Last week we tested a completely new format for our SEMrush Chat – we analyzed an online store in real-time with our guests. Using an actual website as an example, we discussed various tactics for improving its online performance with our chat participants.
I think anyone would agree that this was a great discussion, so we decided to analyze another website. This time we picked noblehouseasia.co.uk for our thorough, real-time analysis. The company provides internships throughout the Asia-Pacific, as well as corporate training, undergraduate programs and postgraduate programs in Chinese universities.
Let’s get started.
As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. When you first view the website, several things may catch your eye. We asked our chat participants what should be changed on Noble House Asia’s site.
And here’s what they noticed.
1. Unclear Messaging
First of all, many of our guests found it very difficult to understand the website’s purpose. It’s crucially important that your visitors and potential customers get a clear idea of what types of products and services your company offers as soon as they arrive at yourwebsite.
Jerome Joseph Gentes @JJGentes also wonders: “What's their product/service/business? Or is it all about James Clavell's novel?” Here, I bet he means James Clavell's Shogun, because I had a similar thought. Anyway, if your visitors have to browse around your website without understanding what you’re offering them, they’ll leave your site very quickly. Today, internet users have little patience.
2. The Homepage Doesn't Have an Appropriate H1
Heading structures your content. Your site’s H1 tag defines its most important heading, because it’s the highest level tag that explains what your webpage is about. If your homepage has a clear H1, your visitors will be able to figure out what you’re offering. But what’s more, headings help Google grasp the main topic of your site’s content. Generally, the search engine gives H1s more weight.
a1) What is it? Rule 1: your homepage should have an H1 that tells me who you are & what you do. #semrushchat
— Ryan Johnson (@rsj8000) June 8, 2016
3. The Site Has a Bad Title Tag
Ideally, a page title, or title tag, should provide an accurate and distinct description of your webpage’s content. These tags are meant to concisely tell both your visitors and search engines what a certain page on your website is about. By creating a good page title, you can also introduce your visitors to your product or service. Your title should appear in several places, including in your browser tab.
4. Inappropriate Permalinks
When set correctly, permalinks serve several purposes. They’re used by search engines to discover a page’s topic from its URL. A clear and well-organized URL structure makes it easier for search bots to crawl your pages. That’s why it’s so important to create appropriate, descriptive categories and filenames for the documents on your website.
As we can see, the Noble House website uses the following permalink for their “About” page: http://www.noblehouseasia.co.uk/?page_id=9, which looks like a default permalink. Use proper filenames rather than ?page_id for URLs,” as Charlie Williams @pagesauce points out.
I would do it this way:
As Charlie Williams @pagesauce points out, you should “use proper filenames rather than “?page_id” for URLs.”
5. Cookie Banner Covers Logo on Mobile
Joe Martinez checked the mobile version of the website and noticed that the cookie banner covers the company’s logo. Since a growing number of people access the Web from their phones, it’s crucially important to provide them with a smooth mobile user experience. Otherwise, you won’t be able to keep up with your competitors.
Check out the recap to see all the elements that this website should definitely change.
As we can see, there are many website elements that the company should pay attention to. Mostly our chat participants suggested that it needs to make its message much more clear, so that visitors can easily learn about its brand and services.
Now that we’ve detected the problems that this website has, let’s find out which one they should fix as soon as possible.
Although we didn’t discuss content issues in the first question, many experts suggest that a content rewrite should be their highest priority. If the company wants visitors to apply for their internships and courses, first of all, they must provide some good reasons why people should do this. You won’t be able to capture your audience’s attention and appeal to them unless you have a great value proposition.
However, some of our guests also assume that meta description are more important than low content issues, since they can affect your website’s rankings. Even though meta descriptions don’t have a direct impact on search algorithms, we know that search engines use them to display preview snippets for a given page.
The more attractive and appealing the snippet, the higher chances that users will click on it.
A2: Fix the low content issue. I'd rather have sub-par meta descriptions than low content, since it's a ranking factor. #semrushchat
— Rachel Howe (@R8chel_Marie) June 8, 2016
But some of our chat participants suggested that instead of focusing on meta descriptions, it’s better to fix more important issues. Ryan Johnson made a fair point, saying that creating good content that describes your services properly will definitely improve your online performance.
a2) Meta descriptions are an easy fix, but won't help rankings. Adding text that describes your goods/services will though. #semrushchat
— Ryan Johnson (@rsj8000) June 8, 2016
Traffic Jam Media @ trafficjammedia agrees on this point: “In my opinion, they should fix their content. Increasing traffic through metadata won't do much if you don't have vital info already on your site.” Descriptive and informative content about your product is crucially important for your visitors. Even if they come to your website, they won’t stay long if they don’t find enough information about your company.
Also, using relevant keywords in your title tags and other elements is important for SEO. Your page’s title tag should contain important keywords in order to help search engines understand what your page is about.
But always keep in mind that keyword stuffing is extremely damaging to your website’s performance.
Finally, Karlosb advises mapping out the user’s journey and building content around it. A map of the user’s journey will give you a clear picture of how easy or difficult it is for a typical user to reach their goal. And developing a website around the real user’s journey guarantees that finally it will serve the needs of your audience.
Let’s sum up.
And what are your thoughts on the top issues that this website should fix first? Leave a comment to let us know!
Besides identifying things that should be changed and improved on the website, we also wanted to make a list of positive elements that might catch visitors’ attention. Here’re several things about Noble House Asia’s site that they should leverage to improve its online performance.
Simple design. Many experts agree that the website’s design might not be stunning, but it still has an advantage – simplicity. The thing is that a simple design tends to be more aesthetically pleasing. As the saying goes, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. People prefer the simple to the complex on a subconscious level. Nevertheless, simplicity doesn’t equal usability; which is what website owners should pay attention to.
Rachel Howe @R8chel_Marie also points out that the website’s design isn’t distracting, which is definitely good, but adding more content would not be out of place: “The aesthetics aren’t that bad. I liked how the site's design isn't too distracting. More content would make it better.”
Graphics usage. Jerome Joseph points out the nice-looking graphics on the homepage that describe the company’s services, like intern in Asia-Pacific and study in China. These small, beautiful elements easily attract a visitor’s attention. But it would also be great to add a section with alumni stories.
Location-based stories. In the News section of noblehouseasia.co.uk, there’re various location-based stories about a number of cities in Asia-Pacific regions. All these stories are combined under the general heading “What’s happening in your city?”
The posts describe some new internship and education opportunities as well as other news. Also, you view all the posts for a specific city. With a good plan, they could develop the area.
Beautiful images. Several of our chat participants mentioned the good use of color and compelling images, especially the ones that depict the cities in the News section. But again, it’s worth creating more interesting and informative content. James Yorke @BecomeKnown recommends writing more articles: “The images in the news section look good. They should write articles more frequently and continue to use them.”
Great website structure. Last but definitely not least, Reva Minkoff likes the website’s structure. It’s organized and has specific categories.
Besides content, the site also need a clear call to action. The ones that are on it now (e.g., “Find out more”) fail to describe why people should act and what value doing so offers. An effective and click-worthy CTA should describe the message and quick benefits for users in the most concise and appropriate way possible.
Even though we detected a range of problems on the website, it also has several good elements that should be leveraged, expanded upon, and nurtured to improve its performance.
During our website analysis, we found two competitors for the keyword “study in china,” which is probably the targeted term for noblehouseasia.co.uk as well. Since campuschina.org doesn’t work, we focused on cucas.edu.cn.
Here’re a few things that website owners should consider learning and adopting from their rival.
A clear purpose
As we said at the very beginning, it’s crucially important for your website to describe clearly its purpose and how your product/service can help people. When you first visit cucas.edu.cn, you have no doubt what the website offers. As Charlie Williams points out, a key lesson that can be learned here is appropriate UX and SEO.
However, some of our chat participants don’t find the site impressive: “With the second site, I understand what they're about, but I don't find the site impressive,” according to Express Writers @ExpWriters.
The page title contains a keyword
Another important element that Noble House lacks and can learn from Cucas is that the page title contains keywords. As we’ve already said, your page’s title tag tells both your visitors and search engines what the page is about. Besides, Google often uses a page’s title as the title of a search snippet link in SERP.
Connection between their brand and customer
Aamina Suleman makes another good point, suggesting that Cucas uses high-quality, effective images that portray people. This provides an emotional connection between their brand and their customers, which is vital in the digital age.
A clear process and click-worthy CTA
Unlike Noble House, Cucas uses its calls to action strategically. On their homepage, they ask a question: “How do you apply to China’s universities through Cucas?”
They also offer visitors to check the process of applying to the universities by clicking “see the process” button. Their CTA is compelling, and it provides value – important information about their step-by-step application process.
Also, many experts agree that Cucas’ website also contains several elements that need to be improved, like its lack of customer testimonials. “Video testimonials from alums. Right Now. It's travel, right? It's the NHA experience!” as Jerome Joseph Gentes @JJGentes advices.
We’ve already mentioned that this website lacks good content. We asked our guests to share their views on what content Noble House needs to create and which keywords it should use.
1. Create case studies
Case studies are meant to tell your audience how valuable and helpful your products or services are. Some marketers find them even more beneficial than testimonials, because they use real-life examples of how effectively you can help your clients fulfill their needs and reach their goals.
You will find several tips for creating case studies in the article “ How to Create a Compelling Business Case Study: The Ultimate Guide and Template,” which is published on HubSpot.
2. Discover new angles of writing
As Fernando Nikolic suggests, website owners can check what keywords they already rank for and then use the HyperSuggest tool and expand their queries. This will help them get fresh ideas for their content.
3. Create content that answers questions
Charlie Williams recommends that the company do several important things:
- Do usability testing. It’s the best way to discover what experience real users have when browsing your website. After a usability test, developers will understand if users are able to complete certain tasks successfully, whether or not they’re satisfied with the website, and many other things.
- Sort out their targeted keywords.
- Do proper on-page optimization. This can help them rank higher in search engines and also increase their site’s overall readability for their visitors and potential customers.
- Create content that answers questions. People want to find answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. If your website can provide this, your visitors will be willing to stay on your site longer and find out more about your company.
4. Make podcasts a part of their content marketing strategy
Podcasts are not a new form of content, but they’re still very effective. A growing number of people are listening to them. Listeners and podcasters tend to be more connected on a personal level than blog readers and bloggers. Some people quickly scan the blogs, but it’s difficult to “scan” a podcast.
Another advantage of podcasts is that they’re easy to create. Simply record a monologue or conversation, add a short intro, check the recording and make sure the sound is clear and at a good volume, and you’re ready to post it!
Also, a podcast is easy to adapt; you can easily turn it into an article, report or e-book, just to provide a few examples.
5. Create video content
Video content is on the rise, and, along with other forms of visual content, it’s likely to play a major role in the future of digital marketing. It has been predicted that 82 percent of all consumer internet traffic will be video by 2020. So, obviously, marketers should invest their time and effort into this type of content.
Periscope is a new platform that enables you to to go live via your mobile phone anytime and anywhere. Using Periscope, marketers can humanize their brand by creating live product demos and other relevant, appealing videos for their audience. “Use Periscope to create relevant videos, if possible,” as James Yorke points out.
6. Focus on long tail keywords
Some markets are highly competitive, with giant companies in your niche that dominate in search result. Nevertheless, it’s much easier to rank for specific long tail keywords. Taylor suggests that your content should be tailored around these terms.
Also, some of our guests believe that instead of focusing on creativity and keyword optimization, it’s worth fixing other more important issues. So, first of all, Noble House should provide a clear explanation of what they do, why they do it, and how it can help their customers. “When something is broken or not OK, ‘creative,’ ‘KWs,’ or optimization won't help. Get back to basics – what do you do and why?” recommends Zala Bricelj @ZalkaB.
Know of any other content marketing tactics that this website should be using? Share them in the comments!
When it’s done properly, a user journey adds value and serves as a powerful tool to achieve a higher conversion rate. Satisfying your customers’ should be the end result of this journey. Creating a solid and effective user journey will help companies reach their desired goals. But this is easier said than done.
At the end of our cha, we asked our guests how Noble House can improve the user's journey on its website. First of all, Karlosb @Karlosb recommends clearly understand what the user journey is before taking any measures.
You can effectively improve the user’s journey by providing relevant information about your service and the benefits it provides to your customer. Explain them what they should do and what they will get at the end of their journey. “Clearly state what you're offering and guide your audience to the next step. Tell them what action they should take,” as Express Writers @ExpWriters recommends.
Jerome Joseph Gentes suggests flipping the site’s welcome banner and “Our Services” section with CTAs. An effective call to makes an offer that people can’t refuse. To do this, Noble House needs more individuated CTAs.
Another great tip for the company from Jerome – personalizing their cards with the cities: “Personalize those cards, e.g. Juliana in Taiwan. Matthew in Guangzhou, etc.” This could help them build more credibility and trust with their audience.
Including video content that describes what benefits users can get by using your product is a perfect option. This is vital information for your potential clients. Also, since visual information is more easily comprehended, many people are more likely to watch an entertaining video rather than read a text.
As for the site’s structure and navigation, Kevin Gibbons recommends narrowing the focus on their top-level navigational links that lead to the key topics of their website. Your website should provide visitors with a clear, smooth path to the information they need. To do this, Noble House also needs to improve its content’s organization.
Let’s sum up!
That’s it for today. We successfully analyzed another website together with our chat participants. Thanks to our guests who made our chat interesting and productive!
Hope to see you next week!