Verizon Droid: iDon't Understand Microsite Search Engine Optimization
I've been waiting for Verizon to announce a competitive smart phone for a quite some time. With a barely functional, 3 year old Motorola Q you better believe the first time I saw the much talked about "iDon't" commercial running during a ballgame I to ran to grab my notebook to check out the campaign's microsite: DroidDoes.com.
Big Red is flexing its marketing muscle to hype its self-proclaimed iPhone killer on all major mediums: TV, direct mail, Google ads, you name it. "Everything iDon't Droid does." Like the TV ad, these other pieces drive users to the microsite, too. With this big of an ad spend and a first-class partnership with Google you would think the microsite would be out of this world good.
As far as microsites and marketing landing pages go, DroidDoes.com is out of this world bad. Google should be embarrassed of how their Android Experience phone is being marketed. Not only is DroidDoes.com 100% flash but the flash itself isn't being indexed by Google, the content behind the flash is embarrasingly bad (pictured below), and you can't link to features you've navigated to within the microsite.
"Don't you wish you had a sidekick robot that moved at light speed?" This is what Google (via Google cache) sees when it visits DroidDoes.com and its indexing algorithm tries to figure out what the Droid is about. Google doesn't care about the fancy flash techniques or the robovoice saying "droid". Google cares about content, not flash.
When Google has access to meagingful content it can read, i.e. plain old "semantic" HTML, Google does a lot of work on your behalf. Check out what you get when you search for 'iPhone':
Not only do you get a link to the web site, but Google provides links to the other places on the iPhone website a visitor is likely to want to go and brings them directly there. This is possible because Apple's iPhone content is properly crafted using semantic HTML. Apple also used a meangingful meta description allowing Google to succinctly describe and position the iPhone.
Contrast this with the official result on a search for 'Droid':
Because subpages don't exist, Google can't do a better job linking you to the things a Droid-seeker is looking for: how to buy, features, support, apps, etc. The DroidDoes microsite is one gigantic flash file Google can't link to. The DroidDoes.com website team should be even more embarrassed of their meta description which doesn't describe what Droid is, at all. Upon further inspection there is more to the meta description than meets the eye:
"Get to know Droid a little better. Droid Does the Network. Droid is exclusive to Verizon Wireless, the most reliable network available. Droid Does Android 2.0. Droid contains a new exclusive version of the OS. Droid Does Multitasking. Make a call, answer an email and launch multiple apps simultaneously. Droid Does 10,000+ Apps. Gain power with every app. Droid runs multiple apps simultaneously. Droid Does 5 Megapixels. With a built in flash and 5 megapixels of detail - enhancing resolution, you can capture low light, fleeting moment in detail."
What DroidDoes.com doesn't know is that Google caps meta descriptions at around 160 characters. The DroidDoes microsite's description is 550 characters. No one will ever see the meat of their description because it is too long.
Everything DroidDoes.com uShouldn't on a Microsite
Most of us don't have multi-million dollar budgets to launch and hype advertising campaigns on the scale Verizon has taken its Droid campaign. For all the money they are throwing at consumers they are losing valuable, targetted inbound traffic because of the many poor technical decisions making up DroidDoes.com. With tighter budgets the rest of us can't afford to make these microsite mistakes. Here are a few high-level lessons to take away:
- Do not build 100% flash based microsites
- Especially if the flash file is not created carefully for Google to index
- Especially if you can't link directly to locations within the Flash file
- Always have meaningful HTML content for search engines to index
- Meta description should be less than 160 characters long and descriptive
- Use language and keywords that people search for to find your microsite (i.e. not 'always wanted a pocket robot?' when you're selling a phone)
- Content for all images and flash should also be in HTML
The Droid is going to be Verizon's most compelling smart phone. It's Google's most complete Android phone and first in the Android 2.0 line. Yet the Droid's promotional microsite is underwhelming, clunky, and out-of-touch with the internet of 2009. If your marketing budget isn't that of a Fortune 500 company you can't afford to make the same inbound marketing mistakes with your microsite as the hotshots at Verizon who decided to promote an internet phone that can't play flash videos using only flash video.