Tag Archive for hotel seo

TripAdvisor Grand Budapest Hotel Stunt

It seems that even big sites like TripAdvisor can still get link bait right sometimes and remain on brand, get a ton of social shares and still build relevant inbound links for industry blogs and high authority news sites.  TripAdvisor have launched a fictional Grand Budapest Hotel listing located in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka but they have quickly grown from 20 to 50 reviews to the current amount of 124 reviews and will likely continue to grow.  The TripAdvisor listing already managed to be ranked #1 of 1 hotels in The Republic of Zubrowka so there is no stopping their chances of being the one of the top hotels in Hungary at some point soon, which might be interesting for visitors looking to book a real hotel.The Grand Budapest Hotel

While it was originally reported by A.V Club as a potential PR stunt for the UK DVD launch of Wes Anderson’s film “The Grand Budapest Hotel” this seems to be something closer to link bait because the listing is on every localised version of TripAdvisor not just the UK version.  So that rules out the chances that this version is just setup to promote the UK DVD release and there is no mention of the DVD on the TripAdvisor page.

So why would TripAdvisor be interested in creating a specific page for The Grand Budapest Hotel considering it’s a fictional hotel if it’s not related to the DVD launch? So I thought I would look at Google Trends data, what you can see is that the search volumes of “The Grand Budapest Hotel” & “Grand Budapest Hotel” look to be almost as much as the interest in “Budapest Hotel” and far far higher than “Budapest Hotels”.  So it looks to be something of a smart traffic play by TripAdvisor if they can capture even part of this potential search traffic. I would assume that they would have tested the ROI on the head traffic terms listed in the screenshot below before they launched this content page.

Google Trends

 

So how did the link bait campaign work for TripAdvisor?

I thought I’d play around with Moz Fresh Web Explorer to see if I can pick up what links the URL has attracted so far. In the screenshot below you can see the main TripAdvisor.com URL has attracted atleast 16 web mentions since the 8th July 2014.  The localised versions TripAdvisor.com.au and TripAdvisor.co.uk only attracted one additional mention each, showing TripAdvisor.com won the battle for links this time around. I’d think that after a few months MajesticSEO and Moz will show up a far more detailed link graph of just how many links TripAdvisor built due to this campaign.

 grand budapest hotel fresh links

 How did TripAdvisor do with traditional media coverage?

The fictional hotel stunt listing seemed to do ok with some mainstream media picking up the story, I found the a majority of the following sites in Google News that were providing some coverage from a short post for a full in-depth article and several more that were appearing on the first few pages of Google.com

  • PSFK
  • Curbed National
  • Daily Mail
  • Irish Independent
  • Metro.co.uk
  • A.V. Club
  • Indie Wire
  • Bright
  • France TV Info
  • Glamour
  • L’Huffington Post
  • Huffington Post Italy
  • Deadline.com
  • Best Movie
  • Bad Taste
  • InStyle
  • Styleite
  • JOL Press
  • Cosmopolitan
  • Marie France Magazine
  • Orgio
  • Travelo
  • Dalje
  • Métro Montréal
  • Telegraph.co.uk
  • USA Today
  • Joop.nl
  • RelevantMagazine
  • DesignTaxi
  • TravelFreak
  • FlyerTalk.com
  • Veooz

It’s possible that there are a number of more media sites that might eventually pick up on this story over the next few weeks and a lot more that are not going to appear in Google News results.  I would say that this was a rather successful pickup by blogs and media sites as many linked back to TripAdvisor and pretty much ever single post feature TripAdvisor in the article name which is great for driving brand awareness.

How did TripAdvisor stunt do with social media?

It seems that the stunt did far better on social media with a total estimated number of shares on the main TripAdvisor.com URL was 10,148 at the time of posting.  This number could easily continue to increase if more blogs and media sites pick up on the story and if TripAdvisor uses paid media to amplify the number of social shares.  The breakdown of social shares shows that Facebook (9650 engagements) is still the dominate platform followed by Twitter (364 tweets), Pinterest (100 pins), Linkedin (20 shares) and Google+ (14 +1s) coming last.  So I’d say that this stunt was semi-successful on social media but not what I would could a viral success based on the current number of engagements I could find.

What’s next?

I assume that if this works based on TripAdvisor’s past behaviour they will likely milk the hell out of this idea and expand it to cover any number of other fictional TV, movie and song locations such as the following….

  • The Overlook Hotel – The Shining
  • Fawlty Towers – Fawlty Towers TV series
  • Bates Motel – Psycho + Bates Motel TV series
  • The Dolphin – 1408
  • The Hyperion Hotel – Angel TV series
  • Hotel Earle – Barton Fink
  • Hotel Splendide – Casino Royale
  • Majestic Hotel – Dunston Checks In
  • Heartbreak Hotel – Elvis Presley
  • Hotel Babylon – Hotel Babylon TV series
  • The Hotel New Hampshire – Hotel New Hampshire
  • Hotel Splendide – Hotel Splendide
  • Hotel Transylvania - Hotel Transylvania
  • Kellerman’s Resort – Dirty Dancing
  • New York Hotel – Maid in Manhattan
  • Pensione Bertolini – A Room with a View
  • Hotel California – Eagle’s Song “Hotel California”

Do Hotel sites get PPC?

While doing some research on a current project I finally got annoyed at the constant poorly placed and targeted Google AdWords campaigns running by some of the largest travel booking websites in the world. The only sites that appear to be successfully buying AdWords traffic is Tablet Hotels & Tripadvisor.  The companies that appeared to be having the most problems with AdWords traffic was Qantas, Travelocity & Expedia who just seemed to have missed the market in delivering a great first impression for AdWords visitors.  Even the leader Priceline.com didn’t fair that much better with a PPC campaign obviously setup by a monkey at a keyboard who has shares in Google and wants lower quality scores and higher CPC rates.

Test 1# Hotel Alexander, New York – The first test was to pick a random New York hotel from the Upper Westside of Manhattan and see what were the relevance of the ads showing. You can see that there is a 2 ads which are well off the mark with a hotel chain in Israel and the second is stretching it a bit thin as they are the Hotel Alexander Amsterdam in Europe.  While I didn’t add any geographic markers such as “New York” to my query, you have to consider the chances that your consumers will refine your traffic for you is not as likely and the search was done on Google.com with a NYC based IP address.  Its fairly obvious that these advertisers are not making use of AdWords many geographic filters and possibly even broad keyword match types.  Knowing that what the AdWord Ad is showing does not always match the landing page results, lets look at the other more suitable results shown to confirm there is a lack of understanding of PPC.

Hotel Alexander New York

HotelReservation.com advises that it is a hotel reservation system for smart savers, but you can see the landing page showing 91 possible hotels found for “Alexander” does not provide a smart  or time-saving result for this search query.  The landing page doesn’t even narrow down the selection by my country location (USA) or by state (New York) or by city (New York), instead it presents me with another search panel.  All the geographic information is fairly easily accessible and it would save me time and if it offered my result in a single click I might have reserved my hotel instead I leave and head back to the Google search results.

Hotel Reservations Alexander Hotel

The next site HotelReservations.com actually does an even worse job for a landing page by offering me a hotel listing for the Alexander Hotel in Germany, this doesn’t present the visitor with much confidence that the booking site even understands what New York hotel they were looking for.

Hotel Reservations Alexander Hotel

To show how far off the mark, the Okeanos Hotels are, you can see they don’t even have a hotel named Alexander but there are several hotels named Alexander in Israel they were likely targeting but its not a great campaign plan.  It’s clear they don’t understand PPC as the quality score for their campaign would be very low and their cost-per-click rates for bidding on those keywords would be far higher than they should be, meaning they are spending lots more money than they need to!

Okeanos Hotels, Israel

Hotels.com also seemed to miss the mark completely with the AdWords campaign taking me through to a Hotel Alexander in Italy, not the best or most relevant for such as high-profile site.  But when they do get the hotel location right they do a good job of promoting other hotels in the surround area that you should consider booking with.

Hotels.com Alexander Hotel

Test 2# Library Hotel, New York - While Hotel Alexander was not one of the highest ranking hotels in New York according to TripAdvisor, I wanted to see how that Travel PPC campaigns might improve by picking the #1 rated Hotel in New York which you would assume is a fairly high-profile search query they would be focusing on?

Library Hotel New York

Priceline.com fails to understand how to use PPC to drive sales by just dropping all the visitors at their homepage, this method offers advertisers a lower quality score but is much easier and less time-consuming for staff or agencies running their PPC campaigns.  Typically the conversion rates for a websites homepage is one of the lowest so its likely buying traffic for the sake of buying traffic is not a sustainable or effective way to grow your company.

Priceline Hotels

Expedia is the world’s largest travel site but it also makes the same mistake as Qantas does below by presenting the visitor who clicked on the AdWords result with an error page.  The advice to choose another hotel option was not given in the first place and advising someone looking to book a hotel to try again later will lead to losing the visitors business to a competitor. Expedia has the most to lose because of the sheer volume of money that is being spent every hour on their AdWords budget by their digital agency…. but really what does conversion rates matter in the travel industry with such thin profit margins….

Expedia Fails

Qantas Hotels Search – The test was for search on Google.com.au but when one of the hotels advertised was picked I was presented with an error page.  The problem is that I didn’t select a date for when I wanted to stay at the hotel, Qantas fails fairly badly as I clicked their AdWords Ad and was presented with this screen, the only upside they at least have kept some details from my search query such as the hotel was in New York, USA so I won’t have to re-enter that information if I choose to search again.  Qantas can easily have followed Hotels.com which offers a list of hotels in the surrounding area which I could book.

Qantas Hotel Booking

Travelocity also presents the same failure message, so I could assume they are using a similar bid management platform or trying to be more advanced than their CMS will allow which is causing the range of errors.  But Travelocity does win back points for having 3 different places you can find a contact number and they clearly advise they are open 24/7 which would likely catch more lost sales due to these types of error pages being the first thing an AdWords visitor sees.

Travelocity Hotel Error

Who is doing PPC right? It appears that Tablet is actually the poster child on how to do a travel PPC campaign right, they have a hotel specific landing page with clear photos, address details, reviews and a clear call to action with a simple booking widget.  They constantly are performing well for one or two other New York hotels such as the Soho Grand Hotel and should be commended for their smarter approach for travel PPC campaigns.

Table Hotels Soho Grand Hotel

The agencies that are looking after Qantas and Expedia should take a leaf out of Tablet’s book or read my book Google Advertising Tools 2nd Edition, as they are costing their clients a lot of lost sales by a poorly run PPC campaign, and yes I think that Travel sites really don’t get PPC but that’s lucky for their affiliates who can make it work, its not like they have a good history in Hotel SEO

My Coke fails to reward sponsors

my coke rewards logoCoke is one of the best advertisers in the world partly because of the strength of their brand but also because of the amount of money they pour into some of their advertising campaigns.  But this is not one of those cases in respect to the digital webdesign budget as it seems some basic elements were ignored in their current MyCoke Rewards promotions which they are also using AdWords to buy traffic to increase its audience, but are their promotional partners getting a full benefit?
my coke rewards
You are not eligible, please leave!
So while its not obvious until the second question, but when you select to register on the page now titled “Registration Eligibility” you are asked if you are a US resident.  While this might be due to legal rules/regulations the problem is that a portion of the US population may not be residents but could still be  suitable for the promotional partners just not the competition.  If you elect the option to say not you are presented with a useless single line of text “we’re sorry… you’re not eligible to join My Coke Rewards.” shown in the screenshot below.
They could have easily re-enforced how unwelcome these visitors were, by adding a click here to close the browser window link…
Why not offer everyone something?
The problem with paying for traffic is that you are also paying to attract audience members who may not be eligible or suitable for your product/service so you need to consider how to best deal with that traffic and the above message is a massive fail on My Coke Rewards part.  It took me maybe 5-10 mins by looking at the Coke Rewards partners hidden down at the bottom of the page to generate some basic ideas of the types of promotional messages My Coke Rewards could have easily added to the not eligible to join page shown below. The message about why they are not able to join is re-enforced but does offer those who cannot sign up something, so both the visitor gets benefit and the promotional partners get more exposure for being part of the program.
my coke rewards sponsors
Suggested Coke partner promotional offers
The following advertising messages are based on their own current summer deals/offers available to anyone who visits their website but are slightly tweaked to be more suitable to My Coke Rewards.
  • Delta Special Fare Sales – See more of the world for less
  • Six Flags More Flags More Fun – Have more fun with a season pass
  • Nike Free Run – freedom for your feet during summer
  • Holiday Inn Hit it big – earn doulbe points all summer long
  • Blockbuster Movies delivered – try it free this summer
You can see that this type of message both offers those who are not eligible for My Coke Rewards and advertisers who are paying to be associated with the promotional campaign, and only takes a matter of minutes to be setup. Advertisers get more exposure and are more likely to support the promotion as they can benefit from those who are a suitable audience for them to market to but might not be suitable for the My Coke Rewards promotion.
Failure to survey visitors
Another point is that Coke is now offering visitors a chance to provide feedback on the website, but ends up giving you a 15 min survey seriously if you want users to provide feedback make it quick and easy.  I really wanted to provide feedback but didn’t want to leave demographic details, product consumption details and a blood sample, so if someone is really looking to provide feedback on the site to make it better and not have the survey turn into a marketing study you really need to look at something like Kampyle.

Google Maps understands search intention

Following on from a previous post where it seemed that Google was starting to make a decision about what pages to index with a preference for lowercase results, but it seems that they have also been working to implement lettercase sensitivity on their Google Maps results.  The interesting secondary aspect is that it appears early in the process that some businesses get a significant commercial advantage with the new quick refinement links that are showing for certain queries.
Lettercase can influence Google Maps results
Google is also appearing to try and adjust its Maps results for geographic queries which was picked up in a random search last month but still appears to be in place, but ive struggled to understand the linguistic significance of the recent change to adjust to suit lettercase. I would assume that using uppercase for the item is the user preference but it is not unreasonable to see how with the data insight Google has that it can now calculate if the user is likely to want to refine their query.
Types of Lettercases
According to Wikipedia “Lettercase” some sentences cases are not used in standard English grammar but are common in product branding and computer programming.  The different types of common case used are:
CamelCase “iPod, eBay”
Start case “The End Of The World”
Snake case “Do_not_copy”
Studly caps “NeWS”
Google no longer case folding
Usually search queries use case folding, as it is then possible for the algorithm to make case-insensitive comparisons against its index for the relevant result.  But recently it seems at least for local results there has been a shift away from case folding and the results are adjusted to match the letter case. It is now possible if you make a choice to use all lowercase or just capitalise the “object” you are searching for you are being offered the ability to refine your search query to get a better and more relevant match. It might be that by placing importance on “Hotels” by capitalising it, Google can understand your intention might be slightly different based on urgency but why just the “object” and not the whole word or the location?

new york hotels local seo

The second result shows how case is now changing if you set the keyphrase “new york hotels” to use all lower case.  The new Google Maps local results now shows an additional 2 rows of links you can use to refine your search query to better match your search for a New York Hotel. These can be seen just below the map and above the first result, meaning its now harder for local seo campaigns as more Google properties take up the first part of the search results. The addition of more elements to the SERPs pushes more results further down, below the fold and decreases the chances that those outside the top 3 will actually get clicked.
new york hotels local seo
New links refine results
The new links are adjusted to match the city/location and are adjusted slightly for hotels nearby geographic landmarks such as Central Park, Times Square, Midtown or New York Plaza, and based on the types of hotels commonly available in that city such as Luxury, 5 star, 4 star, family or 3 star. For other geographic locations such as Las Vegas it offers Casino, Wedding and Luxury, 5 star and 4 star properties as a filter, but the hotel nearby landmarks produce the interesting results. Also the preference for singular or plural doesn’t seem to affect how this additional search links are included which makes it more complicated when trying to figure out the users intentions to need more refined results.
Las Vegas Hotel SEO
Google loves MGM?
While it is not clear how these are populated at this stage the MGM casino group seems to gain the most extra promotion by the use of its properties as a filter allows them to show at the top of the results for any refinement. A click on the link for hotels near Luxor refines the users query and the results is an overly friendly result for the Hotel Luxor as shown in the screenshot below.  For any competitors not shown in these new local search refinement links it is likely they will experience a massive disadvantage for their Hotel seo campaigns. The expected hotel near links I would expect to see would be mcann airport, the strip, downtown which do not provide a branding benefit to a particular hotel group or landmark property.
Luxor wins at seo
The first 2 paid results are for the Luxor, as well as the first 2 organic results are for Luxor.com with a very powerful 8 internal site links showing meaning that the Luxor controls the local Google results for the top half of the page.  The also have the top Google Map result meaning more control of the SERPs and more clicks direct to Luxor.com  The influence that these new search refinements will cause competitors is a massive drop in geographic queries and depending on the users search phrase a lot less search traffic from Google and also may affect Luxor affiliate sites and booking sites such as Expedia, Travelocity or Priceline because more traffic will go direct to the hotels website.
I’m not saying they should not be able to rank very well for local hotel results or they should not be entitled to dominate searches for their brand/hotel but the use of the refinement links does place a significant commercial advantage towards the MGM group at this stage. It is not clear how these are generated or weighted but this does seem likely to cause complications for search agencies working for MGM competitors as they now have a significant disadvantage.
The second interesting part is that these new refinement links are part of the overall Mayday update to the Google interface that has shown an overall decrease in search queries to websites, mostly attributed to less longtail traffic and users are able to better refine their search query meaning less clicks but more search volume and more AdWords displayed. It maybe possible that these links may turn into Google properties similar to Google Maps Real Estate or tie into the recent Hotel listings that Google has been offering on its Maps results.
Author Note: Thank you to Alan Bleiweiss who helped me try and understand how or why Google was doing this.

Google Maps adds place markers

Just a few weeks ago Google announced it was sunsetting its Google Local Business center and replacing it with the more consumer friendly Google Places, but it also appears to be rolling out a number of updates to its Streetview interface that rely on the previous patent that allowed for virtual placement of markers. This also seems to be a response to Everyscape who offer a similar virtual placement combined with Google Maps free service to businesses to have upto date photos of their store and interior.

The initial results seem to be focused around the free Google Places listings but its possible that some of these might be tied to Google AdWords as it expands. The listings make use a Google generated clickable icons that that enable the viewer to quickly get the businesses contact details, but it is not yet defined in Google Places business listings what portion of your impressions or clicks related to Streetview so it is too early to judge the direct benefit of this feature.

Google Maps local AdsGoogle Maps Ads "School of the Future"The two examples do show how the markers can be useful when looking for a business location and not having to scan sideways to see the name of the business and you don’t have to go back to the Google Maps view to confirm thats the right business address you found.  The only issue that can be flagged is now the importance of correct business details and Google Maps updating its map index more than once every 3-4 weeks as it can actually affect the user experience if the data is outdated and never corrected.   The next example shows how big business and franchise can benefit with store locations no longer hidden by parked cars or passing trucks such as the USPS truck covering the Barnes & Nobel storefront.

Google Maps Listing

A side benefit for consumers, tourists and visitors is that the transport options such as Subway lines were previously hidden can now be accurately displayed in relation to the business location.  The feedback point is that as shown below there is no ability currently to apply more layers as you can with Google Maps or Google Earth such as transit layers in Google StreetView so the numbers of listings added maybe limited.

Show Google Map Layers

The new Google streetview place markers don’t seem to be tied to any particular set of criteria as they show for the following types of listings:

  • Public transport
  • Big business (Best Buy/Barns & Nobel)
  • Owner verified businesses
  • Not yet verified by owner businesses

To show that this is not yet a feature that business may have any control over, it appears that  a number of the results that we found were for business listings that were still unverified by the business owner, so likely less susceptible to spam.  The first result for Restoration Hardware shows that the business has not yet been claimed by the business owner, as with the second result School of the Future High School so are likely sourced direct from Yellowpages listings. But other results such as Gramercy Park Hotel did have a Streetview placemarker but had an owner verified listing so its not just for unverified business locations or big business such as BestBuy or Barnes & Nobel who can get a virtual marker. This types of points we noted in our article around how SEO for Hotels is getting harder with some of the new features that Google is rolling out in the form of paid placement and preferred Google properties showing in the search results.

School of the Future High School

To see if this was a relevance listing such only those who were listed as the #1 in Google Maps local listings or those who showed up #1 in organic or paid results, we have included the local listing result for a geographic query for each in the screenshots shown below. It would be local from an search optimisation perspective to reward those who are able to rank highly for local or generic queries but this would encourage local seo to likely take advantage of the Google Streetview listings for their clients.

Google Maps Listing Restoration Hardware

Google Maps Listing School of the Future

So while the first result showed that Restoration Hardware was #1 in the search results, School of the Future was #7 in the second results but in a test conducted today was no longer a featured in the local business results.  So this could indicate that the StreetView may not even be based on an algorithm yet and might just be using Google Map data.

So this seems to be a very strange test that doesn’t seem to depend on any measurable or known selection criteria which makes it harder for agencies and marketers to assist their clients with achieving a virtual page marker in Google Streetview outside having a placemarker on Google Maps as shown above. Have you found any issues getting listed or traffic benefits for your clients with these Streetview placemarkers?

Google Local Hotel SEO gets harder

Raven Internet Marketing Tools

Google Maps continues to roll out new features relating to the real estate and travel sector, but the latest update doesn’t appear to be mentioned on any Google product blog and cannot find out anything more from anywhere. We can assume this stage that this is a new Google Maps feature that has now been enabled on both Google.com.au and Google.com search results for local Hotels and shows just below the 10 pack. The interesting feature is that the type of hotels is customised to match the types of hotels popular for that particular city but it does not seem to be available for all locations at this stage and can be seen at the bottom of each image.

The secondary point around these quick links is that they launch a refined query which means that a majority of browsing that a user might have done through the top 10, may not be skipped as they go straight back to fresh results based on the extra point of data.  The user experience does seem a little better and the ability to quickly filter results is going to appeal to users but is likely going to wreck the business models of any hotel not showing in the 10 box or atleast the top 4 results.

So the ramifications for your hotel seo campaign is that top 10 results may likely not be good enough as an increased amount of verticals such as Restaurants but it will likely expand to cover other verticals as Google finds by supplying keywords they can increase search refinements and get users picking the top results it offers, no matter if sponsored or organic. I have taken a number of screenshots and included a brief analysis about the auto generated short links and if they are even relevant.

Local Google Maps business results for Brisbane Hotels

New Google Maps geographic specific additional links to filter results for Brisbane Hotels, seems to be partially matched to key locations, but leaves out SouthBank and also fails to list Riverviews as a key selection criteria which is a selling point of many hotels.

5 star – Casino – Boutique – Luxury – 3 star
Hotel near: Emporium – CBD – Queen St – Ann St – N Quay

Local Google Maps business results for Chicago Hotels

New Google Maps geographic specific additional links to filter results for Chicago Hotels, seems fairly standard and once again it leaves out a key feature of the Chicago to filter hotels by Lake views and not all searches may know that O’Hare is actually the airport name so may miss its intended audience for those who may have a flight into Chicago.

Boutique – Luxury – Suites – 5 star – 4 star
Hotel near: Michigan Ave – Magnificent Mile – Ohare – Essex – Lincoln Park

Local Google Maps business results for Las Vegas Hotels

New Google Maps geographic specific additional links to filter results for Las Vegas Hotels, seems a little tailored to the location but could have made use of a Family, Non-smoking or Non-gambling filter, and the hotels near seem more of a paid placement for MGM Mirage as the Hotel locations feature mainly their Hotel properties but not the Strip as a filter.  While a number of the locations maybe considered Las Vegas landmarks the exposure to their brands is a little generous and there is no disclosure if they are in fact paid Hotel links.

5 star – Casino – Luxury – Weddings – 4 star
Hotel near: MGM – Luxor – Bellagio – Circus Circus – Downtown

Local Google Maps business results for Los Angeles Hotels

New Google Maps geographic specific additional links to filter results for Los Angeles Hotels is a little hit and miss as it also fails to feature one of the key aspects of LA being the Beachfront as a location to filter results. It also fails to allow filters by airport hotels or even popular tourism attractions such as Los Angeles theme parks like Universal Studios or DisneyLand which seems to miss an entire segment of the market who maybe looking to stay in Los Angeles.

Local Google Maps business results for London Hotels

New Google Maps geographic specific additional links to filter results for London Hotels is a little better but the locations featured seem to be mainly focused around transport and central locations, once again leaving out some of the key landmarks that tourists might want to book a hotel near.  It also fails to list budget one of the key segments of the London hotel sector in the filter.

Local Google Maps business results for New York Hotels

New Google Maps geographic specific additional links to filter results for New York Hotels, seem to some of the better matched but still miss Wall Street as a location people may wish to stay near.

Local Google Maps business results for Sydney Hotels

New Google Maps geographic specific additional links to filter results for Sydney Hotels, also seem to pick transport hubs rather than popular tourist locations such as: The Opera House, The Rocks, Darling Harbour, Potts Point, Bondi Beach…

Local Google Maps business results for Washington DC Hotels

New Google Maps geographic specific additional links don’t appear for the results Washington DC Hotels which makes it appear to be an early beta test and still not year fully rolled out across all Local Maps results.

Analysis: The new filters seem to be a smart way to display more information about hotels available and the direct navigation to refine the query with a single click will likely appeal to those searching for hotels, but the filters need to be vastly improved to better match the locations they show for.  It also makes it that bit harder to those doing hotel seo campaigns as there is now 2 more lines of results that push the organic results down the page and may encourage users to refine their query faster lowering the value of head terms such as “Los Angeles Hotels”

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.

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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.

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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….