Google Panda 4.0 Update — Photo by "Young Panda in Chengdu Panda Base" by La Priz

By: Melissa Lyons, Natural Search Manager

The Update

On May 20, 2014, Google announced the release of their latest update – Panda 4.0. While this search algorithm update may make some

website owners a bit nervous, I see this as a reward for good behavior. Like past Google updates, Panda 4.0 is taking care of sites with unique, quality content and rich user experiences. If your property's site is over optimized, provides poor or duplicate content or leads to a bad user experience, you could be negatively affected by this update. That's where Vizergy is ahead of the curve. Our search engine optimization (SEO) team is constantly monitoring our clients' site rankings, adhering to Google's best practices, and scouring SEO articles and forums for the latest strategies. We expect updates like this before they happen.

Vizergy's Approach

Our thorough approach to optimized content writing first begins with market and

property research done by an SEO analyst. From there, the analyst works closely with the content writing team to build out specific page themes. This ensures that each page on the site has quality content for Google to index and a clear focus that engages website visitors. Every page is also conversion focused – built to funnel the travel shopper to either another page with relevant content, or directly to the booking engine. This all provides clients with exceptional search results and travel shoppers with the user experience they desire.

SEO + Positive User Experience = Conversions

Now, let's go into more detail about user experience, which is married to SEO. One

website metric that speaks to user experience is bounce rate. If your bounce rate is too high, it means people are coming to your site and immediately leaving without visiting a second page. That's a sign that the visitors aren't finding the content they need, and perhaps what they searched for doesn't match your site content. Now, if visitors go to multiple pages and leave without converting, they're considered "exits." Good bounce and exit rates depend on your site and market, should be looked at in conjunction with time spent on site and conversions, and should be benchmarked against your history and comp set.

The caveat – it can be tricky in the hospitality industry. When searchers visit a hotel

website, they may find what they are looking for and immediately check rates, which takes them from the site to the booking engine. This is sometimes a different URL and is considered a bounce (e.g. an independent hotel with a third party booking engine). In this case, a higher than normal bounce rate is expected, and even a positive thing, as long as it results in conversions.

In general, some ways you can lower your bounce rate include:

  • Make sure your site content matches the keyword phrases for which it ranks and drives traffic.
  • Provide clear navigation.
  • Remove anything distracting from the page.
  • Increase site speed.
  • Utilize a modern design that is PC, tablet and mobile friendly.
  • Have a helpful, custom 404 page.

The Bottom Line for Your Property

Your property falls in one of these two scenarios:

  1. Did you take a hit and notice a drop in natural search rankings after Panda 4.0 (and the previous Panda updates)? If so, it's time to re-evaluate your SEO and content strategy to make sure it lives up to Google's recommendations, and make sure your site delivers a user experience that engages and converts travel shoppers.
  1. Did you already rank at or near the top of natural search, and remain there after Panda 4.0? If so, you probably have a strong, theme focused SEO and content strategy. Just remember to analyze and benchmark your bounce rate, time spent on site, conversions, etc. in order to make sure your user experience remains equally as strong.

Every hotel marketer should listen to Google EACH and EVERY time they speak, make a

recommendation, release another Panda update, etc. When you consider that over 50% of hotels' online revenue comes via direct websites (PhoCusWright's "U.S. Online Travel Overview Thirteenth Edition: Hotel and Lodging"), and that most direct website traffic is a result of natural search, it only magnifies the importance of your property's performance on Google.

To read more educational hotel Internet marketing content and keep up with the

latest best practices in digital marketing, visit the Vizergy blog. To contact us about your property's digital marketing needs, email [email protected], call 1.800.201.1949 or use our contact form.

About Vizergy® 

For more than 20 years, Vizergy has served the hospitality industry with leading marketing technologies, knowledgeable talent and exceptional service for clients worldwide. The company deploys complete travel life-cycle marketing solutions from conversion-optimized website design to award-winning digital marketing programs, reservation solutions, media planning and execution. Vizergy's platform is touted as the #1 digital marketing system – easy to use, turnkey and SMART, and continually enhanced with tools to help hotels compete and maximize revenue. At Vizergy, hospitality marketing is not only our mission, it's our sole focus.

Visit our Blog and Connect with Vizergy on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Kristen M. Poillon
Director of Corporate Marketing
(904) 389-1130 x 171

View source