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Marc

Website Critique

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First cousin to 'Report Swap'. Same rules. Skip the frosting. Just say it like it is.

Just one request...keep your imagination open.

Warning: any member posting their website link on this thread will get my criticism.

Sherlock Inspection

Marc

PS. Recent changes to my home page were made in response to a post by Les a while back. I hope it's more agreeable this time.

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This topic is totally subjective. Web design is like car shopping. I think the Nissan Cube is the ugliest thing on the road, but I see them daily.

However, I can give you a few tips to make your site a tat more SEO friendly.

1. Your page are not titled, they are numbered. Bad SEO mojo. You want your page titled. Example: http://www.sherlockinspection.com/1852.html should be something like http://www.sherlockinspection.com/home- ... vices.html Your keywords will be picked up by the spiders, good mojo.

2. Center you page(s), On about line 43 of your code, add align="center" of your main table 01 attributes. Should look like this "Tabelle_01" height="601" align="center" I can help you if you can't figure it out. Keep in mind this will likely have to be done to every page, unless you are generating content dynamically using PHP or something, but I doubt this is the case.

3. Put a pic of yourself. Folks like to deal with people.

4. I do like the overall deisgn, but throw some images in here and there. Snazzy it up a bit.

5. Stay away from all things flash. I made that mistake when I built mine a few years back, not I'm in the process of a fresh build again, without flash.

6. Create an image gallary for crazy stuff you've found. People like pictures.

7. Where is your Facebook link? Twitter link? Google + link? Billions of people everyday use these things to get, find, and keep business rolling. Like it or not, use it, and get paid from it. FOR FREE.

I think you really have a solid start here. Although tables are not exactly cutting edge design builds, they get the job done. However nesting tables in tables is a bad idea, it's hard for the spiders to read.

Let me know if you need any help figuring out things. A program like Dreamweaver is best, but all things can be done in notepad.

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Ben, I'm not sure how, but my site advertising works so well that my ad regularly shows up on my competitions' home page...at the top. Been that way for years.

Also, It's an off the shelf design. I've never seen any code on it. I just write up the content. However, there is a way to inject code with some free software I have. Appreciate your suggestions. And yours too Jim.

Marc

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The reason your ad shows up is your competition allow google adwords to appear on their page. I'll assume you pay google for ad campaign (pay per click). I'm talking about organic, non pay results.

When I google search Lafayette LA home inspector, you are the first hit on second page. Which is a good start, but the difference between 1st and 2nd page is only a few hundred calls a year.

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Marc, you and I had this discussion before via e-mail. Check out any ten HI sites, and you'll discover that the index pages all pretty much say the same thing, my own included. There simply isn't much about what we do that's gonna keep a reader glued to a web page, eagerly devouring paragraph after paragraph.

And who--meaning our potential customers--is going to spend 15 minutes apiece on ten HI sites before making a decision about who she wants to talk to? I'll answer my own question. No one.

I have a terrific site-tracking program. It tells me who referred a visitor to my site, what page the visitor landed on, and how much time was spent on each page, and well as the time of the entire visit. Most people only look at my index page. The second most-visited page is a link called "Fees," because the visitors are curious if actual numbers are published. They aren't, but on that page I have the screwy photos Ben mentioned, and the last one--which is sort of a non sequitur--hopefully puts smiles on people's faces.

I, too, think you should get rid of most of the text and replace it with interesting and/or fun photos. I probably take this approach to the extreme. On my index page, there are photos of me, a hot babe, a German Shepherd, and another photo of the same hot babe acting silly while she checks herself out on the site. I've probably gone overboard, but . . . I suppose a web site is always a work in progress.

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No frosting indeed. It's good, for 1991. For today, it lacks glamor, which people expect to see. It says you're a no-frills kind of inspector. But it won't hold anyone's attention for more than a few seconds. Only a few visitors will read that much text. Sorry but that is the way of the world. People are surfing webs on their cell phones on their way to work.

But I'm no expert on marketing. Maybe the lack of embellishment will work for you.

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It is kind of plain but, who knows, maybe that makes it different enough to end up on the positive side. My biggest critique is that I think you need a completely new home page. Others have alluded to it. Your current lengthy index page is informative but would be better off linked to as "About Home Inspections and Inspectors", or something like that. The new page should more immediately, clearly and briefly state that you are in the business of home inspections and ready to work for the reader.

One minor grammatical error (and pet peeve): It's its and not it's in "Once you own a house, you own it's problems." at the bottom of your "Who's on your side" page.

Feel free to critique mine. I know it's getting a bit stale. I haven't changed much since I first wrote the thing in HTML 9 years ago.

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It is kind of plain but, who knows, maybe that makes it different enough to end up on the positive side. My biggest critique is that I think you need a completely new home page. Others have alluded to it. Your current lengthy index page is informative but would be better off linked to as "About Home Inspections and Inspectors", or something like that. The new page should more immediately, clearly and briefly state that you are in the business of home inspections and ready to work for the reader.

One minor grammatical error (and pet peeve): It's its and not it's in "Once you own a house, you own it's problems." at the bottom of your "Who's on your side" page.

Feel free to critique mine. I know it's getting a bit stale. I haven't changed much since I first wrote the thing in HTML 9 years ago.

Corrected. Thanks. One thing I like about the cm4all editor at my current domain host is that I can make changes/corrections to the content in less than one minute. The downside is that it doesn't allow me to insert photos unless the template I've chosen allows it.

I appreciate all the responses.

Just about everyone seems to agree that I've too much text on the index page. I've considered that I might need to switch to a different HTML editor. What I'm not sure of is whether the brethren understands my sales technique, which is to tell the discerning buyer what he needs to know, in such a way that he will recognize that it's what he needs to know and that I'm an inspector that tells it like it is, on my website and on the job. The message begins getting across on the first paragraph and if they stop at that, it can stand alone. I use this same technique when I present to a class of first-time home buyers 4, 5 times a year. They love it.

Marc

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It is kind of plain but, who knows, maybe that makes it different enough to end up on the positive side. My biggest critique is that I think you need a completely new home page. Others have alluded to it. Your current lengthy index page is informative but would be better off linked to as "About Home Inspections and Inspectors", or something like that. The new page should more immediately, clearly and briefly state that you are in the business of home inspections and ready to work for the reader.

One minor grammatical error (and pet peeve): It's its and not it's in "Once you own a house, you own it's problems." at the bottom of your "Who's on your side" page.

Feel free to critique mine. I know it's getting a bit stale. I haven't changed much since I first wrote the thing in HTML 9 years ago.

I checked your site. Couldn't find anything I'd change. Clear, cohesive message, no google ads. How old is that picture? [;)]

Marc

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What I'm not sure of is whether the brethren understands my sales technique, which is to tell the discerning buyer what he needs to know, in such a way that he will recognize that it's what he needs to know and that I'm an inspector that tells it like it is, on my website and on the job.
A discerning buyer will never know. They will not read a single word on a page that's nothing but blocks of text. Your index page needs bullet points, some important keywords distributed throughout and images that grab their interest.

You can't exude a professional, well established firm by using a web site created with free fill-in-the-blank templates.

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It is kind of plain but, who knows, maybe that makes it different enough to end up on the positive side. My biggest critique is that I think you need a completely new home page. Others have alluded to it. Your current lengthy index page is informative but would be better off linked to as "About Home Inspections and Inspectors", or something like that. The new page should more immediately, clearly and briefly state that you are in the business of home inspections and ready to work for the reader.

One minor grammatical error (and pet peeve): It's its and not it's in "Once you own a house, you own it's problems." at the bottom of your "Who's on your side" page.

Feel free to critique mine. I know it's getting a bit stale. I haven't changed much since I first wrote the thing in HTML 9 years ago.

Corrected. Thanks. One thing I like about the cm4all editor at my current domain host is that I can make changes/corrections to the content in less than one minute. The downside is that it doesn't allow me to insert photos unless the template I've chosen allows it.

I appreciate all the responses.

Just about everyone seems to agree that I've too much text on the index page. I've considered that I might need to switch to a different HTML editor. What I'm not sure of is whether the brethren understands my sales technique, which is to tell the discerning buyer what he needs to know, in such a way that he will recognize that it's what he needs to know and that I'm an inspector that tells it like it is, on my website and on the job. The message begins getting across on the first paragraph and if they stop at that, it can stand alone. I use this same technique when I present to a class of first-time home buyers 4, 5 times a year. They love it.

Marc

Students in a homebuyer class are a very different audience than website gawkers. To begin with, students in a room are a captive audience. With people browsing the web, you have a very brief window to make them think you're worth considering.

Web gawkers are a skittish bunch, always quick to bolt off to another page. We've got to grab them early and give them a reason to stay and we can't make them work too hard for it.

To be honest, I get very little business directly from my website. Almost all of my clients are referred to me by someone. Often, on the strength of that referral, they'll click around my site and then call me in spite of it.

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Hello Marc. To make the index page informative, but quick and easy to read? Use opening sentences, then link to another page (Read more about that here).

This will put the text on other pages. Lots of links are good.

On your index page, use words which clients will use when they search for a home inspector. But if you move some of that text, you can have more info, who you are, how to connect, why you, etc.

Try to highlight some of that text so it catches the eye better. Bold or different fonts. People will skim over the page looking for a quick answer. It's all about instant gratification. Or so I'm told. [:)]

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A good open source (free) web site designer is Kompozer. It's WYSIWYG and allows you to see the finished page, source code, and FTP your finished page to your server. You can play around, make changes, add pictures or create new pages and then save or reject as you want. No changes are permanent till you upload the page to your server so you can save multiple versions locally. Great for adding/changing key words or meta tags.

Takes a little setup but it has web forums for help as you go along.

Google anaytics is free to track your results. There is also a host of demo SEO software out there that can help point you in the right direction.

Feel free to critique my website, although this was already done on a previous post, any help is appreciated since I am not a website designer, just cheap!

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In my opinion, a succesful website is a good combination of pics, graphics, and text; something to create visual interest, eye candy.

Bain's site does a good job with eye candy. . . .

Add some fun stuff, Marc. Whoop it up!

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I'm a year late seeing your thread but can see your website still and figured I would add some suggestions as a webmaster myself. Love the simplicity of the site, most people tend to go with extreme designs.

-You should install Google Analytics on your site, they will give you a few lines of code when you register and you just inject the code in in your

tag.

- Larger photo of yourself

- For Search engine optimization content is king, which you have done perfectly. You just need to name your title for each page different and keyword rich. Such as "greene county home inspector - company name".

- Complete the areas served page, this is a very important seo page because search engines will link your business "home inspector" to areas in keywords. Such as Richmond home inspector, Albany home inspector, so on. Just a list of cities does wonders.

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A while back I asked some people if they were going to be purchasing a home and wanted an inspection, how would they go about selecting the inspector. One of the top answers after referrals was they would check out the inspectors website. So the next question became, what were they looking for in the inspectors website. The answers were it needed some visual appeal, it needed some easily readable content, and it needed to tell them why they should choose that inspector as opposed to the other guy with the really flashy website or the guy with the boring just the facts ma'm website.

So what is the purpose of the website??? To get them to contact us. So if you were to purchase a home and the realtor gave you a list of preferred inspectors and on that list was everyone that has responded to this post, the question becomes will your website put you on the short list of inspectors that home buyer is going to call?

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A while back I asked some people if they were going to be purchasing a home and wanted an inspection, how would they go about selecting the inspector. One of the top answers after referrals was they would check out the inspectors website. So the next question became, what were they looking for in the inspectors website. The answers were it needed some visual appeal, it needed some easily readable content, and it needed to tell them why they should choose that inspector as opposed to the other guy with the really flashy website or the guy with the boring just the facts ma'm website.

So what is the purpose of the website??? To get them to contact us. So if you were to purchase a home and the realtor gave you a list of preferred inspectors and on that list was everyone that has responded to this post, the question becomes will your website put you on the short list of inspectors that home buyer is going to call?

The vast majority of the forum membership is likely in your camp. While I know for a fact that many visitors to my site bounce out quickly because of the initial perception of a crappy site, websites aren't what I sell and it's not just any client that I'm looking for. I can't think of any photo that would rhyme with and augment my message to my satisfaction.

I often ponder the idea of adding audio/video's of myself voicing my message and I just might do that later if I can improve my pronunciation enough. It's tough when you've gone nearly half a century without hearing any voices at all.

My home page does indeed tell my readers why they should choose me. I do it by telling them what any discerning buyer would want to know.

Marc

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