I was introduced to a website during the last week that turned out to be a really good candidate for my Friday Website Review. In addition to selling jewelry, they also have a collection of art and furniture from local American artists. My hope is that you will find something in this review that helps you to better your own business.
Here's the website: http://www.therealmothergoose.com; you might want to open it up to follow along as you read this review.
I'm not too keen on websites that publicly announce that they update frequently and that readers should come back often. In the world of Google 2013, if you update your website often it will appear in search results more frequently which will garner you more new visitors more often. Want your existing customers to come back more often? Then you legitimately need to give them something to come back for without the need to announce it.
This particular site launched on April 5, 2001. That's not a typo... they haven't changed the design of their website in more than 12 years. There were a few small changes to their home page which included adding a tag line to explain who they are on December 1, 2001; they changed their "Celebrating 30 years" to "Celebrating 40 years" on September 3, 2011; and of course they added the Facebook logo and link on January 15, 2012.
As explored the website I clearly found other pages that were updated frequently, but those updates should be better reflected on the home page, as in a simple to link that says "see the latest items in our stores" rather than the current call to action of "Please visit often. This site is expanding and will be updated frequently."
Incorrect SEO Issues:
Normally I find my review candidates through a location based Google search, so I tried to figure out how this website would rank, and for what keywords. I use a number of tools to reverse engineer websites including Alexa.com. According to Alexa, this website has very little traffic and doesn't rank well for any keywords that would bring them business.
Keywords I tried were:
* handcrafted jewelry portland oregon
* jewelry artisan portland oregon
* jewelry collections portland oregon
* silver jewelry portland oregon
* handcrafted furniture portland oregon
* jewelry stores portland oregon
I'm assuming they have a lot of local advertising and they are popular in their community. They must be spending a ton of money on those offline ads since their online positioning is, well, apparently zero.
Here's what they are doing wrong:
1. The headline on every page is an image rather than typed out words that Google can read.
2. All the page titles have the store name in it: "The Real Mother Goose"
Although this is good for branding, the popularity of Mother Goose nursery rhymes is causing their website to be incorrectly indexed by Google.
3. The meta description for every page of the website is the same. Sadly, Google is creating their own descriptions to show in the SERPs, and they are pretty bad from a marketing point of view.
* "Please call for directions"... I found that at the bottom of their "Locations" page. This is definitely a throwback to pre-1999 when all retail stores would have a printed list of directions pinned to their wall next to the telephone. The modern method is now to include a page of directions right on the website that shows a map and has printed directions. Fancier directions pages even have forms that you can type in your location and click a button to see personalized directions. Even fancier new methods include QR Codes on the directions pages so the user can scan the code and directions directly into their smartphone. People don't want to call you for directions. It makes you sound like you're a hidden office in a shady warehouse district.
* After spending several minutes browsing the website, I really hated how jarring it was to click on the home page link and go back to the ugly home page. I found myself looking at the home page again and wondering which link I should click on again without any visual indicator of where I had already been.
What I Didn't Like About the Site:
* I could probably go on for a long time in this section of the review. Most of what I would say is related to the older design: small font size, clunky navigation, images used for top navigation, and too many words embedded in images.
* I'm going to take a chance here and say that the owners of this gallery are in love with their website. They put so much attention into managing the font and style of their page headers without paying attention to how badly that's hurting their ranking. There's a lot of online ranking opportunity they are missing out on just because of this.
What I Liked About the Site:
I'm a little torn by what to say here. The site is so old, I feel like I'm reliving my youth as I look at it. But at the same time I was surprised by my own reaction when looking at this page:
When you hover your mouse over the navigations links on that page you will see the top right image change.
Just like the site I reviewed last week, simple sites like this have a really good speed. It's pure HTML without any background database to slow it down. There are two schools of thought with regard to new content management methods of websites: 1. Let the site render on the fly, or 2. Render the website daily so it doesn't rely on active databases.
I've personally subscribed to the "render on the fly" school of thought, but the database needs to be fast. Now that I'm seeing these speed results for the second week in a row of a non-database website I think I should go back and revisit the "render daily" method again.
I noticed that they update their Facebook page somewhat often, at least twice a month. The photos they post on Facebook are also being added to their News page here:
It's good to see they are updating the site and FB at the same time. It would be better if they added every item to their website with a description and then shared that website page to FB.
That's it for this week's basic review.
FTC Notice: I randomly choose this website and won't be telling the retailer jeweler that I'm doing a review. Unless someone else tells them, they will only find out about this review if they examine their Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. I'm not doing this to solicit business from them, but rather as an educational exercise for everyone. This review is completely impartial and all my comments are listed in the order that I discovered them.