If you have some slow days toward the end of the year, take a look at your reporting and dashboards and make sure they include these key metrics:
- Total visits
- Unique visitors
- Unique visitors by channel
- Quality visitors
- Quality visitors by channel
Let’s define and review the metrics:
Total visits has been a top metric for many years. It gives an overview of site activity and the aggregate production of all the channels. You should watch out for unnatural jumps in traffic of more than 50%. These are often caused by non-human crawlers that visit the site and get stuck and keep requesting pages. Evidence of this bot traffic is very, very short page duration of less than 5 seconds. Once identified, this traffic can be excluded from your analytics reports.
Another thing to look for in total visitors is country of origin. If you see spikes in traffic from countries that do not use your property, you can discount or exclude that traffic also.
Unique visitors is a measure of how many different devices visited the site within the month usually. This is tracked by adding a session cookie with a unique identifier to the user’s browser that allows the analytics to count visits from them as a single user with multiple visits in the month.
Unique Visitors by Channel
Unique visitors by channel helps you understand which channels are contributing what proportion of the traffic. Milestone recommends the following channel segmentation:
- General SEO
- Local SEO
- Organic Social
- Paid Search
- Paid Social
- Paid Display
- Partner or Affiliate
Most analytics platforms default to 5 or so primary channels, and the more detailed ones can be configured on the platform and tagged in the inbound urls by adding a UTM parameter that will be picked up by the analytics platform on arrival.
Quality visitors is a newer metric being used by more advanced marketers. It is measuring the number of visitors that take a desired action, like visiting the RFP page, the availability page, or the booking engine.
This metric speaks to the relevancy of the content on the website and that it matches what your target customers are searching for.
If a hotel with lots of conference space refreshes their website content but doesn’t speak to anything about hosting conferences on their website they will not gain those customers from search and YoY numbers could end up flat or down.
This will filter out the noise and allow marketers to focus on and optimize for the most valuable traffic.
One major hotel chain focused on traffic quality instead of total traffic during the pandemic and saw favorable results year-on-year.
Quality Visitors by Channel
By breaking quality visitor down by channel, marketers can identify the true sources of quality traffic. Shifting budget towards those channels increase profitable scaling by securing more quality traffic which converts at a higher rate
In addition, it is important for hotel marketers, general managers, and owners to reframe how they think about and measure SEO performance. Since the Google BERT update in 2018 and 2019, the focus has shifted even more to topics, depth, authority, and user experience–a more holistic content and site experience that is nearly impossible to game in the short term.
To achieve SEO success, marketers must take a long-term view, like 6 months or more of consistent planning and execution across a variety of inter-related topics on which they provide useful, relevant, original information to their audiences. SEOs often say, SEO is a marathon and not a sprint. The gains take longer to secure, but they can continue producing for years after deployment.
Rather than focus on a a few top keywords and top rank for those words, research and plan more broadly on topics and related terms and questions users need answered.
If you would like assistance with any of these topics, please contact your CSM or [email protected].