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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
A few years back I did web design as a part time gig to get me through school, and I keep up with it (mostly as a hobby, I've still got my 9-5). I'm new to the community here, and have been thinking about getting back into the business at least part time (making websites, that is).

So, I'll open up the forum to any and all questions you've got about your website. Anything from 'this is broken, how do I fix it' to 'why am I on the last page of Google' type of questions, and everything in between. Even if you don't have a specific question, just a 'look at my site and make suggestions' I'll be happy to help. I'll do my best to get you an answer or give you some help, and maybe in the future someone will consider me for some paid work :)


So....Fire away!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
40 views and no questions?

Ok, how about this. Post your website link, and I'll tell you what I would do if it was mine. Worst case you get some free advice that you don't follow - best case you get some great idea's that increase your business.
 

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I've been lurking for almost a year, and this post made me decide to register. My website is asktotalhome dot com. It is very basic, I traded my BIL labor to install a couple of windows for the basics, and haven't touched it in a couple years. Time to update and get it to work harder. Thanks for the offer, and I'm cringing while I await a review. lol. Darren
 

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First and foremost, I'm going to make assumptions about your business based on what I read. If they are wrong, please correct me and I'll adjust my review accordingly.

On site:

First of all, for being an 'older' site yours does actually have a very appealing look. It's basic, but it doesn't look like it was thrown together in your basement, which in my book is always a plus.

I do have a few complaints though, please don't take them personally! -

First, the page that welcomes me is almost a book. At least it reads like one. When I visit a website you have a few seconds to tell me you have what I'm looking for, otherwise I'm off to hit that back button and try again. Pictures work well for this, as do links, but not without supporting text that is concise and to the point. Pictures along with (short) testimonials from the clients whom they belong to is even better. It's really a personal preference if you'd like to go with bullets or pictures with captions, just avoid making me read a paragraph when I first get to your site.

Not to say all paragraphs are bad - If I make it to your 'about us' section I'd like to see a little more information, much like what you have. How long you've been in business and what you specialize in is great. Also it doesn't hurt to repeat yourself if you've got a customer that has made it to your about page. You have great credentials, make them stand out with a bulletted list before or after your wording so they really stick out and stick with me.

Next - you have to ask yourself what is the point of your website? What do you want it to do? Do you want it to just provide information to potential clients or do you want it to provide you with information about those potential clients? I'm guessing option 2 is what you're after.

When I first get to your site the hardest thing to do is find your phone number, crammed in way at the bottom. And if I do make it past that first page, it's always the smallest thing on every page past that. This should stand out, and be at the top of every page.

Your contact us page is good, but you should reiterate what you focus on with your main page. Give me a call to action - 'Call us to lock in your 5% discount before the promotion ends' type of thing. Give me a reason to call you now instead of hitting my back button and looking at the other contractors websites I've found in my search results.

Your information request page does not work properly. The file 'FormMail.pl' doesn't exist, which I'm guessing is supposed to send you the email. Did you get an email from me requesting information? I'm guessing not. There is also a post which I was involved in about contact forms you might want to take a look at:
http://www.contractortalk.com/f12/making-contact-your-website-66052/

you should give it a read, and check out that problem with your form (or drop me a PM, I can help..)

Do you have business cards that use a logo? You have some great pictures that make up your heading, but your company name isn't impressive. If you don't have a logo thats fine, but consider having that text reworked to make your name stand out so I know who's site I'm on.


I also am a big fan of organization, especially with how many pictures you have in your gallery. If I want to have my basement finished, I want to see pictures of previous basements you finished. I'm not sure I'm going to sort through all the pictures you have to find one. Now if they were categorized once I hit that page, I could easily check out the work you've done that interests me. And even better would be to use your absolute best pictures along with captions to link to those desperate sections of your gallery so when I first hit there I might go to the basements section, but seeing that amazing refinished kitchen might get me thinking about that too.



Off Site:
From the title of your website, I gather this is what you are trying to rank for:

missouri home improvements
cabinetry
woodwork
siding
windows
addtions
basements


for arguments (and times) sake lets just use a few as examples. Your primary business is remodeling. But being Joe Homeowner in Wentzville, I wouldn't know you exist:
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&...eling+contractor+Wentzville,+MO&aq=f&oq=&aqi=
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&rlz=1B3GGGL_en___US327&q=cabinetry+Wentzville,+MO&aq=f&oq=&aqi=
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&rlz=1B3GGGL_en___US327&q=siding+Wentzville,+MO&aq=f&oq=&aqi=

I'll stop there as I'm sure you get the point. Head on over to:
http://www.google.com/local/add/lookup?welcome=false&hl=en-US&gl=US
and list your business on Google!

Now BEFORE you hit that submit button, check your description against how people search on google. For example:
http://www.google.com/sktool/#keywords?q=home remodeling

In the top left you can type in different keywords (think basement finishing, siding, etc) and make sure your description uses those keywords! Also make sure to consider the searchers frame of mind. For example:
http://www.google.com/sktool/#keywords?q=siding
or....
http://www.google.com/sktool/#keywords?q=siding installation

is for siding. You might supply vinyl siding - but if a searcher types in vinyl siding chances are they aren't looking for a contractor, but looking for information, to compare prices on siding, to see examples, etc. Make sure to refine your searches to exactly what you do:
http://www.google.com/sktool/#keywords?q=siding contractor

to achieve the results you are after.




The same thing should happen off-site with your link building campaign (the topic is typically beat to death everywhere, but if you have questions about building links and changing your position in the search engines please ask - the only dumb question is the one that isn't asked and all that..so I'm not going to beat a dead horse unless you want details.


This is another great area where you new, catagorized gallery can come in handy. Each one of those catagories is a great chance to talk about a specialized area of work you do while showing off pictures - and something people will be searching for. If I personally needed siding on my house I wouldn't go to google and type in home improvements, or even general contractor. I would be specific, and search for a siding contractor, or siding installation. Think how your customer will think, pretend you are them and going to google. Or ask a family member to search on google by prompting them with 'if you needed (insert service here) done to your house, how would you find them online?'. As long as they aren't in the business themselves, you'll get some very accurate results for how people would look for you. Now you've got keywords to focus individual sections of your site on and can get away from that 'every page has the exact same title and focus on my site' that you have working against you now.


Ok - I can keep going but I'm going to cut myself short. If this is too much info, please tell me. If you want me to go on, I'd be more then happy to continue with more. You're the first...victim..of my critique and I want to make sure I don't give you so much that you're overwhelmed and not sure where to begin.

I appreciate you stepping up, and welcome to the community. If you need a hand with getting things setup differently, let me know. I'm looking to build a reputation and willing to work free of charge in exchange for an honest testimonial for the work performed (see, bet you wish you had volunteered your site and questions now don't you...). I'm sure I'll extend the offer to a few people, so keep the questions and websites coming.
 

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When I visit a website you have a few seconds to tell me you have what I'm looking for, otherwise I'm off to hit that back button and try again. Pictures work well for this, as do links, but not without supporting text that is concise and to the point. Pictures along with (short) testimonials from the clients whom they belong to is even better. It's really a personal preference if you'd like to go with bullets or pictures with captions, just avoid making me read a paragraph when I first get to your site.

Not to say all paragraphs are bad - If I make it to your 'about us' section I'd like to see a little more information, much like what you have. How long you've been in business and what you specialize in is great. Also it doesn't hurt to repeat yourself if you've got a customer that has made it to your about page. You have great credentials, make them stand out with a bulletted list before or after your wording so they really stick out and stick with me.
There's a lot of good advice in your post, Mac, but I want to add a note here about the impression I got reading this part. I'm not really disagreeing because you are making a good point, it just has the potential to be misunderstood.

There are many types of visitors that will land on your Home page and you need to meet the needs of each one who is in your target market. I don't believe paragraphs are bad, quite the opposite, they are usually necessary. The qualifying statement to go with that is the other elelments of the page must draw the visitor in so they will be interested in reading.

Here's another important thing to know. I'm going to outline what many studies have shown, but stay with me because these are not dry statistics, it is something you need to know when creating a web page. In every study I am aware of, the number of people drawn immediately to the text on the page is above 75%. This means they don't even look at images before they "read" text. But it's also important to know they're not reading. They are skimming. Their eyes are darting around the page looking for clues that you have what they came looking for.

Headings and sub headings are very important. Lists, like Mac mentioned, also help. Your first paragraph needs to get right to the point.

Based on everything I've learned, and I've been doing web stuff for over 10 years, the "content" should be very close to the top of the page where it is immediately visible and prominant. Pictures are great, they support your message, but I've seen where site owners put up great pictures and bury the content (force the user to scroll to see it) and their conversions suffer for it.

But of course, that content better address the needs of the visitor or away they go. Think about what problem you can solve for them. Don't just state facts, what are the benefits? Why should that visitor do business with you?

Instead of statements like "We have extensive experience in basement finishing," which talks about the company, speak to the visitor and connect with them. Something like, "Your basement is probably not up to the standard you envisioned when you bought your home. Our extensive experience in basement remodeling can help you unlock potential you may have never even thought about. It will be more than just functional, the transformation will make you want to spend more time enjoying your whole new living environment."

You would go on to encourage them to view examples of your work so they begin the process of imagining what you can do for them. Just like Mac mentioned, every page must have goals and desired results, so it must be written to support that desired set of goals.
 

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I'll take a review! Go easy on me, I didn't have any website design nor SEO knowledge as of 7 months ago! But I'm always up for new ideas and tips... Links are at the bottom...
 

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I remember when this site used to be a forum about trade talk.
A source of information to ask for insight, get opinions on how a set of materials looked or the ease of installation. After a hard day, a place to moan about dreadful clients. A network for GCs to get in touch with subs.

Now it's a website critique platform. And an "SEO" tips & techniques showroom.
 

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I remember when this site used to be a forum about trade talk.
A source of information to ask for insight, get opinions on how a set of materials looked or the ease of installation. After a hard day, a place to moan about dreadful clients. A network for GCs to get in touch with subs.

Now it's a website critique platform. And an "SEO" tips & techniques showroom.
This is just another side of the business for us contractors, it's the way of the future - "Only the strong will survive."
 

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I own stock in FotoMat!
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I remember when this site used to be a forum about trade talk.
A source of information to ask for insight, get opinions on how a set of materials looked or the ease of installation. After a hard day, a place to moan about dreadful clients. A network for GCs to get in touch with subs.

Now it's a website critique platform. And an "SEO" tips & techniques showroom.

So let's not talk about cell phones, CAD software, using lasers to measure countertops, accounting with computers...........
 

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Don't worry too much about ole Matt.. he fancies himself a web guru and I think he somehow feels his cyber toes have been stepped on. :laughing:


Okay review away : let's here it:

Rocky Mountain Bathrooms
 

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I remember when this site used to be a forum about trade talk.
A source of information to ask for insight, get opinions on how a set of materials looked or the ease of installation. After a hard day, a place to moan about dreadful clients. A network for GCs to get in touch with subs.

Now it's a website critique platform. And an "SEO" tips & techniques showroom.
"Over the past few years I have seen a huge change in the way we do business. It used to be a word of mouth and handshake sealed the deal and a tradesman carried his tools in a satchel. Now he also carries a laptop and Websites, SEO, Keywords, Directory Listings, Targeted Mailers and Branding are part of his daily vocabulary."
 

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I could use a review. I'm looking for ideas. Just hit my signature. Thanks in advance.
I'm not a marketer but I'll give a layperson's opinions for what it's worth. I think your site is a little disorganized. It is hard to see exactly what you do, how it helps the customer, how your solution is better than the alternative solutions, pro's and con's etc.

To do this I would ...
1. Find out who your customer is, what they want etc.
2. Show how you can satisfy them and tailor your site to give this message.

So suppose your customers are typically:
- want to replace their bath without spending a lot of money
- own the home, landlords doing fix-up
- max budget $1500
- need this done within 3 days

Then once you know this you can focus your site to serve these people and forget about the others.

Then you can market your site area where your customers are looking. So you can rank your sites for the keywords like 'cheap bath remodeling' etc.
 

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I remember when this site used to be a forum about trade talk.
A source of information to ask for insight, get opinions on how a set of materials looked or the ease of installation. After a hard day, a place to moan about dreadful clients. A network for GCs to get in touch with subs.

Now it's a website critique platform. And an "SEO" tips & techniques showroom.
Who else is going to challenge some of the bogus information if you don't have a few of us web guys here to set the record straight? :laughing:

Besides, there are some great questions asked here about things for which people like me know the answers. Being the observant type of person I am, I've noticed this section does seem to invite questions about web sites and SEO.
 

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What kind of bogus information?
You mean things like stuffing your webpages with keywords placed strategically in the title, meta description, and anchor text and calling it optimized.
Having a certain percentage of keyword saturation based on word count within the body's content just to get to some certain result in some kind of SEO "grading" site.
Spamming every forum and blog with a hyperlink to city, state [insert trade] and thinking it's link building.

There is a lot more to designing a website before you even think about optimizing it.

The vast majority of web designers are ignorant enough to believe they have the answers to solutions that are better off suited for information architects.
Much like tradesmen believe they're handy enough to do specialized tasks that are suited for more qualified craftsmen.
 

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What kind of bogus information?
You mean things like stuffing your webpages with keywords placed strategically in the title, meta description, and anchor text and calling it optimized.
Having a certain percentage of keyword saturation based on word count within the body's content just to get to some certain result in some kind of SEO "grading" site.
Spamming every forum and blog with a hyperlink to city, state [insert trade] and thinking it's link building.
Things like that, yeah. But those ideas aren't promoted as much as they were a few years ago. Stuffing a list of keywords at the bottom of the page, trading links, signing up for excessive directory listings, and various other "tricks" still seem to be popular.
 

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I could use a review. I'm looking for ideas. Just hit my signature. Thanks in advance.

I was cleaning out my PC and came across some files I got from Besttline.

There is a user on this forum called PCPlumber (http://bestlineplumbing.com) that has a pretty informative site.

You can download a manual and MS Publisher files for flyers that really goes into marketing for contractors.

Email him for the link. It is worth it.
 
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