You all know my feeling about technology and the use of the internet and social media, so of course I was most intrigued by the section of the training entitled "Making Your Website Work for You" presented by Scott Cagle of Safe and Sound Solutions.
Here are a few tips that I gathered from the session.
- You need to be found! You can have the most beautiful website out there, but if search engines can't find you no one will ever see it. Search engines (like Google or Altavista) find text in a webpage and read it. They can't find pictures. Use key words in text often and also put key word into the URL. Ask your clients what they searched to find you on the internet.
- Make your contact information readily available and easy to get to. How often have you wanted to contact someone from a webpage, but not been able to find out where or how to do that? It is pretty frustrating.
- Make Your Website Look Fresh. You can easily tell a dated picture by hairstyles and clothes, so make sure you are current. Also, this will keep a visitor coming back. A good way to do this is by having a photo contest that your customers participate in. Customers love this and they supply you with current the photos!
- Keep Your Site Updated. Make sure that your site is updated with current events and current prices.
- "3 Clicks In" Rule. If a visitor can't find what they are looking for in 3 clicks into your website, they will leave. Also, if you have external links in your site, make sure they open in a new window- you don't want your visitors navigating away from your page.
- Static Pages Rank Better Than Anything You Can Build. Make your homepage static and place the key words often on this page. Combining your blog into your static pages on your website is even better for search engine optimization!
- Let Someone Who Knows Nothing About the Internet Navigate Your Site. Not everyone is savvy when it comes to the internet. Put a list of items you would like a visitor to find and have a friend or family member who is not versed in the web navigate your site- without your help. If they can't find it, neither can your customers.
- Even If You Can't Afford A Formal Website Use Social Media. More and more people are using Facebook, Twitter and Blogging to communicate. These tools are free and easy to use. There are also resources through the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project's Local Food Guide and the NCDA & CS General Store.
Here are some excellent examples of websites and blogs that were featured in the training.
Patterson Farm - Easily navigated, easily updated by business owner.
Cagle's Dairy Farm - Easily navigated site
The Farmhouse Inn - Beautiful site developed by Scott Cagle
Vollmer Farm - Blog that uses pictures and video
There are other businesses out there that use websites and social media to advertise. Can you share your favorites? Use the comment option.
Thanks and Good Luck!