Archive for June, 2010

Own Energy – Community Wind Development

OwnEnergy has a well-designed, well-written website (by my good friend Tess Forte); unfortunately the site does not leverage its potential given the firm’s business model of building ‘community’ wind farms.

If the underlying business model is the development and curating of community wind products logically they would utilize facebook, twitter, or some other Web 2.0 community platform to facilitate communicating and information sharing with the various communities and also use this to promote their projects.

A search for such projects revealed absolutely nothing. This represents a tremendous opportunity for the organization. Take for example their testimonials page. While the quotes from the various luminaries involved with their projects add a certain degree of credibility, an ideal platform would be a link an individual project detail page (or pages) to the testimonial. Following that, the various individuals involved could have links to their public profiles and from there we could learn more about the testimonials. We could see more how the community is involved with the project, especially if each project had a community organizer curating a page on facebook, or a shared blog, etc., about the project.

The weakest aspect of the site is this very component, Project Development. The pages and graphics appear as if they were simply pulled from a power point presentation. Again, this is an area where current technology is not being fully leveraged. For example, the steps in development could be an interactive chart tied to a map showing where the many projects OwnEnergy manages currently fall in the timeline.

Basic areas of improvement

  • Update the site more frequently. From what we have seen, the last press release and article were both dated March 2010. For a number of reasons, one of which is search engine optimization, greater effort should be made to update the site more frequently.
  • Better and more calls to action. The only area on the site where a reader can commence a dialogue is within the ‘Contact Us’ section. Ideally, there would be additional means of contact, as there are certain points, such as within the services section that means of access should be provided.

There were some basic questions that came to mind after reviewing the site. What is the goal of the site? Who are the target audiences? Frankly, after reviewing the site, in spite of being well-designed and well-written, it does not appear to be much more than a catalog with a very basic description of the company. Perhaps that was the only goal — simply to have a website describing at the most basic level what the company does and the services it provides. I would challenge management to think more deeply about their site, and their overall web strategy, if they have one. There is a tremendous amount of potential for a company such as this, and if it truly seeks a leadership position in this field, it should learn to leverage the (actually not-so-new) tools of the web.

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Sustainability at NYIT

Recently, I was asked by the Director of the sustainability program at NYIT to analyze their site from an SEO perspective. Belows follows a summary one-sheeter given to executive management.

Metric Score/Ranking Diagnosis
Page Rank 4 This is a relatively low score for an education institution. Steps should be taken to improve the results. The most important of which would be a link-building campaign, along with some basic improvements to the html mark-up.
Incoming Links 2 This is incredibly low and steps must be taken to improve. Only two known sites are linking to NYIT’s sustainability page, specifically thinkgreen2010.org and greencollar.org. Research should be undertaken to identify sites that should be linking to nyit.edu/green and have yet to do so. Here is one example: http://www.enviroeducation.com/. This would be in addition to submitting to important directories on Google, Yahoo and Bing of course.
Keyword Ranking Non-existent A search for ‘sustainability education’, ‘green education’,’education for sustainable development’ and ‘environmental technology education’ yielded results where NJIT was not in the top 30 of results. Less than 1% of all searchers look beyond the top 30 listings. It is interesting to note that the page being investigated does not even show up for a specific search such as ‘nyit green education’.
Source Code Poor None of the meta tage (<title>, keywords, and description) make use of what should be targeted terms. This is an easy step in SEO improvement. In addition, the site does not make us of ALT text in any of its images. Use of header tags (<h>) around targeted keywords would help organic results as well. On the positive side, the site is primarily text, which is still favored by search engines.
Analytics Non-existent? It does not appear as if any analytics have been installed on these pages. This would make it difficult, if not impossible, to discern traffic to the site and the most popular paths within it. Typically web analytics help the site management team choose additional keywords and design features to optimize page views and traffic to the site.
Keyword Density Low The most dense word on the page is ‘nyit’ followed by ‘energy’ and ‘green’. Sustainability is fifth. We recommend keyword density being one of the last things to focus on as it does not yield significant improvements in organic search results. However, there are very simply editorial elements needed to improve keyword density and after other recommendations are implemented, these should be followed as well.

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