Monitor the results of outsourcing of your website promotion

outsource

Be careful with outsourcing your web promotion.

Outsourcing the job of promoting your website is becoming an attractive option for business owners who either don’t have the time or know-how to do this promotion themselves. However, you really need to keep a careful eye on what your promoter is doing, as if they are not professional about it, their work could end up damaging your business’s reputation rather than enhancing it.

The people at Jensen Windows & Doors (www.jensenqld.com.au) appear to have employed someone from overseas to promote their website in what appears to be a less than professional way. How do we know? Someone based in the Philippines (as determined by looking up the submitter’s IP address) filled in our free listing form for tours and activities in Victoria in order to get their business and website displayed on the Travel Victoria website.  They specified that Jensen Windows & Doors, who are manufacturers of doors and windows in Queensland, conduct tours and activities around the Great Ocean Road coastal town of Aireys Inlet in order to trick us into approving the listing and displaying the website link. With their link published, they would have gained exposure by people clicking on the link and viewing their website.  Also, web search engines like Google would notice the link and treat it as a vote of popularity for Jensen Windows & Doors, thus possibly boosting their website’s ranking when people conduct searches for window and door manufacturers.

While we obviously didn’t publish the free listing as requested by the person from the Philippines that Jensen have hired, it has however left us with a negative view of this Queensland-based manufacturing company that resorts to hiring people from Asia to get their business listed in inappropriate places.

Promoting your business and website is serious stuff.  If you don’t have the time to do it yourself, ensure the person or organisation you outsource this task to is of a reputable nature.  Also ensure that the methods they use to promote your website are appropriate.  They should not spam and they should definitely not try to trick others into listing your website by misrepresenting your business.

Your accommodation property’s website – who’s looking at it?

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Low-cost ways of getting travellers to visit your website

An accommodation provider may typically spend between $1,000 and $5,000 getting a website developed for their business. A professional image is created, all facets of the accommodation are on show, but who is looking at it?

The next step many make is to then market their accommodation on commission-based travel websites, such as Stayz, Take-A-Break and Wotif. While you’re generating good business from these popular and high-traffic websites, your brand new shiny website sits there, unused.  This is because most high profile travel websites that market your accommodation do so on a commission basis (i.e. they take a percentage of the revenue you earn from each booking), and thus won’t allow you to display your contact details or a link to your elaborate website, otherwise they may lose a sale if you contact the property directly.

So how do you get extra people to find your website when they are on the internet?

  1. Pay-per-click search engine advertising. Use a search engine like Google, and you’ll notice ads appear related to your search terms. Sign up to Google AdWords and pay for your website to get listed in these advertiser sections. The problem is that unless you’re going to target niche search terms, then buying ads that appear when people search for things like “accommodation in Ballarat” could cost you several dollars per click. Do the sums and unless you’ve got deep pockets or get a lot of bookings, this can be quite an expensive option.
  2. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). You employ an SEO expert to make changes to your website such that search engines like Google will rank your site highly for search terms of your choice.  To see results, you may need to wait months or years, and still there can be no guarantees as per our recent article on ranking high on Google. SEO alone is not enough as the wording on your website is just one of hundreds of points Google considers when ranking websites for certain search terms.
  3. Listing your business and website on a popular travel website. While there’s not many, there are a few travel websites which will happily advertise your accommodation and allow you to display your phone number, email address and a link to your website. They typically charge a fixed fee (like a newspaper advertisement) as they cannot collect commissions or track bookings while all your details on show to prospective guests. By choosing a travel website that ranks well in Google for general search terms related to your accommodation, you’re effectively getting items (1) and (2) listed above for a modest fixed fee.

Given that the cheapest and easiest way to get exposure for your website is to list it on a travel website, you may wish to consider:

  1. Travel Victoria – that’s  us!  For a small annual fee, you get a full page listing of your accommodation property, complete with phone number, email address and link to your website. In January 2012, our most popular listing by far, Lorne Caravan Park, was viewed by almost 2,000 people, with over 500 of them clicking through to the caravan park’s website. Generating those clicks using advertisements on Google, assuming $2 per click, would have cost the caravan park $1,000 compared to just $5 for their listing in January. Our average click rate for all listings in January 2012 was 31, so that’s still an expected $62 cost in Google AdWords versus $5 on Travel Victoria.
  2. Weekend.com.au. Whether you get a free listing or a paid listing, your website link gets displayed, allowing you to funnel traffic to your website.
  3. Great Places To Stay. If your accommodation is “special”, a listing on GPTS includes all your contact details and a website link, directing people to fully explore your offerings on your own website.

So don’t ignore the low cost and high value method of giving exposure to your website by listing it on a popular travel website. For a fixed fee, the visitors you attract can be endless.

Reach a greater audience by advertising on more than one website

For sale

The more places you advertise, the more people will see you

A few years ago, one of our staff here wanted to sell their car privately, so they looked for the most popular car selling website to advertise on. At the time, it was Car Sales (carsales.com.au), so they placed their advertisement in there.

More than 2 months passed, and during that time they dropped the price, but there were only a couple of casual enquiries from what were probably “tyre kickers”.

The staff member then decided to add their car for sale onto another website – Trading Post (tradingpost.com.au). While Trading Post wasn’t as popular as Car Sales, it covered a lot more items for sale than just vehicles, and it was still a website that was visited by a large audience and recognised by name.

Within 24 hours of listing on Trading Post, an enquiry came through from an excited buyer who had found exactly what they were looking for in this car, and the deal was settled.  When the buyer was informed that the car had been advertised on the No.1 website Car Sales for over two months, they simply said they hadn’t searched on there.

The lesson here is, no matter how popular a website is, there are still going to be buyers who look on competing websites to make a purchase, and that may be the exact buyer you are after.

This can be applied to our Travel Victoria website. We are obviously not the biggest website to advertise accommodation on if you are targeting those travellers coming to Melbourne and Victoria. However, with 1.7 million website visitors in 2010, and an expected 2.0 million during 2011, we are clearly being seen by a significant number of people planning their trip through Victoria on the internet. Our advertising rates are also very good value, which reflects the fact that we’re not the biggest, but what we charge is very reasonable for the exposure you’ll get.

If you’re thinking of advertising your accommodation property in Victoria on the internet, be it a motel, resort, bed & breakfast, apartment, holiday house or backpackers lodge, keep in mind that not everyone immediately goes first to the high profile websites like Visit Victoria, Wotif, Stayz, Take A Break or Rent A Home. Also keep in mind that when conducting searches on Google, Travel Victoria often ranks higher than those websites when searching for particular destinations in Victoria.

So cover a greater audience for a nominal cost by also advertising your property with Travel Victoria.

If it’s free, is it really worth it?

You know the familiar saying, “you only get what you pay for”…but does it always apply when you get something for free?

Yes, it's free!

Yes, it's free, and it's worth it!

Here at Travel Victoria, for many years we’ve been offering free listings for tour or activity businesses within our tourism pages for locations throughout Victoria. There’s no catch, just a brief listing with a link to your website, providing a stream of visitors who are interested enough to click the link and find out more.

Importantly, the free listings offered by Travel Victoria aren’t buried deep within our website where few people will see them.  They are placed on pages which are directly linked to every page published about that location in Victoria. That’s one click to get there, not 10. We’ll let the results speak for themselves by examining how many views of the 5 most popular tour and activity pages have occurred during 2010:

  1. Lakes Entrance – 11,694
  2. Apollo Bay – 8,083
  3. Echuca – 7,086
  4. Mount Dandenong – 5,795
  5. Daylesford – 5,533

So if you were one of the businesses listed on our Lakes Entrance tours & activity pages, your business listing (the name and brief description) would have been seen by 11,694 people in 2010.

Now here is where it gets really interesting. Even if only a tiny 5% of people looking at the page your business was listed on actually clicked the link to your website, you would have gained 585 free visitors to your website. And those are people who clearly had an interest in your business to bother to click on the link. Try getting that same number of targeted visitors by using something like Google AdWords. Depending on the keywords selected, bidding amounts and competition, it could cost you $500 per year or even much, much more, just to achieve the same results as a free listing with Travel Victoria.

Sometimes you do get what you pay for…but other times, you really do get much more. Advertise for free in selected categories on Travel Victoria today.