Jonathan bravely stepped up and volunteered his site for a review and recommendations.
First off, Jonathan, this is solid. The look is simple and clean, and nothing blinks. That puts you in the top 99% of web sites.
Seriously, it looks good. First impression is positive, and that’s important:
And you’re using Feedburner for your RSS feed, which is fantastic.
But no site’s ever done. Here’s what I’d change:
- Set priorities. This is the biggest problem I see right now. What’s the goal of your site? Right now everything on your home page has equal priority: Your phone number, the e-mail signup, the articles, etc. all compete for my attention. Think about why you’re writing this blog. If the goal is to get calls, then I’d make the box with your phone number much more obvious. If the goal is to get folks to read, make the headline of the first article about 4pts bigger. I’m oversimplifying – if this doesn’t make sense leave a comment below and I’ll elaborate.
- Reorganize the columns. The 3-column layout is fine. But the categories and / or recent posts should be somewhere above the fold. Folks will want to see those. At a minimum, swap out the ‘mission’ text and the ‘categories’ list on the left, so the categories are right where I can see ’em. I understand why you want the listings and the link to your Windemere page on the right, so that’s your call.
- More white space. Increase the gutter between the left, middle and right columns. It feels cramped right now. If the space between each column were 50% bigger, it’d be easier for me to read.
- Dewidget. You’ve got 9-10 widgets and badges from Blogrush, Twitter, etc. all over your blog. It’s cluttered, plus it slows the page load time, because your page has to load all of these scripts, grab data from other web sites, etc.. At least remove Blogrush, which is basically a spam engine anyway.
- Think about the search engines. Assuming you want to someday get the top spot for ‘Seattle Real Estate’, do a few things: Change the blog name to ‘Seattle Real Estate Guide’ instead of ‘Guide to Seattle Real Estate’. Make sure you do the same in the site’s TITLE tags, and in the headline at the very top of the page. That’ll give you a bit more leverage for ‘Seattle Real Estate’.
- Also, dump the ‘linkage’ page. If you’re swapping links with other folks, that won’t help you with rankings, and just might hurt you. Search engines are very aware of link trading as a tactic, and they really don’t like it. Replace it with something else (more contact information, or a map of homes you’re currently selling?) or just leave that space empty.
Bonus: Look at CopyBlogger for tips on writing great headlines. You can likely get a larger audience, faster, if you have headlines that grab more attention.
Again, great site! Keep at it.
I’m going to keep these reviews to 5 (OK, maybe 6) simple recommendations for improvements, rather than going nuts. There’s always more, but I’ll stick with the big issues.