A Closer Look at Google Adwords Spending in the Online Travel Industry and its Effect on SEO

A recent analysis by search engine marketing firm WordStream shows the travel sector as the third largest spender on Google AdWords over the last year at $2.4 billion behind only the Finance & Insurance industry at $4 billion; and Retailers & General Merchandise at $2.8 billion. $2.4 billion is truly an astonishing number when you think about it on a daily basis. That comes out to $6.5 million per day in revenue for Google via Adwords.

According to the report, the biggest spenders from the travel industry were the following:

Booking.com, $40.4 million ($110,000 per day)
Expedia, $28.9 million ($79,000 per day)
Kayak, $28.7 million ($78,000 per day)
Marriott, $20.9 million ($57,000 per day)
Priceline (which owns Booking.com), $19.6 million. ($53,000 per day)

The amount of money that is being spent on Google Adwords really increases the value of organic search engine optimization for the travel industry. Although most of the big travel companies have extensive SEO departments, many small to medium sized companies are either overlooking organic SEO or just touching the tip of its potential.

One mid-sized travel company I worked with back in the early 2000s was at the time spending nearly $250,000 per month on Overture and other pay per click ads, and yet until I arrived had virtually no SEO presence. It was so bad that their technology actually did not allow spiders to index any of their pages. We were able to work with the technology team to get the entire site functional and optimized for search engines and traffic quadrupled. Shortly after we completed the organic SEO, they were able to sell the company for a rather substantial price.

While travel search engine optimization is far more complicated than it was back in the earlier days of SEO, the basics remain the same. These factors include; search engine friendly technology, well implemented SEO elements throughout the site, large amounts of indexable content, and intelligent link popularity. The biggest difference between then and now is the focus on truly unique content throughout the site. While this has always been important, it is even more significant today.

If you are interested in SEO for your travel related website contact us today for more information and a free site review.


Branding Versus Keyword Targeting in SEO

Most internet marketing experts agree that you need to use a combination of online marketing tactics to run a successful Internet marketing campaign. If you focus too much on one strategy, you leave yourself vulnerable to how changes in that specific area might impact your overall performance. It is wise to mix up a nice combination of strategies such as SEO, pay per click marketing, email marketing, general online advertising, affiliate marketing, social media and more depending on your industry.

The same goes within the search engine optimization focus. While it is generally accepted that a successful search engine optimization campaign is one that ranks high for a business’s target keywords, or one that converts organic traffic to sales, another benefit of SEO is in helping to create a brand for the client’s business.

This creates a bit of a predicament in terms of where the focus should be in areas like title tags and meta descriptions. You will often find that many search engine optimizers prefer to place the highest priority keywords at the beginning of the title tag. While this can be good for ranking it can be bad for branding or creating name recognition in particular for smaller businesses that are looking to make a long term impact online.

More often than not, I find the best solution is to mix the focus between the high priority keywords and the branding. Depending on what is most important to the client, you can do one of the following:

-Start with the company name followed by the highest priority keywords
-Start with the highest priority keywords followed by the company name
-Go with keywords only

The first two options offer some mix for clients that are concerned about creating a brand along with their SEO, or want to take advantage of the brand that they already have. The third option is best for websites that don’t care at all about branding or creating a brand and only want to focus on ranking as high as possible for their keywords. The first two options may bring in a small percentage less traffic in the short run than the third, but the long term returning traffic may outweigh that in the long run.

As with many areas of internet marketing and search engine optimization, branding versus keyword targeting is something that needs to be looked at on a case by case basis. As with Internet marketing in general, there is no one size fits all approach.

This article was written by Chris Powell, San Diego search engine optimization specialist.


Interesting Article on PPC and Search Engine Optimization in the Travel Industry

Just read an interesting article/interview on Eye for Travel. It is focused on travel search engine optimization, PPC and social media, but a lot of what they discuss is pretty relevant across business segments.

A few things that stuck out to me where the following:

Adam Crawford, Senior SEO Manager of Europe for Cheapflights Media believes 2012 will see a continued increase is personalization of web results. He also believes that Google+ is a very obvious signal that Google will be moving in this direction. However, overall he states that the core “best practices” that really impact a site’s search engine rankings and overall SEO have not changed much in the last 10 years.

I tend to agree with him on all of the above. It is clear to me that personalization or personalized results are one of the biggest changes we have seen in the search engine optimization world in years, and it is the social media connection combined with your physical location at this point that are leading to most of the personalization. With Google+ coming into play we can definitely expect that to start to play more of a role, and for results to become even more personalize.

I also agree however that the core best practices have not changed. All the things we have always had to do are still important. This list includes building links from reputable sites, building quality content that search engines can easily index, focusing your title tags and content on high impact keywords and key phrases while still building user friendly content.

The tricky part for a lot of people is implementing the “newer” core best practice techniques. This includes making sure that your sites have a positive reputation online and that there is a “busy” social presence. I envision this becoming a little bit like link building in the early days of SEO when it was a free for all with link farms, FFA pages, etc. Google and Bing will catch shady tactics and those sites will take a hit. The tricky part as with everything in the past will be how to do it right.

I still think the answer as it has always been is to build high quality useful sites that users love. Of course that is not as easy as it sounds. If you want to check out the interview, you can read it here.


The Power of SEO and Reputation Management for Politicians

With election season beginning to heat up, I thought I would put together some thoughts on how the Internet and search engine optimization can impact a political candidate and what a campaign manager or campaign team can do to improve what information people are getting on a particular candidate or their opponents.

We live in a day and age where people can easily search out information on political candidates. It is a far different world from 15-20 years ago when information was generally more of a one way stream. Back then information came to the voters, via mailers, both positive and negative, via newspapers and via television, and in many cases from people out on the streets going door to door. Voters did not have the easy access they have today to mass amounts of information via Internet research. Today you have personal and political blogs, sites like Wikipedia, news from all over the world and from organizations with a variety of political views. And when a voter wants to research a particular candidate or issue, they generally go to the Internet and start with a search engine like Google or Bing.

The problem many campaign managers and candidates face is that the information is not organized in their ideal order, which would of course be only the good stuff about their candidate or issue at the beginning, and anything bad way down the results, or not listed at all.

This is where SEO or search engine optimization and reputation management can help. An example would be if someone were a proponent of a bill such as H.R. 3261, which is come commonly known as SOPA or the Stop Online Piracy Act. If you were to do a search in Google for SOPA, you would be hard pressed to find any information about the positives of the bill. You also will not come across the web page for the bill itself. What you do get are a bundle of news articles, blogs and websites bashing the bill. While this is a bit of an extreme example, since this bill is incredibly unpopular among Internet sites, it gives a very clear picture of how a political candidate or issue can be perceived online.

So how can search engine optimization be used to affect a political campaign? Simple, the idea is to build out plenty of positive information and get it ranked above the negative stuff. Your candidate or issue should have a website, a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter page, fan pages, etc… And you and the campaign should be in control of most of these 100%. You need to make sure that they are frequently updated, that sites like Facebook and your blogs are moderated, and you need to do all that you can to push these results up to the top of Google when voters are searching for your candidate or issue. That means performing on page SEO, making sure that title tags are built correctly, that content includes the keywords that people are searching for, and that the main sites are interlinked and there is some kind of link popularity campaign pushing all of them.

On the other side of things, you also want to be on the lookout for negative information about you candidate. In some cases, if false information is being spread you may be able to get sites shut down or information removed. In other cases you can use strategies to diminish the search rankings of these sites. The most obvious of which is to simply outrank them with positive information.

This article was written by Chris Powell of chrispowell.net. If you have questions or would like more information on SEO for Political Campaigns please feel free to contact us.


Why won’t Google Follow in Wikipedia’s Footsteps

It’s great to see Wikipedia really step up and actually go black in protest of the The Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the Protect IP Act in the Senate. While other large businesses like Google and Facebook take baby steps against the action (in the case of both they are simply putting messages up regarding the legislation), Wikipedia and a few other sites like Digg, Stumbleupon and Reddit are actually shutting down completely or “going black” to protest what they rightfully consider blatant censorship. “If passed, this legislation will harm the free and open Internet and bring about new tools for censorship of international websites inside the United States,” the Wikimedia foundation said.

The real questions is why aren’t sites like Google and Facebook stepping it up more? In reality, Google or Facebook being down for a whole day would garner way more attention. Many Facebook addicts would probably suffer from withdrawal symptoms or anxiety, not that we wish that on anyone, but it would certain get our attention. In Google’s case, there are a ton of people that use Google on a day to day basis in business including me as a search engine optimization professional. I would likely just have to take a day off, which would not be such a bad thing I guess.

The real reason I suspect they won’t do a Wikipedia is because they feel they can’t afford to. Those sites in many ways are similar at this point to the businesses and Hollywood types that are trying to push the legislation through. I can’t even fathom the amount of money Google or facebook would lose in advertising revenue by being down for a day. On top of that, if Google were down people might actually be forced to use Bing or Yahoo and find out that maybe they are not as bad as they are perceived to be by the general public, or as bad as they once were. All in all, it would have been refreshing to see some big money companies like Google and Facebook take the same steps as some of the less profit driven sites.


European Search Volume on the Rise for U.S. Real Estate

I generally take Trulia data with a grain of salt, as I have seen time and time again that their projections and predictions are way off base, but I found their piece about an increase in real estate searches coming from European IP addresses interesting. If anything it shows that at least Europeans are more interested in the United States real estate market, likely due to the tough economic conditions forecast and at the present in Europe.

As a result, it seems to me that it might make sense for real estate companies in some of the more searched metropolitan areas to target some of the European markets via real estate search engine optimization. The top markets in terms of search volume in the United States were the following:

1. Los Angeles, CA
2. New York, NY
3. Miami, FL
4. San Francisco, CA
5. Orlando, FL
6. Chicago, IL
7. Cape Coral, FL
8. Las Vegas, NV
9. Naples, FL
10. Fort Lauderdale, FL

Noticeably, most of the most searched localities are either warm weather destinations, bargains or both, with the exceptions of New York and Chicago. These exceptions are likely simply due to name recognition and they are cities where a large number of Europeans are already concentrated. In the cases of some of the smaller localities like Cape Coral or Naples it is likely due to the tremendous investment opportunity combined with the idealism of the warm climates, especially during the cold winter months in much of Europe.

In terms of which European markets are providing the most search volume, the list starts off with a few of the larger countries which makes sense, but there is also a pattern of increase search volume year over year. One would assume that at this point, for those Europeans in position to invest, it may make more sense to invest in the United States at this point than in European markets.

1. United Kingdom
2. Germany
3. France
4. Italy
5. Spain
6. Sweden
7. Poland
8. Netherlands
9. Denmark
10. Belgium

If you are looking to target the European market via SEO make sure you work a company that history working with the European search engines. While the majority of traffic in many cases still goes through the country specific Google and Yahoo engines, there are techniques that must be used to ensure that your site can rank and is not blocked out by country filters.

Contact us today for more information.

Article by Chris Powell