Pet-industry websites cannot live on clear content alone

Here’s a quick list of the 5 to 8 essentials every site needs for maximum performance, whether you’re marketing to pet owners, pet manufacturers or veterinary practices.

As an avid follower of what works online, I recently attended a free SEO presentation by a well-established search-engine optimization firm. One of their comments that struck me is that successful web content is holistic. There’s no single step or effort that can improve web performance dramatically. Instead, you need to balance at least 5-8 factors at all times to keep a site optimized for traffic and conversions.

This quick checklist includes the web industry’s “5 Pillars of Successful SEO”* plus a few other website must-haves I’ve discovered along the way.

  • Relevant keywords: Every web page must include the most relevant keywords (keyphrases, in fact) your prospects will be using to find what you offer. For instance, if you sell reflective dog collars, you may discover that the most relevant phrases include the obvious “reflective dog collars,” but also “dog collars reflect car lights.” So be sure to identify the best keywords before writing or revising your content! (Your own site traffic data plus Google Adwords, WordTracker, Keyword Discovery and other tools can help.)
  • Web content read by your visitors: Your site needs to include lots of relevant content to show visitors and search engines that you have the best information on particular subject or need. The guideline is 100-500 pages for a midsize company (over time). Be sure to include the most relevant keywords that are unique to each page, woven into the copy in an ethical manner. Keywords matter the most in headlines, subheads, links, bullets and captions.
  • Meta content (in the page code): I’ve mentioned this several times before, but just to be sure — each web page’s meta tags should include unique, descriptive and keyword-rich content that appeals to your ideal customers when your site pages are displayed to them in search engines.(This means no laundry lists of keywords only! Use sentences whenever possible.)
  • URLs that include keywords: This is a quick and easy one. As you add or revise various pages in your site, try to have URL extensions that include the most relevant keywords for each page. For example, the fictitious site might include a web page that offers reflective collars. That page’s URL should be something along the lines of
  • Links that include keywords: Links are super-important to search engines. They want to know that you have relevant content on several pages, not just one page. There are two types of links: your own site’s internal links and the “inbound links” that come from other reputable sites. In both cases, make sure the link text uses relevant keywords that match your unique web page. For example: “Yes – we offer reflective dog collars.”
  • Clear, persuasive sales copy: Nothing beats web content that focuses 100% on the visitor’s need, how you can solve it better than anyone else, and how easy it is to buy or sign up for that wonderful solution. Nuff said. 🙂
  • Standard navigation with as few clicks as possible: The most helpful websites follow standard guidelines for navigation. This means the main navigation buttons run horizontally underneath the banner or vertically down the left side of the page — on EVERY page, with easy 1- or 2-click access to specific pages if possible. Sites that have “cool” or “creative” navigation are forcing visitors to waste time figuring out where to go next.
  • Calls to action: I’ve read and heard this dozens of times: always tell your visitors exactly what to do next! Guide them to the solution that meets their needs: “Add this collar to your shopping cart,” “Chat with a live dog-collar expert now” are examples of using calls to action to propel your visitors through the sales process.

Those are just some of the fundamentals of web content that works. I’ll be presenting a few more next time. In the meantime, email me if you have any questions.

Until next time,

Here’s to a clear and prosperous site!