During a GP visit where I had 2 (yes TWO) steroid shots in my gluteus maximus :-) I got to talking about how I make a living from building websites and SEO consulting etc…, turns out my GPs wife runs a small local Skegness business.
They run a couple of holiday apartment rentals in Skegness, we walk by one of the holiday apartments all the time, two minutes walk from Skegness beach where my wife and I walk most days.
They were looking to upgrade their Skegness apartments business website (pay for webdesign help) and to be brutally honest I can understand why: out of date website design, not mobile responsive, poor onpage SEO etc…
Makes for a great excuse for a local business case study on why small local businesses shouldn’t use website builders like DreamWeaver or FrontPage (FrontPage was discontinued in 2006, replaced by Microsoft Expression Web) and should use WordPress as a Content Management System (CMS): or at least a CMS even if it’s not WordPress.
Local Skegness Business Websites
For Google search engine visitors who find their way to this webpage via Skegness relevant searches you are probably looking for the Skegness Apartments or the Skegness Attractions, two of the Skegness relevant websites discussed below.
Even though I’m not targeting this article at Skegness Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) I’m pretty much guaranteed Skegness traffic because I’ve used relevant phrases below.
You can tell I’m not specifically targeting Skegness SERPs from this webpages title tag:
Local SEO Website Design for Small Businesses
If I were specifically targeting Skegness SERPs, I’d use Skegness in the title tag: this is SEO 101. The title tag is one of, if not the, most important part of onpage SEO. Google doesn’t care how your website was created, the title tags are VERY important, take your time to get them right.
Basically this webpage will rank for some long-tail Skegness search phrases because they are easy local SERPs, a single mention can gain a top 10 Google ranking.
Small Business Website Case Study
As I wrote this in 2014 (updated in 2020) I knew no more about the holiday apartment website, business etc… as you do, my ‘inside info’ (from my GP) is the Skegness Apartments website exists (this domain skegnessapartments.co.uk) and the business owner is looking for a webdesign update, so anyone could do this exact SEO analysis on their own business website or a competing business site.
Skegness Apartments is your typical small business website that’s either been built by a small local Skegness website design company (there’s quite a few in the Skegness, Boston and Lincolnshire area) or someone within the business with basic HTML/design skills (it’s what my first websites looked like): I worked with a lot of small businesses in this sort of situation when I first started on a career path as an SEO consultant, I see the usual SEO/webdesign mistakes.
I was a little surprised to find it’s a relatively new website (the website design is how websites looked before 2008), first registered early 2012: I first checked in 2014.
Search Google for “Whois” and pop a site URL into one of the free Whois checking sites to see some domain data and you’ll see it was only a couple of years old when I first wrote this website design review: I was expecting a minimum 5-10 years old.
After looking through the WayBack Machine results http://archive.org/web/ I was even more surprised to find the design was new: added sometime in 2014!
As you can see from the screenshot (above) from 2014 the Skegness Apartments website had a very old, out of date website design that wasn’t doing them any favours with potential holiday makers looking to rent a holiday flat in Skegness.
Rather than upgrading to a CMS like WordPress, Skegness Apartments opted for another custom design which lacks good Google Maps and Google Reviews integration: Skegness Apartments has some good Google reviews as well.
They are leaving a lot of potential Skegness relevant traffic on the table by not building a reasonable size website.
Validating Code, Find Your WYSIWYG HTML Mistakes
I always jump straight into the HTML code and in FireFox – “Right Click” on a page and “View Page Source” I find the footer code (for the old design in 2014) is completely missing (truncated HTML code: FireFox View Page Source shows possible errors in red). One of the risks of using a WYSIWYG editor, looks OK in a browser window, but behind the scenes the code can be a mess.
Looking through the code looks like it was built with the What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) type HTML editor Microsoft FrontPage: not a very good website design building tool to say the least, not easy to use. I’ve not had to look at a website created in FrontPage for years, I wonder if it’s built with Microsoft Expression Web and MS has used the same names for things?
If you have no idea what you are looking at, use the free W3C validator http://validator.w3.org/ running the homepage through the W3C validator in 2014 showed 29 errors, fortunately 28 of them can safely be ignored (don’t get too hung up on the errors), this one is for the truncated code:
Line 269, Column 7: end tag for "div" omitted, but OMITTAG NO was specified
You may have neglected to close an element, or perhaps you meant to "self-close" an element, that is, ending it with "/>" instead of ">".
Looks like the footer template file has been deleted by mistake: easy to make this mistake with WYSIWYG website builder software.
In 2020 the new design shows 41 W3C validator errors, BUT web development has moved on and the validator hasn’t kept up with the changes. My SEO gold homepage lists 148 validator errors, many (maybe all) related to lazy loading images, none of those errors are real. In 2020 the W3C validator errors are too busy with false positives to be of any real use.
As I delved deeper into the site I found pages with a Back button where the hoverover code works.
WYSIWYG HTML Editors
It’s been around 8 years (now 13 years as I update in 2020) since I built a website in DreamWeaver (another WYSIWYG type editor), but from memory I do recall it was a pain to build new webpages: build your header, footer templates etc… and build individual template files for each main content source! I remember dropping the templates into a text editor to fix broken code!
Not easy for your average non tech savvy small business owner, maybe that’s why some local website design companies use tools like DreamWeaver? Build a website the business customer can’t easily edit, they have to pay the design company money for every tiny little content edit that the business could easily do themselves in a CMS like WordPress: you could train a monkey to use WordPress, it’s that easy.
I’m impressed by any small business owner who had to learn web design from scratch that’s even manged to get a site online using tools like FrontPage! Having easier access to content to edit is more than enough reason to use a CMS like WordPress over HTML editors like FrontPage.
Local SEO for Small Business
Not even looked at the SEO yet, (unusual for me, normally the first port of call) a few pages in I’m seeing big SEO issues. A site:domain.tld domain or site search in Google can show most pages (it’s not 100% accurate) indexed under a domain.
Use your domain name minus the https://www. part into a Google search and Google will list most pages it has indexed from that domain.
Lists 33 pages indexed, so no issues with spidering/indexing (it’s a small site).
Update January 2020: the duplicate title tag issue has now been resolved, though now only 9 pages are indexed in Google.
In view source you’ll see this code:
This is awful SEO wise.
Of the other pages with different titles, 5 are to dead pages (looks like they’d been deleted, no 301 redirects: see 301 redirects tutorial) and the rest seem to all have the same “Skegness Apartments” title tag, but Google has guessed the Contact page would be better titled “Contact – Skegness Apartments“.
So the entire site has duplicate title tags, highly unlikely to generate more than a trickle of visitors from Google.
Update January 2020: Although the duplicate title tags have been fixed, the site only has 9 webpages and the title tags are poorly SEO’d. Below are all 9 title tags:
- Skegness Apartments – Self Catering Holidays in Skegness
- Avon Holiday Apartments in Skegness
- Boulevard Apartments in Skegness
- Skegness Apartments
- Prices for Self Catering Holiday in Skegness at Avon …
- Bookings – Skegness Apartments
- Prices for Self Catering Holiday in Skegness at Avon …
- [PDF]Avon Apartments Booking Form IMPORTANT Cancellation …
- [PDF]Boulevard Apartments Booking Form IMPORTANT …
At best the site is targeting these Skegness SERPs:
Self Catering Holidays in Skegness
Holiday Apartments in Skegness
Apartments in Skegness
This is really poor SERP targeting.
Below is a list of 25 phrases suggested when searching for Skegness Apartments, the bold ones should be targeted by this website.
Keyword – Search Volume
Butlins Skegness Gold Apartments – 390
Butlins Skegness Apartments – 320
Butlins Skegness Gold Apartment – 320
Skegness Apartments – 320
Butlins Skegness Silver Apartment – 210
Skegness Holiday Apartments – 210
Butlins Skegness Seaside Apartments – 140
Butlins Apartments Skegness – 110
Butlins Gold Apartment Skegness – 110
Seaside Apartments Butlins Skegness – 110
Butlins Skegness Gold Apartments Map – 90
Butlins Skegness Map Of Apartments – 90
Pier View Apartments Skegness – 90
Apartments To Rent In Skegness – 70
Butlins Standard Apartment Skegness – 50
Coasters Hotel And Holiday Apartments Skegness – 50
Fairground Apartments Skegness Reviews – 50
New Style Silver Apartments Butlins Skegness – 50
Quality Holiday Apartments Skegness – 50
Butlins Skegness Apartments Silver – 40
Coasters Hotel And Apartments Skegness – 40
Coasters Hotel Apartments Skegness – 40
Court Royal Holiday Apartments Skegness – 40
Glenwood Holiday Apartments Skegness – 40
Avon Apartments Skegness – 30
Personally I’d also target the Butlins relevant keyphrases, looking on Google Reviews for Avon Apartments Skegness has mostly good reviews (most are 5/5), I’d be comparing Avon Apartments to Butlins Apartments via a comparison article.
Why would a holiday maker rent an Avon apartment over a Butlins apartment?
Free WebMaster Tools
I don’t see any Google Analytics code so looks like they aren’t using their free Google Search Console https://search.google.com/search-console/about or Google Analytics https://marketingplatform.google.com/about/analytics/, if they did they’d see multiple duplicate title tags warnings with advice to set unique titles for every webpage.
For one of my sites (in 2014) Google Search Console reports 82 duplicate title tags, that might sound a lot, but because I use the Stallion Responsive Theme SEO Super Comments feature which turns user comments into search engine indexable pages most of the duplicates are from the SEO super comments.
As I write this article (June 2014) the site has 170 published posts and pages, yet over 3,000 pages indexed in Google (site:stallion-theme.co.uk) and most of them are SEO super comments (the site had around 2,500 user comments), so eighty odd duplicates out of over 3,000 indexed pages isn’t bad (only about 30 with duplicate title tags).
The above SEO issues and many more would be fixed by using WordPress, even without using an SEO Theme. WordPress in the hands of even a complete beginner can output better search engine optimized content than an above average local website designer using a program like DreamWeaver.
With WordPress though it helps to understand some basic SEO, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t. WordPress inter links your site so everything is easily found by search engines, to achieve the same with a WYSIWYG editor requires manually adding text or image links.
Migrate to WordPress
When I started using WordPress (2005-2006) I migrated my static HTML websites (like the Skegness site above is static HTML pages) to WordPress blogs.
For a relatively small site with no ecommerce features this is relatively easy when you know how :-)
I find the easiest way is to almost start again. Depending on the server/host setup it should be possible to install WordPress under the same domain without loosing the current website HTML pages. I would set it up so temporarily the current index.html home page still loads as the home page. WordPress is a PHP script, so the home page for a WordPress install has a home page at index.php.
You can access WordPress via index.php, setup the new site (create new WordPress Posts and Pages to replace the old), setup relevant 301 redirects within the roots .htaccess file and when the new site is ready setup the server to load index.php instead of index.html. If it all goes well (never does :-)) a seamless move.
After setting up WordPress the business owner will have much easier access to each pages content (now WordPress Posts or WordPress Pages) and can edit the content directly online (under the WordPress Dashboard) rather than messing around with FrontPage/DreamWeaver type template files and uploading via FTP.
If the small business has multiple staff with the ability to use processing software like MS Word, MS Office etc… it’s not a big leap in tech skills to learn to create/edit WordPress Posts and Pages. For simple edits you no longer need to call a web designer and pay for the changes to a product price/description, you do it yourself in-house, WordPress is really easy to use.
WordPress as a Business CMS
My wife who is about as tech savvy as a Hamster on a wheel :-) helps me build websites, she might have created more unique content than I have!
The problem you have with a business site like Skegness Apartments is you quickly run out of relevant content to create new articles with: there’s only so much you can write about a room! Which is why I’d advise using a similar approach to the Skegness Attractions site, review/discuss non-competing businesses and services.
The Skegness Attractions site was setup years ago (not long after moving to Skeg), my wife created over 90% of the content, most of it is things we’ve done in Skegness. She’s got bored of the site (kids grew up, nothing much relevant left to review in Skegness) and hasn’t added new content for years, really needs a content refresh: realised it still said Skegness Attraction 2013, oops, 6 months into 2014!
The WordPress site shows how easy it is to generate a site filled with relevant content about Skegness, 300+ pages indexed in Google site:https://skegness-attractions.co.uk/ with plenty of relevant SERPs.
We built the Skegness Attractions site as part of a large network of sites (currently 130 domains), with so many domains to manage you can’t put 100% attention on to one website, at least not for very long: I’m currently putting most of my time into this SEO website, but will have to maintain other sites soon. If we owned only one site we’d create content about as many relevant niches as possible.
With a site about holiday apartments would make sense to have webpages about local entertainment, review the Embassy Theater, review all the local Skegness bars and night clubs and direct your Google search engine visitors to a holiday let like I’ve done with this article. I’m directing visitors to check out my new local SEO webdesign business.
My wife is (was in 2014) working on one of our newest sites Skinny Me, we’ve been dieting for about two years (small portion diet) and between us have lost about 7-8 stone: we are both at perfect weights now.
The weight loss site is running WordPress with Stallion Responsive with one of the built in Stallion designs and header images (nothing customized yet). My wife wants to use a larger image at the top, she’s going to create a 1000px by 288px image that completely replaces the top header area, the new header image will include the name of the site (Skinny Me) in fancy text and I guess some graphics to make it pretty.
She will make the image and I’ll go set it up: it’s easy to do, about a dozen clicks of the mouse, will take me a couple of minutes to make the design change. That’s the power of WordPress with a decent theme.
How to Write Website Content that Generates Traffic
Like I said we lost weight on a small portions diet (basically eating less), surprisingly “Small Portion Diet” is NOT a high traffic Google SERP it only has around 210 searches a month! In the weight loss niche diet SERPs are HUGE traffic: “Low Carb Diet” 135,000 searches a month.
Eating less (consuming less energy than you use in a day) is the only safe long term way to loose and maintain a healthy weight, but most of the weight loss niche SERPs are about fad diets and celebrity diets. There’s only so many articles you can write about a small portion diet (and it’s low traffic), so my wife has researched and wrote about other diets like this article: Sugar Free Diet: 18,100 searches a month, so more people will search for this type of diet than the diets that actually work :-)
You can follow a smaller portion diet without cutting out sugar per se, as we lost weight we naturally progressed to thinking twice about what we ate: if you are going to have a sugary treat on an irregular basis, it better be a treat you LOVE, not just eat it because it’s there!
2020 update: my wife created the new header image, since we’ve lost weight and kept it off for almost 8 years now she hasn’t kept the site updated. So many weight loss programs are a scam and difficult to make money from advising people to simply eat less.
Free Keyword Research Tool
This sort of approach to writing articles to fill a site with content that will pull in your niche relevant traffic isn’t that hard. A free tool for determining relevant SERPs is the Google AdWords Keyword Planner, although buying AdWords ads from Google isn’t free, using their keyword research tool is :-)
The AdWords research tool (where I got the month search numbers about diets from) when searching for the word Skegness shows us the highest traffic relevant SERPs to the Skegness Apartments business are:
- Skegness Hotels
- Skegness Caravan
Even Camping Skegness has more traffic compared to Skegness Apartments.
One approach could be to compare the pros and cons of using a
- Skegness Hotel vs a Skegness Apartment
- Skegness Caravan vs a Skegness Apartment
- Camping Skegness vs a Skegness Apartment
There’s plenty of relevant SERPs that could be the starting point for an article promoting a Skegness holiday let (another relevant SERP).
To put things into perspective the actual Google search “Skegness Apartments” generates around 110 visitors a month (that’s not a lot). 2014 data.
It would be difficult to run a successful Skegness business on 110 search engine visitors a month (and one site won’t get ALL the visitors).
Google UK search “Skegness Hotels” generates around 12,100 visitors a month and there’s thousands of other relevant searches like Royal Hotel Skegness, Southview Hotel Skegness etc… 2020 data.
These are modest traffic figures, but local search results tend not to be high traffic which is why you have to target as many as possible, currently the apartments site is targeting only ONE SERP! They should look to target Skegness Hotel SERPs as well including competitor SERPs.
- Keyword – Search Volume (data January 2020)
- Hotels In Skegness – 12100
- Skegness Hotels – 12100
- Royal Hotel Skegness – 2900
- Cheap Hotels In Skegness – 1000
- County Hotel Skegness – 1000
- Southview Hotel Skegness – 1000
- Savoy Hotel Skegness – 880
- Hotels Skegness Seafront – 720
- North Shore Hotel Skegness – 720
- Skegness Hotels Seafront – 720
- Crown Hotel Skegness – 590
- Premier Hotel Skegness – 590
- Sun Hotel Skegness – 590
- Vine Hotel Skegness – 590
- Charnwood Hotel Skegness – 480
- Links Hotel Skegness – 480
- Queens Hotel Skegness – 480
- The Sun Hotel Skegness – 480
- The Vine Hotel Skegness – 480
- Grosvenor Hotel Skegness – 390
- Dog Friendly Hotels Skegness – 320
- Hotels Near Skegness – 320
- Skegness Hotels Premier Inn – 320
- The Crown Hotel Skegness – 320
- The Links Hotel Skegness – 320
A competing business like Skegness Apartments should target these related competitor SERPs. All’s fair in local business SEO.
17 out of 25 are competitor SERPs, other hotels like the Royal Hotel and the County Hotel. That’s a lot of traffic to target for a small local Skegness business IF they don’t mind stepping on their competitors toes.
I’ll be building Skegness Webdesign articles over the next few months for a new SEO webdesign service, I won’t have a problem targeting the SERPs of other Lincolnshire based wed designers (why would I?): all is fair in SEO, nobody owns a Google SERP.
For example I’m ranked for SERPs related to a Middlesbrough based web design business due to reviewing their unethical business practices, the review SERPs even resulted in a police visit due to the disgruntled business owner.
How to Generate Search Engine Traffic
Consider adding information about similar businesses, directing potential Skegness holiday makers to other good local hotels if they aren’t looking for a self contained apartment can generate relevant traffic.
They might find your site looking for a Skegness Royal Hotel Review (a popular Skegness hotel) and decide to rent one of your apartments instead. If you don’t target similar business SERPs you wouldn’t see most of those visitors anyway, if your service is good persuade the visitor to try you instead.
If a business like Skegness Apartments ranked high for Skegness Royal Hotel Review SERPs they could contact the Royal and suggest a link up. Skegness Apartments direct visitors not interested in a self contained apartment to the Royal and the Royal directs visitors looking for a self contained apartment to Skegness Apartments: both businesses benefit.
Remember a competitor can also be a marketing friend. This article will generate Skegness traffic I can’t covert (I own an ex-guesthouse with about 10 rooms, but I don’t rent them out :-)), I’d be open to working with local Skegness hotels etc… when I open my new SEO web design service. I link to an hotel recommending them, they link back recommending my SEO web design service.
For Skegness Apartments I’d create a new WordPress Post for each of the self contained apartments and target a different set of SERPs for each.
The Avon property has 7 apartments, that’s 7 WordPress posts, target each at a different set of search phrases. One could be targeting Skegness Holiday Flats (110 searches a month: 2014 data), another Holiday Flats Skegness (210 searches a month: 2014 data), another Holiday Apartments Skegness (140 searches a month: 2014 data) etc… do the keyword research to find more with relevant traffic.
I’d take photos of each apartment (and views) and add them to the posts, on each post I’d also include an inspirational image related to Skegness: whatever your visitors tend to do while here, on a Skegness golf course for example if golfers are your customers.
I’d add the prices for each apartment so your visitors have a self contained webpage with all the basic information they need with the ability to contact you via a contact form (could use the WordPress comments for basic queries), email address, postal address, phone number etc… I’d also add when the apartments are available (that will require regular updates), will save your potential customers time if they know a flat isn’t available on July 1st for example and save them time. By linking all 7 apartment posts together when one isn’t available on a particular date direct them to the other 6 (and your other location).
If that was my one and only business site and it was important I’d expect to have at least a hundred articles added within a year and continue to add more year on year.
It’s a lot of work, but that’s business :-)