A guest post by: Larry W. Smith, Partner, Thematix
A hotel is dynamic — a veritable revolving door of people and activities. Yet most hotel web sites are dynamic only in the booking process. It’s a rare hotel that understands that you are checking in for a reason, and that that reason is probably something happening in the hotel or nearby, like a conference, meeting, sightseeing attraction, wedding or a family reunion.
Using your hotel website to share information about local news, conferences, tradeshows, concerts, theater, attractions and the like will not only yield greater guest satisfaction and convenience; it can yield very substantial marketing and social presence. If your hotel relies at tall on search engine traffic for top-line revenue, we offer the following easy and low cost way to get more for less.
Over the past several months, Thematix — in association with Hyperdisk Marketing — has undertaken a variety of pilot programs to determine the value of semantically marking up certain types of web pages using schema.org tags. This markup consists of invisible code – in the webpage itself – that tells search engines about people, organizations, offers, locations, events and a myriad other things. The search engines use the markup to help determine the relevance of your content to the users’ search queries.
We worked with two hotels located in mid-size markets on the east and west coasts, both of which were local properties belonging to a Top 5 national brand, each of which had its own “vanity” site providing basic hotel information and a booking engine.
In one case, we used schema.org markup to expose only the existing website content to search engines. So, things like on-premises restaurants, location information, guest capacity and amenities were described in meta-data that search engines can understand.
In the other case, we created a new webpage, sharing the main site’s look and feel, which contained time-based events, including concerts, theatre performances, and season special activities within a 10 mile radius of the hotel. This idea was to become a trusted source of unique “news and activity” information on the events in the community and to intercept search engine users when searching for information related to the purpose of their journey.
In both cases there was an immediate value to the schema.org mark-up with both sites being re-indexed almost immediately. The mark-up informed Google, Bing, and Yahoo that the hotels were more than hotels – they were activity venues with substantially more value and relevance to people.
More importantly, the addition of unique content and descriptive language to the second site broadened the footprint to “long tail” searches that are relevant but not a typical subset of the sales and booking messages; further discussion and examples of these benefits are discussed in this Tnooz article by Rob Kost from Thematix. Dozens of new keywords are indexed and linked to the hotel at a rate substantially ahead of nearby competition.
The SEO benefits are obvious in the redacted Google Analytics reports below. The number of Google SERP impressions doubled, and the site advanced considerably in results position – within a day or two of the new page going live.
In one hotel case, using best practice valuation, we gained over $7,000 of Monthly SEO Traffic value. Further, among the top 10 keywords, we achieve a 1-5 ranking for all but one word at Google, Bing and Yahoo; that one word came in 8th at Google, and was typical since it is a common misspelling that is best practice to include.
Christopher Regan, a Hyperdisk advisor and SEO expert observed: “As pilot programs, the results are measurably positive and with immediate and lasting benefits to search engine optimization. With further testing and refinement we believe there will be consistent and projectable ROI and lasting competitive advantage.”