Corporations, it is time for you fire your web designer yet?

This is a rant. I rarely do so, but I really can’t believe what I just experienced.

We need “brainless navigation”. Please.

Navigating to SingTel shop locationsI’ve been so frustrated – over the inability for me to search for the information over the Internet despite knowing exactly what I am searching for. I needed to find the SingTel hello! shops locations in Singapore. It was 1am and I was sleepy (now I’m not thanks to the frustration). I know where I will be tomorrow evening, and I just need to find the branch nearest to where I will be, so I can drop by and get some stuff done.

Started off at It was a corporate looking site. I couldn’t find anything about shop locations or what from the page. There was a search box. I searched “store locations”. Nothing.

Headed to and I searched “SingTel Shop Locations”. Nothing.

I searched “Hello! Store Locations”. I got a Hello Kitty website instead.

Frustrated already, I went back to, navigated my way through to the product I wanted to buy (a prepaid mobile card). That was easy. But that page did not tell me where I could get it.

Yes, that page ended with “Keeping in touch has never been easier!”

Yeah right. Easier.

I had to read to the FAQ page to find out where the cards are being sold. They told me that the card was available at their stores (and some other locations)… but they didn’t tell me where their stores are. It wasn’t of any help.

I clicked around for a few more minutes, still failing to find where they listed their store locations… and finally I ended up back on the home page of website. Then, I slowly mouseover-ed each font size 8 (or was it size 6??) menu, to find the link I was looking for.

They listed their store locations under the menu “This week’s hot deals”.

Why would a list of store locations be under “This week’s hot deals”? I really have no idea.

I found the information I want. I think the whole process took me at least 5 minutes.

The question is… how many potential customers would you be losing because of this 5 minutes?

I realised that the page was severely unoptimized. The title for that page was “Customer Service – Locate Us”. The reason for that was because it was a generic page for them to use to locate their stores, customer service counters, dealers and equipment service centers. There were no meta tags or whatsoever.

How many would search for “locate us” when you are looking for a branch location listing?

Truthfully, I’m quite disappointed. I really think corporations need to relook at their website, and get their web designers and programmers to learn at least the basics of SEO and usability.

These websites are most probably whitelisted with major search engines already, and making simple changes like changing the title from “Customer Service – Locate Us” to “Hello! Store Locations” will help so much, ease so much frustration, and save the time of the hundreds of thousands of visitors the site is serving.

Its a pity they think we can read their minds and know where to click. And this is not an isolated case. Here’s another one on terrible navigation on websites.

My rant is over. :mrgreen:

Can you really outsource SEO?

Adam McFarland of Faceup-Sites did an excellent article about The Case Against Outsourced SEO, and I got that article through today’s SEO News mailing.

He explains:

Most of the time when companies outsource SEO they do it with the mentality of “here you go, you handle it, we expect results.” They view it as an entirely separate entity and not as a core value that needs to be instilled in their organization to be successful. That’s why outsourced SEO just doesn’t work: your organization still makes decisions the old way.

And I think that is so true. Thinking of search optimization as a totally outsourced project will not work, and in my own opinion, the best way towards SEO is this – learn the principles, and let YOUR OWN web designers (who’ve already known at their fingertips what your company is about), do the optimization.

To be frank, SEO principles aren’t tough. In fact, I’d say that SEO is not so much about “doing special things” to your site, but more “not doing the wrong things”. One of the softer aspects of SEO, however, is really understanding your potential customers and guessing what they will be typing in into the search box (and then using that as a base for keyword research to verify that your guesstimates are correct).

External consultants can’t do that… or at least, not as effectively as the people in your business. The role of the consultant is to make sure that you take the right steps, and make sure you don’t do the wrong things, and get on the wrong site of the search robot’s eyes.

So if you are still thinking of SEO as a totally outsourced activity – think again. And if someone comes to you and say “Give me your website, and I’ll get you to #1.” Think again too. Yes, you might get a #1 ranking, but are these in the keywords that will show you the money?

My recommendation? Learn the SEO principles yourself first, and then if necessary, hire the consultant to make sure you are always on track.

Learn how you can get into Google’s first page in 9 hours!

I’m pleasantly surprised that my effort (and stubborn-ness) in building this blog has paid off so well.

I was supposed to sleep early last night, but I didn’t – I came back online and did the post on Social Rank. It was 1.50am.

Its almost 11:00am on the same day now, and when I did a Google search on “Social Rank”, this blog actually came up in the first page!

Google First Page in 9 Hours

But its still the main page of the blog, not the permalink page… yet!

Well, so if you’d ask me, is SEO really hard? I’d say no. Its just takes a lot of discipline, and the attitude of perfectionism. Remember, in SEO you are a human trying to please a robot, and in the robot’s perspective, a 1 is a 1, and a 0 is a 0. There is no half!

If you are interested to learn more about SEO, really, do go and register for the SEO workshop by my mentor Shi Heng Cheong. If you take his advice for search optimization and marketing and apply it to your own website in disciplined manner, you can be assured that you will see results!

Comex 2007 Singapore post popped out of Google. Totally.

For some reason or another, my Comex 2007 post (which was my another attempt to optimize and monetize on search trends) was popped out of Google totally today.

The day after I posted – I was third for the keyword “Comex 2007 Singapore”. I then put up some additional text to offer space for an advertiser. Since I had some traffic coming in for the PC Show 2007 post.

Then when I checked it today, it was gone. Totally, from Google.

Instead, my PC Show 2007 post was the one that showed in the first page for that same search term.

It must have something to do with the advert update. My Singapore NDP post is still staying strong in the first page.

Comex 2007 Singapore Post out of Google

Have I done anything wrong? I guess either someone in Google really hates me, or some “SED” (search engine de-optimizer) magician has casted a curse on me :mrgreen: