Anomaly! Why my Top Competitors have a Poor Interface?

Alex
I just did my first roofing website and when I did competitor research I couldn't find a single good roofing website from a marketing/design/development standpoint.
Is there some weird anomaly that causes all the roofing websites to be so bad? Or something that allows bad roofing websites to rank better than others?
I've never seen a high competition industry with such high margins have so many bad websites ranking so well.
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Erin Morris 🎓
Certain industries don't need a polished site to bring in business. I've seen this, I'm a web designer. And I'll go so far as to say some industries even benefit from a crappy site. Like for example if I'm just wanting a roof for the best price I'm not going with the fancy website business.
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Ethan » Erin Morris
This!
Some local service owners don't want a fancy looking website because they're afraid it makes them look "too expensive" and scares off potential customers.
Alex
Don't require it sure – but I would think the better website definitely helps and a bad one doesn't benefit them. I'm not saying it needs to be overly artistic – but should at least do something right. I have industrial clients that want a simple website – but it should still meet the technical requirements and not be broken.
Tad » Erin Morris
Exactly my thoughts.
Alex » Tad
I am curious about this – you aren't saying you don't look for the best website you are saying you actually prefer when the business has a bad website?
Tad » Alex
Depends on the industry. For industries where I feel like people get screwed over a lot (roofing, bathroom refinishing, HVAC, flooring, etc), if I see an amazing website I immediately think I'm going to get bent over. Example – I had my roof replaced 2 years ago by a company called "express roofing" – they had the ideal combination: high ratings online, good prices, and very mediocre website. I might be an anomaly but I do 99% of home related work myself simply because I feel like I'm getting ripped off by most companies to do simple jobs. Around here we like to say it's $500 just to get a contractor to start up his truck. When I see a super sophisticated website, I tend to steer away from that company – that $$ came from somewhere!
Alex » Tad
Huh, that is interesting. I still feel like a simple website can be performant and not cost a lot. Or maybe I just don't charge enough lol.

Patryk
Some industries just don't have time to get website because they have sh…d of work to do, which they can't even scale to do more/outsource. Website is just like a business card for them.

Alex
But since it is a high competition area for both Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Adwords there are at least enough people building websites to drive up costs and competition. So why are so many of them paying so much in marketing traffic to the website and none on the website itself?

Roger
It was discovered decades ago that ugly sites can sell more. Part of it might be faster page speeds, part of it is lack of on-page distractions and part of it is getting site visitors to focus on performing a conversion related action.
https://www.searchenginejournal.com/do-ugly-sites-sell/342203/
Do Ugly Sites Convert Better?

Alex
Interesting. Though part of what I was judging as bad is that they have long load times and mobile lightspeed scores in the 20s and lack appropriate phone numbers and Call-To-Action (CTA).
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Roger » Alex
A roofing job is a big deal. People don't really rely on a website blurb or Yelp reviews. Word of mouth is a big deal.
Local sites can get really far on word of mouth, NextDoor recommendations, and Angie's List.
I know a local type company that was penalized by Google that went on to greater (10x) success by focusing on local fundamentals, word of mouth, etc.
Alex » Roger
Yeah they can do well in other areas – I guess my main question here is can they do well on Google? Or is there a reason the bad websites are ranking so well? Because there seems to be a surprizing gap there. Kinda curious how the page experience update affects some of these things.
I also personally feel like even if your business is network based you need a good website to look established and professional.
Roger » Alex
Page Experience factors are small and will continue to be a small factor. Relevance to a user query will continue to have a strong impact.
https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-discusses-core-web-vitals-update/397319/
Google On Expected Impact of Core Web Vitals Update
Alex » Roger
Ah interesting. Thanks for sharing. I'm more developer oriented than Search Engine Optimization (SEO) oriented so I was hoping it would be a more significant impact.
Roger » Alex
Developers are in high demand right now. SEO users do not necessarily have the skills to cope with this. Some SEO users are recommending fast servers and Content Delivery Networks (CDN)s, but that does not address the underlying Core Web Vitals (CWV) issues which are tied to the code, which is where the devs come in.
Alex » Roger
Yeah fast servers are more a necessity than a fix. It took me a while to get some of the Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) issues fixed but now I am consistently getting sites to 85+ mobile and 98 desktop with too much effort. I can hit 97 mobile and 99 desktop if I do lots of caching but that can be a headache and not sure if it is worth it.
I build on Craft Content Management System (cms) so everything is custom – and it has native image transforms – which is nice because clients can't break it and don't have to load optimized images. I add in transforms for each image to automatically scale and convert to webp for desktop and mobile, set media queries to set the image height above the fold for various screen sizes, defer all loading except for the critical Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and dynamically load the critical css per page and that works for everything I have. Not incredibly difficult, but is definitely time consuming.
WP though would be a headache with all the resource calls. I usually have 35-45 resource calls for a design heavy site. So many of these WP sites I see have over 100 from all the plugins. That would be a mess.
So long version to this question. Are SEO users having a difficult time getting green on Google speed? I have been wondering how much this actually matters and if others are doing better or worse. I've figured it out but it feels like each year adds another thing we have to spend time on for every site.
Also considering building a plugin to do all of that automatically but not sure if it is worth the time.
Roger » Alex
A plugin would be worth the time. Publishers and SEO users love plugins, lol, because so many people are struggling to get the CWV scores up as there is no simple solution, has to essentially be hand crafted.
Page Speed is relatively easy but the CWV scores rely on code fixes because they're based on real-world downloads on actual mobile devices, which means they are subject to 4G/3G speeds and device speed.
Gutenberg is soon releasing with Full Site Editor capabilities, albeit at a minimum viable version level, and it supposedly is lighter and faster than the regular version. Seems to me it's the future and maybe by the fall of this year or beginning of next, more sites will begin migrating to Gutenberg, imo. WP Rocket mentioned that Gutenberg loads CSS for all blocks, whether used or not. So there's still some bloat to remove.
Alex » Roger
Honestly I don't use WP at all and it all seems bloated to me. I know it is an essential tool for most SEO users but I am so glad I don't have to use it or deal with its issues. Craft is super fast and clean.

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Oliver
What's new to you is new to a customer for 6 months after, that's what we work with.
Some industries it seems more like 6 years it's new to them.
Interesting insight, thanks for sharing.

Alex
I'm not sure I follow what you mean.
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Noah Lopata 🎓
Business owners in service industries often fall prey to web design and marketing companies that focus just on their industry. They mistakingly perceive that because all this companies do is roofer sites they must be the best. They are also busy doing roofs and don't have time to mess around with websites as it is not their area of expertise.
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Alex
Yeah that is what their previous website was. Which was bad and expensive.
Noah Lopata 🎓 » Alex
Yup. Same with electricians, plumbers, etc

Crossan
The reality is the mobile phone has reduced the need for a great looking site as its all squeezed into a small screen. It's hard to tell a great looking site from an average looking site on the phone. Obviously, you will need content, images and a Call-To-Action (CTA), but apart from that average sites on mobile can do the job

Alex
So does the mobile lightspeed test not matter? They are all testing in the 20s
Crossan
Well, the experts say speed does matter but the question is how much? So many people regurgitate theories without actually testing them. I do it myself and then I think when have I actually tested that theory.
Jim » Crossan
I agree with this response and feel the same way… 4" of real estate is all we get for 50-80% of our visitors… FYI…the Pay-Per-Click (PPC) pricing is very high for roofing… they bid high…

Klok
Ugly or simple?
Anyway: Simple sites make you look cheap?

Alex
More broken. Slow, lacking basic technical and marketing aspects, broken links etc.
Simple is fine. Sometimes simple is better.
Klok
Plenty of chance then to generate good results.
I'd go for it, and let sleeping dogs lie…

Jenni
I've hired 20+ contractors over the past year and I can tell you right now that the worst ones were the ones with great websites. The ones with the worst websites and those who didn't even have a website were by far the best. The one with by far the best website we ended up having to report to the police because he was all kinds of crazy and deliberately put holes in our walls.
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Steve
I have friends who are roofers. They don't even have websites and barely have a facebook presence. And they have more work than they can do and just laugh when.people call them trying to sell leads.
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Cravy
Not just roofers, but the entire "lead gen" industry is full of garbage. It feels like for every 1 decent agency there's 1000 garbage freelancers.
Woods
Yeah.. there is a bit of a correlation that great contractors don't have websites, because they don't need them. They stay busy through referrals and other marketing… many local businesses just don't need or want online marketing. I tried to get my cousin to set up a Google My Business (GMB) profile and make his site better for his pub, but he said "why bother? we are packed every night and everyone local knows who we are."

Wyna » Woods
Very good point. Driving more leads to a business that operates at capacity is pointless, and even detrimental if customers struggle to get served.

Carco
These people will + do own roofs too👇🏽👇🏽👇🏽👇🏽👇🏽
Millennials + Gen Z demand high quality digital experiences + do more research before selecting vendors.
I will bet on well defined Information Architecture, Clean Designs, Click to Call, Click to SMS, Integrated chat, relevant FAQs, Reviews, Portfolios and fast loading responsive sites all day.
Most wont talk to their parents without texting first, I find it near impossible that they would call a local roofer at lunch time if they can engage digitally first.
Igor
Because they don't care about web presence.
Danny
I have an av company for residential/churches and similar position. Payed for website $2k + with poor content and design.
Now in the position of trying to do it myself (long journey). Sure I'll make many mistakes but hopefully afterwards I have the skill set to create a few more local websites around my niche.
If any of you guys have advice on who to follow, groups, what todo and what not todo. I would appreciate it.

Alex
There is honestly a lot to learn and I have never seen anyone do their own site and come out well. After getting burned by a bad agency a lot go this route but the opportunity cost that comes with it can be severe. The best advice for DIY is to actually learn how to code, read tons of books on marketing, buy the proper tooling, and always view your business from the perspective of a prospective client and never from the owner. A look what I did personality to web design is a disaster 100% of the time. The problem isn't the things you feel like you don't know and need to learn, the problem is in the things you don't even know that you need to know and usually can only come from doing this every day since the industry changes so fast.
Or as an example – the sites I did 4 years ago were god awful but I thought were ok. The sites I did 2 years ago I thought were good but I'm now ashamed of. That is a perpetual growing process that only comes from doing lots of websites.
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Bullock
Mmmm. I remember designing my site late night through 3 am. I had just finished the perfect symmetry in the hero area…
What I was unaware about was how many people it would inspire.
HTTPS://staydryroofing.com
This is my original design. I've now found 14 websites online that are strikingly similar to mine yet claim it as their brilliant piece of work.some of them are in deep doo doo 💩
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DanCrys » Bullock
You have raving fans in this very thread lol – nothing more flattering than lifting whole sections
But to your credit, stay dry is one of the top sites out there
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Alex
That site does look good and definitely looks better than the roofing sites I have been seeing. It is a bit slow though – does that not affect your rankings at all?
We are using images from the same set for metal roofing lol.
I have seen lots of sites that look similar to that across industries. Did they still your actual code and exact design or just elements of it?
Bullock » Alex
You copied dude. Don't get me going
Alex » Bullock
You're joking right?

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Daniel
This is actually a really intelligent question that leads into many curiosities. First of all what is "good design" something you like? Or something that matches what the current status quo would say is good because it's what everyone is doing? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder or it should be anyway instead we tend to allow ourselves to be indoctrinated by what others have deemed correct instead of remaining authentic. Now, with that issue covered we move on.
I know what you mean it's not just roofing industry, it's the service industry all together practically … I believe it's because when it comes to service companies people do not give a shit about site aathetics. They only care about 3 things, human branding which increases trust factor for conversion sake big time, credentials works and results in the same thing more conversions, and reviews. I call it the 1 2 3 punch and it's the first 3 things that I accomplish on my clients service company site pages, all of them.
Another part of this also is why let's forget about for now what happens if you go ahead and build an ultra modern what is considered currently whatever that look is beautiful website that is far more glorious aesthetically speaking than any other competitors? Now that question would be an incredible case study. I personally believe you would therefore end up with far less conversions because people did not expect it from a service company they're used to seeing exactly what you're talking about. So if you set yourself apart by designing as if you're designing for Nike or some ultra modern high-end brand you actually take yourself out of the game. So I believe in matching the industry. This is why my number one clients main service company site is really not all that nice. The one two three punch is always presented nice but beyond that it doesn't matter much and I don't sweat coming up with really fancy ultra modern design. He did go from zero to multi-millionaire so I guess it worked.
Post-edit it gives me an excuse to be lazy also LOL honestly knowing that it really doesn't make much of a difference in terms of conversion rates. If you hit a homerun with the one two three punch they will call. Still I am going to be redesigning because sometimes even I with My philosophy that I've stated look at some of the pages and LMAO yeah. Like whoa buddy went a little too far with that philosophy here we need to do something better than this LOL

Poxon » Daniel
This joins nicely on to rank. If the impression is the site is expensive then it's not the best match for a user therefore not the best / most relevant site

Bogdan
there are websites I've done and used in time, on which I had to "downgrade" the aspect and functionalities many times, until to get to a point where the conversions started to pop. is not only the old saying in affiliation "ugly sells", but many times a very well dressed and shaved website might give the impression of expensive, pretentious… etc. but what I say here is more about conversions, not rankings. why those sites rank? probably because they say exactly what need to be said, simple, fast loading and with good CTR and no bounce back to SERP. probably also, doing so fine, they are there for a long time – plenty of time to increase their authority (or backlinks profile, if you like this term more)
Charles
It looks like companies can openly lie about prices in their Google search results and hide lots of extra fees. Even if companies keep doing this type of black SEO Google doesn't seem to deal with the sites quick enough. I reported a few sites months back and nothing happened at all. If the number of clicks is high on something Google will move it to the top but they also look at a bunch of other things. From testing, I can see speed makes a bit of difference but not a lot. Sites can move up a few spots but it's difficult to keep the position just based on speed. High quality backlinks seem to matter but lots of little ones don't that much. I tested getting a few hundred on for a site vs 1 on a big site and the website with just one good link was higher up in Google search. Sometimes terrible sites, stuffed with H1 tags, get all the way up to the first position. It's weird but that's Google search for you lol. It's just annoying here how portal sites are taking over and the company pages are missing from the top search results a lot of the time. There are a few adverts for the rich companies but why do portals also get such high rankings? I'm still learning about all this stuff but it is sad how nice clean sites from good companies are getting pushed out over content filled spammy sites. Google please do something. Got a link to your site? I wanna have a look.
Clint
Don't underestimate the value of a bad website. Ugly basic designs sometimes test to convert better than new shiny stuff.
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