Tag Archive for local seo

Google Places Evolving

Google Places will be the battle ground for both business and SEO consultants and agencies in 2011 with an increasing preference for showing and sometimes total dominance of the organic results. It seems that every week there is a new expansion of Google Places into universal results but it seems that the expansion of their Local business product is not truly consistent, which makes it nearly impossible for business to understand the trust the quality of the results.  A few of these changes I thought I would comment on in this post to signal to you how Google Places is evolving and how you might have to reconsider your local SEO campaigns in 2011.

Google Places showing URLS

You can see in the screenshot below that Google Places is starting to show individual pages that match to the search query. It’s interesting that the Google places first result “A” shows an individual page that is an exact match to the search query and the third result “C” shows a URL that is a match to the geographic location.  This was the first time that I have seen this showing as Google typically has taken preference to show just the domain in the Google places results but it seems to be now electing to pick a URL that it feels is a better match as it does in organic results.

Lasik Results Showing Deeper URLS

Lasik Results Showing Deeper URLS

Google Places showing Breadcrumbs

Google Places is also continuing to mirror Google Organic with its Places results with “B” showing breadcrumbs in the expanded Google Places result for Rydges SouthBank. You can see that Google is slowing messing up the previously clean and clear Google Places results be starting to treat them like organic results and showing deep URLs like you can see for the Clarion Collection Rendezvous Hotel.

Hotels Places Results Showing Breadcrumbs

Hotels Places Results Showing Breadcrumbs

Google Places Super Results

Google Places is a very visually attractive and their new super result for #1 listings really dominate the competition with almost a double listing but includes a bonus attention grabbing image.  The result for Magistic Cruises includes the standard title link and meta description but also features 4 sitelinks, a link to its Place page, links to 4 reviews about the company and company contact details.  While the 2nd result also features 4 sitelinks you will see later in this article that is not enough to attract the visitor’s attention span before it moves to focus on the 4th result Sydney Princess Cruises.

Google Places Super #1 Results

Google Places Super #1 Results

Places gaining too much attention?

You can see below the older Google results that are not showing the additional results for #1 are much less appealing and eye-catching to consumers.  You can assume that the first result will receive slightly less attention when it is not showing the enhanced Google Places results but what is the actual impact in terms of visitor attention/analysis?

Google Standard Results (No Places)

Google Standard Results (No Places)

Google SERPS Attention & Attraction Analysis

The following test was done using Feng-GUI analysis products, that allow you to realise where the consumers eyes are looking when viewing a webpage, advertisement or photograph, it is simulated eye tracking. You can see the impact of the visitor’s attention span when Google Places results are shown in the first image, but it also shows that the amount of attention the Google AdWords results receive is also significantly reduced when Google Places are shown.

Google Places enhanced result heatmap tracking

Google Places enhanced result heat map tracking

Google non-enhanced result heatmap tracking

Google non-enhanced result heat map tracking

So while it seems that you risk violation of Google Places guidelines by using landing pages or trying to game their algorithm by listing unique URLs, Google can and will alter the mix to suit its own results.  So do you think that Google Places has morphed and evolved beyond being just Local Business listings into the new and possibly improved Google Organic results?

Mobile apps in Search

android logoEarlier this week Google Mobile blog announced a new way to increase Google users access to mobile Apps, this time via their search platform.  To ensure no competitive issues are raised by respective industry groups and competitors such as Apple, and they can encourage more users to get used to using Google.com to find their apps Google offers both Android and iPhone apps.  It will be interesting to see how Apple reacts and if it may restrict the features of the new search service as it bypasses iTunes and takes users direct into the app store, reducing how much they can market other apps via their featured apps screen.
Google keeps users
This is a smart move by Google to offer a mobile focused search result as it allows them to keep iPhone users within its search network longer before they are funneled off to iTunes to download the app, it also means they can possible wind down the support and resources they pour into the Android Apps marketplace. The interesting part about the Android market place is that it is also setup to ensure any direct links don’t offer any of the developers an increased seo benefit via the structure of its url.
Download mobile maps
Google increases competition
The Google blog post claimed they are making it easier to find information about which apps to download, but they are actually making it harder for developers to market their apps on a fair and level playing field.  Currently on an iPhone there are upto 5 iPhone applications listed on each page compared to Google.com only offering 1-2 apps, that is a massive increase in competition to be #1 in the mobile apps results as shown in the screenshot above.
Niche Google search queries
The other current problem is that how the algorithm understands your search intention is fairly limited to phrases that include “download” or “app”.  This very narrow band of search phrases is hardly likely to change how the world finds apps but Google would hope it slows the move away from Google.com to external stores like iTunes. The iPhone app store features a very useful search as you type feature that allows you to find your iPhone app via keywords, categories or app name compared to the limited Google.com search results.
Google mobile apps results fail
The secondary problem is that the search results seem to ignore once an app gets over 1,000 reviews which is not particularly hard these days with the millions of iPhone and iPod Touch users downloading and reviewing apps.  It is likely that Google is using reviews as a ranking signal, but if you check what is the top app for “maps” or “download maps” on iTunes these maps don’t feature within the top 20 results, so how Google search decided on these 2 map apps is a mystery.  To demonstrate this failure is inconsistent iTunes has a “news” category, but this time “Fluent News Reader” with 1,113 reviews was the top free app but “GameCenter Games” is not featured in the top 25 results.
Download mobile news
Google mobile apps ignores user location
Why make the effort to enable your location when conducting the search as the results shown earlier in this post are for a search query to “download maps”, run from a New York City location.  The results offer ski and snowboard maps and a DC Metro Map both of which don’t seem relevant to my location or search intention.  A map of Australia might have been more relevant as that is where my iTunes account is registered….
The above image for “download news” also fairs to identify that i’m conducting
Google crushes other app stores
As the blog post said they have plans for other devices in the future which make slow the progress other platforms such as Nokia Ovi, Samsung Apps or Blackberry App World have made in establishing their own mobile apps stores. While the technically cool part is that the the search results are tailored to your device so Android and iPhone users see their relevant apps which does allow for multiple platforms.  The problem is you can’t how the search results differ between each device which makes the results a little less transparent for developers.
Google.com.au also works
The blog post says that its only currently available for Google.com but ive tested it on my iPod Touch on Google.com.au and found it works fine, but images below do show it was generated on Google.com the same results are shown for Google.com.au. It is not clear if part of the new interface means that there is less control over

Google mobile app search not logical
It would make sense to have the mobile apps show for locational based queries such as “restaurants”, but it would likely be something that would be tailored more towards sponsored links where you can click to download Yelp, Urbanspoon or NYTimes Scoop direct to your mobile device. If I did a search for restaurants and was offered a link to download relevant mobile apps to make my search quicker and easier I would see that as a better match that having to change my search patterns to include “download restaurants” or “restaurants apps”, otherwise I would just goto iTunes….

Restaurants apps

I would be interested to see if you have had a chance to test the new Google mobile search for apps and if you found anything interesting that wasn’t covered in this post or maybe more useful that should be made public about how it can help developers or consumers get more from mobile apps. But its something that is likely going to complicate the marketing for apps developers and only leave Google with a bigger control of your mobile search.

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.

…..

…..

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.

…..

…..

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.

…..

…..

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.

…..

…..

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…

…..

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.

…..

…..

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.

…..

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.

…..

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

….

……

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.

…..

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….