Itís an easy decision to use the power of the World Wide Web to promote your B&B or rental holiday cottage, however donít underestimate the importance of effective presentation and marketing of your new website. Here, we provide plain-English advice on getting started with your site, on how to get people to view your carefully crafted pages and on how to convert those site visitors into paying customers.
There are many options available when selecting a company to design and build your website. Unless you have web design and coding experience, donít be tempted by the false economy of the self-coded website option. First impressions are very important and a poorly presented website is unlikely to generate interest in your bed and breakfast or holiday cottage.
Your first step is therefore to decide on the services that you require from your website designer. These will probably include a content management system (this enables you to make real-time updates to your website), web hosting, domain name registration and logo design and creation. You should certainly be offered access to your siteís referral statistics; this is reports on the number of people who have visited your site, and which website they have linked through from.
A full-featured, professionally designed B&B or holiday accommodation website should not cost more than about £300-£400, and an annual fee of up to £100 may also apply if you are being offered web hosting and/or a content management system.
A great option if youíre on a tight budget is to use a template-based website creation service. These involve selecting from a range of pre-designed templates and then adding text and images using an online editing tool. These services vary in quality and cost, so view their portfolio pages and compare prices. A great bonus would be a service that offers a free trial before you subscribe. Our service, Simplicity Websites, offers all the above features and our templates are specifically designed for guest and rental accommodation websites.
Your websiteís domain name will influence how highly the site is placed in search engine listings. Firstly, decide on the most suitable domain extension. Google will, for example, usually list .co.uk domains higher for searches conducted in the UK, so if your site is mainly aimed at UK based customers choose the .co.uk extension.
We recommend that the domain name includes two or three keywords that your potential customers might enter into search engines. Most search engines use the domain name text to help decide on the subject of your website so this strategy this will improve your listing position. For example, a poor domain name to choose would be www.chezdavid.co.uk as it includes no keywords that users might use in Google searches. An example of a search engine friendly domain name would be www.devoncottagerental.co.uk as it includes three highly relevant keywords.
Unfortunately, no one will visit your site if it does not establish a good web-presence so, once your website is complete, the important and often time consuming job of promoting the site must begin.
Itís important to get your site into the top search engines and directories, these are Google (www.google.com), Ask (www.ask.com), Yahoo (www.yahoo.com), MSN (www.msn.com) and Open Directory Project (www.dmoz.com). These sites may eventually find and list your website but it could take several months (or longer!) so itís a good idea to visit each one and submit your site to them.
Google offer an excellent free service called Google Maps. Sign-up to a Google Places account and you can create your free Google Maps listing, which includes a link to your website. When your potential customers conduct a search on Google for a B&B in your area your listing will appear, together with a placemarker on an adjacent map.
There are many online directories that specialise in listing various types of accommodation; some are free but most charge an annual fee, usually less than £100 per year. These directories can be effective but they vary in the amount of enquiries that they generate so carefully select the best and monitor the results from each one. We operate a UK bed and breakfast directory (established in 2000), which offers you a free trial.
An effective way of increasing traffic to your site is to create a links page and ask other sites to exchange links with you, this is called reciprocal linking. It is advisable to mainly include links to relevant websites, so offer to swap links with other accommodation providers, your local taxi service, tourist attractions, estate agents and so on. One good tip is to ensure that, when another site links to yours, your main keywords are in the clickable text (called anchor text). Search engines use the anchor text to help determine the content of your website, enabling them to rank you higher for relevant searches.
Finally, a content-rich site packed with relevant and interesting information will always attract plenty of visitors and search engines really love them! Build your site with at least 6 to 10 pages, include loads of content on your establishment and pack it with as much local tourist, travel and heritage information as you can.
We recommend the following books which contain great advice on creating and promoting your website and on other aspects of running your establishment.
If you need a guest or rental accommodation website with all the above features and further marketing advice go to our start page and register for your free trial. Good luck with your new website!
Get started and build a website NOW!
It's FREE and we won't ask for any payment details.