Five Steps to a Better Website

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Most equine businesses understand the importance of having a website; sometimes it is their first line of communication with current and potential customers. That customer’s first impression of you through your website often will make the difference in whether there is further interaction.

So, is your website up to the task or representing you properly?

Here are five tips (plus a bonus tip!) to help you get your website working better for you.

1. Self critique The first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do you want your website to do for your business?
  • Is your website doing that as well as you would like, or is it doing that at all? How do you know?
  • Is your website easy to navigate?
  • If you could change anything on your website or add anything to your website, what would it be?
  • If you search your farm name or stable name on a search engine (especially Google), do you show up on the first page? Is your website the first entry? Tip: If you are beyond the first page, then you have a problem being found.
  • Do you have goals for what you want your website to do?
  • Do you put up fresh content on a regular basis that is of interest to your current customers and potential customers?

2. Professional or outside critique The next step is to get someone who knows about websites, SEO (search engine optimization) and your industry to review your website.

  • Can they offer you tips for a higher ranking on search engines (especially Google)?
  • Once on your website, can that person navigate easily and get to pertinent information (contact, about, location, etc.)?
  • Do they have suggestions for changes that you can afford?
  • Are there competing websites in your area that the expert thinks are better? What can you learn from those websites?

3. Ask your customers Do your customers use your website? Why or why not? Don't guess what your customers want, ask them either as you have a personal interaction with them or with a survey.

  • Ask them what they would like to be able to do on your website that they currently can't do. Do they want to know barn times? What your stable offers? If you have full board? If you have an indoor area?
  • Ask a current customer to find something specific on your website and see what problems that person has to accomplish the task and how long it takes her to be successful. This can be very enlightening!

4. Do something now! You can tweak your website without being costly or time-consuming, but in ways that can make a big difference in getting customers contacting you, and ultimately buying your products or services. Specific items that you must have on your website that are easy to find include:

  • What you do
  • Where you do it
  • Contact information
  • An “About” page
  • Directions and/or map to your location(s)
  • What services you offer (training, full board, lessons, etc.)
  • Updated copyright date in the footer

5. Be legal It doesn’t matter if you are collecting personal information or not, you should have a Terms of Use and Privacy Policy on your website. If nothing else, it protects what you post there (images, content) and lets the public know what you will and won’t do with their personal information.

Here’s your bonus tip:

6. Kids are different Don’t run images of children or collect information from them without their parents’ permission (in writing). There are special laws that cover what you can and can’t do with images and personal/contact information from minors, so talk to your attorney if you deal with that age group.

Your website is one of the most important marketing tools you have. There are customers looking for you on the Internet. Don’t miss out because you don’t have a website, your website is out of date and reflects badly on you and your company or you are collecting and using information illegally.