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time for a another site critique

mark schaaf
Posts: 438
Joined: 04 Oct 10
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time for a another site critique

My site has been up for about 2 years and with lots of advice from this forum and a lot of work and good seo and good articles I am on google and yahoo page one for about 6 of my pages. I am getting more traffic but still not a lot of sales. Since travel is a tough niche because people take a long time to plan and make reservations I know they could go to my site many times before using there services.

Even though many of my pages are on page one I still get a high bounce rate and people are finding my internal pages using long tail keywords so they should be getting to the page that has the information they are looking for. I have had a few people tell me is that some of my pages are on the long side but I read my pages over and over and have a tough time figuring out what I could do to shorten the articles and make them compelling while still giving all the information I think they are looking for.

My problem is how? I mean i tell people I look at my site like you would look at a baking site, sure you could put a list of ingredients on the page and leave it but it is going to be better if I give a step by step telling how to mix and so forth. I am looking for a few people to look over a page or two on my site and see what you think.

I have read everything over so many times that I could be missing the obvious and at the same time when reading I am afraid if I take something out it will be something someone is looking for so I am kind of stuck. So what I am looking for is, am I giving too much info. I have had people say that viewers leave because the can't find the answer to there question but if they leave the page after 15 or 20 seconds how would they ever know if the answer is in the article.

I am not looking for anyone to re write anything just ideas, am i giving too much information am I answering the questions that most people are looking for. I put the site together based on the kind of information I was looking for when I went to italy and what friends said they were looking for so what do you as fellow web site owners think. Just trying to put up the best site I can and try and make a living from the web like the rest of the people on this forum are trying to do. Thanks Mark My site is www. my italian travels dot com not looking for a link out of this so I put spaces between everything so it won't hyperlink.
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Mark
 
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maryt
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Hello Mark,

I visited your website and I agree that you really made your content valuable. Although there's effort to cut your paragraphs into 2-3 sentences long, still, your page seemed daunting to read. Perhaps you could insert more pictures related to your content.

For a travel site, what makes one popular to readers are pictures of places, restos, bars, food, etc. You have articles that are written based from your travel experience, you may want to add pictures in these articles as well.

An enticing travel website would be something that your readers will also get to experience "digitally". It is like showing to them what a great place Italy is- and this will have to take more than good content. You have to entice them with pictures (and as much as possible, the actual pictures of that travel).

Open your site to two-way "communication". Sharing your experiences to your visitors is a great idea, however, you need to also communicate with your readers. Try to put comment box on your pages as well as maximize them with social media plugins. Creating your own social media account in Twitter and/or Facebook is also a good idea to open your site to communication.

Videos are also a good addition to your site. You can post videos on your blog to spice things up.

Regards,
Mary
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mark schaaf
Posts: 438
Joined: 04 Oct 10
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Thanks, macdalangin, so you think I could take each paragraph and turn them all into 2 or 3 sentences. Because all the paragraphs contain so much information do you think I would have to add more paragraphs in order to keep all the information around that I think is important. I can add pictures to many of the pages but not sure how to add pictures on my find an Italian hotel page unless I just put pictures of different places in Italy. Also I do have a comments section at the bottom of the page. I also have a Twitter account which I almost never use but am a little unsure how to use it in conjunction with my site. I have thought about facebook but from some of the things I have read about it, it takes a lot of time to put it together and to use it correctly and it already takes a lot of time to run the site and do more articles and ad more pages.

Again thanks for the ideas and will look over my pages again and see how I can make them easier to read. What do you think of the font. Sometimes when I read it the pages seem difficult to follow the lines so I will change it to georgia font then it reads better then will change another page to georgia and read it to check it out and it seems no better then the Vandura either way both fonts I like are 2 of the most commonly used on the web.
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Mark
 
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jimcoe
Posts: 398
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I think you've done an excellent job "chunking" your text content into "bite sized morsels" (e.g Home page). And I guess it was that page where you had full justification - much more readable now, for me. I think I've mentioned before that web text needs to be only 1 thought per paragraph - looks like you did that on the home page.

Your links in text paragraphs are acting kind of like what people usually do with headers. That, is highlighting what each paragraph is about so people can scan your text and only read what they actually need. And scanning, not reading is how people use web pages (so the research tells us).

So, I'd recommend also adding headings - not to every paragraph, but to every "section/topic" (or however you want to demarcate your text).

Other things that add interest and keep people reading are bullet point and numeric lists. Also tables. And small pictures can be used as centered in the vertical text flow. Pictures don't have to be only in left or right columns. Any "infographics" (charts, idea summaries, etc.) get a lot of interest. And a good infographic can "go viral", getting you a traffic boost.

Your line lengths are nice and short, which makes your text look "friendlier" and easier. To me your line height is a bit excessive. There seems to be some magic amount of space between line of text which makes the text sort of disappear as graphic objects and speeds the reading. Too much or too little space between lines seems to slow the reading and make it more tedious - it's subtle.

In writing my latest ebook, it occurred to me to use the MS-Word 2010 gramar checker to see what my "ease of reading" score was. Got a Flesch Kincaid score of 64 "Easily understood by 13 to 15 year olds." That was after breaking up several run-on single sentences into 2 sentences and final pruning of unneeded words/phrases.

That grammar checker also helped me rewrite many passive voice and past tense sentences into active voice and present tense - I think that also helps keep people's interest - and it's a must for selling.

And of course every writer knows you have to ruthlessly cut every single unnecessary word and phrase. For example, I'm forever starting sentences with "For example,", for example.

Perhaps more marketers should use their grammar checkers and see if their writing scores as "easy to read"?

Cheers!
_jim coe
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Site Admin
maryt
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mark schaaf wrote:Thanks, macdalangin, so you think I could take each paragraph and turn them all into 2 or 3 sentences. Because all the paragraphs contain so much information do you think I would have to add more paragraphs in order to keep all the information around that I think is important.


Yes, as much as possible limit your paragraphs into 2-3 sentences long. jimcoe suggestions are also great. The idea behind this is a lot of visitors do not usually read everything. As what jimcoe said, people online usually just browse the content, trying to find what they just need. So you better cut the long sentences and paragraphs.

mark schaaf wrote:I can add pictures to many of the pages but not sure how to add pictures on my find an Italian hotel page unless I just put pictures of different places in Italy.


Is this the page you are referring to- http://www.myitaliantravels.com/hotelreservation.html

You can insert a widget or plug-in that shows random pictures of hotels. You can put this on the right column part of the page. Additionally, you can also make personal reviews of some of the hotels that you promote. This way, you are giving away information that is very useful for your readers. Doing reviews is a great way for you to add hotel pictures and selling to your readers "unconsciously".

mark schaaf wrote:Also I do have a comments section at the bottom of the page. I also have a Twitter account which I almost never use but am a little unsure how to use it in conjunction with my site. I have thought about facebook but from some of the things I have read about it, it takes a lot of time to put it together and to use it correctly and it already takes a lot of time to run the site and do more articles and ad more pages.


I missed the comment section. Perhaps, you make the comment section more visible? Twitter is one way to get new visits so is Facebook. This article about social media will perhaps provide you some ideas on how to incorporate Twitter and Facebook to your travel site- http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/advisor/ ... iness.html

mark schaaf wrote:What do you think of the font. Sometimes when I read it the pages seem difficult to follow the lines so I will change it to georgia font then it reads better then will change another page to georgia and read it to check it out and it seems no better then the Vandura either way both fonts I like are 2 of the most commonly used on the web.


The font is fine. Have you changed this already?

Mary
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gradyp
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Just to further something Mary said, you've done a great job of showing a few sites in your photos, but show some people enjoying the scenery or out at a cafe eating. Also, many pages don't even have a picture. The ones about the different modes of travel would be great places to show pictures of the boats, trains, cars, mopeds, etc that are used for transportation or one or two of the hotels people could stay at (Italy has some fantastic architecture, after all).

But most important is you need to show people having a good time. A few "sites" without people are fine, but if you want people to think of it as a great place to visit, you must show people enjoying themselves. It helps the visitor to your site to engage in where you want them to go.
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mark schaaf
Posts: 438
Joined: 04 Oct 10
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Thanks everyone for your ideas and will look into them. I have my line spacing at 1 and 1/2 because i did some research and found that older people or maybe I should say older people but people 40 and up have an easier time reading stuff with that spacing and I being in that group read it easier as well but will check it out. And Grady I hadn't thought of putting pictures with people in them having a good time and it makes sense but I must just be too paranoid because most of the pictures I have with people in them I don't know and always wonder if they will try and sue me for using there pictures.

Also I don't have any pictures of trains, buses or anything for those pages so I just didn't want to put any in and it seems like all the sites I go to that says free pictures to use want money for them so I just don't bother. I have taken a few of my pages and started shortening them and putting headings in for most paragraphs but still have a difficult time being able to shorten something with a lot of information into 2 or 3 sentences but I will study them over.
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Mark
 
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jimcoe
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Have you checked out http://www.Dreamstime.com? It's my favorite stock photo site. Of course people want to be paid for their excellent photos - wouldn't you? But investing $2 to $5 in an excellent photo for your site seems reasonable to me and I use lots of their photos. Once you have licensed one of their photos (they also have illustrations, patterns and more), you can use it multiple times. You can buy the smaller sizes for web pages to save money.

Of course I have multiple sites of my own, plus build sites for my web clients, so my stock photo library gets lots of use and reuse.

I recommend the free Google "Picasa" image database to keep your pix organized (has some built-in image editing tools to.

Speaking of photos, I wonder if an "Italian Travel Slide Show" might increase your visitors? You could add links to each "slide"going to the section/page of your site it relates to. Use ("target "_blank") type link to pop up a new window, so they can easily return to the slide show windows underneath

Cheers!
_jim coe.
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maryt
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Mark,

It would also be great if you offer "guest posting" from people who traveled to Italy. That would be interesting. You may also ask guest authors if they can feature your travel site in their blogs in exchange for publishing their content to your blog. :)

Mary
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mark schaaf
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Joined: 04 Oct 10
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Thanks Mary for the ideas along with Jim. I have been thinking about a slide show for a while but just haven't gotten around to it, I also have a section on my site for people to send it there stories about traveling to Italy but as of now no one has sent in anything. Mark
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Mark
 
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maryt
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Hi Mark,

You can post to forums (travel forums or any related forums within your niche). You may find some guest bloggers there :)
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