If you’re interested in better Google ranking put your content into RSS feeds.
We’ve long suspected that Google pays attention to RSS Feeds and a recent post on their Webmaster Central blog confirms they have a feature that uses feeds for the discovery of new webpages.
“Using feeds for discovery allows us to get these new pages into our index more quickly than traditional crawling methods. We may use many potential sources to access updates from feeds including Reader, notification services, or direct crawls of feeds.”
If you do not yet have your news content in RSS Feeds it should be top of your list of action items for 2010. In fact, get them set up now and be ready for the new year.
The blog post also has advice on how the feeds and the site are programmed: In order for us to use your RSS/Atom feeds for discovery, it’s important that crawling these files is not disallowed by your robots.txt. To find out if Googlebot can crawl your feeds and find your pages as fast as possible, test your feed URLs with the robots.txt tester in Google Webmaster Tools.
We’ve seen many a feed incorrectly programmed, so make sure your webmaster or IT department is up to speed on the latest RSS technology. Not only should the feed be crawlable it should also be immediately visible to search engines and your site visitors. If they don’t see the feed on your site it can’t be used to get you faster indexing.
All feed content should be optimized for search and the feed should automatically notify the major feed aggregators when new content is entered. (Notification services is one way Google finds your feeds.)
If you have audio and video content, the feed has to have specific tags added so that your multimedia content gets indexed not only by search engines, but also by sites like iTunes.
Need help with your feeds? Give Ryan a call on 626 793 4911.
Microsoft’s new search tool Bing has a travel section (http://www.bing.com/travel) that makes it less complicated to navigate through booking a vacation or business trip. They offer flight bookings, hotel selections and comparative searches.
Since Bing calls itself a decision engine they strive to offer the searcher as many pieces of information as possible to help the person searching find all they need to make that decision.
If you are a travel website you’ll want to make sure that you have these kinds of content available to Bing so they can display it to their searchers.
Companies looking for better travel PR should look into their online footprint.
Add new content about your destination with images and video. Encourage comments and reviews on your site. Syndicate this content a feed. That way more people see the content, they can add it to social sites and search engines like Bing can easily find and index your content.
The long tail has come to travel. If your search strategy is focused on one or two word keywords, you’re probably missing the target right now.
“Google recently stated that most of the recent growth in travel query volume has come from the tail. In fact, the average number of terms in a travel-related search phrase has increased from 2.5 to 4+. Conversely, the head’s query volume has dropped sharply. Consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated searchers, and it is important for search marketers to embrace this opportunity to provide more relevant ads for long tail keywords.” Kayak.com’s manager, search marketing, Shehzad Daredia in an interview with EyeforTravel,
Most marketers are looking at how to use this information to adjust their SEM/paid search strategies
However, the best way to reach long tail searchers is with content marketing – write good articles about your resort, cruise or destination. Add images and video. Syndicate the content with RSS feeds, so it gets seen by search engines, news aggregators, bloggers, journalists and new audiences.
The feeds help to raise your organic search visibility on many longer phrases. And it occurs naturally. Just keep writing and syndicating with feeds and the long tail phrases start to show up in search.
The very best part of this online travel PR strategy is that is that it is easy and affordable to implement, and it gets excellent ROI.
There was a lot of discussion about how to survive the current economic downturn at the Social Media for Travel conference in San Francisco this week.
Keynote speaker Duncan Wardle of Disney showed the attendees how they are using social media – from recruiting employees and engaging customers to harnessing the power of their brand ambassadors. His closing statement was that brands that do not use social meida and engage with current and potential customers will soon be nostalgia.
In bad times businesses tend to focus on their ‘best’ customer and for many in the travel industry that is the business traveler. However, all is not so rosy in this segment either.
Airline tickets are on sale. U.S. airlines have initiated 25 fare sales since the beginning of the year and prices are back to pre-2007 levels in some markets.
Flights are being cut. Most airlines have eliminated 10% to 20% of domestic flights. The Air Transport Association projects the seven largest U.S. airlines will cut another 3% to 10% this year.
Extra fees – what we can’t charge you for upfront we’ll catch you for on the back end. United Airlines expects to earn $1.2 billion in ancillary fees in 2009. Some hotels are cutting perks too.
Travel budgets are under scrutiny. The Association of Corporate Travel Executives found over 70% of corporations trimming their travel budgets by 10% to 20% this year.
Focus on business travelers – many airlines and hotels are offering perks to attract more business travelers.
International bargains are available. A combination of factors have led to deeply dicounted international fares.
Empty hotel rooms and unrented cars. Forty percent of hotel stays are tied to flights, according to a recent report produced by Promedia Travel. Less flights mean more empty rooms.
Meetings and conferences are being cut. Meeting Planners International and American Express indicated 7% of 2009 meetings had already been canceled, and meeting attendance is expected to be down by 5%.
Downsizing to regional jets. Some airlines have replaced larger planes with the small regional jets on short flights – such as Washington to New York.
Internet bargains are available. There are bargains are available on sites like Hotwire and Priceline. While brands are loathe to disocunt in good times, the current climate has led to an increase in Internet offers.
How can you benefit from these trends?
Be proactive and innovative. Do everything possible to win customer loyalty
Encourage business travelers to come back. Offer facilities that they value – like a comfortable work space, free Internet connection, good information about the surrounding area
Get very visible online. More people are searching online for travel deals than ever before.
Create excellent content that shows your venue and your perks – in text, images and video
Optimize all your content for your keywords so it will show up in search
People are also using social media sites to talk to each other and find out about deals and opportunities Use social media tools to find business travelers. You can check sites like Upcoming and LInkedIn events. Also monitor blogs and Twitter for info on meetings coming up in your city
There are still people traveling. You have to be found where and when they do their research. Don’t restrict your online marketing efforts to search only – there’s a potenial goldmine in the social media sites.
Duncan Wardle, VP Global PR Integration & Walt Disney World Public Relations, Disney Parks and Resorts. is a keynote speaker at the Social Media for Travel conference next week in San Francisco. The successful brands of the future will be those that allow their employees and customers to engage in rich, meaningful dialogue around the topics that both are most passionate about, says Wardle.
Asked for his take on the fact that people are screening out brands they find irrelevant, Wardle said:
“Most people today are already self selecting which brands they choose to engage with without really even trying. The DVR has provided the consumer control over which brands reach them through TV. RSS feeds have allowed the consumer to screen the multitude of brands and information available on the internet. The ipod and satellite radio have provided a brand screener for music and iphone apps have further allowed consumers to choose exactly which brands they choose to engage with.
So, it is imperative that brands engage their brand advocates, allowing them to spread the message on their behalf.”
Syndicating travel content in an RSS Feed and adding social bookmarking links makes it easy for people to find, save and share your information. And once it gets into the social sites it can become a part of the conversation.
It also gives your search visibility a boost. The IAB reports that search numbers increased by an average of 20 percent per month in 2008. And we we know that online searches for travel deals is on the rise. Being found when these prospective travelers search is vital.
I will be at the Social Media for Travel event next week. Watch for updates frorm the sessions and video interviews with speakers.
Even though business and leisure travel is down, 70% of those who do book travel do so online. And eMarketer predicts that online travel bookings in 2009 will grow by 10.5% to reach $116.1 billion, primarily as a result of a dramatic shift from the offline to online channel.
So it is even more important than ever to have a great online presence.
When people who are looking for travel deals do a search, if your hotel or inn does not show up, that coveted booking will go to your web savvy competitors. So invest in online media relations and travel PR – upgrade your website and make it the very best it can be. All the content needs to be search optimized, interesting and relevant. Use lots of images and video. Find relevant websites that could republish your content and link back to you.
One of the eaiest and most cost effective tools you can use to boost your online visibility is an RSS feed. Add travel articles about your destination, include images and videos, and then syndicate the content with feeds. With the right RSS tool your content will find its way into the social media sites like digg, StumbleUpon and Twitter.
Good travel PR online reaches new audiences searching for travel information, and as a result they will find your site.
“Zeitgeist means ‘the spirit of the times,’ and we strive to capture this spirit through exploring the year’s new and exciting search terms,” a Google spokesperson explained to Thomas Claburn of Information Week.
Many of the search terms were phrased as a question – what is….?
What is RSS? is on that list at #5! Nice to know that more and more people want to know what RSS is and what it can do.
If you are one of the folk who needs help with understanding feeds, read the RSS tutorial or What is RSS on the PRESSfeed site.
Cyber Mondays, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, are known to be high sales days for online shopping
This year ROI Research and Performicssurveyed 7,043 consumers on the role of search engines in their purchasing behaviors across seven consumer segments and ten product categories.
“Consumers turn to search for different reasons,” said Michael Kahn, VP, account management and marketing for Performics. “Online strategies from one marketer to the next can look like night and day depending on the verticals and target segments each needs to navigate. In some cases, consumers use search to buy; in others, it’s a research tool, often used to find offline retail locations.”
Travel reigned as the top online product category, with 70% of respondents reporting making their last travel purchase online.
Another study released in the UK this week states that companies that do not engage their customers in conversation or provide the information, advice and reviews online searchers are looking for, will be hardest hit by the recession.
Based on this data social media would seem to be the strategy for travel sites in 2009. RSS is one easy way to get started. RSS and SEO make the perfect strategy for travel and tourism sites.
According to a recent study from Jupiter Research 94 percent of travel advertisers see strong return on investment in online advertising, versus TV and radio (3 percent) and print (3 percent).
“Almost a third of the money from travel marketers spending will be online for 2008,” said Emily Riley, senior analyst at JupiterResearch.
With companies in all sectors cutting budgets for 2009, where are the travel dollars likely to go?
“Travel spending is going to increase from the marketer’s side significantly,” said Riley, adding that the total spend online for travel will be close to $2 billion in 2008 and will reach $4 billion by 2013. “[Advertisers] see where the ROI is, where the consumer goes, and the money that follows.”
What ROI are travel marketres looking for?
generate sales (87 percent)
generate leads (37 percent)
increase purchase intent (37 percent)
build brand awareness (27 percent)
build customer loyalty (17 percent)
One of the best ways to increase leads and sales is to improve your search visibility. A poll conducted by HeBS showed that consistently over 50% of visitors to a hotel website originate from the search engines.
So how do you improve your search visibility? Search engines thrive on new content.
Web 2.0 sites, that have constantly updated content and peer reviews, have increased their share in the travel planning process. But travel planning is still predominantly done using traditional travel sites – and more than 50% of the time the most relevant site is found by oding a search.
In Google’s new SEO starter guide they once again state that unique, exclusive content is a very important part of your search visibility.
Creating great content about your destination and syndicating it in an RSS feed can boost your search ranking remarkably. If you’re looking for a cost effective travel marketing strategy for 2009, search optimized articles in an RSS Feeds is a sure bet.
Trendwatching.com’s October report is about a trend they call Perkonomics.
PERKONOMICS: A new breed of perks and privileges, added to brands’ regular offerings, is satisfying consumers’ ever-growing desire for novel forms of status and/or convenience, across all industries. The benefits for brands are equally promising: from escaping commoditization, to showing empathy in turbulent times.
There are two major benefits that your customers clearly crave—status and convenience. As we move towards a consumer society that’s based more on experiences, on status stories, on the ephemeral—and in which, for many, time is now the only true scarcity—expect perks and privileges to become an integral part of every B2C industry and sector.
How can this trend be implemented by travel venues to alleviate the effect of the expected econonomic squeeze in the next year?
Exclusive access to privileges and experiences
Anything that can help save consumers’ precious time
Empathy with your customers’ hassles and struggles should be a top-priority no matter how the economy is doing. When things get really tough any gesture of kindness and understanding will be truly appreciated
Who is getting it right? Airlines who offer upgrades, priority boarding and no middle seat guarantees.
What’s in this for you?
Adding perks often requires the ability to partner with other products or services, so brands with the best partnering skills—and therefore access to the best exclusive offers—will win.
Perks, when done well, foster customer loyalty.
Perks can give you the leading edge when it comes to attracting first-time customers.
Perks can make for great if not invaluable PR; customers will tell others—perks are excellent conversation starters—while the media (trend watchers included) love a good perk story.
Perks can help make boring companies (insurance, anyone …?) interesting again, and thus more desirable.
Perks can help cultivate moredesirable brand perceptions and associations—think anything from showing you actually care about your customers (gasp!) to showing you care about the environment, offering eco-perks
The best way to make your perks known is to write about these unique experiences and time saving offers. Syndicate the content via RSS so that it finds its way into many social media sites and search engines. One in five people who log onto the Internet go to a social media site (Hitwise) Almost 100 percent use search engines. More travel purchases were made online than offline last year.
If your information is not visible in search and social media sites, they’ll find someone else. And now is not the time to lose potential customers.