Looking for input on my site (again)


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Monkeyleg
October 16, 2005, 07:57 PM
Over the last 22 months or so, THR members have been really helpful with their critiques and advice about my site, www.gunshopfinder.com.

The two most popular parts of the site are the Gun Photos (product info) pages, and the pages for the individual gun stores, which is good, because it's the gun stores that pay for the site.

As I've watched where the visitors were going, I've removed sections from the site and added others. I got rid of a classifieds section, because nobody was using it. I also dumped an industry news section, because visitors didn't seem to be interested.

The Gun Articles section is also turning out to be a low-traffic area, just as is the Legislative News section. I'd love to be able to afford to hire writers for the Gun Articles section, but that's not in the cards right now.

Lately I've been trying to brainstorm ideas for sections of the site that would appeal to visitors, but not require a lot of time to update.

Any suggestions you have would be much appreciated.

BTW, before anyone suggests that I concentrate on just getting more shops on the site, please know that I'm working as hard as I can on that. It often takes as long as two months from the time I contact the owner of a shop until I finally get the store on the site.

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Mr_Moore
October 16, 2005, 08:37 PM
I found your site professonal looking and easy to navigate.

You have no pictures of Rugers. That is a minus for me. So I suggest you get as many pictures as possible - I think that would generate more interest and it should attract a larger clientele.

In the web design classes I teach, I recommend registering your site with the major search engines. Goggle and Yahoo, MSN, Alta Vista, etc. Do not pay someone thousands of dollars to do this. Take a few hours and do it yourself.

I would recommend http://www.webpagesthatsuck.com/ but you don't seem to be violating any major principles of site design. (it's still an amusing read)

I'm guessing that you can not search until you join? I hate to join sites because of spam email. Maybe I missed the search feature. If so, that is a deficiency.

e-commerce is the wave of the future. Good luck in your endeavor.

Mr_Moore
October 16, 2005, 09:27 PM
Ah, you do have a search function. I found it when I was looking at the Kimber.

I would recommend a search function that pops out at you (not literally) on the home page.

For example, Amazon.com - a MAJOR player - has a large search box at the top. http://www.amazon.com/

I did see your - search by town or search by map. It is impressive. Of course you did not have Braverman Arms in Wilkinsburg near Pittsburgh :) I know, you said it takes time.

Oh, one other thing. I think you designed your graphics for 800x600 pixels. You should look at it with a higher resolution to see if it still looks like you intended it to. I seldom use my computer in that low res mode. I use 1024x768 and your graphics did not fill the screen.

Mr_Moore
October 16, 2005, 09:34 PM
I was looking at your source code:

<META NAME= "description" CONTENT= "View photos and information about Kimber pistols. Find a Kimber dealer in your area on Gunshopfinder.com. Kimber, Kimber pistols, Kimber handguns, CUSTOM II, ROYAL II, STAINLESS II, CUSTOM TARGET II, CUSTOM TLE II, COMPACT STAINLESS , PRO CARRY II, STAINLESS PRO CARRY II, STAINLESS ULTRA CARRY II, ULTRA CARRY II, ULTRA CARRY, STAINLESS ULTRA CARRY, ULTRA TEN, GOLD COMBAT II, GOLD COMBAT STAINLESS II, LTP II, SUPER MATCH II, ULTRA CDP II, COMPACT CDP II, CUSTOM CDP, PRO CARRY TEN II, STAINLESS TEN II, ULTRA TEN II, ULTRA TEN CDP II, GOLD MATCH TEN II, RIMFIRE CUSTOM, RIMFIRE TARGET, RIMFIRE TARGET MATTE, TACTICAL II, TACTICAL PRO II, TACTICAL ULTRA II, ECLIPSE PRO II, ECLIPSE TARGET II, ECLIPSE ULTRA II, GOLD MATCH II, STAINLESS GOLD MATCH II, TEAM MATCH II">

Meta tags are kind of obsolete in getting search engines to find you. Much better to register your site. The search giants learned that people would put meta tag keywords like "Recipes" on porn sites just to get hits.

Did you write the site code or did you have someone do it for you? It looks like someone used a design tool to lay it out.

Not a bad job, but there could be some improvements.

Monkeyleg
October 17, 2005, 12:57 AM
OK, here we go.

Mr_Moore, Ruger, Winchester, Benelli, Browning, and other manufacturers will not allow anyone to legally display images and descriptions of their products.

Nevermind that untold number of dealers use their photos on Gunbroker.com, Gunsamerica.com, or Auctionarms.com. I want to be 100% certain that I'm within the law.

As for meta tags, the conventional wisdom amongst webmasters is that they are a thing of the past. Until, that is, I started a thread on WebmasterWorld.com in which I pointed out that the only descriptions that Google was providing for many of my pages was from the meta tags.

Boy, you should have seen all those webmasters scramble to add meta tags. ;)

IOW, meta tags may not hurt, but they may be a help.

I'm not sure what you mean by "registering my site with major search engines." I will submit a site to the SE's, but after that, I'll wait for their bots to crawl the site. It is not necessary to submit. If you have a clean site, they will come. It may take six months, or it may take nine.

In the meantime, I'll go after any and every internet outlet that gives me one-way backlinks. After over a year of trading two-way links, I'm at a point where I can finally discriminate when it comes to PR.

I have stores on my site that also do a lot in terms of e-commerce: Impact Guns, Able Ammo, and others. Sometimes I beat them out in the SE results, and sometimes they beat me out. Overall, though, I beat them all.

Do a Google search for "New York gun shops." My site is #1 out of over 16,000,000 results. Same with "California gun shops" or "Florida gun shops," or practically any other state.

It took many months of hard work to get to that point. Do a search for "Kimber pistols" or "Remington shotguns" or "HK pistols, " or any of the other brands I feature on my site. It has taken me years to learn how to get on the first page of the major search engines for the terms I want.

And that's a big part of what I sell. I have been consistently able to put sites on the first page of the major search engines for very competitive search terms. It doesn't matter whether it's guns or metal stampings or coil springs.

What I sell to the shops on my site is what they cannot get for $10 a month: first-page results on the search engines.

Due to techniques I've learned and developed the hard way, I've been extremely successful in getting first-page results. Maybe it's just my tenacious nature.

But all of the above is superflous.

I'm looking for ideas on how to get more gun owners to my site, how to keep them on the site longer, and ways to keep them coming back.

(BTW, roughly 40% of the visitors to my site are repeat visitors, so there's something going right there).

IOW, I'm asking the folks here to suggest topics, areas, or other ideas that would make the site more attractive to gun owners.

That, as simple as it sounds, is what I'm trying to achieve.

Monkeyleg
October 17, 2005, 02:15 AM
The "edit" feature doesn't seem to be working tonight, so please indulge me as I make edits to comments I made earlier.

"What I sell to the shops on my site is what they cannot get for $10 a month: first-page results on the search engines."

What I sell to the shops is what they cannot get, or afford, for $10 a month. The shops I mentioned before that do a lot in terms of e-commerce spend hundreds or thousands of dollars a month to be on the first pages of the SE's. I sell those positions to them for peanuts.

On the other end of the spectrum, I give shop owners who don't want to invest a lot of money--or even any money--into an internet site the ability to compete with those shops who've spent thousands of dollars on websites.

Some of those sites look professional, and others look and behave like they were designed by Cousin Timmy.

Mr_Moore, with all due respect, log in at www.webmasterworld.com and read it every day, if you have not already.

I had a photography professor back in 1977 who asked to bring his class down to my studio for an afternoon "real life" adventure.

I advised him not to do so, but left the door open. When he left with his class, I suspect that 50% of the students decided to be dishwashers, and that my former professor wanted to hide under a rock.

My goal with this site is two-fold: to bring my subscribing stores new customers and, thus, to get those subscribing stores to pay me for my services.

I already have people finding my site when searching for Kimber Pistols or Remington Shotguns or New York Gun Shops. What I was hoping for was a suggestion from one of The High Road "gun nuts" was a suggestion as to what he/she might otherwise search for when engaged in "gun nut" activity." ;)

Mr_Moore
October 17, 2005, 02:39 AM
I had a photography professor back in 1977 who asked to bring his class down to my studio for an afternoon "real life" adventure.

I advised him not to do so, but left the door open. When he left with his class, I suspect that 50% of the students decided to be dishwashers, and that my former professor wanted to hide under a rock.


I have no idea what your point is in the above quote.

Thanks for the link. I will check it out.

I noticed that on Google there was a link to "Meta Tags are dead. So why are you still using them?"

http://www.google-secrets.com/google-secrets-metatags.htm?gg2&meta

Google uses none of my meta tags in my site description. I guess if you do not design your pages correctly, Google has no choice but to use meta tags. I doubt that this will always be true.

Also, I guess 6 months is fine if you can wait that long. If you want your site evaluated sooner, you register with the search engine. You are right though, if you wait long enough the spiders will find you.

Here is a link to the google url registration:

http://www.google.com/addurl/?continue=/addurl

Getting links to your site is a good idea.

My site also gets first page ranking on Google, Yahoo, Alta Vista, Excite, Teoma, etc.

Using the search string "gun shops" I did not find your site on the first page of the Teoma results. You were number 2 on page 1 on Alta Vista. Looking good.

Like I said, your site looks professional and I wish you good luck with it.

Bad Words
October 17, 2005, 02:55 AM
It's downright aggravating for the page to have 0 stores for so many states, and very few for others.

Berek
October 17, 2005, 12:54 PM
What about a page where ppl can give their pro/con experiences?

As an example, there is a shop on your site that I have had 3 bad experiences in 3 visits. Tried them once, bad. Gave second chance, bad. Gave 3rd strike, never going back.

On the other hand, there are 2 on there that I have had very good experiences with.

Maybe an "x-stars" rating system of experiences. Just a thought.

Berek

Monkeyleg
October 17, 2005, 03:47 PM
Bad Words, if it's aggravating for you, imagine how aggravating it is for me. ;) Things are taking much longer than I expected, and for a number of reasons.

Berek, many of the shops on the site are ones that were recommended by THR members. Others contacted me, and others I found (early on) just going through online yellow pages. The idea of having a rating system was suggested by someone on THR over a year ago. However, since the shops are paying to be on the site, I don't think they'd appreciate being trashed. BTW, what shop have you had trouble with?

Mr_Moore, my point, obscure as it was, had to do with theory and reality. The theory, for now, is that meta tags aren't necessary anymore. As I'm sure you know, Google is in a constant state of flux. For awhile, Google was using the first one or two sentences from my page text. Then it went to using meta descriptions for some of my pages. If I hadn't had the meta descriptions, I might have wound up with no description for the pages. Now it's back to using the first couple of sentences again.

My reference to six months had to do with Google's sandboxing of new sites last year. Previously, I'd been able to submit a new site, get it in the index, and get it on the first page, and quickly. Sometimes in less than thirty days. That all changed last year; new sites were indexed, but kept on the very bottom of the search results for six to ten months. I'm not sure if the sandbox filter is still being used today, though.

Thanks for the suggestions, and for the kind words.

If anyone else has any ideas on what would appeal to gun nuts, I'd appreciate hearing them.

sturmruger
October 17, 2005, 10:06 PM
Dick the sight is looking great! I wish I could think of something to add, but at the moment I think you have it pretty well covered.

Monkeyleg
October 18, 2005, 01:15 AM
Thanks, sturmruger, but it's nowhere near where I thought it would be by this time. OTOH, anyone who's ever started a new business knows that feeling. I've been there several times.

The two areas that visitors focus upon are the gun shops on the site, and the photos and descriptions of the guns from the manufacturers who've given me permission to use those photos and descriptions. (As I mentioned, Ruger, Benelli, Browning, Winchester and other manufacturers are trying to protect their "dealer-only" turf, and are still refusing me permission to reproduce images of their products). Those manufacturers are missing what I think is a big point: free advertising.

So be it.

Right now I'm just trying to find another feature that internet "gun nuts" would find attractive. There are any number of possibilities, but most are already out there: places to shoot; gun show schedules; reviews of guns; reviews of scopes and other accessories; etc.

I really want to make this site one that gun owners/buyers will return to. Already, about 40% of the visitors to the site are repeat visitors, so I guess I'm succeeding to some degree in that respect. I just want to deliver more.

Again, any ideas are very much welcome.

If you enjoyed reading about "Looking for input on my site (again)" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!