Critique required

Discussion in 'Website & Graphic Reviews' started by rakebackblogger, Oct 19, 2010.

  1. rakebackblogger

    rakebackblogger
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    Hi BAV,

    I have posted this in another forum lately but haven't got any response, so I hope you dont mind if I post it here as this forum seems way more active and some really great advice here for start ups..

    Anyways, I own an online poker rakeback website. Ok so competition in this area is tough, 5000+ websites, however 99% of these sites are generic. They have one home page with all the rakeback offers but no original regular content.

    So I got a word press themed design for my website. I was very green when starting this out and didn’t and probably still don’t fully understand all about SEO so I’m sure my design may be lacking some vital components there.

    My goal as stated is to have regular new content by using a regularly updated blog where I add poker articles, reviews off all things poker, posts directing readers to other sites where there are inspiring posts which may motivate my members /readers to play more and to play better and improve. I also do critiques of poker training videos which I find useful, poker blogposts which were motivating, podcasts where I have learnt some new strategy..

    I hired a young designer to design site for me. I had a design doc which he used as blueprint. This design was based on the popular successful competitors out there.

    I do feel however that this site which was supposed to offer new regular content, doesn’t seem to offer new regular content because you can’t actually see any new regular content unless you scroll down the page or check out the menu items. So in essence my site now looks like my generic competitors which I wanted to be different from.

    So I know I have a product that will sell once I get enough virtual footfall, but I looking for a critique on
    Design architecture and actual look (graphics, homepage webcopy) SEO improvements for site
    For SEO, I know I should really have planned out my keywords before I even designed the site, but didn’t realize that till well after I launched the site;-) .So let’s say one of my keywords that I want to rank high on goole is ‘poker tips’. Would it have been better for me to have one of my submenu items in my poker education menu called poker tips? Or will be ok to have articles under my ‘Poker Articles’s menu item with keyword ‘poker tips’ in the actual header and keyword anchor text ‘poker tips’ in the main article body.


    Thanks for your time and be as harsh as you want. I can take it!! I really like the look of this forum so hope to get involved with discussions as much as possible and hopefully offer some value with some decent questions and informative answers myself.

    Cheers
    rakebackblogger (aka Paul)
    http://rakebackreward.com
     
  2. Fergal

    Fergal
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    I occasionally play Texas Holdem with a group of friends, but I'm not really a poker player, I don't visit poker websites so am not familiar with your competition. Hence, the comments I make below are made without a knowledge of how poker sites generally operate.

    At first glance your site looks a little busy to me, personally I like clarity and simplicity. A sense of clutter can make me want to leave a site, when it makes me feel that it will take some effort to understand what it is about and how it might benefit me.

    This sense of busyness largely comes from the "Potential RakeBack" graph in the middle of your home page. Is that graph really required? The "Why Rakeback Reward?" bullet list is great and provides very useful info to draw your visitors into the site. Could you add the benefit points from the graph area to that bullet list? If you did that, you could still show the graph as a clear graphic, without showing numbers on the axes and without the explanatory text. As the bullet list of benefits is so important it might be an idea to make the font a little larger and perhaps make it bold for emphasis.

    Your site uses a three column layout and there isn't that much info in the right hand side column. Your site could appear a lot less cluttered if you used a two column layout and put all that navigation info to one side.

    In summary what I would do is:
    • Make the bullet points bold and use a slightly larger font size
    • Remove the graph and corresponding text
    • Use a two column layout
    • This would bring the main content above the fold and give it more horizontal space.

    As I said I'm not familiar with your niche and perhaps my suggestions are not relevant to poker sites. If you can please post back with your thoughts I will see if I can give further feedback.
     
  3. rakebackblogger

    rakebackblogger
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    Great critique Fergal, much appreciated. You are in the fact the first person to have reviewed my site properly ! I have added my responses below

    Make the bullet points bold and use a slightly larger font size
    Yes defo agree that this can help
    Remove the graph and corresponding text
    I would like to hear other comments about the graph and corresponding text in the graph. Maybe if I am going to include a graph I should make it more sleek looking or else just remove??
    Use a two column layout
    I am currently in the process of adding 6 more poker room offers which will be VIP member rooms and not rakeback rooms. These will be on the right hand side column .I also offer members participation in monthly promotions worth 300k which I think I should be emphasising more on the home page. So I have a plugin which I can also put into the right hand column. However to add these I may need to remove the graph so page doesn’t look too cluttered…??
    This would bring the main content above the fold and give it more horizontal space. Yeah, im very conscious of the fold and I would really like to have some of the main selling points and explanation of what rakeback is here or even a link to a page with a detailed explanation of rakeback.

    any more comments welcome

    thanks
     
  4. PaulPinnacle

    PaulPinnacle
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    Something can be "Ok" while the alternative is still "better". Having keywords as part of the navigation menu gives a boost (you're using relevant anchor text coming directly from your home page [normally the location with the most link juice]), but that doesn't mean you couldn't rank without it. Lots of things 'help' without ever being 'required'.

    Having said that, a competitive term like "poker tips" is reaching too far for you just yet (even if included in your nav menu). You're in a hugely competitive sector, where the profits can be significant so commonly a large investment in the marketing is made. While it's great to have high hopes, when it comes to SEO you need to have realistic aims or you can end up putting in a lot of work with very little reward.

    I'd suggest targeting a lower competition term to start with (getting high rankings [due to reduced competition] for a lower volume term/phrase can result in far higher traffic), perhaps a specific niche or a less general long tail phrase. As the site grows (more high quality content, more backlinks, etc.) you can then begin to branch out and target a larger number of phrases and start going for some of the 'big' ones. You'll need to do a lot of keyword research and by investigating the competition you're up against decide on which terms you believe will convert for you and which you actually have an opportunity to rank for in the short term.

    You're trying to do all the right things (making it unique, adding value, making it rewarding for your users, etc.), so I don't think anyone will be 'harsh' (or at least not as harsh as we might have been ;)).

    Fergal already gave some excellent feedback there (like Fergal, I know the game but not the 'industry' so I can't give much feedback in terms of 'comparison), so you've a good base to start from. I fully agree on it being 'too busy'. Glancing at the site, I can't see a clear 'path' for me to follow. You want to make sure the site is simple enough for a first time visitor, while functional enough for returning visitors to get where they want to go.

    In terms of the layout, what makes you different? What do your visitors need to know? What do you need to show them to make you stand out?
    Focus on getting this information into the most prominent locations on the page.

    At the moment, there is simply too much 'stuff' there for a visitor to take it all in (this then causes issues for the site architecture for SEO purposes, as your limited link equity gets spread too thin). Look at reducing the page down to the most important elements (I've no idea if something like the calculator should be prominent or not, you'll have to use your knowledge of your users to make an educated guess), providing a clearer path to the relevant information on deeper pages.

    It's the small things, like having "Sign Up" and "Refer a friend" on a nav menu, that can lead to a very cluttered feel when they all add up. Try to forget about SEO to start with, figure out how your site should look and work for users (literally sketch out a sample of how your file architecture works and see if it's logical) and then make the tweaks to allow that to provide for better SEO (but don't let the SEO factors impact on the site for your users).

    I don't mind the graph in theory, but again I'm not sure if it should take up such a prominent position on the page (very hard to judge the subjective stuff like that when I'm not in your target market).

    If you do intend to keep it/tweak it, be aware that having the text contained in the image file like that means that the text isn't part of your website. You should look at wiping the text from the image, using the new image as a background and then placing replacement text over the new image so that it can be 'found' on your page.
     
  5. Kay

    Kay
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    Okay, I'm completely ignorant about poker so take this as a non-player's point of view. :)

    I feel too that the graph is ill-placed. The animated slider at the top left is very distracting too. Could you replace that slider with a smaller clickable version of the graph with Read More on it, that links to another page with the larger graph on it and remove that from the main page completely? It would free up more space in that column and pull up the articles, as would a two column layout like Fergal suggested.

    The animated slider (or is it just an ad?) could go in the right hand sidebar under the calculator.

    I think your text block that begins "Rakeback Rewards is proud to offer" would be far better in that middle top slot than the graph. The information hits them faster if all they need do is read rather than analyse a graph as well. Bearing in mind anecdotal evidence that most new site visitors give it about twelve seconds before deciding whether to stay or not, I'd say text would be better.

    If you don't want to take the graph out of the main page, you could always just swop those two around. I'd remove it.

    Motivational Articles seems a strange title. I'm wondering why you chose that and not just Poker Articles. (I realise it could be related to poker in some way that I don't know about).

    You have a typo in your first line under Why Rakeback Rewards. It should be receive, not recieve.

    You may want to give Feng-GUI http://www.feng-gui.com/ a test run. I believe they still have a free option. What it does is show you where a site visitor's eye is drawn to on your webpage, the path it follows and what catches their attention most. Pretty cool actually. :)

    That's about all I can come up with. Sorry I couldn't be more help! Playing pontoon's about my limit. :)
     
  6. GekiDan

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    I myself is not a poker player (like the guys above me) but I play it as a past time in Facebook and my friends.
    So I'll just review it based on my experience in webdesign and websites.

    LOGO: I liked it. Very pleasing in the eye. Since this is a poker blog, I'm just wondering why didn't you use any poker related symbols there like spades, etc.

    FAVICON:
    You site lacks favicon. I can suggests you that it could be a star (coming from your logo) or a spade (which represents cards) or maybe a poker chip. It depends on you.

    LAYOUT: Three column layouts always catches my eye since they rarely gets cluttered and having the content at the center makes it easy to read. Plus the green color (which I think represents the poker table) is cool in the eyes.

    But there are things that really bothers me:

    • The table: Like Kay said, it's really off. You could have used the same shade of green on the whole image. I'm talking about the green on the left side of the table. I also think it's much better if the numbers will be on the right-side instead of left.
    • Blog image thumbnails: As far as I can see on the first page, ther's no consistency on image sizes. Some are either too small or larger than the rest. It will be much better in the eye of the readers if they are consistent in sizes.
    • Flash banner: I also think this one is on the wrong place. It will look much better if placed on the right sidebar, along with the calculator.
    Other than that, it looks good to me.
    Good luck on your site.:thumbsup:
     
  7. rakebackblogger

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    Wow, all I can say is thanks a million. The comments above are excellent and really appreciated. There is a lot there to take on board so I have taken my time to all.

    First of all , I got a young guy to design the site for me and I actually like his design but he did go off my plans a bit in the end.

    What really makes this site different from other rakeback sites is the regularly updated content.

    Therefore with that in mind If I did the following I think I would be able to emphasis that on initial glance all above the fold

    1. Change to a two column website and put the calculator on the left hand side under the offers
    2. Remove graph and include on a Idiots Guide to Rakeback Page linked to in the next point
    3. Push up the Action points to where graph was and now it will spread across the page so will take up less space above the fold
    4. Only include the latest blog post entry underneath but with icon to take you to all recent blog posts or maybe even just listing the most recent titles only as dont want to clutter the page
    5. Include a new table underneath which gives more details on all the offers I have plus the special promotions per room. All of my top competitors have this table and I actually think Im not pushing my promotions enough which tally up to 300k worth a month to be won.

    I like the idea of a favicon and I really need to revise my webcopy to get rid of those perky typo's! Also need to review my Submenu columns

    As for the SEO, great advice Paul. I shall take all that on board.

    Cheers
     
  8. Justin

    Justin
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    Rather than the image slideshow on the right why not link that to your favorite posts, or as Kay says move the graph there with Rakeback Potential $1112 in big letters. The images aren't clcikable so won't bring you any affiliate commission and they are slightly distracting.

    Other than that you seem to have lots of great content.

    I would also be tempted to remove the link back to your designer.
     
  9. GekiDan

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    He can if he have paid the designer for this web design.
    But what if it was made for him for free and the only return that the design is looking for is a link back?
     
  10. rakebackblogger

    rakebackblogger
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    Fully paid
     
  11. GekiDan

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    So I think it's ok to remove that as suggested by justinwheeler.
    Any reasons why you still keep that up?
     
  12. rakebackblogger

    rakebackblogger
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    simple reason being I dont know how to remove it myself :)
    I'll ask him..
     
  13. Kay

    Kay
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    Here's a couple of ready made poker favicons. ( Those are the .ico file versions)

    http://www.iconspedia.com/search/poker/

    You can always make your own but that would save you time. (Be sure that no matter which image you choose from wherever that you comply with their usage license. You can check out what the different kinds mean here at the Creative Commons site.)

    To make a favicon, you can find the instructions here. That also explains how to add it to your site.
     
  14. GekiDan

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    Go to your site's coding or source code, and look for the following codes:
    HTML:
    Site by <a href="http://www.wpgeek.com/" title="Custom wordpress themes" title="Custom Wordpress themes">wpGeek</a>.
    It should be near the end of the source code.

    Then delete it.
    Remember: Be sure to save a back-up first before doing so, so that you can go back to your current one if you made any mistake in deleting codes.
    Hope that helps.:)
     
  15. DavidL

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    I would suggest changing the "my account" button into a login form. I don't see why users need to visit another page with a login form, when they could easily and quickly login from the front page. Also, it makes users have the need/feeling to login.
     
  16. rakebackblogger

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    There's a valid reason for this -we had to use this way as a workaround. Well spotted though.
     

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