Advice sought

I’m starting to get the feeling that Trollhattan Saab has reached it’s peak. Don’t panic, just read on. There’s plenty of energy in the tank, but I’m just unsure if TS is the vehicle to carry things to the next level.

This site has had to grow from nothing and has been adapted to carry many things. Like many ventures that start this way, the creator would likely do things a little different if he/she could start over again. Such is the case with me and TS. Combine all that with the continuing penalty I’m suffering at the hands of Google and there’s reasons to think about leaving this site as an archive and starting fresh.

A little while ago I mentioned a new URL that I’d purchased and a new layout I was trying. The site is at www.spiritofsaab.com and whilst there’s still no content there it does give an idea of what a possible fresh outlook for the site might look like. The title does represent a little more of what I feel this site is about, too – the spirit of Saab.

I was going to use SOS as a second site, a compliment to this one, but the work I’ve had to put into TS has precluded me from getting content ready for the new one. Hence the thought of making Spirit of Saab the site that I’d always planned for Trollhattan Saab, but with the benefit of hindsight and without the growing pains I’ve had to endure here.

——

The pros:

1) A clean start.

2) I love the magazine-style layout.

3) The title will drive the mission of the site. It’s a better sense of identity.

The cons:

1) Zero back linkage so search juice will have to be rebuilt from scratch

2) no other cons as far as I can see

——

Here’s just one example of the problems here at TS. This site, despite the wording at the end of each post, doesn’t use Tags. Posts are sorted in categories and there are currently 58 categories. Ideally there should be around a dozen categories at most and Tags can then drive the greater level of detail.

A new layout and a new philosophy may also open up new avenues for participation and usability. Maybe content-driven forums would be a possibility, for example. A reference area, for another. I’m just brainstorming here.

I’m proud of what’s been built here at TS and I believe it to be one of the better Saab sites on the web. I’m constantly driven to improve it, however, and wonder if this layout and structure is the best way to do that going forward.

You, as a visitor to this site, are the final judge and arbiter as to whether it’s meeting its mission. So I’d ask you to toss it around in your head, check out the Spirit Of Saab layout and give it some time to settle in. See what you think.

Trollhattan Saab will still be here, but if things go the way I’m talking about here in this post, then it’d become a static site that sits as an archive while all new content goes on to SOS.

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23 Comments

  1. not sure “search juice” is that big of an issue for me.

    i like the new name. (not fond of the abbrev., though.)

    if “spirit of saab” is the fix, then go for it!

  2. Not a very good idea, IMO. In the online business it’s all about your brand, and Trollhattan Saab has become a brand. Rebranding rarely works online, and to be frank Swade, you are going to take a huge blow in revenues.

    My opinion is, redo Trollhattan Saab and turn it more into what you envisioned to be in the first place, but do not change the domain name and the name.

  3. I think that a good way to go is to do a “network” structure. A simple linkage of both websites based in a common issue….. SAAB. But trollhattanSaab could be a more focused way on News, articles and everything focused in the Saab models,,reviews, the brand and official stuff. And the spirit of Saab based more in the customers, the Saab way, customers and Saab fans and Clubs interaction and all of that stuff that do the Saab brand and its customers so special. For example few days ago I received a magazine from the Navarra University(one of the most prestigious Universities in Spain) about some of students of engineering are finishing its degree working for Saab, thanks to the relationship with the Quality Global Manager of Saab that is an old student of the University(Emmanuel García de la Peña, In August leaved Saab searching new opportunities in USA and other sectors). Also few weeks ago one teacher of the University did a conference about Marketing communication and “Brand Communities” and one of the best examples it seems is Saab and Apple.

  4. IMHO, isn’t SOS a site that is supposed to be more static with info on what was and what is? Mote like a story of Saab than a ongoing forum where people discuss things? I would not use SOS as a forum at all. It should be a clean nice well designed showcase about the brand, history, media, facts, testimonials etc. TS, on the other hand, is an ongoing disussion with news small big and small, funny things, rumors, rants etc. It will go up and down in activity depending on what happens to Saab, but it will be there everyday with new stuff. They complement each other.

  5. The domain trollhattansaab is a well calculated and true expression where the brand Saab is coming from and has its origin. Therefore it schould stay beside all considerations to change the contents.

  6. SW,

    Come down off the ledge. You have built a tremendous “brand” (quoting Kroum) and it would be a shame for all the work you put into this baby to go to waste. Change and growth are good things. Build upon the foundation you have already set in place. Just my humble opinion.

  7. Swade, I’ll be honest with you.

    In the end, you’d be much better off with a .com than a .net, and Spirit of Saab speaks more about your mission here than TS does.

    However, it’ll take you a year or two to rebuild the brand identity that you have with TS.. lots of new t-shirts will be important here 🙂

    Bottom line is, in the end it will be a good move, and its better to do it now than later, but you’ll be more frustrated than you are now for awhile.

  8. With all due respect, are you nuts? You don’t change a website’s url, that’s internet suicide. If you want a website that has a few categories and tons of tags and a magazine-style layout, then you don’t scrap what you have and start all over, you rebuild the site offline, put it up as a “beta” site (that is up along with the main site and is on the same domain), and then, when all the kinks have been worked out of the new site, you just ditch the old site layout and change the whole thing over to the new site, keeping the old URL. There’s no reason to go through changing domains when you have this wildly popular and well-known site already.

    I like the idea of TS being a “news/opinion” site and SOS (9x is right, that’s a terrible acronym, especially since it has something to do with what some people consider a “sinking ship”) being a “history/testimonials” site.

    If you build it, they might come, but if you rebuild it, they’ll already be here!

  9. Can you leave all the existing content at its current internet location, and then implement the new style in a separate folder or subfolder under the existing domain?

    This ought to keep the old links from breaking (and thus avoid the Google dead-link problem), and yet give you a chance for a fresh start with a new format.

    In any event you should keep the existing domain. I agree completely with the above about internet branding.

  10. Yup, my vote is for the current format. I’m sure we can all pitch in figure out ways to get revenue back to where it was before the layout change. I’m off to go click on some adds right now!

  11. Forgot one thing… (and I’ll write SOS since I’m lazy today)…

    SOS to me sound more like a “long-term” site with facts about Saab. TS is a blog. We need a blog to bring on news, rumors, fun stuff, opinions etc. And we need Swade’s great rants and comments on everything. Somehow I dont want that mixed up with a magazine style site about the history of the Saab that could be *the* source for facts about the brand. Then it will try to be two different things – and fail being any of them.

    Off to bed…

  12. sleep well ctm….

    Gents, I wasn’t thinking of taking TS offline. It’d still be here serving every post that’s been written so far, it’s just that nothing new would be added.

    Posting on TS would stop but it’d stand as an archive of material with links etc intact. New material would go to Spaab (new nickname!!!)

    Ideally, the original notion of this being a news site and Spirit being a historical site is the best setup, but whenever I come to write a post I can’t tell which blog it should go on.

    I tend to think Seth’s right in that doing it early would be the best thing, but ideally, I’d also like to keep both sites. Looks like I’m going to have to work harder at this…..

  13. One thing that hasn’t become clear yet is: will you continue to blog and post news and comments, like you do now on TS, on SOS (or Spaab =P ) or will it change to a more serious article-type page? One of TS’s strengths is the continus news and several posts a day. Could you give more details about your Spaab ideas?

  14. Swade,

    In theory I support the SOS as an idea, but in reality TS is your icon, its your brand, I do not believe that any PR or brand consultant would sanction walking away from such a ‘live’ brand. You have massive brand recognition – you are ‘that guy at Trollhattan Saab’ .

    Whatever you do, however you adapt it- keep the name live.

  15. remember, I’m just the newbie, but here are my thoughts:

    I am not a Saab history junkie
    I don’t care much for the old stuff
    I’m not too interested in its good ol’ Rally Days
    Growing up in Europe I never liked the Saab look before the 99, though I often hear you guys drool over them.
    I care about today’s cars, with some interest in how they got here. I want the latest about what Saab’s plans are, and, though the history is now somewhat more interesting, my interest lies in the latest projections (I’m trying to avoid using the term ‘gossip’) about Saab’s next moves.
    Therefore, if I understand it correctly, the format for ‘Spirit of Saab’ has very little interest for me.
    If I am the kind of person you are trying to reach, don’t emphasize the old spirit – rather show me what that spirit will be doing for me – what will I be able to drive soon?

  16. Just FYI: the links to SOS in the post here go to a page with a 404 error.

    I, and I’m sure everyone else who frequents your ‘blog would follow you over to SOS, regardless of what the name is. You need to do what’s best for you. You are the only one with a financial vested interest in this website, and as it’s your personal ‘blog it isn’t a democracy.

    Besides, in a few years you’d have to change the name to RusselsheimSaab.net anyway. 😉

    Something Jeff wrote above got me thinking: can you simply set it up so that if someone were to type the URL for TS they’d be redirected to SOS? That way you’re not really giving up on the “brand loyalty” you earned with TS.

    “SG” changed the name of his site from saabvideos.com to saabhistory.com. If you type the URL for saabvideos.com you get redirected to saabhistory.com automatically. Maybe you can speak with SG and get some advice as to whether he suffered a loss in traffic after the switch.

    I’m down with whatever you want to do. It’s your ‘blog. You have the right to tear it all down if you want to and begin anew like a phoenix rising from the ashes. [/cheesy cliche] 😛

  17. I believe it makes sense, analytically speaking, to maintain two separate sites, because there are two separate mission objectives. This indicates it’s better to keep the ideals separate and clear as opposed to compromised and muddled.

    The problem, though, is there’s not enough time in your day to do it!

    Therefore, the solution is to be had in streamlining the process. The following options exist:

    1. Increase efficiency
    2. Reduce workload
    3. Delegate work to others

    Focusing on ways to improve any of these options will help you accomplish what you’re really hungering for.

  18. Swade,

    I understand your position……When I founded the Saab Club of Spain 5 years ago, I never expected that In few time we need to manage the club with a more profesional way. The number of “payment” members, the number of people in the forums and so…

    You have my support and help for everything you need to go ahead with your project. I always have a very good relationship with the dealer(they offered me a job few years ago), I spend big part of my time when I am with the laptop in internet looking everything about Saab and the Automotive Sector, and that gives me a lot of knowledge about both and for this reason my friends call me “Saabman”. From few years ago I had in mind to do a website like this and I am very proud that finally somedy do it, because I hadn’t enough knowledge, time and courage to do it, for this reason everything you need…

    regards

  19. I like TS. I agree with an above post about TS being your “brand”. If you change a name people get confused. Sort of like Mr. Pibb switching to Pibb Xtra. Whats the deal with that? The search feature isnt that huge for me either but why do you have to change the name to make changes? Keep the old stuff archived into catagories like it is now and start tagging stuff! Maybe you could even open it up for your users to add tags to old postings.

    Swade you have done a great job!

    -K

    (“person” agrees)

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