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Use these proven techniques of effective pet websites and watch your business grow

So many websites get this wrong.

Simply put—if the design and content of your website are not spot on, you’re losing business.

But that’s not all…

Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. When you arrive at a website, what do you expect?

If you’re like most people, you want to know—right away—what this business offers. If you’re shopping locally, you also want to know where they’re located, and you want to know how you can buy their product.

Seems simple enough, doesn’t it?

Yet I’m amazed at how many pet websites fail at this most basic task. Here’s something to keep in mind…

“Customers don’t care about your beautiful imagery and your fancy schmancy menu font. Yes, your site needs to be aesthetically pleasing, but nobody visits your site to marvel at your design mastery.”

They’re looking for something…and you’d better give it to them immediately.

Three major areas of your website that you’ll need to consider are its architecture, graphic design, and content.

Architecture is how your website flows—it includes navigation, links/downloads, and the number and types of pages. This is contained in your sitemap, which is essential for SEO.

Graphic design is the look and feel of your site. It includes your logo, any graphics, fonts, colors and the overall layout of your site.

Content is the meat of your site. It includes all the words, messages, and information. Content conveys the value you offer to your customer in the form of information, but also relates to your readers what you offer, why you’re a great resource, and how to purchase your products and/or services.

If you look at the most effective pet websites, they all share 3 common traits. Let’s take a look at each one in detail.

1. Effective pet websites embrace a “Less is more” strategy

Too many choices is a bad thing

A certain ice cream store offers more than 30 different flavors of ice cream…effective pet websitehow many have you tried?

If you’re like me—4.

Rocky Road, Chocolate Fudge, Raspberry and Rainbow Sherbet.  That’s it.

Out of 30-some flavors!

I haven’t even considered the others.


Maybe you’re familiar with a concept known as the Paradox of Choice.

If you’re not, it goes something like this: Most of us believe that the more choices we have, the better. And it’s not just ice cream stores that promote this… that’s why we have hundreds of variations of potato chips, candy, soft drinks, and fast food items.

Scientific research of the 1970’s and 1980’s backed up this approach.

But there was just one problem…

In the studies, the participants were asked to choose from a relatively low number of options, usually between 2 and 6.

Certainly not 30!

More recent research tells us that if we’re presented with a lot of choices, we experience overwhelm…we become conflicted. This causes us to put off a decision, to use the eeny, meeny, miney, mo method, or refuse to make a choice at all.

We all handle this in different ways. Several notable, successful people—Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Albert Einstein, for instance—buy/bought several versions of the exact same outfit.

They say Einstein did it that way to minimize the number of decisions he had to make on a daily basis.

Your website visitors can choose to do something much easier. They can leave your site.

Here you can see the homepages from 2 very effective pet websites. Notice on each that there are only four choices maximum. Your site should do the same.

effective pet website


effective pet websiteIf you give your readers too many options, they may find it easier to choose nothing, and walk away empty-handed—something neither you nor your customer wants.

Your pet website design

Some web designers and marketers use bold graphics and lots of features effective pet websitebecause they believe those will increase user engagement.

Their sites typically have bells and whistles, pop-ups, and ad boxes that flash, all with the purpose of coaxing the visitor to take some kind of action like signing up for a newsletter or purchasing a product.

Current research, however, finds these designs to be far less effective than simple, functional sites. This research shows that most users are attracted to a clean design that focuses only on what’s necessary.

The bells and whistles might be fun, but they do little to enrich visitor engagement, and may, in fact, have the opposite effect.

Ask yourself—when you visit a website looking for information, or even to search for a product, do flashing lights and other distractions make your experience more satisfying, or do you wish they would go away?

Research shows most users would rather dispense with the fluff. They want to find what they’re looking for quickly and get on with their lives.

Clean websites also enjoy higher user engagement, as they offer better usability and a more aesthetic design than a site cluttered by pretty, flashing imagery and other distractions.

As a professional copywriter, I spend a good deal of time combing through what I write to make sure it is necessary to accomplish my goal. It doesn’t matter how cool it sounds or looks on the page…if it doesn’t further the goal of generating leads and sales for my client, I delete it.

Do the same with your website. Be ruthless. If it feels like clutter, it probably is. More importantly, look at your site from the perspective of your customer.

If you arrived on your site in search of information, what is it about your site that leads you to that information quickly? What distracts you—or slows you down? You need to eliminate those distractions.

3. Effective pet websites are user friendly

As important as having a clean design is, it means absolutely nothing if users find your site hard to use. Not surprisingly, sites that are easy to use enjoy much more engagement, and are far more successful than their more difficult counterparts.

Have you ever been to a website where you didn’t know what to do next? If so, how long did you stick around? If you’re like me, probably not very long.

It may seem like a bold statement…but it’s true:

“If your site is not user friendly, you may as well not even have a site.”

Have I made my point? Good.

The word “usability” is popular among web designers these days…there’s a reason for that. If a website delivers a poor user experience, it can affect the site’s bounce rate and the bottom line.

Bounce rate refers to the percentage of visits to your site where only 1 page was viewed. The user didn’t stick around to click on any links or view any more pages. It indicates they probably didn’t find what they were looking for.

This is concerning because the longer a person stays on your site, the more likely they are to buy something. Even worse, if a user has a bad experience with you site and leaves, there is an 88% chance this user will not visit your site again!

Obviously, nobody intentionally sets out to make their site user-unfriendly—most of the time we get used to our site and don’t even notice its flaws.

Here are some major areas that can negatively affect the user friendliness of your pet website:

Poor navigation 

Going against convention. Website visitors have subconsciously learned to expect certain things from websites they visit. They expect to see the navigation bar either across the top of the page, or vertically on the left hand side.

“If you put it anywhere else, expect to see higher bounce rates, as visitors get confused and leave your site. Also, it needs to stay in the same position on every page of your site.”

Non-responsive navigation. Worldwide, more than 57% of all web traffic is mobile. That means most of your prospects are viewing your site on devices of all sizes. If your navigation bar is non-responsive, how are these visitors supposed to get around your site?

Dead ends. A dead end is a page with no links to other pages or outside links. These are typically static pages like “Contact” or “About” pages. The user sees your info, and leaves the site, since you haven’t given him anywhere else to go.

To remedy this, you can include a Call to Action (CTA) or link to another relevant page.

Dead ends can also be blog posts. Not only should every one of your blog posts have numerous text links, they should ALWAYS end with a call to action. Whether the call to action is asking them to comment, subscribe to your newsletter, or download your free eBook, it needs to be there every time.


Ok, this is a real can of worms…

But what are we talking about when we say “pop-ups”?

“Technically, pop-ups are defined as “browser windows that appear out of nowhere.” Twenty years ago, they were more than just a nuisance—various malware and viruses were embedded in their links.”

Today, malicious pop-ups aren’t so common. That doesn’t mean website visitors welcome them with open arms, however.

If you do a Google search for “pop-ups,” about 95% of the results give information on how to block pop-ups, or promote products that do the same.

If your site’s goal is to be user friendly, why use a tool that so many web visitors find annoying?

Many marketers, however, come at this from a different perspective…

These marketers swear that pop-ups generate more leads for their business than anything else. In their minds, the topic is not even open for debate.

However, they also caution that your pop-ups must follow 3 simple rules:

  1. They must offer value. Pop-ups are not the place for your “Buy Now!” ads.
  2. They must be easy to close…this lets the people who aren’t interested move on.
  3. The style of the pop-up must match the rest of the site. Customers see anything else as spam.

I can’t, in good conscience, tell you not to use pop-ups. Too many successful marketers use them with dramatic success.

I will say, however, that—as of this writing, this site does not use them, and I have no plans to do so. That may change with time.

Missing contact information

Imagine you’re thinking about buying a company’s product, but you have a question. You scoured the site’s FAQ page and searched everywhere, but still no answer.

effective pet websiteYour next option…? Call or email the company directly.

“I’ll just go to their Contact Page…”

But there’s none.

You scroll to the footer…again, no phone number, email, physical address, or even a contact form.

You may even be one of the few who have the patience to do a Google search for the company, hoping another website has their contact info.

At last, you give up.

You may buy from one of their competitors. At the very least, however, you vow never to visit THAT site again.

This one flaw can kill your whole site. It is literally a huge waste to put in all the hard work it takes to build a website, and not have your contact information displayed.

From a user’s perspective, it screams untrustworthiness. What are they hiding? Why don’t they want me to contact them?

In the 1990’s, it was common practice for scammers to set up multiple websites. Savvy web surfers knew to avoid such sites. The main characteristic of these sites—no contact information.

But it’s not just the trust issue…

If your site does not have contact info, Google may never crawl your site, meaning it won’t show up in search engine rankings.

Make it easy

Not only does your contact information need to be present, it needs to be easy to find. The most successful and effective pet websites put this information in the footer.

Most people know to look there first, since it’s become common practice these days. The footer is also the ideal place for your contact info because it’s on every page of your site.

Having your contact info in the footer does not mean, however, that you don’t need a Contact Page—you certainly do. This is the hub that provides all the different ways to contact you, and is the first place your web visitors look when they need to get in touch.

Your Contact Page should offer all the methods for contacting you, such as phone, email, physical location, social media channels, and a lead generating contact form.

3. Effective pet websites are optimized for mobile

Okay, this one is a biggie…

Try this experiment—next time you’re at a restaurant, look around. Count the number of people looking at their phones. Multiply that number by the number of restaurants on planet earth.

This is the number of potential customers you’re missing out on if your website is not optimized for mobile.

Globally, almost 58% of all internet traffic is mobile—well over half of the people online are using their smartphones! Do you really want to miss out on that traffic?

These internet surfers are not just browsing…they’re buying.

As I write this in July, 2022, mobile commerce controls 73% of global commerce market share, while 79% of mobile users made an online purchase within the past 6 months.

“Today, internet users are more on-the-go than ever. That means we’re buying stuff while we’re waiting for our meal to arrive at a restaurant, in line at the grocery store, or stuck in a traffic jam.”

As a pet business owner, mobile traffic means more conversions.

But that’s not all…

Google prefers websites that are optimized for mobile.

Back in February of 2015, Google put all website owners on notice. In April of that year they would change their algorithm to favor sites that are mobile-friendly. Those sites that did not optimize for mobile would take a significant hit in search engine rankings, and thus they would lose a lot of traffic.

Google’s aim was to make life easier for people surfing the web on their smartphones. If you’ve ever viewed a non-mobile-friendly site on your smartphone, you know why.

It’s not a pleasant experience.

Websites that are optimized for mobile load faster.

Are you old enough to remember dial-up? I am—and it was about as close to Chinese water torture as I could imagine. I remember clicking on a link, and counting to ten.

It was the norm back then.

Not today, though.

Longer load times mean higher bounce rates. Users won’t tolerate sluggish websites, so they leave very quickly. Statistics show that 25% of visitors would leave a site after 4 seconds. Just a 1 second delay reduces customer satisfaction by 16%.

This is important, because a high bounce rate tells Google that your page’s content is not useful to them. This means your page slips in search engine rankings.

WordPress makes it easy to optimize your site for mobile.

If you’re using a WordPress site, you’re in luck. All you have to do is choose a responsive theme, and you’re set. If you’re using an older WordPress theme that’s not optimized for mobile, you need to think about using a different theme, or hire a web designer to make the needed changes to your site.

Having an effective pet website isn’t difficult…

…but you do need to follow certain guidelines. If your font is hard to read, you have links splattered everywhere, and customers can’t access your site from their smartphones, your site is definitely not user-friendly.

By keeping your design clean, your navigation intuitive, and your site optimized for all screen sizes, you ensure your web visitors will not only be able to find your site, but they will enjoy spending time exploring your content, and shopping for just the right product.

Editor’s note: Having an effective pet website consists mainly of content marketing, blogging, and creating email newsletters. While these are hands down the best way to generate leads for your pet business, we at Dogfather Copywriting understand you may not have the time or energy to invest in writing blog posts, eBooks, and email newsletters. We are professional SEO content/copywriters who can handle most or all of your copy/marketing needs. Contact us to learn more.