Internet Marketing 101
Marketing your B&B with Us
The best marketing strategy for your B&B.
The best strategy for marketing your B&B on the internet is to have one showcase site and then as many feeder sites as possible that send traffic to that one showcase site. These "feeder" sites can be search engines, reciprocal links or B&B directories, like BBExpo.
The showcase website is where you have the freedom to say anything about anything. You can talk about your B&B, your breakfasts, your bedrooms, your bathrooms, your special amenities, your city or anything else.
Your showcase website could be your own domain (eg http://www.bearandbisoninn.com) and nowadays, most B&B owners think that this is what they have to do in order to get into the action. We would argue that you can get a world-class website on BBExpo for a fraction of the cost of the cost of your own domain. Check out some of these:
Search Engine Realities
It's a common belief that search engines are the best way to drive traffic to your website, and that it's free. There is some truth to this belief, but this is what you have to be able to do:
- Determine what people are searching for on search engines
- are they searching for lodging? bed & breakfast?
- bandb? accommodation? accomodation? something else?
- Figure out how to get on the first page of the search results.
You can pay someone to do that, but people who really know how to do it will charge you many hundreds of dollars. Unfortunately people that do not know how to do it will also charge you many hundreds of dollars and you will end up with nothing but a bad taste in your mouth.
You can learn how to do it yourself and it is not rocket science, but it is an art and takes a good amount of time and experiment to learn how to do the job. Then you have to keep your knowledge up to date, because the good search engines are constantly changing their criteria for ranking websites in their search results.
One of the recent developments with Google is that it can take up to a year to get a ranking in the top few pages. They tend to relegate new domains to a "sandbox" for many months, to make sure that they're not fly-by-night sites, or doing something unethical to get a good ranking.
When you list with established directories such as BBExpo, then it is up to these directories to learn how to get good rankings, keep up to date and keep sending you traffic. They have been on the internet for years and have served their time in the sandbox.
Reciprocal Link Realities.
Reciprocal links (or links to your website) have a very limited use. They used to be considered the best way to get a good ranking in Google, and still may figure into the ranking criteria, but there are some cautions.
Reciprocal linking is very time consuming. You have to update your website, and you have to check the linker's website to make sure that they have reciprocated. If they have not, then what are you going to do? Send an email? Make a note and check again a few days later? Send another email? Remove the link from your website?
You get the idea. It take a lot of time.
If you are technically savvy, then you can write a page where people can add their own links to your website, and then you can check or not. But then some little robots come along and stuff your link page with links to casino sites, kiddy porn sites and pharmaceutical sites. Do you think that the PhD programmer and analysts at Google are going to regard your site as more important because of these links? Not much of a chance at that.
And if you do get some reciprocal links, how much business are you going to get from them? Have you ever hit a "Links" page on a website, visited a link there and reserved a room at a B&B? If you have, you're definitely in the minority of the population. Reciprocal link pages are only for search engines, and are of limited use.
Feeder Site Realities
For 95% of B&B owners, directories such as BBExpo are the best way to get people to come to your showcase website and book accommodations at your B&B.
These directories are generally fairly inexpensive: usually less than $100 per year
They work hard to get people to visit their site and funnel them to appropriate B&Bs
They are committed to getting good search engine rankings
They improve and enhance their sites regularly
There are also quite a few "Free" directories on the internet. All it takes to get on these sites is time to sign up. While these could produce limited results, any result is useful since they are free. If they are B&B directories, then they will also figure into making your website more popular with search engines.
Marketing with Bed & Breakfast Expo
BBExpo has been improving and adding new features since its inception in 1998 and is the only directory in Canada that can do a great job of being:
- your B&B showcase website
- A significant feeder site to your showcase website
Regardless of which listing you choose, you can change all of your information yourself at your convenience. You can add special getaway packages as well for free. You can maintain your own online guest book and in 2006 you will have access to an online availability calendar as an added bonus to being a BBExpo customer.