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Content is still king

A few weeks ago, I decided to take the family on a Saturday trip to go horseback riding in the north Georgia mountains.  The girls have wanted to do it for a while, and the weather was going to be beautiful that Saturday.

Not really knowing what I was doing, I started searching for places in north Georgia that could help us.  I wanted info, such as:

  • What does it cost?
  • What do we wear?
  • How do I make a reservation?
  • What experience level do we need to have?

Things like that.  Also, our youngest daughter is just four years old, so I needed to find a place that could accommodate her as well.

Let’s take a tour of some of the websites I found when searching for horseback riding in north Georgia and see what kinds of issues we run into…

The sites

Blanche Manor — I found this site early on, and it did a nice job.  Their FAQ page answered all of my questions, including the age issue.  Since they could handle children that young, I expected to have a lot of options with other sites.  The site wasn’t beautiful, but it was adequate.

Dillard House Stables — Decent info, though everything is hidden behind a masked URL so I can can’t quickly link you to a specific page on their site.  However, they clearly stated the minimum age (6), so I moved on.

Adventure Trail Rides — It had potential, but I couldn’t find age information on the site.  I emailed them with detailed info about what I was looking for, including asking about the minimum age.  I’ll post their entire reply below:

7

Wow, weak. No “thanks for contacting us”, or even a name.  Just “7”. I obviously wouldn’t have used them this time anyhow, but that kind of response assures that I won’t use them in the future either.

Brasstown Valley — They have a very nice looking site, but the minimum age is six.  The only real problem with their site is the Facebook account that they promote all over it — it’s a profile, not a company.  Ooops!  They’ll be back at square one when Facebook decides to delete this fellow named “Brasstown”.

Gold City Corral — Auto-playing, un-mutable music.  Ahh!  The whole point of this splash page seems to be to pile a bunch of keywords on the home page, as they clearly say “skip this section and click on the above ‘Enter Here’… to enter our website”.  Cute.  Once you get inside, there is painfully little information, but I already made my choice about them when they shocked me with that awful music.

Why so bad?

There were certainly others that had decent sites, but none that could handle a four-year old.  I couldn’t tell you why they don’t, because Blanche Manor had a special seat for her to ride in with the guide and it worked very well.

I should also mention that Blanche Manor responded quickly and completely to my email inquiry, and made things very easy for us.  You can have an absolutely perfect site, but you still need to talk to your customers properly.

As always, the key is content.  You can’t have a 1997 Geocities-looking site, but it doesn’t have to be perfect either.  Stop stressing about which shade of green to use, and just answer your visitor’s questions.  It’s not that hard…

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Mickey Mellen

Co-Founder and Technical Director

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