Monday, July 6, 2015

The importance of keeping your Hours of Operation up to date

We tried to go eat lunch at a local restaurant on the 4th of July - there was no mention online of having special holiday hours, so we assumed they were still open. Unfortunately, we were forced to take our business elsewhere because we showed up and the restaurant was closed. Make sure that you keep your operating hours updated online so that you don't disappoint potential customers! 

This is becoming more and more important now that mobile search quantity has surpassed desktop search - so many more users are looking for your contact info and hours on their smartphones, so you need to make sure that your information is up to date and easily accessible.

Google has released a tool that will allow you to check your Google My Business (Google Places) listing to see whether or not your business information is accurate. Go to http://www.gybo.com/summer and type in your business name and city. You will then be able to see the information that Google has listed for you, and will give you the opportunity to fix any erroneous details.

Google reports that 25% of businesses change their hours for the summer*, which was the basis for them introducing this special tool. Because many businesses in the lodging industry have seasonal hours, this is extremely important! We encourage all business owners to visit http://www.gybo.com/summer and make sure that your potential customers don't have the same disappointing experience that we did.


* Written by Google and conducted using Google Consumer Surveys, June 2015

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

New incentives for Responsive Web Design

Responsive Web Design is now essential for any business, but especially for us in the lodging industry. Users want to see prices, locations, availability, amenities, reviews, and compare multiple options before booking. When users are bouncing from source to source, it’s important to have a specific brand identity and maintain consistency across all platforms so that your business is easily recognizable in all contexts.

During the 2015 AdWords livestream, Google reported that 9 out of 10 smartphone users start their research on one device but ultimately purchase on another. Responsive Web Design allows you to deliver seamless transitions between devices and provide brand familiarity, which will increase your likelihood of gaining conversions.

BnBwebsites builds beautiful and efficient Responsive websites for bed and breakfasts, hotels, cabins, inns, vacation rentals, really any lodging option. Visit BnBwebsites.com to browse our design portfolio and check our pricing options.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Post Mobilegeddon Aftermath

April 21st has come and gone, but really how significant were the changes ?

It has been reported by Moz that over the last 2 weeks, the number of Mobile-friendly tagged websites on page 1 of search results has increased from 66.3% to 70.1%. Although, there are two possible explanations for this trend:

  1. Google's Mobile-friendly update has been slowly rolling out over a couple weeks
  2. Universally, webmasters have been preparing their sites for the April 21st deadline
Google previously stated that the algorithm changes could take days or weeks to fully manifest themselves, so it's not a surprise that we didn't see drastic changes after just one day. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Another advantage to being in the Google Local Pack / Map Pack

Tomorrow, April 21st, will be a big day for anyone concerned with their website's Google rankings. The Mobile-friendly update is rolling out, and that will mean significant penalties for websites that are not optimized for use on mobile devices.

If your website is still not Mobile-friendly (you should fix that), you are not beyond hope. Gary Illyes of Google confirmed that the Google Map Pack will not be affected by the new Mobile-friendly algorithm update.

Here's a rough diagram that will show you exactly what the Google Map Pack is:

diagram marking different sections of a typical Google SERP


You'll notice that all listings in the Map Pack have a couple things in common:

  1. They are listed in Google My Business (formerly Google Places)
  2. They have at least one Google review
Aside from gaining a little protection from tomorrow's Mobile-friendly algorithm update, there are some other distinct advantages to being listed in the Google Map Pack, but we will talk about that another time.

Right now you should be focusing on making sure your website is mobile-friendly, and making sure that your business is integrated with Google's different business functions.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Can horizontal websites work for the lodging industry ?

The novelty of a horizontal scrolling website can make your brand more memorable and share-able online, but is it practical for all industries ?

Web Design Ledger compiled a list of 25 beautiful and creative horizontal websites here: http://webdesignledger.com/inspiration/horizontal-scrolling-sites-youll-love

There's no doubt that these websites grab your attention and make you want to explore every nook and cranny. This is great from the standpoint of engaging your visitors, but you'll notice that many of these websites are purely informational. Very few of these websites feature traditional e-commerce shopping carts or booking engines. 

But what do you think ? Is it because users are so accustomed to a particular format when making purchases online, that they will be uncomfortable using a new scheme ? Do you see horizontal website compositions becoming popular for the lodging industry ?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

New insights about Google's upcoming Mobile-friendly Update

As with all changes that Google makes, the Mobile-friendly Update has the industry buzzing. More information, and even more speculation, comes out as we near the April 21st date. Here are a few tidbits that we think will be most applicable to you in the Lodging industry:


Screenshot of Google's experimental Slow label in mobile SERPs
Photo from Barry Schwartz
  1. Currently, everyone is concerned with gaining the Mobile-friendly label to prove they have passed the test. But with time, as the majority of websites comply with Google's requirements, almost every search result will include the label and it will lose value. At that point, it's possible that Google would revert to negative reinforcement to encourage change. This negative reinforcement could come in the form of a Slow label being displayed next to a website's search listing. Like an unfavorable TripAdvisor review, this sort of Scarlet Letter shaming would certainly incentivize change. 
  2. Your website's mobile rankings and desktop rankings will be kept separate. This implies that Google will have an entirely separate index for mobile than it does for desktop. But you should make sure that both your mobile and desktop websites - or your single Responsive website - work well across all platforms in order to provide the best user experience, and make your booking engine universally accessible.
  3. It is possible that your website's desktop keywords are different from your mobile keywords. When considering your SEO tactics, it is always a good idea to consider the user's intent and needs. For example: a user searching for your B&B on their home computer probably wants to see big beautiful photos, read about all the amenities, and ultimately book a room. A user searching for your B&B on their mobile phone is probably on the road trying to find directions to the room where they're planning to sleep that night. Remember that the needs of your users may vary circumstantially, so be mindful of that when optimizing your website. 
  4. Google's ultimate goal is to provide users with the most pertinent information, as quickly as possible. That should be the ultimate goal of your website as well. In the mobile realm, we are seeing growth in use of voice-prompted tools like Siri and Google's Voice Search. This will be important to keep in mind as you prepare or revise content for your website - you should be trying to answer the user's questions in a conversational manner. 
For more predictions and details surrounding Google's upcoming Mobile-friendly Update, this Moz Blog article by Cindy Krum has lots of great insights!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Do Google's reports contradict each other?

Google has two tools that can evaluate the usability and mobile-friendliness of your website:
But users have been noticing that the two reports can sometimes contradict each other. The Mobile-Friendly Test results are successful, but Google Webmaster Tools will say that your website has errors on every single page. 

If the Google Webmaster Tools Mobile Usability evaluation says that you have unresolved issues, those should certainly be addressed as soon as possible. But it doesn't necessarily mean that your website isn't ready for the April 21 update to Google's algorithm that will adjust website rankings based on mobile-friendliness. 

As we described in another post, the best way to quickly check on your website's readiness is to see if your website is tagged with the Mobile-friendly label:

Screenshot of the Google Mobile-friendly label on the BnBwebsites.com listing

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Google's Upcoming Mobile-friendly Algorithm Update

As you probably know, more and more people are relying on mobile devices for their daily online activities. Your smartphone is no longer just for Facebook and Instagram. You can now manage your bank account, get important news, or even book a room at your favorite bed and breakfast from your smartphone or tablet.

Google announced recently, “As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns.” In the same statement, Google says that starting April 21, 2015 mobile-friendliness will become a stronger ranking signal that will have a “significant impact” on search results. (Google also announced changes to how mobile apps are indexed and ranked, although that isn’t as pertinent here)

BnBwebsites has always advocated mobile-friendly web design. Our specially-designed mobile websites are built specifically for fast load times and for providing essential information for users on the go.

There is an easy way to know whether or not Google recognizes your website as mobile-friendly: simply do a Google search for your site on a mobile device. If your site meets the most basic guidelines, you will see a special Mobile-friendly label like the one below:



You can also analyze your website using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test for more details about the specific criteria that will earn your site the Mobile-friendly label.

We want to make sure that your business is in good standing with Google by making your information accessible to mobile users and that you are ranking as high as possible for important keyword phrases. In preparation for the April 21 date, BnBwebsites is offering current clients streamlined Mobile-friendly mobile websites for just $100 setup and $10/month hosting. 

We also want to announce that in the coming months, we will be officially unveiling our functional and beautiful websites in the Responsive Web Design (RWD) configuration. The need for standalone desktop and mobile websites is eliminated with RWD by providing a properly scaled website regardless of what platform the visitor happens to be using. This gives your business even greater accessibility and is Google's recommended design pattern. All BnBwebsites clients will receive the full $100 trade-in value of the mobile websites to go towards a RWD upgrade. 

Please contact BnBwebsites at 801-894-9492 for a quote on your RWD upgrade and get yourself on the waiting list early.