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Search Engine Optimization

Spam, Scams and Websites

A friend forwarded me an email this week via one of those ‘deals’ sites. Normally, it’s for a fashion item, hotel or restaurant bargain This was quite different. Someone selling websites for $99! websitedeal

Websites isn’t a category I normally associate with bargain basement, but there it was. Normally $576, yours for just $99. Limited time offer.

Didn’t take long to figure out the catch. It’s a common issue with cheap sites. Someone has rebranding or adapted a nasty content management system somewhere and selling sites like confetti. Yellow pages got into this a few years back with their nasty $20/mth Yodel instant website offering. Yuk!

What I found wrong with this offering was very typical when we examined their client listed sites. Zero SEO optimisation, even though the fine print stated it was included, be it ‘basic only’. Even worse in this instance, the website code being so bad that Google couldn’t even index the site, meaning they’d never be found in a search. Not even if you put in their website url into the Google search box directly! The other thing that raised my suspicion that these guys were suspect was the phrase ‘Search engine submission’. A modern website doesn’t need to do this and as a ‘practice’ has been redundant for years.

Decide what’s important – The look, price, or being found?

Still, in a world where the visual appearance and/or price is everything, I suspect they would have some takers. After all, it’s such a bargain and huge ‘saving’. In this case I considered advising the commerce commission or Fair Go etc. But realistically, if we took web design companies to court over such such things, then over 75% of web designers here would be in trouble and out to get my blood too. Best we carry on the charade over the meaning of ‘SEO’.

I guess it’s the old ‘let the buyer beware’ issue. But websites are like any commodity. There’s good and bad out there. And how is the average Joe or business owner supposed to know the difference? Technology isn’t something business owners want to get involved with. Even highly skilled ‘IT’ people and even many ‘web developers’ lack knowledge when it comes to website SEO. Most people just accept their website company knows their stuff and wouldn’t lie.

A Website WOF?

So, should new websites, like vehicles, be obliged to go through an independent testing process, like submitting the site to www.websitegrader.com (or similar) for analysis? Especially when the stated business goal of the website is to increase their online profile and sales leads. A website score of say 50+ within 30 days could be a suitable pass mark, or your money refunded.

Oh, and let’s not forget those visiting websites on their mobile phones which is growing every month. For this there are other, even harder tests. Here’s an online tool to checkout if your business website passes or fails the ‘mobi’ test. Go to www.ready.mobi

Certainly it’s not a safety issue we’re looking for like an WOF, but these hidden factors could certainly affect the health of a business


2 Responses to “Spam, Scams and Websites”

  1. What you say in this article is so true Kevin – generally if something’s cheap, it’s for a reason. I often liken the scenario to a 3 legged bar stool, each leg representing, Price, Functionality and Quality. If the leg representing price is cut, the stool is unbalanced so both functionality and quality need to be cut also. The question is, is the stool now tall enough to reach the bar? If not it will no longer function for what it was designed for! This is precisely what happens with many websites – so many cuts are made to reduce price that the website can’t function for its purpose.

    A good website takes time to design and build and this comes at a cost.

    Posted by Allan Kent | May 16, 2011, 11:16 am
  2. Would the fair trading act apply here too? But I suspect as long as the site ‘looked nice’ then 99% of business owners wouldn’t complain. Not many would ask the hard question “what sales leads came from our website this month?”

    Posted by Brian D | May 17, 2011, 5:24 pm

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