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Bloated Websites vs. Simple Websites

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Bloated Websites vs. Simple Websites  daily-golden-nugget-1546-82
I'm taking a different approach in this week's website review. Normally, I look for poorly ranked websites and try to find reasons why they are not ranking well. When I started my search this week, I found a bunch of mediocre websites that were outranked by Yelp and YellowPages. All of the websites needed improvement. Oddly enough, the site I thought needed the most improvement, was outranking all of the others.

Today, I'll explore why that might be happening. First, I searched for "jewelers Healdsburg CA" and saw these results:

Bloated Websites vs. Simple Websites  1546-jewelers-healdsburg-ca-1

The page 1 organic results show Ann Marie Fine Jewelry, Mark Allen Jewelers, and Vintage Jewelers. The Mark Allen and Vintage websites look newer, and you would expect them to rank above the Ann Marie website, but they don't. Let's quickly look at the home pages for each.

This is the home page of the Vintage Jewelers website:

Bloated Websites vs. Simple Websites  1546-vintage-home-92

They seem to have a lot of good content on their site, even pulling the current blog posts into their home page. At first glance, I would have expected this website to rank highly in the SERP, but they were 9th.

This next one is the landing page Google had for the Mark Allen Jewelers website:

Bloated Websites vs. Simple Websites  1546-mark-allen-page-97

This wasn't the Mark Allen home page, but according to Google it's the best page to look at when searching for "jewelers" in that town. This site was also ranked pretty low at 8th place.

The Ann Marie Fine Jewelry website was ranked in 5th place. Yelp and YellowPages claimed the top 4 spots for these results. This is what the Ann Marie home page looked like:

Bloated Websites vs. Simple Websites  1546-ann-marie-home-34

I used the same size browser window when taking those 3 screen shots so you could see the sizing and readability differences between them. The Ann Marie website has an old design and very small text, making it very difficult to read.

Looking In The Background


Even though the copyright on this website says 2010, it reminded me of websites from the pre-2005 era. I investigated their site on web.archive.org and found that their first site was launched in 2001 and it was redesigned 3 times prior to this current incarnation. This current website was launched in November 2010 and hasn't been changed since.

Although the website looks like it was designed with old school Microsoft Publisher, it's using XHTML programming code. XHTML was the attempted language right before programmers started migrating to HTML5 a few years ago.

I was very surprised by how neat and clean the code was for the Ann Marie website. The home page only has 51 lines of code using only 351 words, 170 of which were the words that you could read on the page. Putting it differently, that means 48% of the code was readable by people. That's pretty astounding for today's website standards.

Years ago we used to worry about something called "keyword density," which would indicate the percentage that your target keywords would appear within the text on your page. Years ago Google disqualified keyword density as an SEO practice because too many people were abusing the method.

However, I've always noticed that websites with a high percentage of visible content compared to the invisible code always seem to rank better than their competitors. That seems to be exactly what's happening here.

Content Density


There's nothing special about the Ann Marie website. As a user, I would be very frustrated trying to read it or get good information from it and I'd likely skip it and dig deeper into the other two sites.

For this review, I'm simply trying to find a legitimate reason why Google is ranking Ann Marie higher than Vintage and Mark Allen. It looks like the content density might be the main reason. Here's what I found:

http://www.annmariefinejewelry.com/collection.html
code word countvisible word count% of visible words
351

170

48%

http://www.annmariefinejewelry.com/index.html
code word countvisible word count% of visible words
251

98

39%

http://www.annmariefinejewelry.com/process.html
code word countvisible word count% of visible words
290

123

42%

http://markallenjewelers.com/healdsburg-jewelry/
code word countvisible word count% of visible words
1266

376

30%

http://markallenjewelers.com/
code word countvisible word count% of visible words
1533

378

25%

http://vintagejewelersandgifts.com/
code word countvisible word count% of visible words
3440

589

17%

http://vintagejewelersandgifts.com/jewelry-appraisals/
code word countvisible word count% of visible words
2593

632

24%



All the pages on the Ann Marie website had 39% or greater percentage of visible words compared to the HTML code while the other sites all had 30% or lower.

Simplicity seems to be working for getting Ann Marie higher ranking, but I still consider their site to be a failure by today's standards. It's time for them to redesign this site again.

Conclusions


The amount of code it takes to generate a website will affect your ranking. Too much code is called "code bloat" and it is one of the technical aspects of SEO.

The Vintage and Mark Allen websites are both using WordPress, which is notorious for code bloat. Although WordPress is well known for being the platform you can do anything with, it's also the platform that requires one additional plug-in for each additional feature; all those plug-ins lead to horrible code bloat.

It probably wouldn't take much to usurp Ann Marie from the rankings in this area; it probably would only take a nice looking website with good information and a high visible word percentage compared to the HTML code.

Any takers?

That's it for this week; 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.




AT: 03/03/2017 01:01:57 PM   LINK TO THIS GOLD NUGGET
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