Business

10 Fixes for a More Competitive Website

A checklist for you (and your website guru) 

When online marketing professional Alison Krejny began supplementing her budding business career with freelance dance teaching—she’d double majored in dance and business management technology in college—she immediately noticed a disconnect between what she knew about online marketing and what was happening on studio websites. “There was information missing, no images, you couldn’t find phone numbers,” says Krejny. “The big light bulb went off over my head, and I thought, ‘Hey! These people need some help.’” She went on to found and run Ohio-based To The Pointe Marketing, focusing on online advertising for studios and companies.

The website problems Krejny identified aren’t uncommon. Frank Sahlein, CEO of 3rd Level Consulting, estimates that 60 percent of the studio owners he works with are “just kind of wandering around, doing the best job they can,” he says. The good news is that optimizing your website isn’t as complicated as you might imagine: We’ve narrowed it down to 10 ways you can fine-tune your web presence to make it effective, accessible and competitive.

Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. With the explosive growth in smartphone and tablet use, it’s a must that your site be easily viewable on all devices. Mobile users want a page to load quickly, and they want to find the important information near the top. Website templates from providers like WordPress and Squarespace incorporate “responsive” design, which adapts a site’s look and functionality automatically to whatever device it’s being viewed on. “Most website creation tools develop your mobile version as they develop the website itself,” explains Sahlein, at little or no extra cost to you.

2 Provide a good user experience. Your site should be easy to navigate, in addition to pages loading quickly. Think twice before using Flash-based designs: If your images aren’t optimized and are too heavy, they’ll load too slowly. “That can discourage users from staying on the site and doing a search,” says Krejny. “They might move on to the next listing that will load quicker.” (Note: iPhones and iPads don’t support Flash.)

3 Keep your content clear and concise. Give a short description of your studio, and note what sets it apart with bullet points, suggests Sahlein. “People won’t read three paragraphs,” he says. “They’ll read two or three sentences and four bullet points.” Good content will lead to better search results, too. 

4 Include the right keywords. Keywords are words or phrases that your target customers are likely to type into search engines when looking for a site. These should appear in your site’s body text and in each page’s title tag (what shows up at the top of a browser and at the top of an individual tab within a browser). Krejny separates keywords into two categories: industry (dance studio) generic and locality-specific. “You want to include big bang words like ‘dance studio’ and ‘local dance studio’ on your website, because that’s what people are going to search,” she explains. Adding your city name and zip code will let internet users know that your studio is in their area. Aim to include a couple of keywords per webpage.

5 Fill out your contact page completely. Be as specific and clear as you can: Include your e-mail address, hours of operation, studio address (pull in a Google map for viewers to see street intersections) and phone number. Format your phone number with an area code, dashes and no spaces (example: 555-555-8899) so that those viewing your studio website on their mobile devices can click directly on the number to place a call. Sahlein advises including a photo, too, of you, the owner, or your office manager.

6 Share your social media. Does your studio have a Facebook page? Twitter account? Instagram profile? Include links on your homepage to social media, or embed their feeds directly into your website with plug-ins. “Add any images you can,” says Krejny. “Students will eat those up and want to show their friends—‘This is what we’re doing in class!’”

7 Include video or a slideshow of images. According to Sahlein, videos are better and should be no longer than a minute and a half; a slideshow should include no more than 10 rotating pictures. Ideally, a video promoting your studio would show clips from a dance class, with quotes from a student, a parent and an instructor. Your search engine optimization, or SEO, will increase: “Now, Google and Yahoo will crawl through your videos and listen to what words you use,” says Sahlein. “Words are highly rated.” Krejny suggests creating a YouTube channel as an easy way to embed any videos you create directly into your website.

8 Add a blog. Sure, it may seem like one more time-sucker, but it’s also another way to integrate keywords and raise your SEO. “A blog gives search engines a reason to come back and continue to crawl your site, boosting your rankings a little more,” says Krejny.

9 Don’t forget directory listings. Populate your business profile in local directories like Google Places for Business, Bing Local, Yelp and Yellow Pages. For continuity, Krejny advises establishing at least your NAP—name, address and phone number—on each listing profile. Images of your storefront and studios are a good addition, too. Krejny also suggests checking out getlisted.org, where you can enter your studio’s web address and find out what directories you’re already listed in, where you can still claim new listings and where you can improve current listings.

1Know where to put customer reviews. Testimonial quotes—what Sahlein refers to as “social proof”—allow potential clients to identify with your current studio students or parents, making them more likely to choose your studio. But you’ll get more bang for your buck if you include your reviews on your listing profiles, rather than your website. “Google will crawl your listings and see that people like your business,” says Krejny. “This gives you a boost in credibility and will improve your ranking.”

While these fixes are quick and easy to implement, don’t think that your work stops there. “Optimizing your website isn’t a one-time thing,” warns Krejny. “A lot of people set it and forget about it. It really should be something you manipulate every couple of weeks—adding a few new images, updating the content, anything to keep it fresh and engaging.” DT

 Illustration © Anatoliy Babiy/Thinkstock

For the past 17 years, the Martha Hill Fund has been honoring the commitment to dance education and international performance embodied by its namesake. Previous award winners have included Carla Maxwell, former artistic director of Limón Dance Company, former Ailey II dancer Frederick Earl Mosley and Mark DeGarmo of Mark DeGarmo Dance.

This year's awards gala takes place tonight at the Manhattan Penthouse in New York City. Check out who's being honored.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health

The Feldenkrais Method is a somatic technique created by Moshe Feldenkrais in the 1950s. The method has two parts: hands-on sessions with a Feldenkrais teacher (Functional Integration) or group classes comprised of verbal cues (Awareness Through Movement).

Mary Armentrout, a dance teacher, choreographer and Feldenkrais practitioner, shares three ways that this somatic practice can bolster your students' training.

Keep reading... Show less
Your Studio

Oversexualizing young kids has been a hot topic among dance teachers in recent years. It's arguably the most controversial topic teachers and studio owners are faced with. Deciding which choreography, music or costumes are appropriate—or not—isn't always black and white and can be easily overlooked. Is showing the midriff too much for minis? Is this choreography too provocative? Is this popular song too suggestive for a competition piece? The questions can seem endless with no clear objective answers. Until now.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Health
To make dancers stronger and less injury-prone, Burns Wilson suggest adding floor barre or conditioning classes. Photo courtesy of Burns Wilson

With a career spanning 30-plus years in the dance field, Anneliese Burns Wilson has cultivated a unique perspective on health and injury prevention for dancers. From teaching ballet to teaching anatomy, she then founded ABC for Dance, which publishes dance-teaching materials. Now through research for her next book, which will focus on training the female adolescent dancer, she's delving even deeper into topics many dance teachers have overlooked.

Keep reading... Show less
Erdmann (left) on set for "Hairspray Live" (courtesy of Erdmann)

When Wicked ensemble member Kelli Erdman was training at Westlake Dance Center in Seattle, Washington, her teacher Kirsten Cooper taught her that focussed transitions would be pivotal to her success as a dancer. Now as a professional, she applies this advice to her daily performances, asserting that she will never let the details of her dancing get blurry.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers & Role Models
Khobdeh dancing Taylor's Speaking In Tongues. Photo courtesy of PTDC

For Parisa Khobdeh, music does more than set the tone for a piece—it's enabled her to connect with movement. And once she joined Paul Taylor Dance Company in 2003, Taylor's body of work deepened this connection. "His choreography showed me the music, the architecture and the space," she says. "I now see the music."

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Buzz

We haven't been able to stop watching Lil' Mushroom since she popped and locked her way into Ellen's heart last week. We know you've got a long night of teaching ahead, and this is the dance inspiration you need to get you through. Check it out and tell us what you think about her killer moves over on our Facebook page! (She starts blowing minds at about 2:16.)

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Videos

Sponsored

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox

Win It!

Sponsored