Ranch Bookings Blog

How to Do a Website Audit for Your Ranch

Dec 19, 2018, 8:11:40 AM / by Matthieu Corrand

Making a First Impression on Potential Guests is Key

You probably know by now how important having a strong website is for your guest ranch. New guests aren’t going to be familiar with your ranch or where you’re located, so the best idea they can get aside from word of mouth is by looking online. If you don’t do a good job at making a strong impression, it’s not going to take a lot for them to move on to the next location. Websites are a living, breathing thing, so it’s OK to make changes and updates. Here’s how to do a website audit to ensure you’re making the best effort possible to attract new reservations.

On any website, strong imagery and an engaging story should work together to draw your visitor in and convert them. For guest ranches, that conversion is geared toward getting people to make a reservation with you. When you look at your website, do the photos effectively show the beauty of your location and what your environment is like? What do they say about the experience?

Next, look at the content on your site. Your photos will support what you’re telling your guests to become a well-oiled conversion machine. How does your content describe your ranch? Does it match the experience you provide? How does it compare to the way you describe your ranch to someone in person? If your ranch offers specific amenities, are they mentioned? You want to make it clear what your experience is like so that potential guests understand what they’re getting into ahead of time. This will ensure that you’re getting the right leads for reservations.

How to Improve Your Website’s Conversion Performance

Now that you’ve taken a look at these two key parts of a website, let’s look at how you should be using them to market to your potential guests. Your entire website is essentially a selling tool. Everything should be geared toward your end goal — getting a reservation. But just putting “Book Now!” all over your site isn’t going to make the leads start pouring in.

Instead, you’ll want to think about putting all your website visitors into a sales funnel, and working on getting them to the bottom. You won’t get everyone to the end, but if it’s done correctly, the ones that do reach the end will be valuable customers for your ranch.

The first step, or the top of your funnel, is building awareness. This is mostly going to be done on your homepage. Beautiful photos of your ranch and scenery are going to make your customer more aware of who you are and what you do. Engaging copy will tell them the most important things to know about your ranch. You want to help build interest in your ranch. Interest is the second section of the funnel.

People who are interested in your ranch are going to likely click through to another page, like your About, Activities, or Accommodations pages to learn more. Here is where you can dive into detail on your horses, your cabins, the cuisine, the trails, and other group activities that you offer. Share the history of your ranch and put faces to a name. You’ll want to make sure you’re building up the experience so that you’re driving a desire to visit your ranch.

Desire is the third part of the funnel, and it’s a crucial one because you’re only one step away from the end. People in this stage of the funnel are going to look at your Rates or Packages pages to see what types of experience they can have and how much it’s going to cost. While you can have messaging throughout your website that drives the desire to book with your ranch, on these pages, it’s most important to drive this message home. Tell people what they can get and tell them how. This will drive them into action.

Action is the fourth and final step of the funnel. This is where people will book a reservation, but first, you have to get them there. This is where your “Book Now!” language comes into play. No matter where people are at on your website, you’ll want to make sure you’re telling them what you want them to do. Whether it’s reading more about your activities or booking their stay, it needs to be clear to keep them moving.

When you do your website audit, look at how you are communicating each of these steps. This will help you build a stronger website. Now, let’s get into the science of how to tell what’s working on your site.

How to Measure the Performance of Your Site

There are plenty of tools that can tell you metrics on your site about your visitors, including who clicked on a form, how long they spent on the page, where they came from, and so forth. This information is helpful to tell you how your visitors behave on your site so you can tweak and make adjustments to continue to drive more people to your booking page.

Google Analytics is a free and easy tool to attach to your site, and you can get just about all the information you need from it. (There are also very clear guides from Google on how to use it.) Also, whoever is in charge of managing your website is likely already using it on your website. And while you should leave the intricacies to them, we highly encourage you to learn how to check and track your most important metrics.

Among other things, Google Analytics allows you to see the performance of all of your website’s pages. For example, in the Behavior section, you can see how many people visited your page in a given time period, how long they stayed, how many were returning visitors, and how many pages they visited afterward. You can also see the bounce rate, which will tell you how many people immediately left.

A high bounce rate means that people who land on your page don’t see what they’re looking for. Which is an indicator that you might need to change things up to keep people there longer. The longer they stay on your page, the more of an opportunity you have to convert them. When you do your audit, take a look at the bounce rate on your homepage. This will tell you how effectively you’re describing your ranch to someone who is visiting your website for the first time.

Along with your homepage, the other key pages you’ll want to look at are the ones where people reserve their stay. Going back to the funnel, look at pages about your ranch and owner history, location, etc. This will help you gauge how the interest portion of your funnel is performing. For desire, look at pages about your cabins, packages, and rates. With action, this is where you’ll likely be lacking data. If your final step to track action is sending an email or making a phone call, you won’t be able to track any other steps of your lead’s journey. If you’re using an inquiry form, you’ll be able to gleam a little more insight.

With Ranch Bookings software, you can get even more data on how these pages are performing, and the single most important part of your conversion funnel — taking action! Our software integrates directly with your website, and in our program, you can view data on the performance of your availability page, and see what dates and packages people are most interested in. We can show you conversion rates for when people put possible reservations in their carts, request quotes, and complete reservations.

Like we mentioned before, a website is a living, breathing thing. It’s ever-changing. You should always be paying attention to what you could be doing better, and the deeper you get, the better you’ll be able to understand how to market to potential guests.

Interested in learning more about how we can help you improve and understand the performance of your site? Set up a demo with us today.

Matthieu Corrand

Written by Matthieu Corrand

Matthieu Corrand is the founder of RanchBookings.com. A second generation guest rancher, Matt built the platform to help save his father time and energy, as well as increase annual rates and reservations.

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