Oooooh. Sends chills down your spine right? LOL OK so we’re not talking about the most emotionally inspiring topic, but it is quite possibly the most important. A lot of people view the website as the beginning – where it all starts. But really it is quite the opposite. This is where is all ends, if you’re doing it right anyway. Think about it! All your SEO and PPC and Display advertising and Social Media and blogging is all designed to ultimately land the customer to your website. But like all effective professionals we must begin with the end in mind.
If you’re reading this and haven’t been under a rock for the last 14 years, websites are not a new concept. You’re not here to learn how to build one or where to begin. You want to know what separates a good website from a bad one right? Sure some of it is subjective based on your industry, but there are core concepts that are important. And even more important, there are free tools that can give you the low down on the good, the bad, and the abominable.
An Inconvenient Truth
The first step is to evaluate. I’m just going to tell it like it is here ok? This is going to be a rude awakening for most of you, because as good as you think your website is, it probably sucks. I know, it’s incredibly arrogant of me to presume such a thing, but its the truth. So to prove it to you I am going to show you the free tools you can use to judge for yourself. These are the two primary tools I use when I begin to evaluate a site to determine whats wrong and where to begin improving. Prepare yourself, its going to get ugly…
The Road to Recovery
Hubspot is a great company that offers a free tool that will algorithmically evaluate your site. It does so using a number of factors. It is called Marketing Grader and can be found here. It is so easy anyone can use it. Even if you don’t understand all the information it is giving you, the grade is clear and simple. If you score below an 80 on your primary site, just face it, your site sucks. Acceptance is the first step on the road to recovery.
First just start with your website. You don’t have to put an e-mail address in. Just plug in your website url and in a minute or so you’ll have your report. Book mark the link so you can go back and look at it whenever you want. OK now ready for the really shocking test? Go back to the start page where you entered your url. Now enter your web provider’s website. That’s right! The company that builds your website for you. Enter their url and run the report. Same rules apply, below an 80 and its a fail.
The Proof is in the Grade
I guess I better play by my own rules huh? This is the site report for one of Wikimotive’s client’s, Marlboro Nissan, as you can see they score very high out of a possible 100.
Now the second test, Marlboro Nissan’s Digital Marketing Company, Wikimotive: See grade here. Starting to see a pattern here? If your website provider or digital marketing partner doesn’t follow best practices for the sites they use to attract you as their consumer, why would you expect them to provide you with a great website? On the other hand if your website provider scores highly and you don’t it might be time to have a conversation with your service rep!
Exceptional is Rare
OK so I’ll admit it. There will be a rare few of you who’s sites rank above an 80. Great news! YOU DON’T SUCK! Did you score a 100? If not, I guess there is still room for improvement, right? I know I am not done pushing until I get a 100.
So now you know whats wrong. How do you pin point specific areas to work on? Get the firefox web browser if you don’t already use it as a browser. It will be an invaluable tool. Once its installed get the SEOQuake plugin. Do some quick reading on what the data means and how to use it and you’ll be on your way. This toolbar will give you info on your website on a page by page basis.
OK so by now you realize that we’re basically into SEO. It is important that you realize that because the foundation of your website is SEO. The site structure needs to begin with best practices in mind. It’s important to remember that anyone can build a nice looking website now. But there are really a small percentage of providers and designers out there who build one with a foundation that will allow you to attract the visitors you want. In case you missed it, this is the single most important truth you should take away from this article: SEO is the foundation! Just like any bell curve, a few really suck most are just mediocre and a few are really great.
Change or Get Run Over
Until you recognize this fundamental flaw, nothing else matters. Taking any suggestions from the articles that follow are fruitless until you get at the core problem. You can’t just ignore it and think, “a better conversion form or a flashier banner or button will overcome my lack of traffic.” That is like taking tylenol to cure brain cancer. You’re only lying to yourself.
If you would like help selecting a website provider to partner with we’ll be happy to help. Wikimotive can point you in the right direction and has great relationships working with the top industry providers.
A colleague asked me to review their automotive website a few days ago. I took your advice and analyzed it with Website Grader. Unfortunately, Website Grader did not locate the website. However, their Google page rank is 4.
My response, “rebuild your website because you are in trouble.”
What do you suggest for someone when their website is not found by Hubspot’s Website Grader, but has a Google page rank of 4?
Andy, I would first check to see that the url was entered properly. This would be the first time I have heard of something like this happening. Website Grader does not base it’s results on cached data. Every time you run it it returns unique data. In fact you can make a change and immediately see that change reflected by running the analysis again.
But for the sake of argument, you can look at things like inbound links and keyword density. You can use the site: command in google and look at title tag diversity and draw your own conclusions.
Also, it is VERY important to remember that Page Rank in and of itself is a poor indicator as to site structure. It isn’t even necessarily a good indicator of the inbound link quality. I have seen high PR sites that score very poorly and low PR sites do very well.
Remember website grader is a tool that you should have in your arsenal. It is not the end all be all, but simply a good first place to start. Would you mind sharing the site url? Thanks for commenting!
Unfortunately, they asked for their information not to be made public. However, their web provider does not exist on Website Grader either.
Just wanted to say I really like your site and will unquestionably be back!