Vera Kalbol, Cat Rescue Canada
If youre thinking phew, the site is up, now thats the end of that — youre dead wrong.
You need to spend time on the Web, or have your Webmaster do it. Look around for compatible sites and write them a short, polite note asking them to link to your site. Hopefully it would be appropriate to give them a link back. Do this as much as you can. Dont fill your site with just any links, make sure they are relevant and will interest your visitors. Also take the time occasionally to test your links page and make sure they all still work. Theres nothing more annoying than outdated links. To me, they imply that the site is not well maintained. Thats certainly no crime — just dont let your visitors know you don’t bother with it.
Very important — check out the online services like petfinder.org or animalspot.org that encourage rescues to list their available pets on them. Petfinder is hugely popular and generates more page visits than you would ever dream of. The other site, animalspot, is small and similar. Look for opportunities like these and take full advantage.
Look for free advertising on and off the Web. If your community has a listing of interesting Web sites, get on it. If you write good content, offer to share with sites that have high traffic (making sure that you are given credit). Consider yourself an educator.
Shake up your site periodically. People want to see something new. You dont have to redo the whole thing, but make sure there is something new and interesting on a regular basis. If it isnt on your home page, put a link there so that visitors will see it right off the bat.
Dont be afraid to appeal to your visitors emotions. If you have a photo that always generates a reaction, use it. Do the same with words. Make them remember your pets and your site. If you have a touching story, tell it. Same with humourous stories.
Our motives for sharing our lives with pets are many, but they are to a large degree emotional. Lets face it, unless you have a service dog, its not rational to share our lives with creatures that cause us so much more work. (I live with two cats and one dog who cause me no end of extra work. Theres nothing rational about someone who thinks she already has too much to do paying good money to adopt an antisocial dog who bites first and asks questions later.) Thats why your site should appeal to the visitors emotional side. Show the sad faced little kitty right up front, or the litter of puppies you rescued from the garbage bin. Use large pictures dont hold back. Visitors respond to those tactics.
Surf when you can. Youll get more ideas if you look around a lot. Dont necessarily look at rescue sites, surf anywhere. Form an opinion and decide what you like and what you dont. Try to translate that into what your visitors might be turned on by.
Put your Web site address on everything. Get it out there. Its so much more efficient to have people check your site regularly than it is to spend time on the phone unnecessarily.
Don’t think any longer about “maybe” having a Web site. Do it. You’ll wonder how you ever adopted pets without it.
Part I: Learn From Others Mistakes
Part II: You Need To Know The Basics
Part III: Get A Webmaster And Plan Your Site
Part IV: What To Do, And What Not To Do
Part V: Other Things You Need To Do