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Targeting Global Travelers:  A Guide for International Website Optimization


June 30, 2009; Technology and customer utilization of the Internet has made it easy for customers worldwide to quickly learn about your hotel or destination.  In fact, global broadband penetration has advanced so rapidly in foreign markets that Asia and Europe top the charts with the most broadband users, far outpacing the US and Canada.  As hotels and destinations compete for these international travelers and foreign customers, it is more important than ever that your hotel is accessible to everyone and anyone on the Internet.
 
Consumers around the world are using search engines like Google, Yahoo!, Naver, and Baidu to find information, but these searchers speak different languages and use different versions of search engines.  These factors present major challenges for the search engines and for marketers.  The search engines have built their algorithms to sort through a massive amount of signals to figure out which results will be relevant for the searcher.  Their algorithms look at the language the searcher uses (English vs. German), the searcher’s location (IP address), the way the searcher accesses the search engine (google.com vs. google.de) and several other factors.  If a marketer has not properly set up their strategies to align with these algorithms, the chances of capturing international travelers is significantly reduced.
 
Here are a few specific factors that marketers can control to optimize their web presence for the international traveler:
 
Top Level Domain
The first step that hospitality and travel professionals can take to better position their website for international search is to acquire a “country code top level domain” (ccTLD) for the country they seek to target.  For example, in Germany consumers are more likely to search using Google.de for their research and Google is more likely to show a .de domain in their search results, as there is a greater chance it will meet the user’s needs.

Top Level Domain




Page Titles and Meta Descriptions
Take advantage of the page titles and meta descriptions in order to introduce in-language content that is geared towards your target audiences.  Use a professional translation service to help write title tags and meta descriptions in your target markets’ primary language.  Pairing this in-language content with the appropriate “country code top level domain” ccTLD will not only help with better rankings, but it will also improve customer click-throughs on your results.

Page Titles



Meta Descriptions




Page Content
As with the page titles and meta descriptions, the content on the pages of your website provides yet another opportunity to incorporate in-language verbiage.  Creating page content in your target markets’ primary language will help to match your website up with the languages that people are using to search for your hotel in different countries.  As you continue to sync-up all of these tactics (domain, title, descriptions, and content), your ability to attract customers from the countries you are targeting will progressively improve.  
 
Hosting
Hosting your hotel or destination website within the country that you are targeting and using content delivery technology are additional ways that you can present a country specific IP address to search engines and users.  Having your website hosted in the location that you are targeting can be another signal to the search engines that your business is in fact relevant to that specific country or specific audience.  The downside is that this approach can be a more costly solution and is not always a viable option.
 
Inbound Links
As you may already know, one of the most important factors for effective SEO is the quality and quantity of other sites linking to your website.  One aspect of quality links relies on how relevant your links are to your website geographically, as well as from a language standpoint.  So to use Germany as an example again, if you have built a .de website for your hotel with content in German, then that specific site will benefit much more if it has inbound links coming from other .de websites that have content in German and are topically relevant to your site.
 
Making the Strategy Work for You
There are many more advanced strategies to optimize your content for search engines on a global scale.  However, at the end of the day, choosing to optimize your website globally is not for everyone.  The method you choose is highly dependent on what your specific goals are, and where your customers are located.  Before implementing a strategy, you can ensure greater long-term results by engaging specialists to help you sort through the pros, cons, and costs to reach decisions that will make the most sense for you and your business.

About TIG Global
TIG Global, headquartered in the Washington, DC metro area, is dedicated to assisting the travel industry with exceeding their online marketing goals and specializes in hotel Internet marketing and destination Internet marketing.  Serving an extensive portfolio of clients worldwide, TIG Global combines its industry knowledge and e-business expertise to help clients maximize the online channel.  TIG Global offers multi-language websites, a vast network of internationally based strategic linking partners, email and pay-per-click marketing campaigns tailored to all international markets, custom social media solutions, and websites optimized for major search engines around the world.  For more Internet marketing best practices, visit the TIG Global Blog

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Contact:

TIG Global
Molly Israel
301.841.4762
MIsrael@TIGGlobal.com
 

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