Home Depot Grill Finder A useful tool if you can find it

Internet retailer recently profiled an amazing tool built by Home Depot to help even the most novice outdoor chef pick the right grill. While I hate the web 2.0 label, this tool is what the web should be about in web 1.0, 2.0, or 3.0…the development of tools that helps to make information retrieval easier. Take a look below…looks easy enough right?

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It is helpful (which is somehow web 2.0 now) in assisting people in narrowing down or honing in on the right grill for their needs. It uses a very nice interface to make the process smooth and easy! It combines product information, videos, and more in a very digestible and tastefully done way. See our thoughts on the Nike golf ball selector, who has a similar tool, that at the time was tough to find. Looks like it was a success, not to mention Home Depot has some serious numbers to show the REAL value of this tool. In the article it states:

Customers who use the grill finder tool are more than 50% more likely to make a purchase than other visitors to, reported Tari Huddleston, senior manager of e-business, who spoke with Schueler. She noted that a majority of visitors to the Home Depot site are women who want information about the sometimes complex products the home improvement retailer sells. “Women are doing their homework online,” Huddleston said. “They want to be educated before they go into the store.”
Ok, “50% more likely to make a purchase” sounds like a great stat, resulting from a GREAT tool. With those numbers behind you, wouldn’t you want to get as many interested grillers to use this wonderful tool, since it helps so much in the conversion process?

A brief search on gas grills using Google suggest showed the following data: (Image no longer exists)
Notice some of the other terms that show up with the root term “gas grills”:

  • Reviews
  • Ratings
  • For Sale
  • Comparisons

Then there are other terms like grill reviews, charcoal grills, etc…but I think you get the point.

From what I think, this tool would help grillers find the right grill, but they aren’t going to find this tool, why?

1 – There doesn’t seem to be any concerted effort to drive traffic to this great tool. I didn’t see any PPC effort at the time. If the numbers weren’t so compelling on how well this is working I would say maybe there is a reason, and maybe there is, but I don’t see it.

2 – On the SEO front, certain best practices just were not followed. Basic things like title tags and description tags aren’t included. There’s also no copy relating to grills, or selecting a grill on this page, which doesn’t help either. The search engines don’t have much to “see” when coming to this tool, which is flash intensive. Maybe a non-flash alternative that would contain more easily spidered information could help too. If someone over there just read this SEO guide.

There’s been a lot of chatter about web 2.0 and SEO but to me this has less to do with that and more to do with best practices for just trying to drive traffic to a web site. Home Depot obviously invested heavily in the following to create this tool which has a highly seasonal shelf life:

  • web analytics
  • video
  • photography
  • voice overs
  • excellent flash development
  • strategy
  • development / QA

If they invested upwards of 100k to build it, why would they not take the 5 minutes to develop a paragraph of readable copy and a title and description tag (oh and maybe promoting it with social search tools, like stumbleupon (food section) or digg). This 5 minute investment could have gone a long way in maximizing the value of this wonderful conversion machine.
There must be something I am overlooking…have any answers?