said, "Hay Marfa, ain't this lookin' purty nah?" and then did nothing else to it. Not saying that yours is that bad; I was just making a generalization. At least you didn't go the way of blinking animated .gifs. Something a bit more nitpicky than anything: your main navigation is very tiny and not obvious. Beefing that up and maybe styling a bit would help.

Your code, as you may or may not have guessed, does not validate, since it doesn't have the required DOCTYPE at the top (amongst other things), and although you do have a stylesheet, there's one class and a few tag definitions. At this point, I believe you have enough content that you can really start working on your styling. I see that you've created your site in Dreamweaver. While I am very much against using Dreamweaver templating for professional sites, it does have some merits that make it useful for smaller-budgeted sites that still have a lot of static pages. I believe that it could help your site a lot, especially if you're looking to use some of the same page formats and some CSS. If you aren't exactly sure how to use DW templates, there are plenty of tutorials out there.

One last thing bad about your site that can be fixed immediately is the length of your homepage. While it's not uncommon to have longer internal pages (although try to keep your page length to a minimum), your homepage is your main selling page. If it's not attractive or too long and overbearing, nobody is going to venture further. Try to keep as much as you can "above the fold", or above the point where the page begins to scroll.

As for your questions about traffic/links, do NOT, under ANY circumstance, submit your site to a link program/farm. You will be banned from Google. Submitting to directories is good, like DMOZ or Yahoo! directories, especially if you get in. And if you have time after restyling/redesigning your site, yes, you should always try to create fresh content. Google really likes fresh content.

So, to wrap this whole thing up, you're off to a good start because you have a solid foundation, which is your content and information architecture. Your next step is to sit down for a few hours and really bang out a great design, or hire someone to do it for you (just don't buy one of those terrible cookie cutter sites) and then code it out. Remember that your website isn't just a brochure telling people about your company and properties, but rather a selling tool you use to acquire business. Keep that in mind and you can do some great things with this site.


At June 07, 2006 12:01 PM, Blogger Aaron Pratt said...

From a search marketing standpoint I wouldn't go so heavy on the link exchange idea we see here:

That can lead to a long wait in Google but it appears that the damage might already be done?

At June 07, 2006 12:08 PM, Blogger Edelman said...

Good catch, Aaron. I must have overlooked this page. Had I seen it, I would have definitely included it in the BAD section of my review. If someone wants to link to you, they will do it, with or without your permission. I wouldn't suggest link farming/exchanging anywhere on your site.

At June 08, 2006 5:08 AM, Anonymous Dennis Carr said...

thanks for the comprehensive review edelman, an excellent service!

also thank you to aaron, i really valuable advice from people that tell it straight. are you suggesting that i completely remove my link page? or trim it down to pure turkey and travel related links? with maybe feature articles that will benefit my viewers?

thanks, once again


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