Signs It’s Time for a Funeral Home Website Makeover (Part 1)

A member of your community has a friend who recently prearranged with your funeral home. She had such a positive experience with your firm that she shared how glad she was that she put her plans in place and encouraged her friend to do the same. Curious, this newly referred potential client pulled up your firm’s website on her smartphone. Does the experience your website provides match the exceptional service her friend described? If she conducts additional research on your website later, will she find enough information to encourage her to set up an appointment?

You owe it to your firm and the families you serve to establish an online presence that truly reflects the value you bring to the community. Here are a few of the signs your current website doesn’t measure up:

The home page fails to tell a compelling story.

Website visitors lose interest in what they’re seeing within a matter of seconds. If you only had a moment to talk to your potential client families, what would you say to them about funeral service and its value for them? Does your website’s home page communicate this message in a meaningful way?

Too often, websites deter visitors from the start because their home pages don’t address the reasons why people arrive at the sites in the first place. Instead of telling website visitors who you are, focus the messaging on what your firm can do to help them. This leads to the next important sign your funeral home website could use a makeover:

Visitors can’t quickly find what they’re looking for.

Today, many websites’ content is focused on buyer personas – pre-identified groups of organizations’ most likely buyers who share certain characteristics and needs. By taking note of the different types of people who interact with your firm – and what they want from you and your website – you can help guide them through the information that is most useful to them.

As a starting point, consider the key user groups for your firm’s website, such as at-need families, people who are interested in prearranging (for themselves or a loved one), members of the community who are looking for obituaries/service information and people who need grief support resources. Your firm is likely to have additional audiences based on your community’s unique traits and your firm’s specialized service offerings such as pet memorialization. What does your website do to serve each of these groups, and how easily can they find the information that’s relevant to them? If your website navigation doesn’t allow them to quickly locate what they’re looking for, you’ll lose their attention – and possibly their business.

Your site isn’t mobile-friendly.

If you’re an active smartphone user, you’ve likely experienced the frustration of trying to navigate a site that wasn’t built for use on mobile devices. Unreadable navigation menus and text probably caused you to abandon the website in favor of another resource that was easier to use. As the Pew Research Center notes, “nearly two-thirds of Americans are now smartphone owners, and for many these devices are a key entry point to the online world.” If your website isn’t optimized to be used on mobile devices, many of your website visitors may give up on your website, and in turn, you could be missing out on opportunities to serve them.

Mobile optimization is important from more than just a user experience standpoint – it also plays a role in how Google displays search results. In April 2015, Google altered its search engine to reward websites it considers to be mobile-friendly. To find more information about the effects of this change, click here. Not sure if your website is considered mobile-friendly? Enter your firm’s URL in Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool.

The content isn’t optimized for search engines.

There are many components to an effective search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, which will help potential client families find your website when they’re using search engines to locate information about funeral planning. It’s particularly important to ensure the content on your website contains keywords that the people in your community are most likely to be searching for online.

Keywords must be used in the context of relevant content, however – if you simply fill your pages with the keywords you think will be likely to help you rank more favorably in search engine results, you may actually end up being penalized by certain search engines. Instead, let the keywords fall naturally within the content, and consider using related keywords to help you rank for a variety of terms. To learn more about ensuring your funeral home website is search-friendly, click here.

If your website isn’t encouraging families to use your services, chances are good it’s also providing a poor experience for them. In the second installment of this series, I’ll share some of the ways your website might be falling short in offering the resources today’s website users expect – and what you can do about it.

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