The head of Google’s Web Spam team, Matt Cutts, sat down with Benu Aggarwal, President of Milestone Internet, to tackle poignant questions about websites, online presence, search engine optimization and how hotels can drive revenue. Playfully called the “Google Guy,” Matt shares his thoughts and insights on how businesses can harness the power of internet marketing, smart strategies and analytics for improving performance on the Web and how to create a website that stands out and makes a difference!
Hotel Travel Industry Search Trends by Google’s Matt Cutts – Part 1
Hotel Travel Industry Search Trends by Google’s Matt Cutts – Part 2
Question: What can a small business do to improve online presence online and increase ROI?Response: You can achieve web presence with a “brandable” domain name with personality and great information that entices people to visit. The domain name should tell you the story of the place and location. A compelling hotel site should include things to see in the area and pictures of attractions – which is what travelers are looking for. Your site will rank higher, pull people in and achieve a higher ROI.
Question: What are the top 3 tools you recommend implementing to improve the performance of a website?
Response: Testing tools like the Website Optimizer, Google Analytics, which determines what words people are using to find your site and conversion targets, and Webmaster Tools to see performance of your site and your backlinks, are fantastic ways to keep an eye on your site’s performance.
Question: What can we do to improve the quality of the site?
Response: A rule of thumb is to have an unbiased person look at your site to see if it drives them to make a reservation. Your site should have a phone number on every page so consumers can make a reservation and include places where they can go. The best hotel sites offer real-world information and insider tips that make people feel part of your community and like they can trust you.
Question: What is your recommendation on selecting a domain name, creating a domain name with keywords, age of domain, multiple domain names and TLD’s?
Response: In choosing a domain name, you should avoid making common mistakes like massive keyword stuffing with hyphens. Come up with a memorable name, especially if you have an inn with a name that people recognize. Your domain is even more attractive if it contains the name and a location or city.
Question: What about Top Level Domains (TLD’s) if you have hotels internationally? Is it better to buy multiple domains in different languages?
Response: If you can get the TLD (Top Level Domain) for the appropriate country, it’s always best. If you have a hotel in India, buy the .in. If it’s globally well known, have an .in and a .com. If you have a site in France, have the French version on .fr and the English site with the .com. But if it’s English the whole way, such as a Canadian hotel, then you may want to consider the .ca and grab the .com so that no one can steal it. Then you just do a 301 re-direct to the .com. It’s hard to keep a lot of different domains going, so it’s best to increase the relevancy of one domain. People are not going to remember 5 hotel sites, so if you have one that is memorable then that does the trick. Also, if you are building a really brandable domain name, it doesn’t hurt to think about the typos, other ways people spell it and then do 301 re-directs to combine them together.
Question: How do you quantify success of your organic promotion SEO strategies? Traffic, Revenue, or Ranking?
Response: Look at it like levels of enlightenment. First you look at search ranking, then you look at what people are searching for, then you analyze “quality” traffic and then determine your return on investment. Look at ways to get more traffic and show up for longer phrases. Look at how your site can convert better. Then, optimize for return on investment. Traffic by itself will not improve revenue. You want people to land on your site and make a reservation at the hotel. To be a savvy web marketer, you must transcend the emphasis from ranking to transaction. Provide streamlined content for people who are really looking to reserve the hotel and make a sale. It’s this sort of progressive enlightenment that moves you toward ROI by applying useful services that convert traffic to action takers.
Question: How do you quantify returns from social media? Is it about creating buzz short term and long term returns or quantify returns in short terms?
Response: It’s all about branding and being memorable in the long term. When you think about social media, you have to determine the credibility of the community, and what long-term value it delivers to your ROI. By answering a question on a forum or posting on a Blog about latest happening, you can build long-lasting trust that makes people use you in the future. If you utilize a trustworthy and memorable social media site, like Google, and if you participate with fresh, informative content, you are more likely to build trust. While it’s a leap of faith, supporting social media forums do build trust and lead to long-term revenue.
Question: How can hotels maximize the gain from video search, news search and image search?
Response: Think about what images users want to see on your site. They want to see what the different types of rooms look like and the lobby so they get a true feel for what the hotel looks like. Once you have done the basics, pay attention to the attractions in the area. People aren’t always looking for your hotel; they are seeking an attraction or convention center. So, if you have a page that tells people your hotel is .4 mile away from San Jose Convention Center, use a picture of the convention center. That is how images help people find you!
Question: How important is it to get sites listed on one of Wikipedia’s content portals, like Wikiversity or WikiTravel?
Response: If you are trying to get an SEO benefit, those sites are no-follow so you are not going to increase your page rank. If you are a historical hotel and have been around for a long time, that sort of context and content can be helpful. Plus having the ability to reveal more about your hotel and its context is going to be helpful.
That’s the brief summary of our discussion with Matt Cutts, also known as “Google Guy” – on how you can optimize your websites, business presence on search engines, social media sites, video, and through compelling content. To listen to the entire video of this fact-finding interview and the complete Q&A dialogue, please visit the Milestone Blog (http://blog.milestoneinternet.com). Special thanks to Matt Cutts for speaking with us candidly about SEO and the most productive strategies for driving search ranking, conversions and revenue on the Web.