Marriott Hotels fail to grasp search


Marriott hotels is one of the world’s leading hotel groups and it seems that its search strategy of its Australian operations are not contributing its overall online marketing strategy. The online travel sector is one of the most competitive areas of online marketing, so it makes commercial sense to approach it with careful planning and strategy not half-hearted efforts. So it is amazing that since we started researching this article 2 weeks ago it seems to have the same issues causing problems for them to attract any new guests.

We have flagged several issues that they should consider fixing if they think that online matters to their business:

  • poor onsite seo (another post….)
  • you don’t rank well for terms you are targeting in Google
  • landing pages aren’t consistent or helping you rank well in Google
  • you don’t rank well in local search
  • AdWords campaign
  • broken links
  • poor 404 pages

URL Structure

So the first issue we are going to look at is the wasted effort trying to get ranked for every possible city and not ranking well for any of these geographic regions, even the landing page url structure is not something that I feel is assisting the brand with their goals of better rankings in search engines. Looking at any of the accommodation sites such as Expedia or Wotif you can see how badly Marriott does at building a search friendly URL structure…

https://www.marriott.com.au/holidays/bangkok-hotels

https://www.marriott.com.au/holidays/brisbane-hotels

https://www.marriott.com.au/holidays/hong-kong-hotels

https://www.marriott.com.au/holidays/kuala-lumpur-hotels

Holiday Landing Page

The holiday landing pages seem to be the pages that Marriott wants to be ranked high as all the internal links in the pages and in the footers point to these holiday landing pages. A sign that this is not working is that very few of them are shown highly in the search results and almost none of them appear in the Google local results, but all appear in the sponsored Google AdWords results.  So they are having to buy traffic around these terms where they should be focusing some of this budget on long-term goals of better organic listings and being listed in Google local.

The footer shown above is a sign of what keywords or phrases a website is wishing to be ranked well for, but is not the case for Marriott.com.au, the other point as you can see below that it doesn’t really work that well for them.  The other point is that the seo is being done for the /holiday/ urls but these are not featured in a single result within the top 100 search results.  So it is likely a waste of links to send this to the landing pages as they don’t rank and dilute the possible benefits being passed to the city hotels.

Even we can see that the page titles are not correctly optimised or consistent in their structure/message for the visitors, it is usually sensible for large websites to use a consistent structure. We have used Google.com.au as our search engine and the search phrase “city hotels”, interestingly they do seem to rank much better for “city hotel” but that is not the phrase they are trying to rank well for based on their footer links.

Page Title: Bangkok RMLP | Hotels in Bangkok | Hotel Deals by Marriott

Adwords Listing: Yes

Google Local Listing: No

Google Organic Rank: #92

Analysis: There is a lot of work required, for organic and local listings within the Thai market.

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…..

Page Title: Hong Kong RMLP | Hotels in Hong Kong | Hotel Deals by Marriott

Adwords Listing: Yes

Google Local Listing: No

Google Organic Rank: #30

Analysis: Some more work is required on organic to get it up to at least 1st page.

…..

…..

Page Title: Kuala Lumpur RMLP | Hotels in Kuala Lumpur | Hotel Deals by Marriott

Adwords Listing: Yes

Google Local Listing: No

Google Organic Rank: #22

Analysis: A little bit more work will make sure that at least the organic results show up on 1st page.

…..

…..

Page Title: London RMLP | Hotels in London | Hotel Deals by Marriott

Adwords Listing: Yes

Google Local Listing: No

Google Organic Rank: Not in top 100

Analysis: Local result shown in image is not Marriott website.

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Page Title: New York RMLP | Hotels in New York | Hotel Deals by Marriott

Adwords Listing: No

Google Local Listing: No

Google Organic Rank: #20

Analysis: They are ranked for their city information not an actual hotel.

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Page Title: Phuket Hotel | Phuket Hotels | Hotels in Phuket | Marriott Hotels

Adwords Listing: Yes

Google Local Listing: Yes #5

Google Organic Rank: Not in top 100

Analysis: A big focus is needed on organic for all Thailand properties, including locations such as Karon Beach or Kata Beach.

…..

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Page Title: Beijing Hotels | Beijing Hotel | Beijing Accommodation | Marriott Hotels

Adwords Listing: Yes

Google Local Listing: No

Google Organic Rank: #30

Analysis: If Marriott cannot managed to get ranked in Local results they should just give up on online marketing…

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Page Title: Los Angeles Hotels | Los Angeles accommodation | Los Angeles hotels from Marriott

Adwords Listing: No

Google Local Listing: Yes

Google Organic Rank: #20

Analysis: An updated search today, shows them in local results, they are ranked for their city information not an actual hotel.

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Page Title: Miami | Hotels in Miami | Hotel Deals by Marriott

Adwords Listing: No

Google Local Listing: No

Google Organic Rank: #41

Analysis: Google confuses this with Miami, QLD so this keyword would be harder to rank within Australia.

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Page Title: San Francisco Hotels | San Francisco Hotel | Hotel San-Francisco | Marriott

Adwords Listing: No

Google Local Listing: No

Google Organic Rank: #21

Analysis: The hotel is ranked where other US locations the local city information is the highest ranked pages.

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Page Title: Washington DC | Hotels in Washington DC | Hotel Deals by Marriott

Adwords Listing: No

Google Local Listing: Yes #4

Google Organic Rank: #4

Analysis: A decent ranking for both but a search for “Washington hotels” shows organic results of #18.

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Page Title: Brisbane Hotels | Brisbane Accommodation | Brisbane Hotel | Marriott Hotels

Adwords Listing: No

Google Local Listing: No

Google Organic Rank: #20

Analysis: The Marriott ranks #2 for “Brisbane Hotel” so a slight change to their seo could give them #1

….

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Page Title: Sydney Hotels | Sydney accommodation | Sydney hotels from Marriott

Adwords Listing: No

Google Local Listing: No

Google Organic Rank: #25

Analysis: The Marriott ranks #17 for “Sydney Hotel” so a decent change to their seo could give them at least 1st page.

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Marriott Google AdWords Campaign Fails

It also appears that the Australian online marketing team continues to struggle even with paid AdWords campaigns as since we started the research on this blog post on the 25th January 2010 and we rechecked again 2 weeks later the links are still broken.  So when you search for “London Hotels” and click the sponsored link you are presented with a 404 error page and each time this mistake is costing Marriott around $4.22 per click with around 2,500 search queries a day for “London Hotels” that is a fair waste of money. It’s scary to think the number of locations around the world including high traffic terms like Las Vegas Hotels that they are buying traffic for and losing those visitors.

It is important to check your broken links and even your 404 pages and discover where the traffic is coming from, as this could have been fixed with a simple redirect….

Marriott 404 Error Page also Fails

There are a number of issues with the error page, that is shown and we will highlight the main points that we feel should be addressed.

  1. The error page advises that you are receiving this because the Marriott website was recently updated, and you should also update your bookmarks in your browser.
  2. There is no ability to flag the broken page or error to their web developers to fix
  3. no search box so you can quickly search for the correct city or country that you were looking to book a hotel.
  4. The frequently visited pages are not dynamic and are just static links
  5. page links hold no real value and could be vastly improved for the visitors.
  6. 404 error page does not match with Marriott hotel branding
  7. message “we hope to see you soon” also seems more like a farewell message such as a thank you message after a booking or inquiry is made with Marriott, it is not a welcome message.

The suggested site to visit is actually Marriott.com.au but the webpage clearly says Marriott.co.uk which is likely to confuse visitors, and is just a lazy cut and paste effort by the web developer from their UK website, if you are going to brand the site as Marriott Australia at least change the text to suit the market…

While they are doing better than some of their competitors such as Hyatt.com that has no custom error page, we feel that the 404 error page does not match with the brand so we included 2 examples of what their competitors are doing well from Ramada & The Hilton. The Hilton makes use a room number to show the error code, keeping with its hotel image and supplies direct customer service contact numbers for when the page was generated during a booking or revenue earning exercise, that way they will likely be able to save the sale if this is technical issues preventing a booking. The only downside is the limited support of international contact numbers and no way to get back to the main website or homepage.

Ramada seems to focus more on its worldwide presence and with its booking widget for an instant call to action to book now.  The page has 4 clear image boxes that link to Ramada’s promotional packages, direct discounts and online deals to remind you of the benefit of staying on the site and booking direct. The error page branding matches with the site image but could be slightly improve to place the booking widget in the centre of the screen and display the customer service contact number more clearly and not hidden in the top right section of the screen.

So all up there appears to be a fair bit of work required for Marriott Australia, but it can be done in stages but I would have a preference in what I would start with first if you are looking at Hotel SEO campaigns….

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2 comments

  1. Jed says:

    Thanks for the article. Very interesting read. It’s very obvious you put a lot of time into your content and you have officially made it to my bookmarked list! Keep up the great work.