"Your B&B Website is Not Being Seen"
By Scott and Allison Crumpton

Have you ever seen an email with this subject line? Most innkeepers have. For years, we have told innkeepers to ignore and throw away such email messages as they were delivered by sleazy search engine optimization companies who promised much and rarely if ever delivered anything. Often, they promise to submit your website to thousands of search engines and preyed on the fear which most innkeepers feel daily - that their website truly isn't being found. Unfortunately, it's quite possible they are now correct - your website isn't being found.

Before you panic and pull out your billfold to pay one of these unscrupulous marketers $199 to do nothing for you, let's take a quiz to see if you're doing all you can to ensure your website is being found:

How do you rank?

1) Your website is listed on Yahoo! (check by going to Yahoo! and inputting your web address in the search box).
2) Your website is found on the first page of Google using a search phrase such as "your city, your state, bed and breakfast".
3) You are paying for placement using Overture - formerly Goto.com and your listings are highly placed.
4) You are signed up for bedandbreakfast.com, bbonline, and theinnkeeper.com with a link back to your website.
5) You have at least 3 links from local lodging websites such as your chamber, a local bed and breakfast association or other such website.
6) You list your website on your answering machine or voicemail.
7) You are paying for pay per click with Google.
8) You have paid to be on Inktomi.
9) You are paying for the Looksmart pay per click.
10) Your website was designed by a professional web designer within the last 2 years.

Give yourself 1 point for each true answer.

Now, take the next quiz and answer true or false

1) Proper Metatags are vital in the search engines.
2) Alt tags are very important.
3) Link Popularity is critical.
4) Resubmission to the search engines on a monthly basis is necessary.
5) Using hidden keywords on your homepage is a sneaky way to get to the top of the search engines.
6) The more pages your site has, the better it will perform in the search engines
7) Relevancy is secondary to link popularity in determining your position in the search engines
8) There are 9 major search engines you need to be submitting your site to
9) You don't need your own domain name - a page on a popular lodging guide will suffice.
10) Small photos with lots of text to ensure a speedy download time are crucial.

Now, subtract 1 point for each true answer.

How you rank:

Marketing Guru:
If your score is a perfect 10 - call me - I want to hire you!

Savvy Marketer:
If your score is 8-9 - consider yourself very savvy! Why are you reading this anyway, you should be taking care of all those guests.

A Little Misguided:
If your score is 5-7 - you are doing pretty well, now let's figure out what you are missing and make some improvements.

Swing and a Miss:
If your score if 2-4 - Maybe a little practice will help.

Zero The Hero:
If your score is 0-1 - You are probably a great cook!

There is a simple recipe for success in internet marketing - that is - first, have a professional website design with beautiful, larger photos of your inn and rooms which appeals to potential guests. Second, your website should be found everywhere the potential guest will look on the internet. To achieve these two basic goals, you should hire the best web designer you can find. Then, you must choose to either become an internet marketing guru yourself (at the expense of taking care of your guests) or find one to hire. In previous articles, we have discussed the elements of design. For this article, I will focus on the current, successful, search engine practices:

Search engines are changing very rapidly. As they scramble to find ways to become profitable, the days of free search engine submission and trying to sneak your way to the top are over. Anyone who ignores the acceptable practices of pay for performance and relies on the old methods of metatags, hidden keywords, free submissions, and link popularity will be quickly out performed by the competition. Amazingly, many innkeepers reject the new profit model which the search engines are based upon, preferring to ignore the reality and hoping the trend will simply go away. This is peculiar to me considering innkeepers paid the yellow page directory a monthly fee and yet somehow insist the search engines remain free. As of the writing of this article, the following major search engines give preference to paid listings: overture.com, google.com, yahoo.com, msn.com, looksmart.com, altavista.com, lycos.com, hotbot.com, aol.com, netscape.com. Of these, google, yahoo, overture, looksmart and msn are the vital search engines to be listed in. To be at the top of these search engines requires separate paid accounts with overture, google and looksmart. Each of these companies provides listings to the others.

Nearly everyday, I hear an innkeeper say "business is down" and blame is placed squarely on the recession or travel industry slumps due to the events of 9/11. The fact of the matter, however, is that many inns are experiencing record numbers this year as they have taken advantage of the new profit models which the search engines have wholeheartedly embraced.

Moriah Mountain Internet Marketing    |     P.O. Box 1283     |     Grants Pass, Oregon 97528
Toll Free: 800-841-5448     |     Fax: 541-479-5879     |        www.moriah.com