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:

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!