The shoe in the photograph is the Dunlop Volley Classic tennis shoe. A black one. If you’ve met me in the flesh, you may have noticed that it’s my default footwear. Comfortable. Practical. Cheap.
Thing is, the Volley website, which I’ll talk about shortly, exhibits everything but those attributes. Fail.
I don’t play tennis, or any sport for that matter. The thing about the Volley Classic, though, is that its rubber sole offers a firm grip on all sorts of surfaces. Even in the wet. Indeed, I’m told that people in certain SEKRIT professions like them because they’re perfect for scurrying across rooftops on dark, rainy nights.
And they’re black.
If you use a black felt-tip marker, you can colour in that white flash at the rear of the shoe so it’s completely black, and at night you’re totally invisible just like a ninja.
From the ankles down.
The reason I’m telling you all this is because this morning I bought a replacement pair of these truly awesome shoes. I’m sick of my chiropractor giving me grief about the holes in my current pair. Yesterday my usual supplier was out of stock, at least in size 11. But just now I bought new shoes — before 9am on a Sunday — without even getting out of bed.
It’s a lesson in the importance of making sure your website is properly indexed on Google, and that you concentrate on what really helps make a sale.
The thing is, these are simple lessons which need to be repeated over and over again — because so many “web designers” just don’t get it.
I typed “black dunlop volley sydney” into Google. I clicked on the first link in the search results because it looked Australian. It was a page at a shopping aggregator site. It had a photo of the shoe and I went “Yes, that’s what I want to buy.” It linked to a shop which looked trustworthy because they listed their physical address and had clear policies. The price was cheaper than my usual supplier, so I bought a pair right then.
Elapsed time: 45 seconds.
Actually, it was longer than that, because I got out of bed to tell ’Pong how awesome the Internet was and he told me to fuck off because he was running late for his video shoot but that’s not the point. This is my story and the truth is irrelevant.
The point is that I relied totally on Google to send me somewhere useful. And because Google delivered, I didn’t spend a single second looking any further.
The point is also that I trusted The Tennis Shop not because their website has fancy graphics — it doesn’t — but because they told me who they were and how they do business.
Every dollar spent on making sure those basics are right helps sell product.
Every dollar spent on graphics, animations and other distractions is a dollar wasted. Indeed, if the fancy crap slows down the process of me being able to buy something, you’re actually spending money to reduce your sales.
And with this in mind, something needs to be said…
Dunlop? Your website for Volleys is fucked. Please take your agency out the back, shoot them all twice in the head, and dump them in a river.
I wanted to link directly to a page explaining the Volley Classic. You know, show the folks a few pictures, tell ’em a bit of history. Instead, there’s some tiny little drop-down menu where I select “shoes”, and then you piss me around with some lame-arsed Flash menu where I have to pick my “environment” (huh?) and leg type (double huh?) without you even telling me the name of the shoes!
And how the fuck am I meant to link to anything when everything has one URL,
http://www.volleys.com.au/flash/index.html? What use is that?
And, to top it off, you fucking well play country music at me at 9.30 on a Sunday morning! Did I fucking well ask for country music? I want to look at your shoes!
What sort of morons are you? Are you deliberately trying to drive me away from your website? Because that’s what you achieved! I will never be back.
35 Replies to “Google Rank and website basics: a practical example”
A classic Stilgherrian rant — Just what I needed to cheer me up on a grey Sunday morning. 🙂
Ditto the music. Man I hate that unrequested jukebox stuff, it should NEVER autoplay. Especially THAT noise they have on Volley. And they have no way to even generate a link direct to what you want
They make volley’s in black?
Yep I agree, about the shoes, (which I have recently purchased a pair of myself) and the site. It must be up there for an award as one of the worst sites ever.
Agree wholeheartedly about suppliers, woeful/cluttered web sites and lost custom. It’s lovely to come across shops who do understand that sometimes (oft times?) all that is needed to bring in customers and repeat customers, is simplicity. And yes, an url we can tweet or post by way of word of mouth advertising. Nothing worse than having to type “click on the 3rd tab, scroll down, enter your [info] …etc”. It’s bliss when one discovers an online shop that is easy & quick to navigate and shop. And follows up with quick delivery of the purchased goods.
Of late I’ve found my online purchasing to be directed over the ditch to NZ. The Kiwis seem to have grasped what customers want and need from their online shops. Ta for the tip about The Tennis Shop.
Thank you all. I’ll let you know how the service and delivery side of The Tennis Shop goes.
As an aside, this morning when I Google for “black dunlop volley sydney” this page is result number 4. That’s because I’ve been continually adding unique and (perhaps) useful new content to the site, the sort of thing which others might link to. A slow and steady build of the Google Rank (I assume, since I don’t look it up), not dodgy SEO trickery.
Dunlop’s own wankish Volleys website isn’t even in the first dozen pages of results. Further fail.
@Sean the Blogonaut: Yep, they’ve made Volley Classics in black for years, but they’re hard to find. Most sports stores don’t know they exist.
Easily available in shops on Brunswick St Fitzroy for southerners wanting an old school meatspace retail experience. 😉
@Fitzroyalty: Even more evidence for how fucked-up Sydney is. Sigh.
Fantastic rant, and fantastic choice of shoes.
The Bonds site is just as bad.
In fact, most every Pacific Brands site is atrocious.
I just sent an email to firstname.lastname@example.org since it seems to be the most relevant contact:
I wonder how long it’ll take them to react?
I prefer the denim ones with the orange stripe, but I agree that they are pretty much the best shoe in the whole world.
And yes, all of the Pac Brands websites are awful.
Pretty sure Tequila is involved.
Oh, the agency not the drink!
@George Black: Ah, so that’d be this Tequila rather than that tequila — though the former doesn’t (currently) list the Volleys site in their portfolio.
Nice one Stilgherrian: its the basics that matter and its all too often lost how to execute the simple things that users actually want. If we put you and Simon van Wyk together we’d probably see a lot more effective executions and lot less flash and extraneous rubbish driving executions…
ahhh yes, user experience & usability. The last thing considered in 95% of website project planning and the first thing cut from the budget… I could piss and moan all day, but I won’t cause it’s nearly the weekend and I’ve gotta get my blk DVs
Your view doesnt necessarily represent the reason consumer facing web sites exist (and I had nothing to do with it and am against Flash wankery) – what if the site isn’t there to sell shoes? What if the strategy is a deliberate one, to just focus on the brand elements and ensure that it has nothing to do with funneling users to a purchase in order that they don’t alienate their retailers/distributors.
Everyone who knows about advertising will disagree with you when you write “Every dollar spent on graphics, animations and other distractions is a dollar wasted.” Great companies that have very successful sales, such as Apple, spend a lot of money on distractions because they ehance the brand. Ditto Nike.
Great brands don’t actually NEED to be at the top of Google, it is more important for emerging brands. That said, a brand manager would have to be a moron to not want to be at the top of Google, but SEO should never compromise overall business objectives.
P.S. The fact that they aren’t indexed properly on Google is terrible, but don’t jump to conclusions about what the site was for unless you were in the room when the strategy was devised.
P.P.S Their branding obviously is money well spent, as even though you had a poor experience, you still went out of your way to buy another pair!
Once all of your comments found their way to me, I couldn’t help letting you know about my site http://www.findmyshoes.com.au
Yes, it may be from Pacific Brands, but I’m willing to brave the user feedback & let you know about it…
Volley Classics are available for $40 with free shipping Australia wide if you choose standard freight.
Get on it!!!!
[Stilgherrian notes: This is the comment I accidentally deleted because it was automatically tagged as spam. I recreated it with the original text on Monday 18 May at 10.45am, but I’m not sure of the original post time. Anyway, that’s why it’s appearing out of sequence and people haven’t responded to it.]
P.P.S Their branding obviously is money well spent, as even though you had a poor experience, you still went out of your way to buy another pair!
Seems to me Stilgherrian was buying and wearing the shoe, not the brand. Explain why you think their “branding spend” was the reason he bought another pair?
The product and the brand can’t be seperated. I didn’t say that the branding was the reason he bought another pair, as he clearly likes the shoes, but the poor website did not in actual fact deter him.
Damn! I was just clearing out the spam comments, making sure nothing was incorrectly flagged as spam, when I found a comment by someone connected to the group of companies we’re talking about and linking to another online retailer which stocks Volleys. I’m damn sure I pressed “approve”, but now I can’t see the comment anywhere in the database. Poo. My apologies.
I’ll look again in the morning but, Random Person, if you see this please feel free to re-post your comment.
I’ll also read and respond to the rest of the comments tomorrow.
OK, I’ve re-created that comment from Kate which I accidentally deleted… and my shoes arrived this morning. By Registered Post, too, so another silver star to The Tennis Shop for building trust.
@Kate: So findmyshoes.com.au is an online store for the many shoe brands owned by Pacific Brands? Cool.
Some quick feedback: If someone’s already looking at the Volleys website, a big fat “buy now” button right next to each shoe would significantly reduce the friction of a potential sale. At the moment, as far as I can tell the only option is a phone number to call to find my local stockist — so I have to call, then figure out how to contact or get to that shop and so on. That’s a much bigger set of hurdles to jump.
It’s great that Pacific Brands has responded. I assume that’s because I emailed you, rather than because you’re monitoring social media like blogs?
@Peter: There’s two separate activities here, and I admit I’ve jumbled them in the one blog post.
First, I wanted to buy specific shoes. A good Google position and providing trust-building information meant The Tennis Shop got the sale. Quickly and efficiently.
Second, I looked at the official Volleys website for linkage to the shoe’s history so I could write about it. That website annoyed me. I couldn’t link to specific information, “cute” but non-obvious choices impeded my navigation, and the whole thing seemed to be style over substance. It didn’t seem particularly optimised to making a sale, or even telling me about the product.
So it wasn’t that “the poor website did not in actual fact deter” me, because I’d already made my purchase. The Volley brand website didn’t even appear on my radar during that process.
It was more that the website, in typical agency style, was all about what they wanted to tell me, rather than what I might have wanted to find out. Basically, it wasted my time.
Is it really of any value to anyone to be able to look at a photograph of a show with different amounts of dirt on it?
There’s a lot in your comment, thank you Peter, but I’ll pick up on one more point…
I disagree that “the product and the brand can’t be separated”. Perhaps I’m in a minority here, but I’m buying a shoe — a particular construction of canvas and rubber that’s served me well in the past.
When I made that choice, years ago, I didn’t care one bit that it was called “Volley” and that the brands “Dunlop” and “Volley” have a particular history. I picked up a shoe, looked at how it was made, tried it on for feel and bought it. It worked well and was a good price, so I bought another pair when the first wore out. And again. And again.
What you say has merit. But doesn’t it contradict all we are believing and selling about the importance of online marketing. You bought your brand DESPITE the online branding. I note that others are saying same. I like to think quality is its own branding. Good luck with your shoes — that is really the important thing, isn’t it.
@madcom: I did indeed buy the product despite its online brand marketing — but that’s because I chose the product many years ago. I’m now well past “marketing” and up to “sales”. My information-gathering was more about mechanical tasks: where can I buy it and how much will it cost?
I suppose, then, that The Tennis Shop had to persuade me to buy from them. Being listed in the first Google search result I saw, the myshopping.com.au aggregator, solved that in their favour in seconds. As did having that trust-building information on their website.
Now if I’d discovered that Dunlop Volleys were no longer in production, I’d be back at square one. Marketing might have become important. Then again, I know what I’d have actually done: gone to Paddy’s markets and bought the first halfway-decent black tennis shoe I found.
Quality is indeed its own branding — but I daresay you won’t hear an agency ever tell its client that, because there’s no money to be made that way.
@Stilgherrian: I agree we need to add the links directly through to the product from branded sites, and we’ve actually commenced this process & have links through from hush puppies, sachi & julius marlow, but Volleys is WIP with the team.
I monitor social media for FMS & like to respond where I can, but I must admit on this occasion the email made it through first (via a few people).
PS. If you’ve not yet looked at the site, don’t look at it now, it’s down… we’re having some issues the developers are working on. 🙁
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