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3 August, 2016

Local Search & Website Review – SJB Architects

Today’s website review and local search review is for an architect in Sydney. The business is SJB Architects, and was at the top of page 2 in my search results.

website review for sjb architects

Let’s dig in…

First we’ll look at the the good points, then we’ll review what could use a hand.  We start with the website and move through different areas of local search for this particular business.

Top Marks!

What’s notable about this site and deserves applause:

Analytics

aagoogle analytics logoThe site has Google Analytics installed. This is a free service from Google that allows you to better understand how your website performs.  You get valuable insights on your visitors and marketing efforts including:

  • where they come from (geographic & online places like facebook)
  • what they do while on your site
  • how many take a specific action you want them to take (such as an email opt-in, or click a specific budget on the page),
  • how they move around the site
  • what information they’re looking for
  • and so much more.

Blog (aka News)

The News section is active and full of personality, images and content. This adds value to the site and makes a more enjoyable experience for visitors.  It also helps with the search engines.

Noted around the web

They have a great range of quality citations from industry publications online. They do appear to be good at getting the word out and being published. Nice work!

Website Review – areas for improvement

The quality of the website is still the single biggest factor in having a website that performs well  for visitors and search engines. The items below are a random extract of 7 action points that will have an impact on visitor experience, business goals, SEO or all three..

1. Analytics

While it’s great they have Analytics installed, they’re running the older version also known as Classic. The standard today is what’s called Universal, and was available to the public in 2014.

Time to update.

2. Flash

One page on the site uses Flash. Unfortunately, the glory days of Flash have come and gone, and the images below are one reason why.

First, here’s what the page looks like on a desktop:

desktop screenshot

mobile screenshot

And here’s what it looks like on a mobile ->

 

Most mobile devices do not support flash technology well.  The result is a sub-standard experience for visitors. Fortunately, this flash video is not on a main page of the website, so its impact should be minimal.

Given that worldwide more than half of searches happen on mobile, business owners need to have sites designed with mobile in mind.

Remove Flash and change to HTML5 for videos and any other interactive functionality.

3. Mobile user experience

mobile test failLet’s loop back to the mobile perspective for a moment.

Unfortunately, the site is not “mobile friendly”, and this will be hurting its ranking.

You can see in the screenshot at the top the menu is tiny words.  It’s not the normal “hamburger menu” that expands to a tap-friendly size. Instead, visitors have to zoom out to see what’s on the page or click, which makes moving around in the site a bit of a pain.

Google recommends responsive design websites for businesses on a smaller budget and who only want one site to maintain. Most commercial website themes today have this as standard.

4. Spreading the word

social sharing interference

Most website owners who invest the effort in a blog would like to think someone finds their articles interesting.  On a good day they might even share it with friends or colleagues. It’s a great way to get informal word-of-mouth type of advertising.  It’s also a great way to keep providing value to customers beyond the business transaction.

This little black dot is too cryptic for visitors. And I couldn’t share this on LinkedIn or Twitter if I wanted to! The cursor just can’t get there.

Make it easy and obvious if you want people to share your content.

5. Sitemap

I wasn’t able to find a sitemap for the website. Sitemaps help search engines know what pages you consider important and where they are.  They help search engines process websites. Things that make life better and easier for search engines is good for website owners.

Create an XML sitemap for the website, register it in Google’s Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools, and add to the robots.txt file.  (Unfortunately that statement has to be a bit geeky, because it’s precisely what needs to be done. Even if it makes no sense to you, it should be crystal clear to a website administrator.)

6. Page Titles & Meta Descriptions

Title tags are often the first impression your website has to make on a visitor. They show as the big blue line of text in the search results. You have around 64 characters to get their attention – make the most of it! They are also an important element in helping websites rank pages for phrases, and should reflect the content on the page.

title and meta

It also helps them decide to click on the link. None of the pages have meta descriptions predefined.  This means you’re leaving it to the search engines to decide to fill that area out with whatever they want. It’s a missed opportunity to:

a) to set yourself apart from competition and
b) give people a reason to click on your link.

Here’s an example of what could be:

revised meta and title
Craft a title and description that includes words or phrases people might use to search for your business. Be sure it reflects what’s on the page and make it enticing. Dress to impress!

7. Contact page & Local landing page

The contact page is nice looking and contains important information. However, it is missing key information such as business hours or parking information. It is also another missed opportunity for the business to have individual pages rank in their local areas.

Creating individual pages for the offices gives those pages a chance to show in the organic listings. It also support the business appearing in the local packs.

Local landing pages (also known as “location pages”) are pages highlight and target an area for a business. They contain information specific to that location. They include information that people can use to do business with you and become more comfortable with your team or your services.

Create a unique location page for each of the offices.

Include things like the city name in the title tag, the meta description (see #6 above), and the body of the text.

Remember to embed a map for that office – ideally embed the Google Map.

Online Footprint – areas for improvement

Google My Business

The listings are unclaimed and the information may not be accurate. This may mislead people about your business.  It also presents a risk – leaving the page wide open to activities by not-so-nice folks.

The name on some of the google listings does not reflect the biz name on the website or the many citations.

Claim the listings and update the information. There is also an extra page that needs to be marked as “moved”, as it has an old address and wrong information.

Apple Maps

The Sydney listing is correct, but the Melbourne office locations are not. Given the number of people who use both Google Maps and Siri for navigation, this will be sending people to the wrong places. And like the Google listings, may contain incomplete or incorrect information about the business.

Claim the listings, update the information and add listings that match your current locations. 

Citations landscape

citations

The citations show a similar level of neglect to the GMB listings including:

  • varying names,
  • differing addresses,
  • non-existent in several key directory sites,
  • incomplete information.

A few citations could be deleted as they come from low-quality and irrelevant sites. Since this is not always possible, it would be wise to disavow any links to the site from those domains.

Email

There is an email capture at the absolute bottom of the page. It simply says “subscribe”. Okay… what would visitors be subscribing to? Why would they want to subscribe? How do you answer the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) question in their minds?

I signed up to see what happened. The subscription box turned into a thank you message, but I didn’t receive any kind of confirmation email. I’m left wondering if the email functionality is even used.

Remove the sign-up box from the footer.

Social Media – areas for improvement

LinkedIn

No link to the company LI page – I wasn’t able to find one. Given so many of the team are on LI, why not support their client-getting efforts by having an active presence there?

Create a page and fill out the profile, then share your blog posts and other good content into this community.

Facebook

Several other businesses have posted about SJB.  They’re popular enough to have their own hashtag! Yet they have no official company page or managed presence in the channel.  The traction they could be getting in this platform is untapped and ignored.

As a minimum:  claim the page, complete the profile, and respond when people mention the business, projects or team.

Twitter

Similar to FB,  other people and pages have posted about SJB. Quite a few positive comments there; a pity they don’t respond and say thank you (especially when a former employee compliments!).

At a minimum, claim the page, complete the profile, and respond when people mention the business, projects or team.

Houzz

Surprise! The firm did make a start here, with a couple of images of projects loaded on the architects’ page. There’s an interior design page that looks like it may have been automatically generated. One of their images is being used in an article by another company. Again the traction they could be getting in this platform is untapped and ignored.

Houzz is such a brilliant platform for businesses like this. Get back in the game – the basics are already there!

Conclusion

The business already has so much traction in their online presence, it’s a shame it’s not being maximised. Clearly the business is good at promoting themselves already and good at what they do, or they would not have this solid a foundation. And that could be the main reason behind the neglect. But ignoring the online component of a business or brand is a risky strategy today and leaves the business exposed.

The website does need a complete refresh. The look might still appeal, even though it is a touch dated. The technology underlying the site does need to be brought up to date. The devices people use is rapidly changing, as is the way people research and interact with companies.

Most of the rest of the online presence is there. The business owner just needs to be gathered up and managed – and that would be a relatively small effort.

So – what did you find most helpful for your own digital marketing review?  Leave your comments below!


Please note:

This article is part of a series. Periodically I go in search of websites for businesses that could use some help being found by potential customers.
My target is a random website positioned at the bottom of page 1 or at the top of page 2. The idea is with a little effort and time these sites should be performing much better for their owners. They are also the types of businesses that generate a local search pack – the special list of 3 businesses with the map above.
I do not know the business owner nor is this a pitch to them. I will not be advising the site owner of this review.  However they may discover this article about their site if they are monitoring for brand mentions, check their Analytics or Search Console data.
This article is for educational purposes only.  Comments are based on my own experience and research.