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ACORN NEWS October 12 , 2007

Acorn Billing / Support System LoginJust a brief reminder: if you had work completed during the months of July, August or September 2007, your 3rd quarter E-Invoice was generated on Monday, October 1, 2007. If you have not yet paid your outstanding balance, please do so before Midnight on Tuesday, October 16th, 2007 to avoid any late charges.

To view your invoice online, click the image to the right and login to the Support / Billing system. Forgot your Password? Follow the prompts to have it re-sent to you.


Note: All "BEFORE" Sites are loading from www.webarchive.org (and not the ACORN SERVERS) and may take a bit of time to load so you can see the comparison.


"Nancy and I want to thank you and your staff for the exceptional work you did on our web-site.  You have managed to assemble an extremely capable group of employees with technical expertise and superb customer service. We know it is not easy to take someone else’s vision and create a product that meets every requirement, but Acorn delivered.  At the same time you offered valuable suggestions and also kept us focused on the intent of our site – marketing.  We are thrilled to have found a company of your caliber and will sing your praises at every opportunity. We look forward to a continued relationship."

~ Mark Reichle and Nancy Miller ~

Southmoreland (Old Site) Southmoreland (New Site)


“We have been getting great reviews of the new website (which went live 8/10/07) and wanted to thank you again for all the great suggestions!”

~ Lucia Osiecki and Deborah Jones, Innkeepers ~

Meadowlark Inn (Old Site) Meadowlark Inn (New Site)

How long has it been since you did any significant updates to your web site?  If it has been more than 2 years since you added professional photos or updated your design, navigation, and search engine optimization/marketing, it is time to take a close and careful look at the message your web site conveys as compared to your competition.  What could your site become with a re-design? 

To help you visualize that potential, visit Acorn’s “New Designs--Before & After

Allow us to give you a quote on web site overhaul – you won’t regret making this important investment in your business.  

Call or E-Mail Marian Talbert at 719-329-0977 x2

To view all of our new designs completed in the first and second quarter of 2007, check out our Portfolio of New Designs


We hope you will come by the Acorn booth when you attend one of these information-filled Bed & Breakfast conferences taking place around the country in the coming months.  We have lots of ideas to share on how we can help you with your internet marketing.  Don’t miss Lisa Kolb’s presentations at each of these Association conferences – check your final conference schedules and agendas for the date & time she will be speaking!  

Michigan Lake to Lake Annual Meeting and Fall Education Conference
October 29 & 30, 2007 (Clare, Michigan)
Lisa Kolb’s Presentation Topic: The Internet and the Innkeeper

Mid Atlantic Innkeepers Trade Show and Conference
January 13-16, 2008 (Natural Bridge, Virginia)
Lisa Kolb’s Presentation Topic: Web Site Marketing and Design Boot Camp

2008 Conference of the Carolinas
January 27-30, 2008 (Spartanburg, South Carolina)
Lisa Kolb’s Presentations will include: Pre-Conference Seminar on Sunday, January 27:
The Innkeeper & the Internet, A Hands-On Live Interactive” (bring your laptop!)
and “Photography – Learn How to Get the Best Shot for Your Buck”
(See final conference schedule for date & time)


SnippetMaster does not tolerate using the standard MSWord function keys to CUT/COPY AND PASTE directly from a Word document into a web site page you are editing using the SnippetMaster tool. 

How to Cut-Copy/Paste in SnippetMaster using the WORD COPIER tool (6th Icon from left in middle row) 

  1. Open a window with the WORD file where your new content resides that you  want to move onto the web page
  2. Highlight and copy into memory (CTRL-C) that new text
  3. Open your SnippetMaster editing tool and select the page you want to edit from your library
  4. Place the cursor where you want the text pasted – do not highlight or execute any other pasting function keystrokes!
  5. Click the little W-copier ICON and the copied text you selected in Step #2 above will drop in where your cursor is sitting.
  6. This process prevents SnippetMaster from dropping in “junk code” from Word which can/will inevitably damage other code on your web page (navigation, images, or design elements).
  7. We are available to repair any damages which might occur at our regular programming billing rate of $65/hour. 

In our January 2007 newsletter we suggested you make a commitment to review your web stats regularly, or let us help you with that process by signing up to receive a monthly MarketWatch report.  This report is a complete analysis of your web visitor stats, organic placement, traffic from your paid listings, and/or your PPC campaigns, a comprehensive recommendation of steps you should take to improve your positions where necessary which includes relevant industry articles.  That comprehensive report is available at a cost of $100 per month.

If that is a bit out of your price range, we could offer to pull your monthly statistics into a handy, month-to-month reviewable spreadsheet and omit our analysis at a reduced cost of $50 per month, with your first report running about $120 if you want us to catch you up with year-to-date statistics.  Please contact Sharon Rowe for more details or to get started!

Has it been a while since you last reviewed your pay-per-click campaigns running in Google or Yahoo?  Are you wondering if your bid levels are keeping you ad on Page 1?  Have you gone into your Yahoo campaigns and written a “short description” (which Yahoo started offering earlier in 2007 – if you haven’t written a short description, they are running your long description in a truncated fashion which may not be displaying important information for you) on your ad groups?  Are you sure your credit card expiration date is still current?  If Acorn can help with any of this review, refreshing, and updating please email Pam Prentice and she will be happy to visit with you in detail about your needs.

We are also available to pull a mini-PPC report and send it to you from Google & Yahoo each month – capturing a summary of your keyword activity in each campaign and emailing it to you without analysis for $20 per month.  Please contact Pam Prentice for details about your mini PPC report.

Google Local is yet another “piece” of Google.  If you like to categorize things in boxes (or buckets) like I do, then Google Local is just another Google Bucket, just like Google AdWords or Google Webmaster Tools (that includes the Google XML Site Map).

All these “buckets” are accessed by the exact same Userid and PW, but have different URLS you use to get to your information stored by Google.

Synopsis:  Google Local is Google’s version of putting a phone book listing on a map and making it easily accessible to your customers who web surf in Google.

For the purpose of this article, we simply want to make sure you verify that Google has you listed in their Local Listings, and if not – make sure you know how to submit your information yourself or know to contact us at Acorn to do it for you. 

We also want you to have a few tools at hand to help you climb in the local listings – if you aren’t currently as high as you want to be, and if you are where you want to be – how to stay there.

But before you log into your account – let’s do a brief exercise to make sure you understand what the Google Local results look like.

Step 1: Go to http://www.google.com
Step 2: Type in the search box:

(Your City) + (Your State) + Bed + and + Breakfast

Example 1: Colorado Springs CO Bed and Breakfast
Example 2: Colorado Springs Colorado Bed and Breakfast

For those of you that have been watching your placement in Google, you probably remember back to a time when there were a total of 10 Organic Listings (all the listings down the left hand side of the screen).  These days, in most cities, Google takes up 3 of the organic listings spaces, and replaces them with a Map and 3 business, “A”, “B” and “C”.   

The Map and the 3 businesses listed are coming directly from Google Local.

So – What does this mean to you?

First of all the most noticeable difference is that now there are only 7 spots for organic listings, since Google Local takes up 3 spots for the map and 3 local map listings.  This means that it is even TOUGHER to fight the SEO battle and show up on page 1 in the organic listings.

Second, in regard to the remaining 3 spots that Google Local is now taking up, obviously you want to try to be in the “A”, “B” or “C” spot (which is a very competitive place to be, especially if you have many other competitors selling your same product in the same city) but at the very least you need to make sure Google Local has you somewhere in the listing. 

Notice at the bottom of the “C” listing, there is a link that reads: More Results Near…

If you don’t see yourself in the “A”, “B” or “C” spot, click this link (More Results Near…) and keep on looking – once you find yourself – browse through your Local listing. 

  • Note how many “stars” Google has awarded your local listing.  Make a mental comparison to the number of stars awarded to the business in the “A”, “B” or “C” spot.
  • Check your Overview content – is it correct? 
  • Check your Details page – this information comes from a variety of other web sites you site is being listed on.  Is this information correct?  You want all your address information to be exactly the same on each and every place you are listed on the web.  If it’s not – make a note to update your information on any of the sites you are seeing listed that are not longer current.
  • Do you have any Reviews? From what companies (Trip Advisor, Frommers, etc?)  Are the positive?  Negative?  Do your competitors have more reviews?  Less?  From the same companies?  From Different Companies?
  • Do you have photos and are they current? 
  • How many web pages does Google Local say reference your site?

All this information influences where Google Local puts your web site in their listings, not to mention, the age of your site and web address (URL), the relativity of where your business address is in relation to the city you are looking for, if your web site lists your address on each and every page, and variety of other items that Google is simply NOT going to share with anyone.

Now that you understand “WHAT” Google Local is, you need to know how to log into your Google Local Account – in case you need to make changes to the information that they have listed for you. 

The Google “Local” URL is: https://www.google.com/local/add/login?hl=en-US&gl=US

Note: If you’ve never logged into Google (you or your webmaster) and you DO NOT have a Pay-Per-Click Adwords account – you’ll need to click on “CREATE A NEW GOOGLE ACCOUNT” to set up a user ID and PW.  If you do have any type of Google Account – you’ll need to sign into the Google Local Business center using your current user ID and PW.

Once logged into your Google Local Business center, please follow the steps below. 

Note: If you have never logged in or do not appear in Local – you will have a pre screen of information you must fill out about your business, simply follow the prompts, and check your spelling of your address once you type it.  (Google Local placement keys from your address.)

Once you’ve filled out the information – Google will send you a PIN number via US MAIL that will have to be keyed into the PIN field.  Receiving the PIN via US Mail may take a few weeks.  You must key in the PIN to activate changes to your account.

Step 1  - Click on the “EDIT” link for the listing you wish to edit. 
  (Located to the right of screen under the Action Heading)

Step 2 – Update the information listed in the following categories.
  (See Grey Tabs at Top of the Document)

Tab Definition

  • Required Information – You can change your Business Name, Address Information, Phone, E-Mail. 

    VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure to verify the RED Location Marker.   Is the marker in the correct location?  If it is not in the correct location, click on link “Fix Incorrect Marker Location” and using your mouse, move the RED Location Marker to the place it should be and save the changes.
  • Category – You can update or change the category and sub category that defines the type of business you own.
  • Hours and Payments – You can define your business hours and type of payments accepted.
  • Photos – You can upload photos from your PC or from another website.  There is a limit of 10.  No one image can be larger than 1 MB.  Ideal size is 1024x1024 pixels.  Accepted file types are .jpg, .gif, .png, .tiff and .bmp.
  • Custom – Additional fields that can be defined to tell Google more about your business.

Once you’ve activated your account and updated your fields, it will take weeks (at least 6 of them) for Google to actually update your listing in the Local Listings that the web surfers see.  And then it could be months (3 to 6 of them) before Google Local changes your placement in the Local listings based on all the different elements of your Local Google Listing.

Final Note:  We are planning a Web 2.0 article discussion in a future newsletter.  Part of that discussion is going to be how in today’s world the public can dictate the future success of a business based on a given customer’s “experience” with a particular vendor.

Web 2.0 ties directly to Google Local.  The public can comment on your business via the reviews.  They can do this with Trip Advisor, Frommers, Gayot, City Search, Yahoo, etc.  These are all sites that allow your customers to write about YOUR BUSINESS and Google Local counts the positive and negative toward where your Google Local Listing is placed.

That said, if you don’t encourage your guests to "TALK GOOD ABOUT YOU” online – your reviews will be low, and it will be difficult to show up in that “A”, “B” or “C” coveted Spot.


As we suggested in the September 2007 Acorn Newsletter, beware of chasing the latest industry buzz until you sort out the facts.  This month’s “buzz” topic is:  Google XML Site Map solicitations!  Read on ….

More than likely you have (or soon will be) contacted by e-mail from a variety of outside companies that says “YOU DO NOT HAVE A GOOGLE SITE MAP FOR YOUR WEB SITE”.  And these companies will offer to create one for you at a one-time cost of $150 (plus). 

A Google XML Site Map IS NOT THE SAME THING as your web page site map located on the bottom of your web page.  All Acorn designed web sites that have been created in the past 12-18 months include a web page Site Map that Google reads and uses to index your site. This Acorn designed and developed web page (usually located in the footer of your site) is not the same thing as submitting a separate Google defined XML Site Map.

The real question is: DO YOU NEED ONE?

Let’s try to answer that question by using the information provided directly from the Google’s Webmaster Area regarding Google Site Maps.


*** Areas of discussion have been highlighted in RED. ***

Quoted directly from the Google Link Above

The Sitemap Protocol allows you to inform search engines about URLs on your websites that are available for crawling. In its simplest form, a Sitemap that uses the Sitemap Protocol is an XML file that lists URLs for a site.

  • The protocol was written to be highly scalable so it can accommodate sites of any size. 
  • It also enables webmasters to include additional information about each URL (when it was last updated; how often it changes; how important it is in relation to other URLs in the site) so that search engines can more intelligently crawl the site.

Acorn Comments / Thoughts

In general – Bed and Breakfast and Small Business sites are simply not that large.  It is unusual to find one of our customers that has more that 50 pages indexed by Google. 
Also, if you do decide to have a Google XML Site Map built and submitted to Google, to make it most beneficial – it isn’t a one-time thing.  You need to keep it updated to reap the benefits of submitting “additional information” every time you update your site. 
Ideally, this information needs to be submitted back to Google in XML format--not something that can be easily done by you the web site owner.  In most cases this code must be added to the Google XML Site Map by a programmer.

Quoted directly from the Google Site Map Link Above

Site maps are particularly beneficial when users can't reach all areas of a web site through a browseable interface. (Generally, this is when users are unable to reach certain pages or regions of a site by following links). For example, any site where certain pages are only accessible via a search form would benefit from creating a Site map and submitting it to search engines.

Acorn Comments / Thoughts

We have NO Acorn Customers that we are aware of who do this.  Some of our customers have forms on their site for Reservations or Surveys or Questions, but none of them lead to other pages that need to be indexed.  At most, these forms lead to a THANK YOU PAGE and then back to the home page.

Quoted directly from the Google Site Map Link Above

Please note that the Site map Protocol supplements, but does not replace, the crawl-based mechanisms that search engines already use to discover URLs.
By submitting a Site map (or Site maps) to a search engine, you will help that engine's crawlers to do a better job of crawling your site.

Acorn Comments / Thoughts

If your Web site has been newly Marketed (or has been marketing updated in the past 12 months) by Acorn, then the crawl-based mechanisms will be working to index all the pages we’ve marketed.

Let’s Prove It: In fact – you can go prove this yourself – go count all the pages on your site and make a list.  Then go to http://www.google.com and type in the following command in the search box: site:www.yourwebsite.com (remember to put your web address in place of “yourwebsite”)

You should see the vast majority – if not ALL of your pages on your site listed here by Google.   This is assuming you had each of those pages Marketed separately with different META TITLES at the most recent time Google  Indexed your site organically.

Quoted directly from the Google Site Map Link Above

Using this protocol does not guarantee that your web pages will be included in search indexes. (Note that using this protocol will not influence the way your pages are ranked by Google.)

Acorn Comments / Thoughts

Adding the Google XML Site Map feature simply isn’t a guarantee that your site is going to have any or all of its pages indexed.  It’s simply a supplement to tell Google more about your pages. 

Quoted directly from the Google Site Map Link Above

Google adheres to Site map Protocol 0.9 as dictated by sitemaps.org. Site maps created for Google using Site map Protocol 0.9 are therefore compatible with other search engines that adopt the standards of sitemaps.org

Acorn Comments / Final Thoughts

Acorn has been using a tried and true marketing process for over 5 years in order to allow our customers to place as high as they possibly can in the organic search engine listings.  This process must be in place to be found in Google / Yahoo / MSN etc.

Google XML Site Map is NOT a replacement for well written Metas, Titles, Descriptions, Content, Internal Links and a basic web page Site Map.  

That said, we do know that if a Web Site is having problems placing in the Organic Listing (IE: It’s brand new, it has been banned for some reason in the past, it doesn’t have many incoming links from valid sites, etc.) the Google XML Site Map online program can provide us more information and analysis about the pages that aren’t doing well. 

So, in other words, this Google XML Site Map Feature does have its benefits – when needed, but it’s not an “END ALL” by any means for good organic placement.

If you have more questions about your web placement and current marketing status, please contact Marian Talbert .

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