B&B Web Design Mistakes: #2 Splash Pages
From what was covered in the previous lesson, we know that search engines use "spiders" to read words and index them in the search engine. They can't read pictures. This brings us to an all too common mistake in bed and breakfast web site design. The "Splash Page." A splash page is intended to be the grand doorway into your website. Here are some examples of splash pages:
As innkeepers we know that making a good first impression is important. First impressions are important, but not at the expense of having potential guests be unable to find you in a search engine. There are several problems with splash pages:
- Spiders can't read pictures. There is no text for spiders to read, so nothing makes it into the search engine. If there is nothing on the page, there is nothing to show up in a search. You can't search for something that is not there.
- From a user's perspective, splash pages annoy people. Potential guests on the internet don't like to wait. They do not want to wait to see a page that presents no information except an invitation to click again. A web page should never start out by annoying people. It's the same reason you don't answer your B & B telephone by saying "What do you want?!?"
- In the case of the Flash splash page, a spider can not follow the link, so the spider can not go any farther to read the content that is deeper inside your site. Essentially the spider comes up against a locked door.
Again the question is, why do designers continue to use splash pages? The answer has a few possibilities:
- If you hired a neighbor or cousin or friend, they probably just don't know any better.
- If you hired a professional, they were more concerned about the appearance of your site as opposed to whether it will appear well in search engines.
- If you hired a company that should know better, because you hired them to design and promote your site, they either have too many inexperienced designers to keep track of (cheap labor), or they are trying to keep you in a dependent relationship. They want you to keep paying them to promote your site. (you will notice, this is a recurring theme with me)
Advice for B&B web design
- Avoid all use of a splash page of any kind on your bed and breakfast's website. If you currently have a splash page on your web site, have it removed and replace it with a real home page with real content that spiders can read and links they can follow.
- If you are considering hiring a designer or web promotion "specialist," examine some of the sites in their portfolio. If they used any splash pages, keep looking for someone else to promote your bed and breakfast. (You can choose to educate the person, but if they don't know this, what else don't they know?)