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Evaluation of 1,308 Building Trades Websites – You Decide –

Junk Computers

We’ve talked a lot about technology – tools that could change how you do things. Today, we’re going to talk about technology you probably already have: websites. Labor Rising has looked under the hood of 1,308 websites, from internationals to locals and even most Labor/Management websites. Almost every local has a website, be it good or bad. We’ve researched most of them. Seriously. Many of them are made by just a handful of vendors. Is that a good thing? Well, if those vendors are building amazing sites with all the functionality you need, then it’s a great thing. But, what if they’re not? Do some homework yourself. Scroll down to bottom of any websites Homepage and the website vendor is listed. Now visit many other BT unions websites in your respective Building Trades & District Council, you will get a sense of who these vendors are. Just because a website is NEW doesn’t mean it’s GOOD!

Doesn’t have to be state of the art – however it does need to be contemporary and capable in the 21st century. Would you know if you were missing some key components? What we’ve found in the websites we’ve looked at in class and in our research is that many of our locals’ websites suffer from the same problems and the same missing components. And, in some cases, have extra pieces you may be paying for and don’t really need. But you’re not a website expert, so how do you know? Let’s start with some questions we answer over and over. Ask these questions about your own site and see how it stacks up.

Understand that there are differences between a website designer and developer – however most of the top 5/6 website vendors selling to the BT may act in both capacities – so they know what they are doing and more importantly – not doing, and taking some nice checks!

Can you easily edit the site?

 You should be able to login and make the changes you need to without having to wait on (and pay) a vendor to do it for you. Most modern sites are run on “content management systems.” That means you can login and make changes relatively easily using some kind of admin interface. You should have the access to add/change/remove content. This is not something you should be paying extra for – it should be the platform upon which the site is built.

There are any number of technical reasons why updating content is a good idea. But the obvious reason for adding new content is that you have new things to share with your audience. Whether that’s member information or news about your local, the whole point of a website is to share information. Without the ability to edit the site, you’re missing out on the main reason you built it in the first place.

11% of the 1,308 researched are in a content management platform. What is pure BS is that as unions upgrade, have new websites built – most are, still being built in older generation platform and we have even found 19 being built in FLASH – FLASH today – the word rip-off comes to mind!

How are people using the site?

Do you know how many visits you had last week? Do you know what pages they looked at? What posts they read? Have any idea how many of those were new visitors? Viewed your union contractors list? When you share new content, can you see how many people are interested in it? These are all measurements you should be concerned with. They take away the guessing and help you understand how people are truly interacting with your site. Knowing this can help you optimize the flow, create content people are actually interested in, and help you better understand your audience. There are a number of analytics platforms out there. Some are free. Others have a fee associated with them. A great place to start is Google Analytics. It is a free platform (that has some paid add-ons available) that is easy to setup, configure, and use. It provides a wealth of information about your site. (More than you will actually use!) It can be installed on any site and should be part of any decent website plan. Everything on the Internet is measurable. Not leveraging tools like this is akin to building a skyscraper without using power tools.

96% of the 679 participants from 365 unions attending Labor Rising/Labor Combat have NEVER heard of Google Analytic’s and/or are even aware they can see/get measurable matrix’s. This is past BS, and is one of 3 “red flags” that are common elements that our supposedly go to websites vendors conveniently missed telling us in the BT’s.

The simple and real fact here is that competing vendors – do not tell us how to measure what we pay for and there-fore we keep cutting checks based on incredibly incomplete information. It is not possible that all of us in the trades don’t know – the numbers support we are not being told on purpose.

Are people finding it when they look for it?

When someone searches for your local on Google, does your site come up in the results? It should. And it shouldn’t require SEO for that to happen. Search Engine Optimization (or SEO for short) is a paid service provided by any number of vendors. The service involves optimizing your local’s website for specific key terms and content so that it shows up in search results for those terms.

In a nutshell, Google wants to deliver the best results they can. (It’s how they make their money.) That means that if someone does a search for “Local 123,” your site should come up first because you are Local 123. Your site should be built in such a way as to make this happen and it should not be something you pay extra for.

We also want it to show up when people search the bullet points below. This is where content matters – don’t need to pay for SEO to do this – just hire a solid/credible vendor!

81% of the 1,380 websites researched had very poor content. Content is how someone searching finds/matches those related search items and finds us and what the BT is all about! The searcher CAN’T find what they searched “IF” our website does not have the content properly formatted on it – get it! Remember in the last Blog we had you do some practice. Here is that link to that Blog again:!6281&authkey=!AHeXcXwvSuJYHl8&ithint=file%2cdoc

So, why do people do searches on the Building Trades? To find:

  • info on our local – need content
  • what we do specifically – need content
  • training – need content
  • careers – need content
  • community outreach – need content
  • volunteerism – need content
  • blogs for authority in several areas – need content
  • green, sustainable, etc. – need content
  • union contractors’ listing – need content, not just name and info
  • videos – need content and formatting
  • pictures – need content and formatting
  • legislative announcements – need content and formatting

AND YET WHEN WE LOOK “UNDER THE HOOD” OF THE CURRENT WEBSITES TODAY – 81% of the time they literally have zero to very little content that makes our union’s website a formidable asset.

Contrary to the good old boy thinking regarding websites – they ARE NOT “build it and they will come” nice to have nuisances. Done well and inexpensively compared to what is typically being charged today; websites are formidable need to have assets that can make the union relevant in many areas and create authority. And the overwhelming majority sit passive, out of date and improperly used.

When people SEARCH the various items that would pertain to our respective trades – WE ARE NOT FOUND BECAUSE WE DO NOT PUT PROPER CONTENT IN PLACE ON OUR “mostly piss poor” WEBSITES.

The vendors that sell to the BT, now want you to believe you should pay even more with SEO for your local’s website – We are consistently finding $6,000 to $25,000 websites being built today. This is NOT a range of cost. Some pay $6 G’s for the same thing others pay $25 G’s or more. Solid website should be $3,000 to $5,000 in content management and typically enough pages and plugins for our purposes and be relevant for Google indexing.

If a vendor wants a UNION BT to use SEO on a local website – this is a big red flag!

SEO is a creditable marketing plan for our union contractors and our Labor Management groups to put union contractors in prime time search results to get more business for them and hours for us. Especially in the service and residential markets. Labor Rising/Labor Combat pioneered this use in the trades and have the only system to also develop of contractor’s presence in highly searched indexes related to construction.

For example: A residential/service union plumbing contractor, for instance, might want to ensure their site comes up for a term such as “water heater installation.” This is a direct business correlation: customers searching for the services of a plumber find Plumber X. They visit his site, call for service, and he gets paid. This makes Internet Marketing (including services such as SEO) a valuable business marketing tool for that plumbing contractor. That’s the standard we need to use here: will paying for Internet Marketing lead to increased revenue? For union websites NO – So why are we paying for it? For union contractors – with proper structure in place – YES!

If you have a satisfactory answer to all of these questions, then you might be on the right track. (You’d also be one of the exceptions to the rule, as most of the sites we have looked at do not pass these simple tests.)

If you don’t have good answers to all of these, then the question is, “Why not?” If you’re paying a vendor to build/manage your site, why aren’t they providing you with basic elements that any worthwhile website vendor would (and should) include? More to come!

“if you see a good fight – get in it”

Danny L Caliendo
Labor Rising/Labor Combat

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