19% of Hotel Searches on Google are from Mobile Devices

Hotel Mobile WebsitesGoogle quietly disclosed last week that 19% of hotel searches come from Mobile Devices.  The information, released on their Mobile Advertising Blog, emphasizes the increasing importance of mobile devices in the travel sector.

These numbers mirror what eMax has observed across our customer’s websites.  In April of 2010 only 1.3% of website visits were on a mobile device.  In April 2011 that number had increased to 14.2%.  Almost a 10X increase in mobile visitors in just 1 year.

Mobile users have unique needs.  The nature of their situation requires simple navigation to easily get to the information the need quickly.  Plus they have the restrictions of a smaller screen and slower internet connection than a traditional desktop user.

What do mobile users see when they visit your website?  Is your mobile presence meeting their unique needs?  Learn more about hotel mobile websites at www.emax-1.nationalnet.com/emaxhotelmarketing.com.

Google Dumps Tags

Hotel Local SEOIn an interesting move Friday, Google discontinued their “Tags” program.  A local product through Google Places, Tags allowed businesses to highlight their listings with special offers, photos and other promotions.  The idea was the improved visibility would improve the click-through-rate (CTR) for the advertiser.

Unfortunately tags took visitors to landing pages within the Google site.  Many advertisers would have preferred to direct visitors to their own website.

Plus, Tags never demonstrated real results.  On the listings examined by Local search expert Mike Blumenthal, Tags accounted for only 1.5-4% of the actions.  Google is in the best position to measure the results and must have determined a lack of real value.

As part of the ramp down Google has stopped accepting new advertisers into the program.  In an email to the existing Tags advertisers Google announced that the program would be shut down completely on April 29th.  Existing advertisers get the rest of April for free.

Now, businesses will need to rely on more traditional techniques to improve their click-through-rate (CTR).  As the importance of local continues to rise, expect to pay more attention on ways to improve both your local ranking and the CTR on your local listings.

Read Google’s full announcement at: http://googlesmb.blogspot.com

Mobile Phone Usage

comScore reported their February mobile phone numbers last week.  234 million Americans 13 or older used mobile devices.  How did they use their phones?

38% of people used the browser on their phone.  That was the #2 activity overall.  More people used their browser than…
- downloaded apps
- accessed social networking sites
- played games
- listened to music

Hotel Mobile WebsitesHow are you connecting with mobile users? If they find your hotel through their cell phone browser, what do they see?

Mobile websites are a critical tool for hotels.  You need to display the unique information a mobile user is seeking in an effective manner for their device.  If you don’t, they will leave your site and go to a competitor!

 

For more information read comScore’s complete report.

Google Goes Social

Wednesday Google made a significant jump into the social media space with the introduction of their +1 feature. Pronounced “Plus One”, it brings the power of a Facebook like button to search results.

To learn more, watch this short video from Google about the program.

 

Obviously it is too early to understand the full impact that +1 will have on search.  What we do know is:

1. Anything that Google rolls out in the main search results is a big deal

2. Google is clear, +1 will effect search ranking

Keep an eye out in the coming months for +1 buttons that can be placed on individual web pages.  In the meantime start thinking of strategies to encourage and reward visitors for +1ing your website!

For more information check out this detailed article in Search Engine Land

http://searchengineland.com/meet-1-googles-answer-to-the-facebook-like-button-70569

Understanding Smartphone Users

Smartphones are here and there is no doubt of the impact on the hotel industry.  According to PhoCusWright, 75% of frequent business travelers use smartphones.

But how do they use them?  A recent study reported by eMarketer sheds some light on how people use their smartphones while making buying decisions.  Actually making  a purchase ranked last on the list of why people used their smartphone while shopping.

Hotel Mobile Websites

Instead, people are using their phones to gather the information they need to make an informed buying decision.  They compare prices, find locations, check for discounts, and read reviews.

This information further demonstrates the need for an effective mobile website.  It is not enough to simply take orders online.  In fact, that is probably the least important.

Instead a mobile website must include information critical to the buying decision and display it in a manner that provides a positive experience for the mobile user.  Content, navigation and page size are the critical factors that must be done correctly.

Read the entire eMarketer article at: http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1008300

Do you need help with your hotel mobile websiteContact us today!

The Truth About OTA Pricing On Google Maps

There has been a lot of buzz recently about Online Travel Agency (OTA) pricing appearing on Google Maps.  At least one vendor has introduced a related pay-per-click advertising product and the resulting PR campaign seems to have stirred up quite a commotion.

The truth is this is not a significant issue for hotels.  Here are the reasons why an individual property should not spend any time worrying about this.

1. This is Not New!
Google introduced the Pay-Per-Click pricing ads on Maps in March of 2010.  It has existed for a year without negatively impacting your business.  Why would it be any different now?

2. Google Maps Impressions Are Very Low
Local search is important, very important.  Google Maps plays a part in local search but only a small part.  When Google returns local listings in their main search engine results they display a Places listing.  These Places listings do not carry the OTA pricing ads.

Hotel Local SEO

Google Places listings do not include OTA pricing advertising

Instead, the OTA pricing ads only appear on the Google Maps listings.  These results are displayed only when someone is searching within the Maps section of Google.  From our portfolio of hotels, we see that maps on average represents only 2% of search traffic.

Hotel Local SEO

Google Maps listing with OTA pricing ads

3. Your Website is Already Listed
Finally, within the drop-down list that appears on the Google Maps listing, the property website always appears alongside the OTA’s.  It is listed last and a price is not displayed, but your property does appear.

Hotel Local SEO

The hotel website is included with the OTA pricing ads

 

Because of the extent to which they dominate search, anything Google does is worth paying attention to.  This hotel specific Pay-Per-Click advertising program is no exception.  It will be interesting to see how it evolves in the future, but for the time being don’t lose any sleep.

 

Google Still Dominates

Hotel Website SEO

comScore released their February search engine rankings validating what most of us already knew:

1. People continue to rely on search.  In February there were more than 15.4 BILLION searches conducted in the US alone.  Consumers continue to turn to the internet when they are looking for information.

2. With 65% of these searches, Google continue to dominate the US search market.  Yahoo remains 2nd with 17% while Bing is third with 13%.

What does this mean for you?  First, search continues to be a major source of traffic, something worth careful attention and investment.  Second, although you don’t want to ignore 35% of searches, Google continues to be the baromoter for search and worth the focus of your efforts.

Looking for search engine optimization for your hotel?  Hotel website SEO is what we do.  Contact us to learn more.

13x Attention Paid to Oranic Search

A recent study by User Centric, reported by eMarketer, examined user behavior on search engines.  This eye tracking study examined exactly what people looked at on the page and how long they spent looking at at.  The results were interesting and validate the importance of search engine optimization.  User Centric found that:

  • 100% of people viewed the organic search results
  • Those surveyed spent 14.7 seconds looking at organic search results on Google
  • They spend only 1.1 seconds combined looking at the ads on Google

The result is that on Google users spend 13x more time looking at the organic search results.  Although we would like to have seen statistics breaking out the attention paid to local search vs traditional organic, these numbers emphasize the importance of hotel search engine optimization.

Check out our articles for some easy ideas on how you can improve your local search optimization.

Facebook Expected to be #1 in Display Ads

Facebook Strategy For HotelseMarketer predicts that in 2011 Facebook will leap to the front of the online display advertising industry passing Yahoo for the largest share of that market.  Yahoo has long dominated online display.   This change is a significant shift and yet another signal of the emerging commercial power of social media.

Hotel Facebook Strategy

Source: eMarketer

The eMarketer research shows the astronomical rise of Facebook  as they almost doubled their display ad market share from 2009 to 2010.  That growth is expected to continue at the same pace in 2011, finally slowing in 2012.  It is also worth noting that Google, long dominant in search advertising, is also gaining significant display market share and should surpass Yahoo in 2012.

What does this mean for your hotel?  Facebook advertising still has limited opportunities at the property level.  However, this trend shows how Facebook is maturing and now offers a real opportunity to connect with customers.  If you have not started a Facebook page for your property, now is the time to think about getting started.

Social Media: Are You Following The Crowd?

Social Media Strategy for HotelsPhilip Calvert posted an interesting article on SocialMediaToday.com asking tough questions of businesses.  This the same questions I ask many of our clients:

“Do you have a clear and robust enough Internet strategy that stands up in its own right, or are you just going with the flow?”

Social media is a powerful tool, but like any other marketing tool it must be utilized in the right way for your hotel.  Does your strategy take into account your unique needs? Your customers? Your market? Your brand?  Or, as Philip puts it, are you just “following the crowd”.

To see a positive return from your investment in social media you must carefully choose the platform and strategy that matches your unique needs.  Only then will you be able to drive the meaningful engagement critical to success.

Looking for some ideas?  Contact us, we love to talk about this stuff.

You can also read the full article at:
http://socialmediatoday.com/philipcalvert/271908/are-you-kidding-yourself-social-media-working-your-business