Google recently implemented algorithm changes that have the potential to profoundly impact digital marketing strategies for franchised hotels.
On May 11, 2015, Google released a ‘ranking adjustment’ to deal with ‘doorway’ pages, noting that this update would have “a broad impact” on sites utilizing doorway campaigns. The purpose of the doorway update is to improve the user experience by eliminating multiple search results for the same business.
Doorways are duplicate websites (or internal pages within a website) created to rank for specific search queries. An example is a house-cleaning business that services different cities and wants to capture ranking for all of them. Businesses in this situation may create several pages on their website (with the same content about its services) optimized for the different locations they serve such as:
Google would prefer they create a single page outlining their services and all the areas they serve. Although it is not clear that Google means to penalize franchise businesses (such as hotel chains) that have a brand websites as well as microsites for every location, it’s possible Google will throw these ‘local babies’ out with the bathwater.
Showing multiple links in search engine results is one of the primary reasons why hotels support a local website in addition to their Brand.com property page. Google may argue that this strategy doesn’t promote a good ‘user experience’. For example, if a user searching for ‘hotels pensacola beach’ clicks on a local website result and decides he doesn’t like that hotel, and then clicks on the Brand.com website and finds the same choice, he may find that frustrating.
Google has remained elusive about how the search engine will determine if a ‘doorway page’ was created for user interest or to generate search traffic. Google’s Brian White says they are targeting sites that “maximize their search footprint without adding clear, unique value.” Clarifications and opinions on algorithm update are evolving in real-time, so it will be a few weeks before we see and feel the full impact of this.
Hilton was the first of our brands to respond to this update. On April 12, Hilton e-commerce officials sent emails to thousands of properties asking them to redirect their local websites to their property Brand.com page. They recognized that many local websites generate significant web direct revenue and so only asked properties with local sites producing less than 20% of their web direct revenue to do this. Initial conversations indicate their initial goal is to eliminate local sites for roadside and smaller properties that are not well optimized.
Innisfree’s strategy is to stay on top of the emergent news from Google while optimizing all property websites to avoid penalties. Now is a good time to review all website content (brand and local) and eliminate duplicate content while ensuring local website content is uniquely useful.
It is our opinion that once the storm dies down, quality local hotel websites will remain unaffected by this change. This update is likely being deployed to clean up websites that offer no unique user content. Innisfree’s local websites are rich with unique content, including guest galleries, local guide blogs, locally focused page content and vibrant locally rooted social media connections.
Innisfree’s strategic foresight in hiring a writer to produce unique and useful local content is going to serve us well.
On April 21, 2015, Google released a significant new mobile-friendly algorithm designed to give a boost to mobile-friendly pages in Google’s mobile search results. The change is so significant that SEO bloggers have dubbed it ‘Mobilegeddon’.
Innisfree is proud to launch responsive mobile websites for all properties in the spring of 2015. Our goal is to have this project complete by the end of May for our primary beachfront hotels and mid-June for our entire portfolio.
Google is dropping its horizontal Carousel display of local search results in several categories including restaurants, nightlife, entertainment and hotels. It’s being replaced by a ‘3-pack’ of organic listings.
The new 3-Pack will appear below the top AdWords results. Note the 3-Pack results are not ads, but do includes real-time room rates. Also note that users can sort the 3-pack results by ‘review ranking’, highlighting the increasing importance of focused reputation management strategies.