Is Your Escape Room Website Built For Success?
Good? Poor? Could be better?
The important thing about your website is that it should be meeting the goals you have for it - promoting your escape room and ultimately, getting those bookings!
Some websites do a better job than others at meeting those goals, so why is that? What makes a website “built for success?”
What does “successful website” mean?The bottom line of what “success” means for an escape room website is that it works to draw in your customers and they complete the action that you want (booking a room!). This sounds simple enough, but there are actually several components to break down here:
- People need to find your website
- You need to attract the right audience
- People need to understand what they’re looking at
- People need to be drawn to making a booking.
The role of SEOSEO (Search Engine Optimisation) addresses that first component we mentioned in the last section - people need to find your website. SEO is a broad term to cover multiple different strategies that can be used to make your website rank better on the search engines.
Your goal is to be as close to the first page of results for your targeted search terms as possible. Data shows that 91.5% of Google search engine traffic goes to websites that show up on page one.
There are around 200 Google ranking factors, some that we know for sure (because they’ve told us) and some that are surmised through testing. If that sounds a bit overwhelming, the important thing to begin with is the basics.
Your website platform
The platform you choose to build your website on can affect how SEO-friendly it is. This is one of the first decisions you make, so it’s important to assess how well the platform supports SEO. The things to look out for is if it allows you to set "meta data" for the pages (which give Google some information on what the pages are about) and how understandable the pages it produces are to Google's search robot. Performance (eg how long the pages take to load) is also important in the ranking Google gives you along with whether they see it as mobile friendly or not.
We conducted a brief survey of escape room websites to see what software they are using. The results are shown in the graph below:
As you can see, WordPress was the most popular option, followed by Wix and Squarespace. The 30% in the red was made up of a mix of options for “other” but probably includes a lot of websites built custom from scratch (which can be ok if you, or whoever you've hired to build it, know what you're doing, but usually isn't the best option).. So how do these website platforms stack up in terms of SEO?
- Wix - Wix is a very cheap way to build and website and they provide a drag and drop interface so you can do it it yourself even if you've not got a lot of tech skills. The downside is that a Wix website is often almost incomprehensible to Google or other search engines which can have a negative effect on your search engine rankings.
In the last couple of years, Wix has made several upgrades to bring their platform into a more competitive position SEO-wise but still lacks the more advanced SEO capabilities that platforms like WordPress have.
- Squarespace - Squarespace is another website builder platform that you can use to build a website without needing too much technical knowledge. Squarespace has a bunch of SEO-friendly features for you to configure and is generally better than Wix when it comes to SEO, however it still doesn’t allow the flexibility of something like WordPress which may hurt your rankings.
This is another basic of SEO that it’s important to master. Think about how a customer searches online; they’ll type in a word or phrase and it will pull up some results for them. Your objective is to optimise your website with the right words and phrases, the ones they will be searching for when looking for an escape room in your town.
“Optimising” means that you use those words in the content of your website. Common places might be in page titles, headings and body content as well as the "alt-text" of images. One key to know is that you should never “stuff” keywords in. This means using them too frequently or unnaturally, a trick that people used to try and “game” search engines.
These days, search engines are smarter. Google’s algorithm will penalise sites that keyword-stuff by pushing them further down the results.
The question for every escape room owner is, what sort of keywords should I use? Some keyword phrases that escape rooms may like to start with include:
- Escape room in (your town/city)
- Escape room (your town/city)
- Best escape room in (your town/city)
- Escape room near (your town/city)
Tuning in to escape room customersThe most important thing for yoru website to do is to attract the right people. The fact is, not EVERYONE is your audience. While we think escape rooms are pretty universally cool, they’re simply not everyone’s cup of tea.
As soon as you understand this, you can think about the types of people who will love your escape room. You can write messaging that will appeal to those people, while giving your brand a sense of personality.
That’s one thing a lot of business owners miss - if you try to appeal to all, you often come across as bland, or no different to the next business. This can mean you fail to stand out and attract the people you want.
A customer avatar is a very useful tool for helping you to define your ideal customer and the sorts of things that matter to them. An avatar depicts a customer persona, their likes and dislikes and their demographic information.
An important takeaway when it comes to messaging is that your audience should “get it” right away. Research tells us you have about 15 seconds to get the attention of someone who lands on your website.
Your key messaging needs to be up-front and expressed with clarity. Simultaneously for escape rooms, you want to convey that sense of adventure and excitement. Someone might have your website up as well as one of your competitor’s. If they don’t know the difference between you in-person, they will probably choose the one that has better messaging.
It’s also worth noting that your SEO is affected by this. Google is in the business of serving up results that are as relevant as possible to the searcher. If people arrive on your website and click away pretty quickly, that sends the signal that your website isn’t so relevant, and could push down your search rankings. Aim to create a website that people linger on!
Why user experience mattersUser experience and SEO are absolutely tied together. This is for the same reasons we just mentioned - a poor user experience can have someone clicking away in a hurry.
It’s not just your SEO though, it’s your conversion rates that are affected - those all-important reservations! Your ultimate aim is to have people complete a booking on your website, but if their experience is poor, that may not happen.
What makes for poor user experience? Here are some factors:
- Confusing site navigation. People want it to be obvious where they should go.
- Poor choice of colors or fonts. These can impact the usability of your site, such as by making it difficult to read.
- Poor layout choices. The most important things should be at or near the top, preferably “above the fold” (the point at which a website visitor has to scroll to see more)
- Lack of payment options. You should probably always have a credit card option but you should check what other payment services your customers like to use.
- Website is slow or the checkout process takes too long. People want quick! (Pingdom is a great tool for assessing your website speed and finding any bottlenecks).
- Website is not mobile optimised. More and more people are visiting websites on their mobile phones, this can be a problem if the website was built and tested on desktop computer browsers. It's very important that your website is as easy to use from a phone as it is from a computer.
Final thoughtsWhat makes an escape room website successful? Ultimately, it is all of those factors that lead to a customer making a booking.
This has been a brief overview of what can affect your success - it’s important to dig further into SEO and ensure that your website is optimised as well as you can. There are also many tips online about how you can make sure your website is user-friendly, so we suggest if you find that you lose a lot of traffic, take a look at where any bottlenecks might be.
Lastly, talk to your customers about their experience with your website! You can often learn something valuable just by asking. A successful website tends to be an ongoing effort. The more you learn over time, the better you can optimise the experience.