Monday, March 10, 2008

Gritty business site on shoestring budget

In every issue of the print publication, the Internet Marketing Report, we review a Web site. In the most recent issue, we reviewed NutsandBolts.com

Lots of big corporate Web sites could borrow a few ideas from Northeast Fasteners’ online store, NutsandBolts.com. Unlike bigger companies, which often lack character, this site projects a strong brand and a warm, friendly face.

Its nailed down the “nuts and bolts” of Internet marketing, using an off-the-shelf online shop from Yahoo! Stores. And it’s doing most things right without a big budget or fancy resources. It isn’t perfect, nor is it the slickest or the prettiest site, but it manages these things well:

• It projects a clear brand. Watch the first few seconds of the company’s video on the home page and it is clear this site is nailing its reputation on providing friendly, reliable service. The ordinary-looking offices and warehouse seen in the how-to videos send a simple message: “We don’t have fancy offices but good prices.”

• It’s got a clear call to action. There’s no doubt what this company wants a prospect to do: Buy now or call to order.

• It understands optimization. Each page is created as a static html page, which is preferable for search engine ranking for e-commerce sites. And the company has keywords in all the right places, in category URLs and product pages.


Of course, there are a few problem areas ...

If a site is light on content, what’s the best way to generate traffic?

One way that works for B2B companies like NutsandBolts.com is to optimize product photos and images so they do the job of long, descriptive copy.

Yet image optimization is one way this site falls short. While the images are labeled, the company could improve its search results by adding “alt tags” to each image. That would let it add descriptions like “our top selling steel bolt” that could be picked up by search engines and prospects. And while the company lets prospects zoom in on images, there’s no way to click to return to the home page or get more info.

Another problem: The company seems to be encouraging links from any source.

The risk? Indiscriminate link-building can prompt Google to devalue incoming links. Some search engine experts say if there are too many outgoing links (like the company’s Resource Directory) that can also affect search engine ranking. One example: Check out the footer on the home page linking to

Fasteners Directory US Investment Directory E.O.S. The Web Spoke.

They are doing this under the theory that building links to directories and other sites will help their search engine rankings. Yes, this tactic works in some cases. But a site that's been well optimized for search engines doesn't need to linkbuild like that.

It also wasting a chance to increase its search ranking by not optimizing standard pages, like "About Nuts and Bolts.com" or "Contact Nuts and Bolts."

If you'd like the Internet Marketing team to review your site (at no cost to you other than exposure of the good, the bad and the ugly), please send me an email, Jpower@pbp.com. My colleague Joy Larkin, aka Cleverhack, and PBP's smartest Web person works with me on all technical aspects of the reviews.

Posted by Internet Marketing Report Online blog editor Julie Power Monday March 10 at 8 am.


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