Tag: visibility

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Please Don’t Look At My Website

"Please don't look at my website," said no B&B owner, ever. But if you take a stroll through the garden of delights found by searching on B&B's, you wouldn't think that was the case. Some look like they were built by the neighbor's child back in the 1990's, while others have been updated, but have only made it to the 2005 era. But looking around you will find that there appears to be a correlation between the most successful properties and the professionalism and quality of their websites. Hmmm. Could it be a trend? What makes a website effective? And why is an effective website important (do you really have to ask?)? What should you consider when deciding on hosting and building a new website? To some extent this discussion is prompted by the announcement from BBOnline, discussed in detail in the recent blog post from our friends at Acorn Internet Services, that BBOnline will stop supporting hosted websites May 1. Apparently the sites will remain active, but they can no longer be updated(!). Clearly some people will need to find a new home for their websites! How High Quality Should Your Website Be? Before embarking on a discussion of the considerations when choosing a new host and design for a website, let's briefly consider quality (and yes, that usually means expense). Think about this: how many of your guests tell you they found you online? At least 90%, right? OK, now of those 90+% of your guests, how many say something like, "Nope, I never saw your website."? None, right? Of course - they all saw your website. I know, and all the guests said how great it was, so why should you get a new site design? After all, this one was just re-designed, oh, two or three…

Google search changes again

Google search changes again. There are Panda changes and Penguin changes, now Hummingbird changes, and Google has removed keywords from our Analytics, and we have to figure out what to do with Google+ and Google Local Business listings aka Google+ Local (or is it Google+ Local Business Pages this week?). What is an innkeeper to do? How can you keep up with all the changes, in order to make sure your business is successful? [caption id="attachment_878" align="alignright" width="300"] Photo by ljmacphee on Flickr[/caption]As one of my teachers (far too long ago, now) used to say, "When you are up to your ears in alligators, it is difficult to remember that your objective was to drain the swamp." He meant, of course, that the pesky details that force themselves on your attention will often keep your focus away from your real objective. In this case, the details of each change in the online marketplace can keep you from working toward your ultimate goal. More Google search changes In addition to the changes mentioned in the opening paragraph, there are two very recent major changes from Google that clamor for your attention. The first, and older of the two, is the carousel in local search. Not all searches result in a carousel, but this is changing and growing as Google rolls it out. It places a black-bordered filmstrip-style carousel at the top of the search results, with photos related to the search result to catch your eye. The second is that Google has made all searches "secure" searches (meaning they use a secure https connection), with the result that Google no longer reports keywords from its searches in Google Analytics. Neither of these two changes is minor. Being in the carousel means you show up (with a photo) at the top of…

Help Google Understand Your Website with Microdata

Before your eyes glaze over because we used the word "Microdata", hang in there just a bit longer to see how you can easily help Google (and other search engines) better understand your website. Google Wants Relevant Sites (Really!) Let's start with the idea that Google really wants to present a searcher with relevant and useful search results. Yes, they may have ulterior motives, like selling advertising, but for now, that's not the main point. In order to understand your website, and be able to present the results to the searcher when they are relevant, the Googlebot "crawls" your website, and indexes the content (the words) so it will know what your website is about. The other search engines do something very similar. [pullquote]What if you could help Google know what searches your site should show up for?[/pullquote]What if you could help Google be sure it understands your website (or specific pages) better, so it will more accurately catalog your site, and make it more likely your site would show up for the right searches? That would be awesome, right? Well, that's what we're going to look at today. This isn't new. Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have been working on it for quite some time, and in 2011 created a site called schema.org for just this purpose. You'll want to visit that link after you finish reading the rest of this post. :^) Let's work backwards from the end result. If you look at search results, you'll see something like the image at right (click for larger view). Where does all that stuff come from? If you've done nothing to your page, it comes from a variety of sources around the web - including directories, review sites, your site, etc. BUT, if you use metadata (or similar things), you may…

Local Listings Critical Under New Google Maps

Search engine experts both within the lodging industry and outside it have already written on the previews of the new Google Maps, announced in May. Most have described the ways the appearance will change, some expressing concern, others joy. Few have taken a hard look at what the new Google Maps will mean about your Google+ Local Listing. [pullquote]If you're not actively using Google+ Local, you will have to change that, for your business to survive.[/pullquote]For the past several years those who deal with online marketing in our industry have stressed the importance of claiming your Google+ Local listing (or its predecessors), completing all the information, uploading photos and videos, etc. With the change to Google+ Pages for the listing, you can add posting regularly to the Page as another requirement. Despite this encouragement, many have failed to claim their listing, or have not updated it regularly. All that must change, if you want your business to survive - let alone prosper. Do you think I'm exaggerating? Take a look at your Google+ business page. You do have a Google+ business page, don't you? Hover your mouse over the top left where it says "Home", and select Dashboard from the pop-out menu. There is only one area of primary interest, for our purposes. Look at the chart called Insights. Near the bottom of that chart, click "View Insights". The boxes at the top tell the tale. The first box tells how many followers you have - need to work on that later. The second box, with the big number (we hope) tells how many people saw your Google+ page because it came up in their search results, even if you're not doing anything with it. Nice. Now the cold water to the face: the third box, with the much, much…

BBOnline Update

Following last week's post about a possible recovery for BBOnline, we received a few emails with stats from other properties. So far the results are about evenly split, half the properties reporting have seen an increase in traffic from September 1, 2012 through April 15, 2013, similar to our own, while the other half have seen referrals from BBOnline continue to decline. That said, the jury is still out, as we need more data to determine whether anything meaningful is going on. If you're willing to anonymously share the change in your referrals from BBOnline over the period above, please email them to scott at abouttheinn.com, and we'll collect the information and share the results in a future post.

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