It’s a rare occasion when a topic for a column falls in place like this month’s did. I recently received an email from Stephen Miller of Liberty Apple Orchard in Edwardsville, IL, seeking some help on how to increase visibility on his website, LibertyAppleOrchard.com.
“We are a new, small, U-pick apple orchard in southern Illinois, just outside of St. Louis and near a university (Southern Illinois University — Edwardsville),” he writes.
Our company, Meister Media Worldwide, does a lot of work with websites, so I thought I’d take a look at Stephen’s site and offer a few suggestions. I’m sure some of you are facing the same issues. Creating and maintaining a website isn’t easy. But, it’s an important tool for any retail business.
Stephen, the question begins with thinking about how consumers would find your orchard. Most people likely will do a Google search for “apple orchards near Edwardsville, IL.”
When I did a search for “apple orchard Edwardsville, IL,” your Facebook page is the second result. Your website doesn’t make the first page. Your business does not show up on Google Maps. Visit this site to remedy that.
Bob West, our director of interactive sales, offered some extra advice on how to take advantage of Google and search results. Bob suggests building in the terms that someone might search for — not necessarily just for your site — such as “local apple picking,” “apple picking for kids,” or “good apple recipes.”
Keep in mind that your website should have content specific to those exact search words, he says.
“The key becomes making sure your site has enough content and the right kinds of content so that it performs well in search,” Bob says. “When evaluating their sites, people should ask themselves what information their customers go online to search for, and then ensure that their site has that content. To be more specific, think about the particular terms people will enter into a search box that you hope leads them to you.”
Bob’s keen eye also spotted a typo in the title tag for the recipe page. He noticed an extra “I” in “Recipies” at LibertyAppleOrchard.com/recipes.html (see graphic above).
“Title tags are a big part of a site’s search engine optimization in Google, so a misspelling like this will hurt a company’s search score,” Bob says.
I noticed that the links to both Twitter and Facebook at the bottom of the site don’t work. They’re just symbols. Being situated near a college campus, a social media presence is key. College students don’t use Facebook the way that the main produce buyers, older adults, do.
It would be a good idea to have a Twitter account, but use a social media management service like HootSuite to push all posts from your Facebook page to your Twitter account.
Social media has to be an important part of driving traffic to your website. Keep the flow of posts consistent (HootSuite can help with this), even in the off-season. I’ve heard of growers who have success with Google AdWords and Groupon/Living Social deals to drive more foot and web traffic.
Ultimately your website has to be just as important as your trees. OK, that might be an over-statement. In order to gain traction and get people to come to your orchard, you have to raise your web presence.
Bob shares posts from his blog at MeisterInteractive.com. These add some additional advice to help maximize the visibility of your website:
Search Engine Optimization — These posts offer tips for boosting a site’s search engine optimization. Make sure your website is one of the top results people find when they search for various terms:
Blogging — Content is critical for attracting an audience, and oftentimes the easiest way to post content is via a blog. Visit MeisterInteractive.com/blogging-for-business for more information.