Author Topic: local website  (Read 13540 times)

Offline PaulG2

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local website
« on: October 19, 2012, 01:52:51 PM »
So, I have been working on a site (much help from ~Karen, who just amazes me with her resourcefulness) and would love to get some feedback. It is close to prime-time and the start of our big push for exposure and traffic so I thought I would see what everyone here thinks.

http://www.mynorthwestindiana.com/

Now the site might look like a cheesy local site without much content, but the content will grow as the site gets into the community. I think that the beauty of the site will be the tie in of local businesses with the new media services I will offer them. This site will be able to promote them in a positive light, be a source of traffic, capture leads, be tied in with their existing marketing and will even have a direct mail tie in with direct response marketing to boot. A lot of the work will be behind the scenes but it should be a killer combination.

thanks in advance




Offline Simply Creative

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Re: local website
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2012, 03:27:16 AM »
Hi Paul,

This is anything but cheesy!

Your site looks like what a local magazine site should look like IMHO.
You still have the directory but with great content as the focus and that's what keeps visitors coming back.

 :::tu :::tu :::tu

~Karen

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Re: local website
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2012, 03:28:13 AM »
Hi Paul

OK - I've had a browse through your site (not 'in-depth' to be honest)

1. Lack of images.
This is my 'major' gripe. Although they're not strictly necessary they do break up a website and they do stimulate those visitors who prefer pictures to text. Also, the 'alt' text for images gives you another chance to rank for your keyphrases.

2. Services. Shopping & Restaurants
You've got this as an alphabetical list of all types - I'd suggest, as a way of helping your visitors even more, splitting the companies into their 3 groups of Shopping, Services and Restaurants.

3. Lifestyle & Recipe section
I like these 2 sections and, no doubt, they'll get better as more content is added to them.

4. Coupons
A good idea but, again, I'd like to see an image of the coupon suppliers (this would also give the visitors a 'preview' of the site they're going to visit so it's not so disjointing for them)

5. Business
As there is no content in this section (at time of writing) I've nothing to say about this apart from a recommendation to put in an introduction about the section.

5. Jobs
I like the feed from indeed.com. I assume it updates regularly - which would mean that you're getting fresh information in - a good thing for SEO

And finally  ;D ... The Header
It's a bit bland color-wise - those pale blues and browns. Also, it's a touch crowded especially the right hand side - perhaps some sort of bordering might be of use to distinguish exactly where to click.

Just want to say that the above are my opinions and in no way should be taken as written in stone.

Hope that's been of some help

Dom

Offline PaulG2

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Re: local website
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2012, 11:26:29 AM »
Thanks Karen and Dom,


I am hoping to take Karen's advice yet again and switch up my coupons to something that may yield a better return. When I do if her solution doesn't already include a nice preview like your talking about I will definitely work on image issue on the page. I think i get what your saying about it and I would agree. I personally thing the service shopping categories page is ugly, but haven't thought of a way to pretty it up. Splitting it up by the services, shopping and restaurants would be difficult since some shopping offer services and there are really only one or two categories for restaurants. I am Blending them together in hopes that people will not notice that too much! But it really does need some work. maybe I can get someone to make some little background image icons for each thing, hmmm...

The colors, hmmm I don't know. I went with the blues and browns because the area is surrounded by blue water(lake michigan, well maybe not blue water but we pretend) and the dunes.

The business section will feature stories about local businesses linking to their profiles on the site. Trying to decide if the story on the blog will be free to post(most likely) but the profile page will need to be paid for.

The lifestyle and recipe categories are being filled currently with another source from Karen. I plan on mixing up home grown posts from the area and this source.

As far as optimization this site is no where near it should be! My problem is jsut getting something out there. I will spend to much time trying to make something perfect and change it 50 times before anyone knows it exists. I am deciding to get this out in the wild now and get some local traffic. I will continue to optimize where needed and follow visitor suggestions but I want to get it out there now!

thanks again!

Offline hillsborowd

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Re: local website
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2012, 01:15:16 PM »
Paul,

    I know the feeling about getting out there. Of course DOM has some good points. Karen ideas are always good and I have to agree the colors of the area are good. One way to to get out there is to create flyers and put them out on public bulletin boards. Also you can make up business cards and leave them places.
Bill Brooks    hillsborowd@gmail.com

Offline PaulG2

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Re: local website
« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2013, 01:02:01 PM »
Man, I feel like I have been gone from the site forever! I have checked in occasionally for searching things out like plugins and other info, but haven't had a lot of time to chat.

So about two months ago I teamed up with a friend to resurrect this site about northwest indiana.

We are currently changing up a few things which make me laugh. The reason I laugh is because they all seem to be things that Dom mentioned in his feedback months ago.

Well after getting a little more content on the site and stuff the colors became really bland. So as of yesterday I have started slowly changing them.

The site had hardly no images, so we have now added slide shows for posts in certain categories, a slideshow for the main page highlighting recent posts. Alt tags are still a huge opportunity. I need to clean up the image library and will use this time to update tags as well. 

We have also been working on getting business profiles figured out. If you want to see on you can click the sponsor logo at the bottom of the page to see what they currently look like.

I need to get with Karen about the update she sent for the directory plugin I use to see how to update that.

I also noticed a problem I have in explorer. If I click on the services page, and then try to click on a category the word jumps up and does not click through.
 Anyone know what could be causing that?  I'm thinking maybe there is something wrong with the table I used to create the list.
Anyone know of how I can get rid of the table all together and insert div containers in the page instead of the table? Is that even possible?

I am looking for a plugin that I can use for the event calendar. Anyone have a suggestion? I am looking for one that will let users input the event info themselves. Also has anyone ever used a garage/yard sale plugin for wordpress? I am looking for one that will allow for users to enter in their own information as well.

We have a advertising guide for local businesses, groups, and organizations and we are now beginning to reach out to them via networking, emails, phone calls, etc. I have actually got with a provider of local coupons online to provide their feed on our site, which is huge for us in driving viewers to our site. We are just working on the programing now to make it work.


We also have some huge competition in our area for this type of website. The good thing is that I know there is money in this type of site because our competition makes it work. The bad thing is that our competition is really good, and are currently better than we are as far as getting people on the site and getting page views due to their content.

I think this type of site can be done in any area though that has a decent population. If your looking for something online to do, you should definitely check out creating a local community site.

Wow, lots of rambling in this post!  If you got a minute to spare check out the site and let us know what your thoughts are.

Offline Korry

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Re: local website
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2013, 08:14:36 AM »
Hope you don't mind if I give you an honest opinion..

You still have quite a lot of work on your site before making it really good.

My personal thoughts - With the name like that, you should turn a bit more to the community and a bit less to the ads. Design goes under personal style, but still - the local newspaper style has way more potential than you are using at the moment.

From technical side - your SEO is really bad, you have no social media involvement and you miss some content.

The first thing you should do is to repair your SEO. Basic things that are missing:
- site keywords - you have none
- meta description for the menu items - you are missing most of them
- H1 tags - you are using NONE on your pages
- image titles and descriptions - at the moment I've been checking the page your site had 33 images with 0 titles and 6 descriptions

There are several online SEO checkers and I would strongly recommend you to visit few of them, run the tests and follow the given advices as much as you can.

You are missing the content on your sites and that makes the existing tags irrelevant to the pages. Note that images should not be the main content, so you should include a bit more relevant text content.

In order to gain some good traffic you should repair your SEO and work a bit on the 'public relationships'. Regular posts on the Facebook page and Twitter could help you a lot in attracting people to your site.

Offline tcolleen

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Re: local website
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2013, 04:08:39 PM »
Hi Paul,

I think your site looks pretty good. 

I also think Korry makes some really good points about SEO.  You can make a few tweaks pretty easily that will really increase interest, such as social sharing pages (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).  There are tons of plugins both here and in the Wordpress repository that should take care of that.  I also agree with Korry about making the focus more clearly about the user, and a little less about ads, and especially about trying to get more advertisers.  This is the type of site that users will visit again and again if they find value, because the events change.

One more suggestion, from my own experience, when we had small children, my friends and I used to spend hours online trying to find appropriate events to attend with our kids.  I wound up having a couple of dozen sites bookmarked because there was not one comprehensive source.  If there isn't a site that serves your geographical area that has that kind of information (or even if there is), it may be a niche that you can exploit to bring a lot of interest to your site, even for people who don't have young children.  Grandparents and friends will often be on the lookout for fun things to do with the little ones in their lives.  Bonus suggestion: if you can find events that occur during the week (i.e. museums, galleries) that are educational and can be enjoyed by homeschooling families, you'll also get a lot of word of mouth buzz. 

I have often thought that since so many internet marketers seem to be younger, unmarried men (or at least it seems that way to me), it has left many family and child-focused niches ripe for the picking.

Overall, though, I think you're on the right track. 

Teri

Offline Simply Creative

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Re: local website
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2013, 09:58:24 AM »
Hi Paul!

Send me an email to get my attention & we can hookup on Google or Skype to run through the update process.

Also, if you would, send me some links to competitors for analysis.

~Karen

Offline magicman

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Re: local website
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2013, 05:04:18 PM »
Hi Paul - I congratulate you on a very ambitious project and one of which you can be very proud.

I do have one concern. It's the navigation and identification of what the site represents. It's generally thought that your visitor will give your site, initially, less than 5 seconds to grab them.

When I bring up the site, I have no clear idea of what it is or what it will do for me. There's the "looking for" box on the top, the newsletter bar, and a slider and the NADEX ad (?) all competing for my immediate attention...along with a top navigation bar! What is a visitor to do?

The slider is attractive, but in my opinion, it should be the center of attention and add interest and clarity to the site intro. It seems to me to add to the confusion of the home page. Here's an example of one of my sites in development - http://www.bestnewmusictoday.com/. The header picture could easily be turned into a slider but take a quick peak as the site loads. In your mind, is the purpose and identification of the site clear?

Maybe a headline of something like - "Your One-Stop Site for NW Indiana News, Events, Recreation and Shopping."

Then, of course, you'd want to provide easy navigation to each section.

I guess I'm rambling a bit also. Anyway, your site is a great venture and your progress is significant. I urge you to focus on the navigation & organizational elements. BTW, I would keep my offer to business owners for free publicity on one page and the offer for public groups and event on another.

Kind of a mish-mash post, but I hope it gives you a few nuggets. - MM


Offline PaulG2

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Re: local website
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2013, 12:03:43 PM »
Thanks again for the feedback.

Quote
From technical side - your SEO is really bad, you have no social media involvement and you miss some content.

The SEO is horrid for the site and we are truly aware of it! We will begin to make improvements as my partner and I continue to build the site. Our focus has been just trying to get some content on the site, at which we are still struggling. I believe the content will be more relevant to the overall success than SEO. Granted we are missing simple SEO basics and in due time they will be fixed, but right now our hours need to be focused on local content so we can make the site relevant to people in Northwest Indiana. I think we need to make the site for people and not just for search engines.

If you mean no social media involvement on the site, you are correct. If you mean off site, we do have very little. It all goes back to content. We are not a local newspaper with writers. So the content creation has been hit and miss recently. We need more local content, but that takes money or time to produce. We are working on a couple of things to fix this. One is we have instituted a content calendar. We are committing to having regular posts on local items at least 2 times a week, with other posts at least 1 a week. The second part is our social media strategy. We have a whole model we are following and are only in the first part which is listening. 

Quote
You are missing the content on your sites and that makes the existing tags irrelevant to the pages. Note that images should not be the main content, so you should include a bit more relevant text content.
I'm not sure what you mean as far as the tags are concerned. Can you elaborate further?


Quote
You can make a few tweaks pretty easily that will really increase interest, such as social sharing pages (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
It was actually a decision that we made to not promote our social media pages on the site. One reason is that our social media is nothing to brag about! We have increased from 3 people to 70 with no real push. The second reason is for this site to make any money we need to have them come to the site and stay within the site until they are pushed through a sales funnel at some point. These funnels will be business profile pages, advertisements, etc. We want them to come for the content and to learn about their community, but at the same time sell them on local businesses where we would earn money via deals with businesses. it may change at some time in the future, but right now it just looks like it will be a leak in the funnel.


Quote
I urge you to focus on the navigation & organizational elements
These elements have been in flux over the entire time the site has been around. I think that the problem is we have no true identity yet, thus the navigation is just there! I mean, are we a directory, a news-source, or a giant event calendar? The look and feel of the site are a couple of things that I am really not happy with, but until we think of something better I'm not going to keep wasting valuable time changing the themes look. I want to be sure of which way we want to go and then devise a site that will make it easy to differentiate between all the things we have to offer. I don't want it to look too much like a newspaper site with just multiple columns of text.

The thing is my competitor has the giant ads on the side, has multiple menus, slideshow etc and I know they do very well. If anyone is interested to see them just pm me and I will give you their site, but I don't want to put out here!

Definitely a lot more work to do. We will continue pushing through and I will try to keep this topic updated. Thanks again for the feedback everyone.
 
 

Offline Simply Creative

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Re: local website
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2013, 01:05:32 PM »
Quote
The thing is my competitor has the giant ads on the side, has multiple menus, slideshow etc and I know they do very well.

Hey Paul,

Don't even think of them as your competitor. I've had a look at what you shared with me and they're carving out a niche for themselves. They have major funding & staffing. All well & good for them.

Now, you carve out your own niche and don't even give these people another thought. Use what YOU have available to you to do the very best YOU can with it. Otherwise overwhelming discouragement will stop you in your tracks.

Content is as good as you make it, or use it, as the case may be.

Localize the content from the sources I've listed in this post:
http://resell-rights-weekly.com/forum/index.php?topic=7847.msg51894#msg51894

Go out and find some news, expound on existing stories, write about them from a unique perspective, etc.

~Karen

Offline tcolleen

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Re: local website
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2013, 01:57:10 AM »
Paul,

Karen makes an excellent point.

 


Quote
The thing is my competitor has the giant ads on the side, has multiple menus, slideshow etc and I know they do very well.

Hey Paul,

Don't even think of them as your competitor. I've had a look at what you shared with me and they're carving out a niche for themselves. They have major funding & staffing. All well & good for them.

Now, you carve out your own niche and don't even give these people another thought. Use what YOU have available to you to do the very best YOU can with it. Otherwise overwhelming discouragement will stop you in your tracks.

As I said above (or below depending on how you look at it), I had many local sites bookmarked because none of them were niche-specific enough to provide the information I was looking for in one place.  If any of them had, I probably would have just kept going to that one. 


  I wound up having a couple of dozen sites bookmarked because there was not one comprehensive source.  If there isn't a site that serves your geographical area that has that kind of information (or even if there is), it may be a niche that you can exploit to bring a lot of interest to your site,


Maybe your target market isn't very big, but I would wager to say that it probably is still big enough to support more than local one site, especially if you can figure out a niche that is active but not represented on any of the other local sites (local sporting events, arts and crafts shows, or community theater are a few that come to mind.)  In one community near where I live, there is a local printed paper that lists many events, but their website is so bad it might as well be non-existent.  The problem is the paper has been around so long that it pre-dates the internet, and the staff is not in a hurry to take it online.  If you have a similar situation in your community, you might be able to persuade some of their advertisers to give your site a try (in addition to print advertising, of course.  I'm not advocating undercutting anyone.)

Offline Korry

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Re: local website
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2013, 08:07:23 AM »
I'm not sure what you mean as far as the tags are concerned. Can you elaborate further?

Disregard this one, please - I wasn't looking carefully and looks like I saw the meta tags that don't exist. Sorry :)

Offline PaulG2

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Re: local website
« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2013, 12:59:44 PM »
hello,

so I made a few small changes

I made the slideshow more prominent ( at least I hope so) by putting it in its own widget so that it spans the entire site. this bumped the ad square down a little. I'm thinking maybe I move the orange newsletter box below the slideshow so it goes header->menu->slideshow->orange box-> then the blog categories in slideshow form. 

Still trying to figure out the niche. Right now the niche is anything northwest indiana that is family friendly, which i guess is a way of saying there really is no niche. don't know.

I have used some of the things Karen has mentioned in her post about a local site. the family features is good, but like she says you really need to make the articles your own especially for a local site. but the are great building blocks. the last article I took I added some local attractions where they spoke about stuff like local zoo's and parks.

also added an event calendar page. I'm using a plugin that takes the feed from google calendar. the cool thing is you can import other calendars into your own. I'm finding that many of the gov sites use google calendar and I can import their calendars to mine just by pushing a couple of buttons.