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March 2014 Newsletter

Don't Be An April Fool

We’re starting this month’s My Favourite Holiday Cottages Newsletter with a cautionary tale. If I asked you whether you have ever posted an image on your website without having obtained and/or paid for permission to use it, the correct answer would obviously be something along the lines of “Never in a million years!.” And that’s how it should be. 

The trouble is, that it’s so easy to post something on your site in all innocence without thinking that it will get you into trouble, (perhaps in a blog or on your property's Facebook page of an image that’s been sent to you by a friend). This is because Getty Images, which owns the rights to squillions of photographic images and buying more everyday, could come knocking at your door. They continually search websites for illegal use of the images for which they own the licencing rights. Should they find one on your site, they’ll send you a strongly worded legal letter and an invoice which works out at around £400 per image displayed. Ouch! We’ve received two, even though we had permission to use the image from the photographer. However, when the images were licensed to Getty long after we’d made use of them, the photographers concerned naturally couldn’t be expected to remember to tell Getty Images every person they’d given permission to use their image. As Getty weren’t told; hence the invoice. You cannot really blame either party. However, unless you have written proof to say you had permission at the time, you may have to pay up. 

For some mad but inspired reason, I save all my e-mails in a dirty great file dating back to two thousand and diddlysquat, so was able to produce the evidence that got us off the hook. Even so, we’ve been through our site looking at all the images we have posted to check that we do indeed own the rights to all the images we feature. And we think we do. I say ‘think’ advisedly, because the vast majority of images on the site are listed by you and other subscribers. These feature your cottage and other photos from the area around it. 

Here’s the crucial bit: Please ensure that you either own or have permission to use each photo you upload. This is set out in our terms and conditions to subscribers which state that you are liable for every image you’ve uploaded, and have the right to allow us to display the image on your listing. So, for example, if you’ve found and used a particularly attractive image of a local beach from the Internet and posted it on your listing, (or any other listing for that matter) then you are risking a fine if it is licensed to Getty or someone else. 

They’ll write to us of course, as they will to the owners of all other sites on which you’ve posted the image. And while we would love to be in the position to pay your fine because we value your custom, that just isn’t possible, so we’ll be forced to pass details to Getty who will come and chase you for their money. To avoid this happening to you, please check all the images you have used on your listing to ensure that you either own or have permission to use them – and remove or replace any that you don’t. 

I’m hoping that in writing it it’ll persuade everyone to take appropriate action and thereby avoid incurring a heart-stopping fine. Please therefore think of us as the 'Good Guys’. Don't blame the photographers, they have to make a living. As for Getty, well, they are just doing their job, and their charitable foundation, which receives a share of the profits, invests millions in good causes across the globe. For those of you who cannot remember how to log in to your listing, the next article will tell you exactly how to do that.


How To Log In

You probably know that you can log in to amend your listing on MFHC at any time of the day or night. You can update images, tweak text, add a booking to your calendar or post a recently received glowing testimonial to attract more attention to your listing. It’s a fair bet that many people don’t refresh their listing because they cannot remember how to log in. If you’re one of these, and especially if you’re desperate to make some changes to your listing having read the previous article, then here’s how. To log in, go to the My Favourite Holiday Cottages Home page and in the top right hand corner, click on the Log in button. This will open the log in page. In the box titled ‘E-mail address’ Add the address used when you registered (this is your username). 

For most subscribers, this is the main e-mail address you use for enquiries. Then add your password. If you can’t remember it, contact us or if you haven’t time for a chat, then click on the ‘Forgotten Your Password' reminder. If you’re really stuck, call me and I’ll look it up for you – although there is a ‘Password Reminder’ tab on the site (we just like a good excuse to chat with subscribers!) Once you are logged in, the column on the left contains all the different menu options. Just select the one that describes what you want to do and away you go. If you want to update your property information, click on the menu button that says ‘Manage your cottages. And select the appropriate link from the list that appears.


Marketing Tip: Metatitle Writing

If you want to improve your website's rankings on Google, it is important to ensure that you are using metatitles wisely. They’ll influence the number of appropriate visitors to your website. Forgive me for teaching some of you to suck eggs, and using jargon, but metatitles are very important to search engines. This makes them very important to you. For the uninitiated, a metatitle is the phrase that sits right at the very top of your web browser box. It describes what your page – or site if it is the home page - is about. Have a look at the image above and you'll see the metatitle is 'Late Availability Cottages | Discounted Late Bookings'. NB: your subscription includes the free use of this facility! This is one of the phrases search engines will use in ranking your site. It’s not the only one, but it is pretty darned important. You should have a different metatitle that succinctly describes the purpose of each page. 

They are tricky to write as you’re confined to using no more than about 55 characters. This isn't a hard and fast rule as Google measures the length of a Metatitle by character width, so if your title use the letter 'w' a lot, then it'll use more width than a cottage with narrower letters like 'l' and 'i'. What is more, each page on your site should have its own title – not the same one running throughout the site. Try to make it read as naturally as possible. Don’t just stuff it with key words, e.g. avoid mentioning words like holiday and cottage 2-3 times, but do use natural phrases that you think may be used by people searching on the Internet for the information on that page. 

If you haven’t already done so, then take a little time to craft suitable metatitles for your site then forward them to your web designer to upload. If they’ve got the raw material, properly proofed, it won’t take them very long to do. This won’t see your site rocketing to the top of page one over night (if only…) but, if you’ve chosen your words wisely, over time you will see an increase in the amount of site traffic you get from relevant visitors, i.e. those looking to book a holiday cottage. We are in the process of updating pretty much every metatitle for every cottage on My Favourites. It’s a long laborious process, but we hope that you’ll soon be enjoying the extra benefit in terms of more click throughs to your website in due course.


Bring on the Spring!

Well, that is it for this lengthy Newsletter. Congratulations if you made it this far! We are always open to suggestions for making the content of our monthly Newsletters even more relevant. Do let us know if there's anything we should be covering more frequently, like how to get the best use from parts of the My Favourites site or more marketing tips. We love to listen!