The Holy Grail
This is what every business wants to achieve and I am proud and delighted beyond belief that Coombe Mill is currently Number 1 on Google for "Kids Farm Holidays".
I don't check any of my website or blog statistics very often as I think I could become obsessive about them. However every now and then I do like to ensure that I am on track.
The key statistic for me is where our holidays rank in Google or our Sales Engine Optimisation level (SEO ranking). I try typing in specific wording and pull back to more and more generic searches to see how we do.
So for example if I were to type "Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays in Cornwall", "Coombe Mill Holidays Cornwall" or even just "Coombe Mill" I would expect to come up first. However, let's face it, anyone typing those searches in already knows about us and it just looking up our details to make a booking or follow up a recommendation to us; great in its own right but not a way for new potential holiday makers to find us.
If I now I broaden the search out to "Cornwall farm holidays with kids and animals" then it is much harder to come at the top as Google has many websites to choose from all using some or all of these key words on their websites. Featuring top here is where I get really excited, especially when Google says it searched 6.7m sites to bring Coombe Mill up first. Anyone searching this term is looking for a holiday that really matches what we offer; they probably haven't heard of Coombe Mill and are just seeing what is out there. Being first on the list I am more likely to be clicked on and once on my website it is then up to me to sell the Coombe Mill dream in the first five seconds of glancing at my homepage. If the homepage isn't attractive to my target market in an instant then I've wasted all my efforts in being at the top of Google and the discerning shopper will be back to Google and clicking on number two. This is a huge subject in it's own right, for now I'm going to concentrate on Goggle Searches and assume my website does the job once there.
I try broadening the criteria again and hurrah I'm still number one for "Cornwall farm holidays with kids".
And again for "Farm holidays with kids" on a search of a whopping 156 million sites. This is a great result for me.
So how do I do it?
Content is key
First and foremost, make sure your website illustrates and says the most important things in the fewest words. Less is more. Set the tone visually on the homepage. From here make sure posts are relevant, interesting and engaging. Know what your website or blog is for and write and illustrate to this.
For Coombe Mill the website tells the holidays facts while my blog within this takes a behind the scenes look at our family life running the business including the "oops" moments and success stories as they unfold.
Interaction & Social Media
Your posts can be genius but they need to reach out to an audience and be read, work out who your market is and connect with them, talk with them on forums or social media read and interact with their site and they will be sure to visit you too, oh and watch out you don't just get sucked in for hours here, it is easy to be sociable and chat too long, I'm guilty!
When I began my blog my target market for Coombe Mill was Mums and Dads with young children. Four years later I consider myself a fully fledged parent blogger myself with good friends I've met online and at blogging events, many of whom now holiday at Coombe Mill and have been kind enough to write about their visits. I now have a Pinterest Page just for Coombe Mill blog reviews.
Follow Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays's board Holiday Reviews for Coombe Mill on Pinterest.
As for which social media sites to use, I'd recommend doing whichever you are most comfortable with, in essence they all work if you put in and don't just take out. By that I mean give feedback and support to others there, build friendships and they will most likely visit your site to find out who is behind the friendly words. My personal favourite is Twitter, I hang out here every day but also use Instagram, Google Plus, Facebook and Pinterest to a lesser extent most days.
Use keywords you want to be found for on Google in all web and blog site tags from the organic photo label on your pc or lap top right through to the content within a blog post. Focus on Key words in your headings where possible. For example every photo I save to my Website or Blog has a description for the photo and ends with "at Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays, Cornwall". If I or anyone else then pins this photo on Pinterest this phrase will appear on it.
Link within your site to past articles where relevant and to outside sources. There is much debate over the use of "follow" and "no follow" links. As a rough guide use a follow link in your own site and anywhere where the content of the linked site is directly relevant to your post. so for example I will always use a follow link to reference an article about Coombe Mill on another website or blog. Google likes links when they are genuine so use them and encourage them to your site too.
Where next for me?
I would be delighted to hold my position but you have to keep moving to stand still and if I am honest with myself standing still isn't really what I want. I need three of the following keywords to appear at the top or near the top on a goggle search.
Holidays, Cornwall, Farm or one from Kids, children, toddlers and Family,
By reducing to just two of these and searching my presence falls off a cliff, I now want to work on some secondary keywords that might be used instead of these such as UK, England, Cottages, Lodges and Self Catering. I currently rank much lower searching by these alone. There is no magic, I will carry on doing what I do but perhaps tag, UK on the end of Cornwall in posts descriptions, and drop cottage or lodge into my posts and picture tags more often. January is the big booking month for me so I really want to hold my own and increase the odd search for then.
Know what you want your site to be ranked on and use these words carefully, by this I mean strategically without spamming your own site, Google can penalize you for over use of a key word.
A word of warning
SEO is great to be aware of but never let it govern your writing, relevant interesting content is key, SEO must fit around this and not drive it or posts can become contrived and dull. For me it is a once a month reality check at most to see what is working and on a day to day basis slots in rather like a spell check when I edit a post. If I can use a word I want to improve my search I will but I never force it.
I am not an SEO specialist
I am just sharing what has worked for me, if you are interested in what I've said here and would like to know more based on my own experience please let me know in the comments as I could happily expand on any of the areas I've touched on in this post.
Enjoy your website and or blog, have passion in your writing, be mindful of SEO but don't let it rule your work. If all this seems like too much effort there are companies out that only to keen to do it for you at a price, but watch who you choose, I am inundated with emails each day like the one below and would be very wary of dealing with them (click on the image to enlarge if you want to read the detail here):
I enjoy blogging and my daily social media interaction, it is part of my everyday life and the SEO benefits are a very handy spin off allowing me to invest the money I've saved elsewhere in Coombe Mill. To be successful it needs to be a passion you enjoy otherwise you may resent the time and energy it takes.