Shaddow Domain Peer Review – Enhance Non-Goth Appeal

    June 18, 2003

Let me begin by saying that I am not a “goth” individual and I know very little about the culture; however, I did find several items in your inventory that I could see myself or others like me purchasing for various reasons unrelated to the “goth” culture. Having said this, here are my suggestions for increasing your site’s trustworthiness and attracting more visitors.

Please remember that these suggestions are not meant as harsh criticisms, but as improvements that would attract visitors like me (the non-gothics) and influence us to purchase items from you and not your competitors.

Overall, the impression I get is that this is an amateur web site which significantly reduces my sense of trustworthiness. I would have serious second thoughts about submitting my credit card number. Even if you consider yourself an amateur web site designer, there are several improvements that could be implemented to make the site appear more professional and trustworthy.

I would lose the wallpaper. Unless it’s a subtle recurring pattern, wallpaper tends to detract from websites and can make reading text difficult. Significantly reduce or eliminate completely the use of animated gifs, including the animated buttons. These things do not add to the site (only download time) and typically are viewed as annoyances. All of these things typify an amateur web site and reflect how web sites looked five or more years ago.

Strive for consistency throughout the site (see for example). Some of your interior pages do not have headings, while others (Trashy Wench) have completely different headings. Also, use the same links (buttons) throughout the site and keep them in the same place. Don’t make visitors click back to your front page each time they want to navigate to another section of your site. If you can, customize your shopping cart pages to look more like your web site.

Exclude any “under construction” pages like your “flags” page. Do not make your visitors navigate to a page that tells them you do not have anything there to show them-you are wasting their time.

Here are some suggestions for increasing traffic to your site. Include relevant keywords in the titles of all your pages-Google loves titles. Currently, your front page title is, “Shaddow Domain Gothic Treasures. You want blood? You got it!” The only relevant keyword in this title is “Gothic.” Unless your company name could be considered a keyword that potential visitors would type, exclude it from the title. Also, try for more specific keywords in your other pages-“candle holders” is much too broad a keyword. There are probably hundreds of thousands of companies selling candle holders, but many less companies selling “gothic candle holders.” Also try using less “gothic” keywords such as “novelty” and “Halloween party favors.” This may further broaden the range of demographics you bring to your site.

Include ALT tags on your images (including navigation buttons). Fill these with keywords as well. You also need to increase the frequency of keywords you are using in the body of your site. The small amount of text currently on your front page only contains the keyword “gothic” twice.

If your marketing budget allows it, consider using a pay-per-click service like Overture. If you pay for one of the top three placements on Overture, you’ll show up on something like 80% of the popular search engines. A quick bit of research on the Overture web site shows that the keyword “gothic” was searched for 73,755 in May 2003. The number one placement for “gothic” is costing thirty-four cents per click, placements two and three are paying less than fifteen cents per click.

I hope you find my comments useful. Good luck!

Peer reviewers volunteer their time and effort to help other site owners with their websites. Please take time to visit this reviewer’s site and say that you think what they’re doing is valuable to the web business community. If you’d like your site reviewed, send an email to