Start an Ag Business Website in 22 Steps! [Checklist]
This is probably the most detailed Agribusiness Checklist on Earth.
Those involved in Agriculture know that it’s hard to find a way to stand out online. You can read all sorts of advice, but no one puts it in simple terms. What is needed to have a dynamic Ag Business website?
If you really want a vibrant and active Ag website, it is critical that you read this list.
Item #1: Acquire a Domain Name
Businesses get super obsessed over domain names. More often that not, they either skew too long or too different from their business name. The idea is to get the most precise name that relates to the business.
Sometimes, that’s not always available. In that case, it’s wise to think in terms of brevity. How can I communicate my business name in the shortest way possible? E-commerce trends are pushing mobile first, so think about your customers. Will they have an easier time typing in Brand X or Brand X/store/sale/default.htm? Which one would you rather type in on a tiny mobile screen?
Item #2: Determine your host
Not all webhosts are created equal. It’s a sad fact, but there is an army of bargain basement hosting providers that will try to sell you on their patented offerings. This is the time to ask questions.
Will your host allow you to leave them freely? What kind of contracts do they want signed? Do you own any of the data you enter onto their platform? These are the questions to ask when companies knock down your door for hosting opportunities.
If you have any concerns on hosting matters, don’t be afraid to reach out for support.
Item #3: Select a content management system or custom platform
Most of the world loves WordPress. However, there are generous amounts of sites that prefer other platforms. At Fastline Digital, we would prefer that Ag business stay within the parameters of the WordPress platform. Why’s that?
WordPress is used on 1 out of every 5 websites in the world. That kind of popularity is unparalleled and offers a wider market of opportunities. You don’t need to hand code it, it’s easy to maintain and it’s SEO friendly. So many CMS offerings don’t offer this range of control, that’s why Fastline Digital prefers it. If you have questions about WordPress, feel free to reach out to our Agency.
Item #4: Register for Google Analytics and Search Console
Google Analytics and Google Search Console are a one-two punch. Both are essential to give you a fuller picture of how customers interact with your site.
These services help you monitor, troubleshoot and maintain your site in the Google Search results. The Search Console helps Google crawl your site. They also show you who links to your site and aids in discovering how to fix indexing problems.
Analytics requires a single line of code embedded into your site. Once installed properly, you can access your reports without delay. If you want, you can even customize reports based on your business needs. You know what’s even better? Analytics integrates super easy with other platforms and tools.
If you’re using a major data reporter or a traffic monitor, they prefer that you give them proper Analytics data. What make the biggest difference is that Analytics offers the ability to measure internal search. Name any other application that provides for that.
Item #5: Set up your Google Tag Manager
Google Tag Manager has its fans. Honestly, you can’t ask for a better resource to streamline the dozen bits of code that track and analyze website activity. Whether you call them pixels or beacons, Google Tag Manager makes maintaining these essentials easy work.
Item #6: Find a means to optimize your images.
There are a ton of plugins out there to optimize your images. Depending on personal strategy and load speed concerns, you’ll have to weigh your options. There are some that will compress images for free up to the first 500. However, if you’re running a major business online…that limit will arrive faster than expected.
Our Agency has seen businesses have great success with Smush and EWWW in the past, but feel free to experiment. Not every image optimized works for every business. Ask around your industry and study your preferred plugins.
Item #7: Determine your publishing schedule
Your publishing schedule exists. It doesn’t always align perfectly, but it exists. When you log into Google Analytics, it will show you a heat map. This means you can trace traffic on your site by day and hour.
Does that mean there isn’t a perfect time to make a new content post? No, time like most things is relative. However, people visit your site when they visit. Study your Analytics heat map and target new posts around that period.
While seeding content is a great idea, it only works if there are people viewing and sharing the material. You can post literally anything at any time. The end goal to make sure it is relevant and being seen by the right people. There is a learning curve that you will eventually adapt to understanding.
Item #8: Perform Initial Keyword Research
Initial Keyword Research is where you examine the keywords that you want. Some businesses have realistic keywords, while others want to rank for brand names and super generic terms. Guess what, people? You’re not going to beat Tractor Supply for selling Tractor Supply stuff.
However, you might be the best Disc Harrow business in the Western United States. Capitalize on your Easy Wins, then use that success to open more doors. Your initial competition isn’t the big brands. It is people like you that might cut into your market.
Keep an eye on those of similar size that pick away at shared keywords. If you corner enough of them successfully out of your market, then you might be ready to go after bigger fish.
Item #9: Research your ag business competitors
Your competitors exist. Some of them are above you and others below. The end goal for online business is to eventually rank above all of them. But, how are you going to do that?
The first step is to research your competitors. Learn by watching their wins and failures. That doesn’t mean you clone them but use them as teaching examples.
Real education arises from studying life-based examples of theory in practice. Did a competitor find an industry favored keyword by making a longer keyword string? How about ranking? Did they rely on Rich Media (Video & Pictures) to rise above?
Your initial keyword research should lead you here. Successful research will allow you to develop a picture that provides greater means to study others. If not, then refresh and re-examine your initial keywords.
Item #10: Figure out your initial marketing needs.
Initial marketing needs are simple. Focus on the bare necessities of what you need to achieve. You must move X amount of product. To sell X tractor, you must discover Y size of market. Absolute details aren’t super important at this phase. The effort is to be made more in rattling down your needs to four or five simple statements.
Item #11: Determine your niche
Every business has that one thing at which they excel. Whether it’s having America’s most comfortable tractor seats or the sharpest tiller blades allowed by law…know your niche. It is incredibly frustrating to see a Mulch company spend money hand over first trying to move grating systems. Especially when said company only sells two kinds of grates, but 140 different mulch types.
Those grates might mean the world to you, but if customers want mulch…they want mulch. Define your operating methods and use the mulch to begin a discussion about the grates. Some might be interested, but that initial audience is just going to want to discover the mulch.
Don’t let personal desires get in the way of the consumer’s journey.
Item #12: Determine your traffic patterns
Your site’s traffic will fall into a few categories: underwhelming, average or spectacular. While many will argue for shades of gray regarding this, it’s not necessarily true. A website’s traffic is either not doing so hot, doing industry average or your business is just slaying that e-commerce game.
The important thing to know is what triggers those three periods for you. Do you have seasonal offerings, do you appeal to too young of a market or something else? The possibilities are endless.
What you should realize is that all three phases are experienced by an online business at every phase of their existence. It’s not that you experience them, it’s how your business is able to interpret these phases and satisfy their interests.
That is what make a success.
Item #13: Set benchmarks
Too many businesses put the horse before the Internet cart. While it’s important to have a goal, it’s even more important to set benchmarks.
This means your business understands there is no one way to success. But, you create even markers to reach and then study. Not all benchmarks are meant to be met on the first try. In fact, they can reveal amazing things about the processes you use to reach your business dreams.
Think about your business right now. Where do you want to be in 6 months? 1 year? 5 years? Address what is needed to measure your success.
Item #14: Develop ideas and build a site structure
Your site structure is key to success. As you develop ideas for what your site will look like and the content to be featured, keep this in mind. What are you doing to make sure people can navigate your website? Build a site structure that allows for easy browsing. Contact Fastline Digital to develop ideas for your site structure.
Item #15: Proofread everything
Proofreading is essential for starting a new website. A typo can produce a keyword that doesn’t rank. Continued misspellings can hurt the user experience and they’ll bounce off the site never to return. Doing business on the Internet requires clarity of communication. What can be shrugged off as interpersonal communication in the real world opens a new can of worms online.
So, let’s just make it simple. Proofread everything to make sure every customer can follow along.
Item #16: Develop content
Developing content is essential. Google needs to see that your site is growing and producing new material to inform consumers. Every time a new page or post of content is made, it triggers Google to index that content. Each content selection is a chance to build new keywords and develop long strings to help increase search opportunities.
Item #17: Schedule posts
Not every post has to go live right away. It helps to use a post scheduler to put your content in front of the freshest eyes possible. As discussed in determining traffic, it only makes sense to prep new material for high traffic site visits. The more active of an engagement, the increased response from potential customers. Plus, scheduling posts gives you time to create an organized content calendar.
Item #18: Link new posts to strong internal pages.
When you create new content filled posts, you need to link. What most businesses forget to do is link these posts internally. Stitching together new posts to relevant older posts allows traffic to slip through every aspect of a website.
After all, customers that search for one term are in the market to look for similar offerings. Keep them on-site longer to better shape the buyer’s journey.
Item #19: Scour the Internet for backlink opportunities
Backlinks are still important, but they come with more special conditions than ever before. Google and other search engines want you to have backlinks. Backlinks inform a customer that a site is reputable and has good standing in their industry.
But, there are also bad backlinks. These backlinks accumulate over time and tend to come from directory dumps. A directory dump is usually a foreign site that data scrapes the Internet for relevant terms. When you see too many of these links, it’s best to disavow them.
The endgame is to keep your link profile healthy and stacked with relevant links that best represent your industry.
Item #20: Social bookmark and make friends
Your business should always be social and try to make friends. After all, the Internet is a connected community. That especially holds true when you find parties in your industry that can share tactics and help spread your links.
Off-site SEO is essential to the overall scheme of keeping your Ag site healthy. Engaging in social bookmarking and Web 2.0 friendly tactics are the best Off-Site efforts to develop healthy backlinks and external information optimization.
Item #21: Study the response from social media
Social media offers a new instant response. While not always the best, social response is about gauging what sort of impact your web content is directly making. Many potential customers will stay quiet during their shopping trips.
However, social media responses represent near immediate response from your buying base. It goes without saying to take what they say with a grain of salt. But, their complaints or praise will reveal common parallels that reveal truths about your beginning marketing efforts.
Item #22: Repeat steps 14-21
The days of setting up a website out of the box have ended. 2019 and beyond represents an era of global customization to give each customer the best possible shopping experience. When competing against AI powered services and near total customer control, business has never been more difficult. But, you can win it. Even in your early phases. Follow these items to begin your healthy beginnings into a much larger world.
Who will be the first new business to engage our 22 steps? Message Fastline Digital and let us know!