Leaf Peeping in Iowa: Plan a Fall Trip

For an overall picture of Iowa, visit the division of tourism’s website (tel. 888/472-6035; www.traveliowa.com) and for specific updates on fall color, they run a hotline (telephone: 515/281-8395) and a website (www.iowadnr.comm/forestry/fallcolor.html) that will be updated regularly; specific promotions began appearing on the site in August.

If you’re looking for a deal on a place to stay, wander around and wind up in Lost Nation Iowa, at the Gardner House (tel. 563/678-2600; www.thegardnerhousebandb.com), and take advantage of their special. Accommodations for two at the restored 1903 Queen Anne home, for two nights, are $150. Located in northeastern Iowa about 40 miles from the Quad Cities, the peak season here is usually in the first couple of weeks in October, depending on the weather. The rates are good only for the month of October. A full breakfast is included, so are afternoon beverages and snacks. Nearby attractions include hiking and nature trails at Eden Valley, local wineries, antique shops, and art galleries.

For fall scenery in North Central Iowa, consider staying at the Country Heritage Bed and Breakfast inn. Stroll the walkways at Beeds Lake State Park located only 3 miles from our inn. Country Heritage Bed and Breakfast (tel. 866/456/4036) www.countryheritagebb.com is a unique 1921 family farm with antiques to view inside and out. Choose from the Pine, Mahogney, or Honeymoon Suites and relax on your own private balcony. If you enjoy farming or would like to learn more about farming this is the place to be during October with the harvest in full swing. Full breakfast is included with your stay. Reserve your harvest weekend for $125.00 plus tax includes two nights. Nearby attractions include specialty shops, antique shops, and golfing.

For other bed and breakfast suggestions, try the Iowa’s Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers Association (tel. 800/888-4667; www.iabedandbreakfast.com).

Paiges of Thyme Bed and Breakfast in Clarinda, Iowa Launches Informational Web Site

CLARINDA, Iowa (September 12, 2005) – Leading Iowa design firm creates original Web site design for Dennis & Cheryl Schmitt, owners of the Paiges of Thyme Bed and Breakfast Inn of Clarinda, Iowa.

TotalWebDesigner.com has designed the newly launched Web site with Emily Boetel acting as the lead designer. Boetel teamed with the owners to create a small Web site design emphasizing features the inn has to offer. "We wanted the visitors to be able to see what accommodations are waiting for them and not just read about them," says Boetel.

The Web site will explain to visitors how guests are pampered and what additional amenities are available at the inn. Paiges of Thyme is an inspected and approved member of the Iowa Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers Association. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that all member inns are approved and inspected. Inn inspections are conducted by a staff member that is thorough in scope, covering safety and security items as well as appearance, comfort, and cleanliness. Food preparation, amenities and administrative items are also evaluated as part of the inspection. According to Mary Nichols, Association President, every member inn "must pass a rigorous inspection to insure compliance with Association standards. IBBIA is the only Innkeeper Association in the State of Iowa that requires such close scrutiny of their membership, but this policy lets guests know that our inns will automatically deliver a consistently clean, comfortable and professional experience."

Bed and breakfast accommodations give you a unique and personalized travel experience with a touch of local flavor. These small, charming, privately owned bed and breakfast inns are an affordable choice for pleasure or business travel. To view the website please go to: http://www.paigesofthyme.com

Bed and Breakfast America

There is a new consumer’s magazine showcasing America’s Bed and Breakfast inns, it is called Bed & Breakfast America.

On September 20, 2005, it will hit bookstores nationwide!  You’ll be able to find it Barnes and Noble, Borders and Hastings’ stores.  Every issue highlights premier Inns with room descriptions, meals and amenities offered, and a listing of area attractions to help you plan your next get-a-way.

Bed & Breakfast America
also features informative and delightful articles from unique recipes to discerning wine and product reviews, plus a handy Bed and Breakfast directory.

In the September 20th issue you’ll find two innkeeper interviews from Amelia Painter, one features the Hannah Marie Country Inn in Spencer, Iowa and the other gives readers a peek at the William Sauntry Mansion in Stillwater, MN.

Historic Lincoln Hotel

The Historic Lincoln Hotel in Lowden, Iowa.  We recently finished designing their new Web site and would love for you to go and visit the site at: http://www.lincolnhoteliowa.com

The Lincoln Hotel, tucked in the junction of Old Lincoln and Hoover highways, is located on the southern tip of Iowa’s Wine Country. Built in 1915, the Lincoln originally hosted workers and travelers on the Pacific and Northwestern Railroads and the Old Lincoln Highway.

Completely refurbished, the hotel was present the “Best Restoration in Iowa” award in 1996 by Governor Branstead. (*See photo on the site of Brad Norton and Governor Branstead.)

If you are wanting to see a good example of the beginnings of a “travel links page,”  go to the Map and Attractions page on this site.  The site has outbound links to several local attractions, but a high quality link to a very popular tourism site.  This one link will help ensure the site is indexed fairly regularly once the innkeeper acquires a link exchange from the Eastern Iowa Tourism site.

Search Engine Rankings & Web Directories

What is a Web Directory?

A web directory is a collection of links broken down into relevant categories. Think Yahoo! and their directory, the Open Directory Project (ODP) or even the Google Directory (which, incidentally, is pulled from the ODP). At its most basic level, a web directory is a collection of bookmarks made available to the public. In other cases, like Yahoo, it is a professional resource for people actively looking for information.

To get listed in such a directory, you can either get listed for free (which might take a while), or in many cases, pay a one-time fee to have your website reviewed and entered in the directory.

Innkeepers, you need to submit your Web site to the ODP, that way you’ll get into the Google Directory. If you want to pay for inclusion into the Yahoo directory, ($299 is a bit expensive, but it saves you weeks of waiting.)

Once you know your site has been indexed and added to Google or Yahoo, begin to focus on a “travel links page.” We try to add such a page to every innkeeper’s Web site we create. It is a valuable page to not only the potential guest, but also to the link exchange efforts that all innkeepers should make.

Once you have a few quality outbound links on your travel links page, arrange for a site that is spidered regularly (this is the term used when a search engine robot indexes your site) to link to your site and the spiders will find you quicker. Once you are on the index, build link partnerships, so that spiders find your link each time they visit the sites that are linking to you.

We used to resubmit sites monthly to the search engines, today that behavior could actually harm your ranking on some search engines. So, don’t resubmit every month, it won’t do you any good and it could end up doing you harm.

If a site that carries your link is regularly spidered, it should only take a matter of 2-3 days for your site to be fully indexed (if it is properly linked), on Google and should feature on Yahoo and MSN within 1 to 3 weeks.

Also, don’t waste time submitting to piddly minor search engines, when the only ones you really need to worry about are Google, Yahoo and MSN. Once you are featured in these three, any engines worth their salt will find you, or receive feeds from these engines anyway.