ORLANDO, Fla. -Building a website isn’t enough to turn the power of the internet into an effective business tool, says Mark Greer, founder and CEO of BusRates.com.
You have to apply methods of bringing traffic to it, and then that traffic can translate into bookings, says Greer, who was part of a panel – at UMA Motorcoach Expo here — on leveraging the internet.
Upwards of 75 percent of adults use the internet, according to Greer. And 70 percent of users find websites through a search engine. More than two million searches a month are bus related, he noted.
The older the website the better, says Greer, calling it “domain aging.” It’s best to put a site up while you’re still working on the finished product so search engines begin picking it up. He also advises that the site be updated every five days.
Gene Wright II, promotional marketing manager of B&W Charters in Kalamazoo, Mich., also warned that websites need to be updated regularly. “If you’re not, you’re giving your money to brokers,” he said.
“Look at what the competition is doing … some things can be copied, others cannot. Look at the ones that are successful,” said Wright.
He suggested operators make a page for each town they are targeting. Make sure you put relevant text for those towns, including attractions. Next, you can make links to those towns and their attractions, asking them to do the same for you. That increases your ranking on search engines, which is called “search-engine optimization.”
Pictures should have tags on them and you should make sure you have the right key words for your business. This also increases your placement on searches. And make sure your site is easy to navigate.
“People are not going to fill out a lot of information. There are brokers that have big long quote forms,” said Wright.
Social networking tools, such as a blog, a Facebook account, Linked In and My Space, also are good ways to have a presence on the web, according to Wright.
He also said you need to have “proper key-word density,” which means you want to say “Michigan charter bus” enough times but don’t do overkill.
Greer suggested operators focus on quality content.
Raymon Land III, president of Fabulous Coach Lines in Branford, Fla., tries to welcome visitors to his website with an abundance of photos. “Take pictures of your coaches. I get some of my best pictures when I drive the coach myself,” said Land.
Land highly recommends BusRates.com as a good way to spend your money and have a presence on the web.
He said money spent on a website is money well spent. “It’s $1,200 for an alternator. I think you can get a hell of a website for $2,400.”