Lebron James has a new website and its got a shit ton of problems. James coincided his announcement to return to Cleveland next season with the launch of lebronjames.com. Slate instantly published an article titled, “Lebron James’ Website is the HTML Apocalypse,” in which writer Josh Levin said the website was “an abomination.”
A few clicks around, and holy shit, Levin is right. From an SEO and marketing perspective I have even more to add.
lebronjames.com – The UX is Bizarre and Bad for SEO
Bad UX leads to high bounce rates and confusion – essentially visitors abandon your site rather quickly. Google takes the lack of time spent on page and lack of visitor actions as an indicator of poor content – which it should – but which is also not always the case.
Sometimes content can be great, but getting there or viewing it can be wack, and therefore people leave.
LeBron’s website has two navigation arrows on his splash page that are too subtle (they’re essentially see through) to really notice, and either zoom you down to the very bottom of his scrolling home page or back to the very top. There is no middle ground. The splash page begins with four photos of LeBron appearing sequentially and from right to left.
The next serious UX issue is a fantastic display of apathy – you have to scroll down to find any category navigation, or where anything actually is on the website. Are there even other pages besides the home page? Who knows!
The designer makes the assumption that we’ll figure this out on our own. Never do that with web design.
The last UX issue for lebronjames.com is simply unbelievable. Every single page you click through sends you to a new URL but gives you an instant replay of the home page experience (four reappearing photos of LeBron in sequential order). Levin writes, “This manner of needless repetition is a crucial component of the lebronjames.com user experience.”
Once again, it’s up to you to figure out where to go next. As Levin explains, “Unless you’re browsing lebronjames.com on a monitor that’s as tall as LeBron James, it’s entirely unclear how you’re supposed to move beyond this screen and get to learning anything beyond the fact that LeBron is just a kid from Akron, Ohio. “
lebronjames.com – SEO for URLs Would Help Crawlers
The first thing I notice about websites to see if they’re doing real SEO is the home page title tag, and then their URLs. LeBron’s URLs are so old school. They look like this – http://lebronjames.com/post/index?postname=post13#.U8Gh1JRX-uY.
Almost all of his pages are really posts – they don’t follow a page hierarchy, and they’re not categorized.
http://lebronjames.com/home/page?pagename=the-philanthropist is supposed to be the parent page for this URL – http://lebronjames.com/post/index?postname=post54#.U8GjNpRX-uY.
It should be written more like http://lebronjames.com/philanthropist/independence-promise-band.
Page hierarchy and website structure are a key component of SEO and passing page rank. LBJ’s designer has really hurt his site in this way.
The rest of LBJ’s URL’s include strange parameters with = and ? mark symbols. These URLs would help LBJ’s SEO efforts if they actually had keywords in them.
SEO Keywords for lebronjames.com
Bronsapiens wants Googlers to land on his website when they search for “LeBron James businesses,” “LeBron James charity” or “LeBron James will never beat the Spurs” (just kidding). He wants to let fans and potential partners know what he’s up to. (In that regard, he even has a map that tracks where he’s at hour by hour.) Other search queries he would like this site to be number one for are “LeBron James projects,” “LeBron James sponsors,” and “LeBron James philanthropy.”
Let’s look at his home page title tag and ask ourselves, does he have SEO in place that will help with what I just described above? The answer is no.
His site title tag is “The Official Website of Lebron James.” Well, no shit. There’s not another lebronjames.com so I think you’ve got that covered. How about, “Lebron James – Business, Philanthropy, Career and News” as the title tag? And while we’re at it, let’s use some of those words in the meta descriptions of his pages too.
Similarly, LeBron could include such keywords in his image alt text, copy writing and headers. That would just be the start. Interlinking relevant keywords and phrases throughout his site would also help his rankings. Schema tags would provide an added SEO boost.
Just to show you that his website is not getting relevant search traffic, check out the screenshot below. This could be because the site is so new, so we’ll have to check back in a few days.
lebronjames.com – Better Marketing and Calls to Action
What does LeBron want us to do besides read about him, which we can do on Wikipedia? What is the value add of us going straight to his website?
Why not have an email sign up in the middle of the splash page? Why not have it on other places around the website? You literally can’t subscribe to this website.
Also, where is the blog? What about a “latest news” section?
Does LeBron want us to join his charitable causes? Then put us on a separate email list on the philanthropy page, have a donate button and even add profile creation so he can understand the interests of his audience and get them involved in projects he cares about.
There’s no engagement on lebronjames.com and clearly no one in marketing helping with this site.
After viewing the source code, at least we know he’s got Google Analytics setup. Let’s hope he gets on webmaster tools as well.