The Pragmatic Approach for Targeting Vacationer Demographics

The vacation rental industry is an 85 billion dollar industry with virtually every demographic planning a dream vacation, year after year. A majority of vacation rental managers often realize too late about vacant inventory. Focused solely on families (or vice versa) this late realization leads to last minute price slashing with mixed results. Wouldn’t it be nice each year to be ahead of the curve and guarantee a larger percentage of bookings?

Studies have shown (Framingham Heart Study) that men who regularly vacation are 32% less likely to die of heart related illnesses compared to men who do not take a regular vacation. What’s worse is that women who don’t vacation twice a year are 8 times MORE likely to suffer from a heart related illness. These studies reinforce the notion that happier, healthier people across the board, know that rest and relaxation are vital to their health.

The question is: are you capturing every demographic the correct way? 

Demographics

Today’s marketing tools make it easier than ever to target specific demographics:

Facebook Targeted Ads– Facebook ads have come a long way in terms of targeting. Users of Facebook today are revealing more and more information within their own profiles that Facebook has tactfully gained access to who each user is. If one bedroom condos are a large part of your inventory still in stock, the ability to create an ad specifically toward those in relationships with less than 2 children as well as including the unmarried and married with less than 2 children, ensures that those in your target segment are the only ones who are viewing such an ad.

Facebook Post Targeting– Did you know you can cater a post to specific demographics? Much like Facebook ads, specific post targeting allows you to display certain posts to current fans that you wish to capture. Suppose there are a number of units you’d like to see booked for an upcoming weekend. Depending on your vacation rental price points, wouldn’t it make sense to target to those solely within a day’s drive? Creating a targeted post highlighting this facet has the potential to yield higher results.

Demographics

Segmented E-mails– Does your company use departure questionnaires? If not, it might be time to consider implementing them. Gathering as much information on former clients can help determine location, time of year and frequency of their vacation habits.

PPC– Google, the mother ship of all things related to targeting. It should be of no surprise that Google knows everything about you. Whether you use their browser, (Chrome) or simply use Google searches on a daily basis, the fact remains that they are keeping tabs on your search history and figuring out with great detail, who you are. The power of this information is outstanding. One of the tools marketers have at their hands is Pay Per Click Ads. Incorporating a well-timed and concentrated PPC campaign not only increases views but can also show you in a variety of facets where you may be failing in converting actual sales.

Demographic information is one of the most vital aspects to understanding your business. With comprehensive research within your own buyers’ history as well as carefully executed targeting measures, the ability to capture and retain audiences has never been stronger. Utilization of these targeting tools can propel your company’s overall performance.

Big Google News: Not Provided Hits 100% & Hummingbird Update Announced

Summer is over and that means news and announcements in the SEO world are heating up. In the last few weeks Google has made some changes leaving many SEOs and marketers lamenting days gone by. Let's look at the announcements and what that means for us:

Not Provided Reaches 100%

Google has finally done it! The day many SEOs have feared is upon us. The day keyword referral traffic from "not provided" hits 100%. 

What's Going On?

If you weren't in the loop or haven't noticed the strange (not provided) keywords in Google Analytics, here's what's going on.
 
About 2 years ago, Google added a secure search option and started removing keyword referral data for users that were signed in. This meant that site owners would no longer be able to attribute exactly what keywords in Google were driving traffic. Originally, Google claimed that the number of searches that would be affected was going to be less than 10%. That number grew, however, and crept higher and higher.
 
This past week, Google announced that all searches will be secure. That means no keyword referral data will be reported through Google Analytics.

Why Did Google Do That?

Google's reasons for the switch are security, privacy, and user experience. They figure that not everyone wants their searches to be public or want their search history to be used by marketers.
 
The caveat here is that you can get full keyword data if you're running AdWords campaigns. Essentially Google is still offering the data, you just have to pay for it.

What Can I Do?

If you want to go back to the old days where you see full keyword data from Google, that's not going to happen. You do have a few alternatives that will give you a partial picture, though:
  • Check out keyword impressions in Google Webmaster Tools
  • Look at organic traffic to landing pages in Google 
  • Get an AdWords account 🙁

More Information

 

Google's Hummingbird Algorithm

The next major announcement is that of Google's new Hummingbird algorithm update. 

What is It and What Does It Do?

Hummingbird is Google's biggest algorithm update since the Caffeine update in 2009. At it's core, Hummingbird is Google updating the way it handles search queries to better deliver results in a conversational search context. Google is now analyzing all parts of a users search more closely to determine the context of the query and provide more accurate results.

How Does it Impact Me?

First of all, Hummingbird was actually rolled out in late August before Google's official announcement nearly a month later. If you saw any ranking or traffic fluctuations around August 21st through the 24th, you may have been affected by Hummingbird. Overall, the change went relatively unnoticed by most site owners and marketers.
 
Hummingbird is just the most recent move by Google to update their search technology to cater to mobile users. Conversational search favors the "ask a question" way of searching over the traditional keyword search because you're interacting with a device the same way you would another person. If you haven't already been thinking about how people will interact with your site on mobile devices, now is a great time to start. These changes show that Google is putting mobile user experience at the forefront of their search strategy.

More Information

Latest Factors That Affect Your Organic Rankings

Contributed By:  Vanessa Humes   |   @VanessaICND  |    Vanessa on LinkedIn
As an Account Executive for a InterCoastal Net Designs, an Internet Marketing Firm, I often get the question, “What are you doing with the time we’re paying for SEO”.  Many times, when we tell them everything we’ve done, they look at me with their eyes crossed and head spinning, wondering, “What does this all mean and will it help my rankings?”  Recently, our SEO Director passed around the link to Search Engine Land’s Periodic Table of SEO Elements to explain the different factors and how each affects your site’s organic rankings.
In this table, they’ve identified 34 SEO elements or “signals” that are divided into groups.  Just like in chemistry, there are elements or “signals” out there that are yet to be discovered, but can be predicted based on what’s currently been discovered and latest trends.

The three major groups of SEO are On the Page SEO, Off the Page SEO, and Violations.  The Search Engine Land Periodic Table weights each signal from -3 to -1 and 1 to 3.  3 having the most positive influence, and -3 having the most negative impact.

”Search

On the Page Factors include:

Content – Big surprise.  If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard “Content is King”.  As the most identifiable element in the SEO formula, many people can feel confident in identifying these signals that help your content rank well:

Quality – Is your content unique to your brand and worth reading or is it just generic gibberish that anyone in the world could of written for you?
Research – Do you have research to back the keywords you are using are still being searchedfor in the search engines? Are they relevant to your brand and content?
Words – Does your page contain the right words people are searching for and you wish to be found for?
Engage – Are you leading your reader to additional pages or down a path of what you are trying to get them to do on your site?
Fresh – Is your content up to date and relevant?
Thin – Is your content bland, generic, and only touching the surface, or do you feel like an expert and an authority on your topic?
Ads – Are you selling used cars?  Or do you have too many ads above the fold?

HTML – Going a little deeper, if you know how to view source on a website you can pretty much analyze this area of your site. But, unless you like to look through a bunch of code, it may get a little boring. None the less, code is very important!

Titles – Does your site have Page Titles?  I once had someone tell me titles weren’t important in SEO before.  That’s incorrect and they rank +3 on the periodic table.
Description – Does the description tell you what the page is about or what the SEO person wants for it to be about?

Headers – Do a CTRL+F and look for h1 and h2 tags used on the site and do they have keywordphrases on there that match the titles and content?
Structure – See there’s one you need an expert for!  Does your page have the proper structure to enhance the listing in the search engine?
Stuffing – Are you using the keywords too many times?  Another thing only experts can tell you.  But really you want to sound genuine.  So more than a formula, it’s an art of writing.
Hidden – Are you putting light grey keywords on a white background?  That’s a HUGE no no!  And if you are paying someone to do that, you would pretty much cut the ties…now.

Architecture – OK I had to go grab one of the specialists to finish this one for me:

Crawl – Are your pages easily accessible to crawl?  Or is your site always down and pages load realllllllyyyyy slllllooooowwww.
Duplicate – I thought this would come under content, but do you have duplicate content issues.  Like you built a page for /blue-crayons and then built ano

ther page for /crayons=ID4 but they have the same content?
Speed – Just like you like fast cars, you need fast loading sites.  Have you checked how long your pages take to load?  This is in your W
ebmaster controls.
URLS – Are you URLs optimized containing the keyword phrases you are optimizing for?
Mobile – Is your site responsive and ready for someone to find you on a desktop, tablet, or smartphone?
Cloaking – Has your site been hacked and showing something yucky?

Off the Page Factors Include:

Links: You’ll have to get your magnifying glass out for these ones and turn yourself into the little social butterfly you always told yourself you were.  Links show what an authority you are on a subject and the popularity you can gain amongst your peers and affiliates.

Quality – Are you linking from a spammy blog or from a truste

d authoritative website?
Text – Are the links pointing to you say you are crumby or chummy?  Using keywords n the links back to your site mean you are the bomb.com
Number – Are you popular or not?
Paid – Are you selling your website to the Search Engine Devils or building good organic links back to your site?
Spam – Goes back to quality, but are you talking about Beyonce and linking to a restaurant or do you have a good authoritative link back to your site?

Trust: Do you trust me?  Why do you trust me?  If you were looking at a new employee wouldn’t you want to check them out a little bit to get the scoop?

Authority – how many people link to your content, share you content, engage with your content and what are they saying?
History – How long has the domain been around?
Identity – Do people know who you are on your site?
Piracy – Has your site been hacked and flagged for pirated content?

Social: As the new kid on the block only ranking a +2 and +1 months  ago, but now thought to be much more.  Many other specialists argue that it’s a direct correlation between good site content and Social aspects.  A good site is just going to have good social engagement.  This is one of those elements that we can look at and say there’s a lot more in the other groups, so we may see more elements pop up in the future.  But right now we focus on:

Social – Are people coming to your site sharing your content and linking your
 content?
Shares – Does the content on your site get shared?

Personal: This intertwines with the Social aspects and local aspects.  As Moz.com reported this week, a site’s number of Google +’s can be directly correlated to their search rankings.  How much of your content has been shared on Google +?

Country – What country is the person searching from?
Locality – What city or local area is the person searching from?
History – Has the searcher visited your site before or shared/commented on any of your content? THIS IS THE BIGGIE!  Factor is now a +3
Social – Have the friends or connections of this searcher favored your site?  This is one I would think would get more importance next as social is possibly integrated more and more into the search results.
Hopefully this information can help you better understand why your SEO team spends so much time on your organic search engine optimization.  Print it, book mark it, keep it on hand for your next SEO meeting.   All aspects are important, but as the client you can really help us with providing information for good content.  Content that is unique and important to your visitors.  A good writer and an SEO team that has good content ideas for your site has been, and continues to be, a paramount part of your online marketing strategy.

Google Business Photos Are A Great Way to Showcase Your Business

Contributed by:  Vanessa Humes @VanessaICND
 
Some team members at ICND met with a Google Trusted Photographer to learn more about #IndoorStreetView aka Google Business Photos.  Basically, it’s like the Street View function of Google Maps that will take the guest on a walk through of your business, area by area, floor by floor! 
 
Here’s some examples from the Google Photographer we’re working with.
 
Blockade Runner – http://goo.gl/hMs1VO
Front Street Brewery – http://goo.gl/6EiAtq
 
Let Customers Check Out Your Business…Online
By using the same Street View technology used to let viewers the streets around the world, Google Trusted Photographers are creating high quality, interactive, 360 degree Google Maps for customers to get a full body experience of your business.
 
Who Does It?
Only Google Trusted Photographers and Trusted Agencies are able to create these unique experiences.   Photo shoots are quick, non-disruptive, and personalized.  Give ICND a call today to get started!  Rates depend on area to be photographed.
 
Great For Your Online Presence
As an addition to your Google Search Results, Google+ Local Listing, and Google Maps, Google Business Photos allow customers who find you online to walk-through, explore, and take a closer look at your business.  The walk-through can be imbedded onto your website or you can send a Google Shortened link in emails and post on Social Media.
 
 
Contact ICND today to get a free estimate!