Hurley’s of Queenstown came to me on a recommendation from another client just before Xmas. They had a website they were quite happy with but were very disappointed with their place in search results. At the time, doing a Google NZ search on Queenstown accommodation would find them right at the bottom of page 29 – 299th on the list. This was a classic case of a website that had been built without search engine optimisation in mind.
Personally I think that this should be a criminal offence. Unless a client says that they only want existing clients and personal referrals to visit their website there should be a minimum level of search engine optimisation built into the website design.
This means that the site should be search engine friendly and follow the basic guidelines that all the main search engines make freely available to the public. Developers should aim to comply with current web standards, both WC3 and WAI for accessibility. While this isn’t always possible where clients want their site to interface with other sites or legacy systems, there is simply no excuse anymore for building a website purely using static html and tables. Even internet explorer can now cope happily with the CSS that all the other browsers have been running for the last couple of years.
Having been responsible for implementation of the Disability Discrimination Act programme at Tesco Personal Finance I am also particularly conscious of the accessibility of websites and I think that this should always be a consideration in search engine optimisation.
Anyway, back with Hurley’s, my first step was to review their website and make a list of the things that their web developers needed to do to improve the core site. When this was done I began work on the content.
Search engine optimisation of content is always a balancing act. It’s no good writing your website purely for the search engines – your customers need to be able to read it, navigate through it and take any actions that you want them to take too. It’s something that I really enjoy doing, especially because I want the tone to suit the client and their product too. Many content writers aiming for search engine optimisation will start with the page keywords and write some blurb around them. I start with what I want to say about the product then review and edit with the keywords in mind.
In this case, Hurley’s is a luxury motel. So nice in fact that the word motel doesn’t really suit it. So I wrote about that and all the things that make it much more than the average motel. From my personal perspective it has advantages over a hotel too. I always like the option to self-cater and Hurley’s have an arrangement with the Millenium restaurant across the street for meals (including breakfast) to be put on the room tab if you perfer being catered to. I spent some time touring the accommodation with the Ann and listened to what she had to say about the place and the feedback she’d had from guests.
The result was completely new wording for every page of their existing website, search engine optimised to help their great facilities be found by people looking for somewhere comfortable and convenient to stay in Queenstown. The new content went live this week and a new set of photos (post-refurbishment) will be added next week. Already, before I really get into the link-building process and before Google has fully indexed the updated site, they are now at no. 51!
I’ll be writing about Hurley’s again as the search engine optimisation process continues but it’s certainly looking successful so far.