The Ugly Duckling Web Site and Rank Vs. Substance
:: Tuesday, June 28, 2005 ::
Mike Grehan hit a little nerve with an article called Why You Don't Rank on Search Engines. He says it's very hard to tell someone they're having problems because their web site, is, well, ugly. He writes,
"There are two main reasons your site doesn't rank well on the search engines: Your business model is flawed or ill-conceived. And your Web site is garbage."
A forum thread popped up to rant about his rant, called Why Don't You Rank on Search Engines? - Article.
Mike's topic is about getting web sites ranked in search engines. No small or easy task these days, in some search engines. Since links are a vital rank booster, a web site has to contain something worthy of being linked to, such as content. And not just any content, like your life story or repeating the product 32 times on a page. Here's the juice, according to Mike:
"I ask clients to be very honest about whether they believe they have a business concern online or just a Web site. If we discover they truly have a genuine business that can differentiate itself, we look at the Web site.
This process hurts a lot of the time. The most important aspect of ranking at search engines is about getting good, solid links around your Web pages. You can only achieve that if your content is strong enough to induce it.
Ask yourself, "Why would anyone want to link to my site?" Be brutal. Write down as many reasons as you can about why other sites should link to you. If you can't convince yourself another site would want to link to you, you seriously need to question what your value proposition is and how your site promotes it (or not, as the case may be)."
The article is too brief and doesn't offer many details or solutions. The discussion at Cre8asite delves deeper into the carrots Mike dangled, such as value proposition, marketing, flawed business models and "ugly" designs. Offers one member,
"I know a whole lot of people who optimize web sites for the search engines. The number who are experts at SEO and usability and marketing can be counted on one hand (and still have a few fingers left over to pinch those dreaming they should be on the list). Ask the hard questions Mike recommends, by all means, walk away if you must, but never let yourself forget that SEO/SEM -- by its very nature -- is a partnership. You don't own the man's business and, frankly, I think it's the height of hubris to always assume you know more than he does about his own market."
Art Project or Business Concept?
Because I provide web site usability improvement services for search engine optimization companies, I'm in a fantastic position to see the "before" situation of a web site. In most cases, the company has done some sort of SEO and isn't satisfied with rank.
Secondly, and critically related, they're unhappy with conversions. Several of the companies I work with include web design services. This means they redesign that "ugly duckling" web site, add the power of SEO/SEM and top it all off with information architecture and persuasive design solutions to increase profits and traffic flow.
It's not just a matter of design, or business model, alone. Another Cre8asite thread takes this up, in Good looks, but no substance?. Administrator, Adrian Lee points out observations from Jeffrey Zeldman -
"There is more talent than originality out there."
"There was little content and even less user science."
There is fantastic input and opinion into this substance thread.
Visit it and get jazzed.
:: posted by Kim Krause Berg on 6/28/2005 10:55:00 AM
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