2013 ReportCard: Innkeeper’s Local SERP Placement – What’s Your Grade?

I recently had the pleasure of teaching a PAII Innkeeping Live! Session last week titled: Local Ranking Factors: Advice from the Experts!PAII Live Snapshot

This session was based on the our August 14, 2014 Blog Post
Experts Share Insights on Google Local Ranking Factors

Over 60 PAII members, both Innkeepers and Vendors alike registered for this session, and I was thrilled that the Innkeepers that attended loved the information we were able to provide!

Here are a few of the comments that PAII received.

PAII Innkeeping Live Comments

Because the Innkeeping Live! Sessions are quite new,  I got to thinking “I wonder if this is the first time these Innkeepers have heard this important Local Placement advice?”  So I went out to investigate to see if the attendees already had these things established for their web presence. And as I began to dig, the concept for this blog post was formed.

I so appreciate Innkeepers that want to grow their knowledge by attending classes about their web presence, and I find it hard to believe that there are Innkeepers out there, who do NOT find Ongoing Education for their business important.

But believe it or not, they DO EXIST!
And I do understand why. It is hard work to “Learn” and then “Apply” what you have learned.
But the Rewards so Outweigh the Effort! And that is the whole premise of this post….
Innkeepers that WANT to Learn vs. those who CHOOSE NOT to!

Caveat: We do realize that not all Innkeepers can “DO” the work themselves that needs to be done for great Internet ROI. But even if you don’t  “DO” the tasks involved yourself, YOU MUST HAVE a basic understanding of what you are paying your Webmaster and/or Marketing Firm to do. Otherwise it’s easy to fall into the trap of paying money and not really understanding what you are getting for it.  Internet Marketing HAS NO QUICK FIX. You either pay to have it done, learn how and DIY (Do-it-Yourself) or lose traction and business to your competitors who are keeping up with the latest Search Guidelines and Requirements.

2013 Map of Innkeepers SERP GradesThe Grading Process

Using 3 groups of Inns, divided across 3 regions of the United States (Western, Central and Eastern) I investigated the top Local Placement Priorities that we discussed in the Innkeeping Live Session. In total, I evaluated 45 Inns:

You will find a detailed Grading Scale below, along with Step-by-Step Instructions for you to Test Your Inn and determine your own Grade for each of these priorities.

1) As you would expect, Innkeepers that are continuing their Education with Acorn UniversityClub 60 and PAII. scored the highest.
2) Some of the Innkeepers attending the PAII Session had a few of the priorities in place. (Donna Hudson, PAII’s Director of Education will be sharing these results directly with the 15 Innkeeping Live! Webinar attendees.)
3)  Innkeepers that have said NO! to Ongoing Education, have the lowest grades regarding today’s Local Placement requirements.

Which makes sense. Like I said, “How do you know if you are getting what you are paying for, if you don’t know what it is you are paying for?” It’s these Innkeepers, that I found scoring the LOWEST.  The ones that have chosen to NOT LEARN, and instead put their faith into their Marketing Companies promise of “We’ll take care of it – Just pay us!” in hopes that it would all be OK! And it’s NOT OK!

The Inn names have been removed to “Protect the Innkeeper’s Privacy”.  Should you wish to discuss further, I encourage you to write to me directly at lisa@acorn-is.com.  All data in this report is authentic, and has been evaluated by hand.  And yes, we do know this is only a small sample, but even this small sample is indicating a trend that Education is a Must for Innkeepers to remain competitive in today’s local, online market.

Report Cards

Below are the Report Cards for the 45 Inns that were tested. Click on the images to enlarge.

Acorn University Student Grades

PAII Innkeeper Live Student Grades

Innkeepers without Ongoing EducationBelow are the top Local Placement Tests  that were evaluated in determining the grades you see on the map above.  I encourage you to follow the steps to “Test your own Inn!” You might even want to compare yourself to the other test cases in your region of the country.


SERP GradeTest 1: SERP Placement

It’s important to know where your local placement is in Google and various other search engines.  This will tell you how you are doing in relation to your competition, and if Google “Likes” the work you are doing online.   Preferably, you want to find yourself on the top of Page 1, with a Local Places listing (a red bubble with letters A – G) or in the Black Local Carousel at the top of the screen.  Note that not all local search phrases render the Local Carousel quite yet.

Step 1: Go to http://www.google.com
Step 2: Make sure you are in a clean browser.  Don’t know what that means?  Click to learn more…
Step 3: Type in your City + State + Bed and Breakfast or your top Local Search phrase for your Inn.
Example: Colorado Springs Bed and Breakfast

What’s Your Grade? Document your location where you find your listing using the chart to the right.  Make sure it’s truly your Inn’s Website and not a listing on another site such as a Directory or Local Chamber.  Look at the URL to be sure.


Location GradeTest 2: Location in Title

As part of the “Local Search Ranking Factors Results” Overview for 2013, “Your location as a keyword in title tags and headlines” was on top of the list.  Your Meta Title Tag tells Google what your home page is about: Your Inn Name  and where you are Located!  We typically write our SEO Client’s home page Titles as follows: Inn Name + Location. 
Example:
ABC Bed and Breakfast: Colorado Springs, CO

Step 1: Go to your Website Home Page
Step 2: On the background area, RIGHT CLICK your mouse
Step 3: Select View Page Source
Step 4:
Look in the code for <Title>, The text that follows is your home page title.

What’s Your Grade? Does your home page title include your Location?  City and State?  If so, give yourself an A, and continue on with the testing.  If not, make a note to contact your Webmaster to update this information for you.


Address in Text on Website GradeTest 3: Address in Text

It is imperative that your NAP information (Name, Address and Phone number) be featured clearly on your Website.  It must be in TEXT, it CANNOT be an Image, as that Google doesn’t read image contents.  All they know is it is an image.  Also, it must be the physical address to your Inn’s location.  PO Boxes are not used as Location Identifiers in Google Places, Maps, etc.

Step 1: Go to your Website
Step 2: Search for your Inn’s Name, Full Address and Phone on the page.
Step 3: Highlight this information with your Mouse, if it can be copied it is TEXT.   If you get a Circle with a Slash through it when you try to highlight, it is an image.

What’s Your Grade?  If your NAP is correct, and is displayed in TEXT, give yourself an A!  If it is only partially correct, or is an IMAGE, or is completely missing, contact your Webmaster and have them repair this issue ASAP.  Also, it would be a great idea to take some time to study up on NAP uniqueness online. To achieve the highest Local Placement possible, your NAP must be the same everywhere online, starting with your Website!


Address Schema on WebsiteTest 4: Address Schema    

You will notice if you dig into the “Local Search Ranking Factors” full article for 2013, that many of the experts also recommend that your NAP on your Website use proper “Schema” or “Rich Snippet” coding.  It simply helps clarify your physical location with Google by using such code on your Website..

Step 1: Go to http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets
Step 2: Type in your Website URL
Step 3: Look to see if you have any RESULTS in the Structured Data section that are indicated with http://www.schema.org.

What’s Your Grade? If you have the correct Schema tags, give yourself an A!  If there are NO Schema tags indicated in your Rich Snippet results, contact your Webmaster, give them the links above regarding Schema.org and Rich Snippets and have them add the proper code to your Website!


Mobile Site? Speed? GradeTest 5 & 6: Mobile Site and Mobile Speed  

If you are not providing a Google approved Mobile presence that gives your guests a quality mobile experience, the future of your placement on a Mobile Search is in jeopardy. If you do not have a Google approved Mobile site, it is past time to invest in your Inn’s mobile future.  Google has said that their PREFERRED Method to produce a Mobile site is through a Responsive Design. Though they also still support the Parallel Design concept at the moment.   So, as an Innkeeper, FIRST you must HAVE A Mobile Site associated with your Website and installed as per Google’s Mobile Guidelines, and SECOND, it must be fast, with no reported errors, to produce an enjoyable user experience for your Guests!

Step 1: Go to http://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
Step 2: Type in your full default Website Address
Step 3: Look in the “Mobile Window” to see if your Mobile design appears. You want your Mobile site, if you have one, to display here. If your FULL webpage appears in the “Mobile Window”, Google is unaware of your Mobile Site, even if you do have one.  Such an issue is typically due to install issues, or having designed a Mobile site that is not associated with your URL.
Step 4:
If you indeed do have a Mobile site that Google recognizes, then check the Mobile Speed Score.  It will be ##  / 100.  You want your Mobile Site to score at an 86 or higher.

What’s Your Grade? Do you have a Google Approved Mobile Site? If so, give yourself an A for having a Mobile Site that Google recognizes!  If not, you need to invest in one ASAP.  And if at all possible, it’s best to invest in a full Responsive Design, as that is Google’s
preferred configuration.  Then check your Mobile Speed Score.  If it’s less than 86, then you need to bring the errors, and suggestions provided with this Google Insights tool to your Webmaster’s attention so they may “SPEED UP YOUR SITE” for the best User Experience possible.


Author Tag GradeTest 7: Author Tags    

Author Tags appear to be here to stay.  Google is putting many of their eggs in this basket, and you cannot afford to ignore have your Author Tags installed correctly on your Website and Blog.  We have written post after post after post on this subject.  We have taught our Acorn IS Industry Free-For-All Webinar’s and PAII’s Lunch and Learn Webinars on this subject. It is past time to get on board the Authority band wagon.

Step 1: Go to http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets
Step 2: Type in your Website URL
Step 3:  Look to see if it says “Authorship is working for this webpage” and “rel=author markup has successfully established authorship for this webpage

What’s Your Grade? If this test shows that your Authorship Tags are in place, give yourself an A, if not, contact your Webmaster ASAP and ask them to install them on both your Website and Blog ASAP.


Google+ Business Listing Page GradeTest 8: Verified G+ Business Page    

What can we say about getting your G+ Business Page verified?  Google has been giving Innkeepers FREE access to update your Local Information on their system FOR YEARS, but still so many Innkeepers haven’t taken this simple step to verify their listing, their categories, content, photos, videos, etc.  This is the data that goes into Google Maps, Google’s 3 and 7 pack, and Google’s new Local Carousel.  You need to have control.  Verification gives you that control.

Step 1: Go to http:www.google.com
Step 2: Click the RED Sign In button in the upper right hand corner.
Step 3: Click the +You (+Your Name) link in the upper left hand corner.
Step 4:
Type your Inn Name in the Search Box, and choose your Inn from the results list.
Step 5: Look to see if your property is verified.

How to tell if you are Verified

What’s Your Grade?  Give yourself an A if you see this ICON, otherwise get your Webmaster to help you CLAIM your Listing and complete your listing 100% ASAP!


Google Reviews GradeTest 9: Google Reviews

Google has recently updated their Google Reviews from the Zagat 30 point scale to the new 5 Star rating scale. A variety of authentic, quality reviews are highly important to your business.  Read More... Don’t confuse Trip Advisor or YELP reviews with Google Reviews.  They are completely different.  Also, when receiving Google Reviews from your Guests, it is best to have an experienced Reviewer write for you.  A Newbie’s review will probably not be seen as part of your total Google Review “Count”.

Step 1: Go to http://www.google.com
Step 2: Click on MAPS in the Upper Left Hand Corner of your Screen (Black Background)
Step 3: Type in your Inn Name.
Step 4:
Find your Listing in the left hand column, you will see the # of Google Reviews below your NAP information.

What’s Your Grade? You need a minimum of 5 Google Reviews to receive the Star Rating.  If you have 5 or more Google Reviews, give yourself an A.  If not, consider including Google Reviews as an option when a Guest wishes to review your Inn.


So Now What?

1) If you are a PAII member, attend and/or watch the recorded videos provided on Technical Topics that will help you grow your business.

2) If you find you need a more structured, Step-by-Step approach, consider Acorn University and Club 60.  As you can see from this post, it’s working wonders for our students, and it can do the same for you!

3) Do you already know you have issues with your placement that you just can’t seem to get fixed?  Consider requesting a SEPPIR (Search Engine Placement Problem Identification Report) from our Acorn Team.  We have helped many Innkeepers resolve their placement issues by first, simply identifying all the issues holding your placement back in Google.

4) Need a Coach?  You might want to consider joining our MarketWatch Program.   We’ll track your placement, make sure you know all about the latest and greatest Requirement and Guideline changes that could affect your placement, and meet with you each report period to help you wrap your arms around all those details you might miss, or simply cannot get to on your own.

5) Custom Consulting?  Do you just need HELP!  We have an awesome team of people that are able to consult with you on just about anything you might need help with!  Just E-mail marketing@acorn-is.com with your needs!

There is no need to struggle! 
We have helped many Innkeepers meet, and by far exceed, their Marketing Goals. 
We can help you too!

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