// Internet Duct Tape

Website Analysis – Phil Gerbyshak’s Make It Great

Posted in Group Writing Projects, Technology by engtech on March 31, 2007

SOAP stands for Scratch One Another Program for bloggers to help other bloggers improve their blogs by the same guy who brought us Blogtipping.

For SOAP I’ll be reviewing Phil Gerbyshak’s Make It Great! I have to apologize in advance for my brevity. I’m up to my eyeballs in stuff to do. If anyone would like more explanation for some of the advice I’ve given then please leave a comment and I’ll expand that section. If I focused on the room for improvement suggestions more than on what was done right it was only because of my time constraints — sorry. I focused on technical issues rather than the content of blog posts for the same reason.

Disclaimer: I am not a copywriter, SEO expert, web designer or even a software user interface expert. I do read a lot about those subjects though, and where possible tried to drop quick links to better advice. YMMV.

On Selling “Make It Great” the Book

Phil wants to sell his book… but where does he convince people to buy it? Having the image on the book in the sidebar go directly to PayPal is no good because the reader doesn’t know anything about the book yet. He needs a landing page that tells people why buying a copy of Make It Great is such a good idea. A good resource for advice is Copyblogger’s tutorial on how he rewrote the landing page for Aaron Wall’s SEOBook.

Makeitgreatbook.com should go to this landing page, not the Amazon.com page for the book.

Also, he needs to think about having a hook for the book. He’ll be presenting at SOB Con 07. It will be a great chance to sell copies by hand and create conversations around the book that may lead to people blogging about it.

Web Design


  • Readable in 800×600, 1024*768
  • High contract text (black on white)

Room for Improvement

  • Too much sidebar clutter (more to follow)
  • Link colour is too close to text colour
  • Date text is bigger than blog post titles… but which is more important?


Room for Improvement

  • Set border=0 around the images for subscribe to newsletter and subscribe via RSS.
  • Subscribe by Feedburner form and click for Newsletter form — too many choices.
  • Subscribe via RSS or Subscribe to the daily digest — too many choices.
  • Did I also notice a weekly gazette? Too many subscription options.
  • Did I see a free e-book message? (I thought I saw one a month ago but I don’t see it anymore). Giving readers something free for subscribing is a great way to get improve readership levels (and something I should try doing). Chris Garret is a great example of this.


Room for Improvement

  • Book a border=1 around the image of the book so that it looks like a book. White book background is blending into white blog background.
  • Categories versus archives – I go with categories. Does anyone ever look for posts from a specific month?
  • Too many repeated links — a lot of sidebar links about Phil could be replaced with an About Me page and/or a Contact Me page. Put stuff like links to other sites by the same author, email contact, linked in profile, favorite book lists, delicious bookmarks, etc and move them off of the main page.
  • More about Phil needs to have more text instead of a just a link dump. The information in the PDF file should be on the webpage. It hasn’t been updated since the book was written.
  • Too many sidebar links — I counted 86 links to other bloggers. Every link represents another choice for a reader to make. Less choices greatly increases the chances they’ll click on something. Put them all on their own blogroll page.
  • Too many search options — no one is going to use a blog sidebar to search the web. Have it be a Google search of the site.
  • Reduce sidebar flare. I’ll always remember that scene in Office Space with the buttons all over their shirts. MyBlogLog is good because it creates connections with readers — but the colours could be brought in line with the blog theme. Check stat metrics and see when the last time BlogTopSites or BlogFlux sent you traffic — I can’t speak for those sites, but you’d be surprised with how little traffic some blog networks bring [1]. Why advertise for a site that isn’t sending you any readers?

Ads and Ad Placement

I don’t know anything about this and I surf the internet with 100% of all ads blocked at the source using hostfiles and filters — so this section intentionally left blank.



  • #1 on Google for make it great, and “make it great”
  • #1 on Google for phil gerbyshak, and “Phil Gerbyshak”
    • One word of warning — it is a little too easy to find Phil’s personal photo albums. People on the Internet can be jerks, and it is worth the time to put up some barriers between your professional online identity and your personal life.

Room for Improvment

  • Page titles are “Make It Great! with Phil Gerbyshak: Title”, I’d change them to “Title: Make It Great! with Phil Gerbyshak” so that the title shows up first in trackbacks and search engine results.



  • Registered the “Make it great” catch phrase
  • Own makeitgreat.org and makeitgreatbook.com
  • You use the same image of yourself on your blog as on MyBlogLog, etc.

Room for Improvement

  • makeitgreat.org versus makeitgreat.typepad.com — pick one and use it all the time (I’d go with the .org, not sure about how to get Typepad to make your blog to that domain name)
  • makeitgreatbook.com shouldn’t go to the amazon page — make it go to your own landing page you control.
  • http://10waystomakeitgreat.com — looks like an old version of the blog — I still found links to this here and there. Verging on too many domain names.
  • The header image is too negative. I’d put “don’t have a nice day” on the left, but “have a great day” on the right (instead of repeating don’t have a nice day twice).

Links, Links, Links



Phil knows how to get links with around 350 links in the past 30 days according to Technorati.

[1] Ahmed pointed out that Blogflux and Blog Top Sites do sent traffic to people listed in their directories. I was giving that tip based on my experience with other blog networks, and I am now trying out Blogflux and Blog Top Sites to form my own opinion of them. And he is exactly right that this is why you should monitor what people are saying about your products — I may have been painting them in an unfair light based on my experience with other directories.

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6 Responses

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  1. Phil Gerbyshak said, on April 02, 2007 at 7:52 am

    Many things to think about for the coming months. Thanks for taking the time to SOAP up my blog.

  2. David Airey said, on April 02, 2007 at 3:43 pm

    Excellent SOAPing! Plenty of things to work on there.

    I participated in the SOAP programme too, and got a great critique in return from Dawud Miracle.

    You can find both in my critique section:


  3. Rory said, on April 02, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    That was excellent. What was that bit at the beginning about apologizing for your brevity?

    This might have been for Phil, but there’s a whole school of learning in this post. Thanks for that.

  4. Heartburn Home Remedy said, on April 15, 2009 at 7:16 am

    I follow your blog for quite a long time and must tell that your posts always prove to be of a high value and quality for readers.

  5. Phil Gerbyshak said, on July 17, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    I took many of your suggestions to heart and have been on a hosted WordPress blog for a while now. Would love for you to come back and share what you think.



  6. DIY Makeup said, on February 04, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Hey sweetie, sweet website! I genuinely like this article.. I was curious about this for a long time now. This cleared a lot up for me! Do you have a rss feed that I can add?

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