Even Apprentice Winners get Ecommerce Wrong

Posted On: 21st December 2017
Read Time: 6 Minutes
Sweets in the City Blog

Spoiler alert: If you don’t know who won the Apprentice already then plot twist, Sarah Lynn was one of TWO WINNERS.

Ok now we’ve got that out of the way let’s get to the point of this blog. Sarah Lynn’s (old) website.

The 2017 finalist already ran her own confectionary business before successfully applying to be one of Lord Sugar’s candidates. ‘Sweets in the City’ is an online ecommerce website which had a rather fun, young and creative approach in terms of design and layout. While the design and brand weren’t necessarily awful, these are not the only landmine issues in online shopping sites. Queue Lord Sugar’s reliable aides.

For many the second to last episode is a firm favourite, the interviews! There were more than a few facepalm moments as each business got torn to shreds and characters broken. For Sarah Lynn the fatal error she’d made left her red faced in front of Lord Sugars interviewers and the man himself!

What went wrong for Sarah Lynn?

Although Sarah’s ecommerce site looked nice enough at first glance, many of the interviewers found themselves unable to complete basic tasks, whether it was navigating to the specialist sweet package areas or placing an order. This instantly rendered the website useless.

The failure to keep a working, up to date ecommerce store reflected poorly on Sarah Lynn. The panel began to question her ability to move with the times and make important decisions about her business. Other candidates capitalised on the opportunity to point out a failure in ability to adapt and move forward with technology. While Sarah Lynn is clearly a brilliant business woman with a great brand, she left the doors wide open for these attacks in her failure to invest in a functioning, well tested and user friendly ecommerce store.

The moral of the story? It’s all well and good if your website looks appealing on the outside, but don’t neglect what under the hood. Serious damage is done when users experience frustration in using sites. Their negative experience will linger with your brand as they pass it on. Ensure functionality for your target audience, an easy flow from landing pages to baskets to checkout and complete orders.

The buck doesn’t stop at a working site…

Sarah Lynn has (unsurprisingly) used some of Lord Sugars £250,000 investment to update her site but you can’t stop there. While the coattails of an Apprentice appearance might be generating traffic now, that won’t last forever. Enter SEO!

You might be surprised to know that the simple alteration to your site can mean the Google ranking of your website could plummet dramatically. Poor usability, unoptimised page titles and meta descriptions and weak content can seriously affect how many people find your pages. This is just the tip of the SEO iceberg which Sara Lynn is yet to tackle it appears.

We’ve created our fair share of great (modest but that’s the feedback) ecommerce sites that leave lasting impressions on the audience, drive sales, reach potential customers, remain user friendly, coupled with ongoing attention to SEO. This ensures our sites climb and maintain rankings in Google, whilst also appealing to the target audience.

What makes us suggest that the Sweets in the City website is neglected when it comes to SEO website optimisation you ask? Here’s just one simple indicator of SEO ignorance.

Meta Title and Description

Sweets in the city metadata before

The first thing we noticed when looking at the site was that the homepage meta title was too long and didn’t include any keywords. Meta titles are vital in telling Google what your page is about and have a huge influence on how your website ranks organically. It’s also important to be mindful of the title length as this is what shows in the search results. It is a major determining factor in whether users choose to click on your site.

The meta descriptions should be used to summarise the page content and are an effective and highly important way to show your audience what your website is about. Like with the titles, meta descriptions should include relatable keywords but more importantly, need be used as a way to entice users onto your site with call to actions such as ‘Click Here’, ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Find Out More’. Left blank they will drag information through that is of no use to the user. Barely legible, the Sweets in the City homepage meta description may leave users scratching their heads wondering if the site actually meets their search criteria. This is your chance to attract their click over your site from the outside.

A better example? Maybe something like: 

Sweets in the city metadata after

To conclude, we think flustered Sarah Lynn perhaps should’ve contacted Echo. Our ecommerce store development will consider your ongoing SEO optimisation and the long term goals of your store.

One final lesson we can all learn, don’t leave it until you’re sat in front of Lord Sugar to invest in a web store that works. Grab a coffee with Echo today, to see how we can help you succeed online.

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Leah Brown at Echo Web Solutions
Leah Bull
Digital Marketing Manager
A real keyword geek at heart, Leah has over 4 years experience in SEO, PPC and CRO now working as the team lead at Echo. She loves trying and testing new techniques and strategies and sharing them for others to enjoy too.

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