Website critique: Ronda Hinrichsen ( help from search engines

The last of our site critiques is for Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen, author of Missing and Trapped. Hi, Ronda!

Content and navigation
The site layout is simple and easy-to-use. There’s a hint of mystery in the mist around the trees, which relates back to your theme.

Your bio is informative, but it could also be fun! If people are coming to your site, they want to know more about you, so you can write a heck of a lot more than you might on a bio in a book. The trivia in the sidebar is a good start, as is the FAQ (though questions about the individual books could be on the book pages). You could also mention your family.

I think I’ve made it clear how I feel about contact info buried at the bottom of the about page! On the other hand, I don’t mind putting your awards on the About page, and I think it’s fantastic that you’re using a link and anchor to jump down to them.

You have separate pages for each of your books. This is okay right now, but as you write more books, will your website be able to grow with that? I’d suggest keeping pages for your individual books to 1-2: One page for all your books, with possible the second page for your most recent release. I’m assuming GoDaddy gives you five pages for your site, so this would free up a separate page for your Events, which might be more useful than the FAQ, for example.

I like that you have the covers of your books prominently displayed on the home page and each of their pages—along with purchase links! Always a good idea!

However, each tab on your navigation opens in a separate page. After reading the home page, I clicked on the about page, etc. After reading through each page of your site, I realized it had opened each page in a separate tab:

I’m hoping there’s a check box or something you can check somewhere to change this setting. Otherwise, you’ll want to take target=”_blank” out of each link on each page.

I love the background color on your site, but light text on a dark background is harder for people to read. Maybe you could find a way to add a lighter background behind the content area of your pages and switch to darker text (maybe even matching your background!).

Search engine presence:
I have some great news for you: I misspelled your name when I Googled you, and Google corrected me:

Google knows you!

And you totally dominate Google for your name. The first three results are your site, and it also lists your Facebook, blog, Twitter, your book on Amazon as well as some reviews.

I was very confused to see your site listed twice in the results, until I realized one was and the other is I worry that this might be confusing for readers, too, when they visit the Gibb version, which happens to be a blog. They wouldn’t realize this isn’t your site, only your blog—I definitely think you should include a prominent link to your full site on the Gibb version.

Bing, which serves results for Yahoo as well, knows you well enough to make your name a suggestion:

Bing’s results aren’t quite as impressive as Google’s. They include the “plain” and “Gibb” sites, and one page inside your site. The results also include Facebook, LinkedIn, Goodreads and a couple more personal sites: MyLife and Manta, which lists your address, phone number and income. (You might want to see about having that removed from Manta!) The last results include reviews.

Probably the best thing about Google and Bing knowing you is that it helps to eliminate (or at least minimize) the need to optimize for misspellings of your name.

Thanks for volunteering, Ronda!

What do you think? How else can Ronda get the most out of her website?

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