Harbour Grand Hotel: Disadvantages of a Separate Website From Harbour Plaza

If you happen to live in the Eastern District (like I do) and pass by the Eastern Corridor expressway, you can’t help but notice recently (that’s February-March 2009) that a new hotel with an old, familiar logo is now almost finished and will cater to its first set of guests.

Harbour Grand Hotel

Harbour Grand Hotel welcomes its visitors in Spring June 2009. But hotel managers shouldn’t wait until then before this website becomes optimized for search engines. In a cut-throat competition for visitors especially now that fewer foreign visitors visit Hong Kong, a search engine visible websites helps contribute to the bottomline. No matter how negligible it may be.

I happen to live near one of its sister hotels in Quarry Bay, and helped try to make its sister website search engine friendly despite an early structural design flaw. Now, the new site appears to be the grandest of the Harbour Plaza chain, if at least, as its name implies. So maybe that’s the reason why it deserves its own space on the web.

But sorry to say, I think it’s a mistake to separate it from the old Harbour Plaza website. For a few reasons.

There Are A Few Namesakes of This Hotel
Having a hotel with similar names with others can be a good thing, especially if the other hotel is popular since high volume of search volume for the known one could spill over the less popular one. But at the same time the mere presence of these popular and established websites is itself detrimental to Harbour Grand’s potential to stand out of the crowd. A search for harbor grand (note the missing “u”), yields an established site of Harbor Grand, complete with Sitelinks. Why does this matter? A search for harbour grand (with the “u”) yields the more established Harbor Grand.

Harbor Grand

Yes, Harbour Grand is number two in the results page. But why should it settle for runner up when it deserves a top spot for such keyword? In retrospect, if we integrate Harbour Grand with the good old Harbour Plaza website, it won’t reverse the trend. This reminds me of a search for Broadway Electronics search that yields the website of its competitor, Fortress.

Harbour Grand Is Relatively Unknown and Needs Plenty of Trustworthy Links To Hit Big Time
This is normal for all websites that are newly launched. But why is this especially bad for Harbour Grand? Its older siblings Harbour Plaza Metropolis, Harbour Plaza North Point and others are sitting pretty on a more recognized website, getting much more links than their youngest sister.

Yahoo Site Explorer Harbour PlazaHarbour Plaza has 1,554 incoming links.

Yahoo Site Explorer Harbour GrandHarbour Grand has 18 incoming links.

Harbour Grand’s link popularity could get its much needed boost had it resided on the Harbour Plaza domain.
Links are what Harbour Grand needs in order to topple Harbor Grand from the top spot but Harbour Grand chose to take the harder route by starting on its own instead of adding up to the 9-year old domain.

The Site Qualifies As Candidate For “How To Alienate Search Engines and Lose Visitors” Award
While new hotel sites like Marco Polo and Imperial Hotel (despite its negative reputation) have sprung up in HTML version but it seems that Harbour Grand choose to move steps backward by employing non-search engine friendly methodologies.

  • Multiple levels of non-keyword rich folder names
  • Flash top-level navigation menu
  • No custom 404 error page
  • Uses JavaScript redirection method

Nothing against the folks who built the site but Flash splash pages are so old fashioned especially the way they were created.

Hopefully before the formal hotel launch, these issues will be addressed, especially if Harbour Grand aims to get its fair share of online traffic.