One of my very early posts on this blog was about how bad realtor websites are. I wrote that post almost 2 years ago, yet there are still realtors putting up with less than awesome sites.
Okay, so here’s what I think.
The first site is Cara Keys – Parrish Realty. I don’t know Cara or Parrish Realty, but I assume she’s a good realor who wants a good website that will attract new customers searching for a realtor. Let’s see how this site will do that.
It’s a nice looking website right? Nice colors, professional images and a nice balance.
Bad Sign #1: The only place the word “Real Estate” appears on the home page is in the small text in the footer, which is actually a link back to vowconnect’s website with the phrase Raleigh Real Estate Websites designed & hosted by CONNECT.
Bad Sign #2: There are 2 H1 tags on the home page. One of them is a link to /index.php with no other information contained inside the H1 header tag, the other H1 at line 190 has Cara Keys – Parrish Realty.
Bad Sign #3: Canonicalization problems. I can pull up all of the following pages as valid pages:
All of those pages produce a status code 200 meaning the server sees each one as a seperate valid file, and that means so will the search engines.
When I grab the cached site (This is Google’s cache of http://www.carakeys.com/. It is a snapshot of the page as it appeared on Aug 4, 2010 05:40:15 GMT), it looks like her old site. Interestingly it looks like her new site went up about 8/11 and still hasn’t been visited by Googlebot (bad sign #3.5).
Her old site has actual content on the home page! Although whatever images were once there are gone, at least it had a meta description.
Bad Sign #4:
Cached meta description: Cara Keys at Parrish Realty of Zebulon, Your local expert on the Eastern Wake County Real estate market, Home Page, Homepage,
Current meta description: none
Cara’s Twitter bio would be a decent meta description, certainly better than nothing.
Contact information on the old cached site is easily available. 4 different telephone numbers, physical address and an email link. All of those features help you appear in Google’s local search box.
Contact information on the new site is nowhere on the homepage. It’s only on 1 page – her contact page. Best practices is to have all of that information on every page, and the phyical address in an <address> tag.
Bad Sign #5: I’m a gig fan of seomoz’s term-extractor. It answers a simple question… Are these the words people use while searching for her site ?
No mention of Zebulon or Eastern Wake in that list, yet her old cached site’s title was: Your East Wake County NC Realtor
Bad Sign #6: The homepage doesn’t validate. Normally this isn’t the end of the world, especially since there are only a few errors, but in this case, the errors are all in the code that the designers touched. The base Joomla template code was fine.
Bad Sign #7: The blog. I love blogs as a way to add fresh content and keeping the search robots happy. The last blog post is dated Thursday, 25 June 2009 02:02. If that’s the case, don’t label it a blog, and certainly don’t put a date on it. Mark it “Articles” or “Reference” or just skip it all together. This bad sign is more a bad sign of judgment than anything else.
Wrap-up: What drives me crazy is that the fixes I mention are simple and don’t add any real time or expense to a big mass production company, you just bake it in the process early on.
I’d like to thank Connect for offering up a couple of their sites for scrutiny – not every development house has the stomach for it. I think they deserve an “attaboy” for being my test rat today.