‘Best Irish Spa Experience 2015’. It sounded great. It looked even better on the gold rimmed plaque perched peacefully at reception. Tranquilitea had a great reputation in Dublin. Their name passed over the elegantly painted lips of clients during Sunday brunch with the height of respect. This summer, however, had been troubling. Like many businesses in the capital, Jen and the team at Tranquilitea relied on the tourist rush to balance out a slower winter period when even their most dedicated clients traded weekly waxes for wooly tights. Hotel-based, convenient spas were drawing more than their fair share from the frivolous tourism pool. Jen couldn’t understand why her beautiful, woodland surrounded home was being overlooked.

 

It was when Jen decided to organise a weekend away to Cork with her sister that she understood their mistake. Googling ‘Best spa Cork’ made her realise that Tranquilitea should be listed as the best spa in Ireland. It was the best Spa in Ireland – they had the plaque to prove it.

 

“How did they get there? I Googled ‘Best Spa Ireland’. We’re not on the first page but they are?.” Disheartened, Jen couldn’t understand why Tranquilitea wasn’t the first result she saw. “Let’s try ‘Best Spa Dublin’, that’ll narrow the search” Jen reasoned. Still no sign of Tranquilitea on the first, second or even third page.

 

“Hi there!”

 

The room was empty. Jen figured it was the movie she had playing in the background.

 

“Over here!”

 

Smiling up from her laptop screen was a waving cartoon, a smiling bug.

 

“I’m the Google Bot, what’s your name?”

 

“Uhm, Jen,” she answered nervously, “what are you?”

 

“I’m the Google Bot,” the animation announced proudly.

 

Confused and a little concerned that she had had one too many glasses of wine, Jen clicked away from Google.

 

“I’m still heeeeere! I can go anywhere I want on the internet. I visit all of the websites that exist.”

 

“All of the websites?” Jen was intrigued. “So you’ve been to Tranquilitea.ie?”

 

“I have indeed!” The tiny creature arrogantly poofed out his chest. “I control the ranking of Google search results. See that order of results you just found? I manage that. I visit all of the websites and give them a rating. Functionality, purpose, reputation and trust all influence my opinion of each site. User experience is very important and Google only want to give their users the best results. Because of that, I consider both the words you type into that search bar up there and the usability of every relevant site to rank my Google results.”

 

A little distressed, Jen decides to confront the bot: “So why can’t I find my website? We’re a great spa, we’re loved by the locals and we have dedicated clients but we haven’t had new customers in months! You mustn’t be doing a very good job. We’re officially the ‘Best Spa Experience 2015’ but when I Google ‘Best Spa Dublin’, I can’t find us! How are my possible customers supposed to find Tranquilitea if you don’t put us in first place?”

 

Realising Jen’s confusion and frustration, the Google bot decides to bring her on a tour through Tranquilitea.ie. “It sounds like you have a great business going there but unless you boost your online presence you won’t attract customers outside of your current network of clients.”

 

“We built a website seven years ago when we opened and our developer promised us that it was entirely up to industry standards.” Jen was still struggling to understand her company’s low ranking.

 

“It was a fabulous website seven years ago but standards are changing more swiftly than ever before. First off, you’re not mobile responsive. Anyone that tries to reach your site on a tablet or phone would have a headache in an instant. You will never rank highly if you’re not mobile responsive.”

 

“I suppose I can understand that. I definitely use my phone more often than my laptop.” Jen was beginning to form a plan in her head. “I’ll call a website company – they’ll fix it!”

 

“Well hold on now a minute. That sounds great but mobile responsiveness is only one factor in my decision. Ask your new Digital Agency about Search Engine Optimization. They’ll be able to design you a site to current industry standards and SEO it for you.”

 

“SEO?” Jen was officially lost.

 

Search Engine Optimization involves making your website appear perfectly to me. When you SEO your website you make sure that you have a perfect quality rating. Quality is no longer a question. Relevance is the deciding factor. Every year we have new guidelines but user experience will always be top priority.”

 

“Ok. I think I understand. So we need to update things and become more user friendly. Will that move us up in the rankings?” Excited and hopeful at the prospect of progress, Jen felt the same excitement she had felt the day they opened their doors.”

 

“Yes. If you’re a high quality, relevant option, I’ll place you high in results. One last thing, you mentioned an award you won?”

 

“Yes. We were awarded ‘Best Irish Spa Experience 2015’.”

 

“Great! Find everywhere online that the award is mentioned. Ask the sites to link to your website. That way when people are reading the article, they can be brought directly to the Best Irish Spa. It’s very simple to do but incredibly effective.”

 

All of this time, Jen had been scribbling furiously. Notes strewed across her carpet possessed the secrets to her success. “Thank you Google Bot. I’m going to look into web companies right now!”

 

“Glad I could help.”

 

Satisfied that one more business would boost their online presence thanks to him, the Google bot waddled back through the web to find another poor, frustrated user in need of advice.

Grace Kelly

August 2015

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