I am seeing many new designs go live recently with minimal Search Engine presence. Search Engine presence comes from expert SEO (Search Engine Optimization) being included as an integral part of your web design, at the time the design is being built.
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I realize the concept of SEO isn’t easy. Most innkeepers simply choose to hire a firm to handle it. Here’s the problem: Not all firms really do what needs to be done to get you all the “Free” (Organic) traffic they can get for you.
Let’s start with a few basics.
The following are the top 3 major Search Engines out there and their usage on the web.
Google (70% ish)
Yahoo (20% ish)
MSN (6% ish)
You want your web site to be found as often and for as many Search Phrases (Keywords) as possible.
You only get about 65 characters per page to set the priority search phrases for that page. This is called the TITLE of the page (And yes, all the words on the page will be included in the search engines’ listings, but the heaviest amount of weight will be placed on the words in the TITLE for that page and a bit less for the text of the page.)
You can’t shove all your search phrase (keywords) into 1 page, IE: your home page, and expect decent placement on all the phrases.
What you are selling, as defined by your search phrases, MUST be spread out through all the pages of your site to get the highest possible placement for all phrases and their corresponding pages.
Remember you have approximately 65 characters per page to tell the search engines the MOST IMPORTANT thing(s) you are selling on that page.
Most Design companies get your location words decent placement on the home page and stop there.
You didn’t pay your design firm to SEO all the pages. You may not have even discussed it. SEO is a charge that is applied in addition to the design. If it wasn’t on your bid/contract, it more than likely didn’t happen. Remember, if you are currently considering a design, make sure you consider the cost of SEO, DO NOT ASSUME it will be included. It’s a separate work task, and it is charged separately from the design work tasks. If you don’t see it listed as a separate charge you can pretty much assume it’s not included. And yes, a bid with SEO is likely to cost more than a bid that only includes design. But really, what’s the point of having a brand new site that isn’t being seen as much as it possibly can for “Free”?
Light Bulb Moment:
A – If you have SEO integrated into every page of your site, you will get more people to find your web site pages.
B – The more web surfers who find you listed in the “Free” organic search engine results, will result in more people who have a chance to click on your site.
C – The more people who click on your site, the more people you have in your “potential guest pool” in which to sell to.
Side Note: We know from our Intell-a-Keeper BOOKING statistics that these “Non-Location” phrases indeed do make bookings. Marketing all pages of your site is NOT a waste of time or money.
Let’s take an example of an inn in Kyle Texas.
Watch for an upcoming blog post sharing their awesome SEO marketing results, but the bottom line is: They DOUBLED their human visitors, and then some, by doubling the amount of Search Phrases / Keywords that their various pages could be found on. And I mean DOUBLED! IE: If they had 1500 visitors in Jan 2008 they had 3000+ visitors in Jan 2009. A 100% increase, and then some. This is not something to sneeze at. Not to mention, their business is hopping in a not so great economy.
This inn utilizes the words and phrases listed below on their home page for first place individual inn placement. Remember do NOT look at the Sponsored PPC, but the “Free” (Organic) listings! Look on the left hand side of the screen below the Google local map results.
Location Words such as: Kyle Texas
Used in conjunction with qualifying words such as: Bed and Breakfast, Inn, Country Inn, Bed & Breakfast, B&B, B and B, Lodging, Accommodations
IE: Kyle Texas Bed and Breakfast, Kyle Texas Inn, Kyle Texas Country Inn, etc.
This is where most web designers can hit the nail on the head and cover their bases by showing you decent home page placement.
What they are missing, and what most innkeepers DO NOT REALIZE is that there other phrases, such as those listed below, that will also sell your rooms.
Adventure / Activity Related: Golfing, Biking, etc.
Inn Related: Child Friendly, Pet Friendly, etc.
Area Related: Attractions, History, etc.
Ambiance: Victorian, Rustic, etc.
Architecture: Country Inn, Urban Inn, etc.
When Acorn designs a new site, SEO is an integral part of that design. As part of the design, our bids include the SEO work in addition to the design. We have a 75 question survey to have you tell us all the topics regarding what you sell, or things that might bring business to your doorstep. We then match up what you sell with exact phrases of what web surfers type in the search engines.
If your design company didn’t ask you to tell them what niches and areas you sell to, (similar to the topics above) or they outright asked for YOU to give THEM the search phrases you wanted on your site, odds are your site is seriously lacking in search power to drive you “Free” traffic from the search engines to your site.
Clue 1: Go to your web site and scroll to the end. Do you see your design company’s tag line? Does it say Design and Hosting but not Marketing, Promotion or SEO Optimization? If you don’t have a reference to Marketing, Promotion or SEO Optimization, odds are you only have the basic placement your home page and nothing else that is relevant to bringing guests to your site on the other pages. Even if your site does say Marketing, Promotion or SEO, it’s a good idea to verify the SEO work by following the suggestions in Clue 2.
Clue 2: Log into your web statistics program and see how many total Search Phrases (if you are using Urchin Tracking) or Keywords (if you use Google Analytics) are used to drive business every month to your web site.
I’ve pulled some benchmarks for you to compare your own site to. This data comes from a sample of websites that were marketed from across the United States, but not necessarily designed by Acorn.
How to find Search Phrases if you use Urchin Statistics
Step 1: Log into your Urchin Stats
Step 2: Click the Month you want review (left hand column near bottom)
Step 3: Click Referrals
Step 4: Click Search Terms
Step 5: Pull the monthly total of search phrases from the bottom Total Line
How to find Keywords if you use Google Analytics Statistics
Step 1: Log into your Google Analytics
Step 2: Select your Google Analytics Account you wish to review
Step 3: Click View Report
Step 4: Set your Date Range for the month you are reviewing and click APPLY.
Step 5: Click Traffic Sources
Step 6: Click Keywords
Step 7: You will see the line that says: Search sent XX total visits via YY keywords. Your total keywords that brought visitors from your site in this case would be YY.
PLEASE NOTE: These numbers will vary based on your location, and the typical visitor traffic in your area. IE: Travel destination vs. Non Travel destination. Large City vs. Small, etc.
Now that you know how many Search Phrases your site is found on for any particular month, you also need to know how many pages Google knows about on your site? Follow the instructions below to figure out your Total Web Page Count known by Google…
Go to Google and in the search box type:
Click to the very last page that Google has listed. This will provide the accurate total number of pages Google is aware of for your site. Don’t trust the number at the top UNTIL you physically scroll to the end of all the pages. (The first number you see includes duplicate pages.)
If you haven’t hired a firm to make your site SEO friendly, simply look at the “Total Web Site Pages” column in the chart above to see how your site fares.
If you have hired a firm to make your site SEO friendly, you can identify Uniquely Marketed (Crafted) SEO on a webpage as follows: (Remember, it’s rare to see a site with each and every page uniquely crafted. Thus the numbers in that column being less than total pages column.)
Go to Google and in the search box type:
Look at the top line of every search result. What you should see is quality Search Phrases separated by commas. If they all say the same thing, or have your inn name repeated over and over, or say the type of page such as “home”, “rooms and rates”, “directions” then you can pretty much determine that your site isn’t completely SEO friendly.
So – What does this mean to you?
Having a lot of pages on your web site will help with driving visitors to your site with various Search Phrases / Keywords, BUT ONLY if you’ve had someone properly install crafted SEO, as defined by you in some type of survey or communication vehicle to your design firm. Having 100 web site pages is a good thing, but if those 100 pages all have the same TITLE, or a poorly crafted TITLE, it doesn’t help in getting more visitors to your site.
Not getting the kind of “Free” search phrase traffic that our Acorn Customers typically enjoy? Haven’t had an SEO update in a few years? Call us as 877-226-7699 and have us share what we can do to help.
Finally, please remember to click the Comment Button below to share any great or not so great SEO experience, and also feel free to pass this article on to any innkeeper you think might benefit from this information.
President and Co-Founder
Acorn Internet Services, Inc.
Educating our Industry One Innkeeper at at Time!