Home – New Forums Tell me straight… Car website review

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  • #991016
    Ezza
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    • Total posts: 8
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    Hi all, while work has been a bit quiet on my end, I thought I’ll be productive in starting a motor vehicle review site which hopefully can create interested from car owners to share their thoughts and benefit other people looking to buy a car. At the same time it would be a bonus if I can generate advertisement revenue.

    I have gone through the experience of car hunting a few months ago, spending time researching but most of the advice available were from editorial which were good but I wanted to hear from actual car owners themselves. I dug up a few sites but they were mostly forum and it was a bit hard to source the information. Hence I think this could be a starting point to help car buyers and possible expand it into other areas as the site grows.

    This site is still a working in progress building off a base site containing the functionality I required. Currently I’m working on the branding, making slight changes to the site interface design where possible and populating the content as I go.

    Please review my site http://motorinsight.com.au

    Any feedback would be great, thanks in advance.

    In addition, I have a few general questions I would like to ask:
    1. Is there any other features you would like to see implemented on this site?

    2. Do you think the rating categories (eg. Design, Drive, Comfort etc) would help car buyers rather than a single star category?

    3. Any suggestions in getting people to share their views on my site?

    #1179577
    Craig.Smith
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    • Total posts: 167
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    Hi Eric,

    Congrats on getting the website up. With regard to the business model, the main issue I can see is that your up against some major players such as carsguide, caradvice, drive etc with a solid backing.

    Personally if I was looking for a car, I would probably already know what model I was interested in. I would want to read an expect review/article on the vehicle. Some of these review websites allow comments on the article/car which is good to read through. I would like to see an expert star rating on these editorial review sites plus an option for a user review to compare side by side. However I don’t think you are going down the path of doing expert reviews. The problem with user reviews is that often they are garbage e.g. if a user has owned a V8 all their life and they test drive a Mazda 2, they are going to say the power is rubbish.

    With regards to your website, I think your search features needs to be much more prominent. The search on these types of websites is everything. Currently your search box is off to the right and below the fold. Either you need a massive search box right in the middle of the homepage with search suggestions as the user types in their vehicle. Or you need a filtering column down a left navigation where you can filter on make, model, year etc.

    Good luck with it.

    #1179578
    Ezza
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    • Total posts: 8
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    Thank you so much Craig. Your advice is a great idea and wish I had the resources to make it happen but as you have thought I’m not aiming to go in that direction. I am more hoping the community could help in some way by providing their opinion.

    I do think the car owners feedback can be valuable, not just only talking about general aspect of the car but also evaluating in areas where an editorial review might be limited. eg. the wear and tear of the car over time, whats it like to drive in different weather condition, or can a baby car seat be easily fitted to a particular model, the cost of the servicing etc. I think these information may also be a deciding factor. The owners themselves are the people who drive the car regularly and they would have a good idea of the positive and negatives if they are honest and willing to share their views. Though your point is valid and if only I could take up on your suggestion of combining the reviewers and owners review all in one site it would be great. As with all types of reviews there will always be some bias point, I guess we have to either respect it or choose to go with the voice of the majority and if we still don’t agree, we’ll go with our own instinct. Having said that your suggestion opens up other ideas which I could investigate, thank you for giving me your helpful honest opinion. I’ll continue working on it and see where it leads me.

    I’m looking into putting a bigger search bar. Great to have a second eye on it. :)

    #1179579
    Zava Design
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    • Total posts: 1,463
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    Just some insights on creating an online community which may help you from an overall business model perspective…

    I’ve been involved in building and/or trying to build a number of online communities over the years, and it’s a very hard thing to do. “Back in the day” when you were the first in some area to arrive, that gave you a head start and if you implemented it well and put a lot of time and/or money into the promotion of it, you could do well (these forums are evidence of this).

    Nowadays it’s much harder as there are so many options online in many areas of interest, your’s especially. And going on a few recent examples of online communities I either started or worked with a client to grow, it seems that Facebook has well and truly taken over custom sites for many types of community groups. It’s just “easier” for users to join up to a Facebook group than a new website, and they seem far more willing to contribute via FB too. So you may want to consider taking a step back and starting with a facebook group and go from there, or at the very least running a facebook group alongside the website, but with an equal amount of time put in on both.

    With facebook you can also promote to a highly targeted audience, based on geography, age, gender, interests, which if you strike a cord with you can elicit a response from a little easier than elsewhere. But you do need to offer something unique.

    Anyway, may be of no help to you at all, but just some thoughts for you to consider. Good luck!

    #1179580
    Ezza
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    Thanks Dave, agree that it is no longer as easy as it use to be and there seems to be a lot more setup and leg work to get community interested. With the likes of the content and engagement shifting towards social media and mobile devices.

    FB is definitely a very powerful marketing tool and I will be trying to connect the social media environment along side this site once I’m closer to having most of the content populated. Hopefully it could draw interest. Surly it’s not easy work but will be rewarding if I do see some activity on my site and if it doesn’t work out I guess I could take it as a learning experience to build on other potential business avenues. Thanks once again, appreciate your advice and for sharing your experience.

    #1179581
    Zava Design
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    • Total posts: 1,463
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    And if you’re interested in the subject matter it does make putting in all the time much easier. Good luck!

    #1179582
    Byron Trzeciak
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    Hi Ezza,

    Well done on getting your site this far as that’s typically the hardest part. From this point forward you’ll just need to be in a cycle of continous improvement to push your idea to where you want it to be.

    In terms of your theme, I’ve seen this theme before and it’s fairly bloated. It does provide some nice magazine and review style features but be careful with overloading your home page with features that your visitors don’t use or make it harder for them to find what they want to read.

    When it comes to a site like this it’s likely that visitors will find your site by searching for a review on the model of car they’re interested in or searching for best vehicle in a certain category. For that reason I feel that the SEO for both your article pages and category pages is very important and is something that is not currently done well.

    URLs such as the following
    http://motorinsight.com.au/motor/holden-astra-2007/

    might be better if you changed motor to something like this
    http://motorinsight.com.au/car-reviews/holden-astra-2007/

    This would provide you better opportunity to rank your car reviews page as well as additional additional keywords and url readability to your individual car reviews.

    If you review the above the fold content, what you see without scrolling, it doesn’t explain what the site is about or provide a strong call to action to your visitors and what you want them to do.

    For example it might be “Motor Insight – Car Reviews by Car Owners” and then your call to action is “Need advice? Search for car reviews here”

    Review pages at this point in time are very light in content and are unlikely to rank highly in a very competitive market. In order to gain visitors you might want to look at adding a motor insight review or article in order to gain the traffic for visitors to start adding their own reviews.

    It’s all possible but as Zava said you’ve got an uphill battle so you really need to commit the long term with this website. Consider other forms of content such as videos / podcasting if you want to increase your reach and stand out from the competition.

    #1179583
    Ezza
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    • Total posts: 8
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    Thank you Byron for the valuable information. There are a few thing I might not be able to do with the limitation of the theme but where possible it’s surely worth implementing. At this stage it’s taking a bit longer than expected populating the site with the content but hopefully will get there. Learning lots already from the feed back. :)

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