Blog category: sem

Importance of search in all aspects of the Path-to-Purchase

By Des O'Mahony | On Sat, January 12, 2008

Ciaran Rowe in Bookassist’s Dublin office pointed out a nice piece of research from Google UK and comScore that highlights the online search habits of buyers and bookers at the moment, and particularly shows the importance of search engines and therefore the importance of your visibility online as a seller.

From the report:
“On average, customers make 12 travel related searches, visit 22 websites and take 29 days from the first time they search until they make a purchase. Forty-five per cent of transactions occur four weeks or more after the first search.”

and:
“38 per cent of transactions happen at four weeks or more after the first visit.”

It’s interesting that in Bookassist, because of the large number of hotels using our system with thousands of bookings logged daily and the detailed tracking we deploy, we can see very similar long-term behaviour from users and the idea that online users are doing a significant amount of pre-booking research is very clear from our tracking statistics in house. We regularly track bookings many weeks after the initial viewing of properties. Of course this shouldn’t be surprising, people often take a long time to plan and make up their minds about trips so it should be no different on the internet. It does mean that careful tracking is very important though when trying to assess the true effectiveness of, for example, pay-per-click campaigns.

The article is well worth the read.
See comscore

Ciaran Rowe, BookassistCiaran Rowe is Senior Search Engine Marketer at Bookassist’s Dublin office and is a Google Adwords Professional

Labels: seo, sem

Share this post on:

  • Google+
  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • LinkedIn

Promoting your hotel online

By Des O'Mahony | On Fri, March 28, 2008

Ismael in Bookassist’s Madrid office circulated this link today for client hotels as a briefing on what you should be doing to promote your hotel online. A good summary piece.

See HotelMarketing.com

Labels: sem, marketing

Share this post on:

  • Google+
  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • LinkedIn

Yahoo! to test Google Adsense with search results

By Des O'Mahony | On Thu, April 10, 2008

Yahoo! has announced that it will start a limited test of Google AdSense for its search service. This will see relevant Google ads being displayed alongside Yahoo!‘s own search results. The press release says that the test will apply only to traffic from yahoo.com in the U.S. and will not include Yahoo!‘s extended network of affiliate or premium publisher partners. But its an interesting development to see these two working together. A taste of things to come perhaps?

See Yahoo press release

Labels: yahoo, sem, google

Share this post on:

  • Google+
  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • LinkedIn

Rapping Search?

By Des O'Mahony | On Fri, April 18, 2008

Search marketing can be intricate and remembering to cover everything can sometimes be a chore. Here’s an online guru who uses Rap Music to create detailed checklists to implement search marketing tasks. A nice easy way to remember!

Thanks to Foncho in Bookassist’s Madrid office for this one.
See m0serious

Labels: sem

Share this post on:

  • Google+
  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • LinkedIn

Travel 2.0 issues: How can I listen to online conversations?

By Des O'Mahony | On Mon, May 12, 2008

“Before you jump in and partake in online social media, you need to first listen to online conversations that involve you”, writes Foncho Ramírez

Technorati reported that the year 2008 began with more than 120 million active conversations published online in several blogging networks. Online conversations are more and more crucial for your business. As we know, the best way to start participating in this media is first to listen. But there are thousands and thousands of themes out there, how can I find relevant streams of information for my market and company? How can I start participating in these social networks? Before you jump in and partake in online social media, you need to first listen to online conversations that involve you.

Use a feed reader and sign up for regular updates of your favorites sources of information. A feed reader is a web application which aggregates or gathers together syndicated web content as news headlines and blog entries creating a single location for all your relevant updated news sources.

Go and sign up for one now! Here is a short list of well known free and web based feed readers to join: Google Reader, Netvides, Bloglines. Click on the links, review the services and select the one you like the most.

Now that you have downloaded or signed up for a feed reader you have to add subscriptions from your favorite news sources, such as this Bookassist travel industry blog. Just look for the RSS symbol in any blog or webpage and you subscribe to it as a reader.

The second way to listen your market on the net is to set alerts for your hotel keywords. From my point of view every hotel needs to set alerts: in Technorati for blogs, in Google Alerts for general websites and in Tripadvisor for guest reviews that are related to their hotel. These are the most significant online applications for managing your hotel reputation on the net and you need to know what is there so that you can make sure your image is handled correctly and fairly.

The alerts systems mail you every time their search engine spider finds a new file on the internet with your keyword term in it. This is a very powerful tool and is very helpful for hotels finding hidden clients reviews, comments, questions, special offers, etc. You can set any type of terms like your hotel name, your brand, your closest touristic attractions or even your own name. You can add any keyword term for the search and as many as you want.

This “listening” system will work as your basic collection engine for information in social media. Any time someone talks about you in the net you will be able to hear it and answer it faster that anybody else.

Foncho Ramírez is Senior Search Engine Specialist at Bookassist’s Madrid office and is a Google Adwords Professional

Labels: yahoo, travel2.0, tips, sem, marketing, google

Share this post on:

  • Google+
  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • LinkedIn

Get your business onto Google Maps

By Des O'Mahony | On Mon, May 19, 2008

You can add your hotel to Google Maps as a Business so that it shows up if people are searching for hotels, notes Des O’Mahony.

People are increasingly using Google Maps to find local information, first locating the area of interest and then using Google Map “Find businesses” option as shown here.

It is vital that you get your business listed, and it’s very simple. It all happens in Google’s Local Business Centre.

If you don’t have a Google account, do this:

  • First, go to Google Maps on maps.google.com
  • Either move the map to your hotel’s location or use the search to type in your street address and it should locate you properly.
  • In the search results column on the left you will see a link that says “Put your business on Google Maps”, click on that
  • If you have a Google account, log in. If not, take a few minutes to create one.

If you do have a Google account, log in, go to “My Account” in the menu bar and choose “Local Business Centre”.

Once in Local Business Centre, choose to set up a new business:

  • You will be asked to specify your business’s details and contact phone number - this will be used to verify your entry so make sure you are near that phone to complete the process
  • Choose your category as “hotel” or other as appropriate - you can add more categories if you cater for other services such as conference, wedding etc
  • You should consider uploading high quality photographs to give users a feel for your product, up to 10 are allowed
  • Once you have gone through the addition of all information, you will have the option of having the information verified by phone, by SMS or by postal verification - if you choose phone, the system will display a PIN number on screen and will phone the main business number that you gave immediately, asking you to enter that PIN. (You must be able to take that automated call directly as it will not be switchable through a switchboard. But you can give a direct line as your main business number and, once the call verifies you, you can then edit your business profile to switch the main business number to something else.)
  • Once verified, you will be quickly live, usually immediately. To check, go back to maps.google.com and use the “Find businesses” option to search for your category in your area, eg “hotel” and you should appear.
  • You can edit your listing at any time by logging in and going to the Local Business Centre

Note that if you have a series of offices or hotels, you can set up multiple locations.

Also, in the Local Business Centre you can track access to your listings and see if it is popular. To make maximum use of this, you should ensure you have online reservations as an additional attribute. You will more than likely also see your business listed by other vendors - it is up to you whether you want that to continue or not.

The screenshot above right shows Bookassist being found “locally” in the marketing category.

Dr Des O’Mahony is co-founder and Managing Director of Bookassist

Labels: tips, sem, marketing, google

Share this post on:

  • Google+
  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • LinkedIn

Multiple websites for your hotel might confuse your customers and erode your long term business

By Des O'Mahony | On Fri, July 11, 2008

So I’m a customer. I’m looking to book a hotel online in Galway. Last time I stayed at “The Green Fingers Hotel” so I’d be happy to go back again to the same hotel. Very friendly staff, and a great breakfast if I remember correctly.

I type the hotel name into Google and hit search, and up comes the results page.

There it is, the hotel website – “Book online at the Green Fingers Galway”, greenfingersgalway.com – right at the top of the Google results page. So I click through to the link. Nice hotel website this, I recognise the photos of the nice rooms, the view. I had a pretty good stay there! Prices seem ok too, still reasonable. I wonder if it’s any cheaper on other sites though, like listings sites? Only takes a few seconds to check on other sites. Back to my results page for a quick scan of my options, maybe read a review or two.

Hang on, the second result on the results page looks like the hotel website too – “Green Fingers Hotel Galway Book Now”, greenfingershotel.com. Similar web address too. So I click through on that link. Nice hotel website this, not the same as the last one though! But the same hotel? But this is the official website surely? But then what was the last one? I mean the photos are the same, even the prices are the same, or close enough. Two fairly legit looking but obviously different websites for the same place? What’s going on here? Multiple personalities?

This is like that scene at the end of The Life of Brian – “I’m Brian. No, I’m Brian! I’m Brian and so’s my wife!”

fork in the roadI really don’t like the look of this at all. They can’t both be “official”. I wonder if one of those sites is spoofing and is up to no good? I wonder if the hotel knows about this? Surely they must check their own Google results from time to time!? They must have agreed to this. Cleverly done though, I’ll give them that, because I have no idea which is actually the official site. They’re both pretty good and pretty representative, though I guess anyone could get photos and logos and run up a website that looks official. But why, I’m thinking, would a hotel have two different websites? Surely at best they’d just send a fraction of customers one way and a fraction the other, it can’t generate more customers! Unless of course one is being marketed well to attract a higher fraction of the existing customers at the expense of the other. But if you can do successful marketing with one site, you could equally have just applied your skills to the other and not bothered with the second site. I can’t see the business sense in this at all, for the hotel anyway.

But wait, this is getting even better - there are adverts there too on the results page, for both website addresses! Now that is hilarious because the hotel is just allowing someone else to bid on their name and drive up their own pay-per-click advertising costs in response. They’re bidding against themselves! An auctioneer’s dream. No wonder pay-per-click can make so much money for the search engines if people allow that to happen. Guess this hotel doesn’t know too much about online marketing. They really should be talking to experts about protecting their brand online for the long haul, because this marketplace is just getting more and more competitive all the time and customers are getting much more savvy.



Anyway, that’s their problem. I don’t have time to be trying to figure this out, and there’s no button on Google for “Will the real Green Fingers please stand up!”. (Mental note, I should patent a “Will the real … please stand up” button before Google thinks of it). Whatever’s going on it doesn’t look too healthy to me, no reason I should take a chance.

So I type “Hotels Galway” into Google and go find somewhere else to stay. Shame, I liked the breakfast at that place. Maybe the next place will be just as good if not better anyway.


PDF - Bookassist opinion on multiple websites and their potential problems


Des O'Mahony, BookassistDr Des O’Mahony is CEO and Founder at Bookassist

Labels: tips, sem, marketing, brand

Share this post on:

  • Google+
  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • LinkedIn

Act now to increase your online business in an economic downturn

By Des O'Mahony | On Mon, July 21, 2008

Bookassist clients represent the majority of the Irish hotel industry. Our feedback indicates that many hotels are experiencing a downturn in overall business in recent months, and recent news articles and industry press are saying the same (see Sunday Business Post July 20th, 2008).

But other hotels have genuinely been able to boost the online portion of their business by having a strong proactive internet strategy. Our experience shows that you can give yourself a competitive advantage if you act quickly and decisively, and we want to remind you of some tips to achieve this.

THE REAL ISSUE
Firstly, focus on the real issue. If total bookings have changed, it is not a problem with your booking technology. The problem in economic uncertainty is less bookers due to less discretionary spend, not a “booking process” issue. Sure, each booking engine provider has a different angle on the customer interface, but the technology from the main players all pretty much “works” and mostly they’re just differences in approach, not serious flaws that prevent booking on a massive scale. The bigger weaknesses with online revenue generation lie elsewhere in online strategy but were perhaps less noticeable when customers were spending more. Bookassist handles tens of thousands of bookings monthly on behalf of our clients and we continue to see this volume increase not just in Ireland but in many countries. So don’t waste time on small detail issues - look at the big picture because there is still room for growth.

Secondly, we see that overall booking volume online is still on the up so the key is to get a larger slice of that pie. Make no mistake, some hotels are feeling the pinch right now but others are generating more online business and with proper strategy you can certainly seek to improve your income. Since Google search is the primary storefront for your offering, you need to look very carefully at how that operates for you. In short you need to be as visible as possible, you need to be as clear as possible about what you are offering and your offer needs to be as compelling as possible for the online customer.

VISIBLITY
It is vital that you have your website regularly (not just annually!) analysed and optimised to ensure that it has the best possible chance of getting high up on the Google rankings, the natural listings, for the typical search phrases that your customers might use. You need to have a carefully orchestrated pay-per-click advertising campaign to complement that natural listing and you need to be prepared to budget for it. Tracking and analysis of spend on pay-per-click is so clear now that there is no need to be wondering whether it is working for you or not - you can see at a glance at any time. But you must act on the information and continually adjust strategy. You also need strong analysis of visitors and trends on your website so that you can act decisively to clear any bottlenecks and provide your visitors with exactly what they are looking for. These are continual and expert tasks that your online partner company may be better equipped to handle for you.

You can also broaden your visibility by ensuring that you tap into other new markets. Have multiple languages, promote your hotel in specific language target areas on Google. Bookassist clients have seen significant new business by focusing new multilingual websites on different untapped geographical areas and the Bookassist engine already operates in 9 languages so there is scope to unify your website and your booking process for a number of different foreign markets. But you must ensure that this is not a token effort that is done once and sits there - ensure that you have special offers etc regularly translated and perhaps targetted uniquely at specific markets based on what those markets might want.

From looking at Bookassist reports throughout Ireland, with hundreds of hotels, after Ireland, UK, US and Northern Ireland, the next 20 countries that generate business are displayed on the pie chart below. These are markets you can target to get more business (click the image for a larger view). If you need more localised information for your hotel, contact your Bookassist account manager.



Many hotels for example have foreign nationals working with them and this is a major advantage for visitors from their home countries who would feel much more comfortable dealing with a native speaker. So why not highlight the languages your hotel staff can offer on your website? It’s one advantage over a competitor hotel who doesn’t. Also, read our recent blog entry by an industry expert on why translation is so important in the wider marketplace.

CLARITY
You want to stand out from the crowd and you want the customer to click on your link. Look at how your hotel is displayed in Google results. Is the simple website title, page title and description good enough? Can it be tighter, more to the point? Is it clear to a customer who you are and what you are offering immediately, not muddied by having other similar websites with similar names appearing to offer similar offerings on your behalf? Do not confuse the customer at this vital search results stage. See for example Bookassist’s opinion on operating multiple websites - you can’t stand out from the crowd if you yourself create a crowd.

COMPELLING OFFERING
Focus on the quality of your online presentation and on differentiating your offering. Do the obvious stuff, like making sure the best prices are on your website, but look at other things like even seeing if you can reduce prices or have particularly good value specials where you might be able to offset that rate reduction against potential higher booking volume. Package more - engines like Bookassist allow you to have add-ons and room variations at booking time so consider better virtual packaging to have a stronger offering, perhaps partnering with local amenities to offer tickets or bundles with them.

You have to sell better and dispel any doubts, so ensure good quality photos for all room types offered, not just photos of your one best room. Engines like Bookassist allow you to have room specific photos built right into the booking process, so use those facilities. Consider more customer generated content, reviews online or video reviews which you can also post on YouTube. All of these things will enhance Google’s opinion of your website, pushing you upwards, but they will certainly enhance your customers’ opinion of your offering also and make it far more compelling than your competitors.

Hotels should consider exchanging links with other hotels who are not direct competitors to boost online traffic as well, featuring such hotels in a section of their website as a preferred or recommended partner.

At Bookassist we pride ourselves in getting it right, and we consistently do, for our clients (see some Bookassist testimonials). We can see clearly from our client base that those who listen to our advice and respond quickly and decisively are increasing online revenue right now.

Des O’Mahony, Roshan McPartland, Mary Collins, Christina Roche at Bookassist’s Dublin office.

Labels: tips, seo, sem, marketing

Share this post on:

  • Google+
  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • LinkedIn

Booking buttons from the channels - proof of the power of direct booking

By Des O'Mahony | On Thu, January 22, 2009

The big name third party accommodation channels have served an important role in the online travel arena. In the years when search engines were only beginning (Google started in late ‘98) and hotels did not have the knowledge to market themselves properly online, third party channels were the very necessary middle-man between the online booker and the accommodation provider, facilitating indirect booking. Their generally high commission charges were justified by the delivery of business that otherwise was lost to the hotel.

As direct search moved to dominance, as online bookers became more savvy and in particular as hotels embrace online marketing, the need for customers to use third parties is rapidly diminishing and the opportunity for direct booking between customer to hotel is rapidly rising. Not only can this direct booking model providing better value for the online customer, it is also helping hotels strongly reduce their commission charges while allowing them build their own brand allegiance online to capture repeat business.

Bookassist was the first to push this direct booking model for hotels, since its foundation in 1999, constantly highlighting its growth and its importance as the key booking strategy for hotels. An average of 50% of hotel business is now generated online, and the more of this that comes direct, the better for the hotel.

In this changing environment, third party channels are beginning to recognise this shift in consumer habits which will begin to erode their indirect booking income stream. In recent months, two large third party accommodation channel sites have launched booking services of sorts to allow hotels capture bookings directly on their own websites, and others will surely follow. If anything proves the rising dominance of direct bookings on hotel websites versus indirect bookings on third party channels, it is the launch of these services by third parties. Hotels should recognise the reality in this move.

Typically, the third party offering has taken the form of a button or simple form which the hotel can embed on its website. The customer clicks to book and is taken back to the third party channel to complete the booking.

This is bad news for hotels, and here’s why.

A booking button, form or link-off service to a third party channel is not a direct booking facility. It merely cannibalises the business that has already arrived directly at the hotel and which should be serviced by the hotel. The facility seriously devalues the service presented to the customer in the hotel’s name, leaving the customer with a “passed over” feeling that the hotel would rather not deal with them. Usually, there is no way to continue navigating throughout the hotel website or returning to it with a single click. Customers can be re-directed to third party channel website where offers from other providers are displayed. Hotels will likely find it extremely difficult to request upgrades or new features and the technology will be limited, since this does not represent core business for the third party channel.

A booking button, form or link-off service to a third party channel is not a direct booking strategy. Direct booking is about more than a booking facility, it should be a key strategy to drive an increasing percentage of your online business to the hotel website and as such the booking facility chosen is only a small part of that. What a third party channel cannot and (for obvious reasons) will not do is aid the hotel in building a direct online marketing strategy and in reducing their reliance on high commission third party fees. This is where the long term damage can occur for hotels that do not adopt their own direct booking strategies.

We view this move by third party channels as a strategic move to increase control on the hotels as those hotels become more and more aware of the importance of direct distribution strategies and online marketing, and to placate hotels considering a direct strategy into thinking that their third party channel can provide one.

The fact is that while third parties can and do deliver valuable business to hotels, they are none the less in competition with the hotel website online. Using third party “direct” booking facilities can mean allowing those channels to have full information on the hotel’s inventory, pricing strategies and yield strategies, as well as full access to the hotels customer’s database. Such information could allow a third party channel to assess everything happening on a hotel website in comparison with a hotel’s direct competitors.

Our advice for hotels is that they can still work with third parties on channel distribution, but when it comes to their direct distribution they should partner with a true technology company that understands their challenges and requirements, a company that shares the same goals as the hotels themselves: to build the hotel’s own brand, to handle the customer online with the highest level of service and security, to make hotel websites the primary distribution channel with the lowest commission rate possible and the highest margin for the hotel.

Authors
Dr Des O’Mahony is co-founder & Managing Director of Bookassist, Yahya Fetchati is Head of Business and Operations at Bookassist.

Labels: sem, pricing, brand, booking systems

Share this post on:

  • Google+
  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • LinkedIn

Get high search ranking through blended search results

By Des O'Mahony | On Thu, January 22, 2009

Optimised web pages are far from the only way today of cruising to the top of the listings thanks to the increasing trend of blended search results

Google Universal Search, an approach also termed “blended search”, is about mixing sources in search results listings - for example giving you image search results and video search results in with traditional relevant website search results. Yahoo! and MSN do this too. To a large extent, the potential for optimising for such blended search has not been seized upon by the marketplace. Launched in May 2007, the second anniversary of Google’s Universal Search is fast approaching and in that short time some very interesting user patterns have emerged which should prompt online marketers to wake up to the very real opportunities being presented for getting your listings in front of customers.

Vertical searches

First, some background. Google and other such search engines are broad-based search engines which are not so good at zoning in on relevant information for more generic searches. Users regularly get a Google results page which states that millions of possible results exist for their query - for example a search today for the term “harmony” yielded the statement “Results 1 - 10 of about 72,200,000 for harmony [definition]”. Often, we have to think hard ourselves about how to narrow down the search to make Google perform more accurately for us.

To counter this problem for users, and to promote its own offerings more, Google continues to launch a number of so-called vertical or specialised searches to allow people confine their searches to certain criteria or avenues of interest. Examples of such vertical searches are Google Image Search, Google Blog Search, Google Local & Maps, Google Patent Search, Scholar etc. You can find these searches in the tabs bar at the top left of the Google home page. There are many other such searches which are proving increasingly useful and gaining in popularity for sophisticated targeted search (Google Accommodation as a vertical may not be that far off, who knows?). But with the exception of Images and Maps, none of these are reaching mainstream searching volumes.

Because many people still don’t use these vertical searches, Google is increasingly promoting results from these verticals in the standard Google results listings by folding in images, videos, books and of course local map results right into the standard search results. Web search is no longer simply “web” search.

An edited example of this is shown in Figure 1. A search for the term “galway” shows the standard results but it is highly mixed - label 1 in the figure shows Google Local & Maps results which might be relevant, placed right at the top. Natural listings of web results start at label 2 but are again interrupted by the insertion of YouTube relevant video results at label 3, before the results revert again to natural listings below the videos. You can do this search a number of times and find that the map or video results may not always appear so the approach from Google is not rigid.


Figure 1: (click image for larger view) Google’s approach to blended search results in its Universal Search interface, which is now the standard. Areas 1, 2 and 3 here show Google Local & Maps, natural listings and YouTube results respectively.



Often, for more specific searches relating to businesses, the Google Local & Maps area will concentrate more solidly on Google Local and show a series of relevant businesses related to your search, such as the Google Local listing shown in Figure 2 for the search term “Berlin Hotels”.


Figure 2: (click image for larger view) Google Local shows relevant businesses related to a search term on an interactive map embedded in the standard search results listings, in this case Berlin Hotels.



How people interact with search results

Probably because images, maps, and videos are more visually striking on a results listing than just plain old natural listings, their influence is far higher in terms of click through rate. Bookassist recognised this early on and has long advocated the use of such media for hotels to promote their business more effectively online and has been at the forefront of Web2.0 implementation in the accommodation sector, not just in Ireland where it is the market leader, but in all its marketplaces abroad.

Research in 2008 by iProspect(1) attempted to quantify what users are doing with these blended search results on Google, Yahoo! and MSN. A diverse user base of just over 2400 was surveyed, which in an ideal world gives an error margin of about 2% and, to be fair to iProspect, their methodology for balancing the backgrounds of the respondents brings them to a conclusion of a slightly wider error margin of about 3%. Some very interesting trends emerged. Summarising the results for users surveyed:

* 68% of users clicked a result on the first page of results, and 92% of users clicked a result within the first three pages of results.
* 36% of users clicked on a “news” result within the blended search results page, and 31% of users clicked on an “image” result within the blended search results page, while only 17% and 26% respectively click a “news” or “image” result after using the news and image vertical searches directly.
* 17% of search engine users surveyed click on a “video” results on a blended search results page, while only 10% click on a “video” result after conducting a video-specific search on the Video tab.

Basically, the research indicated that a user is around twice as likely to click on a specialised search result in a blended listing than on that same results in the vertical search results themselves.

Web 2.0 shines

There are two important lessons here. Firstly, we can get more clicks with good content in the images, news, maps, video, blogs and other “verticals”. But secondly, and more importantly, is that while an enormous amount of blood, sweat and tears is spent by search engine experts in optimising web pages for natural listings - getting keywords right, keyword densities, meta tags, image alt tags, incoming links etc. - the criteria for getting local business listings, videos, images, or other vertical search results into the first page of search results are far more lax at the moment.

Put simply, because there are less videos about “hotels in Berlin” than there are webpages, it is relatively more easy to get your services towards the top of a relevant search by using well-tagged videos, images, blogs etc than by optimising web pages. This is a great opportunity for Web 2.0 content to shine.

A recent Forrester research paper(2) highlighted this current advantage: “On the keywords for which Google offers video results, we found an average of 16,000 videos vying to appear on results pages containing an average of 1.5 video results—giving each video about an 11,000-to-1 chance of making it onto the first page of results. By comparison, there were an average of 4.7 million text pages competing for a place on results pages with an average of just 9.4 text results—giving each text page about a 500,000-to-1 chance of appearing on the first page of results.” This statement indicates that an optimised video could be about 45 times more likely to appear in a search result for a particular keyphrase than an optimised webpage. While these figures are again not strictly scientific and should be treated with caution, any user who has seen blended results would see the clear advantage to be had by having additional media available to reflect your business. This advantage clearly won’t last forever.

What to do

Here are some basics that will help you capitalise on these opportunities. Start by registering as a user with Google, then:

* Go to Google Local (local.google.com), and use “My Maps > Create new map” to get your business listed and positioned on the map so that it appears for search results on Google Local & Maps. Use good keywords and descriptions in the business description as you would with regular search engine optimisation.
* Get good quality videos, preferably entertaining and not just brochure-ware, and host your videos on YouTube (youtube.com). Give them keyword optimised titles, tags and descriptions, then use YouTube’s embed feature to embed the videos in your website as a video gallery.
* Get an image gallery of high quality pictures onto Google’s Picasa photo service (picasa.google.com) and embed the image gallery into your website, again with each image having keyword-driven titles, descriptions and tags.
* Go to blogger (blogger.com) and set up a blog and begin to write content on a daily or weekly basis ensuring you always have something relevant to say about your business. You can use basic blogger templates to link your blog to your website and ensure you also link your website to your blog.

Blogger in particular is so simple and effective to use. It is free and easy to set up and, in a hotel’s case for example, can be used for advertising special events and other events that change on an ongoing basis rather than the traditional approach of just putting a paragraph on the hotel’s events page or special offers page every once and a while. Good URLs are also easier to get with Blogger, for example hotels could set up a URL with prime keywords such as patricksdayindublin.blogspot.com or easteringalway.blogspot.com. Hotels could then create relevant content about such events, but in parallel push their own packages and websites as examples. For annual events, the blogs can remain up all the time, and they should generate more traffic year after year. Good URLs can be worth their weight in gold, figuratively speaking, if used properly.

The key here with all these opportunities is not just to get other vertical searches populated with good information about your business, but to also use these to pull your regular website up through embedding and linking with quality content.

You win on both fronts with your regular website and your new Web 2.0 content.

References
(1) iProspect
(http://www.iprospect.com/premiumPDFs/
researchstudy_apr2008_blendedsearchresults.pdf)
(2) Forrester
(http://blogs.forrester.com/marketing/
2009/01/the-easiest-way.html)

Authors
Dr Des O’Mahony is co-founder & Managing Director of Bookassist, Ciaran Rowe is Senior Search Specialist at Bookassist’s Dublin office.

Labels: web2.0, travel2.0, seo, sem

Share this post on:

  • Google+
  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • LinkedIn

Next page »

Post in "sem" category:

Latest blog posts



News and press



Tag cloud



bookassist - technology & online strategy for hotels

Address: 1st Floor South Block, Rockfield Central, Dublin D16 R6V0, Ireland
Phone: +353 1 676 2913 Fax: +353 1 676 2916
Email:
Web: http://bookassist.org/en