How to Set-Up a Website for Your French Holiday Home
It’s an easy decision to harness the power of the Internet to market your French holiday home, but don’t underestimate the importance of effective presentation and promotion of your website. Here, we provide some guidance on getting started with your site and how to get potential customers to view your carefully crafted pages.
Choosing a Website Design Service
There are many options to consider when selecting a company to design your website. Don’t be tempted by the false economy of the homemade site option. First impressions are important and a poorly presented website is unlikely to engender interest in your gite or chambre d’hote.
Consider the services that you require when choosing website designer. These will very likely include a content management system (the facility to log-in and make real-time updates to your website), web hosting, domain registration and logo design. You should certainly be offered access to reports on the number of people who have visited your site, and where they have clicked through from (sometimes called “site stats”).
A full-featured, professionally designed accommodation rental website need not cost more than about £500-£600, and an annual fee of around £100 may also apply.
An excellent option for the budget conscious is to use a template-based website building service. These typically involve selecting from a range of pre-designed templates and then adding text and images using an online tool. These services vary in quality and cost, so check their portfolio pages and compare prices. One such service, whose templates are specifically designed for guest and rental accommodation websites, is Simplicity Websites (www.simplicitywebsites.co.uk).
Choosing Your Domain Name
Your domain name will influence how highly your site is placed in search engine listings. Firstly, decide if you want your domain to have a .com, .co.uk or .fr extension. Google will, for example, list .co.uk domains higher for searches conducted in the UK, so if your site is in English choose the .co.uk or .com extension.
The domain name should include two or three keywords that your potential customers might enter into search engines, this will improve your listing position. For example, a bad domain name to choose would be www.chezjanet.co.uk as it includes no keywords that users might use in Google searches. An example of a good domain name would be www.charentegiterental.co.uk as it includes three highly relevant keywords.
Promoting Your New Website
Unfortunately, no one will find your site unless it establishes a good web-presence so, once it’s complete, the underrated and time-consuming task of promoting the site begins.
It’s important to get your site into the main general search engines and directories, these are Google (www.google.com), Yahoo (www.yahoo.com), MSN (www.msn.com), Ask (www.ask.com), and Open Directory Project (www.dmoz.com). These sites may eventually find and list your website but it could take several months so it’s advisable to visit each one and submit your site.
There are a number of online directories that specialise in listing French gites, chambres d’hotes etc; some are free but most charge a fee of up to £100 per year. These are worth using but they do vary in the amount of enquiries that they generate so use them selectively and monitor the results from each one.
An effective way of increasing traffic to your site is to create a links page and ask other sites to exchange links with you. It is advisable to only include links to relevant websites so offer to swap links with other French holiday home owners, your local taxi service, tourist attractions, estate agents etc. A great tip is to ensure that, when another site links to yours, your main keywords are clickable text. Search engines will use this clickable text to determine the content of your site, enabling them to list you highly for relevant searches.
Finally, a content rich site packed with relevant information will always attract visitors and search engines love them. Build your site with 6 to 10 pages, include loads of content on your establishment and pack it with plenty of local tourist, travel and heritage information
By Trevor Owen of chambre d’hote and gite website creation tool Simplicity Websites.
Please email Trevor for further help and advice: firstname.lastname@example.org