News for the Hospitality Executive
|What is Blended
In May 2007 Google launched Universal Search which is also commonly referred to as Blended Search. Ask, MSN, and Yahoo began shortly after. When you search on a word or phrase in Google, such as Disneyland hotels, the universal navigation bar at the top of Google displays contextual navigation links such as web / images / maps / news / video.
There are many other types of blended search results according to your query such as blogs, books, pdfs, catalogs, products, music, and shopping. Blended search provides a richer experience for the user and can direct more traffic to your hotel website.
Why is Blended Search Important to my Hotel?
There are many great benefits for your hotel to develop a blended search strategy. Basically you need to ‘think outside the site’ and engage your audience in a variety of mediums such as video, blogs, and press releases. Your audience is looking for relevant, timely information that can be found quickly. People are attracted to images and videos and are likely to click on them. These various sources can have links to direct more traffic to your website.
Blended search can also increase your ranking in the search engine results pages. As with your website, you must ensure that you use the keywords you want to be listed for in all the media you produce. A great advantage of blended search is that your video, blog, or press release may have a higher chance of being listed on the first or second page of the search results than your website does. This is because there may be less competition against blogs and videos on your keywords than there is against your webpages.
Many hotels simply aren’t taking advantage of blended search so you can get ahead of your competition here. Start by doing a search in Google on your chosen keywords and see what comes up under video, news, maps, and images. Based on the results of the search you will be able to see what your competitors are doing and develop a strategy. Hotels are using media such as videos more and more so it is important to start now and gain an advantage over your competitors.
How can my Hotel Leverage Blended Search?
There are many different ways you can leverage blended search. Below are five ideas to get you started.
• Participate in the Blogosphere
Blogs supply your readers with fresh content and up-to-date information about your hotel news, events, and local attractions. The search engines like new content and the spiders are alerted to crawl your site every time you add a new post.
When writing your blog, remember to use the keywords you would like to rank for. There are some free blogging sites available such as blogger.com and wordpress. You can link your blog to your website with these programs.
You can read what your competitors or others are writing about by searching on a hotel or topic in Google Blog Search. Think about what your audience would be interested in reading about and start writing to them. You can also embed photos in your blog from sites such as istock or flickr.
• Use Images
Photos of your hotel will show up in the images link if they are correctly labeled with your keywords in the titles, descriptions, and tags. Check the pictures on your website to make sure they are appropriately labeled. You can also place your image gallery on sites such as Google’s Picasa photo service and embed the gallery in your website.
• Create Videos
Videos are very popular and frequently appear in the blended results. You can create short videos about your hotel events or attractions in your city. Your videos can be uploaded to popular hosting sites such as you tube and can also be embedded in your website or blog. Again, it’s important to embed your keywords in the title, tags, and descriptions.
• Write Articles and Press Releases
Articles and press releases are considered extremely relevant by the search engines due to the timely content, and they are likely to get listed in blended search. As with other sources, it is important to use your keywords strategically. Use your keywords in headings and subheads and repeat them a few times in the copy. Embed hyperlinks in your articles that direct traffic to your website. Publish the press releases to your own site and other industry news distributors. You can get actual media coverage from outside sources or you can create your own press releases through online newswires such as PRWeb or businesswire.
• Submit your map
In the blended search your hotel should appear under the maps link. One way to ensure this happens is to list your hotel in Google Maps local business center. Describe your hotel with as much detail as possible and list your special offers. You can also add your hotel images and videos. Do a search on your competitors’ listings to generate more ideas of how to enhance your own listing.
What is the future of Search?
Google and other major search engines are always looking at ways to refine the search experience. One of the ways they are improving this is through personalized searches. The artificial intelligence is being trained to learn our preferences and behavior based on knowledge about us and our past search history. For example if I type in the word bass, Google may look at all of the information about me and be able to distinguish if I am a guitarist looking for information on bass guitars or a fisherman looking for information on bass fish. Geo targeting is also becoming more important. This will be a ‘game changer’ and affect the way we employ search engine optimization strategies in the future.
If you are interested in learning more about social media and internet marketing strategies please feel free to call us at 978-465-5955 or write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
O’Rourke Hospitality Marketing
to Optimize Your Hotel Website for Natural Search / August 2009