Inngenious B&B Web Site Promotion

Lie # 9: Pay us a yearly SEO fee and we will make sure your site is continually optimized

There are many web design companies who sell yearly Search Engine Optimization "services." I put services in quotes because in many cases it is questionable what services they actually provide for the fee. There are several questions that ought to come up in relation to paying a yearly fee for SEO.

  1. Does Search Engine Optimization (SEO) need to be performed more than once for a Bed and Breakfast website?
  2. How often should a B&B website need to be optimized?
  3. What would be legitimate and illegitimate things that would need to be changed from year to year?
  4. Is it worth it to pay for SEO services by way of a yearly fee?

Does Search Engine Optimization (SEO) need to be performed more than once for a Bed and Breakfast website?

If the website has been properly optimized once, then the likelihood is that it won't need many changes or fine tuning. The thing I want to emphasize is "properly optimized". I see web sites all the time where the innkeeper tells me that they paid the original designer to optimize it and it is obvious the original designer did very little or had no idea what proper optimization was. The truth is most designers who claim they understand SEO have only read an article or two and are only using the term as a buzzword. They routinely create poorly optimized sites. So it is quite possible that your site may need to be re-optimized if the person who did it the first time didn't do it well. However, if that is the case, I would never suggest paying the same company to re-optimize it. Not only would it reward people today for their incompetence in the past, but it is quite likely they are no better at it now than they were the first time around.

There are subtle changes that happen in Search Engines over time, and there are sometimes sudden changes in the way Search Engines sort the results. So on occasion there may be times when you should consider having your site re-examined. In most cases this would not be a yearly thing. More like every two to three years, and that is only if you notice a decline in your position in the Search Engine's result pages (SERPS). If you temporarily slip a couple of positions for one search phrase, that is probably not cause for alarm. A two position drop today may be followed by a 3 position rise in a few days. That kind of movement is natural. However, if you slide from #3 down to page 3, and stay there for a couple of weeks, then it may be time to grow concerned.

If your site was originally optimized and then you make significant changes to the text on a page or the properties of a page, you might need to have that page optimized again.

How often should a B&B website need to be optimized?

As I indicated above, it is rare that a site needs to be re-optimized more than once every 2-3 years, and in many cases it can be put off for longer than that. There are exceptions to that, but most of them center around poor optimization and design the first time around. If you notice traffic to your site is dwindling, or your position in the Search Engines for a variety of terms is dropping, or if your site has never done that well in the Search Engines, these are all indications that something might be wrong with your current approach. It should warrant having someone look at it.

It is also possible that there is nothing wrong with the optimization of your site but that your site does not have enough quality incoming links. Search engines take many factors into consideration when deciding where sites show up for a particular search. Only some of these factors are on the page in question (these are called on-page factors). The other off-page factors are more closely related to the quantity and quality of the incoming links to your site. Your site may decline in the search engines simply because some of the pages that linked to your site were deleted. (Example: a local newspaper writes an article about your B&B and includes a link in the online version of the article. Two years later the article gets deleted from the newspaper's website so the link disappears.) Another possibility is that you got comfortable with how well your site was doing so you stopped looking for websites to link to you. In the mean time, some inn that got tired of being at the bottom of the page kept getting more incoming links, so they passed your site, which makes it look like your site declined. Either of these cases do not indicate a problem with the optimization on the site. They do indicate a need to obtain more incoming links.

What would be legitimate and illegitimate things that would need to be changed from year to year?

There are things that can and should be done on a yearly or continual basis. There are others that some designers may charge you for, but either don't need to be done, or aren't actually done. Here is a list of things that legitimate things they could do on a yearly basis. Thumbs up it is potentially legitimate. Thumbs down it is illegitimate and they are taking advantage of your trusting nature.

Legitimate SEO

Link Building - Proper link building of incoming links can have a good impact on your positions in the Search Engines. The links ought to be from related sites (related to travel or your area). Some links from generic directories (non-travel or location related) are acceptable, but if all they are doing is submitting you to free unrelated directories, they are wasting your money.

Proof: They should be able to provide you a list of all the links that they requested (they may not get all of the ones they asked for) and a list of all the links they actually obtained.

illegitimate SEO

Submitting your site to Search Engines - There is no need to submit a site to a search engine. By design, search engines find sites on there own. If links are built to the site, then the search engines will find it.

Proof: There will be no proof. The mere fact that they are charging you for it is proof they either don't know what they are doing, or they are willing to charge you real money for fake work.

illegitimate SEO

Generic On-page Optimization - This one is most likely illegitimate. If it was already properly done i the first place, it should not be needed yearly. If they didn't do it right the first time, they probably aren't going to get it right from year to year.

Proof: If they did anything, they should be able to tell you specifically what they did. (ie. Added the phrase "Bed and Breakfast" back into the paragraph you changed.) If they use very generic statements to say what they did they probably didn't do anything. (ie. Optimized meta tags)

Legitimate SEO

Managing your Pay Per Click account - Paying a company to manage your Pay Per Click account can be helpful. They should be doing things like making sure you are not paying $0.95 per click to show up for a search you already show up well for in the organic listings. They should monitor the bounce rate on the phrases that you are paying for to make sure that some of the traffic you are getting for that phrase is actually interested in what you are offering (do they stick around, or do they leave immediately).

Proof: If they say they are doing this, they should be providing you with a list of specifically what they have changed in your Pay Per Click account.

Legitimate SEO

Watching your web stats and fine tuning your pages - This is at least the right language. If someone is actively fine tuning your pages they will need to do so wisely. The only way they could do it wisely is by having access to your website statistics. Sometimes a page needs fine tuning due to the performance of another page on your site. For example: if your home page targets the phrase [your town bed and breakfast] and a different page targets [your town b&b] at some point in time as your site matures, your home page may show up for both searches. When that happens it is no longer necessary to have the second page keep targeting that phrase, so you could have it target a new phrase and would need to optimize that page for the new phrase. Of the companies that claim they are doing fine tuning, my estimate is that 10% are actually doing it. The others are just enjoying your money.

Proof: They should be providing you with a list of what was changed, when, and why it was changed. If enough time has gone by since they made the change, they should also be able to tell you the result of the change.

Legitimate SEO

Optimizing New Pages - If your website is growing because you are constantly adding pages to it, then it may be legitimate to pay someone to optimize the new pages as they are created.

Proof: They should be able to tell you what new pages they have optimized, what each page is targeting and what changes they made.

If you are asked to pay a yearly fee for Search engine optimization, the company should not only be able to tell you what they will do for that fee, but they should also be able to show you what they have done for that fee. If they can't prove it, don't pay it.

Is it worth it to pay for SEO services by way of a yearly fee?

You've probably guessed at my answer to this by now. In most cases my answer is "no", you should not be paying recurring fees for ongoing Search engine optimization. The risk and likelihood is just too high that you are spending money on something that is not needed and not being done. If you feel you need your site to be re-optimized or fine tuned, make it something you contract for each time. This way you can be very specific about what you are paying for and what you expect to get.

I hope this helps.

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