Home Depot Needs To Wake Up

by TheMadHat on January 23, 2007

I have received some positive feedback from my post on Blockbuster sucking at everything so I think I’m going to start a theme. Each week I’ll do at least one post slamming a company that should be on top of the game. Today’s example of “how your marketing executives don’t know crap” is Home Depot. **Sidebar: Home Depot didn’t make me mad like Blockbuster. Other than the fact it’s so big I get lost in it, Home Depot is a great store. They just are a little bit lost in the search arena.

Part 1: User Experience

Not to bad in this department. They have a fairly easy to use menu system. The number of categories they have is a little daunting, but they do a good job making the navigation intuitive. They have good descriptions and well written user reviews. The shopping cart and checkout process appear to be straight forward and don’t make me jump through any hoops (up to the customer information screen anyhow). The only glitch as far as this goes was the strange item recommendation they gave me. I put a DeWALT 3750 PSI Gas Pressure Washer with 13HP Honda Engine in my shopping cart. When I arrived at the cart page, there is an area that gives me more “items I might also like”. Since I’m buying a gas pressure washer I apparently might also like a Westinghouse 27 In. Widescreen LCD HDTV. Huh? Is this just a random product selection or something? Maybe they should think about building some product associations into the database. Or maybe I’m supposed to watch the TV through the living room window while I pressure wash the side of the house.

Part 2: Paid Search

We’re starting down a steep slope now. User experience was a B, paid search is a C-. I didn’t delve too deep into this area, and I’m not a contractor so I don’t know where you would normally find building supplies, but that’s the point. Your average home owner that wants to put up a fence might not be sure where to get supplies, so it’s reasonable to believe that they might go in and search for [lumber] or [fencing]. Nope, no ads and according to SpyFu they aren’t bidding on it. I know they have lumber at Home Depot, wish I could find out a little more. Okay, well I hired someone to build the fence, I’m going to lay the bricks for a patio. Where do I get the bricks? Let’s search. I type in [bricks] and I see the Home Depot ad…good deal. I click on it and where do I end up? Paving stone installation. That’s not what I was looking for people, see you later. I want to buy some bricks dammit. Just because eBay and Amazon bid on every word in the dictionary doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for everyone. If you don’t have bricks, don’t bid on it. Bid on [brick installation] and [patio installation] and those types of more targeted terms. Enough with the PPC, I gotta get to the good part.

Part 3: Organic Search

Paid search was a C-, organic search is an F+…if there is such a thing. Here’s where they really blow chunks. Like the kid from the Goonies. First off, look at this URL:

http://www.homedepot.com/prel80/HDUS/EN_US/diy_main/pg_diy.jsp?CNTTYPE=PROD_META&CNTKEY=

SuperFeatures2%2fAppliances%2fPM_Appliance_Promo3&cm_sp=creative-_-homepage-_-hero-_-applian
ces_super_10percoffenergystar_01162007&BV_SessionID=@@@@0992718361.1169532890@@@@&BV_E
ngineID=ccceaddjmhilddfcgelceffdfgidgnk.0&MID=9876&pos=p01

No, I am not making that up. Hello SEO 101…welcome to the show. Do I really need to say anything else about that one? Moving on, they have enough presence of mind to cloak the product pages. I take a look at the normal code for us users and what to my wandering eyes should appear? — frameset onload=”FramesetOnLoad();” Nice, so they have enough brains to properly cloak their pages, just not enough to come up with a more friendly solution than that or to fix the URL structure.

So Home Depot probably sells a lot of home appliances. Dishwashers, refrigerators and the like. Forget about the general terms like those, they aren’t anywhere to be seen. When users start the search for a home appliance, they are going to start with a more general term. They will narrow it down later to a model. Home Depot doesn’t start in the beginning of the search cycle, leaving that completely untouched. Fine, let’s say Mr. Customer has narrowed down his choices to a “Maytag Jetclean Dishwasher”. Since they have a whole page dedicated to this product, I’m thinking at least top five is where they should be. Maytag first, then it’s a shootout between Lowes, Home Depot, Sears, and maybe a couple others. No sir, wrong again. Position 37 in Google. Yea, everyone will find that. I’ve already driven to Sears before my browser even gets to page three. Okay, let’s get a little more detailed with our search in case Joe Schmoe still hasn’t found it elsewhere. “Maytag® Jetclean® II Convertible/Portable Dishwasher” copied right off their heading. Oops, bad news again. They are finally breaking page one but way down at the bottom. Granted there are some heavy weights in front of them like NextTag and Yahoo Shopping but they still should still be above the shopping portals…I mean they are the source, not the airplane catalog.

Even though I’ve probably burned my bridge to Home Depot, it would be nice to work for such a powerful company. Just think of the trust that homedepot.com has, and the ease of getting solid authority links. It seems anyone with a basic understanding of SEO could have this domain sitting at or near the top for just about everything they sell. The question is why they are sitting around letting this fall to the wayside.

Stay tuned next week, and if anyone has any ideas on more bridges I can take out let me know.

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