A Framework for Site Reviews (with Examples)

Posted by randfish

Over the past decade, I’ve been part of many reviews of websites, both in-person, as a consultant (prior to 2009) and at many events. I’ve found that much of the time, the reviews themselves lack structure (particularly those that happen "on the fly" during a conference panel or informal sit-down). Thankfully, during my recent face-off with Distilled’s Will Critchlow in London, I had an excuse to noodle on that and work up some ideas.

The Searchlove conference had a unique concept for our classic presentation battle. We were each given three websites to review around 12:30pm and had to give 30 minute presentations using slide decks 4 hours later. My will to win and avenge my depressing loss at Mozcon Seattle was stronger than my jetlag, and I gave the following presentation:

A Methodology for Site Reviews

View more presentations from Rand Fishkin

The point isn’t that I won (or that Will now owes me a very fancy dinner next time I’m in London) :-) It’s that I think this framework can function reasonably well for many marketers in need of an expedient methodology to evaluate a site’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and risks. The deck above uses:

Broad Questions about the Website

  • Why does this website exist? (i.e. what is it hoping to accomplish? what does success mean?)
  • Who cares? (i.e. who are the people using and getting value from the products/services/information?)
  • What motivates, inspires and interests this audience (this is critical, because great content and great inbound marketing stems from interesting the audience, not just giving them the task that will make your business succeed)
  • What’s the client worried about? (the client might be your boss, the CEO, the business itself or an actual client)

User Experience Issues

  • Design
  • Usability
  • Stickiness
  • Conversion

Content Issues

  • Usefulness
  • Interest Alignment
  • Quality
  • Shareability

SEO Issues

  • Accessibility
  • Keyword (Research) and Targeting
  • Content Optimization (more than just keywords, see this post for more)
  • Link Authority

Social Issues

  • Social Value
  • Channels (which sites/mediums to pursue)
  • Incentives (why will your audience participate)
  • Social Optimization (getting placement, timing, engagement, etc. right)

This framework is, obviously, just one way to think about how to review a site, but I think it may be valuable to others in the field and thus, wanted to share. I’d also love to hear feedback and suggestions for how to improve. After all, I need to take on Will again in New York this coming week.

p.s. Distilled tells me there’s still some tickets available for that show, so if you’re around NYC, you should come see if I can win two in a row :-)

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October 27, 2011  Tags: , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing

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