A Clear Channel Lesson in Site Design


Let’s applaud Clear Channel for launching "TotalRadius.com." It’s a good 1st draft in doing what has been asked for here many times: creating a web site where potential radio advertisers go to learn how to advertise on the radio. If the radio industry wants to move into the future, this is what’s needed to get a local advertiser’s attention.

You can stop applauding now because we’re also going to take time to explain why this web site is off-base with its content and structure, despite its nice-looking design.

Let’s get this out of the way quickly: What’s a "TotalRadius"? And why would anyone associate it with radio?
The disclosure here is that I own RadioAdvertiser.com. The person owning RadioAdvertising.com is a fellow named Eli. Neither of us have been approached by anyone relative to these domain names, which is ironic considering the importance of a domain name and its content. (And yes, you can claim my motivation is to sell this domain, though you’d be wrong.)

Speaking of content, digest a little of what’s at TotalRadius.com to see if it delivers what Clear Channel claims to be delivering. From the Radio & Records article quoting Clear Channel CEO John Hogan: "Totalradius.com is a first stop for advertisers exploring the multi-faceted landscape of radio."

For site design and layout, we give CC a B+. But relative to its claim of delivering information about building a radio campaign, the grade drops dramatically.

The one page at TotalRadius delivering solid information is its "Create a Commerical" page. Don’t confuse this with its "Creating a Commercial" page, because the two are not the same. To get to the former, you have to go through the latter, and the latter offers little incentive to take that next click. A side note is that it’s extremely difficult to articulate "how" to create a radio commercial. Clear Channel’s "top ten keys to creating great radio commercials" offers a good start (if the user gets to this page).

What’s missing at TotalRadius.com – and what hurts most – are things you can’t see unless you look at the coding used to construct the web site. We’re going to peel back the onion here to show a few things about using the internet, from a search engine’s perspective. Clicking on each link below will bring up a picture of what’s being discussed. Here’s what it boils down to:

1) Being online is not what’s important, that title belongs to "being found" online. TotalRadius.com will have a tough time here, without depending on a link from each of CC’s radio web sites.

2) If we do a quick search, you’ll find that 64 pages of this TotalRadius.com web site have been spidered by Google. Microsoft Search also has 64 pages in its listings. Over at Yahoo!, 144 pages are recognized. Yahoo! shows RSS feed pages. The others don’t.

3) That these major search engines know that TotalRadius.com is there should provide great positioning on SERPs (a Search Engine Results Page), right? Clear Channel is such a major radio company, you’d think that.

4) OK. Try Googling Radio Advertising, or doing a search for "radio advertising" on Yahoo! and MSN. There’s no TotalRadius.com returned in the Top 100 listings on Google, Yahoo! or MSN Search. Why? Simple: In designing the web site they forgot items that, literally, are a requirement for search engines to figure out what your site is about – Meta Tags and Keyword Content.

Content and description listings in TotalRadius.com meta tags are missing. Also, from a search engine’s perspective, there is/are no word(s) on the page that indicate this web site is for radio advertising. Search all you want, but this site is not going to be found.

What’s the importance of the above? In short, it shows how radio still needs to learn what the web is about and how to use it correctly. What’s laid out above is an attempt by one media to enter another media’s world with little preparation.

If a radio group the size of Clear Channel misses basic elements like meta tags and keyword placement on a web site, designed to pull in potential radio advertisers, what’s in store for other, smaller radio groups trying to do something similar?

Ironic as it may be, failing to get listed in search engines is one reason why the radio industry didn’t get a foothold in the internet’s earlier years.

Now that radio is getting more serious about the internet and attempting to enter this arena, it’s time to bring in the people who understand what being online is about. There’s much more to it than a good looking web site. (Congratulations Clear Channel – you did accomplish that.)

(source: Ken Dardis, www.audiographics.com)