Inngenious B&B Web Site Promotion

B&B Web Design Mistakes: #5 Optimizing just the Home page

Many web site promotion companies focus solely on the home page of a Bed and Breakfast's web site.  In this way of thinking, they make the home page the front entrance to your site and they essentially lock all the other entrances by ignoring them.  This is sort of like fishing with one hook instead of fishing with a large net.  A large net is a much more effective way to fish the internet for potential guests (there is a reason "net" is part of the word internet). 

Understand how guests search

Most internet searches for travel accommodations are multiple word phrases. In other words, when people search for a place to stay, they don't just type in "B&B". If they did, it returns thousands of sites from all over the world. Most of the places are in regions they have no intention of visiting. So people usually narrow their search to something like "B&B in some region". You want your web site to show up when they narrow the search to your region. So you have to do some research and find out what typical searches for your area might look like. For instance, The Found Inn is located in Marysville (not really) but not many travelers have any idea that Marysville exists, so there are not many searches done for "B&Bs in Marysville." Marysville, it turns out, is a little village on Wolfe Island. The good news is, more people have heard of Wolfe Island, but still not that many, so there aren't that many people using search engines to find it. Now it turns out that Wolfe Island is in the popular tourist destination of the Thousand Islands which borders New York and Ontario. Thousands of people are searching the web for places to stay in the Thousand Islands. So The Found Inn needs to make sure it shows up well in searches for "B&B in the Thousand Islands." There are limits to how far you can extend this logic though. Wolfe Island is in Ontario, which is a huge region with lots of Bed and Breakfasts and it may be fairly difficult for the Found Inn to show up well in a search for "B&B in Ontario." Even if the Found Inn showed up as the top listing in a search for "B&B in Ontario" it will likely see less website traffic from it because it is not exactly what people doing that search were looking for. So you have to spend some time considering what search phrases will bring you the most guests. (The good news is, this is the same time and thought you will put into planning your page titles from the previous lesson.)

Optimize your website to show up for what guests are searching for

The way search engines work, it is best to target one keyword phrase per page. So lets take a look at how a site can be built where each page targets a different search phrase. For the Found Inn we have already established that "B&B in the Thousand Islands" would be the main search phrase that would bring lots of visitors from the search engine. So this phrase should be targeted by the home page of the Found Inn

  • Home Page targetsThousand Islands Bed and Breakfast

Okay, with the home page targeting the main keyword phrase, what about the other pages? Well most B&Bs have a "rates" or a "policies" page because it is helpful information once the person gets to your site. However, no searcher looking for a place to stay is going to type in a search for "policies in the Thousand Islands." So it makes sense to optimize that page for something else that people looking for a place to stay might actually search for.

  • Policies Page targetsThousand Islands Accommodations
  • Rates Page targetsWolfe Island Bed and Breakfast
  • Photos Page targets Marysville B&B

This kind of logic should get applied to every single page in a Bed and Breakfast's website not just the home page. In fact, trying to optimize just the home page for many different phrases often results in the home page not showing up well for any of those search phrases.

Here's an example of how the Found Inn shows up in the major search engines if each page is optimized for a different phrase compared to the Lost Inn, who tried to optimize their home page for all of the phrases.

3 major search engines

#3 Thousand Islands Bed and Breakfast: The Found Inn
A wonderfully popular Bed and Breakfast in the Thousand Islands...
#182 The Lost Inn Bed and Breakfast, B&B, Marysville, Wolfe Island, Thous...
A cute inn that is always has openings and in need of your charity...

3 major search engines

#2Thousand Islands Accommodations: The Found Inn
Comfortable accommodations in the Thousand Islands...
#137 The Lost Inn Bed and Breakfast, B&B, Marysville, Wolfe Island, Thous...
A cute inn that is always has openings and in need of your charity...

3 major search engines

#1 Wolfe Island Bed and Breakfast: The Found Inn
A romantic Bed and Breakfast on Wolfe Island that is sure to...
#84 The Lost Inn Bed and Breakfast, B&B, Marysville, Wolfe Island, Thous...
A cute inn that is always has openings and in need of your charity...

This of course is a fictitious example. There is no Lost or Found Inn but the results are very typical for how sites show up based on their strategy for optimizing each and every page versus optimizing just the home page. In the example, notice that not only are the rankings higher for The Found Inn, but the page title that shows up is a closer match to what the person was looking for with their search. This makes it even more likely that they will choose to click on the link to the Found Inn.

For tips on how to optimize a page for a specific phrase, visit Optimizing a B&B web page for a specific search phrase.

Is your Bed and Breakfast website optimized for each page?

There are a few ways to determine whether your site has been optimized for each page or just the home page.

  1. Do a some test searches on the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, and MSN) using a variety of phrases that travelers might use if they were researching your area. When you find your web site in the listings, is it always your home page, or is it sometimes your other pages? If you don't find yourself at all, this is a bad sign and you should consider seeking some professional assistance.
  2. If you have any kind of tracking device on your pages or on your web server (highly recommended), examine the referrers. You should find that your other pages should be referring people to your home page fairly often. This indicates people are finding your other pages and then moving to your home page. You should also find a lot of variety in the list of search engine referrals. If all you find are searches for your inn by name, that means people aren't finding you in any other search. If you only see one regional phrase, it means you aren't showing up well for lots of others.


Advice for B&B web design

  1. If you are having a new site built, spend some real time dedicated to choosing good effective search phrases so you can apply one to each and every page of your website.
  2. If you have an existing site that is not optimized for each page, contact your designer and see if optimization is a service they specialize in. If not, it is recommended that you look for someone who does. If your designer doesn't seem to understand what your concerns are, consider finding another designer or someone who actually understands Search Engine Optimization.
  3. If you are looking for a new designer or website promotion specialist, examine the sites in their portfolio. Does each page target a useful search phrase? If the answer is "no," keep looking for another person to promote or design your site. This is another thing you shouldn't have to teach a professional.

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