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
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
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
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
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
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
Now, subtract 1 point for each true answer.
How you rank:
If your score is a perfect 10 - call me - I want to hire you!
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.