Guest House Marketing – Website Content

Your websites content is important from a number of perspectives, but the main ones are:

So a search engine can find you – make sure you use keywords in your text. The page you are writing should be relevant information to the url and title of the page.

So visitors can access all the information they require – for guest houses think of the important things for guests:

  • Location
  • Amenities
  • Things to do in the area
  • Security
  • Activities
  • Rooms
  • Tea/ coffee / mini fridge / self catering
  • Communal areas
  • Children’s facilities
  • Breakfast choice
  • Special offers
  • Other services – airport pick ups, tours, braai nights, honesty bar
  • Introduction of the owners / managers
  • Climate


To navigate your visitors to your site’s goal (for example to making an enquiry or booking). Text should be logical and ‘’steer’’ the visitor towards your site’s goal. For example home page – view our rooms – specific room – enquire about rates

To show what makes your guest house different – there are an estimated 30,000 guest houses in South Africa for people to choice from. Make sure you use your site to say what makes yours different.


View other guest houses’ websites, not just South African ones, but from all over the world. Dot down ideas, what you liked, what worked well and what impressed you. Take all the best bits and start your planning.


The beauty of facebook and other social and business networks is the ability to communicate with them quickly and efficiently. Tell your network what you are thinking of putting on your site, ask their opinion for other content or ideas.


Before embarking on your website layout, decide exactly what information you want it to contain. Imagine you are creating a book called XXXX Guest house. Think what chapters you want within the book and the pages you want in each chapter.

What extras do you want: –

  • Photo gallery
  • Newsletter
  • Weather box
  • Currency converter
  • Online booking
  • Online payment facility
  • A guest book to publish your guest’s comments (with their permission)
  • A link to your facebook, twitter or blog



How to SEO your Guest House Website

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the buzz word in terms of web marketing. To SEO a website means to make it as attractive as possible to a search engine, in doing so it means higher ranking for your website, which means more visitors and more bookings.

Put simply if you are the owner of a guest house in Hout bay and someone enters a search term, say in Google, such as ‘’guest house hout bay’’ does your website appear on the first page? If not, chances are no one will find it.

Search Engine Optimisation is a highly romanticized art form, clouded in mystery and with deeply hidden secrets. In reality it is about clarity, content and quality.

There can be little doubt that web site development is no longer the domain of the web developer but is a fusion of skills between the designer, the content writer and web engineers.

Even less in doubt it that your website is probably the single most important piece of marketing you will undertake.

Our newsletter often provides tips and hints on search engine optimisation and you can subscribe here.

Please find below various topics:


  • The role of search engines
  • The two sides of SEO (search engine optimisation)
  • What to pay?
  • Selecting a web designer
  • The content
  • Content writing




What to pay for your Guest House Website

As per the other pages in this section, it is our belief that your website is essential to the marketing of your guest house. As such, budgets should be set accordingly and the old adage you pay for what you get considered.

Very often website special offers tempt us with R1999 for a 6 page website. Cheap yes, value for money, possibly not. Remember if you cannot find your website, to a large extent it is not worth having.

Cheap websites tend to be built on existing templates, a few small changes made and the all important items such as searchability, submission to search engines, navigational aids etc ignored.

Unfortunately, unlike many items we buy, it is not immediately obvious to the website novice whether they are buying a bargain or wasting their money.

The normal common sense rule applies: if it is too good to be true, it probably is.

Some hints and tips

  1. Ask the designer their hourly rate.
  2. Ask them for search terms for sites they have built.
  3. Shop around.
  4. Remember quality websites (even very small ones) cost R6, 000 upwards, large ones much more.
  5. Check out their own website, see if you can find them by typing in web design cape town (or wherever they are situated).
  6. Ask them what they do to optimize the website.



Search Engine Optimisation-Guesthouse Website

Making your website ‘’searchable’’ is a combination of skills that can be broken down into two areas, broadly speaking:

  1. The web site design and infrastructure.
  2. The content of the website

Web design and infrastructure

The design of your website is critical, not all designs are search engine friendly. Websites (normally the kind advertised for R1999 for 6 pages) are templates and not search engine friendly. Not being search engine friendly means breaking the rules of the search engine and can lead to a poor listing, or exclusion from the search engine.

It is not just about how your website looks – commonly it is accepted that websites designed in Flash are the most interactive and attractive however search engines do not like flash.

Similarly, websites heavily weighed down by graphics and pictures are slow to load, this again can lead to search engines not loading the website and also visitors thinking there is something wrong with the site and clicking elsewhere.

When deciding on your web designer, don’t just look at examples of their work from an aesthetic perspective, but more so from a searchable perspective. If the website example is about a device to stop people snoring – type in your search box anti snoring device and see if the site ranks – if not you possibly need to keep looking for a different web designer.

Website Content

Content is king. Search engines look at the quality of what your website is offering. A 6 page website with mainly pictures and very little text will hardly ever rank top of the search engines.

Your text should be relevant to the page title and URL, providing visitors with credible information that is written in a logical and easily understood manner.

Your content needs to be original (not copied from another site) – search engines know when content writers have cheated and penalize accordingly.

For guest houses, take the time to put useful information such as location, places to visit in your area, restaurants, activities, local sights and sounds as well as information about your guesthouse. Include a ‘meet the team’ showcasing you and your staff.


Selecting a web site designer for your Guest House Website

Selecting a web designer is a very important decision, not only will they be creating your main marketing tool but will probably be the ones responsible for its ongoing development and updating.

  1. Are they interested in your business? – Do they take the time to understand what you do and what makes your business unique?
  2. Do they explain the importance of content; do they offer a content writer or content editor? Poor content is dangerous to the health of your website ranking; remember writing for the web is not like writing for other media forms.
  3. What do their current clients or recent ones say about them? References are always helpful, where possible request to speak to the owner of a featured site rather than be led.
  4. What are the payment terms? Is it stage payments that are goal based? Are they confident they can deliver on budget and on time?
  5. Does the site have an administration capability so you can maintain it yourself if you wish to?
  6. Do they offer a maintenance program? Websites are normally not a once off, but an evolving tool.
  7. What search engines do they submit it to for you? This should be the big 4 at least.
  8. Does the Web designer’s site have previous work on display for you to view? Do they all look the same or reflect each company’s individuality?
  9. Do they seem to over promise? Do they promise your site will be ranked first in Google for your top keywords within a week of its launch? Be weary of designers who over promise and underachieve.
  10. Can you understand them? A good designer will ensure they speak to you in such a manner that you understand, not bamboozle you with jargon.
  11. Are they professional? Are they prompt in replying to your calls or e-mails, do they build the site online so you review progress, is there a clear development path.
  12. Do they test your site on several platforms and browsers? It is essential your site works on Internet Explorer, Safari, FireFox to name but a few. All browsers are not the same.
  13. Do they recognize the importance of search engine optimization? A site is only good if it can found! Ask them what techniques they undertake for SEO, if they reply there is no such thing move on quickly.
  14. Are they in love with fancy technology? Over complicated websites mean unsearchable and high maintenance, technology should be used when it gets the best result not because it looks cool.
  15. Is the price fair? Keep in mind that a high-quality site is an investment that will pay for itself many times over in sales, while a poorly crafted site will drive away potential customers. A cheap site may seem like a bargain at first but in the long run will cause more damage than it’s worth.
  16. Do they care? A good designer will go beyond your expectations to make sure you’re completely satisfied with your Website. If you get the sense that the designer you’re considering churns out Web sites like sausages, move on to the next one.




The role of Search Engines when listing your Guesthouse

Search engines are the pages on the internet that list websites. The better known ones include Google, yahoo, msn, bing and ask.

It is the method most people use to access information on the web. Simply typing into a search engine’s search box can deliver millions of different websites that match your search term – in just seconds.

Whilst it is important to rank in all major search engines, Google is the stand out one, with approx 80% of all searches conducted through Google (depending upon then country).

Why bother about Search Engines?

Imagine a guest house directory that was available to hundreds of millions of people which listed 20,000 South African guest houses.

To qualify for this directory you had to follow certain rules, and how well you followed these rules had a direct impact on how close to the top of the directory your guest house featured.

In South Africa a good many guest houses would not be eligible simply because their listing did not conform to the required rules at all. Sadly the majority of the guest house websites, whilst being listed, would be so far down the list that no-one ever read that far.

The result is that most of the clients you are trying to attract will simply never find you.

Holidays, flights, hotels, guest houses are some of the main products and services that people prefer to book over the internet. What better way than to sit in the UK, in the comfort of your own home and browse rates, photos, information etc to make your choice of a guest house for your forthcoming holiday in South Africa.

So if your guesthouse website is not search engine friendly, you are missing out on the biggest source of booking.