Esty Ranch is located in the Gunnison, Colorado area in the heart of the scenic Gunnison River Valley. It’s a small farm and ranch that specializes in producing Timothy grass hay and natural beef cattle.
Esty Ranch’s blend of Timothy grass hay is a high-quality mix of Timothy hay with native high-mountain meadow grasses and clovers. This is used as feed for pleasure, ranch and rodeo horses and is especially favored as a premium feed for race horses. Esty Ranch also raises all natural beef cattle, which are raised at high altitudes and fed natural, native high-mountain meadow grasses and clovers, and drink only pure Colorado Rocky Mountain water. Their diet is further enriched with Esty Ranch’s own Timothy grass hay, all natural mineral supplements and high quality grains. The intent is to produce superior quality all-natural market beef.
The Esty Ranch Design Challenge
Most of Esty Ranch’s clients are located on ranches in rural areas. The challenge that this presents is that most of these clients have no access to high-speed Internet connections. For many of these ranches, Internet access via satellite is the only high-speed broadband option, but that tends to be expensive and unreliable. Most clients are therefore using dial-up telephone connections. The first requirement was to design a site that is very fast with slow, dial-up Internet connections.
The second challenge was to design a site that ranks well in the search engines, even though the site would remain small and will probably continue to focus on only two product offerings. Small Web sites with little content tend to have a disadvantage in search engine rankings relative to much larger sites with lots of informational content.
How We Approached the Project
It was beneficial that this would be a new Web site that we could design and build from the ground up to be search engine friendly. The site could therefore be designed around and focused on a small number of keyword search phrases. Designing a site for search engines almost always produces better results than when a site is reworked and adapted for search engines.
Due to the shipping costs related with moving tons of hay, most of Esty Ranch’s clients are located in Colorado or surrounding states. Very strong localization of the site would therefore be beneficial, because the site only needed to rank well for potential clients that would likely be using localized search phrases, such as “Timothy grass hay in Colorado” or “Colorado natural beef cattle”. It therefore was advantageous to focus the site on localized search words, such as “Gunnison” and “Colorado”.
When interviewing the ranch owner, we discovered a huge benefit that greatly aided the development of highly-focused, localized content. Esty Ranch is the original 1871 homestead of John B. Outcalt, one of the pioneer founding members of Gunnison, Colorado. Vevarelle Outcalt, one of John Outcalt’s four daughters, married Eugene Esty and they inherited the ranch. Vevarelle Esty continued to run the ranch after the death of her husband. In fact, she continued to live on the ranch and contributed to its management until her passing in 1999 at the age of 97. The ranch therefore has a rich and interesting history.
The Esty Ranch Design Solution
In order to maintain a high level of performance for users with dial-up connections, the number and sizes of the site’s images had to be limited. The menu design utilizes text and cascading style sheets techniques for colors and rollover effects. The HTML code stresses design simplicity and is very efficient. All images have been optimized to reduce their file size.
The content for each page is strongly focused on a keyword theme for the page. To add a strong degree of localization, extensive historical research was performed and several Web pages were added that focus on the history of Gunnison, Colorado and on the history of the ranch itself.
Google, MSN and Yahoo began indexing the site within a week. The site began rising in the rankings in a few months. Due to Google’s infamous Sandbox Effect, it did take six to eight months before the site began to rank well with Google.
Today, the site ranks very well in the free or natural rankings in most search engines. The site even performs well for several generic search phrases that compete with all Web sites worldwide. This drives a significant amount of business to the ranch with no incremental costs other than the minimal cost of Web site hosting.
As of August 13, 2009, the site can be found in the following rank positions for the search phrases listed on the left.
Esty Ranch – #1 and #2 in Google
Esty Ranch – #1 and #2 in Bing (MSN)
Esty Ranch – #1 and #2 in Yahoo
Timothy grass hay – #2 and #3 in Google
Timothy grass hay – #3 in Bing (MSN)
Timothy grass hay – #2 in Yahoo
Timothy grass hay in Gunnison – #1 and #2 in Google
Timothy grass hay in Gunnison – #1 and #2 in Bing (MSN)
Timothy grass hay in Gunnison – #1 in Yahoo
Timothy grass hay in Colorado – #1 and #2 in Google
Timothy grass hay in Colorado – #1 and #2 in Bing (MSN)
Timothy grass hay in Colorado – #1 in Yahoo
natural beef cattle – #9 in Google
natural beef cattle – #10 in Bing (MSN)
natural beef cattle in Gunnison – #1 and #2 in Google
natural beef cattle in Gunnison – #4 in Bing (MSN)
natural beef cattle in Gunnison – #3 in Yahoo
natural beef cattle in Colorado – #1 and #2 in Google
natural beef cattle in Colorado – #4 in Bing (MSN)
history of Gunnison Colorado – #2 in Google
history of Gunnison Colorado – #5 in Bing (MSN)
Normally, it would be very difficult for a small 10-page site to rank this well. However, efficient code design and localized, focused content can give even a small web site the boost it needs to achieve higher search engine rankings.