Most tree care company websites are a business liability.
I know that’s a pretty strong statement. But the fact is that most websites in our industry are more likely to turn potential customers off than to turn them into customers.
I recently had a long discussion with a tree service business owner who told me “I like my website and I don’t want to change it.”
And that’s the problem. HE likes it.
But your company website isn’t for YOU – it’s for your customers and potential customers. And if THEY don’t like it then your website will do more harm than good.
Here are a few of the typical issues I see with tree care business websites.
Problem: The site was built several years ago and looks dated. Even 2 or 3 years is considered a long time in the online world and a 3 year old website just doesn’t look up to date.
Impact: An outdated website design conveys the message that you don’t invest in your company and you don’t care what it looks like – or that you’re just out of touch. If you can’t stay current with something as important as your website, how can customers trust you to be up to date on tree care practices, keep your equipment in working order, or take care of business in a timely manner?
Beautiful Design, Poor Functionality
Problem: The website looks beautiful but it loads slowly, visitors aren’t sure exactly what they’re looking at or what you do, it’s difficult to find the content they’re searching for, the online forms aren’t intuitive to use, there are distracting animations or pop-ups, etc.
Impact: This is a typical case of form over function. So many business owners are focused on how a website looks, rather than whether or not it works to attract leads and help convert them into customers.
I get it – website appearance is what you see first, and first impressions are important. But if all you want is a pretty website then you’re wasting your money.
Would you buy a chipper just because of the paint color, size of the lettering on it, and placement of the stickers? Of course not! If it leaks hydraulic fluid, isn’t maneuverable or jams easily then it’s of little use to you, regardless of appearances.
Built On An Outdated Platform
Problem: Your website uses an old theme or framework, or is built using a free website builder that hasn’t been updated.
Impact: Many tree service business owners think of their website as something they can put up and then forget about. But as technology changes, what used to be functional, secure and dependable becomes non-functional, vulnerable to hacking, and works only inconsistently. The recent Equifax data breach is a good reminder that you can’t be too careful about your online assets. Make sure the technology used for your website keeps up with the times!
Broken Links, Missing Images, Poor Formatting
Problem: The website content either hasn’t been checked in a while, incomplete content has been used (“let’s just get something up there – it’s better than nothing”), or content has been added without much thought to what’s already on the website.
Impact: A website is a living document. Things change frequently. And it takes careful review on a regular basis to ensure that it continues to work as it should. Not doing this sends the clear message to your customers and leads that you don’t care whether or not they’re getting the best possible experience. And the lack of attention to detail isn’t something that makes potential customers to feel comfortable about your tree care services.
Not Mobile Friendly
Problem: If you’ve ever had to manually zoom in and move a page around when looking at it on your smartphone, you know what a non-mobile friendly website looks like. A website that doesn’t scale to fit different screen sizes provides a poor viewing experience for potential customers and most will simply close out of your site rather than try to read it on their phone.
Impact: A non-mobile friendly website tells Google that you’re not providing a good viewing experience for website visitors. And so Google won’t show your website to people who are searching for your services on a mobile device. Given that over half of all searches are done on a phone or tablet, that’s a real problem for your business.
Website is a ‘Company Brochure’
Problem: The website talks only about your company – who you are, what you do, why you’re great, your service area, your qualifications.
Impact: A “me, me, me” website leaves potential customers wondering if you understand their needs or care about them. In many cases, it also leaves them confused – and confused consumers tend to buy on price.
Most tree care customers don’t understand the technical jargon we use (cabling and bracing? huh?), don’t know exactly which services they need, and aren’t aware of the value of specific certifications (what’s an ISA Certified Arborist and why should I care?).
What they do know is that they have a tree-related problem and they want it fixed. So show them that you recognize their problems and have a solution for them. Use language they can relate to. Let customers know that you understand their issues and care about them. Help them see the value you provide to them so they can feel comfortable spending money on quality tree care, rather than just going with the low cost provider.
Services All Listed On One Page
Problem: Putting all of your services on one page (rather than having a separate page for each service offering) is a common mistake and one of the worst things you can do to yourself, especially from an SEO perspective.
Impact: When all your services all lumped together on one page, Google can’t really tell what that page is about – and so it doesn’t show the page to potential customers who are searching for a particular service. To get your pruning, removal, PHC or other tree care services shown in the Google search results, particularly if you want them shown on the first page, each service needs to be on a separate, properly optimized page.
When you see this it’s pretty clear that the website wasn’t built by someone who knows how to get you more qualified traffic. This is a typical problem with hiring a “website designer” rather than someone who also understands and implements best practices from SEO and conversion rate optimization. It’s the lazy way out and should make you wonder what other SEO-related shortcuts were taken in building your website.
Reflects Only the Owner’s Preferences
Problem: This gets back to the original issue I mentioned – the business owner loves his website. When a website is built to appeal to the business owner (or website designer), the colors, layout, content, etc. fit his/her personality and preferences, and he/she loves it. But does it help your business?
Impact: When no thought is given to who the customers are and what they like or need to know, then the website may not appeal to them at all. Putting personal preferences above customers’ needs generally results in a website that doesn’t convert well – meaning that potential customers are not likely to read it or take action. Instead, they “bounce” (leave the site quickly) to look for another provider who’s more in tune with their needs.
It’s not easy to create and maintain a tree service website. Technology changes frequently. Customers’ expectations change. Google’s search algorithm changes all the time. It can be hard to keep up.
But if you think about your website as you would any other business asset (treat it like a chipper!) and focus on providing what the customer wants and needs, then you’ll have a better chance of seeing a return from your investment.
What does the customer want?
- An easy-to-navigate website where they can quickly find what they need
- A design that appeals to them
- Content written specifically to address their needs and problems, in language they understand
- A mobile responsive site that looks good on all platforms
- A website that works – nothing’s broken
It’s pretty simple but easy to lose sight of amidst all the other things you do to keep the business running.
But if you don’t do it, your website becomes a business liability.