Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Web site review: A tale of two sites

Look at these beautiful alt tags: house for sale in lake oswego, oregon

Why is your Web site missing traffic while another site in your niche is acing it?

Here’s a good exercise anyone can do without technical skills.

Try searching for companies like yours that rank well.

Look at the copy and see what keywords and compelling details they’re using that your site’s missing.

Take this site selling real estate in central Massachusetts,, which Sue Como asked us to review.

Details matter

We compared Century21’s site with Philly real estate site,, which has the top Google search result for “Chester County real estate” and ranks well for other local searches.

Why did we choose Bill's site? Because he's hotwired his site for local search, adding the names of local suburbs he serves wherever and whenever he can.

For example, Century21 urges visitors to “Check out the easy-to-use ‘Home Search’ Web site with up-to-date listings.”

Would a prospect search for “homes” without adding a town or some qualifying word?

Unlikely. Most would add in the name of a suburb, a town or an area.

In contrast, Gero’s site adds specifics, urging prospects to “Search and tour for your next home in communities of Exton, Downingtown, Chester Springs.”

The technique: Add details.

Even the two sites' snippets (See Google's Matt Cutts talking about how even Starbucks could get more out its snippets) are interesting:

Sue's snippet is respectable, but it doesn't have the local search oomph that Bill's snippet has.

Bill's snippet includes local search terms that most prospects would use.

Don't know what a snippet looks like? It is that little description of the site on search results. For example, ours says:

Internet Marketing ReportInternet Marketing Report helps marketers harness the power of the Web to cut costs and drive in new business. In a fast-read format twice a month, ... - 6k - Cached - Similar pages

This snippet is the first text that Google sees and grabs. If we had a Meta description tag on that page, Google would use that.

It is the same story all the way through the two sites.

Century21 could attract more traffic by inserting the names of local towns and the region it covers like: “Easy to use Central Massachusetts Home Search.”

When it comes to images, both could do with more help. Realtors and prospects love photos, yet few real estate agent sites optimize their photos to generate clicks.

The problem: Search engines are blind to images.

To help them “see” an image, they rely on Alt Tags, short descriptions of what’s in each photo.

Like many Web sites, the images on the Century21 and Gero sites are either not optimized or labeled generically. For example, tags saying “house photo” or “open house” may help organize photos on a desktop but won’t do anything for search results.

Why are ALT Tags important?

Two reasons to label images:
• Search engines increasingly include images in general search results. For example, the tags on this photo of a house add useful info like the name of the town. As a result, the photo ranks on the second page of general results, and
• Image search is also gaining in popularity.

The very pretty photo of a house at the top of the page (with very beautiful tags) is by Sean Dreilinger. It is optimized for search because it has alt tags saying, "house for sale in lake oswego, oregon - DSC01699."

Posted by Internet Marketing Report Online editor Julie Power


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