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Site Review Puhlease!


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11 replies to this topic

#1 jsp1983

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Posted 26 June 2011 - 10:29 AM

Hi everyone,

So, I'm having a bit of trouble with a site that's been online for about a year now. To be fair, it's been neglected to some extent for a few months, but has recently received a bit of attention and TLC, with a view to at least getting it 'working'.

The site is west-cornwall-cottages.co.uk

It's an ongoing site, with new products being added intermittently.

At the moment, there isn't much content other than the product listings themselves.

SEO
I wouldn't classify the site as being 'thin affiliate' (although you may disagree!), but I think more could be done, content-wise, to push it further away from being seen as primarily an affiliate site. All of the content is unique - none of the copy is copied or respun.

The site is targeting keywords thematically, so phrases like 'self-catering', 'holiday apartments', 'holiday cottages', holiday homes' etc, combined with place names (eg, St Just, Penzance etc).

It has a handful of incoming links, none of which I would think are particularly valuable. Yes, I know that this area needs attention - I'm just wondering if anybody has ideas about how links can be obtained for a site like this? I think is closely linked to having to pay more attention to publishing better-quality content on the site.

Feel free to look at the code and suggest improvements. The site is Wordpress-based, so there might be limits to what I can do with it! I know that the homepage is quite bloated, so suggestions on how to reduce that are welcome.

Marketing
The site is primarily for a UK audience. Male or female (perhaps with a slight female bias) and probably from mid-30s to mid-50s in age range. Their interests will probably include taking self-catering holidays in the UK, possibly Cornwall! Beyond that, not much is known about the customers.

In terms of what makes the site different from 'others', well I think it depends who it compares to. For the merchants themselves, I don't think there's much differentiation and for the consumer, it's just adding to the number of clicks required to get a conversion. In some instances though, the site provides a bit more information about a holiday home and the local area than the merchant. There's probably a bigger difference between the site and other affiliate-based sites. A lot of other affiliate-based sites for Cornwall self-catering don't produce unique content and seem quite 'thin'. Of course, they seem to do a much better job of SEO!

I would hope that merchants would be happy to work with the site because they feel they can trust us with their brand and want to work closely with them in generating leads. I would like to think that the site does a better job of assuring visitors of the accuracy of details and trust in the merchant brands.

Usability is important insofar as, if it makes the difference between generating a lead and not generating one, then it's important! So tips and ideas in that area would be welcome smile.gif A downside of the site is its reliance on Wordpress, which has inhibited the implementation of displaying pages through different facets - something that an ecommerce site would be much more adept at. The site reached a tipping point whereby it was felt that so much of it had been produced in Wordpress, that it would be a lot of additional work to transfer it to another CMS or incorporate an ecommerce plugin and theme.

Design is just as important as usability to me, so any guidance there will be gratefully received!

I look forward to your feedback (positive, neutral and negative)!

#2 chrishirst

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 02:00 PM

Well I looked at it and left just as quickly because busy fixed backgrounds with translucent scrolling content is absolutely abysmal to read,

Sure, it might be "kewl and trendy" and impress other designers but if you want customers .......

#3 Jill

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 04:31 PM

Why do you have noindex on the top level category pages?

#4 jsp1983

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 10:04 AM

QUOTE(chrishirst @ Nov 11 2011, 07:00 PM) View Post
Well I looked at it and left just as quickly because busy fixed backgrounds with translucent scrolling content is absolutely abysmal to read,

Sure, it might be "kewl and trendy" and impress other designers but if you want customers .......


Fair enough. Thank you for your feedback. Duly noted and it's something I'll look at again.


QUOTE(Jill @ Nov 11 2011, 09:31 PM) View Post
Why do you have noindex on the top level category pages?


Hi Jill,

I think (this was quite a while ago now and I've since learned the art of keeping notes!) that it was set to noindex because the content tends to span across multiple categories, although thinking back on the logic of this (assuming it was the reason), it doesn't really matter, does it?

I take it you'd suggest that I should set the categories to index?

#5 Jill

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 12:00 PM

QUOTE
I take it you'd suggest that I should set the categories to index?


For me, top-level category pages are one of the most important areas of a site for both people and search engines, so yes, I would certainly want them to be indexed.

#6 jsp1983

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 03:41 PM

QUOTE(Jill @ Nov 14 2011, 05:00 PM) View Post
For me, top-level category pages are one of the most important areas of a site for both people and search engines, so yes, I would certainly want them to be indexed.


Thanks - can't believe I've made such a boneheaded mistake there! I can only assume that I was thinking of dup content issues at the time or something. Noindex for top-level categories have now been removed.

Edited by jsp1983, 14 November 2011 - 03:46 PM.


#7 Hichem

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 07:08 AM

If you are using All in one SEO pack, you will notice that categories are indexed, the nonindex goes only for tags .. it's a sort of recommendation though ..


QUOTE(jsp1983 @ Nov 14 2011, 03:41 PM) View Post
Thanks - can't believe I've made such a boneheaded mistake there! I can only assume that I was thinking of dup content issues at the time or something. Noindex for top-level categories have now been removed.



For the domain name, I don't like hyphens sad.gif
Matt Cutts, in his videos, when talking about spammy websites, he always gives the example of "too many hyphens" .. I don't think that two hyphens is too much .. but I just don't like it ..



Nice play with the arthemia theme .. but I second that the translucid wrapper is a little bit annoying .. you can try and reduce the transparency till the text becomes clearer ..

The footer needs a little bit of attention also ..


Maybe a little more interaction adding Twitter / Facebook / Google+ will help to create a familiar feeling when browing he website, and will hep with SEO as well ..

Also, if you add plugins like GD star rating or myreviewplugins .. that will give you the possibility to rate the properties using some criterias (like cost : 5 stars / proximity : 2 stars etc) , that will give the visitors the feeling that you are reviewing what you are offering , not just selling something .. also it will help your visitors decide .. which will increase your conversion ...

Also, a sidebar banner from the same affiliate website you are using for booking might not be a good idea .. (from my experience)

You have to test and see ..

#8 Catz

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Posted 26 November 2011 - 08:30 PM

I am sure those in the UK would know the term but what is a self-catering property? searchme.gif

#9 chrishirst

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Posted 27 November 2011 - 05:54 AM

It means what it says. you take your own food and cook (ie: catering for one's self) or eat out.

Vacation rental would be the equivalent Merry Can term biggrin.gif

#10 jsp1983

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Posted 27 November 2011 - 11:08 AM

QUOTE(Hichem @ Nov 26 2011, 12:08 PM) View Post
If you are using All in one SEO pack, you will notice that categories are indexed, the nonindex goes only for tags .. it's a sort of recommendation though ..
For the domain name, I don't like hyphens sad.gif
Matt Cutts, in his videos, when talking about spammy websites, he always gives the example of "too many hyphens" .. I don't think that two hyphens is too much .. but I just don't like it ..
Nice play with the arthemia theme .. but I second that the translucid wrapper is a little bit annoying .. you can try and reduce the transparency till the text becomes clearer ..

The footer needs a little bit of attention also ..
Maybe a little more interaction adding Twitter / Facebook / Google+ will help to create a familiar feeling when browing he website, and will hep with SEO as well ..

Also, if you add plugins like GD star rating or myreviewplugins .. that will give you the possibility to rate the properties using some criterias (like cost : 5 stars / proximity : 2 stars etc) , that will give the visitors the feeling that you are reviewing what you are offering , not just selling something .. also it will help your visitors decide .. which will increase your conversion ...

Also, a sidebar banner from the same affiliate website you are using for booking might not be a good idea .. (from my experience)

You have to test and see ..


Thanks for your feedback smile.gif

Going through the points one-by-one...

I use the Wordpress SEO plugin by Y**st - I've found it to be easy to use and less troublesome than the one I was using previously, He*dsp*ce2.

I'm not keen on the use of hyphens, either, but I stuck to a limit of two.

I've been quite fond of Arthemia, sticking with it for the past couple of years for experimenting with. Point about the background is noted wink1.gif I have found the Arthemia widgets cumbersome to use. Some of the footer widget contents appears to be hard-wired in to some of the PHP (I keep meaning to revisit it).

Social plugins have been a pain to use, too, so I just took them out. Some would cause problems to the page's appearance or performance, so I just removed them.

I have thought about using a review plugin for adding ratings, but I feel uneasy about 'cheating' site visitors with information. I'm doubtful that visitors will return to my site after a booking's been made, so I'm not expecting that anybody would leave a genuine rating.

I'm not sure I understand your last point about the affiliate banner - could you expand on what you mean?

QUOTE(Catz @ Nov 27 2011, 01:30 AM) View Post
I am sure those in the UK would know the term but what is a self-catering property? searchme.gif


As Chris says, it's what some parts of the world call a 'vacation rental' or 'vacation home'. In the UK and parts of the Commonwealth, we know them more commonly with terms like 'self-catering', 'holiday home', 'holiday cottage', 'holiday apartment' and so on. The terms vary in usage, though. Here in Blackpool, it's rare that you'll see terms like 'holiday cottage' or 'holiday apartment' used to describe a rental property, where 'holiday home' and 'holiday flat' are far more commonly used by owners. We're a bit odd like that!

#11 Catz

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Posted 27 November 2011 - 11:40 PM

So rather than a room in someone's home (like a Bed and Breakfast) it's a place of your own with kitchen facilities, makes sense. We might search for something like that with the term vacation rental property or even Beach rental since several seem to be on the water.

When looking at the Studio A3 Aqua Blue, I noticed a few things you might look at.

This may be a language difference or a typo from the Facilities and Features section: "A laundry room is available on-sit- featuring coin operated laundry facilities." Is that meant to be on-site?

There are some pictures lower in the page and clicking the link that says [Show as slideshow] does not appear to do anything but take you back to the same page with ?show=slide at the end of the URL. The link below it works but the first one seems out of place. That link didn't work on other pages either.

You might consider putting the "Choose a location and property type" menu at the top of the page just above the featured properties, so it is not below the scroll line on the page.

Also noticed some of the listings do not have photos, which renders them virtually useless, like Lane End Cottage holiday cottage in St Columb, near Newquay, Cornwall. Not much chance someone is going to inquire without photos.

That background is a little distracting. It might be a nice image, but no one would know it since it is out of focus, so I have to agree with the others on this.

Those tag clouds (or most popular tags sections in pages) are pretty annoying when added to web pages, and really can make a site look tacky. It just takes away from the professional look of a site. Those always remind me of the early days when people just added a bunch of links at the bottom of a page using their keywords as link text. Some people may disagree but those just don't seem that necessary and if overused, could become an issue. It just seems to water down the content in most cases.

#12 ifandesign

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 04:33 AM

Maybe just personal taste, but in my opinion I'm not a fan of your social media links scrolling down the page on the left in attempt to keep up with the users every page movement. I understand part of the theory of spreading your content via Social Media, but personally Its distracting almost to the point of annoying. Perhaps a different way to ensure social media links stay on page would be to use something like a Wibiya toolbar which is always in view, overlaid on the footer, or at least have the social links fixed position at then end of the post.
Apart from that the rest of the site looks clean and easily navigable although a little sparce on design.
Regards & good luck - Tony




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