Exclusive ITB Feature: The exponential rise in mobile bookings has pushed hotel and travel suppliers to invest more heavily in digital advertising. Yet deciding how to best construct and align an online presence can be a challenge.
At ITB Berlin, Christian Wenzel, CEO of marketing agency Digital Branding, dove into how hoteliers can present themselves successfully on the web.
Not every business can afford to invest heavily in advertising. Coming as one of the first results in a Google search is nonetheless possible, if one understands the basics of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Wenzel explained.
As a first step Wenzel said any business needs a concept.
"That means answering questions like whom are you trying to reach?" he said. Depending on the target audience, certain social media channels are more useful than others. For instance, younger generations are joining Instagram more often than Facebook these days, he added.
"Next, think about what you want to achieve," he said. If you want to sell a product, make sure that users are given the option of purchasing that product on the landing page. If a business wants potential clients to contact them, it is important to have contact details listed visibly on the first page of the site.
Wenzel also stressed the importance of an online marketing timeline.
"This will allow you to set goals and assure you follow these through," he said. "Responsibilities should be clearly allocated if you are working in a team,"
Many businesses compete in today's market, however, meaning a Google search, the search engine most users will use, will yield a multitude of results. Less than 10% of users click on the second page of search results, Wenzel explained. Ideally a business should, therefore, be listed on the first page of search results.
This is a challenge in today's competitive market. Wenzel's advice is to use social media, such as Tripadvisor and Google+ to attract an audience and create an online presence with an area of expertise.
An area of expertise is a niche few people have websites about, with no more than 20,000 searchers or 10 top competitors listed on Google.
"Use Google alerts to stay informed about your niche area and flag up conversations you should be taking part in," Wenzel said.
Following basic SEO rules is equally important. A URL should not contain more than three words. Titles should include keywords and be no longer than 60 characters. Descriptions should also contain a business' keywords and have a maximum length of approximately 160 characters, he said.
Google aims to list websites with the best content at the top of its search results. The search engine uses analytics to decide which websites these are, including how many people leave the website or how many other sites link to the site in questions.
More and more users are opting to watch videos rather than read content. Google has realized this, meaning that a popular video with good SEO is often included in the first page of results. "So having a video can sometimes cut a few corners," Wenzel said.
In the end, users also need to enjoy a website. On average, a user looks at a page for no more than 10 seconds before deciding whether or not to keep searching or read on. It is therefore important websites do not take too long to load – which can be achieved even with images or videos on the landing page – and be a conversion website, one that is compatible with mobile devices.
The landing page should not contain overwhelming amounts of information – Wenzel recommended five blocks – and the main message should be clearly visible at the point of focus, which is the area of the page that grabs the users' attention first.
One final tip Wenzel gave was to consider including a region in the keywords.
"A lot of people search for things locally, so this is another way to increase your chances of getting traffic," he said.
This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.
Nele Obermuller is an award-winning journalist writing primarily on social affairs and development. Her work has appeared in both English and German press and she works with journalists across the globe as part of the international journalism organization, Associated Reporters Abroad (ARA). Whenever she can, Nele leaves daily routines behind to enjoy the unexpected turns of slow travelling.