Link Building for SEO in 2014: Starting a Campaign

August 26th, 2014 by

This article is the second part of my series on Link Building for SEO in 2014. If you aren’t familiar with link building basics, I recommend you read part 1 – Link Building for SEO in 2014: The Basics.

link building graphic

Link building for SEO is far from dead; like everything else involved with search engine optimization it must evolve with increasingly sophisticated search engine algorithms.

How to Start a Link Building for SEO Campaign

The first step in starting a link building campaign for SEO is the same as any internet marketing campaign: define the strategy or strategies you want in order to meet your goals.

Choosing strategies is not a completely straightforward task.  The reason for this is because search engines do not share the formulas for the mathermatics of their link value metrics.  Even so, link building SEO professionals tare able to use their experience to provide some general guidelines on important “link signals” used by the search engines.

What to Avoid When Link Building for SEO

When it comes to SEO, it’s just as important to know where you should not put your link building efforts as it is to know where you should.

Buying Links Is Risky at Best

While it is impossible for them to detect and discredit all paid links, all major search engines actively strive to remove the influence of paid links on their search results. Websites that are found to be buying links or participating in link schemes risk severe penalties that will drop their rankings into oblivion, meaning the link you pay for will not pay off for either SEO or referral purposes.

Earning Editorial Links as Part of Link Building for SEO

Natural (i.e. not paid or otherwise received) links are the most valuable kind of link to receive when it comes to the search engines.  To earn them, you need to focus on creating great content that is link-worthy.

You Have (or Should Have) a Blog – Use It Effectively

All WordPress websites built by InsideOut include a blog and it’s not because the website is built in WordPress.  We know from experience that effective blogging should be the priority of internet marketing efforts because it creates the fresh content search engines reward and gives you a great platform for earning natural/editorial links as part of your link building for SEO strategy.  All of our WordPress website include an SEO plugin for pages and posts that will make your efforts at optimization easier.  Our managed web hosting service include free blogging webinars to help you get going and refine your efforts.  We also offer a blog writing service to provide you with content if and when you need it.

There other ways to generate great share- and link-worthy content on your website besides your blog, including:

Specials & Packages are a great way for bed and breakfast inns, boutique hotels, dude ranches and other distinct lodging to offer content that is link-worthy.  If you have a static set of specials than rarely, if ever, change, it’s time to step up your game with regularly changing offers that deal-finders and other sources can link.  If the effort to manage these offers on a standard website page is too time-consuming we offer a Specials & Packages plugin for WordPress websites that allows you to write up the special, make use of our images or upload your own, set as an ongoing or specific date range, set to display 2 weeks or 1 or 2 months prior to start date, enter pricing details and add/modify/delete specials categories.

Recipes are a highly-searched, shared and linked topic for our clients that offer dining service.  Are your recipes remarkable and/or award winning?  Integrate them into both your blog and your website with our Recipes plugin for WordPress.

More Link Building for SEO Advice to Come

This article gives you a starting point for what not to do and how to go about earning editorial links in your link building strategies.  The next post focuses on enhancing your efforts at link building for SEO with outreach and other considerations.  Contact us if you want help in getting your link building strategy off the ground.  We offer the plugins and services mentioned in this post as well as consultations and ongoing services for link building and other SEO-related services.

 

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More Responsive Web Design Examples from InsideOut Solutions

August 25th, 2014 by

August was a busy month at InsideOut for launching responsive website designs and each has its own story.

responsive web design examples

Responsive websites remain in demand at InsideOut Solutions.

Read on to learn how we worked with our clients on new B&B websites for a renovated inn on beautiful Tripp Lake and a family-oriented inn on Cape Cod as well responsive web design upgrades for the Bed and Breakfast Association of Kentucky and a charming inn in historic Port Townsend, Washington.

All of these responsive web design examples use HTML5 and CSS3 to adapt their layout to look their best no matter what device is being used and each has a “sticky” navigation menu that travels down the page with the visitor as the scroll though the page content.

Responsive Web Design Examples – New Website Designs

Wolf Cove Inn (Poland, Maine)

Wolf Cove Inn websiteRoy and Suzanne became the new owners of Wolf Cove Inn on scenic Tripp Lake last December.  Two things they were sure of: they would close the B&B through the winter for renovations and they would launch a new website with a new web host.  We welcomed Wolf Cove Inn as a managed web hosting client at the end of January and got to work on updating their old website to reflect recent changes while also starting work on their new custom website.  Since the inn was under renovation, the inn owners, their photographer Christian Gianelli, and our design lead Beth Edwards had to be flexible and creative in getting and using photos over a period of months as renovations were completed.  Graphic design manager Jim McCauley converted their bitmap logo to a beautifully rendered vector file so that it could be used online and also for any print materials.

Woods Hole Passage Bed and Breakfast (Falmouth, MA)

Woods Hole Passage websiteInsideOut Solutions representatives Pat McCauley and Jack Waknitz met with Woods Hole Passage Bed and Breakfast owners Martha and Julie at the PAII 2014 Innkeeping Conference & Trade Show to discuss their need for a new website design and a managed web hosting solution from InsideOut Solutions.

Martha & Julie wanted to showcase the unique family- and kid-friendy nature of their Cape Cod B&B and Beth Edwards crafted a website design that does just that with a clean, fun, yet elegant design that always looks its best no matter what device is used to view it.

Responsive Web Design Examples – Upgrades to Existing Designs

Bed and Breakfast Association of Kentucky (BBAK)

Bed and Breakfast Association of Kentucky websiteInsideOut Solutions has been the designer, developer and host of the Bed and Breakfast Association of Kentucky website for the past five years.  During that time, BBAK has worked with us to make regular improvements to the website by adding new features for their member B&B inns and adding a WordPress blog.

By the start of summer they were ready to take their website to the next level with a responsive web design upgrade, which included upgrading the navigation menu to include sub-page drop-downs and adding Google maps of in location’s to the site’s regional pages.

Blue Gull Inn (Port Townsend, WA)

Blue Gull Inn websiteBlue Gull Inn loved the WordPress website design we launched three years ago, but they also knew its aging code needed to be brought up to current standards. Our responsive website design upgrade, which included rebuilding the back end in HTML5 & CSS3 and the addition of “sticky” navigation took less than a month to finish and was the perfect fit for their elegant B&B in historic Port Townsend, Washington.

Is It Time for You to Get a Responsive Website Design?

The newly launched responsive websites for Wolf Cove Inn have given these clients a strong platform to ramp up their internet marketing and the upgrades to the BBAK and Blue Gull Inn websites will prolong their useful lives.  Is it time for you to take your website to this next level?  Read June’s post: Responsive Web Design – Is It Time to Redesign or Upgrade Your Website? and contact us with any questions or to request a quote.

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Inbound Marketing: Is It Something You Need?

August 22nd, 2014 by

Inbound marketing is a buzzword, but it’s not a new concept. Industry analysis proves that it leads to a greater return on investment (ROI) for all business sizes. This has given the various aspects of inbound marketing increasing traction in the past few years.

Trusted sites like HubSpot and Moz publish vast amounts of education and trends analysis. Each demonstrate that inbound marketing is a profitable approach to gaining and keeping customers.

What is inbound marketing? How is it different from outbound marketing?

inboundmarketingvsoutbound-04

Inbound marketing is earning the trust of today’s consumers to attract them to your website and convert them into leads. The goal is to convert the leads into customers by following the inbound marketing process.

Inbound marketing’s methodology according to HubSpot comprises 4 sequential phases: 1) attract; 2) convert; 3) close; and 4) delight. The very idea of this process revolves around how to engage the consumer and earn trust. Compare that with outbound marketing, which seeks to interrupt the consumer to sell a product. Often, only the product or service is the focus of outbound marketing. In outbound marketing’s philosophy, the consumer isn’t meant to engage in a meaningful, transactional relationship with the brand except to continue buying it because of numerous interruptive ads or calls.

For example, do you remember sitting down at the dinner table years ago? All the food was piping hot. The family, tired from a long day, was ready to eat. Inevitably, the phone rang. If you were lucky, it was a family member or friend that you could delay. If you weren’t lucky, it was a salesman, who barely allowed you to say “hello” before bombarding you with a scripted pitch and preventing you from getting a word in edgewise to tell him “no thank you.” If you weren’t bold enough to hang up, you probably had to endure about ten to fifteen minutes of escalating sales pitches as you declined from one to another. When at last the salesman admitted defeat, you could return to your cold dinner. This scenario defines the gist of outbound marketing.

Fast forward to today. Inbound marketers aren’t cold calling you as dinner begins to interrupt your meal or your life. Instead, they’re inviting you, when you’re ready, to come to them. Inbound marketing enables a company to make itself known and available. So if you’re looking for a great B&B to visit, you enter some search criteria in Google and away you go. You read blogs. You navigate the site and review various rooms. You study the menu and the wine selection. Sometimes you sign up on email lists to get information about the B&B, or local events and attractions. You narrow down the choices of where you want to stay and consider the experience you want. Finally, you decide where to spend the weekend. Then, inbound marketing influences that B&B to delight you as a guest and continue delighting you after you’ve left the destination by engaging you in social media, informing you about future specials, all in a non-interruptive way.

Ultimately, inbound marketing’s primary focus is on engaging and delighting an inquisitive consumer.

So, why should you invest in inbound marketing?

According to HubSpot’s “2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report,” 54% more leads are generated by inbound marketing versus outbound marketing. More leads means a greater potential of converting them into customers.

Can I really afford to invest in something new?

inboundmarketing_whatyouneed-01If you currently invest in outbound marketing, you know it’s expensive. However, data shows inbound marketing saves money in generating leads. According to HubSpot’s report, marketers that spent more than $25,000 per year “saved an average of 13% in overall cost per lead . . . versus those relying on outbound strategies.”

Realistically, not all business owners are able to spend over $25,000 per year on marketing. However, the widely accepted recommendation for B&B inn owners is to spend at least 10% of your gross revenue on it. As a business owner, one goal is to maximize your ROI. If you’re going to spend the 10%, inbound marketing is currently the preferred method for greater ROI. For you, that means rooms that are consistently occupied, and potentially the reduction or even complete disappearance of the “slow season.”

Join us for our next post which will highlight the tools of inbound marketing, and how they might be used in the hospitality industry.

Find Out More

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Link Building for SEO in 2014: The Basics

July 30th, 2014 by

Link building as a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy continues to evolve along with changes in search engines.  A prime example of this is covered in my April article about how Google now penalizes guest bloggers for creating spammy links.

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There’s a world of value for your internet marketing when you use proven strategies in link building for SEO.

This month I will address the basics of how you can update your current strategy or how to get started with link building for SEO so that you can be on the right track with building links from referring sites.

What Is Link Building for SEO?

Search engines have given links a value as “votes” as part of their algorithmic formula for importance and popularity since the late 1990s.  This formula has become more sophisticated over time, incorporating metrics like authority, spam, and trust on both sides of the link.

Link building is a strategy that increases the SEO value of published content by gaining inbound links.

Link Building for SEO ≠ As Many Links as Possible

Back in the late 90s through early 2000s, the strategy for link building was typically to get a link everywhere you could.  The old “as many links in as many places as you can get” strategy of the 90s and early 2000s is well behind us and it’s time to focus on building links that will actually help the SEO value of your website.

Link Value

There are many “link signals” search engines use that comprise the overall value of a link.  Google and other search engines don’t publicly share their relative weight, but logical assumptions can be made by experimentation and looking at trends in patents that were applied for by the search engines.

Web Popularity

The more traffic and user interaction a website, the more links from that site matter. Earn authority and trust from the search engines by targeting popular sites.

Topic Popularity

A link from sites that is relevant to your business have more weight than general or off-topic websites.  For a B&B inn, dude ranch or other distinct lodging provider that means earning links from popular websites for those topics, such as bedandbreakfast.com or duderanch.org, will have more weight thank links from general travel or tacitly-related sites.

Link Anchor Text

One of the strongest signals the engines use in rankings is anchor text (i.e. the words in the link). For a B&B inn in Chicago, the anchor text “Chicago bed and breakfast” will be worth far more to the search engines than “click here” or other non-keyword text.

TrustRank

Internet reviewers estimate that close to two-thirds of web pages are spam.  Search engines have systems to measure their trust rankings by weeding out this irrelevant spam.  Most search engine researchers agree trust systems are based on the number of “hops” (links) away a website is from the source of the link.  The higher the trust ranking of the website, the higher its value.  High trust domains include government websites, universities, etc.

Your Place in the Link Neighborhood

A lot of the spammy links on the internet are reciprocal (i.e. spam links to spam and that spam links back) and search engines will review any reciprocal links you have, so be sure to only do reciprocal links with sites that have high trust rank.

Link Freshness

Research into links has shown that the value of a link decreases over time, making it important to seek new links from your sources and to seek new sources as well.

Social Sharing Signals

Search engines recognize the influence of social media share from Facebook, Twitter and others as an indicator of popularity.  Just how much is up for debate, but prompting visitors to share what they like is essential to both SEO and Social Media Marketing (SMM).

The Basics of Link Building

Because search engines protect their algorithms for link signals, link building remains an art, rather than a science, and is made up of three major acquisition components.

1. Editorial Links

Also called “natural links,” editorial links that are earned with no action by the author/marketer and are typically the result of publishing great content that others want to reference with a link.  For most, the best way to earn editorial links is via desirable content posted on your website’s blog.

2. Manual Links

Also called “outreach links,” manual links are typically created by submitting sites to directories, paying for listings on a website or contacting content publishers such as bloggers to request a link.   emailing bloggers for links, submitting sites to directories, or paying for listings of any kind. The SEO often creates a value proposition by explaining to the link target why creating the link is in their best interest. Examples include filling out forms for submissions to a website award program or convincing a professor that your resource is worthy of inclusion on the public syllabus.

3. Self-Created Links

Also called “non-editorial links,” the opportunity for self-created links exists on a huge number of websites via blog comments, user profiles, forum signatures and posts, and much more.  While these are typically low-value links, they do offer potential positive impact when considered in aggregate.  Search engines are quick to penalize site that use spammy tactics so be prudent in using this method.

More Link Building Advice to Come

This article gives you the basics.  The next post in this series focuses on the various strategies to link building for SEOContact us if you want help in getting your link building strategy off the ground.  We offer consultations and ongoing services for link building and other SEO-related services.

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New Responsive Website Design for a Longtime Client

July 29th, 2014 by

Responsive website design, whether as a new design, a redesign or an upgrade to an existing website, is the hot topic of 2014 at InsideOut Solutions.  We’ve been busy this month with a responsive website design for the bed and breakfast association of America’s Dairyland – wonderful Wisconsin.WBBA responsive website design

Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast Association Responsive Website Design

The Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast Association (WBBA) loved the functionality of their site, but were seeking a new look on a budget.  The solution was found via upgrading the look and feel of the “public face” of the website, leaving the robust back-end administration, code and functionality the same.  The upgrade in this redesign also includes new, larger photos and sticky navigation.

Do You Need a Responsive Website Design?

The responsive website design upgrades and redesigns for WBBA and many others have enabled these clients to prolong the lives of their current website for several additional years.  Is it time for you to take your website to this next level?  Read last month’s post: Responsive Web Design – Is It Time to Redesign or Upgrade Your Website? and contact us with any questions or to request a quote.

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Introducing Google My Business – Move from Places or Google+ for Business

June 29th, 2014 by

If you have been using the Google Places or Google+ Pages dashboard to manage information about your business, then you have or soon will see that your account has been automatically changed to the new dashboard for Google My Business.Google My Business

What Is Google My Business?

Google My Business was developed to make it easier to manage information about your local business information and that your business will easily found across the Google platform, including Google Maps, Google Search, and Google+.  This change by Google does offer some new and enhanced features which is accessed from the Google My Business dashboard.

Keep reading →

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Summer Blooms with Responsive Website Upgrades from InsideOut Solutions

June 27th, 2014 by

Several InsideOut clients received responsive website upgrades this month.  Last month’s article on Responsive Web Design details what Responsive Web Design is, and if it’s right for you, whether you should redesign or simply get a responsive website upgrade of your existing website.

The following clients contacted us to discuss responsive web design options and made the decision to retain their current design and enhance it with a responsive website upgrade.

Recently Launched Responsive Website Upgrades

responsive website - The B&B Team

The B&B Team®

As Inn Consultants and Brokers since 1993, The B&B Team® has watched internet trends closely, developing keen eyes as to when they follow new trends.

When Google began recommending Responsive Web Design as their preferred method of rendering web pages, they knew it was time to upgrade their WordPress website.

responsive website - Club Continental

The Club Continental

The Club Continental wanted to extend the life of their site.  It was 3 years old, but they loved the design and their visitors did too.

After hearing of the benefits of Responsive Web Design, they decided to upgrade, and in the process extended the life of their current WordPress design.

responsive website - NMBBAresponsive website - Michigan Lake to Lake Bed and Breakfast Association

New Mexico Bed and Breakfast Association
and
Michigan Lake to Lake Bed and Breakfast Association

Both of these B&B associations were looking for an elegant way to present their websites on mobile devices without having to reinvent the wheel.

The answer for both was to upgrade their current websites to responsive designs, complete with “sticky” navigation and cutting edge HTML5 and CSS3 code.

responsive website - Old Parkdale Inn

Old Parkdale Inn

Longtime InsideOut clients, the innkeepers at Old Parkdale Inn have always kept stride with the ever changing standards of website design.  They were concerned that their website load speed was lagging behind and had heard how HTML5 and CSS3 can speed things up.  They chose to have an responsive website upgrade, got their speedy site and much more.

Do You Need a Responsive Website Redesign or Can You Upgrade Your Current Website?

Check out last month’s blog post: Responsive Web Design – Is It Time to Redesign or Upgrade Your Website? and contact us to discuss the best plan for you to keep your website current with this important development and other evolving web standards.

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Responsive Web Design – Is It Time to Redesign or Upgrade Your Website?

June 1st, 2014 by

Responsive web design remains a growing trend of discussion for internet marketing firms and their clients in 2014.  In this article we will will look at the what, why and when of Responsive Web Design so that you can make an informed decision about your website marketing efforts.captainsmanor

What Is Responsive Web Design?

Put simply, Responsive Web Design (RWD) is a website design technique that allows a website’s design to be optimized for all internet-enabled devices, from mobile phones to tablets, laptop an desktop computers.

Why Do I Need a Responsive Web Design?

It may just look like fancy design work, but there are important reasons to make a Responsive Web Design a part of your internet marketing strategy.

Google Recommends Responsive Web Design

Google DevelopersWe all know by now that Google recommendations require serious consideration by anyone wanting to maintain or improve visibility in its search query results.  The Google Developers section on Webmasters Building Smartphone-Optimized Websites specifically recommends Responsive Web Design as Google’s preferred method of rendering web pages.

Based on that fact alone, it’s not a matter of if, but when you should have a responsive web design on your website.

Responsive Websites Are Both Visitor and Search Engine Friendly

Responsive web design code is built HTML5 and CSS3, which also speeds up load times and is a factor in search engine rank.

Website visitors benefit from easier navigation and the best possible view for content no matter how they access it.

Keep reading →

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A New Bed & Breakfast Website Design for Brewster House

May 29th, 2014 by

Scott & Mary Gile, the new owners of Brewster House, were looking for a Bed & Breakfast website design that would reflect the coastal heritage of their area, be simple to navigate for potential new guests, and of course showcase the beauty and amenities of the B&B. In collaborating with our designer, Beth Edwards, that vision came to fruition in the form of a fast-loadingsite built with WordPress using the lastest responsive web design standards that displays it best face on all devices.

About Brewster House and Our Bed & Breakfast Website Design

Brewster House Bed & Breakfast (Freeport, Maine Coast) Website

The Brewster House Bed & Breakfast website design from InsideOut Solutions is attractive, fast-loading and responsive web solution for the new owners.

Brewster House Bed & Breakfast is located in Freeport, Maine and is the perfect starting point to enjoy a seaside vacation. Close to shopping, prime restaurants, and beautiful lighthouses, the Maine coast has plenty of activities for everyone and Brewster House allows you to relax in style after a day of making memories.  Charm and comfort abound in this 19th century home which boasts large private bathrooms, pressed linens, bay windows, fireplaces, and a generous 3-course breakfast.

WordPress allows for the simple updating of all content plus adding specials, new recipes, and blog posts. It is also easy to make the ever-important SEO tweaks over time, so Scott & Mary can have the peace of mind knowing that their website tools are scalable. The responsive website design uses the latest HTML5 and CSS3 coding standards.

Are you interested in having a site tailor-made to fit your inn and personality? Let InsideOut help! We’ll help you achieve your vision of an attractive website, that is also built with the security of the WordPress platform, comes with our custom-made plugins, is responsive for the growing presence of mobile phones, and so much more. Click here for your free quote!

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New Directory Website Design for the Maryland Bed & Breakfast Association

May 26th, 2014 by

The Maryland Bed & Breakfast Association has received a new directory website design utilizing the latest and best web technologies and trends. The new website is built in HTML5 and CSS3 with a focus on fast page loads and a responsive design.

New Directory Website Design for Maryland Bed & Breakfast Association

Built using our own directory website system inside of the WordPress platform, Maryland Bed & Breakfast Association members are given a full range of features to control the content of their own listings.

Large, colorful photos from all across the state have been incorporated to bring the undeniable beauty of Maryland into the site. An important foundation of the new Maryland Bed & Breakfast Association directory website design, these rich and bold background photos resolve at full width to your browser, imbuing the site with warmth and color. We also included a fixed, sticky navigation that stays in view no matter how far down you scroll, leading to a friendlier and easier user experience.

The responsive aspect of the directory website design ensures that the site looks good no matter what size screen or device you are using. Like all of InsideOut Solution’s recent and current custom website designs, the Maryland Bed & Breakfast Association site is fully responsive, adapting across virtually all potential aspect ratios.

If you would like to learn more about what we can do for your association, destination, or directory website design, contact us.

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