Posts Tagged ‘search engine optimisation’

Is your site search engine friendly?

Fun onlineAnd what on earth does this mean anyway?

If a web developer has assessed your site and told you that it isn’t search engine friendly, have they explained what they mean?

The mystery of search engine optimisation (SEO) is a common frustration for small business operators. You end up paying a lot of money for someone to ‘fix’ your problems when in fact there’s a lot you could do yourself if you only knew what.

It’s a bit like running a car. Those who aren’t versed in the workings of car engines are forced to rely on others to fix the problem – and your mechanic is unlikely to take the time to explain how you can do it yourself and save yourself hundreds of dollars into the bargain. After all, they’d be doing themselves out of a job.

We are often asked by tourism operators to assess their sites and tell them why they’re not getting the attention they deserve from online searchers.

Glenn has written several articles on SEO and attracted the attention of SEO guru, Mike Moran, by publishing a post recently that explains exactly how to assess your own search engine friendliness.

Once you have assessed your site by following Glenn’s advice, consider your use of keywords, because accurate use of keywords in the right places will help to attract not just more visitors, but more qualified visitors.

Getting 100 visitors to your site and converting 10 is better than getting 100 and converting 1. By ensuring that you are providing exactly what your searchers are looking for when they key in their search words, you are significantly increasing your chance of conversion.

Profile: Tailored tours bring overseas visitors

Over the next few weeks I will be writing profiles on a dozen small tourism operators dotted around the country – all of whom have contributed valuable information to OM4Tourism on international marketing issues.

The operators featured have all agreed to share their marketing experiences, and you are equally free to comment, add advice or ask questions.

The first operator is attracting an international clientele to its small-group customised tours with some impressive online marketing.

R+L logoRich + Lingering offers luxury food & wine tours and customised tours, all for very small groups (no more than six), in South Australia’s Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale premium wine regions.

After less than two years in operation, the business has just become the SA Great 2007 Regional Award Winner for Tourism Services, and taken home the SA Tourism Commission New Business bronze medal.

Targeting a Niche Market

According to Rich + Lingering’s Jason Miller, the business depends on clear and targeted branding to overcome the general perception that wine tours involve large buses and little specialist knowledge.

“There are a number of low to mid-priced mass market operators who basically provide a transport service for which there is a big market,” he told me.

“We are at the other end of the scale – private, small group, high levels of international wine knowledge, personalised service. It does take time to break these misconceptions, which is mainly done by developing relationships and having a strong brand.”

International guests make up 35% of Rich + Lingering’s total visitation. They are aged 30-60, professional/white collar, high net worth individuals, looking to develop themselves with food and wine activities and education. Most come from the UK and northern Europe, North America, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Jason reaches this market online (his website and others), as well as via agents, ITOs and magazine advertising – all carefully chosen for synergy with the business’s brand. To capture unplanned visits after arrival, he also works with Visitor Information Centres and has a presence in regional guides.

Online Marketing Insights

Jason puts great emphasis on web content, as 43% of guests find Rich + Lingering online, with most coming directly to the R+L website. He shared some valuable insights:

“Our key online strategy is to drive traffic to our site by achieving high Google rankings for specific searches (e.g. ‘private/luxury wine tour south australia’), but also a broad range of links and other good relevant content, such as travel tips, on other sites.

“Having good content on your website which isn’t too sales focused shows you ‘know your stuff’, is of value to the reader, and helps SEO [search engine optimisation].

“We also produce a seasonal newsletter which people subscribe to and can distribute themselves to their friends etc. This has been a great way to broaden the net. A number of our newsletter articles are further used in blogs.”

All great strategies. Interestingly, Jason finds that most guests use the site for research rather than bookings, and only a small proportion are booked completely online.

He believes this is due to the nature of the business. Offering customised, high-end tours means personal communication with guests to ensure all their needs are met. This is hard to do via a booking engine, so guests are encouraged to contact Rich + Lingering directly with their requirements.

The secret of getting search ranking

MessageThe world of the web is a bewildering place for a small tourism operator. There are so many huge travel sites out there that it’s easy to feel like a very small fly caught in a vast web waiting to be eaten alive by the search engine spiders.

How on earth do you get attention amongst all the noise and flash?

First, have faith in the search engines.
Second, be authentic.
Third, be brave.

Search engine spiders don’t look for glossy, flashy websites. They don’t care how big your business is. They look for rich, relevant content. How great is that? This means you being authentic – talking online about your expertise, the experiences offered by you and your destination, and the people involved.

Make sure you optimise your site too, which simply means making it easy for the spiders to read the content. If you’re nervous about how to do it, this article demystifies the process.

Another important factor is inbound links. If there are other authoritative, high-ranking sites pointing to you, Google will take this to mean that you must know what you’re talking about.

Our travel sites zoomed straight to a 4/10 PageRank after just a few months of going live simply by paying attention to these factors: content, SEO and links.

What’s great about search engines is that they’re constantly onto those who try to fake it. So if a site tries to buy or sell links, they get penalised. Inbound links need to be genuine links prompted by excellent content on your site. And an inbound link is worth a lot more than a reciprocal link (i.e. you link to me and I’ll link to you).

Here are two of the best ways to get inbound links:
1. Have useful, relevant content on your site AND use your blog to link to useful content on other sites. Not only does this add value for your readers, but you’ll attract the attention of those other sites, and if they like what they see, they’ll add value for their readers by linking to you.
2. This is where being brave comes in – write articles about the travel experiences you offer and post them on article syndication sites, such as Getting an article published on a site like this will automatically get you up to 3 inbound links from a high-ranking (6/10) authoritative site.

So the secret to getting search ranking comes down to:
Having faith that Google will rank you for the right reasons without bias (not forgetting SEO).
Being authentic in your content and your intentions when you manage links.
And being brave enough to publish your content beyond your own site.