I like to sit in the window seat whenever I fly. I enjoy looking at the world from 35,000 feet and wondering about the world passing quickly below. When not watching a movie, I like to watch the in-flight map on the screen in front of me in an attempt to relate window view to the locations on the map.
The only landmarks I've ever recognized from that altitude were the Mississippi River and the Grand Canyon, but those are easy.
I especially like the return flights from Europe as the plane flies over Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and Maine because the terrain is very unusual.
When I threw a digital dart at a map this week to find a potential review candidate, I landed in Belfast, Maine, which is located on the coast of Maine, about 70 miles from the US/Canada border.
Oddly enough, I felt I recognized the 35,000' view on Google Maps and started reminiscing about my travels...
My search for "jewelers in belfast maine" returned only jewelry stores in that area as shown here:
As you can see above, Bennett's Gems & Jewelry appears 4 times, and Belfast Jewelry appears 2 times, maybe 2.5 times if you count the sub listing shown under Yellowpages.com.
Normally the SERP is overloaded with different options, but when the competition is this thin you tend to see unusual things appearing in the SERP. The last organic result in that screen grab above is this YouTube video from Benntt's: http://youtu.be/l7Xa3BukeDM.
Normally I wouldn't sit through a 4:35min video that's only an instrumental with a slideshow, but I'm more of a glutton for punishment during these weekly reviews. The video has a lot of photos, but you have to wait until the very end to see their store mascots, a dog and a cat, cuddling. It's okay to have your pets in your store; just make sure you vacuum especially well so customers with allergies don't suffer too much. Also, if your pets are meant to be a conversation piece in-store, or to initiate social interaction, you should have them up front.
Let's take a look at the Bennett's Gems & Jewelry home page...
(click to view larger)
This certainly is a simple website. In fact, it's very much the type of simple website I explained yesterday.
When you only have one competitor in town, there's very little you need to do to your website to get ranked in the top spot. It looks like they first launched their website in early 2002 and redesigned it 4 times before 2006. That's a very aggressive website redesign schedule for 10 years ago, and they could have easily built up a nice e-commerce business had they kept at it.
Another 4 years passed before they redesigned it again in the summer of 2010. That's the same design I saw during this review, and I immediately recognized one of the main SEO techniques from the '08 - '10 time period.... Bold Tags.
The screen shot above shows the following words in bold:
* Bennett's Gems & Jewelry (twice)
* Maine Tourmaline
* Maine gems
* Jewelry Store
* gemstone jewelry
* heirloom jewelry
* Bennett’s Gems
You won't find many SEO professionals talking about the bold tag much anymore. Once upon a time, the search engines used it as a measurement of the importance of words. Naturally it became an abused technique and you would find web pages like this one with an over abundance of bolded words.
Text formatting should only be used for legitimate reasons when you need to emphasis something. Bold is especially useful for headings or subheadings, and both italics and bold are good for mid sentence emphasis when appropriate. The rule of thumb here is to make sure you are using these to help make your point to the reader, rather than trying to get the attention of the search engines.
Oh, and avoid using the underline text formatting except for hyperlinks. Otherwise people will get frustrated that your hyperlinks don't work. Every time I activate click tracking on a website, I always see people trying to click non-hyperlinked words that are underlined.
I found the text on the home page easy to read. Even though it was heavily loaded with keywords, it felt more natural than contrived.
My keyword analysis tool gave me this list of keywords with the number of times they repeated on the page:
jewelry (10 times)
maine (8 times)
gems (6 times)
store (5 times)
bennett's (5 times)
gemstone (3 times)
rare (2 times)
beautiful (2 times)
gemstones (2 times)
tourmaline (2 times)
fossils (2 times)
jewelry store (4 times)
bennett's gems (4 times)
gems jewelry (3 times)
maine tourmaline (2 times)
a jewelry store (3 times)
just a jewelry (2 times)
bennett's gems jewelry (2 times)
gems jewelry is (2 times)
just a jewelry store (2 times)
bennett's gems jewelry is (2 times)
I'm only listing them so you can see the intensity of keywords when there are only 287 words on the home page. With the way Google filters websites in 2014, I don't recommend intentionally trying to write website copy with this many keywords. This is a slippery slope that you could get penalized for.
Just write naturally, as if you were talking to a customer in person.
Considering the long slide show during the 4.5 minute video, I'm surprised they only have 19 photos on their entire 6 page website. The video had many store photos, product photos, and staff photos that could be organized into different photo galleries on the website.
When setting up a photo gallery, every photo should be appropriately named to describe the photo.
For example, on this home page you see these 2 images:
The image on the left is called "Pink_Tourmaline_Brochure_Photo.JPG." Google treats underscores like letters and hyphens as spaces, so a better name would have been "pink-tourmaline-pendant.jpg."
The image on the right is called "P1250401.JPG" which I recognize as the auto-numbered file name from their digital camera. This isn't useful at all, and I can't tell if that's a green stone which color is being tainted by the blue background, or if it's an aquamarine. Even though Google has image recognition technology, they won't be able to figure this out either. As a guess, I would recommend renaming this image to "aquamarine-diamond-white-gold-ring.jpg."
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.