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Peer Reviews & More
I'm going through the process of building web site. I'm at the point where I've got a lot of material published but I know there are some things that could make it better. There are search engine tweaks that could bring more traffic or I could focus on content tweaks that could keep the people. I had a choice at this point. Use search engine tools to bring in a few more visitors or making it user ready to keep the visitors I had right now.
Clearly search engine optimization is important to bring a site new traffic but it is the people who return and link to your site that will make you a great long term success. After all if you have good content, people link to it as a reference on the subject matter. This link is a vote those users that the information is good. This vote is seen by search engines as validation that a web site has good content.
So how do you accomplish that 'look and feel' check before 'exposing' your content to the end users and risk poor marks for such things as poor grammar, spelling mistakes or poor format? Worse yet get labeled as useless. You may never recover! I decided was to ask for a review by my site creation peers.
PEO - People Engine Optimization?
While it is important for Search Engines to capture the essence of your site, it is also important for people to be able to read it. In addition to links, search engines also look at the behavior of a person when they are on a site to register the value of the content. Sure you can trick the search engines for a while with optimization tweaks but sooner or later, with little content it will become clear even to the search engines that you do not have a great deal to offer. I think the term is bounce, where a person lands on a page and then moves on without digging for more content. If your bounce rate is too high it suggestions lower quality to a reader.
Taking the Risk
So here's what I did, I posted to a forum of users who use the same site building tools that I do, to review my site for content and flow of ideas. My site is about staffing and recruiting, so I was sure there were not too many people who knew the topic. What they could do is give me a fresh eye and let me know if the site read well and made some sense. This was a big risk because you are putting yourself out there. I figured the only way that I was going to make myself a better site was to solicit other opinions.
I got 6 or 7 responses and all were helpful in their own way. I had a couple that pointed out grammatical and spelling errors, a couple that pointed out a broken link and another that suggested I reorder my navigation bar. Those are cosmetic issues and I appreciated the time and effort. The was one response that was particularly helpful. This wonderful person took the time to read my site and provide me with some valuable feedback. She had read my site and thought the content was good. The problem was, she was not sure what my value proposition was or her term was my pre-sell proposition.
Well this threw me for a loop as I had thought I'd fixed that problem. It opened my eyes and after I got through with being defensive, I took a third look and I could see that it may confuse some people. I'm now working on revision 14 or 15 of my first page but the critique is helpful ( if you can stomach to hear the truth). In addition, I was given a couple of suggestions on how to add some revenue generation capability. Together that will make me a better web copy writer and in the end bring more traffic and make me more money.
Well anyone who wants to join the fun, can look at my site and help me optimize for people use. My site is now 5 months old and getting better because of the help and input of others. Soon I'll start to publicize it to my target audience and I'll owe a debt to all the people who helped me by reviewing the content. In return, I spend time on the forum where others ask for assistance and do what I can to help. While I don't help the people who help me, I do help others. Hopefully it balances out the karma!
So anyone who has ideas on how to improve the quality or monetization, please feel free to fire away. If you are making a web site, I have some suggestions;
- Find a forum or common group where you can find peers to help and assist you in your web development. (For instance, the forum for hub pages helps writers develop their style and skills in writing Hub pages!)
- Don't forget that ultimately people need to read your material so when the search engines find you and the bring the people, they will stay and buy from you!
- The search engines will bring the traffic but it is the people engine that will make your site go and go and go.
- You need to give to get so make sure if someone assists you, remember that and assist others as you have been assisted.