Website Myths and Mistakes
By Andrew Verdesca
Illustration by Rocky Reasoner
1 If we build it, they will come. FALSE.
Many pet resort owners think that creating a website for their business gives them a billboard on the internet that all pet parents in their community will see. Truth is, their website is merely one of thousands of pet resort websites on the web. This means websites must be built to stand out and signal search engines, or else it will be nearly impossible for local pet parents to find you.
In addition, you need to update your Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp and other online directories with your current information, otherwise pet parents who read about you there might decide to look for another pet resort whose information in those online services is more compelling.
2 An attractive website means more website visitors. FALSE.
Some pet resort owners prioritize “pretty” over compelling by adding attractive artwork and images of pets into their website design, thinking that prettier pictures will attract and engage pet parents. Images work well when they reflect the unique experience and value offered by your pet resort and help tell your story.
Pretty also can negatively impact performance. Often the added artwork, images and photos can slow a website down, which distracts viewers; worse yet, that slower speed tells Google that your website is not worthy of listing among top results of a search for pet services. Be careful not to clutter your website with too many random pictures, regardless of how “pretty” they are.
3 More website visitors mean more pet resort customers. FALSE.
Don’t let anyone tell you that having many people visit your website means your website is successful. The real measure of your website’s success is determined by how many visitors become your customers. Your website needs to guide visitors to the next level of interaction with your pet resort staff by including a decisive call–to–action—a simple and straightforward next–step—that extends the engagement, builds the relationship and converts visitors into customers. Many website visitors aren’t even geographically located in your service area. Research has shown only about 65% of website visitors are within the typical service area of a pet resort.
4 The more information about your pet resort on your website, the better. FALSE.
Ever run into a salesperson who won’t stop talking to you about the product they’re selling?
Some pet resort owners resemble these salespeople when they decide to display multiple paragraphs of text about their resort on their web pages. Visitors don’t like to read a lot of text, especially if they’re viewing your website from their cell phones. It’s better to make your visitors contact you for more information rather than overwhelm them with information. In short, when it comes to describing your pet resort on your website, less is more.
Blogs used to be all the rage, but current research shows that many blogs attract the wrong type of visitors—people who would never be customers or who are outside your service area. If you blog, make sure you talk about your local area and topics that would interest local pet parents.
5 Keeping the same website unchanged over time shows business stability and validity. FALSE.
Many pet resort owners leave their website untouched, looking the same as it did on the day it was launched. Often this is because they are more focused on their business operations than their website. But if your website remains untouched for years, it will look outdated and unprofessional, reducing the likelihood of attracting new customers.
Your website should reflect the credibility of your company and represent your brand in the most professional way possible. It’s best to update your website periodically, or even consider replacing it, so it reflects modern website design standards and usability trends (such as making it easy to read on a phone) that can increase your chances of converting today’s visitors into tomorrow’s customers.
6 Having many items to choose from on the home page navigation is good. FALSE.
Choices are good. Too many choices is bad. Navigation should clearly reflect the pet resort’s main services (i.e. boarding, grooming, daycare, training) and correspond to the visitor’s primary reason for finding the website. Some pet resort owners want to list all their services plus blogs, testimonials, galleries of photos, news, locations, etc.
Having so many options to choose from can be confusing; more importantly, it can lead your visitors’ eyes away from the pet services you most want them to see (and select) in order to become your customers. If you have content you think pet parents should see, draw them in from the homepage by having good call–to–action statements to learn more about a topic or as a link in your content.
7 Describing your pet resort’s capabilities on your website will compel pet parents to call you. FALSE.
Ever wonder why a pet parent who visits your website might not contact your resort to book a reservation? There could be many reasons, but one common reason is because your website lists your services and describes your capabilities without describing the benefits to the visitor.
Pet parents who have arrived onto your website need to understand not only what services you offer, but how those services will benefit them and their pets. Failure to include these benefits, especially in a way that differentiates your services from your competitors’, can send your visitors away.
8 Adding social media links or icons to the top of your website is good. FALSE.
While it’s beneficial for business owners to have a presence in multiple social media channels, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, placing icons for these channels at the top of your pet resort website is detrimental. On one hand it shows visitors right away that your information is also available elsewhere. On the other hand, icons placed at the top of your website might cause visitors to leave your website before they even get started reading your web page. To avoid this, the icons should be placed only at the very bottom of your website.
9 Having a website that works well on your desktop means it will work well on your cell phone. FALSE.
The old expression, “What you see is what you get,” is not always true when it comes to websites. Websites that are designed for viewing on a desktop will not look the same on a mobile device unless they’ve been designed specifically for viewing on both desktops and mobile devices. Pet resort owners should make sure their websites are built and tested to display correctly and attractively on both desktops and mobile devices.
If your website cannot be easily navigated using a smartphone, you could potentially be missing out on a significant amount of business. And remember, all smartphones are not alike. It is best to have your website tested on multiple brands and models because their screen sizes vary significantly.
10 Collecting analytics from your website is unnecessary. FALSE.
It is critical to understand whether your pet resort website is working for you, how your visitors are responding to it and whether you need to make any changes to maximize its impact. For example, wouldn’t it be helpful to know where your visitors are coming from and which channels are getting people to your website? Then, you could advertise more in those channels to generate even more visitors.
Do you know which keywords or phrases your visitors are using to find you? Can you detect which of your webpages are receiving the most or least visits? You’ll get new customers by displaying the right pages with the right messages for the right visitors at the right time—so it’s important to collect your website’s analytics.
Andrew Verdesca is Director of Marketing and Sales for Pet Resort Marketing at Nehmedia, Inc., which specializes in generating substantial leads and revenue for pet resorts nationwide by creating compelling websites, social media, emails, newsletters, and managing online ratings and reviews. If you’d like to take advantage of such digital marketing capabilities to acquire new customers and grow your revenue, schedule a free consultation with Andrew by calling 512-900-1070. Or you can write to [email protected] or visit www.petresortmarketing.com.