Tag Archives: SEO

Search Engines Role in Travel Purchases

Over the last decade business Internet usage has grown rapidly. If your business doesn’t have an online presence then you are missing out on a prosperous market. However, having a website is not always enough. You need to ensure that your website can be easily found by your customers. Search is the first point of online research for 93% of consumers; therefore, it is crucial for your website to rank on the top search engine result pages.

A recent study by Google and Neilsen shows that 70% of consumers who purchase a product online usesearch engines at least once. For consumers of travel that number rises to 92% using  search engines at least once before making a purchase.

Travel consumers tend to use search engines often as a source of information. On average they use search engines 20 times – researching recommendations, reviews, destinations, maps, ways of travel and comparing packages – before their research leads to making a purchase.

The illustration below portrays the 28-day user behaviour of a travel consumer. This consumer has initially researched “Corfu holidays” on Google search. The consumer used Google several times during the research journey before finally making the decision to book a holiday.

Illustrtaion of a Travel user journey online

Google and Neilsen Research (2012)

The chart below illustrates how travel consumers continue to consult a wide range of sources including search engines during the time spent online just prior to booking.

Illustration: Travel user decision making journey

Google and Neilsen Research (2012)

The Google and Nielson study also shows that travel consumers use both generic and brand terms when researching their travel plans. 13% of consumers used generic terms only, 10% used brand terms only and 77% used both generic and brand terms during their research period.

It is evident that a search engine is the first place consumers will look for travel information which will help them to make a purchase. Therefore, if you own a travel business or are looking to promote a destination or travel related product, your website has to be accessible and visible to your consumers. The only proven way to achieve this is through developing a search engine optimisation strategy to ensure that your website reaches the relevant consumers.

Google Wants Keyword Metatags on News Websites

Major travel brands and organisations with authoritative news services such as tourist boards, airlines and major hotel groups should be paying particular attention to their news sites this month.

Google has now introduced a new search engine optimisation (SEO) technique to categorise news websites. This technique is a way of tagging news website so that Google can classify them accurately. This is an old technique that Google have decided to revisit as part of its new updates.

The Google News blog has announced that with Panda 3.92 changes it will begin to index “news_keywords” metatags when ‘crawling’ news websites. News_keywords metatags are HTML programming codes inserted in the background of a webpages and not visible to ordinary Internet users.

Beforehand, Google had ignored meta_keyword tags due to the fact that it was often used as SEO spam techniques. Google’s Matt Cutts who had previously posted a YouTube video entitled “Google does not use the keywords meta tag in ranking.” has now taken to Twitter to announce that Google News will start using news_keywords metatags. However, Cutts states that Google will not be looking at news_keyword metatags on every website but only on news sites.

Twitter

Indexing news_keyword metatags on news websites will be only used to categories news articles accurately. Therefore, it is not necessary for the content of this metatag to be included in the headline or the content of the news article page. This will prevent it from being prone to spamming. Google only indexes news from reputable websites and therefore people are less likely to abuse the usage of this metatag.

The news_keywords metatag will be used by Google News to help classify news articles by topic. There aren’t a maximum number of keywords to add per article. However, Google suggests no more than a dozen keywords per article.

Google defines news websites as sites that provide updates and current reports on issues that its audience have a genuine interest in. How-to articles, advice columns and job advertisements will be discounted, as well as general information such as weather forecasts. So tourist boards with regular news about activity in their countries, airlines reporting on new routes or delays should all be taking this into account.

Website owners and SEO agencies alike should recognise that, although news_keywords metatags will now be an important feature of news articles, it is just one aspect of how Google can categorise your site. Google has provided guidelines and categories that you should pay attention to when creating Meta Tags for your news page.

The decision from Google to consider new_keywords metatags could be a beneficial development for many websites with a news pages. As mentioned before, although, this is just one way for a website to be categorised, it is better to implement than not. Google is constantly changing and updating so it is better to refresh your website gradually to avoid extensive maintenance at a later stage.

Changes at Google Create the Need to Re-think Online Marketing Strategies

Over the last 16 months Google has been making significant changes to their ranking algorithm. It started with the release of the “Panda” update in February 2011, which resulted in a decrease in search engine traffic and affected many online businesses. It was then followed by the “Penguin” update in April 2012, which is aimed at decreasing the search engine ranking of websites that do not follow Google’s best practices.

The “Penguin” update has impacted a large number of websites, including travel affiliate websites that had one thing in common; SEO strategy that depended on seeding a high number of links from low quality websites with over-optimised content.

These websites will not recover their organic search traffic and ranking unless they revisit their digital marketing strategy and make some major adjustments to their SEO strategy.

Travel websites now need to focus on the quality of their inbound links and the authority of the linking websites. They also need to re-evaluate their keyword strategy. With “Penguin” in place, top search engine result pages (SERPs) are dominated by big travel brands for highly competitive keywords. Smaller travel websites need to start focusing on lower-competition keywords, exact match domains and pursuing narrow niches.

Social Media is another area travel websites should focus on. Google’s search engine in particular is now implementing their own social network (Google Plus) into the way results are ranked on their SERPs. To make search results more relevant to users, Google favour links that are recommended by the user’s Google Plus network and rank it higher than other websites. Similarly, Bing and Yahoo favour links that are recommended by other social networks.

Overall, travel sites will perform well if their digital marketing strategy has an emphasis on inbound marketing such as content, SEO, social media, conversation and user experience.

Therefore, “Penguin” has created the perfect opportunity for those in the travel industry to ensure that their online marketing strategy is current and their site is optimised to its full potential. Only by aligning with “Penguin” guidelines can a site compete with similar services on search engines.

Google Panda Update 3.92

Google have announced that there is to be yet another Panda refresh rolling out. Google posted there announcement about Panda 3.92 to Twitter: “Panda refresh is rolling out—expect some flux over the next few days. Fewer than 0.7% of queries noticeably affected”.

If you are unaware of Google Panda and its background, the updates are aimed at targeting low quality websites so that only high quality websites are categorised high on search engines. Each Panda refresh offers a new set of requirements or rules that website owners must adhere to, in order for their website to perform well on search engines.

Panda made its debut in February 2011 and since then many website have seen a change in their websites and traffic to the website. Common offenders include: duplicate content, static content (pages not regularly updated).

For businesses these requirements can have dramatic effects on your online conversions. Therefore, it is essential to take note of each update and understand the important changes that need to be implemented on your website.

The next announcement is coming so watch this space!

Google+: SEO and Business benefits

Google+Just a few months ago Google officially launched Google+ pages for business and brands. There is no doubt that content shared by businesses or brands on Google+ pages is becoming prominent on search results pages and impacting all the search optimisation efforts. With this knowledge spreading quickly in the marketing world, businesses have started creating Google+ pages to use it as one of their key online marketing channels. But what does this mean for your business? Do you think it’s the time to create your own Google+ business page? How does this fit with your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles?

What Google say

We’ve all seen what Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn sharing can do for a business and how these networks have played played a major role in the search rankings. Google Plus has a unique advantage on all other social networks, this is that Google Plus was created and recently integrated into the largest search engine in the world “Google”. This is what Google have to say about [+1] button, which is similar to the [Like] button on Facebook:

“Content recommended by friends and acquaintances is often more relevant than content from strangers. For example, a movie review from an expert is useful, but a movie review from a friend who shares your tastes can be even better. Because of this, +1?s from friends and contacts can be a useful signal to Google when determining the relevance of your page to a user’s query. This is just one of many signals Google may use to determine a page’s relevance and ranking, and we’re constantly tweaking and improving our algorithm to improve overall search quality.”

Are my customers on Google+?

Google+ has started by focusing on businesses and experienced social media users. However, Google+ users have just started using the new network for personal networking rather than business networking. Therefore, this means that a lot of potential customer could in turn be using Google+. However, there is a chance that these customers along with potential competitors will not be practiced in the ways of the new network. Therefore, by implementing Google+ in your marketing strategy early on this could give you a great advantage once more of your prospective customers start using Google+ personally. In addition, you will benefit from the fact that business pages and improve your SEO strategy results. Furthermore, there is far less competition on Google+ compared to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and this makes it worth trying as we start 2012.