Does anyone else not care for how WordPress websites look?

Discussion in 'Digital Marketing' started by JContracting, Oct 25, 2013.

  1. JContracting

    JContracting LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,878

    As the title states. I've seen so many companies in my area with them and being as they all have the same layout they zero personalization to them. They're basically built purely for SEO, for example: a main headline is ("XXX company" specializes is installing landscapes at your Maple Grove, MN home) or something just ridiculous like that.

    For those that know SEO very well, is there a way to be successful at it without having to build a site like what I mentioned above?
  2. tonygreek

    tonygreek LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,852

    The easy answer is that, yes, you can have a site that doesn't look like a "typical" WP site. Luckily, we're moved solidly in to the era of good design. I work with a lot of WP sites, and view dozens every day, and not a day goes by where I don't have to look to see if I'm really looking at a WP install.

    But, I know where you're coming from. Small business sites tend to be the last bastion of those, but the fault lies with the companies pumping out those sites for them, and the idea that I think some business owners have of "Looks great to me! And the budget of [usually cheap] fits!". Good design does not have to be costly, folks. There are plenty of ways around this.

    I will take the different stance from you that they primarily exist for SEO. The SEO of these sites can be okay, due to the formula they tend to follow, but the main reason is they are very easy and very fast to launch, which means, hopefully, lower costs to the business owner. Or very high profit margins for the web developer (most of the cases I tend to see). To fill the void for a tight budget-friendly site, many of these are pumped out by website mills using a repeatable formula and format, something WP excels at. Often times, the web companies just aren't designers, or really programmers, either. Wordpress, coupled with the templating system, allows for those with, we'll say, "less than deep" skill sets to open up shop and present themselves as a web marketer or...[shudder] "designer" or "developer".

    If you really want to punch a wall, take the snippet, usually found in the footer, that says, "This awesome site was built by" and throw it in to a Google search. It wouldn't be uncommon to find dozens or hundreds of what amounts to the same exact site, with only business-specific changes being made (hopefully they did that).

    "Sir, I see you have a green and orange lawn company logo? Yep, it will look great jammed in to this blue and black template of a template. I know landscapers can sometimes wear a hard hat, and I happen to have this great stock photo of a trustworthy looking guy wearing a crisp white shirt and hard hat. I'll just put him here on the About Us page. Now, let me just carpet your site's footer with these 50 zip codes and 300 town names and you will be good to go!"

    Last edited: Oct 25, 2013
  3. JContracting

    JContracting LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,878

    I see poorly designed advertising media all the time, especially fliers that usually in a client's lawn and are blowing around. Horrible service description and just badly written In general. I suppose the company wanted to go as cheap as possible with it and that is the end result.

    You have my ears for the SEO for a non WordPress site!
    Posted via Mobile Device
  4. tonygreek

    tonygreek LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,852

    Other than how you are presented with a way to add your info, it's really no different (which is a big difference). The ideas, principals, and implementation are the same, so I can't give you a detailed answer. I base my use of WP on who is going to be editing the site. If they aren't code proficient, WP gets the job. SEO doesn't even cross my mind. "Just build a good, efficient site and create good content." is something Google likes to tell us, and that tends to be what I do.

    The only solid argument I can give as to why a non-WP site would be "better for SEO" would be in the page speed department. It's a ranking factor, just not one I've been able to readily identify on any of my sites. Even my WP sites are lightweight and fast and, as they rank well on other merits, it's hard to segment out what site speed is really doing for us.

    Here's a snapshot of a few hand-coded and WP sites.

    Site 1 is a hand-coded web site, that is highly visual (and highly regarded for this specific, visual design) and does great in a very competitive market:
    Home Page
    126 lines of code
    Page load time: 1.15s
    Total page size: 361KB
    Total number of requests: 12

    Site 2 is the WP version of site 1:
    197 lines of code (please, take note WP developers)
    Page load time: 1.83s
    Total page size: 368KB
    Total number of requests: 31

    Site 3 is a high-impact design, WP site that dominates the rankings in a high population, highly competitive market (it's the case study site I've gone in to detail about in the past):
    Home Page
    342 lines of code
    Page load time: 2.73s
    Total page size: 233KB
    Total number of requests: 43

    Site 4 is a WP site via an oft-used theme sold to small business owners (not unlike what the OP was referring to). I have no idea on the rank, other than it came up #1 for the web designer's footer code, as the contact page has no address and the footer is just a list of cities:
    Home Page
    545 lines of code
    Page load time: 4.29s
    Total page size: 602KB
    Total number of requests: 55

    As a note, "page load" is one of those where you can be at the mercy of your web host. This is why I plead with people not to host any sites, especially WP sites, on GoDaddy.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2013
  5. greg8872

    greg8872 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 300

    Speaking of the speed/load issue, here is a nice tool to let you see what is being loaded with a site, either your own, or a competitor:

    Go there, enter the site, and when it is done analyzing, then on the breakdown, choose "TimeLine" (and then choose "View Larger Version")

    Now you can see detailed what it took to load the site. Hover over the bard in the graph for more info.

    Example, here is the report for here:

    Very, VERY true. I have a friend who moved their online store from a cart service to running Magento (open source shopping cart) on a $4/month host gator account... Highly competitive market, and now their site is 5-7 seconds to load the home page... I found 6 sites that run Word Press on the same server, and if you tell all 7 sites to refresh at the same time, some of the tabs will report server is timing out.
  6. PaperCutter

    PaperCutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,996

    They're templates. If all you do is replace the stock text and photos and keep the theme the same, then yes - what you have looks like every other lame WP template site. That sort of falls under the whole idea of "well, it's better than nothing". However, it's pretty cost effective to have a designer modify a template for you so I see no reason that a WP site has to suck. I've mentioned before that my site is built on a Studiopress template; I think there are some pretty cool looking sites in their gallery:

    My site's not perfect, but at this point I'm waiting till I finish a few business planning things before redoing it. Again.

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