What would you expect to see in a website critique or analysis report?
There are many web development/design and SEO companies that offer a website critique or analysis as a method of generating leads. If you were to sign up to receive one of these reports, what would you ideally expect or hope the report to provide you and what format would you like to see in. If it were a paid report, would you expect something different then a free one.
This is an open community question as opposed to seeking expert advice. Everyone's ideas are welcome.
Hello Paul - a free report may have the same valuable information as a paid one. The difference is obtaining access to an expert that can talk to the diagnostic and help you with recommendations that are a priority for your business objectives. More importantly I suggest getting access to your analytics data (Google Analytics is for free) which may give you some clues on where to start. Here is my latest blog post on what you need to get access to as a company owner: http://www.bdc.ca/EN/solutions/smart_tech/smart_tech_blog/Pages/avoid_held_hostage_web_developer.aspx
Wishing you nothing but success
The quick answer to how their site can help them make millions of dollars. ;)
That was a bit cheeky. I would imagine if I was a customer asking for my website to be critiqued, I would want to know if the site's goals were clearly put forward. If my company's purpose was understood. If my site's design/look and feel was in line with my site's purpose. If my messaging was in the right voice and tone to achieve my company's objectives. If my site was easy to navigate to find what the visitor was looking for. If my website was up to web standards in terms of page load time, on page and off page SEO tactics, and analytics analysis (in terms of my site's Key Performance Indicators).
And now for something completely different. To this point, all of the comments are technical in nature with apparent validity. As a business designer and strategist, however, not a techie, I must weigh in.
All the tech detailing doesn't overcome bad business design, poor marketing strategy, and self-centric execution in point of view and written copy.
See if you recognize this one: The client doesn't know what he or she wants. So you ask questions and develop a site. Suddenly, the client knows what they don't want... what you just invested hours/days developing. You eat round 1 while praying round 2 fits the evolving, ill-defined "strategy."
Add some of these basic market questions to your assessment:
1. What are the top 3 outcomes of your proposed website?
2. Describe how your business model generates revenues?
3. Who are your top 3 target audiences... and what matters most to them?
4. Tell us your company's purpose, vision, mission, and values?
Listen / read closely... if they don't have answers to these questions, anticipate your cost of development to be at least 50% higher than your project budget. Fore warned is fore armed. I hope this helps make all you techie tons of money with less stress and in fewer hours.
The overall interface should make it cheaper and easier to sell an easy-to-design product. Then the big companies can sign agreements with the small business owners to get some of that content for cheap or free, and develop it into a larger product that actually costs money.
As far as web statistics pages go, I would like to recommend more substance on the application of values to web promotion. For example, I like Yahoo Small Business' feature of preferred key words, which appear in the historical web stats page. These words can be used to help Yahoo or some other search engine to hone in on which cited keywords are most descriptive of the website. Since these 'key keywords' can be updated, this gives the website owner some flexibility to improve performance, and eliminates a lot of competition from those who are simply disinterested in what they are doing.
In general, more ability to promote a website as a legitimate product is what some or all website owners are looking for. This might involve more 'real life fantasy' kind of stuff going on, by which I mean more networking between interfaces, more incentive in value-terms such as marketing or search results for efforts at specialized content, and extra imagination to accept that anyone who fits the bill, fits the bill.
I actually offer this not only through my agency, but also on platforms outside like Fiverr and others.
Without going into the actual content (I am sure you know what kind of things you should be putting in there) you have to think LESS of you and your knowledge, and more from the clients perspective.
A highly detailed report means nothing if your client who receives it doesn't understand a word of it.
Keep to the "Kiss" philosophy "Keep it Simple Stupid".
I always have in mind that these reports are to help them, not to make them feel stupid and confused.
They ARE confused, hence the fact they asked for your service, I therefor try not to make them feel any worse.
Go through the points, clearly, with the way forward to fix them, using language they will understand.
At the end of the day everyone is concerned about the sales and their bottom line. So we ask them access to their analytics or add our one then study them and let them know the areas where they can do improvements and the available options to do so and If there are multiple options we ask them to do split testing.
It all depends on what questions you need to ask to make yourself more competitive online. So far, the question seeps to be, "how can I fix my site?" For that answer, I would agreed with the list that Ranjith posted here.
If the question is, "how can I become more competitive online?", then I would recommend a competitive benchmark type of analysis. We do what we call "content marketing audits" and these reports take a look at your top 2-3 competitors online from a marketing perspective.
I think some of these services like SiteBeam could provide quick glimpses into your website and serve as a conversation starter but I wouldn't use them as a decision making tool for website changes or SEO edits. All the expertise & skill that goes into design, engineering and SEO/SEM can't be replaced by service that scans your site. It's a good starting point (especially if it's free) but connecting with experts who can take into account all the variables that impact your business and match it with their experience in those areas will ultimately be the most impactful resource.
I personally would like a clients opinion of how they perceive my website. Not too much detail just bullet point list of things they feel could be improved easily without any input from the web developers. The idea that someone might give me free and easy to implement tips is a powerful one.
On the SEO front, I would like a simplified report and again with handy small tips with things I could do.
At the same time for the credibility of the company on the technical front, I would like to see a lot of technical detail also just in case the customer likes some light bed time reading.
Apologies for the response moving from being a customer to being a provider - I am in the web development business myself and as such it is hard to stay in one role:(
You need to measure the ROI of your website if you are looking to generate more leads. You would like to know more than the SEO analysis.
We provide evaluation of your website which will include detailed analysis of
This service is free for now.
Your suggestions are welcome on the report that you would receive.
This based on what client want to achieve form the report. Primary function of in case if its paid report
then it should be industry specific and well researched data on performing keywords and opportunity that exist.
1. It should help business owner what kind investment they will need to tackle competition
2. Trends in receptive industry
3. Relevant traffic and conversion
SEO is a fascinating subject and one that is so important for your business.
SEO relies heavily on Meta Tags in the head of your webpage or within your CMS framework (i.e wordpress).
Reports should indicate what you have in place already (if any) and show you the data related to each page. If you have Google analytics, the job is much easier as google provides excellent reports, charts and information page by page.
The critique of the website should deal with how the google bot crawls your pages. For example; Can it access the pages easily? Are tag lines in unreadable formats, such as flash animations, in images etc. Are keywords being utilised throughout the text?
The critique would also help with your usability and user experience. If the google bot is having a hard time crawling your pages, chances are people are too.
In conclusion, you should expect data on page usage, a summary of ways to improve your site and how to implement those changes. And if you need someone to implement them for you, be sure to outline in a contract what is required.
Hope this helps.
gShift Labs provides a report that addresses many of the criteria listed here including keyword rankings, backlinks, competitive analysis, optional content analysis and more of the criteria as demonstrated in the dummy report here.
(This report is from last year, there have been a number of enhancements since this report and the dashboard provides more detail as well.
gShift is a subscription/volume based offering as opposed to a one time analysis usually however we deal mainly with agencies that can provide one time analysis of prospect sites with our getSEOLeads program.
If you are looking to increase leads to your website, it would be most helpful for you and your potential service provider to define HOW that looks-in other words, what is a lead to you, how you normally get leads, which levers are you trying to pull/push to increase them, how many more leads would you like, etc. etc.
Once you have some of that definition work done, that would to a large extent drive the method of auditing. For the sake of your question, I will present a scenario and discuss how I might attack auditing for that scenairo.
Scenario: You have a landscaping business and you would like to see more redemption of a coupon on your website that is revealed to potential clients after they enter their email. address. You have two main goals:
1. Increase your current email database from 100 names to over 2,500 names within a 3 month period of time.
2. Increase downloads of your coupon to 2,500 downloads within a 3 month period of time.
With those as goals, I would probably structure an audit somewhat like this:
On page factors
1. Review the content on your website currently, identify those site areas which appear to lead to coupon downloads.
2. Review the user experience for the form. If there have not been goals set up previously, look at fall out and page flow reports to see if there are significant drop offs after users enter the redemption funnel.
3. General SEO friendliness - look at technical onsite factors (site map, cross site linking,site deep linking, redirects, etc.) to ensure that there are no major roadblocks whcih stand out.
4. Site Architecture - kind of hand in hand with the technical audit, but important enough that some specific time should be spent on it.
1. Backlink profile - verify how natural the profile looks and how many toxic links are pointing to the site.
2. Social Signals - look at the current social situation for the site, verify good engagement, look for opportunities to engage better.
3. Content marketing - independent of social signals, I would look to see how the site is marketing itself and its content relative to its competition.
Benchmarks - I would use current site analytics to give an overview of the way the site is currently performing on our target metrics and relative search rankings to show why.
I would anticipate that the more engaged the request (as in higher the costs, etc.) the more details I would receive (a free report might give some highlights of these areas, a paid report would give much more but how much more might depend on how much it cost).
For free reports there is great tool that my firm uses from SiteBeam. Reports on the majority of things that Joseph mentioned related directly to SEO.
Everyone has made valid points and as Kobus mentioned I too would get a free SEO report first to see what quality the company provides before going for a paid package. If the free version is quality I would expect the paid service to surpass as such with much more detail to assist in both visibility and competitive edge.
I agree with all of the answers above, with one addition. All of the items listed are correct and make sense, but a little context is always appreciated. Is my site a non-profit site? That is one perspective. Others might be: Commerce focused, lead generating, simple brochure, e-government etc.
Each of these segments is going to bring perspective to how the site is doing compared to the overall landscape. There are tons of tools that can tell you for free if your site has a robots.txt file, how fast it loads etc. But a great consultant is going to go further and apply the report to the landscape in which you operate.
A typical report should have the following items:
Page load time
Cross browser compatibility
Custom 404 pages
Trust elements on the site
2. Web Page Layout and Site Structure
3. Test the Technology Used to Create the Site
4. Keyword Consistency
5. Check For an XML Sitemap and Robots.Txt File
6. Backlink and Traffic Analysis
7. Rich Snippets
8. Content Analysis
9. Top-Ranking Keywords
10. Measure Social Media Reach
For me the format is irrelevant - as long as it is easy to read and understand. The content, on the other hand is what makes it useful or not.
One of the most important things for me is to have an analysis of the site's speed. It is a well known fact that slow sites irritate visitors, and many visitors would not continue on your site if it was slow.
As far as SEO is concerned, if you do the basics right, you are already on the right track. The exact definition of what the basics are is a somewhat elusive concept, but for me it is simply to use unique and descriptive title tags and descriptions. Usage of the key words related to your industry in the content is of paramount importance - so these things will be on my report too.
Google Page Rank is important too for me. Many of your site's visitors come from search engines, and a good ranking on Google will bring more visitors to your site.
A content analysis. Nowadays, content is king. If a potential customer gets to your site and can easily find what he/she is looking for, you have most likely succeeded in at least part of your goal of having a website in the first place, which is invariably to attract more customers. Customers need information. Information that is precisely given on your website without over-the-top self-flattering, is best in my opinion.
Between a free and paid report - I would go for a paid report only after I have seen a sample of the free report from the provider. I would need the same information, but more detailed, and more advice on the paid one.