Google is #1 in Travel

Recently Experian Hitwise ranked their top websites for the week ending March 19, 2011.  It is no surprise that Google topped the list of search engines ranking 1st in both searches and visits.  It is remarkable that Experian ranked Google Maps as the #1 travel website.

In fact, Google Maps had more visits during the week than Expedia, Priceline, TripAdvisor, Orbitz, Travelocity, Hotwire and Kayak combined!

This is another piece of evidence emphasizing the importance of local search.  To better understand Google Places and local search attend our Free Webinar.  Or, contact us for information regarding our hotel local SEO package.

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!

Next Generation Facebook Ads

Hotel Facebook AdsFacebook is testing a new feature in Facebook ads that could be very attractive to Hoteliers. Their new ads target people based on the information provided in status updates.

This program, which is still in Beta testing to only 1% of Facebook users, delivers targeted ads based on the real time comments of the Facebook user.  Until now, Facebook ads have not been an effective tool for an individual hotel property.  This creates a significant opportunity.  For example, if you are a hotel in Miami your ad could appear to a Facebook user after they enter, “Planning my Miami vacation”.  The ability to reach potential guests as they start their travel planning process is exciting.

Unfortunately the program is still in testing so we will have to wait to test it’s effectiveness.  For more information about the testing check out: http://www.allfacebook.com/facebook-tests-real-time-ad-targeting-2011-03

For more ideas on how to improve your Facebook presence Contact Us.

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.

 

6 SEO Strategies to Avoid

Hotel SEO

Is your SEO "White Hat"?

Google recently has publicly admonished and penalized high profile companies for manipulation of search engine results.  In the wake of these cases it is important to step back and examine your own search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.  There are a number of manipulative techniques often referred to as “Black Hat” or “search engine spam“.  In a recent article, Chris Birk gives some important tips for keeping the high ground.

1. Hold your SEO specialists accountable
They should be able to detail their activity and results.  Also beware of “guarantees”, this is not a field where that is possible.

2. Hold the line on links
Links are the currency of search marketing, but too many links too quickly raise red flags.  Stick to legitimate methods for link building and you will be fine.

3. Watch your anchor text
Don’t focus too much on the anchor text of your links.  A variety of anchor text is a signal that the links were developed naturally.  An abundance of exact match anchor text in your links may be a signal that your links are web spam.

4. Breadcrumb trail
Launching a slew of websites and dropping links back to your main hub is a recipe for disaster.  Don’t do it, plain and simple.

5. Bloated Title Tags
The title tag is not your wish list.  Long title tags jammed with lots of keywords will do more harm than good.  Focus on the most relevant keywords and keep your title tags less than 65 characters for the best results.

6. Comment Spam
Avoid saturating blogs and comments fields with links back to your site.  This is a surefire way to stir up trouble.

Instead of these, stick to Hotel SEO tactics that add value to the visitor especially updated and relevant content.  These “White Hat” techniques will get you results AND keep you out of trouble.

Read the full article at:
https://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/6-sem-strategies-guaranteed-to-go-wrong-chris-birk

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.

3 Step Simple Linkbuilding Process

Hotel Link BuildingHotels are generous. In the course of business you support a variety of charitable causes. You donate room nights, donate food, and sometimes make direct financial contributions. This is good business and helps reinforce ties with the community. But you are missing an opportunity.

In today’s digital age each of these charitable organizations have a website. They have the ability to list your property on their website with a link to your website. These “mentions” have significant value in the world of search engine optimization. I mean HUGE!

Here is an easy way to take advantage of this opportunity:

1. Write a form letter

Have a basic form letter written up. It should simply say:

We are happy to support your organization. Thank you for the contribution you make to the community. We do ask that you list our hotel in an appropriate way on your website. This listing should include:

Your Hotel Name
Your Address
Your Phone Number
Your Website

Thank you for your attention to this matter. When the listing is posted please email you@yourhotel.com with a link to the relevant page.

Regards,

2. Give this letter to EVERY organization you support

It does not matter whether it is a big donation or something very small.  It does not matter whether you are dealing with a small organization or the largest non-profit in your area.  You must get in the habit of asking for a link.  It must become part of your regular course of doing business.

3. Follow Up (Optional)

Keep a folder with a copy of each letter that you send.  When you receive a confirmation email, mark the letter accordingly to keep track.  Once a month send out emails reminding people to follow through and place the link on their website.

Honestly, if you don’t have the resources to follow up you will still see benefit from the link building program.  Most important is to have the letter written and develop the habit of asking for the link.  Regardless of follow up, if you get in the habit of asking for links you will make more progress in a year than you ever have before.

Start asking today!

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.

7 Ideas to Improve Facebook Posts

Hotel Facebook MarketingIn an interesting article,blogger Brian Solis examined research done by social scientist Dan Zarrella on Facebook posts.  He revealed statistical trends among posts that have been “liked” on Facebook.  Keep these factors in mind and you will improve the engagement and visibility of your Facebook efforts.

1. Write at a 5th grade level or below.  In general, the more complex your writing the less likely it is to be “Liked”

2. Include digits in the title (Top 3 or 7 Ideas).  People respond to titles with numbers in them.

3. Post your best information on Saturday or Sunday.  More Facebook users “Like” items on the weekend.  They may have more time to spend reviewing content or, with workplace restrictions, this may be their best chance to spend time on the site.

4. Include these words in your title: top, first, best  or video.

5. Do NOT include these words in your title: vs, apps, review.

6. Include verbs in your title.  Titles with action perform much better.

7. Be Positive.  Posts with positive sentiment are more likely to be shared.

Keep these easy factors in mind and you will see a better response from your efforts.  For more detail on the research check out Brian’s full article.

Google Places on Mobile

Mobile Hotel WebsitesIf you didn’t already understand the importance of claiming and completing your Google Places listing, maybe this will help.  When users are searching Google Places on mobile phones there is now an option to display only businesses that are open.  This not only removes businesses that, based on their hours of operation, are closed.  It also removes from the search businesses that don’t have “reliable” hours of operation.  In most cases this means businesses that have not claimed their Google Places listing and reported hours of operation.

Blogger Mike Blumenthal reported this.  His article has some great screen shots showing examples of how this feature works.  He quotes a Bing representative that claims 50% of all restaurant searches originate on mobile phones.  That makes me wonder how large the % is for hotels.

Claiming and fully completing your Google Places listing is fundamental internet marketing.  Make sure your listing is complete today.