Below is a list of online testing tools that you can run on your own website to see how it is performing online, but more importantly you should use these tests to verify what any potential provider you are looking to hire may have told you they can do for your business. 

Anyone (and pretty much everyone) will say their sites are fast, that they do SEO, or that they handle ADA and GDPR for you, but before you sign on the dotted line, you really should put them to the test.  Request a handful of their “best” site web addresses and run them through the following tests.  

And then ask questions – – lots of questions. 

And keep in mind, a gorgeous looking site on the outside needs to be just a gorgeous on the inside (it’s internal engine). The “pretty factor” only goes so far when the site itself doesn’t function as per required guidelines, and in some cases might even get you in a legal bind.  So, the old saying also applies to your website design “It’s not just what’s on the outside, but what’s on the inside that counts…”

Hiring the wrong firm can be frustrating, time consuming and in the end cost you more than you might have ever imagined.

Test 1: HTTPS:// Secure Server

Background: Google began encouraging business owners to move their websites to a secure HTTPS:// server as early as August 6, 2014.  If you haven’t converted your website to a secure server, your guests will see warning screens when attempting to load your site that will say THIS SITE IS NOT SECURE.  This type of messaging will scare away a potential sale.  In 2016 all new Acorn sites were released on an HTTPS:// server. And innkeepers with older sites were encouraged to sign-up to have their older sites converted over to HTTPS://.

How to test to see if a site is Secure HTTPS://


Step 1: Go to your Website and look at the URL in the address bar.

Results: If you see HTTPS:// before your URL then you know it’s secure. You should also see a small Lock icon.  If you do not see https:// or you see a lock with a slash through it then it is NOT secure. If you see a lock with a yellow triangle and an exclamation point, you are secure but have warnings or errors.


Test 2: Schema

Background: Schema, also called Rich Snippets, is a programming language your webmaster can add to your website to help the various search engines (Google / Yahoo and Bing) learn specific information about your website content by reading the code.  A few examples of Schema use are: Events, Recipes and Local Address Location definition.  All websites should have the latter, as it connects your website with your GMB (Google My Business) listing.


Step 1: Load your Website
Step 2:
Open a new tab in your browser and go to https://search.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool
Step 3:
Copy and paste your Web address from the Address bar into the box that says “ENTER A URL”
Step 4: Click (Green Button) Run Test

Results: At the bare minimum see some type of lodging schema; BedandBreakfast, LocalBusiness, Hotel.  You should also verify that none of your schema has errors or warnings, and is complete, not missing any fields.


Test 3: Quality SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Titles and Descriptions

Background: Every page of your site is an opportunity to attempt to achieve high organic placement.  If your webmaster did not take the time to add Titles and Descriptions to your pages, they will either default to your page name + your inn name, or Google will make up content for you, at which point, neither are you maximizing or controlling your opportunity to be seen in Google’s organic results.


Step 1: Go to https://www.google.com/
Step 2:
In the search box type the following, exchanging the yoururl.com for the website address you are testing.  Do not include https:// or http:// or any prefix like www.   Just use the business URL.

site:yoururl.com

Results: You should see meaningful titles and descriptions in the search results.  Not default reiterations of the file page names + your inn name.


Test 4: Google’s Test-My-Site Load Time Testing Tool

Background: In late 2010, Google publicly announced that site speed was going to be a new ranking signal.  A variety of tools came along as we moved forward from that date.  Test-My-Site (now called Test-My-Site-Think-With-Google) is a tool that estimates your loss of clients due to the slowness of your website load time.  Basically, the slower your site loads, the more sales you are going to lose.  Keep in mind, as time goes on, Google continues to refine and raise the bar on these tools, requiring your webmaster to also up their coding bar.  A score you had yesterday, may not be the score you see today or the score you will have tomorrow.  


Step 1: Load your Website
Step 2:
Open a new tab in your browser and go to https://testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com/
Step 3:
Copy and paste your Web address from the Address bar into the test box.
Step 4:
Click the arrow and wait for your results
Step 5: Repeat for your Booking Engine URL and sub pages of your site as the scores will vary per page.

Results: Obviously you want your site to be as fast (LOW GREEN) as it can possibly be.  The more photos, rotations, widgets and maps you have on your site the slower it is going to load, the more potential sales will be lost.  Not to mention the benefit of a fast loading site being a positive ranking signal.

Notes: If you receive a score over 6 seconds, then some work should be done by your programmer to improve the score. This is a good tool because it is testing the actual load time on a 3G network. Other testing tools look primarily at the optimization, while this tool is testing the actual speed of your site.


Test 5: Google’s Page Speed Testing Tool

Background: In late 2010, as previously discussed,  Google publicly announced that site speed was going to be a new ranking signal. Before Google released the Test-My-Site tool, (see Test 4 above), they released another tool called Google’s Page Speed Testing Tool. This tool has seen many iterations over the years, requiring that web programmers up their game each time Google raises the bar.  Just because you had good scores previously, does not mean you will today.


Step 1: Load your Website
Step 2:
Open a new tab in your browser and go to https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
Step 3:
Copy and paste your Web address from the Address bar into the test box.
Step 4:
Click ANALYZE and wait for your results
Step 5: Repeat for your Booking Engine URL and sub pages of your site as the scores will vary per page.

Results: Note that you will see results for both MOBILE and DESKTOP Scores. 

MOBILE SCORES: Typically, a knowledgeable programmer can achieve a YELLOW SCORE if the Innkeeper requires a photo rotation on the home (or other) page.  A knowledgeable programmer should also be able to achieve a GREEN SCORE on pages that do not require rotating photos, or other load-time intensive requirements. RED scores should be addressed.

DESKTOP SCORES: Desktop Scores for all pages should typically be in GREEN.

Important Note: Finally, this particular testing tool saw more stringent changes released in the Fall of 2018, which now requires an additional programming effort by your web developer to achieve the YELLOW and GREEN scores mentioned above, even if you were scoring higher previously.  As Google continues to change, so must you, your programmer and your website.


Test 6: ADA Testing Tools

Background: ADA lawsuits are becoming more and more prevalent.  The testing tools we are going to reference below are just the beginning of your ADA compliant journey.  These tools test your site for blind, low vision, or other vision issues such as movement that can bring on seizures. This is by NO MEANS the end all for testing ADA, just the beginning.  


Note: You can choose to test any page of your website. Good pages to test are your home page, all rooms page, an individual room page, a packages page, and a page with a map page.  You will also want to test your various Booking Engine pages also.

ADA TEST CHOICE 1: CHROME ACCESSIBILITY TESTING TOOL

Step 1: Go to your Chrome browser and load your web site.
Step 2: Click on the three vertical dots in the upper righthand corner.
Step 3: Select “More Tools”
Step 4: Select “Developer tools”
Step 5: Select “Audits”
You may not see the Audits options on the menu bar. If not click on >> and you should see Audits on the right.
Step 6: Select “Desktop”
Step 7: Select “Accessibility” only
Step 8: Click on “Run audits”

Result: This will run the test and return a score. Your GOAL is to receive GREEN 100 and your web developer should try to get you to score a GREEN 100.  But… there may be code used on your web site that your developer did not build that lowers your score, such as a calendar widget from your reservation company, or a review widget.

You can report these items to the companies that built these widgets so that they are aware of the issues.

Note: After running the test, you should do it again with “Mobile” selected in Step 6. Do both the Desktop and Mobile audit for each page that you wish to test. Some issues may show up on mobile, but not on desktop, or may show up on desktop, but not mobile.

ADA TEST CHOICE 2: A CHECKER TESTING TOOL

Step 1: Load your Website
Step 2:
Open a new tab in your browser and go to https://achecker.ca/checker/index.php
Step 3:
Copy and paste your Web address from the Address bar into the test box.
Step 4:
Click “Check It” and wait for your results

Results: Do this for the pages you wish to test. Your goal is to see the message:

Congratulations! No known problems.

The reason we recommend testing with two different tools is because they check for ADA issues a little differently. One tool may not catch an issue, but the other may find an issue.

The other test you can try is navigating your web site without a mouse. This is important because some visitors, such as blind people and people that have difficulties using a mouse need to be able to successfully get to the pages of your web site and access the content on those pages. Use the tab key on your keyboard to go through the available links on your site. The main area of testing should be the navigation menu. You should be able to access all menu items in your navigation menu including the sub-menu items and be able to select them. If you can’t access your navigation menu items successfully without a mouse, then visitors that do not use a mouse will have difficulty accessing pages of your web site.

Final Note: These tests do not have any way to know if you have included the proper ADA content in your website.  Are you Exempt? Non-Exempt?  Have you clearly described your handicapped amenities properly on your website and in your booking engine? Do you have an Accessibility Statement on your site?  If you need assistance with ADA, contact your webmaster or marketing firm.  If you can’t get the answers you need, call us.  We can help.


Test 7: GDPR

Background: GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation, which are a mandatory set of guidelines set forth from the European Union as of May 25, 2018.  They consist of a variety of items you need to adhere to for your European guests.  This test only covers a small part of what you must follow.


Step 1: A privacy policy should be available to your web site visitors from both your web site and reservation system web site. The privacy policy can reside in one place, either the web site or reservation web site. If the privacy policy is on the main web site, then the reservation web site should have links to it. If the privacy policy is on the reservation web site, then the main web site should have links to it. The privacy policy should be written in a clear way that explains what you do with the private data you collect.

Step 2: If your site uses tracking cookies for re-targeting, then you should have an option for visitors to approve the tracking cookies. If they select do not allow tracking cookies, then you must not re-target them.

Step 3: Most systems store data that does not meet GDPR guidelines. This includes forms that are used on your web site. Google claims to be GDPR compliant with their products. A Google form should be fine for collecting data from your visitors. Other methods most likely do not meet GDPR requirements for data storage.

Notes: Verify with your reservation company that they meet GDPR guidelines. Ask them questions on how they protect the data they collect that meets the GDPR guidelines. The data needs to be either encrypted or use pseudonymization to protect the data


Test 8: Universal Analytics Properly Installed

Background: The only way you are going to be able to track the percentage of OTA (Online Travel Agency) Bookings vs. where your Direct Bookings are originating, is to have Universal Analytics PROPERLY installed on your website.  The first step is to look at your code and see if you can see your UA- number along with function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m) in front or above it.  If you don’t see this code on both your website and your booking engine site, you more than likely do not have Universal Analytics, and are not going to be able determine if what you are spending on your advertising is returning an acceptable amount or if you need to make changes to that marketing item.


Step 1: Go to your Website
Step 2:
Once it loads, right click on the white or empty space along one of the edges.
Step 3: Choose “View Page Source”
You will see a lot of text that doesn’t make much sense show up on the screen.
Step 4: CTRL – F to bring up a search / find box
Step 5: In the search / find box enter UA-
Step 6: You are searching for code that looks similar to:

Results:  You want to make sure you see the UA-###### that matches your Account ID in your Google Analytics account.  The number should be on both your Website and your Booking Engine.  If you have the UA-####### but not the code that reads function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m) more than likely you have an older version of Analytics installed, and it should be upgraded to Universal.  Finally, you should see linker:autoLink code (underlined in the example) with your Booking Engines Name on your Website code, and your Website URL on your Booking Engines code.  In addition to getting the website and Booking Engine code correct, there are additional steps that have to be taken your Google Account itself.  Contact your webmaster for assistance.  If they are unable to help, call us, we have programs and services to not only get your account set up properly but to also teach you how to use this invaluable information to grow your business.


Test 9: Lease or Own your Intellectual Property

Background: More and more web providers are trying to create short cuts to provide you an online web design.  By keeping everything in one place on their server, it’s easier for them to manage, which is not necessarily a bad thing, at least until you want to leave that provider and move to a new provider, only to find you can’t take your site with you.  I’ve heard the story over and over again.  An Innkeepers will ask their would-be provider if they will own their site – and they hear… “Of course you own your photos and content”  and they think they own their site when they don’t. The real question you want to ask of a potential provider is:

“If I wanted to move my site to GoDaddy, would it continue to run, and would I be able to edit it in the exact same fashion as I do right now?”

Results: In today’s lawsuit happy world with ADA lawsuits abounding, if you are renting / leasing your site, will you be able to take action as prescribed by your attorney if you don’t own your intellectual property?  I encourage you to read more on this topic. Make sure you know what you are doing before you decide which way you want to go: Lease or Own.


Test 10: Guarantees

Background: The longer you are in business, the more twists and turns you are going to see when it comes to Guarantees.  As much as we know Innkeepers want an EASY solution, and how enticing a Guarantee sounds, there is no such thing. 

“No one can GUARANTEE more heads in beds, first page placement, or any other type of marketing result.  This is because no one can control what Google, travel related sites or other search engines do with your data.”

Results: If you really believe that a company can Guarantee you “X” (whatever “X” may be), make sure to get it in writing.  What do you get when the company does not deliver?  Your Money back?  A portion of your Money back?  Another type of reimbursement?  And when it doesn’t work out the way they guaranteed it would, you can always attempt to use that documentation to receive some type of compensation.  Just keep in mind, no matter what amount of compensation you may recover, you will not be able to get the time back you’ve lost when you have to start all over again.