For this week's website review, I went searching for "jewelers spokane wa" and had some trouble deciding on which site to review. There are several jewelers in Spokane to choose from with a wide range of websites from very old looking to very modern. The goal of this website review is to give ideas of how to improve a site and increase its ranking or improve its customer usability.
Pounder's Jewelry was the first website I found that could use improvement. The website address was http://www.poundersjewelry.com and this is what it looked like when I visited:
This site was from 2010 and it's in need of a refresh and better usability. I could pick this one apart, but my feeling is that you as the reader, wouldn't learn anything new of a review of this old site simply because everything is so out of date. So, I moved on.
The rest of the jewelers on page 1 of the results were reasonable looking websites so I decided to jump to page 2 of the Google results to continue looking for a review candidate.
Then I found the Johnson's Custom Jewelry at http://www.johnsonscustomjewelry.com/. This is what it looked like:
I'm not surprised they appeared on page 2 of the results because they are not a jewelry store. Their entire website is dedicated to promoting their custom jewelry service. That said, I feel their website could also use a refresh because it's 6 years old and looks it.
Then I spotted TamRon Jewelry Design in the SERP:
A quick look at this website made me wonder why it was appearing on page 2 instead of page 1. I wondered if a few jewelers in the Spokane, WA area were competing heavily for custom jewelry design, so I decided to start a new search for "custom jewelry design spokane wa" and saw these results:
I found it interesting that the Google Local Pack only showed 2 jewelers, and TamRon Jewelry Design wasn't included. Jewelry Design Center appears first in the organic results followed by Pounders and then TamRon.
As I already stated, the Pounders Jewelry site is quite old looking and should be refreshed, but they must be doing something good with their SEO on their small website. Meanwhile, I found it very strange that Pounders outranked the very large TamRon website, so I'll try and figure out why.
TamRon Jewelry Design First Impressions
The TamRon site is located at http://www.tamronjewelrydesign.com/. This is what it looked like when I first visited:
Although I don't like the design, this website appears to be well thought out with a very good SEO setup. The first thing I look for when analyzing SEO is if the website has the trifecta of similar words used in their page titles, URLs, and headlines. Indeed, the TamRon website has this implementation throughout every page as shown here:
By all appearances, they are setting up that SEO-trifecta correctly. Digging a little deeper, I realized that all their product descriptions are written with basic descriptions like you see here:
A person browsing this website would already know that TamRon makes custom designed jewelry, and that their entire catalog is of their previous work. Therefore, the description you see above, which says "This platinum anniversary ring is set with a ruby, diamonds and two pear shaped Moissanites, a lab produced gem from meteorite mineral." might seem completely reasonable.
However, you have to consider that Google only knows what you tell it. While the TamRon home page says they make custom jewelry, I couldn't find anything in their catalog that specifically says "This is a previous custom jewelry design." The above description would probably serve them better if it was reworded like this: "This platinum custom designed anniversary ring is set with a ruby, diamonds and two pear shaped Moissanites, a lab produced gem from meteorite mineral. We can design something similar to this ruby ring to match your own tastes."
This website seems to meet all the criteria that I usually look for in a website, and on the surface I would expect it to outrank all the other sites when searching for custom design in Spokane.
So what's wrong?
Why Is It Ranking Poorly?
This is where website analysis gets technical. Sometimes, you can't determine what's wrong with a website unless you hunker down, put your thinking cap on, and concentrate. Without access to those tools, the only thing I could do is look at their source code for answers.
From the source code, I was easily able to tell that TamRon is using WordPress with a lot of plug-ins. They are using way too many plug-ins. WordPress has been lauded as a great CMS platform because it can be made to do anything, however, you have to load it up with a lot of plug-ins in order to make it function as anything other than a blog.
When studying their source code, I found an overabundance of individually loaded extra scripts. Each script represented a different plug-in that they installed, and this is where WordPress begins to fail. Their site would function a lot faster if they had a programmer combine all those scripts into a single script, or at least into fewer scripts.
I counted 52 scripts loaded on many of the TamRon pages. Since WordPress works with global templates, I will assume that every page of their site has the same 52 loaded scripts. According to Google, there are at least 6,070 pages on this site, most of those pages are in their product catalog. Done correctly, sites with that many pages usually outrank most other sites, and that's how I know something is really wrong somewhere.
Now to get a little bit technical, but I'll try to use relatable terms. Every time you visit a website, your web browser talks to the server that hosts the site. When a browser talks to a server, they are making a "connection" to send information back and forth. Your web browser must make a new connection for every item you see on the screen, which means every image you see will have its own connection. Those images include logos, product photos, and even background images that are part of the design.
With all the extra WordPress plug-ins that TamRon is using, they have 52 extra connections on every page. You could argue that those 52 scripts are intended to load only once and are then held in temporary browser memory. While this is true, there is no guarantee that every browser will work that way. Some people have their web browsers set to redownload every script every time they refresh a page.
The more I look at their code, the more I feel that it was an amateur WordPress programmer that set the site up. Even though they already have 52 externally linked files, they should have one more. I found a large chunk of their style sheet code written into every page.
Programming large chunks of your style sheet code into every page is a practice that was phased out more than 10 years ago because it leads to code bloat and overall website bloat. I measured at least 37.3K of extra code in their pages because of this sloppy style sheet setup. While that might not seem like a lot, it turns into a lot when you think about their site as a whole. With 6070 page on their website that 37.3k quickly turns into 226MB was wasted download data (37000 x 6070).
When designing a website, most people only worry about how a website looks and if they are implementing the right search engine optimization, but most people only think of SEO in terms of what you see on the screen rather than what happens in the background.
Even though the TamRon site has a lot of content and a very large product catalog, I can't exactly tell why it isn't ranking well without looking at other tools. However, it does seem like their sloppy WordPress plug-in setup and code bloat is working against them.
This is the type of site I'd love to analyze and dig into, but as a simple free review, you can learn from the above diagnosis, that there are sometimes deeper issues with websites. Most SEO agencies would be baffled by this problem unless they've had experience with server administration and high level technical issues.
That's it for this quasi-technical analysis; I'll see you next time...
FTC Notice: I randomly choose this website and won't be telling the retailer jeweler that I'm giving them these flop fix ideas. Unless someone else tells them, they will only find out about this Nugget if they use Google Alerts or examine their Google Analytics and Google Search Console. I'm not doing this to solicit business from them, but rather as an educational exercise for everyone. This #FridayFlopFix is completely impartial and all my comments are based on previous experience in my website design and marketing agency, and from my personal research data.