Everyone knows that having a successful search engine optimization strategy is crucial to your site’s overall success. But how do you know if your strategy is successful? The 2011 Google Panda Update imposed new SEO requirements that made many hotel websites obsolete. The new (and constantly-updated) algorithm encourages engaging and unique content, interactivity, and quick download speeds.
For many hoteliers, it is hard to look beyond revenue and site traffic as key performance indicators (KPIs). Three other indicators that are commonly benchmarked in the SEO process are organic SERP rank, total number of inbound quality links, and number of social media shares across Facebook, Twitter, and Google +1.
However, it is more important than ever to look beyond those five metrics to determine the true SEO success of your website. Because the Panda Update takes many more factors into account, there are ten other factors that serious SEO-ers evaluate when monitoring a site’s SEO health.
Time on Site – A user statistic gathered by Google through Google Analytics and Chrome, this metric tells search engines whether visitors are finding what they need on your site. Look at your average time on site through your analytics. If it is under a minute or two, you may need to tweak the information on your site.
Depth of Visit – This can be determined through your analytics and is measured in pages. Do visitors read your homepage and leave? Or are they browsing through your thoughtfully-organized navigation to find what they need?
Entry & Exit Points – Your analytics should offer some sort of path report that shows how the majority of visitors use your site. This should have a function where you can determine major visitor entry and exit points. If users are leaving too soon, find a way to redirect them to the information you want them to find.
Conversion Funnel – This ties in with entry and exit points. Are people navigating to the "fluff" sections of your site and missing the meat? You may want to reconsider your navigation structure to help guide people to conversions.
Bounce Rate – Bounce rate is measured as the percentage of people who arrive at your site and leave right away. A high bounce rate means that people are not finding what they are looking for. One important thing to keep in mind is true bounce rate versus overall bounce rate. Let’s say that someone arrives at your site, reads the full page they landed on, but don’t progress any further in the site and leave instead. This is not a true bounce because they read and interacted with that one page before leaving. This is why monitoring time on site in conjunction with bounce rate is important.
Newsletter Conversion Rate – Using analytics and tracking codes, you should be able to see the conversion rate for people receiving your emailers. If the rate is exceptionally low, you may want to reconsider what newsletters you are sending out, or what landing page you direct the recipients to.
RFP Conversion Rate – You should also be able to track information on your RFPs and forms. If people visit the landing page for your RFPs but do not complete the forms, reconsider both the information you provide and the information you ask for – a long form with multiple fields can sometimes deter people.
Google Places Listing – While these listings are not organic listings in and of themselves, they do play a role in how your site is organically ranked. A properly-optimized listing full of valuable information for searchers increases your presence in the eyes of Google. As they continue to change the layout of their SERPs, it may be combined with your organic listing and boosted to the top of the page.
Page Load Time – This can be determined by an online tool such as Pingdom. If your site is experiencing long load times, this may affect your bounce rate as people get frustrated and leave. Speak with your website developer about what could be slowing down the loading process; frequently it is an easy fix.
Number of Indexed Pages – You can test this by visiting Google and typing in site:http://www.website.com. However many "results" Google returns is how many pages Google has indexed for your site. While there is no baseline number that every site must surpass, keep a baseline knowledge of it so that you are aware if Google doesn’t index some pages that you publish, or for some reason you see a huge drop in total number of indexed pages.
Revenue, traffic, organic SERP rank, quality inbound links and social media shares are the main KPIs for a reason – they give a good picture of how your site is performing. However, if any of those metrics are off, or you are looking for a way to further develop a successful SEO strategy in the face of Google Panda, the ten additional metrics outlined above are a good starting point. Remember that none of these should be analyzed in isolation; they are all related and, together, give a more in-depth view of your site’s SEO health.
About the Author: Sue Wiker is Manager, Copywriting & SEO Dept at HeBS Digital (Hospitality eBusiness Strategies), the industry’s leading full-service hotel digital marketing and direct online channel strategy firm based in New York City (www.HeBS Digital.com).
HeBS Digital has pioneered many of the "best practices" in hotel digital marketing, social and mobile marketing, and direct online channel distribution. The firm specializes in helping hoteliers build their direct Internet marketing and distribution strategy, boost the hotel’s Internet marketing presence, establish interactive relationships with their customers, and significantly increase direct online bookings and ROIs.
The firm has won over 160 prestigious industry awards for its digital marketing and website design services, including numerous Adrian Awards, Davey Awards, W3 Awards, WebAwards, Magellan Awards, Summit International Awards, Interactive Media Awards, IAC Awards, etc.
A diverse client portfolio of over 500 top tier major hotel brands, luxury and boutique hotel brands, resorts and casinos, hotel management companies, franchisees and independents, and CVBs has sought and successfully taken advantage of the firm hospitality Internet marketing expertise offered at HeBS. Contact HeBS Digital consultants at (212) 752-8186 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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